Category Archives: Life

Writing Just for Fun

I blogged before (here) about the play-by-email role playing game (PBeM RPG) I’m a member of.

It has been almost three years since the group started. My own first post was on 20 April 2011. This cooperative writing project has been the source of both intense enjoyment and utter frustration. It’s wonderful when everyone participates consistently, and crazy-making when one player flakes.

Pheasants on the road near Stirling, Scotland August 2013

Suicidal pheasants on the road near Stirling, Scotland August 2013

Last Autumn I was pretty fed up with the way some other long-time players were blocking story threads. At that point I had four characters. I wrote two of them out of the story, intending to back out of the game. Then the GM quit just before NaNoWriMo. One of my two remaining characters is/was stuck in limbo because two players went AWOL. My last and oldest character is/was in a slow-moving story thread with one other writer.

I thought I was okay with one, minimally active character in the RPG. After all, I had original writing to do! I shouldn’t be wasting my precious writing time on fanfiction that can’t even be published! Write? I mean, Right?

Wrong.

RPG writing is fun. Creative. Easy. No serious editing. It feels like writing that first draft and submitting it right away while you’re madly in love with it — without that OMG morning-after, what-have-I-done hangover feeling.

The thing about RPG in any form is, players come and go. That’s just the way it is. I realized that I really missed writing the game. And now there are new players. Game Master responsibilities are being managed by a committee. So I’ve created a new character I hope will be more active.

Of course writing collaborative fiction with the goal of publication would not be the same as writing an RPG. But, I bet there would be similarities and I hope to get to try it sometime.

Happy Writing.

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2014 Clarion West Application & Rejection

I applied to Clarion West again this year, and did not get in.

Rejection is a normal part of the writing life. I know that. We all know that. I honestly have no problem with submitting a story to a publication and the story getting rejected. I know it’s the story that’s being rejected, not me.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Clarion West is a six-week, 24/7 intensive writing workshop. Just sending an application is a huge commitment. Putting aside a huge lump of money. Figuring the mechanics of how someone else will take care of my responsibilities as I (potentially) remove myself from the lives of my loved ones for six weeks.

The application consists of two parts. 1) A 20 to 30 page short story in standard manuscript format; about 4000 to 6000 words. 2) A 700-800 word essay telling them about yourself. For me, the essay was much, much harder to write than the story. The essay is personal. Unlike my short story, the essay absolutely IS me.

Skunk cabbage blooming at the Mercer

Skunk cabbage blooming at the Mercer Slough on 1 April 2014. Pretty and stinky – it must be spring.

A couple months ago my twins had a school English class assignment to read a biography and write a book report. One of them chose Nelly Bly, the other chose singer Ke$ha. When I asked why the Ke$ha book report was only one page long, my daughter’s response was “Duh. She’s only twenty-three years old.”
Yeah. I really hate writing the two-page book report of my life.

The whole process of applying to Clarion West triggers my inner demons in a way that the submission/rejection process never does. After more than twenty years of recovery, it jars me into the realization that deep down, I will always have codependency issues. From the time the application window closed on March 1st, to March 14th when someone-who-would-know tweeted that the acceptance phone calls had started, to March 22nd when I finally received the rejection email. The wait (and everything that goes with it) was agonizing. This year was even worse for me than last year.

I love to write. I’ll keep on writing, and I will continue to submit. Rejections really don’t bother me because like I said, it’s not me it’s my story — easy peasy.

Right now, I don’t know if I will apply to Clarion West next year. Six whole weeks of immersion in the craft of writing would be pure heaven for me. But the price of that lottery ticket is painful. Also, the summer of 2015 will be particularly busy with family commitments, so disappearing for six weeks may be impossible.

Two friends, one a close friend, will join the 2014 Clarion West class. I am really, truly happy for them and their class mates. My most sincere congratulations to all eighteen of them.

Happy Writing.

Why do I have this blog anyway?

It has been three months since my last blog post. This is the point where I insert an excuse. Or an explanation. Or maybe a list of exciting things I’ve been doing instead of blogging.

But truthfully, I just didn’t feel like writing blog posts.

When I started this blog, I thought every writer *should* have a blog. The theme I chose was my experiences along the way to becoming a published author. I’m still actively pursuing that goal. I have two short stories published.

But, two years later I know that a blog is actually NOT a requirement for becoming an author. I also arrived at the realization that a blog about me trying to get published isn’t particularly interesting, even to me. Personally, if I want blogger advice about how to write great stories and get them published I’m going to read the blogs of people who are doing it.

And my friends’ blogs. I read those.

This must be the point where I declare a new and inspiring theme. Except. Oh, wait; I don’t have one. Yeah, when I have a new theme I shall declare it. In the mean time I’ll be updating this blog with whatever strikes my fancy.

Miriah in 6th grade

Miriah in 6th grade


btw, it was my birthday on Monday. This photo was taken about four and a half decades ago.

Happy Writing.

Dandelion Inspiration

Argh. It has been almost three months since my last post. Time for some introspection? Excuses? Self flagellation? Pledges to post regularly from now on?

Naw. (Who wants to read that?)
Well, maybe an implied pledge. Because obviously I’m starting to blog again.

I found this dandelion growing in my driveway the other day.

Nature finds a way to keep growing.

Nature finds a way to keep growing.

It inspired me with its tenacity and simple beauty. I want to be like this dandelion. Push through the cement and grow like a weed.

Happy Writing

not accepted and moving on

A drawing by Alison Hetherington

by Alison Hetherington

I applied to the Clarion West six-week Writing workshop, and received my rejection letter last Friday (March 22).

Oddly, it wasn’t until after I sent in my application (five weeks before the deadline) that I realized how desperately I really wanted to go. It was like holding a lottery ticket. I hardly ever buy lottery tickets, and even when I do I don’t daydream about winning a million dollars (well, not for more than five minutes). But I did daydream about going to Clarion West, and how indescribably amazing and life-changing it would be.

Hoping for that golden-ticket phone call was far more stressful than I had expected it to be. I watched the forums on the Clarion West web site. On March 12, applicants on the forums were already speculating that acceptance phone calls were imminent. Although I made only a couple of brief posts myself, I saw the craziness I was feeling echoed in post after post from other people. Some “forum-ers” with far better Twitter-stalker skills than me found a tweet from one applicant who got their acceptance phone call on March 19.

I wish I could say that I was able to channel my anxiety into a flood of productive writing. But no. I have been at a creative stand-still for the past two weeks. Today I dredged up my last unfinished short story, a Sci-Fi story based on an early 1600s Border Reiver ballad. Because it’s time to shake it off, move on, and keep writing!

My rejection email included the phrase “our readers particularly commended your work”, which I’ve heard is a good thing. I will be thinking about participating in the Clarion West write-a-thon, and I hope to apply for the workshop again next year.

And this summer in Seattle there will be weekly Clarion West Instructor readings to look forward to.

Happy Writing!

Change and a Haircut

Change is inevitable, I think we all know that. A lot of change we don’t have any control over. I’ll reframe from making a list because that would be endless. But some change is completely within my control. Like the length of my hair.

Miriah Hetherington, before haircut

Miriah before the haircut.

I’ve had long hair for most of my life. When I was little my mother kept it short, because she understandably didn’t want to deal with the effort involved. So when I was a kid, I always wanted long hair, and that desire stuck with me ever since.

Most people don’t change that much in their lifetimes, in my opinion. We can learn that there are more choices. We may even learn to control our behavior and make different, better choices. But, who we are usually stays pretty much the same.

Miriah Hetherington

Miriah with new haircut

I grew a little bored of my hair. I had to keep it braided most of the time otherwise it was in the way. Now, this short hair feels weird, like I’m missing an old friend. But hair grows back, right?

Hair Donated to Pantene program

Donated Hair

A few people have asked if I donated my hair to Locks of Love. That is a wonderful charity. When the twins were babies I donated my “pregnancy hair” to LoL. But Locks of Love doesn’t use hair that is gray or colored (they sell it) and nowadays my hair includes a bit of both. This time I donated to another charity my hair stylist told me about, Pantene Beautiful Lengths, that provides wigs to women cancer patients. Because not everybody gets to choose the length of their hair.