Terrytown's Library

Terrytown's Library
Raised in Terrytown, Louisiana

Thursday, August 9, 2012

New Blogs

I created three new blogs,one that will only feature scenes or story fragments, Life's Short Stories; one that will feature writing prompts, Life's Prompts; and third one will be called Short Stories to Fall In Love With, which will be short stories I've read and believe that everyone who loves to read should read.

This blog will be up and running for writing advice, and I'll most likely mention the other blogs, which are mainly the actually writing and reading. I hope you enjoy my new blogs as well as this one.

I think my favorite blog will be the blog that I can do some writing, sketch some scenes.  http://kossiwa-sept.blogspot.com/

Please enjoy

Friday, July 20, 2012

Writing Day

Today I decided to treat myself with a writing day.  I'm at a Starbucks in Buckhead writing, though I started a story in Barnes and Nobles and I'm excited about the characters.  I believe that every artist should make time for a special all day retreat or even a half a day retreat.  A retreat allows you to retreat inside of your writing or your art where nothing can bother you or worry you.  I don't do these too often, but I do believe that they help inspire your art.

When I'm on a retreat I like to use writing prompts.  Sometimes they are prompts I find online, other times I'll search out books of prompts and sometimes I like to make up my own prompts.  When I plan   a writer's day, I try to come up with things to write about.  That never works.  I usually find things to write about while I'm writing.  I get my ides through writing.  It's a challenge for me to write from an idea, but I can write from writing prompts.  For some reason, visual writing prompts are challenging.  The point is that we all need to take a day or as much as we can and spend time with our art.  For me, writing fiction is why I'm in school to earn my MFA degree, to focus on my fiction writing career.

Today's prompt, which I posted on my facebook page, Writing Community, is to use this picture to inspire a short story or a scene.  Mostly, have fun with it.  Andy Rooney said, about how to get ideas for writing, you damn well sit down and decide to have an idea.  Ever since I read that, I've had ideas and I realize that it's not ideas that are hard to come by,  it's figure out how to shape them into something. Have fun writing.  I will. 


Monday, July 9, 2012

Graduate Student: Post First Residency

As a graduate student, I'm learning exactly what is involved in rewriting and revising a short story.  It's not just rewriting and rewriting.  You have to figure out what your characters want, and what are they doing to achieve their deepest desire? Are they even working towards what they want? If not, why not? You need scenes to demonstrate what they want, what they're doing to achieve their goals.  Who are these people that want whatever they want.  And you rewrite and rewrite.

Before applying to graduate school, I didn't fully understand other writers, published ones, when they said they go through 10 to 20 or more drafts.  I thought they were exaggerating, but they weren't.  It is best to take a break between drafts and maybe work on something new.  It's a piece of advice I'm going to start taking.

Something else that I'm going to do is to take notes on each draft that I write.  I think taking notes will help me out a great deal.  My notes will allow me to see what is and isn't in my stories.

For me, graduate school has given me the confidence that I never would have gained had I not taken the chance and applied.  And I am so grateful that I got in.  I still can't believe that my stories were good enough to be excepted into two schools.  I'm at the University of Tampa and I'm doing my best to prove that I'm worthy to be a graduate student in the MFA program.  I am so excited.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Home from Tampa Fl

I am home from my first residency at the University of Tampa.  It was great working with published authors who had such great advice on writing to offer us.  And I loved meeting other writers who are just as serious (if not more) about their writing craft as I am.

Getting accepted to The University of Tampa's MFA program has given me confidence in my writing.  I feel like I truly don't want to stop writing and I want to see my fiction published.

At the moment I am reading my first assigned reading and working on my first short story for the tutorial or long distance part of the program.  I am so excited because I feel that I am exactly where I need to be, and where I want to be.  I'm where I've always wanted to be and it is just the beginning.

This is the picture I took with my cellphone camera while in Tampa for my first MFA residency at the University of Tampa.  I don't know what story I'd write about or based on this picture, but I think it would be interesting.  Or, it should be interesting.

Happy writing everyone!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

MFA

I can't believe that tomorrow I go to Florida for my first residency for my Masters of Fine Arts program. I am so excited.  I'm going to learn a lot and apply it all to my writing.  I'm learning a lot thanks to the readings I have to complete; essays, articles, and short stories.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Looking Forward to First Residency

In a little less than three weeks I will be in Tampa Florida participating in my first residency for the University of Tampa's Masters of Fine Arts Program.  I'm so excited.  I have a lot of reading to finish, classmates stories, published stories and essays.  And, of course I'm also writing short stories.  I'm trying to come up with ideas for this fiction writing contest and I hope to have my story ready by the deadline.

One of the stories I've enjoyed reading is Russell Banks Story called Sarah Cole.  It was more enjoyable the second time I've read it.  I'm looking into internships at literary magazines and truly hoping that I can be one of the MFA students interning for the Tampa Review online literary magazine called TRONline.  Wish me luck.

This week's writing prompt: Set a story in a place where someone, a church member, a classmate, etc. is being honored.  At my church, one of the deacons was being honored for 25 years of service to the church.  Happy writing.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Maeve Binchy's quote is such an inspiration to me.  "Something happens to the main character at the start and we follow her or him dealing with it, or not dealing it, or ignoring it, or making it worse." I'm writing my assignments for my Masters of Fine Arts program and that has really helped me get my writing done. If the character has something happen to her or him in the beginning, then the character can use the rest of the story to fix it or struggle to fix it.

Getting accepted into the Master of Fine Arts program has given me a confidence in my writing that I have to hold onto.  I'm writing more than I've ever written and I'm taking the advice of my favorite writers.  My favorite way to come up with ideas is through first sentences.  But, it isn't always easy to come up with a first sentence.  So, I use Maeve Binchy's quote and I ask what happened.  Asking what happened inspires a quote and gets me excited, once again, to be writing fiction.

I'm learning that I can push myself and that I can deliver finished short stories.  I have to tell myself that I can add to my accomplishments and I will.  I just have to keep believing in myself and be persistent and of course pray to God every night and every morning.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Word

An Employee of Barnes and Nobles suggested a book called The Word, edited by Marita Golden. Writers are interviewed, they discuss reading and writing. My favorite interview was with J. California Cooper. She said that she reads rather than researches and that she doesn't take notes. I thought that was very interesting. It makes the historical stories I want to write possible. There are several historical topics that I want to tackle. I don't consider myself an historical writer, but I am a reader. I might make an historical subject a fiction writing project of mine. I'm learning that all I have to do is write. I don't have to worry about anything except putting words on the page and turning them into sentences.

There are so many subjects that I want to tackle. I remember, just now, being obsessed with death when I was a kid, but I don't think any of us realized that we were obsessed with death. We played seances, talked about ghosts, we feared Bloody Mary. I might make that my next writing project, but it won't be a ghost story. I wonder why we were so obsessed with death. Whatever the reason will be the situation that the characters are dealing with. I'm already writing a short story with an older narrator looking back on a childhood experience based on her African name.

Today's writing prompt: Writing until you find a subject. I wasn't thinking of death or seances until I wrote this blog and the memory came to me. My writing projects right now are coming of age stories set in the 80s and the 90s.

Friday, March 30, 2012

What Do You Want To Explore In A Short Story?

I love short stories because I can explore anything I want in a short story. What subject do I want to explore? A girl who likes to look at the stars, a daughter who's trying to remember her father in a special way, a man who wants a race car. Some of these already are situations. For others I have to imagine or come up with the situations. What situation/problem can I come up with for the girl who likes to watch stars. Perhaps it will come to me while I'm writing her story. It could be that it's not the starts that she's looking at.

I've always wanted to see something spectacular in the sky, something more that what I can see just by staring at the stars and whatever else is up there. I looked at Clark, who had his eye against the lens of his expensive telescope.

You can attach any situation to the girl who watches the stars. What is she looking for. This exercise goes with the last exercise we had. What did you see or have happen to you that would make a story? Is it something you'd want to explore? Journaling gives you an idea of what to write about because I wasn't thinking about a girl who likes to look at the stars or a street preacher, but writing this blog has given me new characters to write about.

Ask yourself, when you're staring at a blank piece of paper, what do you want to explore? Do some journaling if you really don't know.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Stories Are Everywhere

Everyday I see something that I can turn into a story. Sometimes I participate in an event I'd like to turn into a story somehow. My niece's second birthday or going to work and having the computers suddenly go off. We all had to manually ring up customers purchases, have someone check on the prices, and that was all that we could do; no returns, no taking things off customers' baby registries. The main thing that really captured my attention is coming off the interstate and seeing teddy bears and other gifts attatched to a sign along with other gifts on the ground around the sign. I've seen memorabilia placed at an accident scene, but never so many. I'm not sure how I'll ever find out what happened, but I am curious. I know this is morbid, but it's an image I can't forget, can't ignore. What could have happened to warrant so many gifts placed at the accident scene? Was it an accident.

Everyday there is always something that captures my attention, something that I want to put in a story or turn into a story. I was at the train station waiting for a local train when I heard a woman talking loud. I couldn't see her and I assumed she was fussing at a man who, in her opinion, wasn't doing anything with his life. Her argument was you have to know where you are going. I didn't hear anyone answer back, but still I assumed she was having an argument with a man. She walked down the platform wearing a blue pair of paints with tiny black polka dots and a matching short sleeve blouse with a thick black-color band. She was talking to everyone with in earshot of her on the platforms. She reminded me of a street preacher who just starts preaching to whoever was near, only she wasn't preaching the lord's word. Every now and then she'd pause, scroll through something on her touch phone and start right back up. She didn't get on any of the local trains. I'm not sure how I'll put that in a story, but it was very interesting.

There are so many things that happen in our lives--to us, near us--that can make great stories or pieces of stories. We just have to figure out how to turn these naturally occurring events into stories. And, all of that happened in the last week. Imagine if we noticed everything that happened to us.

Today's assignment is to write a story based on something that you witnessed or participated in. And remember, you're not always the main character. In fact, you may not even be a character in the story.

Happy writing everyone!!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Places to Write

I think finding a place to write is just as important as the writing itself. You need to be comfortable and also far enough away from the day's hassles and responsibilities in order to write and not feel guilty about not doing something else. I've found a few places that I love to write, places that provide characters and situations and sometimes even settings.
  • Barnes and Nobles or any bookstore with a cafe and/or seating area
  • Libraries are great places to write and research material is already there, just like at a Barnes and Nobles
  • Cafes: I like simple cafes without table cloths that make the cafe look like a restaurant;
  • Panera Bread is a great place to order something inexpensive to eat and then to sit for hours with or without your laptop and work on stories
  • Caribou Cafe: The one I frequent has surge protectors for extra outlets for their customers, don't know if all the Caribou cafes do this
  • Chick-Fil-A is a great place to sit and write or type away. The outlets are few, but the food is inexpensive and the employees are very nice
Once you're there, try to get everything you need at the start to eliminate the interruptions. I suggest trying to go to these places with a fully charged laptop, even when outlets are readily available.

Another good writing place is the break room on your job. You may not want to bring or pull out your laptop, but it's still good thirty minutes to an hour of writing by hand.

I love going to different places to write. If you have errands to run that involve waiting such as taking your car in for repairs or for its annual check up, bring along your laptop and/or pen and paper and write until your vehicle is ready for you to drive to your next writing location.

Happy Writing

Writing Prompt: Go some place where you haven't been and write. It could be a different cafe, a different area in the cafe. The bus is a pretty good place to pull out your notebook and pen and write away.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Writing Challenge

My writing challenge today is to create a character; who is she or he and what situation is this character going through, and what do I think are the steps this character will take to get through their situation. I usually simply start writing from a word or phrase, but this time I'm going to start with a character and see what happens. I do believe that you have to have more than one way to start a story draft.

My other writing challenge is to write a researched story while I'm writing stories that are based on my life. We'll see how that goes. I'm going to start working on a story set at work, which I've had trouble writing. The character challenge will be a great way to try and begin this story as well as to rewrite stalled stories.

I'm so excited about being admitted into the University of Tampa's Master of Fine Arts Program. Between now and then I'm using my time to write and rewrite short stories and I'm thinking of writing a novel while I'm writing short stories.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Acceptance

I cannot believe that I was accepted into University of Tampa's Master of Fine Arts program (low residence/long distance). I am so excited. I start in June and will be studying fiction writing. I have so many story ideas and I'm excited to write them all.

The two stories that I submitted as part of my application package are stories based on my personal experiences, my childhood. This has helped me to see that there should be some element of ourselves in the stories that we write.

Now that I'm here, I have to look, not only at the present, what comes next, but also the future, what comes after graduation.

I start in June, but I start writing and researching today. I cannot believe that all of my dreams are about to come true.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Writing About LIfe

I wonder what story I can get out of going to The Children's Museum with my niece, mom and sister. There were several activities for the children to participate in; clay-sand for the children to build beach sculptors, an area for painting, pulley exhibits, shopping, along with other exhibits. A half an hour to an hour before the museum closed, there was a performance of ribbon dancing. It was beautiful.

I could ask myself what this looks like to a mother who is spending the last day with her child. Perhaps it's because the husband received full custody. What is she thinking as she goes through The Children's Museum with her child?How about the person who comes in without a child. So many possibilities to imagine. Let's start writing.

Before I forget, we are in the middle of Mardi Gras. I don't think I've been since I last lived in Louisiana.