Are you in the mood for some serious writing prompts? These do not let you waffle your way through.
Just one more week left on the August sale offer on my Intensive Critique coaching package. This professional manuscript editing normally goes for $100. Right now, it is 1/4 of that–a mere $25. Outside word count is 5000 words.
Writing is always an act of communication. Whether you, the writer, acknowledge it or not, the words you write have no meaning until there is a reader wanting to understand them.
However, when we writers, in the exuberance of self-expression, blithely ignore the needs of the reader, our writing often comes a cropper. Organization, word choice, plot, characterization, meaning–all can so easily be lost.
This happens no matter our age, experience, or familiarity with the subject. It is why editors exist and why you should always have an editor look at your manuscript before you write “The End.”
During the Intensive Critique I offer, I am the Reader. While metaphorically sitting on my hands, I read the text as an act of communication. What is it saying? What am I feeling and thinking as I read it? What questions do I have? When do I become confused? Lose interest? Feel the urgency of ‘what next’? I am looking for what works, but I am also looking for what needs work.
As I go through the manuscript, I use the Comments capability of Drive to make specific notes on the piece–asking questions, suggesting, offering my “at the moment” response to the work.
This creates a file which offers a record of my reading alongside the original manuscript. The writer can print this to have a map of sorts as to exactly where the act of communication either succeeds or breaks down.
Normally I charge $100 for the Intensive Critique. However, during the first weeks of August, I’m offering an abbreviated version for 1/4 of the cost. All genres; all levels of experience.
Want to learn more? Let me know in the Comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the reasons I got the idea to do this podcast is because I want to be able to talk others about these things that are happening to me or occurring to me or floating through my mind in these years as I’ve gotten past 60. And they change…boy, do they ever. My 60s were one thing; my 70s are something totally different. Stuff I was so sure about–well, now I’m not so sure I’m sure. And stuff that I thought was really really important–eh, meh, some is and some isn’t.
One thing I’m sure about is that I’m not the last word on any of this. I have several friends, BFFs from over the decades, who are exactly my age. Yet we’re at different stages in our lives, and different things matter to us, or not. So not only is Aging not a determined category; the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s aren’t either.
And yet when commentators or bloggers or experts with the best of intentions set an age limit for some truth or way of being, there are whole crowds of us who are left out. Because we’re outside that age limit. Or we aren’t experiencing that truth or way of being.
My goal with MidLifeBloggers was and with #TOS60 now is to provide a place, a platform where each of us can use their voice for talking about/sharing their vision or their experience or their truth of whatever the moment at hand was.
I’ve been planning this podcast since the fall. I’ve set several do-able deadlines for when I would go “live.” My big girl earphones and mic combo have been in place for about six weeks. Unused.
Why? Because I’m a poster child for all of Brene Brown’s books. Vulnerability–not for me, thank you very much. Oh, but I see and understand that without vulnerability, I’ll achieve nothing. Okay then, I’ll be vulnerable on those days and those times when I am feeling so solidly sure of me that I’m ready for the slings and arrows that I always expect will come.
Obviously, I’ve conquered a lot of that in my writing. But speaking? To some unknown audience (of maybe three BFFs)–nope. I’ll just sit here in the dark….
Except I really do believe that there are secret sharers out there who would like-enjoy-benefit-from-need having a place to air the good and the bad and the meh of life on the other side of sixty.
So I’ll work on screwing up my courage…and continue writing this blog. Until my big girl earphones fit my head.
Creating a podcast when you’re the other side of 60 is challenging…and fun…and, yes, scary (I’m always sure my party will be the one no one attends).
Here’s what I’ve come up with. It will be a once a week podcast. It will run for 45 minutes, divided into 10-15 minute segments, featuring interviews, conversations, readings and whatever else, on a variety of topics. Such as
- How Old Are You?
- Grandparenting in a non-binary world
- Today’s Job Market: if only it was 1968
- HaIr: long v short, grey v dyed, curly v straight, personal preference v cultural mores–and why do we care?
- Sex after sixty…and seventy….and eighty: a variety of viewpoints
- Retirement: Pro, Con, Can’t afford it
- Care-taking & Widowhood
- Travel on the other side of 60
- Finances – when you didn’t plan for the future; faking it in the middle class
- Family – when relationships change
- Friendships on the Other Side of 60
- Love & Relationships
- Skin: – Expert opinion and venting about warts, growths, age blotches, wrinkles, changes in skin tone, superfluous hair, senile acne, toenails, fingernails, dry skin, fragile skin
- Clothing, Fashion, Comfort
Those are just my ideas at one sitting on one particular day. What are yours? What conversations are you having–or wish you could have–with similarly aged people? Any ideas, additions, thoughts, are more than welcome. And if you’re interested in joining in, let me know.
January 1st, 2019…Say it out loud and it sounds ridiculous. But maybe that’s because I was born in 1945. So 2019 was too far away for me to even consider for much of my life.
My Facebook feed is full of posts welcoming the New Year…or not…or claiming immunity from negativity…or not. I am not inclined to make grand gestures. So this will do for me:
In 2019, I am starting a podcast, called The Other Side of 60. It is known informally among the few in the know as #TOS60.
As soon as I finished those sentences, I sat. Well, actually, I peed, cleaned out the bathtub drain, and walked back to my desk to admit that the writing of them had me almost paralyzed with fear.
How dare I even think that I could do a podcast? Yes, I’m the founder of MidLifeBloggers.com and that had a pretty good run back in the day. But in today’s media world? Who would listen? Why would they listen? And what would I say?
The answers to those hark back to MidLifeBloggers. I started that, the first on-line website magazine for and by people in midlife. I put no age restrictions on it because my overriding goal was inclusivity. This was the time when mommybloggers took all the time and attention given women on the internet. This was also the time when monetization first became a thing. Put those things together, and those of us who were no longer in the first decades of childrearing, those of us who had never had a child to raise, were pretty much off the radar of any of the new wonders offered by Web 2.0. We had been, pretty much, erased.
That drove me crazy. So one day, in a fit of pique, I bought the MidLifeBloggers.com url and invited other people, women and men, bloggers or not, to join me in creating a place where the multiplicity of our voices would be heard. The rest, as they say, is history.
So this, then, is what I’m at again with The Other Side of 60. We are, those of us, 60+, 70+, 80+ and beyond, a mixed lot. There is no essential older woman, no matter how often savvy marketing ploys tell you the single road to fulfillment as an older woman is ……..fill in the blank…….
As part of this foray into podcasting, I had to answer some questions. Like, who is my ideal listener and what problem am I solving with my podcast. To this, I said:
My ideal listener is anywhere from 60 to 100+ because what characterizes them is not their specific age but their attitude to life. They are very much still engaged in living as fully as they can. They want to experience, explore, learn, enjoy, create, and find satisfaction in the big and small things of life. TOS60 offers them a place to share, learn from others, get expert opinion
I am solving the problem all of us face as we move from middle age to the years 60, 70, 80 and beyond: how do I find relevance in the world I live in? What gives meaning to my life? What takes away from it? What can I do, how can I be proactive in creating the life on the other side of 60 that makes me feel…..
Tomorrow I’ll share some of the nuts and bolts of #TOS60, as well as some of my programming ideas. In the meantime, as with MidLifeBloggers, I’m throwing this venture open to whoever wants to join in. Let me know if that’s you.
Once upon a time…there lived a little girl who grew into a big girl who grew into a mature woman and the whole time there was one thing that defined her: SHE COULD NOT DO THINGS THE EASY WAY.
In school she found it impossible to follow the teacher’s instructions–“but why do I have to use my blue crayon when I like the green one much better!” She found it impossible to fulfill the tasks her bosses set her–“no, I haven’t finished the twenty pages of dictation you gave me. I’ve been in the ladies room with stomach flu.” And even when she was her own boss, she found it impossible to stick to her agenda–“How about if I just twist this to the right and turn that to the left…won’t that be neat?”
Long long after her trial-filled school years, she finally learned that there was actually a reason for her contrary nature: Doctors gave it a diagnosis and other doctors prescribed medication…but
but….the rest of the world, her friends and family–they didn’t really get the message. They may have heard it intellectually, but in their heart of hearts they knew that the heroine of this fairy tale was really just not trying hard enough. And in many ways, despite all evidence to the contrary, she believed them.
So–I found this in one of my many “Ongoing Projects” files that I’ve been going through, trying to clean house. I like it–a lot. So I’m sharing. Last time I shared fiction on my blog, a reader got very upset because she thought it was something from my life, a regular blogpost. So be aware that This. Is. Fiction.
This is the day he died. Ten years ago today. Right over there in his old chair. One minute alive, watching something stupid on the TV, drinking a beer, stuffing his face with peanuts, the next a goner, sure as I saw one. His face come over all purple like and he gave one grunt. “Urrff.” Like a dog mid dream what gives but half a bark. I knew from the sound that something weren’t right.
Called them kids but none were home. Out and about, doing whatever. Christmas shopping and such. Or so they said. So I sat here with his old dead body and watched him turn cold and wax-like.
Person takes a while to go, you know. Life kinda moves away from the body. Or maybe the body stays still and the person moves away. It’s an odd thing, I’ll tell you that.
Course I didn’t just stand there and watch it happen. Took a seat, for the show you might say. I’d waited a long time for that man to die. Once upon a time, I thought I’d enjoy the sight. But he waited too long to do it, I suppose. I got no pleasure, but then I got no pain neither.
Come morning I called again. Dickie came, along with Miss Priss, that old thing he married. They was fit to be tied that I’d sat all night with a corpse. “Why didn’t you call 9-1-1?” Miss Priss wanted to know. Couldn’t rightly tell her. But then, I wouldn’t have even if I could. None of her business, I’d say.
Cops came in a squad car, squealing up to the house like it weren’t a dead body they’d been called to see. Then that fat old lardbucket, Waylon Reardan, what got himself elected coroner, and a couple of helpers from Jury’s Funeral Home to do the work, since old Waylon wasn’t capable of moving a dead chicken, let alone the heft of a man the size of Lloyd.
Took the lot of them almost to pry him outta his chair. He’d stiffened up so they couldn’t get him straightened out nohow. Kinda fitting, I thought. He’d lived in that chair so damn long, ended up shaped like the damn thing. Ended up, they had to sort of lift him up, two on each side, like he was some football hero just won the game.
Lloyd’s chair, Got it for hisself the Christmas before he passed. One hundred fifty dollars, cost new. At the Fresno auction. Took hisself down there and bid on it without a word. Brought it home tied down in the back of his pickup. Come into the house with it, squared it up in front of the TV and sat down in it like he weren’t fixing to move for love nor money. Course he weren’t fixing to. What he figured was he’d get me to do all the moving for him.
He’d sit there watching that old black and white TV, and on one of them collapsible metal TV table, he’d collected his ashtray, his beer and that damn bowl of nuts. He’d stare at that TV and yell out to me “Hey, Myrtie, bring me another one of them brewskis.”
Didn’t matter where I was in the house, doing whatever more important, if I didn’t answer him right away, he’d be a bellowing again, “Myrtie? You hear me?”
“I hear you. The dead hear you,” I’d tell him. I’d hand him the beer, and damned if he’d take it without even a look my way.
“S’that all you’re gonna do from now on? Watch that damned thing? You know them rays are poisonous. They shine right out from that there pitcher tube and beam right into your body. Frizzle your organs, they will. I read it. Turn your guts into dried rope.
“Course what do you care since your liver’s already pickled. Lloyd? Lloyd, you listening to me?”
“Oh huh, “ he’d grunt.
“No you ain’t,” I be starting to yell, getting mad-like by now. “I hate it, Lloyd. I hate it when you treat me like I’m some dead wall.”
He’d hear the yell and know he better perk up some. “I hear you, Mama. You said the TV will turn my guts into fried rope and my liver’s pickled.”
“Dried, fried. What’s the difference?”
“No difference. No difference at all. Dried, fried, whatever, dead is dead.”
And, of course, in the end I was right. Dead is dead and it didn’t rightly matter what killed him. Waylon claimed it were a stroke. Who cares. He was dead.
As part of my research for other things writing related, I came across the website, Funds for Writers, which offers, neatly alphabetized, a list of grants writers can apply for along with deadlines and other relevant informaton.
I don’t know about you, but I have long harbored a fantasy of being awarded a fellowship at the McDowell Colony or the like. There’s something about the idea of all of my needs being satisfied in the service of my writing that seems magical to me. As in, I would magically write the purest of prose, with no tendency to procrastinate.
Here’s me as a fellow at a said writer’s conference:
I wake up to the sound of bird song. Is it the fucking jays twittering outside my window or is it the sweet sparrows warbling away?
Ne’er mind–my eyes open and I stretch and yawn and think of the exciting day ahead. All mine, to write, to create, to fantasize whole worlds—to go back to that fucking draft I left in the middle last night because it was turgid and going nowhere, nowhere, nowhere.
I climb out of my nest of comforters and open the front door of my cottage. There, just at the stoop, is a steaming pot of coffee and a wicker basket of freshly baked rolls. Will there be the ones I truly cherish–the baking soda, brown sugar, pecan knots–or will someone else have gotten the only rolls that are talismanic for my daily productivity? I root through the basket, find one twisted pecan knot and feel relieved that the omens for my day seem on my side.
And thus my day at the writer’s colony continues apace, as filled with the dark and the light, the yin and the yang, the blithe reduction to utter absurdity as any a day at home.
For those of you who want the real story, however, I offer this blogpost, All About Writers Colonies. The author, Nova Ren Suma, has surveyed a number of her fellow writers who have actually spent time at some of the most prominent colonies. They offer their experience–and their advice.
My fantasy about being awarded a fellowship at a writer’s colony will always remain hovering, somewhere just beyond my ability to actually sit down and apply. If you are more proactive than I, check out the list of grants from Funds for Writers.
And let me know how it goes. Really. Feed my fantasy with your own experience!
Here’s my problem: I want to start blogging again. And one would think, what better place to do it than here, in this corner of my website labelled “Blog”.
Except–the kind of blogging I want to start again has little to do with writing or editing or process or revision. Except, of course, when it does. Which is when that thing in front of me, the whatever must be expressed that day, just happens to concern the written word.
Am I making any sense?
Do I really care?
What I miss about blogging, about the kind of blogging we used to do before we got concerned about stats and monetization (have I said all this before? because it feels very familiar…)–. Sometimes we wrote about what we ate for lunch, and sometimes we wrote about the state of our union (if we had one) that day. When I say ‘we’, I mean ‘I’, of course. Sometimes we/I ranted and sometimes we/I moaned.
All of those posts existed at some point in the MidLifeBloggers archive. However, the MidLifeBloggers archive no longer exists. Therefore, my pearls, those gems of my mind for the years ’05-’15 are lost forever.
Do I care?
Not really. And that’s something I want to blog about, why I don’t care–or, to be specific, what it is I don’t care about.
Oh, wait! I just went back a mere six months and lookie what I found: http://janegassner.com/2017/08/the-good-old-days/ . This is what I said before that feels very familiar–to quote myself back at the beginning of this post. So read that, and add it to this–and then we’ll see if I’m any better at fulfilling my urge this time.