Writing in a time of Quarantine

It’s been a little while, but I thought now was as good a time as any to dig in and post something to my writing blog about, yes, writing — but also about feeling inspired or creative, imagining, and learning during COVID-19 and this time of social distancing, staying home, and making time for things we enjoy and wish to pursue.

Since I’m a graduate student pursing my masters in Library and Information Science, I wanted to share this Wakelet I recently created for a literacy course. It features creative writing resources for educators, librarians, and middle grade and high school students. But this Wakelet can really be for anyone who finds this bunch of curated resources interesting or useful.

Below I listed additional resources (some of these are in the Wakelet!) that have inspired and interested me lately, since I haven’t been really able to focus on my fiction writing and personal reading in some time, and I’m somehow sure I’m not the only one in a creative slump.

#StayHomeWriMo

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has started #StayHomeWriMo, which you can also follow along with on Twitter. Also, make sure to check out the virtual write-ins they are hosting on YouTube through April.

ONline workshops

Some of these are hosted by well known writers and authors, and can be found on Twitter and other social media. Libraries, schools and writers host workshops, activities and panels year-round, which are free and noteworthy while writers and learners are seeking to keep busy and motivated. Many of these were found via Twitter, doing a search for “writing workshops.”

Building (or Rebuilding) Your Writing Practice is a “free, seven day, on-your-own-schedule course,” by Nebula-nominated author Kate Heartfield.

Tips for Beginners archive of articles on worldbuilding, writers’ block, and even grant applications from the SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America).

Other resources and inspo

  • Creative Writing Prompts from Writers Digest is a source for hundreds of writing prompts, or you can even download their free writing prompt boot camp for more structured writing and ideas.
  • The Time is Now from Poets & Writers offers a weekly writing prompt, different genres on different days of the week, including poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction.
  • Plot Generator can help you get inspired to write a story re: plot, characters, settings, and so much more. It can be a fill-in-the-blank resource for anything from a poem or story to move scripts and blurbs for all different genres.
  • Flash Fiction Resources as part of the Flash Fiction Resource Center includes articles, tips and prompts for writing flash fiction, defined as “a style of literature providing a complete story within 500-1,000 words,” with variations like microfiction, nanofiction and Twitfic (Flash Fiction Online).

As always, thanks for reading! May your writing endeavors be fruitful and rewarding, and may you feel inspired to sit with your writing, think, or maybe find new ways to approach your work.

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A Semester in Review

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“Digital Merge” painting by Wiley Wallace

With April drawing to a close, the end of the semester is right around the corner — and I am thankful for the opportunity to start an MLS degree at an ALA-accredited school, for the people I’ve met in the program, and for getting back into doing what I enjoy in my spare time in between work, editing and school papers and projects.

On the bright side, I managed to survive a hectic first semester as a graduate student! I have already learned so much, and I am all the more interested to delve deeper into the field of information science.

Also this semester, over the past few months, I finally began thinking about and writing/working more on my current novel, Shifts of Solace, in a more serious way than I have been able to perhaps in the past six months or more. I read fiction submissions for Apex Magazine, and will be making a point to catch up on fiction submissions for The Literary Review, for which I’ll be soon reviewing a forthcoming graphic novel!

I am realizing more and more that it is so important to enjoy what you do, and make time for it — because we are always busy, aren’t we? Always moving, and making plans, and going on to the next thing. To do what you really love doing, you have to set aside time and commit. I am working toward achieving that goal, but it isn’t always easy.

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Tree blooming outside of Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers–New Brunswick

This blog post may be a short one, but I also want to acknowledge that I have read tons of great books this semester, and they have gone a long way in fueling my creativity and motivating me to keep writing, as well. Works by Jeff VanderMeer, Ursula Le Guin, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Katherine Arden, Annalee Newitz… I’d like to discuss some of my literary influences later on, for sure.

I have also had some time to knit up some lovely projects — hats, a cowl, blanket progress — more pictures to come in a future post after the semester is officially over. Big things are coming!

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A Little Change of Pace, Notes on Shifting

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“Dark Forest” Illustration by Helena Perez Garcia

I have been surprised, as of late, to see the influx of subscribers to this blog. It is as pleasant as it is perhaps somewhat bewildering, and has in a strange way encouraged me to add a life/writing update.

Since I posted last– about wildlife, nature and plans to begin a compilation of local hiking/recreational spots– I have begun a graduate program, with the hopes of obtaining an MLIS degree, at an ALA-accredited university. Everything is going great so far, but I have (not so surprisingly) been extremely busy. Now that my first semester is drawing to a close, I am turning again to more writerly things. I will have a forthcoming book review for a graphic novel for The Literary Review. You can see other book reviews I’ve written here.

Unfortunately, there has been very little (at least recreational) writing I have had time for this semester. I’ve been doing much more journal writing, than progress with any given book or short story than anything else, which I have found to be a step in the right direction. Also immensely helpful is having positive, encouraging people in my life (you know who you are) who help me through a lot, and help me to write and be creative in other ways, like knitting and otherwise– the former of which I have been able to do much. Updates on that to come later, perhaps.

More to the point, I am trying to work to refine a novel I have been working on and, to some extent, struggling with for the past couple years. I was given a book entitled “Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix & Finish with Confidence” by Roz Morris. Still near the beginning, I find it so far to be a much more logistical approach to the practice, rather than something like Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones” or even Jeff VanderMeer’s “Wonderbook,” both of which are incredibly helpful in different ways, but which aim to spark a writer’s inspiration, and further develop craft.

A tidbit of some writing from last night follows:

There is this moment. And then one more. And suddenly she needs to shift– into a new form, a new body only secondarily as she needs to place-shift, life-shift like turning an old kaleidoscope with beads inside and you turn it, turn it so anxiously so as to see that pattern change see the colors blend, mix, alter but then there is an unexpected jolt and maybe, just maybe, the new image is lackluster for it is no longer the old and so the other, it is realized, was all the time fleeting and therefore all the time missed in this flashbulb moment, this glistening memory.

To end, I want to do something a little different and share a song by a band that is amazing live, and has been the soundtrack to countless late-night writings, musings, and too many scenes throughout my writing to count.

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Local Gem, Part 2: Columcille Megalith Park in Bangor, PA

IMG_2223Spending a breezy spring afternoon at Columcille Megalith Park is guaranteed to be meditative and serene for all who venture there.

Rather than seeking an arduous hike, visit Columcille instead for the sights, sounds, and subtly winding trails tucked away in rural Pennsylvania.

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St. Columba Chapel at Columcille. (Photo by: Gabriella Shriner)

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Near Ye Olde Stone Wall Path. (Photo by: Charles Revello)

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Labrynth at Columcille (Photo by: Gabriella Shriner)

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On the way to Thor’s Gate (Photo by: Charles Revello)

Teeming with lovely scenery that includes rock formations, buildings made of stone within a forested landscape, including St. Columba Chapel, the winding labrynth, and Thor’s Gate. Images and descriptions of this spot can only tell so much. With unique locations like this, you really do need to see it to believe it.

Unlike other natural parks or wildlife refuges, Columcille offers an atmosphere that is almost magical and enigmatic. Walking along, one expects to see a tiny sprite or elf climb suddenly from a tree and reveal itself, with a bunch of wildflowers in hand.

The owners even host Celtic-inspired and seasonal rituals. According to their official website, Columcille.org, “Columcille draws its inspiration from Iona – a tiny island of four-billion-year-old stone off Scotland’s West Coast. The island has been a source of spiritual guidance and awakening for centuries.”

My interest in covering this location in another segment for Right in Your Backyard, a new blog that will be launching this summer with a focus on nature and hiking in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania areas, stems from the way that Columcille is rich with an interesting, unique history that people should know about, and is so nearby! Expanding upon the history and story behind this place will be a top priority, following other special and exciting places to visit and experience in the area.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

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