Peek, Peak, Pique

My husband hates it when I correct the grammar of signs, radio hosts, newspapers, etc. But I can’t help it! I really should just keep my mouth shut and suffer in silence. Which I do most of the time. I don’t actively seek out poor grammar just to criticise it. In fact, in regular conversation, I probably don’t even notice.

However, some errors bother me and I can’t stop thinking about them. It makes me sad because I can tell the person who innocently made the error most likely doesn’t read much. When that is the case, people write things like “rod iron”, or the subject of today’s post: “peek my interest”. Homophones are hard for non-readers, because they have probably heard the phrase a hundred times, but never seen it written out. Of course it doesn’t help that each form of the word pronounced “peek” has a few different definitions.

Peek – verb – to look quickly
Peek – noun – a quick look

Peak – noun – highest point
Peak – verb – to reach the highest point

Pique – noun – bad mood
Pique – verb – put somebody in a bad mood
Pique – verb – arouse somebody’s interest

Ok, now I’m not even sure the phrase “pique my interest” is correct!  Wouldn’t that be redundant?  Unless you mean “put my interest in a bad mood”  Oh, this will put me in a pique!

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Intimidated Determination

I am at the library right now.  I’ve been browsing the magazines looking for ideas.  It is a little depressing!  Most of the magazines here are glossy and nation- or continent-wide  I want to start with smaller regional magazines, which might be more willing to give me a chance.

I have one article idea that I’ve written a query for.  I’ll polish it and send it off over the next few days.  Other than that, I’m almost out of ideas.  I was hoping to be inspired or at least intrigued by the magazines here.  Instead I feel like I don’t know anything about anything.

Then there’s editing.  Over the past week, as I’ve been browsing more writers’ blogs and websites, I was amazed to see how many writers also offer editing services.  That is intimidating!  Is there room for me in the industry?

Sorry.  I do usually try to stay positive, and my dismay is a bit exaggerated.  Oh, how I love hyperbole!  But I still can’t help but be worried and want to bury myself in fiction.

Instead of worrying, I need to get to work!  I’ve only been at this seriously for a week, I can’t expect it to drop right into my lap.  Especially when my priority has to be my family.

Never Write for Free!

I had a writing instructor tell me once to “Never write for free!”  Her reasoning made sense.  Writers who will work for free lower the chances that freelance writers will get paid well.  After all, there’s always someone who will accept a lower fee.  If writers don’t stand together to change things, editors and consumers will never value the work we do.  Right?

I’ve come to see that such a view is idealistic.  It’s all well and good to tell a beginner writer never to work for free, but really, how else is an untried wordsmith going to get any work?  Clips are what a writer needs, and I firmly believe that when an editor reviews a writer’s clips, he doesn’t care whether the publication paid or not.  He cares about the quality of writing.

So, I write for free (so far, just blogging).  And I occasionally edit for free (only FellowScript, which looks great on my resume!).  I also do book reviews for a free copy of the book (Booksneeze).  Or just because I like the book.

That said, I also write and edit for pay.  Slowly, as I get more experience and start to develop a reputation for excellent work, my writing and editing income will go up.

What is your opinion of my instructor’s advice?

Finding a Writing Family: InScribe Christian Writers Fellowship

Back in 2009, when I originally posted Simplicity and Priorities,  my grandmother read that post.  She sent the link to one of her quilting friends, who was a writer.  That friend was Elsie, who left me a sweet comment on that post inviting me to InScribe Christian Writers Fellowship‘s Fall Conference.  I surprised myself and went, taking my 5-week-old baby along.

I soaked in the teaching of Kathleen Gibson and Bonnie Grove, and by the time I arrived home after the last day, I decided to join Inscribe.  Over the next few months, I actually managed to plot an entire novel start to finish (which I’d never done before), and began writing again, all while doing an intense edit on a client’s book.  But then fear and complacency set in again and my writing efforts trickled back down to nothing.

So that’s how it was for a year.  I let my membership to Inscribe lapse and decided once again to focus solely on editing.  In January of this year, I got an email from Bonnie Way asking me if I would help out with editing FellowScript.  Of course I jumped at the chance!  Editing a real magazine!  Bonnie also asked me if I would write an article about editing.  I said yes, and happily renewed my InScribe membership.  It took me six months to write that article, as I battled the fear.  I told myself, “If I can write a college essay and get an A, I can write an article!”

I finished that article a couple of weeks ago.  Oh, it was exhilarating!  I wrote something!  I finished it!  I was going to be published!

Through it all, even when I wasn’t a member, Inscribe members have encouraged me, both directly, and indirectly through FellowScript articles or posts on the list serve.  I highly recommend this family of writers.

This is my contribution to InScribe’s Blog Tour.  I’ve been greatly enjoying the other posts in the tour.  Go check them out!  You could win!

Leave comments on the blog posts to be entered in our GRAND PRIZE DRAW: an
Inscribe book bag with a free annual membership and a copy of Inscribed: 30 Years of Inspiring Writing.  The more blogs you comment on, the more entries you’ll get in the draw—e.g., if you comment on 10 blogs, you’ll get 10 entries in the draw (but one comment per blog, please).  Contest is open only to non-Inscribe-members (members are free to comment on blogs but will not be entered in the draw).

Simplicity and Priorities

Originally published August 29, 2009 on my home and creative blog.

Hi Friends. I’ve been doing some thinking since Nicholas’s birth.

For the first few days, I was terrified about how I would handle two kids by myself while KD is at work. In the evenings I would get lonely and depressed and cry because of all the impending changes, with some family drama added to it. I was sad because Juliana is no longer my baby, and I worried about finances and raising a boy, and all that kind of stuff.

Thankfully, after about four or five days, my hormones started to rebalance, and I stopped getting so emotional. I make a point to spend some one-on-one time with Juli. KD went back to work this past Tuesday, and we’ve been handling things pretty well. Well, except the housework, but that’s nothing new.

But this is what I’ve been thinking about: I need to simplify my life. I’m not a busy person, but I can easily get my priorities messed up. Which has been the case in varying degrees for the past five years.

My first focus needs to be relationships. With God, my husband, my children, and my family and friends. I need to cut out the things that compete with these relationships. Like time spent on the computer, craft/decorating stuff, shopping, etc. I need to take care of my family first, then if there is time and money, I can do other stuff. Sounds like something I should have been working on since I our wedding seven years ago…but it’s never too late to start, right?

My second focus needs to be housekeeping. Looking after our home is my responsibility, and should be my pleasure. A clean, safe, organised home shows
my family and guests that I value their comfort. I am happier when my house is clean, and I know KD is. Juli and Nick are too young to notice, but they soon will. I didn’t have a great housekeeping role-model while I was growing up–I had a single mom too busy keeping food on the table to care for our house–but I need to be a better one for my kids. I’m not saying I have to be perfect (I gave up being Martha years ago), but I need to be responsible.

My third focus will be the hardest to get back into. I have never mentioned on this blog my childhood passion, and my subsequent failure to do anything about it. So, here it is: When I was eight years old I decided that I wanted to be a writer. Of books. I didn’t really know anything about short stories at the time…which is a pity because I probably would have been more successful had I started with shorter pieces. I had hundreds of ideas through the years. My favourite pastime in my lonely childhood was to create characters and come up with book ideas. Most of the titles went like this: Somebody and the Something Something. You know how it goes. I wanted to write books that I wanted to read. I keep all my ideas in a 3-inch thick binder. I would write a chapter or two, then get sidetracked by a new and better idea.

My desire to be a writer remained strong as I grew up, and through highschool, where I discovered that there was such a thing as short-stories. It was in my grade 10 English class that I actually wrote a poem that I still think was pretty good. Then I managed to finish a short story, in response to a comment from my teacher saying that “no one would want to read a story about a bench”. So I wrote one and she said it’s the first time a bench had made her cry.

I got married at age 19, and still I wanted to be a writer. I couldn’t go to college right away, because KD was still in school, but the plan was that once he was done, I would have my turn. I kept writing, and got up to 11,000 words in one children’s/teen’s book. But then I ran in to a plot snag and got scared. I’m still scared of writing. I’m afraid that I can’t come up with a decent plot, and that my characters lack depth, and that I can’t really write anyway. So I eventually decided to change my focus and become an editor. The degree I’m working toward is for professional writing and editing, and I have so far loved my grammar and editing classes.

I still want to be an editor, and once I get my life a little bit more organised, I want to pursue freelance jobs. I have already edited (for pay) two science fiction novels, but haven’t heard whether she has published them or not. And part two of this goal is to get back into writing. I can’t let fear keep me failing in this. Writing has always been a strong passion in my life, and it is a shame that I have let it go for so long due to fear.