Contributions for the memorial fund in honor of Mrs. Servetus closed yesterday at midnight. I saved every notification from PayPal in a separate folder and tabulated each donation as they arrived. After double and triple checking, the final tally was $762.50 (U.S. dollars). (Told ya this was enough to buy an iDevice).
As you know, RA has four charities on his JustGiving page. The winning charity was chosen by the scientific process of closing my eyes and pointing a finger at the screen. The finger landed on – The Salvation Army. So the entire amount went to this charity. For transparency sake, here is the receipt:
Here is the entry posted to RA’s message page:
I want to thank FedoraLady who helped brainstorm the idea as well as all the others who helped pass the word:
Remember in grammar school when the teacher decided you’d achieved enough gold stars and moved you to a harder group? Remember your first day in the group when you realized those coveted gold stars would be harder to achieve? (Well, that’s the way it was back them thar days, so bear with me). That exact feeling hit me after joining my new online writers’ group.
The group emphasizes writing original fiction, (read: stories with original characters), not fan fiction. There’s a certain snobbery element attached but I understand the reasoning. The site’s purpose is to stimulate creativity so a writer can spread her wings. This is not to disparage fan fiction writers (indeed, I’m one of them) by saying their stories cannot be quite creative. However, it’s not until a writer branches into her own universe can she take full flight without the encumbrance of copyright issues and the preconceived notions of an audience.
As soon as I joined, I posted examples of my fan fiction. They received only a few reviews. There has not been enough feedback upon which to assess my strengths and weaknesses or even receive validation that I have real marketable talent. So, I felt stymied by a low lying creeping fear. Now that I had talked with writers intent on publishing their works, I heard a niggling voice in the back of my mind. Could I make the transition from fan to original fiction? Could I leave the preconceived world of Guy of Gisborne, for example, and create my own universe? Did I have the imagination? Of course, I should not have compare myself to people who have been honing their skills a lot longer than I have but I know in the publishing world, TPTB make comparisons all the time.
I’ve been reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness for the past several nights. It soothed me a bit not because it’s astounding award winning material, but because I felt good enough to have written that book that an editor thought well good enough to publish. (This isn’t a slur on Harkness, or maybe it is; I could be delusional and unmarketable). Then there’s the 50 Shades of Grey series which in my opinion is poorly written fan fiction, but those books have flown off the shelves. I don’t fancy myself a Maya Angelou or Colleen McCullough but I wouldn’t mind being somewhere in the ballpark some day. I don’t expect to compose a classic talked about long after I’m gone, but I do want to make a living as a published writer.
This brings me back to the fear of having stepped out of my comfort zone by joining the group. I’ve been warned that before I even get to The Book, I need to write – a lot. But over the last several weeks, I wrote nothing. I used to write stories in my head, behind my eyelids, but even that didn’t occur. Feeling a bit paralyzed, I finally poured all this out to the writing group. They all said they felt the same fear. It’s what motivated them to keep improving. Confidence and no fear, they said, would indeed leave me clutching at delusions.
Finally, somebody in the chat counseled that I simply sit down and write. Write less than 1000 words based on a set contest prompt. Keep it simple, change it up, and don’t think too hard about it. Just do it, they said, like the Nike slogan: dredge up anything, polish and post it. Then the big fear and angst would be out there, over and done with. So armed with the prompt, “There was no reason to look back” I finally hashed out an original short story and posted it to the contest. I don’t expect to win, but the whole point is to gain experience writing. Funnily enough, it’s only been three hours and already I’ve gotten 2 very good reviews. Whew. I’m not sure if I expected to implode had the story not gone over well but I’m happy for the positive feedback.
You know, the chat group was right. All I needed to get that first story out there. I feel the flow already.
“Oh doctor, I have a terrible problem.” She shifted in the chair, tense and nervous.
He picked up the pad and clicked open the pen. “What seems to be troubling you?”
“Well, I really don’t know where to begin.” Her eyes met his only briefly before skittering away.
He nodded. “That’s perfectly alright. Take your time.”
She shifted again and sighed. “Do you mind if I lay down?”
He nodded, gesturing towards the nearby sofa. “Be my guest.”
He observed the young woman as she wrestled with adjusting her sweater and skirt all at once. Clearly she was embarrassed and decidedly uncomfortable. He arched as a brow as she shifted this way and that on the buttoned leather surface.
She grunted, then gave a little smile of apology. “Sorry, it hurts when I do that.”
A corner of his mouth quirked. “Then maybe you shouldn’t do that.”
She glanced blankly at him before fixing her gaze on the ceiling. Adjusting her glasses and blinking rapidly, she finally blurted it out: “I’ve got a fetish for older men in cardigans!”
He schooled his face to remain neutral. “A fetish?”
Her words jumped over each other. “Yes, that’s why the uni clinic referred me to you! Half my professors are old men and everywhere I look, there they are in cardigans. I can’t concentrate in class. All I can think of stroking those soft looking sweaters and feeling the muscles of their arms while they lecture me in their firm authoritative voices, and then ripping them right off. I know this is weird, Doctor. I’m simply a wreck!”
He stared for a moment, then began scribbling notes. The uni clinic had referred him some interesting cases but this was a first. “So you think this is some sort of sexual compulsion?”
She clutched at her necklace. “Oh, I know it is. I’ve been this way since I was seven, watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood on PBS. He changed into his sweater every episode. And when I’d look into those eyes and he sang “Would you be mine? Would you be mine?” I thought yes, yes, YES!”
His pen paused mid-air. Seriously? Was he being punk’d? It would be like the staff to play a practical joke.
He sat forward, allowing the half-smile to break through. “Tell me more.”
I’m not a fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy although I’ve seen all the movies. (Yes, somehow the mystique of Middle Earth escaped me). So I had to be reminded about the following song. A few listenings later, it’s clearly a great pick for Serene Sunday. So enjoy May It Be, sung by Enya.
No, I haven’t fallen into another Bermuda Triangle, just offline mostly. But more about me later.
The memorial fund will remain open until September 17th, which should give those who have been told me they are on vacation more time to contribute. I’ve noted each and every donation and kept close count. To keep things honest, I’ll post evidence of the final amount and contribution to JustGiving. (We are talking “I can buy a new iDevice level of giving here, people! This is truly a marvelous community).
Now, back to me. The issue of positive versus negative motivation hasn’t resolved yet. The problem has been breaking old habits and the expectation that only negative consequences seem to get me moving. After a lifetime of reacting to imminent deadlines – it’s due tomorrow; or dire consequences – pay this bill or sit in the dark, it’s very strange trying to become proactive instead of reactive. I still feel like Pavlov’s dog, trained to react at the first bell tow of doom. Where writing is concerned, pro-action involves looking for the dry kindling and the right fuel to light a fire under me.
To combat the ennui that set in, I started preparing for NaNoWriMo 2013 (National Novel Writing Month). Although I managed a novelette (The Chest: password is red) in 2011, last year just wasn’t in the cards. This year seems doable. But the 50,000 word goal won’t happen without an outline to keep things on track. I started plotting an ambitious psycho-thriller when I ran headlong into that rusty door blocking Judi’s Door of Wild Imagination. After flailing around, I whined to a fellow blogger who referred me to a writing prompt app created by a website called writing.com. It’s a repository and support resource for all things written. It’s by writers, for writers. From what I’ve gleaned over the past three days, the constant contests encourage writers to post their work and get it reviewed honestly by others. More recognition brings more reviews. There are private reviewing groups and chats. The point is to get work out before other people. What’s more nerve wracking and moving out of my comfort zone than putting my stories out there to be judged by writers? I signed up.
I’m hoping this group can provide the oil to pry that rusty door open to writing original fiction. But baby steps still.