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Let go

freeing the stories that crowd my mind

By Jill Harper-JuddPublished 5 months ago 5 min read
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Let go
Photo by Jürgen Scheeff on Unsplash

I joined Vocal only a few months ago, so I don’t really have a “past year”. But – in exploring different online writer communities I quickly came to realize that there are platforms for any creative writing I want to do – and a plethora of readers and writers with whom I can interact to help me improve and refine my writing. That it took me until middle age to realize this and find my (online) tribe is entirely my fault! But Vocal in particular suits me. I like the way communities are grouped into genres and that I can move freely from one to another depending on where I want my writing to be seen. I love that I can comment on published work -and especially that others can comment on my own. We don’t grow unless we push past our comfort zone and it is high time I embrace and act on my desire to be a “WRITER”.

This year I want to continue exposing my poetry to the Poets community and eventually publish a collection of my best poems. I am also becoming very interested in accessing online audio venues where I can not only present my own poems but also narrate favorites by other authors for an audience to enjoy. I took a big leap recently and submitted a chapter of a fantasy book I’m writing to the Chapters community. I’m excited to hear opinions and suggestions for improving the content but I also feel like I’m now accountable – I need to write a chapter a week to keep up and that means I may very well actually finish it! That is exciting too! I have wanted to write creatively for such a long time but was limited to professional materials or content for classrooms. I feel as if I’m finally able to access that creative part of me that has been just waiting for the right time!

I definitely want to explore the histories and types of poetry in more depth this year as a sort of research project. I have generally written free verse but have found that when I’m stuck for inspiration, creating a Haiku (or several) helps me get started and I can go from there. It has also led me to read more about different poetic forms and meters (I can feel the shadow of high school English!!). Stephen Crane and e. e. cummings have always been favorites of mine and -particularly with cummings- I am strongly pulled towards the way his poems are shaped physically. I feel that I (mostly) understand what he is doing there and it gives a great deal of depth and import to his material. Stephen Crane of course wrote darker works but in all of them but his meaning shines through; the Black Riders is one of my favorite collections.

For general fiction, I am anticipating exploring more fantasy (because I like it) but I have never written a full length novel so that will be a challenge! In the past I’ve written mostly short stories, a subgenre that I really enjoy. More specifically, I’ve always been obsessed with 1945-1970s science fiction short story anthologies - so there is a high likelihood that I’ll be writing my stories with inspiration from those. But learning more about how to effectively plan and outline a story, whether it is 3 pages or 300, will serve me well as I develop my confidence and craft as an author. And…last but not least (!) I’m planning to start my “intended for publication” portfolio with something I know and love: children’s books, particularly books that include dogs. As it is, I have many (too many) ideas but I am looking forward to putting those on paper and sending them out into the world.

I read…constantly, both fiction and non-fiction, and I have an extensive collection of favorite books to draw on for everything from style to outlining to simple inspiration. Since I signed up for Vocal, I have already found myself writing every day – it seems as if I have poems and stories lining up and just waiting to be released. I can’t get them all on paper all at once of course, but I can at least make a list or scribble some notes as inspiration strikes (or slaps). And lately it seems that the more I open that door to a creative life, the more ideas I feel crowding each other to be seen. I do, of course, also read and follow writers and creators on Vocal…this is still a new endeavor for me so it is tremendous fun and extremely helpful to see what other (often excellent) authors are producing. One thing in particular that I have noticed is that there is much more descriptive imagery in other pieces I’ve read than I usually include in mine. I blame that on my science background: I was taught to write very succinctly and to get to the point (professional scientific abstracts and articles don’t leave much room for embellishment). But in reading the works of other authors I can see how they use descriptive phrases to add energy or action or excitement – and I know from personal experience that a poem, story or book is not read just for the plot but because readers want to feel and to imagine and to become immersed (and invested) in the narrative. So building out the world of whatever story I’m writing is my number one area where I want to improve.

Since I’ve only been on Vocal for a short time, I am still a bit overwhelmed by all the resources that are available. I have entered a few challenges and I like those – even if I didn’t win, I wrote a complete piece and let the world see it. That’s HUGE for me. Vocal prompts and challenges are not only excellent ways for me to make sure I keep writing but they also encourage (or require!) that I write for specific genres or about topics that are less familiar (or are even uncomfortable) to me. So…for this year I’m just going to keep on writing, and thinking, and reading and writing. I’d love to have followers, or be included the Top Stories or the leaderboard(s). And writing something that actually gets published in the real world – that still seems like a pipe dream but I can certainly do my best to make that happen! And with the support of the Vocal communities, I think I'm on my way!

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About the Creator

Jill Harper-Judd

I've been writing poetry and short stories since childhood....but my life has often been chaotic so (mental) space to write can be hard to find. I am a lover of words and the worlds we can create with them. I seek beauty in all things.

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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  • Xine Segalas5 months ago

    These are wonderful goals for this year. I am relatively new to the platform as well - it seems we have a lot in common - I read a ton and wrote about my reading often. Congratulations on taking the leap and submitting a chapter of a fantasy book. I wrote my first speculative fiction story this year, too, after taking a class online this fall. I've just subscribed to you - I look forward to following your writing journey this year. Good luck!

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