Category Archives: essays

Social Media Challenge Goals, Day 2


For the second day of the social media challenge we’re discussing our goals. My overall hopes are to continue with coherent, productive, efficient weekly schedules, breaking down monthly schedules fashioned from three months of challenges in 2011-2012. Also, because I’m a neophyte in the world of literary publishing, it’s imperative that I determine an annual schedule as well. Considering reading schedules of literary magazines, this is essential.

Here are my specific and general writing and social media goals for the month, year, and life.

Optimize my social media skills.

Gain 100 new Twitter followers each month for the next year.

Gain 108 subscribers to my professional Facebook profile.

Get published twice more this spring.

Get three more pieces published this year.

Build my author platform to a level that will pique the interest of publishers.

Build up the participation levels of the two monthly online chats I start hosting in April on SheWrites.

Become a regular member on Litopia.

Build my network of fellow writers.

Help someone get published.

Gain the focus, concentration, detachment, and patience necessary to start and complete a book– whether a collection of essays or narrative nonfiction– that I can be proud of.

Increase my blog readership to the point where more writers, those in the publishing industry, and travelers leave more comments. Hopefully it will build to the point of earning some reliable cash each month. I’d like my blog writing to be more professional, more literary, though by no means do I want one of those “This is how to be a professional writer, now buy my…”. There are so many other grand writers to do that. To help reach a higher literary quality in my content, I’m considering dropping down from 10 monthly posts to eight, especially because many people come to see as a chore those blogs which publish more frequently.

Enter (and win) at least one contest.

Enter the world of writing residencies. It’s lately occurred to me that this may just be the way I comfortably land back in my own country.

Improve my writing, por supuesto!


Much luck to all other writers participating in the social media challenge. For those of you who aren’t yet doing so, it’s certainly not too late to start.

Literary Writers: Are You Submissive?


After participating for six months, April marks the first month I’m officially taking over the reigns as facilitator for the monthly Submission Mission chats.

A lot has happened since discovering the chats: my first piece as a literary writer was accepted. The ninth cloud is mine to ride as I await the actual publication of “Burqa to the Loo”, a memoir about the liberation found in wearing hijab in an orthodox Muslim neighborhood in Mumbai. The piece will publish in mid-April, according to my editors.

How do you get from staring it in a Word file to seeing it on a literary web site? Persistent, patient submitting.

Much of my success is due to SheWrites. SheWriters have helped edit and polish my work. SheWriters have critiqued submission cover letters. SheWriters have been substance to write about. SheWriters have exposed me to new journals, recommended some to submit to, shared editors’ contact info.

Let’s see what I can bring you as ringleader of our monthly chat. Everyone is welcome to join. You don’t have to yet be published. I do hope you’re submitting, though. If you’re an editor, take a front row seat, please. In addition to our monthly submission goals, our tactics, our recent disappointments and successes, here are some other notions to entertain.

  • Consider submitting to Brevity’s special upcoming issue. This nonfiction journal presents Ceiling or Sky: Female Nonfictions after the VIDA Count. Those of you who attended AWP may have heard of this, especially if you’re a nonfiction writer.
  • Discover yet another means of determining which journals are suitable for your submissions through this Writer’s Relief article.
  • If you too have to remind yourself occasionally not to take your sh!t too seriously, here’s a bit of humor from Ploughshares.

Now, please direct your attention toward your calendar. Mark off one hour beginning at 330 PM EST, right here on SheWrites, on Friday, 6 April. Get your cup of tea (or wine), put the Do Not Disturb sign on your office door, shut off Facebook and Twitter and log in to SheWrites. We’re in the “Main Room” tab on the bottom right of your web page. We invite your questions, facts, suggestions, self-promotion, and news of journals, agents, or publishers.

Where will your writing be in six months?

Travel Inspires the Literary


March has been a trying month for writing. It’s also been inspired. Such is the conundrum formed by moving to a foreign country and commencing a full-time job within the same week.

Along with an overabundance of unclaimed time that I never can quite enjoy while staying in the US, gone are the days of uninspired writing. While staying in Ohio and Tempe over winter (in the northern hemisphere) it was all I could do to get out a professional blog post, let alone one for my own blog. It was all I could do to write a journalistic article for my Hong Kong publisher. And heaven forbid I actually complete composing and/or editing any literary work. Everything sort of blends together. Little passion or inspiration comes long for the taking.

Peru, conversely, fuels my literary side. During my six-months in Lima last year, I started or advanced almost half a dozen literary essays and memoir pieces. Since the day of departure from the US on Thursday, 1 March, I’ve begun and completed composing two essays, a Q&A with a newly publisher writer, two professional blog posts, advanced editing of a third essay, and (as of this writing) am on my ninth ATW blog post for March. (All without reliable Internet connectivity for two weeks.) In addition I’ve sent out three submissions. Let’s hope that doesn’t turn into more, as I’m particularly wanting this Q&A to be accepted by the journal last submitted to. (Admittedly here lies a bit of humblebraggadocio.)

Considering my new full-time job started on 5 March, it’s surprising that I’ve accomplished even what writing I have. My free hours have plummeted since days in the US like Wiley Coyote down a canyon wall. There is no more self-pitying time than when the literary spark hits an obstacle like time commitments. The experience has me rolling my eyes less frequently over the number of I’m-too-busy-to-write posts available online. Rolling eyes has turned to empathizing.

Anyway, here’s an update about a piece cooking up in my literary kitchen, a CNF piece limited to 750 words.

This may be one of the most difficult pieces I’ve ever written. Then again, I could say that about anything I’m working on because each gives me courage to dig further and further into myself. They also give me ability to distance myself further and further away from the subject matter, in turn letting the piece become literature.

Lessons: To have the courage to stay in nonfiction rather than chickening out and pretending it’s fiction, which lends authors the ability to vent and to lie. The tight envelope of 750 words imposed by the publication that inspired this piece rather constricts. It also helps to write single moments poignantly, like time-lapse videos of water drops or insect action.

This length urges writers to choose content and verbiage wisely, perhaps more poetically, to use more skillful double entendres. “Keep it tight and honest,” Hemingway might have said.

As my first third-person piece, I’m elucidated to distance myself from the subject matter– a confounding, emotional one– to tell a story, not merely to dwell on me (as I’m doing ever so lengthily here).

Status: Composed all but complete; major editing required before submitting before the publication’s deadline.

As March closes, and this I-perspective blog post, thanks are in order. The flame of inspiration illuminates my days. Balance has not evaded me; I’m able to slow down when the flame becomes a torchthrower. My new job usurps more time and energy than expected yet has resulted in better planning and daily structuring, more productivity in literary output and quality, and clarity in other aspects of life.