Oct 04 2017

#IWSG Showing My Writer Insecurity (Potato at the End)


On October 4, post a photo … with the IWSG logo. Then leave a comment that day at either the IWSG website’s post or the IWSG Facebook post directing us to your photo.

(For information on Maize also being called Corn, click.)
Corn - free for reuse image

I’m sharing a series of images here. Using a very basic weaving technique, I recreated the IWSG logo. But I did it in such a way that it would become a story.

(In other words, get comfortable, because J’s about to go all “Grandfather” on you.)
((The Lenni-Lenape people are known as the “Grandfathers” because they are believed to be the oldest tribe in the area, and are known for valuing wisdom– which they’re always imparting.))

IWSG loom by @JLenniDorner

I recreated the logo using leaves from corn, an important food to my people.

If you know anything about weaving, you immediately know what’s going to go wrong here.

There are gaps. The correct method would be to fill in the gaps (using a different material or different color).

Sometimes writers feel that they have enough knowledge. Or they are insecure because they know they have holes in their writing knowledge. This is what those gaps represent.

Looking at my weaving, you might be able to tell that this skill is something I was taught, but not something which I practiced. Writing, like weaving, is an art. Anyone can be taught the basics. But writing for publication is about more than taking words from a dictionary and stringing them together in a logical and grammatically correct way. Practice is needed. Learning from masters is encouraged. Weave a million lines, write a million words– with practice, improvement will come.

IWSG Weaving signature 1 @JLenniDornerIWSG weaving signature with visual aid @JLenniDorner

A weaving signature, like a writer’s voice, should be fluid in a story. The audience shouldn’t be pulled from the work, but rather, drawn into it.

IWSG logo when fresh off the loom by @JLenniDorner
IWSG logo when fresh off the loom with visual aid by @JLenniDorner

When it first came off of the loom, it didn’t look very bad. It wasn’t great, of course. The gaps became obvious as it sat. This same phenomenon happens with First Drafts. Let the words sit, then go back to look, and the problems will be easier to spot.

IWSG logo by @JLenniDorner after being twisted by touch

Someone else touched it! Without offering to fill in the gaps, the other person just twisted the work and made it worse. (The I is tilted, the S is crashing into the G, etc.) This is why it’s important to find an editor and beta readers who are fans of your genre, and to study other works similar to yours. To make improvements, those gaps need to be correctly filled in; then the work can be adjusted.

#IWSG logo with tape by @JLenniDorner

Using tape on the back to hold it in place, this is what it looked like at the end. Without getting more materials (or increasing writing knowledge), this is as good as this project can get. Using the right materials and planning are important to weaving, as they are in writing. (Writing materials here being a command of language, access to editing and spellchecking, and some ideas. Planning being learning writing basics, thinking about word count, keeping track of characters and plot points, and having a decent story flow.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this wisdom.

#IWSG logo with visual aid by @JLenniDorner

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I am proud to be associated with the IWSG and all of the writers there. I don’t generally use the word “insecure” when describing myself. I enjoy my writing and I love my characters. I know neither of those are true for everyone, and that’s okay. But I do have one glaring insecurity…

“Readers want to connect with you!” “Write an author bio with the goal in mind of being relatable to your readers.”

There are HUNDREDS of quotes, tips, how-to articles, and suggestions like that out there. And every time I read something like that, I realize that what might hold me back more than anything else is being me.

Nothing in my actual life experience has ever led me to a moment where I was considered relatable. I’ve always been the strangest one in any group. I didn’t have that many “normal” experiences.

Unless we’re going to count being hated on sight. I have been attacked (verbally, physically, etc) for being… does it still count when it’s mistaken identity? Because I’m not Mexican, but I’ve been harassed for being one. I’ve been mistaken for several groups of which I don’t identify as. I’m not sure that I want my “author brand” to be “J is just as hated as bunches of other groups that hate-groups hate!” It’s true, but I’d rather it didn’t define me.

I like cats. That seems relatable. Except that, for a reason I do not know and undoubtedly couldn’t wrap my head around anyway, this also makes me unrelatable and strange. Dogs are the appropriate animal for me to like. WHO MADE THAT RULE??? Yeah, well, I break that rule. I’ve had the literal crap kicked out of me and hobbled home stinking and bleeding because of a kitten folder. Can you imagine why talking about that interest might make me insecure? Granted, I’m much older and stronger now. But bullies have cyber attacks which are much harder to recover from than physical injuries. “Doxing” is terrifying.

My biological parents and those from my tribe did not raise me to hate or segregate. I believe in equality. A new insecurity for me has come from people online who assume my gender. This really messes with me. I leave that question blank because it shouldn’t matter. But, somehow, that’s defaulted to switching my gender rather than demonstrating and encouraging equality. (Though the #HeForShe hashtag movement really seems like a dead giveaway. Just saying…) But here I am, with half a dozen people this year alone using the “she” and “her” pronouns and saying “Jenni” in reference to me.

(Take your first name and add it to your nationality, minus the first letter. John+American-A= Johnmerican. But that didn’t change the name to another gender. Samer+Iraqi-I= Samerraqi? Does that name have a gender? I don’t know enough about names to understand this logic. I am aware that Jenni is considered short for Jennifer, and that name is considered female exclusive at this time in America.)

My name being altered and my gender misidentified causes me to feel insecure .

It takes me back to how I got detention, suspension, and what eventually led to my expulsion from “traditional” public school. Gym class. Now, before you picture some “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” character, let me point out that I grew up in the woods. By the time that I ended up in that demonic hell hole school, I was more physically fit than ninety percent of my classmates. But I was “obstinate.” That’s one of the words they used a lot. Why? Because, unlike the others with whom I shared a locker room, I did not respond to the call of “ladies.” (I also didn’t answer to chief, bear, bull, beast, or any other noun which incorrectly and inappropriately attempted to identify me.) When the gym teacher said, “All right, ladies, drop and give me fifty,” I did nothing. I felt I was not addressed and therefore was following the rules by not dropping and doing push-ups.

To be honest, the first time I saw boys answering to ladies (and mind you, this was the early 90’s), I thought I had been placed in the wrong school and that all these fellows were intent on gender alteration. (While I didn’t feel the need for gender alteration personally, I did not and do not condemn it. I was curious why none of them opted to wear feminine clothing, or more gender neutral clothing. Asking about it turned out to be a painfully bad idea.)

Over time I learned that I was meant to be insulted and to prepare for a show of strength and endurance whenever someone referred to me as a gender of which I did not identify. The reasoning or logic was never explained (and the answers since have me very concerned for our species).

So, online, when someone changes my gender, I’m never sure how to react. Is it a challenge? What have I done now to cause this? I attempt to defuse the situation as best I can. If the person apologizes, I’ll often ask what led to the mistake. No one so far has been able to pinpoint what about my online persona caused them to mistake my gender. The nearest I’ve come to an answer so far was one person who said, “Only women have to hide who they are. I didn’t see your gender listed, so I figured you were female.” That says a great deal about society, history, feminism, equality… But, because I can’t control that, it doesn’t say anything about me.

(I’ve never been mistaken for a different gender offline, by the way. I don’t believe that the gym teacher was ever confused about the gender of the students he taught. Also, had I eventually responded to “ladies,” I would have participated in and won the archery competition. No one hit the center. Do you have ANY idea how difficult it was to stand there, to stick to my principles, to not break in that moment? And salt in the wound, having to read Robin Hood later that same day, to read how he couldn’t resist entering and winning. So yes, I threw a book. And yes, it hit someone by accident. And yes, I do regret that emotional outburst which was the final straw for the administration and ended my brief adventure in public school. Honestly though, it was probably for the best. I really didn’t belong.)

Does ANY of that make me more RELATABLE? Think there are a lot of readers out there who could identify with refusing to answer to being called something they are not? Maybe I’d pick up a few from the LBGTIQ+ community, which would be awesome. But really, I think me being me has scared off a lot of potential agents and publishers. I’m not very “marketable.” I do have the diversity angle, descending from the Lenni-Lenape tribe. (Nice and slow… “leh-NAH-pay” … it does not rhyme with grape or three.) But that probably isn’t enough.

So I’m insecure as a writer because I’m supposed to be relatable to readers and, honestly, I don’t feel like I am or ever could be.

J Lenni Dorner is a Lenni-Lenape who lives on the original lands of that Native American tribe. The author attended Penn State University. Currently, J is a co-host for the #AtoZChallenge and is the Debut Author Spotlight organizer at Operation Awesome. When not reading or writing, J enjoys watching funny cat videos and finding dragons on Pinterest. The author published the writer’s reference book, “Preparing to Write Settings that Feel Like Characters,” which is available on Amazon and Smashwords. J Lenni Dorner is best known for the urban fantasy Existence series. Book One, “Fractions of Existence,” is available on Amazon.

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Sorry for the long post. Here are potatoes:

potatoespotatoes in field


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  1. Great analogy between the two. And I really dig your creativity with the image. Well done.
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    • Juneta on October 4, 2017 at 11:23 PM

    Very Creative and Unique ideas. Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit
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  2. Great post!
    DB McNicol, author
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  3. I absolutely love what you did with the weaving! Brilliant!

    And I just don’t get why someone would be mean to a person because they like cats over dogs. Cats are awesome. Seriously the best pets.
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  4. Your IWSG pic is so original!
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  5. I love your “corny” logo! lol. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.
    You are so creative! I’m impressed.
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    • Heather M. Gardner on October 6, 2017 at 9:57 AM

    That is a fun logo!!
    Great post.
    Thanks for participating!
    Heather M. Gardner
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  6. That’s cool what you did with the weaving and the logo. Very creative.

    So you sound like you don’t fit into a neat, little box. I get how that can make one feel very insecure. But I think more and more people are refusing to fit into neat, little boxes, so don’t fear. Just say it makes you interesting.
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  7. So many people love cats and you are relatable. I had a horrible time in High School and I am so glad that part of my life is way behind me. Maybe some friends would help you create a bio, like beta readers for bios. I would probably have a hard time writing one too. I haven’t gotten to that stage yet. Just writing Flash Fiction right now. 🙂
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  8. Hi JL – love the way you’ve created the logo – clever use of corn strips … I imagine there are many other uses for the leaves that protect the maize itself … really clever … cheers Hilary

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