Nancy: It’s My Birthday Too, Yeah

A fun thing is happening today for the first time in the five years we’ve been doing the 8LW blog: my birthday is falling on my blog posting day! And just to double the fun, this is also the birthday of another of the Eight Ladies (hint: her first name is Michaeline!). She’s celebrating a super-special birthday year, but I’ll let her tell you about that if she’s so inclined. Let’s just say that number is so last year for me.

To kick off my celebration, I thought I’d share a few of my current favorite multi-media things with you. I’ve been enjoying a long birthday weekend that has included indulging in all of these, some possibly more than once. Spoiler alert: some of them involve story.

Netflix and Awww: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Have you heard about this teen rom-com on Netflix originals? It’s based on a YA book by Jenny Han. I don’t read much YA, so I hadn’t read this book or its two sequels before watching the movie – something that’s almost unheard of for me. But I’d heard good things about the movie and really wanted to settle in with some popcorn on Saturday night and watch a light-hearted romance. This movie gave me all the feels. And I loved the way it toed the line of some of the age-old tropes, but then didn’t go there. That kept it fresh, witty, and really respectful of teenage girls. When’s the last time you saw all that in a movie? Continue reading

Nancy: Writing Is Our Superpower

The times, they are a-changin'.

The times, they are a-changin’.

Wow, what a week.

As I sat down to compose this post, it was hard to know where to begin, how to find my way into writing the true-life story I’ve lived this past week. Last Monday, at 6 AM, I was on a plane from Baltimore to Boston. Within hours, I’d met a stranger who became a fast friend who was willing to pick me up at Logan airport at 7:30 AM, had shared breakfast and lunch with more new friends I’d just met, and was passing my phone around a table so these wonderful people could put their phone numbers into my contacts so we could stay in touch during our week together. No, I had not joined a commune or entered some weird alternate reality where strangers are your new best friends. Well…maybe I had. I had entered the Writers Unboxed Un-Conference.

With my own personal favorite mentors like Lisa Cron and Donald Maass, and authors/teachers such as Cathy Yardley, Kathryn Craft, and Barbara O’Neal (just to name a few) presenting deep-dive, hands-on workshops, this was already on track to be a writing-changing experience. I thought the writing workshops would be the thing that rocked my world last week. Oh, innocent, optimistic, naïve Nancy of November 7, how I miss you.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you as a card-carrying member of Pantsuit Nation, I wanted our country to make history in a very different way last Tuesday. When the exact opposite of my hopes happened, it triggered stages of grief – shock, anger, depression – on an endless loop. The majority (but not all!) of the conference attendees had a similar reaction. Perhaps it was because we’d self-selected to be part of a group of people whom we intuitively sensed were ‘on the same side’.  Perhaps it was because writers are empaths by nature; putting ourselves in the shoes of ‘the other’ is fundamental to our writing process, and there are many ‘others’ who have legitimate fears given the outcome of this election. This shared grief created a strange, bubble-wrapped enclave where we could rant, cry, and  – eventually – begin to heal.

“Community is a flashlight on a dark road. It keeps us pointed ahead.” – participant, WU Un-Conference 2016

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Nancy: On the Care and Feeding of Writers

Nancy's official NaNoWriMo (and life) avatar.

Nancy’s official NaNoWriMo (and life) avatar.

This past week, some of us prepped for NaNoWriMo 2015. Others started looking toward the impending end of the year and taking stock of manuscripts not yet completed and writing blocks not yet overcome. And far too many of us started beating ourselves up about our writing shortcomings. So today I thought I’d spend some time reminding you, dear readers who are also (sometimes fragile) writers, that you are awesome and amazing, and gosh-darn it, people like you (and your writing)! I’ve gathered some cliches, put a writerly spin on them, and shared them in the hopes you’ll take comfort in them and return to your writing with renewed joy, or at least remember to cut yourself a little slack.

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making story plans. And when life happens, it interrupts those story plans. Sometimes it’s fair, valid, and necessary for creative types to step away from their creative endeavors to take take of sick parents, young children, or friends or partners in need. But other times… Continue reading