Sunday, October 23, 2011

10/23/11 - Writing with a Purpose

I stayed up last night until the wee hours of the morning again. Only this time I was writing! Writing makes me happy. Just the act of writing in and of itself makes me feel alive, a bit giddy and somewhat anxious, sometimes scared (is it good enough?), but mostly it's heaven on earth. Don't even get me started on what I feel based on the characters. That's a whole other story!

I was writing throughout the night because my roommate came home and told me about a contest he had just heard about on the radio. NPR was conducting a contest for short stories that could be read in 3 minutes or less. So, still on a high from the epiphanies from the day, I decided to make a submission before going to bed. I went to the NPR website and previewed the guidelines: 600 words, someone comes into town, someone leaves. That was it. Create a story based on that.

I did what I usually do when I am going to write. I closed my eyes for a moment, cleared my mind, and then just began writing the words that flowed. I was on, and it felt good.

Until I finished with the base story and looked at the bottom of my monitor. My original word count was right at 1700. I nearly fainted. OK, not to be deterred, I started culling. That is what my life is about right now anyway, right? Three hours later I had it down to 599 words. I emailed it to my roommate so he could read it and then I went back to the NPR website to find the submission button.

Only to find out that the deadline was last month.

I didn't care! I literally laughed out loud. The thrill of writing and living within the pursuit of my dreams was enough. Plus, I have a finished piece of work that I was willing to submit. That is thrilling! And it gave me new direction. I will seek out competitions, research the guidelines and deadlines thoroughly from now on, and write, write, write. It will be interesting to see if it takes me months or years to win a competition or even get an honorable mention. Either would be nice, great actually, but I don't care! I will be writing.  And in between submissions I will continue to write on the story lines I'm already creating. Direction and purpose. Aren't they wonderful? 

I went to bed at 4 a.m., not even tired. And for those of you who are wondering by now, no. I am not manic. LOL.

When I woke up I decided to take care of my laptop - defrag, run scans, etc. It is going to be my livelihood and I have been putting off its general maintenance for far too long now. It was amazing to me how different my life felt with this new found direction. Everything has new meaning.

I decided to start tracking all of this newness so I can write an article or short story on it one day from my RV. I created what I call my RV lists: RV?, RV Cull, RV Heirloom, RV Keep, RV Need, RV No, RV Sites.

Basically, it's notes on the following:

RV? - A list of questions I will need answered about living in an RV. Someday I hope to get to talk to Glenn Morrissette about some of these. Right now he's dubbed the responses he's received from the online article as "post-Yahoo tsunami."  Catch you later, Glenn.

RV Cull - This is a list of things I will get rid of between now and the time I drive off in my RV. Probably not important to anyone else, but I will incorporate the list in the article or short story one day.

RV Heirloom - Similar to RV Cull, this list will show what I gave away but kept in the family.

RV Keep - Going with me baby!

RV Need - Things I don't have but at this point, think I may need. A subscription to Triple AAA and melamine dishware are on this list.

RV No - This is perhaps the most interesting list. It is a list of things that I would normally purchase if I weren't fixated on accomplishing my goals. There are already several things on this list and I just started it today!  Now, that's funny. For example, I have the house opened up because we are having absolutely gorgeous weather here right now. Just beautiful!   However, the back door won't stay open. So, usually, I would put a doorstop on my shopping list and get one next time I'm out and about. Nope, don't need it. It won't go in the RV with me so I'm not buying it. Period. Will be interesting to see how long this list gets.

RV Sites - Places I want to overnight while traveling.

And okay, now I can hear everyone admonishing me for living in a pipe dream, putting the cart before the horse, daydreaming too much or spinning my wheels. I'll have you know, I am not doing any of those things. The lists are on my phone and I quickly text in the items as they come up. Keep reading. You'll see that I had a very productive day. Thank you very much. :)

I realize that in addition to saving money for the RV, my biggest challenge is going to be coming up with a steady, mobile income before I can quit my job. That means socking back a lot of money in savings and making an income as a writer. I sat down and put pencil to paper. Without rent or mortgage, I should be able to live on $1000/month. It may take forever to make that much money as a writer, so throughout the day I had my thinking hat on to come up with additional ways I might make mobile money.

One of the things I thought of is my ability to photoshop pictures. I use a variety of software to enhance and repair photos. I customize, combine, design, and even create artistic digital scrapbook pages with digital embellishments and improved photos. Surely there is a market for that. I just have to find a way.

Bottom line: save enough for an RV, have at least $1000/month in mobile income, and I hit the road. I'm outta here. I just have to find a way.

So, in between working on all of this, cleaning house in between defrags and scans, I also googled writing contests. Most of them have an entry fee! They call it a reading fee. One site said that they get about 400 submissions per contest. I actually thought there would be 10x that amount, but okay, whatever. Let's do the math on the piddly 400 submissions.  It appears most contests charge at least $15 for this "reading fee." 15*400=$6,000.  Not too bad since most of the prizes were around $1200. Anyone want to invest in creating a writing contest? Seriously. Anyone?

I found myself getting discouraged. Not because of the volume of entries, not because of the fees (although that IS a deterrent), but because there were contests listed that had guidelines I couldn't even understand! I had no idea that billions of different essay types existed! What were some of those anyway?!? And to top it off, I noted that most of the past winners had MFAs or multiple works published already. I stopped. Regrouped. And remembered my goals: 1) to live mobile, 2) to write, and 3) to be a public speaker. I can do this. I got this.

Besides, if I enter contests back-to-back, nonstop, it can only improve my craft, right? So I forged ahead and chose my 1st contest. I am going to submit a work of fiction to Writer's Digest for their 12th Annual Short Short Story Competition, 1,500 words or fewer.

My submission will be a story I drafted sometime ago, "The Blue Lady." Trust me, it's not going to be what you think it might based on the title. I quickly put notes on my computer years ago after seeing this tiny, old, old, old, gentile woman dressed in blue, with blue hair, leaving a store to get in a blue car with the help of a maid that was driving her, dressed in blue uniform. On top of that, they were a picture straight out of the 60's, only it was the 90's. Surely I can create a story from that scene!

Wish me luck!


  1. go girl! e-mail me the story u wrote please.


  2. So in case you haven't all ready discovered these sites - found a coupleof things to get you started in the world of RV adventure. I really like the idea of workammping. Sounds like a plan to me.
    Also keep this in mind from another article - Moving from being a homeowner or renter to a full-time RV resident can provide some cost savings, but Lundgren warns that "RV living is not a cheaper way to live. It's just a different way to live."


    Checking out online forums where other RVers share their experiences might be a good start as well. Check out Full Time RVing ( Not only do they offer job opportunities perfect for people who like to live life on the road, there is an open forum which has topics from questions about certain areas suitable for RV travel to how to install additions to your RV to people selling RV parts and old RVs. RV also has a forum where you can post questions about RVing, and they can be answered. They also have a notable section on RV care and lifestyle articles that you may want to peruse. And if you prefer books, try "Complete Guide to Full-Time RVing: Living on the Open Road" by Bill and Jan Moeller or "The RVer’s Bible" by Kim Baker.

  3. So a couple of places to add to your list of places to go Beavers Bend park outside of Broken Bow,OK. southeast corner of Oklahoma. Just saw the pics from a friend on Facebook. Simply Beautiful.

  4. L - so glad to have you on this journey with me. Thanks too for the RV info. Wow! You are amazing - thanks for thinking of me & supporting me in this. Have added Beavers Bend park to this list. :)