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A Mystical Update

We are excited to read from our submitters about what truly mystifies them in this world. If you missed the workshop where we talked about the upcoming theme, you can email us at editors@borrowedsolace.com to get the workshop handout if you would like one sent to you. Just put “handout” in the SUBJECT field with a quick message, “I would like to be sent the workshop handout.”

You can also listen to the podcast we published this week–an episode with a quick update and recap of the workshop. You will have to watch for upcoming events–we plan to have more workshops in the future! If you have a great topic you would like to see us cover in a workshop, you can always email us or submit a contact form on the website for us to review.

Don’t forget: if you want to submit an article for the blog, you can do so as well in green submissions.

Last little tidbit, next week we will have a print book in our hands for proofing!! Stay tuned on how print is coming along for the very first journal we ever published online, and what recent journal might get published in hard copy.

S2 Episode 8: Seeing What is Invisible Recap

This week’s episode is short and sweet as Addey recaps our first writing workshop that took place this past weekend! Here’s the gist: if you didn’t sign up, you should for the next one. Listen here or wherever you listen to podcasts to hear all about it!

Tackling the Writing “To-Do” List

Lately I’ve been feeling like there are so many things I want to write and read!  The creative drought I was experiencing at the beginning of quarantine (and, similarly, the beginning of this year) is now officially over.  While it can be sad and depressing to have no inspiration or motivation to write, it can also be overwhelming when the floodgates open and writing ideas are pouring in nonstop!

Because I’ve gone from one extreme to the other lately, I thought I would share some of the tips and techniques I have been using to make sure I am getting writing in but not feeling like I’m drowning in ideas with no good place to start.

Make a list of all the things you want to work on.

In addition to some poems, blog posts for borrowed solace, and a book idea I have been working on, I also recently started writing on Medium.  We are also in the process of finalizing the content for the virtual workshop we are having tomorrow (Seeing What is Invisible: A Mystical Writing Workshop at 7 pm MST in case you haven’t heard!) which involves some planning, reading, and writing.  It’s a lot!  So for now I am settling for making a list of things I want to write about.  Maybe it’s a phrase that comes to me that would be an amazing opening line of a poem, or an article I want to publish on Medium about close reading (English nerd alert) but either way, I currently have them in a running list of topics/writing starters stored in a chaotic Google Doc I created.  It’s not neat or organized by any means, but it’s better than nothing.

Pick one thing off of said list to work on at a time.

It’s definitely been helpful for me to work on one thing at a time and try my best to finish one thing before moving on to another.  Granted, that’s not really how writing a book works, so there are exceptions, but if I am going to start a new article or a blog post, my goal is to finish it entirely before moving on to another thing.  Same thing goes for poems.  There will always be edits and revisions to be done after I deem something “complete” (nothing is every truly complete for us writers, after all) but getting that first draft to a point where it is at least coherent and has a clear beginning, middle, and end helps me keep my sanity.

Read or write every day.  You don’t have to do both (unless you want to!)

Something that has bugged me a little bit about everyone being in quarantine is the idea that we all have so much more free time than normal.  Sure, I am at home, but I am still working full time (my workdays are sometimes more hectic and stressful than they were pre-quarantine) and juggling my normal chores and obligations.  Small group may be virtual and hangouts with friends may be over a Facebook video call, but they didn’t just up and disappear!  Because of this, I often find myself getting to somewhere around eight o’clock at night not having focused on my writing or reading tasks for the day.  I could spend half an hour on two things (I am a grandma and go to bed at nine o’clock most nights) or I could spend a really great hour devoted to just one thing.  My choice is to spend time on one thing!  That might be reading instead of writing one day, which is fine!  I am currently reading a book (and keep getting more in the mail to add to my reading list—they just show up.  I wonder who is ordering them and then forgetting about them… *It’s me*) and I am also reading and giving feedback on a draft of a story from Nicole.  Both of those things take time, so choosing to just read one day is A-Okay with me!

Take Breaks.

Most importantly, if you are jugging too many writing to-do’s, take breaks!  You don’t want to get burnout.  It is very real and it is very un-fun.  So take a day where all you do is binge watch the new season of Dead to Me (anyone else?  That show is absolutely bonkers and absolutely incredible all at once) and get back on the writing train later in the week.  It’s okay for your writing life and it’s definitely okay for your sanity.  You deserve it.

I hope these tips are helpful for you if there’s a lot of writing in your future!  And, just to shamelessly plug the workshop yet again, don’t forget to sign up for Seeing What is Invisible: A Mystical Writing Workshop happening TOMORROW, May 16th, at 7 pm MST.  Click here to sign up—hope to see you there!

“Pull up a seat. Take a sip. You can write.”

Whenever I give writing advice, I acknowledge the other writer’s anxieties and insecurities. We all have them. So, for advice and conversation—let’s set them aside. Pretend we are sipping lattes—or if you prefer, a bottle of your favorite brew. The first question—what about writer’s block? The second question—I can’t concentrate what should I do? The third question—how do I get inspired? The fourth—the almost, but not quite secret one—I have a disability, but I want to write—can I? Well, take a swig, because my answer is mostly, passionately, the same for every question.

First, writer’s block doesn’t exist. It exists in the mind of the writer—paralyzed by fear, by “I’m not good enough?”—negative thoughts. Throw those out and write with colored ink for five minutes. Throw in a peppy sticker. Doodle your character, maybe sit in the grass and daydream. That counts as writing! So, then you write. Question two and three—concentration and inspiration. Colored pens or fonts, colored paper, fancy journals, stickers, music. Everyone is unique and you have to find your individual blend. Recently, I had problems keeping a regular journal—I have kept a journal for over twenty years, so this was a profound problem. I found that I could use a “junk journal” and write daily. A “junk journal” can be made or bought—but I write on scraps, old bookmarks, coffee filters—all intended to break up that blank white page. I suggest breaking up the blank page for inspiration, concentration, and writer’s block! Beware, as we change, our needs change too. So maybe you’ll need a different cushion, different pen, new drink… I guarantee anyone can make it work and find their blend.

Now, fourth, the definitely not secret question—yes, if you have a disability, you can most assuredly write. I am Bipolar, have pretty much the whole gamut of anxiety disorders/attributes, and I still write. So, for everyone that confesses they have a hard time with grammar, reading slowly, concentrating because they are manic, ADHD, or are simply too energetic, get out your notebook. I couldn’t read for four and a half years because of a medication I was taking—it saved my life, but it took away a lot of what made me “me.” I couldn’t write or watch TV. But I could absorb what went on around me, got plenty of material, and listened to music. This means that there are ideas even in woe. I was taken off the medication, my literacy came back, but I was slower, had trouble with words, sometimes, I still do. But, I write.

We overcomplicate and belittle ourselves. My answer to this—as by now you figured out—is colored pens, magnetic poetry boards, grammar books, the thesaurus, the dictionary, sleep, and giving myself permission to write. Take another swig of that imaginary drink, look me in the eyes—be gentle with yourself. If you cannot write a page, write a sentence. If you cannot write or read a sentence, write or read a word. Congratulate yourself. Congratulate and reward yourself for every victory. You are a writer if you can pick up a pen or pencil, or speak into a computer program—if you love words.

Now, finish your drink. Pick up your pen—you’ve got this. Go lay in daises, listen to music, and write like the galaxy needs the hum of your verses—because it does. Write.

S2 Episode 7: Resources

On season two episode seven of borrowed solace: the podcast, Addey, Amber, and Nicole discussed their favorite authors and influences. See the names of the authors they discussed below if you’d like to check them out:

Amber

Garth Nix

Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket)

Nicole

Leigh Bardugo

Amanda Lovelace

Addey

Laura Frantz

Diana Gabaldon

Also, check out Rick Riordan’s character and writing advice on his website here.

Imagine we are chatting during a Netflix watch party (what else is there to do while we are socially distanced?) about this week’s episode. Who are your favorite authors? How have they influenced you? Sound off in the comments below!

S2 Episode 7: Author Favorites and Influences

This week on the podcast, Addey is joined by Amber and Nicole to discuss favorite authors and how they inspire our own writing. You may have heard the editors talk about these authors before, but now hear about what makes their writing good and how we write by example.

Submissions Are Open

…and the fall 2020 theme is Mysticism!

This may be a hard noun, word, abstract concept to conquer. But this team of editors believe in you! Look below to see what each editor is looking for. All we ask is that you have fun with writing and submitting these stories, poems, and art.

fiction editor Amber Porter:

I’m not asking for much, just what mysticism means to you. I want to be mystified.

poetry editor Addey Vaters:

For me, the theme of mysticism doesn’t need to be direct. Sure, send me your poems re-imagining ancient myths and telling spooky stories, but also send me your poems about lost loves that still haunt, magical days spent in the sunshine, and everyday life described in fantastical ways. The idea of mysticism may seem like it has to entail a surreal or fairytale experience, but I’m most interested in poems that make the mundane and the mystical collide.

nonfiction editor Nicole McConnell:

Telling the real tale of mysticism might be a struggle, so I am looking for anything that has brought magic to your life, mystery, or even the paranormal. I want to see what kind of magic you have found in life, a turning point of when faith stopped or when you started to believe, a good and real ghost story encounter, a scary and mysterious story. I want to be mystified as well because everything is a little bit more possible with a little bit of magic and this universe is filled with it.

art

What seems magical, abstract, paranormal, strange, concrete, and so much more around you? We want to see art and photos of the strange, yet not strange, world we live and the art we can create from that strangeness.

To submit, visit our submissions manager. Happy submitting!

If you are feeling unsure about what to write, or if your story fits in with our theme, here are some examples of words/feelings/ideas that could be a good mystical fit:

Stay Tuned for Writing Workshops

*We are going to be hosting some free virtual writing workshops in the coming weeks! If you are interested, be sure to follow us on social media for all the details.*

This past weekend Nicole and I attended a virtual poetry workshop with Iowa City Poetry. It was a refreshing change of pace from the hum drum that has become everyday life during the pandemic. Something to look forward to after a week of working in pajamas and watching all of Big Little Lies (I’m speaking for myself here, but Nicole has probably watched her fair share of binge-worthy shows over the past several weeks, too.)

The workshop was unique in that it was dealing with how to write about loss. Specifically the losses that we are all going through right now–the little losses. It can be hard to hold space to grieve the loss of normalcy that we are all grappling with. This is especially hard when so many are dealing with what seems like much more heart-wrenching losses. Some have lost jobs and family members to COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean that the little losses don’t affect us all as we go about our day to day lives.

In this workshop, we focused on those little losses, listing the things that we’ve lost or are missing right now and contrasting them with where we are physically right now–at home at the kitchen table, at our messy desk, staring into a blue-lit computer screen.

I found this workshop to be a wonderful reminder of what it is to create and write. It was amazing to encounter other writers and creatives who were sad about not getting to go work everyday, musing about how the world seemed quieter and louder all at once, and ultimately taking an hour and half out of their Sunday to write and talk about it. I would up with three and a half pages of scribbles about all of this and a poem that somewhat reflects how I am feeling:

I miss knowing I don’t have to be alone.

Since Nicole and I both participated, she wanted to share her thoughts as well:

“What I learned from this writing workshop is two things: what writing can do in a crisis like this for people feeling lots of emotions, and how to write about a sense of where you are. I didn’t write anything like Addey did. I have no motivation to really write now as I am trying to deal with an over-whelming list of things to do. So, what I did learn is that writing can notice and name what you are dealing with, and the page you wrote those thoughts and feelings on is the space that can hold them. I never thought of a piece of paper as a structure to hold a story, it is a tool, a tiny monument. To write something on a page, you are building that tiny monument page by page.

“Second, inventory of where you are: your five senses, your gravity at the moment, the position of your body at the moment you are writing, or how you are sitting in a chair watching people in this workshop write what you cannot at the moment. I definitely lost the daily routine I had when I had to start working from home and had to create a new one.”

It’s Addey again, now. The other thing that this workshop left Nicole and I with is the desire to be involved in more workshops like this one. It was truly such an uplifting time getting together with other writers and talking about writing. It’s something we all might be lacking right now as we are not able to see physical writing partners and groups in person. So, because of this, and due to a small but mightily resounding “yes” to our inquiry on all of our social media pages, we have decided to have our own virtual writing workshop!

More details to come, so be sure to follow us everywhere to stay in the loop. We will be creating an event on Facebook so you can share and invite your friends. We are hoping this will be a time of restorative writing and a needed rest from the chaos of the global pandemic. Plus, if all goes well and there is a good turnout, this may be something we carry on into non-pandemic times, too.

Thanks for reading! We look forward to connecting via virtual workshops in the coming days.

S2 Episode 6: Resources

On season two episode six of borrowed solace: the podcast, Addey was joined by executive editor Nicole to talk about how to stay creative in the midst of chaos. Our current world seems to be one full of chaos, so figuring out where to put your time, energy, and creativity right now is important! Whether, for you, that means taking a step back to relish doing nothing for a little while like Addey, plowing ahead with your home improvement projects like Nicole, or something else entirely, we want to hear about it!

Imagine we are chatting in a virtual workshop (*hint, hint*–stay tuned for some future communications about this very thing) and discussing this episode. What’s your creativity looking like lately? Let us know in the comments below!

S2 Episode 6: Creating in Chaos

We are all living through a collectively stressful and chaotic situation right now in the midst of COVID-19. So, on this episode, Addey and Nicole talk about it! How can you stay creative during such a time as this? What are some ways to calm stress and anxiety? What are our editors up to right now? Take a listen to find out!

Nicole’s dog Thunder with the frisbee mentioned in this episode!