Sunday, 27 December 2015

The bigger picture

Spiced cookies

Dealing with the writing rejection nudged me back towards other forms of creativity. I feel like I have gotten back in touch with myself as a maker. I have been reminded of the breadth of my creativity. Yes I write, but I also take photos, bake, sew, cook, decorate, knit and garden. I need a bit of it all these things to feel whole and happy. They feed different aspects of my creative soul.

On theme

For Halloween I cooked up a storm – a savoury pumpkin salad, a sunset fruit salad and orange and purple jellies for the kids. My nieces drew faces on yellow peppers and I carved out jagged faces. We put tea lights inside and wow, so pretty Thank you to Mr Google for the suggestion! I helped with the zombie face painting.

Felt creations

For Christmas it all started with the cookie cutters. First I baked spices shortbread bells and trees. Then I went back for angels, reindeer and stars to use as templates for felt shapes to stick onto Santa sacks with a friend’s kids. I glued the leftover shapes onto some ribbons and hung them on my bookshelves. I decorated my tree – a small rosemary bush with ribbons and small silver bells.

Following a creative path
I have been reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. I have been heartened by the advice to do it because you enjoy it, do it because you need to do it and don’t do it because you are worried about success. The effort brings its own rewards, the old adage of enjoying the journey not focusing on the destination. All I need to do is keep faith with my creative self and just do it.

I am creative and I need to get back to the central business of making things – not worrying about the selling, spruiking or success of my efforts. It is the process of making which gives me delight – being absorbed in colors, the fall of light, the smell of a cake baking, the texture of fabrics and wool, getting my ideas down on paper – it is all coming from the same well.

With lemon mayonaise

And all this can only be good for my writing. As Maya Angelou said “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” So rather than dismissing my recent foray into baking and decorating as procrastination I want to welcome it with open arms because it is all creativity and that is what I am about. Turning up is still the most important thing – whether it is on the page, in the kitchen or at Lincraft – nothing will get done if I don’t turn up.

Will it prove to be a distraction from the main game of writing? Who knows, does it matter? Right now it is helping me get back on track, if it persists perhaps. But maybe I should just relax and accept the journey I am on and have some faith – faith in the path, faith in myself. I know it will be interesting and that it will be somewhere different from where I am today. That’s enough…

Full circle

Final touches

I feel like I have come round to the beginning again on my Hardcopy journey. The final session was in Canberra a few weeks ago, and I wasn’t there. I hadn’t made the cut and yes it still hurts, but there are some hidden jewels. I booked another course for that same weekend, Traditional French Pastry, because I wanted to be absorbed in something of my own – not longing to be somewhere else, doing something else.

And I got to eat the results!

And it worked in so many wonderful ways. I mixed ingredients, I kneaded dough and I rolled pastry. I made croissants, brioches and puff pastry treats. I relaxed into a world that I don’t visit very often anymore. The smell of yeasty dough brought back clear memories of making bread with my mum as a kid. I know how to knead and roll – long forgotten skills. I now have the strength and I thoroughly enjoyed the physicality of it all.

Three types of brioche
What started out as a diversion has brought so much more. It has reawakened my sense of smell, taste and touch – all the senses which are not involved in telling or hearing stories. Is it an antidote or a complement to my writing then? I’m actually not going to worry about categorising it, it is what it is. It is still creative living and is satisfying a whole different part of my creative soul.

Pausing for a moment

As for my writing, at some point the penny dropped and I realised that with or without my inclusion in the final Hardcopy session I would still be in the same position I am now – in possession of a partly written manuscript. Yes I would have received more feedback on my writing style and my proposal – some of which may well have been conflicting given the feedback from the others who were there. But I still wouldn’t have a whole manuscript. I would still be sitting here wondering how to construct the next scene, revising my pitch and trying to find time to write.

Obstacle, challenge, opportunity...
Instead I have been dealing with this bump in the road, this blow to my confidence, this crisis of commitment, this loss of motivation. I have learnt more from being rejected than I could have done by being successful. Of course I want the book to be a success, but it can’t be a success until it is written. I need to write my book and then worry about everything else.

No one is going to publish an unknown author on the basis of a pitch. I need a full manuscript before the book and I will be taken seriously. I am not a social media phenomenon nor am I famous – so no immediate audience there. I am neither a journalist nor an academic – so no relevant track record to rely on. So I need to sell my project – not the idea of it and not my capacity to do it. I need to have the project ready to go. And that’s where I imagine I would be if I had attended the final session – essentially in the same place that I am now.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Coming up for air

Dark waters?
I haven’t been able to breathe for a while. I was holding my breath and waiting. Now the wait is over, well at least as far as the Hardcopy program is concerned. I didn’t make the next round. I am disappointed. I thought my proposal had merit and that my writing was strong. My confidence has taken a knock. I questioned my commitment and wondered whether I had been wasting my time. I have lost my motivation and excitement about the book.

Striking images
So I took a break from the desk to absorb this news. I filled my writing time with other things. I visited a friend’s farm and helped out with marking the lambs. I stayed with a couple of friends at the beach, played cards and chatted. I went to two house-warmings. I had a couple of lunches and walks with my family. I visited an exhibition, a new library, the plant conservatory and a couple of markets. I sought solace in the visual world, taking photos of these small events and posting them on my Instagram account – my ‘just for fun’ social media platform. I avoided the written word.

Cook books galore
Now it is time to get back to it. I’m not sure how I feel about getting back to the book, but I do have a new blog idea to explore which I am very excited about. I want to write about food, cooking and eating. I know it is a crowded space out there and I don’t have one particular angle to push. I want to write about the whole food journey – about growing, storing, transporting, preparing, eating and sharing it. Whether starting a new project is a wise decision will yet be revealed. It could be an unhelpful diversion or it could give me a gentle push back to my writing habits.

Back to your desk!
Part of me figures that as long as I am writing something it is all good experience. Right now the book feels like a heavy obligation, a stark contrast to the fun of developing a new idea. I figure that turning up at the desk is half the battle. Once I am here then something has to happen. At the very least a couple of bills will get paid and I’ll do some stream of consciousness writing to check in with how I am feeling. In reality perhaps it is that simple, just getting back to the basics of sitting here and typing away, at least til I can get my focus back again.

New networks
The other part of picking myself up and dusting myself off is of course reaching out to people. Writing is a solitary activity, but unsurprisingly weathering the ups and downs is not. I am very grateful to the friends and family who support me and encourage me to keep going. Without them it would be a much lonelier road. I am slowly developing a network of other emerging writers. There is the fun of going to writing events together, the challenge of giving and receiving feedback on each others' work and the comfort of sharing the journey with others who are in the same boat.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

The art of workshopping

Work in progress
Giving feedback is quite a tricky business. Writers get very attached to their work. Some people are impatient with hearing the good stuff and just want to get to suggestions for improvement. Others seem to only want to hear praise for their efforts. I find it quite difficult to provide feedback in a vacuum. I feel that I need to know the person a bit better before I can judge how to most usefully offer my thoughts. And I need to know their writing in order to appreciate where they are coming from and what they are trying to achieve. In the classroom where you hear a piece for the first time and you have limited time to respond I find it challenging to actively participate. There is always someone who is quicker off the mark and more confident about putting their comments out there.

Under maintenance
I prefer to work one on one or in small groups. I did meet up with Helen and we had a very constructive conversation about our respective pieces. I felt like a real writer, arranging to get feedback from a potential reader and a fellow writer, very mature. Of course it was also good fun. We met in a pub and had beers and chips to help with our very serious deliberations.

When I got back to the piece a couple of days later I felt invigorated. I had some new ideas for where I could go. I clearly needed to work on the transitions between ideas. There is a bit of jumping to the next subject without much lead in or signposting for the reader. It was also a great opportunity to talk about the piece more broadly. Helen posed a very simple question to me ‘What’s the story?’ I had written just over 3,000 words and yet I stumbled over my answer to this. It seems I had spent my words on telling bits of the story, painting pictures of what had happened but I didn’t have a clear understanding of what the point was. And so there was some fundamental information missing – the stuff I was still dancing around, the words not on the page, the thoughts I hadn’t yet nailed. And so back to the draft I went.

Leaving things out
In contrast, after the workshop with the Melbourne based Hardcopy participants I found myself cutting material from my draft. The feedback I received was about tightening up what was on the page, making sure it all served a purpose. I had included too much reflection on the action and needed to stay more firmly in the present tense, more effectively keeping the reader beside me rather than behind a glass partition. An awful lot is revealed when someone reads your piece out loud. Clunky wording and sentences are stumbled over. I also discovered there were paragraphs and ideas that were simply in the wrong spot.

Let it wash over you
My own ability to take on board feedback has been honed through years of writing for work, with managers reviewing my briefs, reports, submissions, and articles and almost always finding something to comment on. I have been on the receiving end of some poorly delivered feedback at work but most people exercise some degree of sensitivity. But I am curious about whether there is a difference with more personal writing? When I am closer to the piece is it harder to hear the criticism, does it hurt more? And my early conclusion is not really. I care about all my writing. What makes the biggest difference is how the feedback is given – with or without concern for how the receiver will feel. I still have more to learn about the art of workshopping, and hopefully there will be lots of opportunities to do so.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

On being organised

In the public archives
I have been exploring the delights of getting organised. Some might think this is just a mask for procrastination, but that would assume only a negative twist. I prefer to see the positives, and there are many. I have reviewed my accounts, paid outstanding bills, updated regular transfer payments and filed everything away. I feel it is definitely a bonus to feel a little more in control at the start of the new financial year. Comments from friends when I explained that I hadn’t done as much writing as I intended because I was still getting organised included the very perceptive “I’m sure a clear head will help you be more creative.” And it has indeed helped, well that and I am fast running out of legitimate excuses for not getting round to the draft.

My herb efforts
My writing rhythm is also emerging again. I know I am best at writing in the morning. I know I need to defend this time from others, but I also need to beware of my own capacity for sabotage. In my excitement to get organised on all fronts I decided on a whim that I really needed to replant my herb pots and that a trip to Bunnings was absolutely necessary, right there and then. But on reflection it could have waited, at least til the afternoon. Then I could have left the house with a clear conscience rather than bounding out with enthusiasm only to realise halfway there what I had done.

A new road
But I have started to move on the draft. I can report that I have a little over 5,700 words that I am feeling pretty happy with. These words cover the same material as about 2,600 in the first draft. One of my key takeaways from the Canberra workshop was the need to create scenes and really immerse the reader in the experience, so I have been trying to do just that. I have been stretching and expanding my words to paint more of a picture. A memoir is quite tricky to write I am learning because there is a lot of material in my head that doesn’t always quite make it to the page. I don’t notice it’s missing because I simply fill in the gaps with my memory. I need to go over what I have written again and will probably need to insert more description of where I am so the reader can also follow me.

At the launch
The breakthrough this week was reconnecting with some writing friends. I went to the book launch for Nine Slices, a project run by students as part of the Emerging Writer’s Festival. As I have taken a break from uni this semester I have lost the incidental support that I would normally get from just rocking up to class. Being outside the loop of classes and activities I need to pro-actively arrange opportunities to catch up, this requires much more effort and organisation. I am thrilled to have re-connected with Helen and Jo. I am going to workshop my piece for the Lord Mayor’s Creative Writing Awards with Helen. I am building the piece out of an assignment from last semester which Helen read an early draft of, so she’ll be able to appreciate the journey it has already been on. And Jo has said she is happy to read the latest version of my draft – I might just tweak it a bit more before I hand it over though!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Like a sponge

A forest of ideas
The workshop in Canberra was everything I hoped for and more! So much was packed into a few days. It was incredibly intense and very tiring. I spent most of my time soaking up the information and discussions. I didn’t say a lot but I scribbled away madly in my notebook. I was a quiet little sponge, absorbing as much as I could. At the end I felt both exhilarated and overwhelmed.

I had a few key insights which I feel are going to invaluable. We had to develop a pitch for our book, something that captures what the book is about and gets the reader interested. So here is mine:

I love cheese. I love walking. I love art. My job involved none of these, so I left. This book is about my middle aged gap year in France. I fell in love with goats, a man and living a more creative life.

It is very short, and feels a little stilted. It sounds like it was written to be read, not spoken. So a bit more polishing to make it flow more like a conversation wouldn’t hurt. Although I have to admit it has stuck with me, so when I am in the right place at the right time I shall at least be able to give it a go.

Revealing a truth
This exercise also helped me work out what the core thread of my story is, as opposed to simply writing an account of everything that happened. It all hangs on what the reader is going to want to read, what will keep them turning the pages. This has led to an interesting challenge – needing to be emotionally honest with myself and my readers. My starting point then is to write down all the difficult stuff as if no one is going to read it and then leave it. I will come back to it with an editing hat on and see how it reads and how I feel about it then. But getting it onto the page is the first step.

More light
So rather than summarising everything, I now know that I need to pick the key elements and tell those in more detail. Ooops, correction – I need to show those. This was my other big breakthrough. With my story thread in place I need to let my reader be an eye witness to my experiences. I have to create scenes which will move the story along, building some tension and finding the resolution. I have several potential scenes and the critical ones have stars next to them – these are the ones I will have to write, whether I like it or not.

My glass ceiling
Unpicking the technical elements of non-fiction writing and having the chance to apply them directly to my book has made my head spin. It has also turned my book from a dream into a project. I have some ideas and tools for how to move forward. I have a plan, some timeframes, pens, a notebook and a potential case of procrastination. Semester has just ended and I am giving myself permission to have a break - to spend some time relaxing and processing. I am feeling a little daunted about my next steps and can feel myself dancing round the edges of excuses. Next weekend is when it will all start to move…

Monday, 25 May 2015

The game is on

Waiting to hatch
Excitement abounds – the draft is about to start moving again. I have accepted a place on the Hardcopy program. I first heard about the program through uni. When I looked up the details and discovered that 2015 was all about non-fiction, I thought I should at least have a go at applying. It was the first time I had shown anyone the draft so it was almost simply a challenge to myself to stump up the courage to push it out into the world.

I couldn’t believe my luck when I got the e-mail offering me a place. I burst into tears, quite messy tears. To get some external validation of my idea and my writing felt amazing. The program consists of two workshops to help writers further develop their manuscripts. Then a few people will progress through to a third workshop which looks at the publishing side of things. I have plenty of work to do, but this is going to be a wonderful opportunity to get some help.

Writing for work
The panel’s preliminary feedback notes that I need to work on my characters, show don’t tell and consider introducing some dialogue. This echoes much of the feedback I have been getting on my assignments too. And this morning I worked out why. I have done plenty of writing – albeit usually for work. And this is where the problem lies. Writing for work is issue based. I explain the issue and often explore options for solving it. There are no characters, there is no showing not telling. In fact it is completely round the other way. I tell the reader what is coming in a short pithy summary and then logically explore the arguments before reaching the conclusion.

The possibilities
So I accept and understand the comments and am getting just a bit excited about working out how to address them. I have been reading Story Craft by Jack Hart and trying to understand his suggestions and think through how I can incorporate them in my work. Creating a visual landscape for the reader – of the characters and the places they go – is going to be an interesting challenge. But I haven’t touched the draft yet. I want to wait and soak up the ideas and then return to my work with clearer eyes.

A future project
My flights and accommodation in Canberra are booked. I am flying up a day early so I can soak up some art and culture. I have already decided I shall go to the war museum to see the new exhibition on Afghanistan. This relates to another idea I have about a writing piece – so let’s call it research! I am really looking forward to meeting the other program participants and am curious to learn about their projects and their writing practices. There are at least two others from Melbourne, who are also from my uni course!

Making time for fun

Getting the manuscript finished is going to require some serious commitment and discipline on my part. I have decided to take a leave of absence from uni for second semester so I can concentrate on the draft. I want to make the most of this chance and feel that if I stuck with the course too I would feel conflicted and would never have time to see my family and friends.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

In a rush

It takes time
Rushing is the enemy of my creativity. Have I said that before? If not, I have certainly thought it. I admit that deadlines can be very motivating. But if I haven’t allowed enough time for research, drafting, reviewing and rewriting then it isn’t going to be a very good piece. All these parts of the process are crucial – even for short pieces. I know that for a 450 words piece it still takes a couple of days to find the angle, understand the issue, interview people, write it up, find missing information, check facts, review, edit and re-write as required.

Opening your heart
Last week we did a great exercise in my non-fiction class. We wrote for 20 minutes in longhand on the topic of “I couldn’t wait to say goodbye…” We were then asked to spend the next two hours re-working the piece. I chose to go to the library. Partly because when everyone is writing quietly it feels a bit claustrophobic, like an exam. And partly so I could use the computer – I like to move my sentences around and see where they fit best. 

 For me it was a very interesting experience – I could directly compare the original draft with the final product. These days it is so easy to just save over old drafts and so it becomes rather harder to remember where I started from. I wrote about the logistics of leaving my big backpack behind and only taking a small one with me on the pilgrimage. The final piece was longer at 500 words. It contained the same ideas as the original but I had explored them in more detail and had taken the reader on more of a journey, moving from the concrete to the abstract. I developed the depth by making the link to emotional baggage more explicit. I was pleased that the final piece still contained some of my original sentences, pretty much untouched.

Lots of threads to explore
Since then I have been working on a bigger piece at home for a writing competition – on the same subject matter. The next piece needs to be between 1500 and 3000 words – quite a leap from the original. In 500 words I covered all the points I wanted to make in about equal number of words, developing the emotional aspects more. But in the bigger piece I needed to think a little harder about the structure, flow and where to put the emphasis. It is still a work in progress but I am finding that with more words I can include more details and a bit more of the back story. Some of the sentences from the first draft are still there, they are now acting as anchor points for the structure.

Hatching new ideas
I need to think about applying this on a larger scale. Getting the first draft down is really just getting the material onto the page. On the page the words, sentences and paragraphs can be examined more objectively. I can see the shape and the holes more clearly. In that sense anything is better than a blank page. Just having somewhere to start means that something will have to happen, and when it does, then I have something to work with. Something that can be built, renovated, polished and shined.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Cementing this writing life

Marking the start of term

A couple of weeks ago uni started again. I am so excited, it is like my brain has kicked back into gear. In the first week we got the outlines of our assignments and I have already started thinking about some ideas. I have been learning to grab inspiration when it comes, making a quick note to myself on a scrap of paper, in my diary, on my phone, wherever is handy. I lost one idea recently because I was lazy – in my defence it was the middle of the night - and I thought confidently I’ll remember that, and of course I didn’t. Needless to say it was probably very profound and insightful! At work there is no time to wait for inspiration to strike. You have to think on the run.


Slogging it out
Inspiration is only one per cent, so the saying goes, with the other 99% being the blood, sweat and tears required to deliver on it. And I can attest to that. With the deadline looming for the quarterly magazine I had to prioritise and focus on getting my articles done. When asked earlier what I was going to contribute, I had rashly volunteered to write two articles – one which was part of a continuing theme on infrastructure investment and the second on a farmer wining an award. The pressure was on to get the drafts written, get quotes signed off, facts checked and photos submitted. The cycle from flash of inspiration to delivering the final copy was short but satisfying.

It takes time

For my uni assignments there is the luxury of having more time – in terms of when it is due. But given that there is not much spare time in my week I still have to plan and prioritise – research first, sketch an outline, continue researching to fill the holes and then write the first draft, step back and review, then add and amend as necessary. For my first assignment I am halfway between steps three and four. I have some more reading to do, but I have also started writing down some sentences which may make it to the first cut. Remembering to allow enough time for all these steps is tricky.

Capturing the light
At the moment getting into the habit of writing seems to be as more of a challenge than finding the ideas. I am getting better at capturing the fleeting ideas as they float past. But making myself sit down and focus on turning out a piece is somewhat harder. It is the hard work end of things. I will have to make sacrifices – mainly ones relating to time I suspect, for writing is a cheap activity. I know that making time to write brings me rewards – not least of which is new understanding. Joan Didion is famous for her quote “I don’t know what I think until I write it down”. This really hits the spot for me.

Where is my chair?
It occurred to me this morning that my writing needs to start coming first more often. It needs to come first in my day and it needs to dictate the rhythm of my day. So I should be taking a break when the writing dictates – when I hit a wall, not when life dictates. And therein lies the challenge. I have other responsibilities – to earn a living, to my family and friends and to look after myself. Some of this can fit nicely around writing and some of it can’t. So I’m going to have to make some hard calls. I will continue to flirt with the idea of dropping my hours at work until I feel more comfortable with the idea. And I need to make more time at the weekend to tap away at the keyboard, applying a little more discipline to stay seated and not wander away to do the oh-so-very important housework!

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Nesting days

Warm and pretty
My flat feels more like a home now. It is more friendly and welcoming, with splashes of color and clutter. I had a couple of homewares accidents in the Boxing Day sales – a rug for the living room, new sheets, a mug for my morning tea, hand towels with flower designs and some big pillows so I can sit up and read in the comfort of my bed. The rug reminds me of Fair Isle knitting patterns, with rows of twisting complicated patterns. The dark brown, cafĂ© latte and cream colours are an excellent match for the sofa which is brown with cream piping. Last week I found a divine vintage green checked blanket at the local second-hand store. This has quickly taken up residence on my sofa and will serve to keep me warm in the early mornings tapping away at my computer.

Another slice?
I have slowed down enough to be cooking again. As well as the regular meals I have started baking for afternoon teas. I bought a recipe book on country show baking which has all the classics that you find at annual agricultural shows. So far I have made the scones, an orange and poppy seed cake and the French fruit tart. I follow the recipes to a certain point and then I add my own inspiration. I put an orange butter icing on the cake because what is cake without icing and I stewed the fruit for the tart to give depth of flavour.

Fun times
This nesting is helping me to come back to myself. My whole world is not so chaotic anymore. There is a bit more order – to my days, weeks and expectations. It is nearly a year since I got back from overseas and my life has a recognisable and predictable shape. I am back into the rhythm of working. And I am planning things into the future – buying tickets for the cricket and Cirque du Soleil, discussing dates for a visit to see my sister in Sydney and anticipating the release of the program for the French Film Festival.

Plant a seed
I’m still struggling to get back to my writing. I was listening to the radio the other day and they were talking about method acting and how an actor had to reach inside themselves to find a connection to the character and situation in order to be able to play their part. Writing the memoir feels a bit like that too. I have to transport myself back to where I was, what was going on and how I felt about it all. And sometimes I don’t really want to. I don’t always acknowledge that I don’t want to, I simply avoid doing so. I find something else pressing to do instead – watering the plants, cleaning the kitchen, ironing… something to distract me long enough that I lose my train of thought and decide to abandon it for the day.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Rolling with the changes

Tuckered out
Let’s just say that my stay-cation did not exactly go according to plan. For the first week I was too busy and in the second not busy enough. There were Christmas events, Boxing Day sales, cricket watching, golf playing, farm visiting, movie going and then my sister and her family arrived from Sydney. The new year came and went, followed by two very hot days which I spent hibernating inside with a book. Everyone went back to work and I found myself at a bit of a loss, my planning had only gotten me so far. I lounged around watching old episodes of Downton Abbey and reading.

Lots of work
I am now back at work and feeling rather better about life, the universe and everything. I clearly needed a good break – with some distractions and some quiet time. I did not get a lot of writing done. But I did do some thinking and reading about the writing life. I picked up “The Right to Write” by Julia Cameron (of The Artist’s Way fame) from my bookshelf and was reminded of the elements and challenges of a writing life. I do know what helps me write, but sometimes it seems that I forget. I don’t need great swathes of time. I am much better off with a routine – writing for a short period of time each day. Too much time and space seems to paralyse me, but squeezing it in seems to work well. So I am back to getting up early and punching out my 500 or so words on the draft. I find the regularity of committing time and effort each day rather reassuring. I might even go so far as to say it brings meaning to my life.
Time out
With my grand writing expectations not being fulfilled on my stay-cation I have been forced to revise my goal for the summer and beyond. I will get this draft done – it’s just going to take a bit longer. So my official plan now is to keep plugging away for the next couple of months, and then ideally be in a position to do a good first edit in spring. I am trying to give myself a more realistic goal. I still have to juggle work commitments, a raft of fun summer socialising and in a couple of weeks I will also be back at uni. So I want it to be a challenge but also achievable.
It's official!
I finally received my new business cards. I have no idea what happened to the first lot – lost in the depths of the sorting office perhaps. I phoned the company and they said they would reprint and resend them. So one morning just after I started work again I opened my letterbox and there they were. I am thrilled with them. I was concerned that the writing on the reverse side might not be very clear but it is fine. And I still love the design I chose, which is lucky because I have 250 to giveaway. I now always have a few with me – tucked in a pocket in my bag. It’s a small thing, but I do feel a smidge more professional about my writing. Another small step along the path to living the writing life.