Archive for the ‘Writing’ Tag

Why I blog

Many years ago I would never have thought about doing a blog. I was always a very private person, more of an introvert. When I opened one with Word Press in 2011 I left it idle for a whole year without posting anything publicly. I didn’t think I wanted to open myself up to the world out there with my personal stuff. My first draft was never posted. It sat in the draft folder for a whole year. I was still grieving over having lost my dog to an incurable disease after spending ten wonderful years with him. The decision to have him euthanized rather than suffer through his illness was still too painful to even share and I wondered if I could ever feel open enough to share the things that touched my soul so deeply. Except for some articles, poems and stories that were published by a traditional publisher prior to that time I felt that a blog would require more of myself than I was willing to share.

When I finally felt ready to go public and come out of my introverted self, I opened up other social media accounts; Facebook and Twitter. I saw the way others posted with such candor and graphic accounts of their lives, the good, the bad and the ugly. I said to myself, Do I really want to do this? Expose myself to strangers? Will anyone care what I have to say, or write? Will my poems or stories resonate with anyone out there? Yet, I could not deny how much I loved to write, and thought at least if I put it out there, be bold enough to bare my soul, share my life, maybe I have something to offer. People are hurting, from things we don’t know anything about. What if a kind word from someone, who cared enough to share encouraging thoughts, words, or prayers was enough to make a difference? Wouldn’t it be worth it, if someone was helped by something I contributed via my blog, Facebook or Twitter?

The number of ‘likes’, ‘follows’, or ‘friends’ one gains is not important if another one who reads it is encouraged or helped by what is shared. A story, post or picture does not have to be sensational. It doesn’t have to be a part of a photo posting competition or word prompt to see who posts the best. I don’t care to advertise how many ‘follows’ or ‘likes’ I have to know that my ‘reflections’ and perspective on things are appreciated by someone. Just sending it out there is all that really matters. It is why I blog.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

Posted July 10, 2017 by Joyce in blogging, My Writings, Writing

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THE SCRIBE

Image result for Ancient Hebrew Scrolls

THE SCRIBE

With sheets of old yellowed parchment spread out

the scribe sits down at his splintered worn desk,

and with withered hand he dips his quill

into a thick substance inside the inkwell,

and turns his face towards Heaven, blessed be He,

God of the universe, and praise to the One

who sits on the throne, all the earth be His.

It is not what the scribe hears with audible voice,

but what his heart hears and knows to be true

for that which is given him scribed upon

with sweeping gesture, flourish and swirls

the Hebraic characters penned in ink

are the scribe’s writings on ancient scrolls.

______________________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2017

Things I’ve learned in writing

The things I’ve learned over forty-two years of writing since my first poem are numerous. All that I’ve learned are either through experience – what worked, what didn’t – and the much-needed instruction and information gleaned from instructors, mentors and successful published authors.

I absorb all that I learn. To get a foothold into a real publishing venue of credible, significant standing it is an ongoing process of self-improvement as a writer. The number of self publishing, vanity type venues that feed their till and their reputation on the cash and costs required of writers wanting to see their name on a book jacket is becoming as long a list as the number of writers needing representation. Who should a writer trust? What can they expect?

I have read reviews, and writers’ stories and complaints of those they relinquished their book manuscripts to, and researched others I wouldn’t trust with what I’ve spent years writing, or trying to perfect. One can take a risk with no guarantee of their legitimate services and find out that they are not what they really claim to be. In the meantime I work at the craft until I have complete confidence that my work or project is worthy of the best representation, and focus on these points hoping to progress along the way.

  • If not nurtured or practiced every day it can become weak, shallow, meaningless words without any depth.
  • Don’t wait for inspiration to come. Life is full of inspiration, every experience, an opportunity. Use them all. 
  • Use words worthy of enticing readers to the first paragraph, page and chapter, reading clear to the end.
  • In fiction, write to compel and draw them in with a plot that makes them feel as if they are there at the scene, with lead and supportive characters they can relate to, identify with, and feel as if they know them personally.  
  • In fiction, write so as to hold the reader’s attention, with well-chosen words, each page and chapter leading to the next, building emotion, suspense, imagery, descriptive scenes. If memorable it will be embedded in their minds. If a non-fiction work the message should have truth, be unforgettable, influential, life changing. It isn’t the subject or genre that matters so much as the substance in choice, and strength of words used to make a point, deliver a message, or tell a story.

Maybe, it can be said that a writer is only as good as the feedback or reviews received from those who read their works. Being conscious of this should be reason enough to work harder at the craft. It is for me, and what drives me onward, to be that kind of writer.          

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Joyce E. Johnson © 2016

Posted May 15, 2016 by Joyce in My Writings

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Stairway – the ascending and descending in life, one step at a time

When I was toughing it out through the months of rehab after my two total knee replacements these last few years, to gain full use of the artificial joints it got easier with each step I took, over and over again. The more I took those steps in my stairway at home the easier and more comfortable it got.

In getting back to other things I loved, like hiking and bicycling it was a matter of being ready to advance to the next step in that ‘stairway’ on the mountain ridge in hiking, or climbing up onto the seat of my bicycle.

In life, I think that is true with the steps that allow us opportunity to ascend, or if necessary descend to a ‘floor,’ or level more compatible, conducive in ways that accommodate that which we are not ready yet to take. Those stairways can seem like the hills, or mountains in our life, taking one step at a time. Now, as I contemplate getting back to bicycling, another sport I loved doing – before knee troubles – it again seems like standing at the bottom of a stairway, not certain how, or if I can regain that momentum to ascend one step at a time to where I feel comfortable. It is not a decision I make easily, as I celebrate another birthday and look back on those things that I did when young, and wonder, Can I do it again? Am I ready?

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This is my post for today’s writing prompt in The Daily Post word prompt; Stairway

Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

 

Dusting off my ‘old projects’

There is still only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. It is a new year and we’ve barely started 2016. But, as I have said before, for me each moment counts in itself, and there are those times when I have to reorganize, juggle those priorities, projects and promise (only to myself) that I would finish what I started so very long ago. Admitting to how long I’ve put off my book ‘project’ is too embarrassing to share. 🙂

I lack only a few chapters to complete,  The Informant’s Agenda, re-edit again and do a final draft. But, it is only a third of the way done on another book project, When Dark Closes In, that is also a long-awaited goal shelved for way too long.

Procrastination is what I do best.  🙂  Organizing my time is what I want/hope to do better, and working on those book projects is what suffers as the result of too much time spent on other things. As the minutes of each day tick away into history, those uncompleted projects become more a part of my writing ‘history’ than a possibility or probability of its future. The characters and I in each book have sadly become strangers because of too little contact, and they are not on social media networks.  Now I must resurrect them so I can feel as if they are once again a part of my life in the sense that we can be ‘friends’, and I can begin again to mold them into the characters I see and know.

In the meantime I am absorbing all the instruction and mentoring I can get from a well-known, well published writer friend to help me along the way towards seeing my goal, or goals accomplished. But, sometimes what takes center stage and pushes my book projects to the back is the posting and creating new posts for the blog. So, at times I will need to post less frequently in order to put that required time into my book projects. From time to time I might add a new chapter here to all others posted before, but if not it is not an indication I have not completed it, but because I have improved it, revised or rewritten parts of it, and want it to be the best. We’ll see.

As life goes on, and the minutes and days tick by, so do the years, and we ‘baby boomers’ don’t want to waste any.  This one doesn’t. 🙂

____________

Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

 

Posted January 11, 2016 by Joyce in My Novel, My Writings, The Informant's Agenda, WHEN DARK CLOSES IN

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The right word at the right time

As a writer our words can be profound, even memorable, but it is our life lived before others that will have the greatest impact. If what we write is not remembered, saved or shared by the reader then maybe how we respond and communicate back to that one might. We may never know what the reader is getting from anything we write if they do not leave a comment, but just to know that what we write, share and post can be of a positive, encouraging word to one at just the right time is something worth striving for; the right word and message to the one who needs or needed it at just that opportune time. And what about those who never comment, give feedback, ‘follow’ or ‘like’ what we’ve written? It doesn’t really matter if what we write or wrote was just the right word or post for that time. A word posted or written for a particular time or season delivered the right way does matter. It is something I care about as a writer.

Writing can also entertain just for the sake of the reader’s enjoyment. I love to entertain that way with whimsical poems or stories and have fun with them while writing them. Then there are just times when I want to incorporate a message of faith, encouragement, hope or support in something I write and send out. If I have asked God to help me know what to write, and ask Him to bless it and to bless the reader receiving it I am confident that it has gone to that one who needed it that day. That is worth it all.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2015)

 

Posted May 3, 2015 by Joyce in blogging, Faith, My Writings, Writing

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Not a tech savvy nerd, but…

At least I am getting to know my way around Windows 8 on my new Dell desktop computer. It has a lot of cool stuff, a lot of apps I won’t probably use, more than I need, but a lot of things that will make my writing, and exploring more fun. I love the fact that it is WiFi compatible, equipped with twice the size of memory and hard disk my old desktop had and keeps up with the current new perks. Although the newer PCs have the ‘all in one’ with computer disk drives built into the monitor, I did choose to get a ‘tower’ again as I like having the disk drives separate from the monitor’s housing, and think it gives better performance and assurance to a longer life.   

On my old (8 years old) Gateway computer I had those weird little square computer faces (‘Snap’ pages?) on the screen looking back at me with what looked like a wagging tongue hanging out of its mouth, dilated eyes, and measles, was slow, sluggish, and would sometimes just shut down on a whim, even with the highest internet speed. But, surprisingly, my old computer refuses to die or retire altogether, so has been demoted or relegated to a lower position of ‘rank’ and was moved to our basement where it once again is connected, bringing up the games much to my husband’s satisfaction, and even brings in the internet, although slower with a little USB WiFi adapter. It is now all his to maintain, revive or resuscitate when needed. 🙂  

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Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

 

Posted October 9, 2014 by Joyce in My Writings

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Words, Words, I Need More Words

This is my response to The Daily Post, Writers’ Block Party

WORDS, WORDS, I NEED MORE WORDS

When words don’t come

and I wonder why

for all the words

there are. I’ll try

to write until

I’m out of words

and look for more

many more words.

There in this world

are words that be

found richly packed

in books for me,

words that tell

stories you see

so write I shall

forever until

there’s no more words

to write and fill

page after page

of  words written by me.

_____________

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

Boldly posting whatever pops to mind

Ever wondered when on a social media or blogging site how some posts just appear in the feed as if they had nothing else to say? Yet they post whatever comes to mind, obviously with little forethought? One can endure it, like it, ignore it, move on, hide it from your timeline, or log off. But, one can not always avoid it being splashed across the screen in front of their face while trying to get updates on friends, posting, or sharing. One might think, ‘What was that person thinking posting that stuff?’ But, some will say, ‘Everyone has the right to post and say or do whatever he wants.’ Right? Sure. You bet. We don’t have to like it, read it or respond to it. But, social media sites have now become places where it can be a dumping ground with disgusting pics, foul language in candid posts that expose it all. Their pics and posts have become their now personified ‘voice’.

When I first activated my social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Google, etc., etc.) I vowed that when and what I posted, commented on, or responded to would have only encouraging, uplifting comments, photos, and words so that I would never regret posting or worry where they ended up like on the screen of a potential employer, literary agent or publisher, writing instructor, or even just a ‘real friend’ whom I valued too much to ever shock them, disappoint them, question or doubt our friendship.

OK. So anything goes and people do and say what they want.  If that stuff floats their boat so be it. In the long run, later on their posts and pics might sink their boat. One can entertain, gripe or complain, use it as a platform for their political agenda of sorts, share or shout whatever they want. Or one can use it to teach or train, bless, help or encourage, share what really matters, offer prayers of support, or just post a kind word for someone whose having a bad day and needing a ‘friend’ to just respond in a kind way. The latter is the kind of blogger, ‘friend’, or tweeter I would rather be, so I will not have to worry about things out there floating around in cyber space that one day comes back to bite me, and haunt me for the rest of my life.

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Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

Posted July 13, 2014 by Joyce in My Writings, Writing

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Sometimes drawing a blank_____?

 

 

Sometimes my mind will draw a blank

when words don’t come; I cannot make

things come together and thus create.

Where to begin when ideas don’t form

I patiently wait the inspiration,

a flow of thoughts, a spark or prompt

whereby the process can begin,

but given time, it will come

even if it’s just to rhyme.

_____________

Joyce E. Johnson (2014)


Posted May 5, 2014 by Joyce in My Writings, Poems, poetry, Writing

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Change can be a good thing

Once again the old year ends,  and a new one begins. My blessings are many; my regrets in life too. But, none are greater than the ones when I spend too much time doing ‘my thing,’ sometimes cutting myself off at times when I could be spending more time with those I love; times when I was so obsessed or possessed with/by my writing that I could not get up and just walk away from my computer long enough to do something else.  A friend recently told me that when she read posts on my blog she did not get a true sense of the person I am, the one she has come to know because of the time we’ve spent together, and feels she has come to know the ‘real’ me, the one who opens up and shares things not shared on the blog, Facebook or Twitter. I was surprised at that and hoped I had not been that vague in my writing.

In writing non-fiction I try to choose my thoughts and words carefully so as not to reveal too much about my private life.  In writing prose we convey our thoughts and perspective viewpoints. But, many times my own perspective or view on things in life is too private to share openly with a world of bloggers or readers who know me only through what I write, and even less through comments or replies posted. By nature I am a more introverted or private person. Maybe, that is why I love writing fiction, living for a time in another one’s world, fictional though it be. When I write fiction I enter the ‘Make believe’ world of my characters while temporarily stepping out of my own shoes. I have spent hours, even wakeful nights in bed and days thinking how, or what next to write in their story to bring my characters to ‘life’ so I can hook my readers. But, we live in a real world where there needs to be balance. Although I have a  passion for writing, it is not my whole life. My life at times gets off kilter and then I realize there is need for a change, even if it is a small one.

When I spend too much time at my computer more important things get pushed aside. Then I have regrets that I did not organize or use my time more productively. But, with every new day, every new year there is always room for change. I’m not making this a ‘New Years Resolution,’ because I so often fail at those before the end of the year. But, I do hope to make a more concerted effort to get up and walk away from the computer before I feel as if I cannot.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 🙂  

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Joyce E. Johnson (2014)

Posted January 1, 2014 by Joyce in My Writings, Seasons

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Pulling ‘cold cases’ from out of the archives

Sitting in front of my desktop, nursing the inspiration that comes, slowly, I try to keep focused.  I crawl into my characters heads, and step once more into their lives, their world. Way back, when I was in school my drama teacher told us students a rule to not forget about acting. The actor first needs to spend about ten minutes, focused on the character they play, then step into his or her’s  life and live it on stage or screen. They become that person, not themselves or anyone else.

In writing fiction, I think it is much the same, or rule that works.  From a few words, a few sentences,  to paragraph, to page, chapter, revision, rewriting, to edited draft and manuscript, and on to a finished product, hopefully. A sigh of relief. And then what? What to do with it. Cover letter, synopsis, proposal? Submit? Where, and to whom? Traditional print markets, or electronic or self publishing markets? I had my share of rejections letters in the past as any writer would who continues to submit what he/she cannot give up on, believing it has merit and promise.  Instructors told me don’t give up. Keep it going. Send it back out. Encouragement, one needs. But, disappointment is inevitable. Rejections come for every writer who submits with traditional markets. Whatever the genre, I have had my share. So, at times I buried the story, and let it quietly fade  into the background behind all other more promising projects. When I got back into that old file again, and read what I’d written the characters were like strangers to me, and the story like a ‘cold case’ needing to be resurrected.

It has been that way with two long story projects, working between the two, switching between locations, characters and stories. Building plots, character profiles, adding page after page, editing along the way, to the end, then back again, almost too many times until finally I have it the way I want. When things seem too slow on the current story, I move to the other one for a while to break the monotony, or repetitive pattern. Then, it becomes fresh again, and I am back in my characters’ lives again, like an old friend stopping in for a visit, deciding to stay for a while. At times, when I want to put them both aside, I pull out some of my little flash fiction 100 word stories and begin developing a plot and story from them, or get a new idea altogether.

What have I learned from all of this? First and foremost:  stay with the one current project till it is  finally finished, then move on to number #2, and so on, working my way through the archives of  ‘cold cases.’  But, don’t be surprised to find another new string of chapters popping up sometime under another ‘cold case’, but with a new title. 🙂

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Joyce E. Johnson (2013)

Posted July 7, 2013 by Joyce in Writing

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‘Singing’ to a mixed audience

Singing, or writing to a mixed audience is sometimes a complex thing. We writers are vain. I am, I will admit. We want recognition for what we write, praise for the piece, and honest feedback if we value others’ input. But, humility? Yes, that is important to me too. As writers we thrive on inspiration, and enjoy writing in the process. A writer cannot write to please all. So, how to choose what is most important to them. An old rule some people live by: don’t discuss religion or politics, so those are subjects some writers will maybe skirt around. If one is a politician how can they not write about politics? It would be as natural to them as delivering speeches. Understood! And when one is a Christian, or has another kind of faith, or belief? Well, again they will want to share and write on what they believe or feel strongly about. Understood! But, I also care about how my writing voice is received, whether I write fiction, or just prose or poem of another genre. Since I have written both fiction and non-fiction I cannot say which area or genre is where my most potential lies, but fiction is what I love writing most. Yet, it is often the non-fiction works that carries more impact. It is what influences one into remembering what they read if it hit a chord or note somewhere. And so that is where I stand now; at a sort of intersection in my writing. Do I write only to entertain? Or write to deliver a message? And what message? Sometimes it is just best to change direction for a while, and travel down a another path to test the potential there. What to do. What to write. Needing new inspiration and direction. As a Christian, and a writer I strive for wisdom in whatever I do, whatever I write. But, hopefully there are those out there in the blogging/writing audience that enjoy, or do not mind the variety in the venue found here on my blog whatever tune I choose to sing to (speaking metaphorically). And, I hope there will be those who enjoy my ‘voice’ and the music (genre) I use to sing to, and will stay tuned to my channel, and I will try to not disappoint.  

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Joyce E. Johnson            

Posted February 10, 2013 by Joyce in Essays, Faith, Writing

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Writing – Always a ‘Work in Progress’

I believe that variety and diversity is optional, but often needed, even expected for a writer to communicate effectively to the reader, depending on the message or style, genre, age and gender. Illustrating through stories, fiction, prose, poetry, essays – or any media – that can convey a message is not easily forgotten if it captures one’s attention from the start. Words live on in print only if saved and read, never destroyed: every writer’s dream. But, now with the myriad ways our words and images can live on through cyberspace one can leave imbedded impressions there.

In my writing I have used a variety of different forms, or format. I have rhymed simple poems and stories for the sake of just having fun at what I do, whether doing it for myself or for children. Not all of it will make sense, but neither did Dr. Seuss’s writing, while rhyming when he wrote children’s books. He was one of the best, and most known for communicating to children with his scrambled made up phrases and rhymes. His books are all favorites of mine and I love to read them aloud to myself and to my grandchildren. The old Mother Goose stories and rhymes are favorites of mine too. I think there is a sense of freedom and free style to today’s writing that can have a message, or maybe not, if it is written for the sole purpose of entertaining. That is OK, even if there is a lot that even I cannot relate to. But, it is the writer’s style all his, or her own that brings pleasure and satisfaction, however it is written, or for whom.

Whether to entertain the reader, to write for the pure joy and pleasure of writing, or to communicate a message of truth and conviction, there are things I write that I will share with the public, and other things I do not, reserving them for just myself, or for my family, friends, or for God. Not everything a writer writes will be enjoyed by some, but as a writer, we express, we communicate, we entertain. Some (people) will think some pieces sad, some will think some pieces bad, and maybe other things will just make some mad. But, it is the ‘craft’ of writing I work at, the tool I use to communicate, the voice I use to speak what I feel, what I want to say. Feedback and comments are always welcomed. All are a learning lesson. I am teachable.

Posted June 5, 2012 by Joyce in Writing

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There is no shame…

There is no shame in accepting failure; only in not accepting someone else’s success. Through the years this has been a learning lesson for me, when I heard of other writer friends’ reaching that point in their life to see their name and work in print. It is more a lesson in humility than merely reading the stories of literary success and greatness of well published novelists or poets. When one’s success at publication is not my own, but another’s. Rejections on submitted entries and manuscripts to writing venues, publishers, and editors can have one feel as if all their work on a story or book is in vain, not worthy of publication. At times when discouraged, or  disappointed,  I felt as if it was time to give up on writing. Sound familiar to some of you writers? Maybe. I don’t think I am the only one, but rather one of many to feel like this at times. But, I made a decision to continue with my writing, my prose, rhyming, story, or whatever my project was at the moment. Writing  is too much a part of me to give up. It is a part of who I am,  and cannot be compartmentalized, or put aside. That is like giving up on myself, and giving up on God who ultimately blessed me with a gift to use however He chooses to use it, and what I choose to write. When I believe in myself, what I can do, and what I am inspired to write is often a time  when it comes more naturally, unrestrained. And, when I am not under stress to ‘edit’,  meet a ‘deadline’,  ‘delete’,  or ‘cut’ what I feel is worthy to be read. But, part of that contentment I think too requires me to be happy for those, and congratulate the ones who have reached the pinnacle of success in having a ‘New release’ out, or ‘contract,’ for publication. Succeeding in that, is a lesson learned.

Posted May 7, 2012 by Joyce in Writing

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