Thank You

There have been several conversations behind the scenes of Thinking Through Our Fingers, conversations that have required vulnerability and honesty, both with ourselves and with others. And though we were reluctant to admit it, your lovely contributors have admitted that there are times, and they have become increasingly frequent, when sharing advice and insight with the readers here have cut into their writing time, have taken them away from their craft, and that goes directly against what we set out to do.

And so, after seven years of sharing and insights, Thinking Through Our Fingers is closing its doors.

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It is with heartfelt gratitude that we say goodbye to our readers, those who have shared appreciation both through comments and sharing of these posts as well as reaching out to contributors individually. We have loved hearing and growing with you.

This site will stay here as a reference for each of you. We hope that you continue to write, continue to grow, continue to pursue your publication dreams. Please, please, please keep writing.

Wishing each of you the very best,

Tasha Seegmiller, Co-Founder & Managing Editor

Grateful for My Village

During my writing group’s biweekly meeting last week, Elaine, one of my brilliant critique partners, made this very keen observation: “It takes a village to write a book.” The specific reason for this statement was because she pointed out a rather ridiculous (or alarming) train of thought I’d inadvertently given one of my characters. Such is the beauty and magic of a writing group and critique partners — we catch so many things and different things because we comprise many pairs of eyes plus brains and perspectives. As I wiped away my tears of laughter at my 1000th silly mistake, I looked around at the splendid company in my living room. And the truth of what Elaine said hit me. It does take a village to write a book, and I would be utterly lost without these women.

 

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Like any worthwhile relationship, being part of a community requires effort. My writing group and I have been together for quite some time, and the beauty of how we work together was not automatic. Looking back, we have had a few bumps along the way — I remember that it took us a while to get used to each others’ critique preferences and styles in both giving and receiving, and while we figured this out, we had a “safe word” we could use when the steady stream of critiques became too much. In being committed to the writing craft and to each other too, we have grown so much together. Over the years, these women have become my sisters, and I am so grateful we share in our village.

Perhaps it’s because 2016 is finally coming to a close that I’m now reflecting on all of the very important people in my writing life. Honestly, this year was probably the worst year for my writing since I started on this venture. But while I struggled with meeting my writing goals and watched my planned publication date come and go, I refuse to view this year as a failure — because there were good things that came from it too. Most of all, I’m grateful for my village. Indeed, maybe it’s because I haven’t written very much this year that I’m marveling over all of the people in my village that continue to inspire and motivate me to keep going: My lovely and brilliant local critique partners that are now more than ever like family to me. My long-distance writing partner who is like my writing twin, with whom I text on an almost daily basis about writing and general matters of life. My amazing editor that pops onto Twitter with a witty reply to one of my random tweets, just to let me know that he’s thinking of me. My proofreader that shares my love of nerdy things and books and swoony characters. All of the wonderful writers I’ve been able to meet and connect with at writers’ dinners and conferences and other writerly events. The lovely writers in my online world with whom I exchange words of encouragement and empathy when we post something about writing (or life). My friends and readers who are patiently waiting — and I say “patiently” because by the time I publish my next book, it will have been two years or more since I published my last one. Two years is a long time for this industry, but the village won’t bring me to trial for this or hang me from the gallows. A writer’s village is a supportive home, and while my village’s inhabitants (and likely yours) are dispersed all over the real world, they remain close to my heart and make my writing and publishing journey possible. I didn’t mean for this post to sound like a book dedication, by the way. But it is indeed a village, and you all have one too.

Forays and longer stays away from the village are necessary. Unless you’re at a writers’ retreat, the act of writing is a solitary one. I seek out this solitude when I hide out in my room at the end of the night with only my laptop for company. I seek out this solitude when I pop on my conspicuous, bright red headphones like a “Do Not Disturb” sign when I write at the coffee shop. I fully admit that I often crave this solitude, and I miss it when all of the things of life make that solitude not attainable. But when I do attain this quiet piece of time, it can also flip on its head to make me feel isolated. When I’m too involved in a story and my characters, I feel this great disconnect with reality, just like the feeling I get when I’ve been on vacation for too long — it’s lovely and refreshing to be away in this other world, but it’s always nice to come back home. During those lonely times, it helps to take a stroll through my village and appreciate and visit with the people that live there with me.

It takes a village to write a book, and I never want to move away from mine.

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helen2Helen Boswell loved to get lost in the pages of a story from the time she could sound out the words. She credits her dad with encouraging her to read ALL OF THE BOOKS on his shelves from the time she was a teenager. An author of both paranormal and contemporary romance, she loves to read and write characters that come to life with their beauty, flaws, and all. She is the author of the Mythology trilogy (MYTHOLOGY, THE WICKED, THE ETERNAL), and contemporary romances LOSING ENOUGH and SCARS RUN DEEP (coming soon). You can find out more about her writing life at www.helenboswell.com.

 

 

Giving of Yourself

Warning: This is the bloodiest blog post I’ve ever written.

I’m not kidding. Last Friday, I lay prone as blood flowed from my arm, surrounded by other poor souls in the same situation. Health care professionals walked by us but did nothing to stop the bleeding until we’d given them what they wanted. And everybody just acted like this was totally normal.

Because, okay, I was at a blood drive, so it was totally normal. And not just normal, but good. Healthy for me (“It’s like an oil change!” they always say) and potentially life saving for somebody else. Potentially life saving for me someday, if I were to need that priceless gift myself.

My last few donations have been on my college campus, where they recognize the motivating power of free t-shirts. Here’s my favorite:

The need is constant. The gratification is instant.


Writing can be a tremendously fulfilling endeavor. The writing life is sustaining and nourishing. But there’s a danger in becoming so focused on our own stories and careers and paths that we forget how rewarding and essential it is to give something back.

You can offer a listening ear for a friend with plot problems. Donate a critique to a charity auction or just to an aspiring author who’s not sure what to do next. You can visit a classroom or write reviews for books you’ve loved. There are as many ways to give back to the writing world as there are words in a novel. Okay, maybe more.

Of course, blood donors don’t give it all away, and neither should you. But if something feels stale or static about your writing life, maybe it’s time to give something of yourself, without any thought as to how it might benefit your own writing or career.

The need is constant. The gratification is instant.

There are writers and readers and kids and teachers out there right now who need what you have to offer. And when you offer it, you will immediately feel a spark of joy that will, in turn, fuel your writing. You will have given yourself the chance at a metaphorical oil change, the chance to fill your soul and your screen with something new and fresh that you might not have had room for otherwise.

A note: There is a significant need for blood and platelet donors right now. Please consider donating your actual blood–visit redcrossblood.org for more information.

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Elaine Vickers is the author of LIKE MAGIC (HarperCollins, October 2016) and loves writing middle grade and chapter books when she’s not teaching college chemistry or hanging out with her fabulous family. She’s a member of SCBWI and represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of EMLA. You can find her at elainevickers.com on the web, @ElaineBVickers on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, or generally anywhere there are books and/or food for her consumption. 🙂

The Halfway Point of NaNoWriMo: 5 Things To Be Thankful For

Like many of you, I’m currently at the halfway point of my journey through the perilous quagmire also known as National Novel Writing Month. In past years, November has transformed me into an unkempt, unshowered, irritable monster. This year, I’ve tried to take a different approach, for the health and safety of myself and those around me. I’ve tried to keep it fun. I’ve tried not to stress so much about where I am in comparison to the “on par” line. I’ve tried not to feel guilty for having those days when work/life/kids or a combination of all three takes over or alternatively, when my brain decides that enough is enough for the day and goes on break. Above all, I’ve tried to be thankful for what I’ve managed to accomplish so far instead of thinking about how much I still have ahead of me.

Author Leon Uris was quoted as saying the following, which I think is pretty dead on:

“I enjoy writing, sometimes; I think that most writers will tell you about the agony of writing more than the joy of writing, but writing is what I was meant to do.”

If you write, you know that it’s not easy. Taking short breaks or more extended hiatuses is perfectly normal and even necessary when you’re a writer, but somehow we manage to beat ourselves up for it when we don’t live up to our own expectations. I sometimes think we focus so much on thoughts and discussions of how hard things are, or of all of the things we need to do to achieve the end goals that we forget to enjoy the journey. So today I’d like to take a brief moment to ask you to reflect on all of the lovely things that you’ve already accomplished.

(This month, I am thankful for the following:)

1.  Progress
Whether you’ve written 25,000 words or 5,000, celebrate your progress. Don’t stress if your word counts are falling beneath the curve. While it’s fun to compete and root for your NaNoWriMo buddies or just for accountability purposes in general, when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter how your progress compares to others. It’s YOUR PROGRESS. Plus, some of us don’t work as well in fast-draft mode, but we make up for it in lots of other ways (see my post on writing stress and why daily word counts might not be the best strategy for everyone.)

2. The writing community
One thing I love about writing is the writing community. My IRL critique partners are my people. I’ve traveled to various places to meet my online writing buddies for conferences and book events and writing retreats, and these are also my people. I connect most with these people on many levels, and I’m forever grateful for how much they inspire and teach me. Being part of a writing community comes with a rich and rewarding return of friendship, support, and yes, even this:

3. Your own daily (or weekly or monthly) goals

Some claim that the only way to accomplish the big things is to set lofty goals, and while that may be true, it’s also beneficial to set small goals along the way. Set your own goals. AND CELEBRATE THEM. I mentioned the writing community in #2, and one of my most treasured writing friends is fellow TTOF contributor Megan Paasch. While we live in different states and maybe only get to see each other once a year if we’re lucky *cries*, we text on an almost daily basis to chat about writing and life, and to root for each other. Recently she tipped me off to a cool program called Habitica.com that allows you to set and track goals. Habitica is a fun role-play type app that uses avatars and rewards/incentives to motivate yourself to achieve your writing goals, or to exercise more, or to floss daily. Or whatever you want. And based on your progress, you can earn gear and hatch out dragons from eggs and other cool stuff like that. #win

This is my avatar. I earned a pink wolf! 
Examples of Habitica habits and daily goals*:
*These are obviously my writing-related goals. I have personal goals on Habitica but will spare you from seeing those 🙂

4. Those utterly brilliant a-ha moments
We all have them — those moments where two clunky pieces finally fit together (or at the very least are a little less clunky). Or those moments when a light in your brain snaps on and you figure out the crucial missing element from the backstory of your main character. Or you finally figure out that elusive plot point that is essential for linking point A to point B. These a-ha moments should not be diminished.  They don’t even need to be final. But make sure that you celebrate them!

5. Your creative mind (reward it!)
Speaking of celebrations, you should celebrate yourself most of all. You are creating PEOPLE**. You are creating EVENTS and HISTORY. You are creating WORLDS. You deserve to reward yourself for creating any and all of these things. Give yourself a treat of your favorite beverage or snack. Allow yourself time for a guilt-free break and watch your favorite TV show or Netflix episode. Or sit back and give yourself a moment to take pride in your own creations — perhaps create a Pinterest board for your characters (and to serve for inspiration), or make your characters (and you) a fun playlist, and give yourself a pat on the back for caring enough about your characters to do this for them (and for yourself). I think sometimes we concentrate so much on what we haven’t done yet that we forget to celebrate all of the things we have already achieved. While NaNoWriMo is great for a lot of things, it is just one month out of the year. Don’t forget that there are still 11 other months in the year to celebrate your achievements too. You deserve it. ❤

** Technically, characters. However, my characters object when I don’t think of them as real people.

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Helen Boswell loved to get lost in the pages of a story from the time she could sound out the words. She credits her dad, an avid fiction reader, with encouraging her to read ALL OF THE BOOKS on his shelves from the time she was a teenager. An author of both YA urban fantasy and NA contemporary romance, she loves to read and write characters that come to life with their beauty, flaws, and all. She is the author of YA urban fantasies MYTHOLOGY, THE WICKED, THE ETERNAL, and NA contemporary romance LOSING ENOUGH. Her NaNoWriMo username is HelenBozz, and she loves to root for her NaNo buddies! 
Find out more about Helen at www.helenboswell.com.