New Year, New Start

Most of you who follow this blog also follow my blog Write What You Know, and you might be wondering what happened to last Thursday’s post. Wonder no longer. There wasn’t one. I’ve been doing some over the last few weeks about my writing and what I want to happen with it. I realized my focus had been divided. So, as of the other day, all content from Write What You Know has been folded into this blog on this website.

I’m wanting this blog and this website to include all the facets of my life and my writing. Yes, there will continue to be Christian themed posts, but I will also reflect on the writing process and tell stories I hope will be encouraging and inspiring to all of us. Some will be fiction, and some will not. Others will help me process things as I continue to reflect on what God is doing in my life.

Today is my first day of Jeff Goins’ 500 words/day challenge for January. I should end up with more than 500 words/day between my journal writing, blog writing, and story writing, but I’m doing the challenge because I need a kick in the pants to work more on my short story and my book. I’ve been doing more planning than writing, and that needs to stop. Hence, the challenge. I’m also going to submit one of the stories I already have on the computer to a contest. Besides the writing challenge, I would also like to have a goal of submitting something to a contest or for publication once a month so I can start putting myself out there as a writer.

I might keep up with the writing challenge after January to keep myself in writing mode every day or at least every weekday. Some of those words will end up in this blog, but all of them will help me become a better writer.

Have a great day!

Why I’m Thankful for Writing

This might be the obvious post for today seeing that it is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, but bear with me. I’ve been thinking about my reasons for a while and decided I needed to write them down today.

First, I’m thankful for writing because of the faith I follow. I wrote about why God says we should be thankful here. (http://thrivingingrace.com/thanksgiving/), but it’s not just because of what the Bible says that I say this. I found this quote by Anne Frank in Anne Frank’s Diary:The Graphic Adaptation by David Polonsky. “I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains. Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun, go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God. Think of the beauty that again and again discharges itself within and without you and be happy.” It’s easy to concentrate on the misery. Anne Frank could have. I do myself more than I should. But, when I go outside and especially when I write outside, I find I focus more on the reasons why I’m here, and the words come easily as I think about what I need to say.

I’m also thankful for writing because of the images that form in my head when I read the words on the page. There are so many lively and delightful words in the English language as E. E. Cummings says in the book E. E. Cummings by Susan Cheever. “I thank you God for most this amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of the trees and a blue dream of sky.” For me, the word “greenly” brings immediately to mind a bright, spring day. I’m sure we can all think of words that bring detailed images to our minds.

Another reason I’m thankful for writing is because it is done in solitude–I can see my own words on a page before anyone else can see them. I can reflect on the pain and happiness in my life by writing about it. I can also give thanks and pray as Victor Hugo says in his work Les Miserables. “To give thanks in solitude is enough. Thanksgiving has wings and goes where it must go. Your prayer knows much more about it than you do.” It is such a lovely image for someone who needs solitude as I do.

I know this will seem diametrically opposite to what I just said, but I’m also thankful for writing because of my friends. While writing is done in solitude, writers could not make it without the support of their friends. Ralph Waldo Emerson said this in The Portable Emerson. “I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and new.” All of you who have supported me with likes and comments on this blog, on Facebook and Twitter, and even in person have made me more aware of the power of words and how they can change people’s lives. I am grateful for your support and for the lessons learned as I’ve continued to move forward on this journey.

Finally, I’m thankful for writing because it does have the power to change the world. The words William Faulkner wrote in The Essential Faulkner about gratitude have helped to reset my mind about the nature of gratitude. “Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity; it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.” So, on this Thanksgiving Day, I hope we can all remember to be grateful for everything we have, to help where we can, and to not judge others since we all have failed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Practicing While Waiting

I’m going to try something a little different on this last Thursday in October since I’m getting indications this needs to be my topic. From the song Take a Chance on Me by Abba playing during my workout to my devotion on waiting for God’s timing, I need to explore how I’m feeling during this time of waiting. I need to know how to step past the impatience I feel when I want something to happen faster than it needs to happen.

I first felt this stirring when I was doing my workout earlier. My workouts have become more consistent since I started to listen to my Spotify playlist. (What did we ever do without Spotify?) Anyway, I was doing my usual workout on the stepper when the song came on. As I listened to the lyrics of this older song, I thought of how the chorus could be reflective of our career choice if publication is our goal. Don’t we want agents and editors to take a chance on us and our writing? To take a chance that our writing and our books will be appealing to the masses? Of course, we do. It’s one way we can feel validated as a writer, and any money we’re paid is an extra bonus. (I like to eat. Don’t you?)

So, I listened to the lyrics and felt the stirrings of impatience. By the way, if you’re wondering about the lyrics or not familiar with the song at all, here they are. It will give you an idea of how I felt when I kept hearing the words “take a chance on me.”

Take a Chance on Me by Abba

If you change your mind, I’m the first in line
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
If you need me, let me know, gonna be around
If you’ve got no place to go, if you’re feeling down
If you’re all alone when the pretty birds have flown
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best and it ain’t no lie
If you put me to the test, if you let me try
Take a chance on me
(That’s all I ask of you honey)
Take a chance on me
We can go dancing, we can go walking, as long as we’re together
Listen to some music, maybe just talking, get to know you better
‘Cause you know I’ve got
So much that I wanna do, when I dream I’m alone with you
It’s magic
You want me to leave it there, afraid of a love affair
But I think you know
That I can’t let go
If you change your mind, I’m the first in line
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
If you need me, let me know, gonna be around
If you’ve got no place to go, if you’re feeling down
If you’re all alone when the pretty birds have flown
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best and it ain’t no lie
If you put me to the test, if you let me try
Take a chance on me
(Come on, give me a break will you?)
Take a chance on me
Oh you can take your time baby, I’m in no hurry, know I’m gonna get you
You don’t wanna hurt me, baby don’t worry, I ain’t gonna let you
Let me tell you now
My love is strong enough to last when things are rough
It’s magic
You say that I waste my time but I can’t get you off my mind
No I can’t let go
‘Cause I love you so
If you change your mind, I’m the first in line
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
If you need me, let me know, gonna be around
If you’ve got no place to go, if you’re feeling down
If you’re all alone when the pretty birds have flown
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best, baby can’t you see
Gotta put me to the test, take a chance on me
(Take a chance, take a chance, take a chance on me)
Ba ba ba ba baa, ba ba ba ba baa
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best, baby can’t you see
Gotta put me to the test, take a chance on me
(Take a chance, take a chance, take a chance on me)
Ba ba ba ba baa, ba ba ba ba baa ba-ba
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best, baby can’t you see
Gotta put me to the test, take a chance on me
There was one part of the chorus that especially stirred my feelings. It’s the part which
says “Come on, give me a break will you?” I wondered why I hadn’t received my break yet. I wondered why it seemed I couldn’t get any respect from the people I know on what I was trying to do with my life. It seemed I was falling into a path of having nothing now that my children were grown. I couldn’t get past the feelings of being a failure and having no one believe in  me.
I got done with my workout and came home. I didn’t know what to do with my feelings. But, then I came to the part where the patience comes in. My devotion on waiting. I read it, and my first thought was, ‘Really, God. You want me to wait some more?’ I was trying to listen though. I do want my writing to be the best it can be when I finally get the chance, and I want to follow God’s will for my life. That’s a given. I read further into the devotion and saw the verse featured. From I Samuel 13:14, “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be a commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” (emphasis mime) God was telling Saul he had been wrong to offer the sacrifice to Him and not wait for Samuel. Now, Saul would suffer the consequences. Wow, a direct answer to my feelings, or like the younger people would say, “Oh, snap.” He wants me to wait, learn more about writing, and continue to write for His glory.
So, I’m waiting on God’s timing and waiting through all the people who say I should have all the time in the world now to do what they want since I’m a middle-aged woman whose children are grown. No, I don’t. I’m a writer with a call from God to write and create for His glory. And while I’m waiting, I’m practicing. Practicing in public on this blog and my other blog (http://thrivingingrace.com/blog/). Practicing in private in my journals. Submitting and getting rejected (From what I read, I should eventually have enough rejections to paper my walls.). And living, so I can get the experience to write my stories.
May we all practice, submit, and live as we wait for the right time for our writing to be noticed!
Have a great day everyone!

Primal Landscape

I had never heard of this term before hearing it in my writing class last week. I’m not even sure it applies to me as I spent my childhood in several different places. First, though, let’s get the definition out-of-the-way. The term “primal landscape” was first coined by Don Gayton from British Columbia, Canada a few years ago. It means “the landscape a person most identifies with.” The translation of that is essentially where a person was born and raised. The article I read also talked about how this land becomes known, familiar, and comforting. I would also say it could be upsetting and painful if a person’s upbringing was not the best. As might be imagined, this term was first coined as a geographical term, but there are other uses for it as I learned in writing class.

The writing class I’m taking is a class on setting and description which should be  important to anyone interested in the craft of writing. To set a novel someplace is to tell the reader where the action is taking place. A very important thing, I would think, so a primal landscape can be an important place to tell a story. My teacher assigned us the beginning of a story written in our primal landscape or the place where we had spent the most time up to the age of twenty-one. I immediately realized I didn’t have one of those landscapes in my background. My husband does though. He spent all of his growing-up years in one place. He could easily write a story in his primal landscape if he wanted.

But, the assignment was mine. I thought about all of the places I had lived. Virginia, Washington D. C., Florida, South Carolina, Ohio, and California. Then, I went back to South Carolina for college and eventually met my husband. We married and had our children there. The story could have been set in any of those places, or it could have been set where my grandparents lived as that was a place I frequently visited as a child. I picked a place and wrote the story. It was a deeply personal story so I won’t be posting it here. Let’s just say I learned the true meaning of what a primal landscape could do for my writing.

The term wouldn’t let me go though, and it made me wonder where my primal landscape actually was. I remembered what had happened two months ago, and it came to me. South Carolina. I had lived there for six years as a child, and I had returned for college. I settled there when I married, and both of my children were born there. In fact, two months ago, which was where this memory had come from, I traveled back there for the funeral of someone who has been important to me since college. So, I had the chance to travel backward in time.

I drove from the state I lived in to South Carolina on a Friday. I thought about my friend whose husband had died. They had been my adopted parents in college, and the whole family meant and still means a lot to me. When I arrived at the city, I could see there were some things that hadn’t changed. The intersection of interstates which locals call “Malfunction Junction” was the same as it had been when I was a child. The landscape itself seemed to have aged very little since the last time I had been there seven years earlier. There was one new thing I noticed though as I made my way to my girlfriend’s house. I saw a roundabout. Hadn’t seen one of those things since I lived in Michigan. (I’ve moved around a lot in my adult life too.)

Anyway, I made my way to my girlfriend’s house, and we spent time catching up that evening. The next morning she asked me what I wanted to do before the funeral. I asked if we could drive around so I could take pictures. We got in the car and off we went. Our first stop was the church where I had gotten married. It wasn’t even the same church anymore. The building was shared by another church and a school. But, it was still the same place. I had visions of coming out as a new bride and heading out on my honeymoon. There were so many people there celebrating our marriage with us. Family, friends, and co-workers. I took pictures, and we got back in the car. She asked where I wanted to go next. I told her to go to a certain elementary school where I had gone for fourth and fifth grade. We arrived, and the building still looked the same. I had a vision of my younger self taking her bike from the bike rack and crossing the street with a crossing guard. It was the same route I told my girlfriend to take. I wanted to see the house where I had lived from fourth through ninth grades. A few minutes later, I was staring at it. I took pictures and remembered. Remembered running up and down the street. Remembered where I had first learned to love writing. Remembered some of the most formative years of my life. It was a good memory, and looking back, I now know where my primal landscape is. It’s on a little street in South Carolina.

We finished our tour and headed back to my girlfriend’s house so we could get ready for the funeral. I had come back for a sad occasion, but somehow, I had found another piece of who I was. As I face this next phase of my life with an empty nest, it was good for me to find my roots and know the place which had poured the most into me.

Have a great day, everyone!

Imagination

Yesterday, I was listening to my writing teacher as she talked about the three kinds of research writers need to do–functional, to find facts; inspirational, to uncover and discover which opens the desire to write; and imaginative, to think about and plan the story they want to write. She guided us through several exercises of imagining ourselves in different settings. While I’ve always thought of myself as having a good imagination, I appreciated the fullness of the exercise. Being able to flesh out my writing with more details and complexity will make my story a better story, and that’s a good thing.

She did warn us though that it would be hard to stay in one setting for a full three minutes without our minds wandering. She was right. I constantly had to battle thoughts of what I needed to be doing, what was happening later on that day, and what was happening where I was. I found that I couldn’t keep my mind in the particular setting for very long. In fact, I had to try the exercise several times before I manage the particulars of it. I found it illuminating. Imagining myself in a particular setting could add more detail to my writing. I just needed to master the technique.

I listened to the rest of the lectures before arriving at the assignment for this module. My teacher wanted us to set a story in one of three particular areas and write the first pages of it. I looked at the three choices, and though I had personally been in each setting, nothing came to me. I couldn’t think of anything that would be a good beginning for a story so I decided to let it sit overnight. It turned out to be a good thing because when I woke up, it came to me. I could write a fictional memoir of one of the most traumatic times I had ever been in a hospital setting. I could bring awareness to a disease that’s rarely talked about, and it might end up being something I would want to finish. So, hospital setting it is. One more thing before I start my story. I do believe a story can be written without an author having personal experience with a setting. This is where functional research comes in so detail and context can be added to make the setting more layered. Now, without further adieu, here is the story I wrote for writing class.

An Invisible Illness

Kristen took the cup of coffee from her mother-in-law. “Thanks, Linda.” She blew on the top to cool it off and took a sip. ‘Ugh, typical hospital coffee,’ she thought to herself placing it on the table next to her. Linda had tried. She could see where creamer and sugar had been mixed in, but it still tasted awful. She settled back in her seat wishing that the bright, blinking lights could be turned down or off. “So, how long has he been in there?”

Of course, her father-in-law answered. “Fifteen minutes.” He tapped his watch. “It’s been fifteen minutes since you came out here. I’m keeping track.”

The calm that had enveloped her after the surgeon had prayed with her and Daniel threatened to evaporate. She took a deep breath. “Thanks, Bill.” The surgery Daniel was having wasn’t supposed to be complicated. ‘Just temporary,’ he had said, ‘and hopefully, it can be reversed in a few months.’ She took another breath trying to corral her thoughts. A colostomy shouldn’t be that bad, right? And if the medicine worked, they could put everything back together in three months. Then, Daniel would be healthy, and they could get back to living.

Another fifteen minutes passed. Then, thirty. They had been joined by the pastor, deacon, and women’s ministry leader of hers and Daniel’s church and her best friend, Bonnie, who leaned over and whispered to her, “Why do they all look like sourpusses? Aren’t church people supposed to be nice?”

Kristin covered her mouth so no one would hear her giggle. Bonnie could always make her laugh. She was right though. They all looked like sourpusses. She closed her eyes trying to fend off the raging headache that was threatening to come out. Bill’s voice roused her. “The surgery is taking longer than he told us. Shouldn’t the nurse come out here and give us an update?” He glanced around and then back at his watch, his movements competing with the bright, blinking lights.

As if almost on cue, the intercom sounded. “Mrs. Miller, we have an update for you. Mrs. Miller, there’s an update.”

Kristin rose and walked to the desk noticing that Linda had pulled Bill back down to his seat. She knew Linda had told him she was entitled to the information first, and she was grateful. Mother-in-laws didn’t come any better than Linda. She took the phone from the smiling nurse and said, “This is Mrs. Miller.” It seemed like the voice on the other end talked forever. Her eyes and mouth widened in shock. “Thank you for your update, ma’am.”

She handed the phone back to the nurse and walked slowly back to her group. Bill noticed her shocked look first. “What’s wrong, Kristin? Is Daniel ok?”

“They think he will be, Bill.” Kristin took a breath so she could get the info out. “But, he’s going to be in surgery for another seven-eight hours. His colon and rectum both need to come out, and they will be creating a permanent ileostomy. It’s all damaged beyond repair.” She sat in the chair like a balloon had deflated.

It seemed like everyone started talking at once and wanting further information. Finally, the pastor was able to get a word in edgewise. “I’m sorry, Kristin. I hope everything goes well, but,” he motioned to the other two from the church, “we will need to leave. We have other visits to make.”

Kristin schooled her features like she didn’t care. “Of course, Dr. Wilson.” She got up and shook his hand and the others. “Thank you all for coming.” The group left, and all she could think was that she didn’t have to maintain a church face anymore. She sat back down. “Anyone else want to take off?”

Linda shook her head. “Of course not, honey. We’re gonna stay…”

Bill interrupted her holding up his phone. “I just looked up what you said on this new-fangled phone. Daniel might be dying…” He stretched out the last syllable before rapidly speaking every possible thing that could happen.

Linda and Bill started arguing about his hypochondria and about appropriate things to say in the hospital. It was maddening to Kristin though she was familiar with Bill’s quirks. Finally, she had enough. “He almost died, you fucking moron.” Her volume increased with her anger and frustration. “He coded on the table, and they had to restart his heart. Hopefully, it won’t happen again, but right now, I need you to go away!”

Her in-laws and Bonnie stood with their mouths agape having never seen her that angry. Linda grabbed Bill’s arm and drug him away despite his protests. “You didn’t need to say that to her. And she’s right. You are a fucking moron.” She called over her shoulder to Kristin and Bonnie. “We’ll bring lunch back for you girls.”

Once they entered the elevator, Kristin sat back down feeling the tension ebb out of her. Were people always this stupid in hospitals? Bonnie joined her. “Better?”

Kristin shook her head. “I might have killed him if he had stayed.”

“What happened? Did Daniel really code?”

“Yes.” Kristin nodded grimly. “His Crohn’s has progressed further than the doctors thought. His colon and rectum are beyond repair. If they hadn’t opened him up today…” She left the thought unspoken.

“But, they did,” said Bonnie, “and they’re gonna fix it. Daniel’s gonna be there for you and your girls.”

“I hope so.”

“I know so.” Bonnie took her hands in hers. “You’ve taught me so much about Crohn’s Disease. I didn’t even know it existed until I met you and Daniel.”

“Yeah, it’s an invisible illness, all right. No one knows a lot about it unless they know someone with it or have it themselves.” She felt someone tap her shoulder and turned to see an older woman. “Can I help you, ma’am?”

The woman had short brown hair and welcoming brown eyes. “Hi, my name’s Stacy. My husband’s having a brain tumor taken out. She shook their hands. “I couldn’t help but overhear. Your husband has Crohn’s Disease?” At Kristin’s nod, she continued, “I try to learn something new every time we come to the hospital. Keeps my mind off of… Anyway, tell me about it. What’s Crohn’s Disease?

Kristin’s eyes teared up as she motioned for Stacy to join them. No one had ever been interested before. As she launched into her explanation, she smiled at Bonnie and her new friend. Maybe things would be okay after all.

Seven Years – The Good and the Bad

A lot has changed in the last seven years. My children are grown now. One will be done with college in May, and the other has just started college. They have navigated the beginnings of adulthood well, and I couldn’t be more proud. But, there should be something else now, someone else now. There should be a child running after his or her big brothers. She should be in the first grade starting this journey of an education and learning about life. There’s not though. It wasn’t meant to be.

One year after my miscarriage, I was able to write about my loss here. (https://writewhatyouknowdotorg.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/reflections-on-the-beginning-of-fall/) I was able to reflect on my loss and talk about all the good that had happened in my life since it had happened. I was able to say I was okay and thought I was moving on.

The grieving process though has been different every year. There have been years I have been overwhelmed with sadness on this day, and there have been years I’ve been reminded of how close Jesus was to me on that day though I hadn’t come back to faith yet. There have also been years when I’ve felt a combination of both sets of feelings. Sadness and peace. I haven’t quite been able to explain it, but I’m pretty sure it’s related to what has changed in my heart–the presence of God in my heart and my life.

I said in the first paragraph a lot had changed in the last seven years. There have been deaths, and there have been births. I’ve become friends with a precious little girl who has the same name my daughter would have had. There have been job changes and hospital stays. I’ve learned and grown from essentially living life, and it’s been good for me.

However, over the last several months, I’ve become convinced I needed to keep my bad feelings stuffed inside, and if I even thought of expressing them, bad things would happen. I’ve thought I had to do this because reflecting my bad feelings would mean I wasn’t reflecting the joy of the faith I’ve come to profess. Essentially, I wasn’t being real.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about, praying about, and trying to get a handle on. How do Christians have real joy and peace while considering such emotions as sadness, anger, and depression? Do we pretend when we’re not at home? Do we put up shields? I would think since God gave us all these emotions, we should use all of them, or we would just be robots, right?

Through my prayers and talks with God, I was reassured that it was okay to be real in my life. God is there when I shake with sadness, and He’s there when I jump with joy. He wants us to be real and to care only about what He thinks not about what others think. And if I needed more proof, I could go back to the first post I ever published on this blog in 2012. I leave it here for you and me to consider as we think about how to integrate all of the parts of our lives–the sadness and the happiness–into our writing.

Until next time, be real!

Inside a Writer’s Soul

Words….words on a page with no feelings or emotions behind them.  Is that what catches your eye when you read something? Or is it the words that have feeling and emotions that catch your eye? I have been writing stories for the last two and a half years and have been told that the best way to reach a person through words is to write what you know.  This is my plan for this blog. Why are we afraid to tell people what we really feel? To let them see inside our hearts? I think it’s because we’re afraid–afraid of rejection, afraid that what we’re writing isn’t popular, afraid of being real. For my first post for this blog, I want to share an experience that was very real to me and one that still resonates deep within my soul.

Almost eight months ago, my family and I had lived in our new town for just about a month. Unemployment had been our watchword for almost a year, but we were now beginning to get back on our feet with my husband’s new job. What I had not told anyone though was the extreme pain I had been in. We had held off on getting health insurance because of the expense, and I was hoping against hope that what I was experiencing was just normal monthly woman’s pain. It was not to be. By the middle of the day, I was bleeding heavily and barely able to get out of the bed because of the pain. My husband was worried and looked up my symptoms on the Internet, and we determined that it was highly probable I was having a miscarriage. It was on the side though of being something a doctor couldn’t do anything about, and we decided it would be better for me to just stay at home and wait things out. Thirty minutes later, I had a strong urge to push and barely made it to the bathroom before something came out. It was very, very small, but was still recognizable as a baby. A baby….I had lost a baby. Tears began pouring down my face.  I managed to get to the bed, and at that point, began my physical recovery.

The mental recovery though is something I would not wish on anyone.  My husband and children were amazing. I can’t tell you the number of laundry loads and meals that were taken care of without my having to worry about it over the next few weeks. The people we had met were pretty good too. I was especially grateful for the home school mom who took my kids for the afternoon a few days later so I could rest, for the manager who let my husband work from home the afternoon I had the miscarriage and for my four special girlfriends who I have a Facebook group with. But, the one thing that was hard was feeling like I couldn’t talk about it—feeling like I couldn’t talk about my pain and anguish— that people just expected me to move on.  There are health issues that are talked about; dare I say that are ‘fashionable’ to talk about.  I’m thinking of such things as breast cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. When a woman says she has lost a baby though, people don’t know what to say or they say something that wounds her further.  Why? Why is this loss not talked about? Wait, I can’t say it’s not talked about. There are people who are doing wonderful work with miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss support–on the Internet and in real life. It’s hard though, not being able to talk about a loss especially a loss that was early like mine was because people don’t consider it to be real. But it was real to me.

It might be a mistake to be real, but I won’t know unless I try. I’m reminded of a quote I saw on Facebook on a photo. “If you don’t make mistakes, you’re doing it wrong. If you don’t correct those mistakes, you’re doing it really wrong. If you can’t accept that you’re mistaken, you’re not doing it at all.”  (credited to I fucking love science’s photo that was posted on May 26, 2012)

Until next time, be real!

 

Respect the Creative

Today is the very first day I have ever seen my reasons for writing written in a book. I almost cried. Finally, there was someone who got it. Someone who knew why. I don’t have many people in my life I can talk to about this. And, out of those, most of them are either creatives themselves or married to one. The others don’t get it. So, today, I thought I would write about respecting the creatives in our lives even if we don’t understand them.

First, let me share the quote that touched me to my core. From Jennifer Probst in Write Naked, “Writing helps you find the lost pieces of yourself—those pieces that were misplaced, forgotten, or squashed long, long ago. Through words, we may carve a new path for ourselves or recapture the power to own who we are.” “Recapture the power to own who we are.” I think this is what I’ve been missing as I’ve started on this path of the next phase of my life. I am a creative, and that means I’m different. I think differently, react differently, and look for ideas and things I can translate into words. I always have a story idea rolling around in my head, and I want to talk about things that matter. Trying to fit into a mold I was not meant for is tiring, frustrating, and not what God means for me to do as I live my life.

So, how do I live like this and still live the life God wants me to live among the rest of the world? To answer this question, I think I first need to appropriate a term that the younger generation is using. I need to “find my tribe.” I remember the first time I heard it used. It was a couple of years ago when my older son had first left for college. During my life, I’ve heard it said that people gravitate to the people who are most like them. It’s certainly been true for my son who is in the nerd/geek social club and who now has a girlfriend with similar interests. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t tried different things. (Jamboree 2018 being a prime example) It just means that he has people he feels comfortable with in sharing the deep things of his life. He has “found his tribe.” While I have a tribe of online friends who are creatives, I think I need to do a better job of finding them in real life. People who won’t roll their eyes or tune me out when I want to talk about the important things in my life.

What about the rest of the world who aren’t creatives? How do I deal with them and have relationships without denying myself or going nuts with the banality of the world? The facetious answer would be to buy my own island and limit the people who I let come onto it. My husband and I have talked about this as a lottery goal when we’ve gotten tired of the world’s nonsense. But, that’s dreaming and not realistic, and we both know it. Back to my question. I think it’s important to realize not every relationship in my life will be a soul nourishing one. There will be conversations that mean little, and people who won’t support me or my goals no matter how much I’d like them to. There will be people who just don’t care despite the one or two things we do have in common.

I entitled this post “Respect the Creative” and promised I would give ideas on respecting the creative people in your lives. This is where those ideas are. 🙂  If you have a creative person in your live and sense them starting to drift away, ask them about their work. Ask them what they’re writing, composing, painting, crocheting, knitting…the list goes on. They want to talk about their work, but they want to be listened to as well. Pretending is something they can see through right away.

If their work is for sale, buy it or share it with someone you know would like it. Not only does it help a creative person eat, they know someone else appreciates their work and that they are leaving a legacy behind.

Finally, creative people need to know they’re loved and cherished by the people in their lives. They’re different, and they know they’re different, but they still need to know they’re loved and cared about. That is one need we all have in common.

Have a great day, everyone!

 

Dancing Better than Myself

Sorry about the lack of an entry last week. Life was…overwhelming. Anyway, back to today. How is dancing anywhere near like writing? Bear with me. All will be made clear.

I get many of my topics for this blog from my writing inspiration book, and today was no different. The entry was about Mikhail Baryshnikov who is recognized as one of the greatest ballet dancers of the twentieth century. I learned snippets about his life in communist Russia and when he danced with the Bolshoi Ballet before defecting to the United States. One thing I was surprised by was that he was not a star dancer for the ballet. He only had secondary roles because of his height. Maybe that was his reasoning behind saying these words. “I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.” He knew he would need to work hard to get to where he wanted to be so he set goals for himself that reflected his primary goal. His opportunity did come, and I was reminded of the benefits of setting goals.

It’s the same way with writing. We need to set standards for our own writing and work on continually improving our craft. I found it interesting that the author of my inspiration book says this as one of my goals is also publication. “Just as Baryshnikov set out to dance for himself, you must write for yourself. Even if your vision is to have a work published, you must first write a work that’s pleasing to you and that meets the standards you have set for your own writing.” (The Writer’s Daily Companion, Amy Peters)

Dancing better than myself or writing for myself. They both remind me of something that I think can be important for any career or pastime. Having a heart for it and going back to the basics for it. When my sons, who are both in college now, chose their majors, they looked for things they were passionate about. Things they could imagine themselves doing in the long-term. I look back on the process now and can’t imagine them not having a career in either. They have a heart for what they want to do in their lives, and I know it is something that will sustain them.

Then, there’s going back to the basics. Each career has something that’s basic to the heart of it. For the dancer, it’s the ballet barre. For the veterinary technologist, it’s animals and taking care of them. For the sports manager, it’s the love of the game. And, for the writer, it’s the page. Always the page. It’s where I find my heart and where I find my words. I hope as we all set our goals and do our best to meet them, we remember the passion that first brought us to writing and keep going no matter what.

Have a great day, everyone!

Struggles with Writing

When I was thinking of today’s topic, the word struggle came to mind. We all have struggles in our lives whether with writing or anything else. Then, I thought of all the struggles I have had or am having as I seek to chase my dream of becoming a published author. I know those of you who write have had struggles (And if you haven’t, message me. I want to know your secret. 🙂 ) so I thought I would explore my thoughts and feelings on the subject.

I believe the first struggle is finding the time to actually write words on the page. Most of us have other jobs, whether paying or not, that demand our time. Our world has hundreds if not thousands of distractions as well. The desire to write our stories, to write our words down needs to be strong enough to overcome this inertia or anything else the world might throw at us.

When we get to the table with our notebook or our computer, we reach the next struggle. What do we write about? What story idea churning in our brain will be the first to see the light of the computer screen or the notebook page? I also count writer’s block in the middle of a story as part of this category because it’s all the same thing. What words should we put on the page? This can be the place where we’re stopped forever from sharing our stories, or it can be the place where we push through and get our stories out of our brains.

Another struggle we can have is learning how to write well. I’m sure most of us have first attempts at writing stories or books that are stored away in our notebooks or on our computers never to see the light of day. We have these stories to share, but learning how to write them well is our way of making them accessible to the people we hope will read them. It is also our way of showing others we take our craft seriously.

Answering the question of why we write can be another struggle. Do we want the recognition that comes from publishing a book? Are accolades or a big paycheck (or any paycheck at all) part of our reason for going to our writing desks each day and working to make our stories the best they can be? Or is it a need or compulsion to put words on the page? As always, all I need to do to find people’s reasons for writing is to google “why I write” on the Internet. I found some interesting ones today.

From Anne Frank: “I can shake off everything as I write, my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”

This quote from Flannery O’Connor is one I’ve seen often. “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

I thought this quote from Joss Whedon was beautiful. Or I might be including it because I loved his TV show, Firefly. Not sure which. 🙂  “I write to give myself strength, be the characters that I am not, explore all the things I am afraid of.”

And finally, from Joanne Harris. “You write because you need to write, or because you hope someone will listen or because writing will mend something broken inside you or bring something back to life.”

All of these quotes resonated with me, and they give me strength as I come to the next struggle of writing. Rejection letters. Yes, I’ve finally had the courage to start submitting my stories to different publications to see if they might be interested. Nothing has happened so far so I’m getting…rejection letters. They’re a badge of honor for me though. They represent the overcoming of a fear–the fear that my writing isn’t worth seeing. Sure, some people might not like it, but I know there is someone out there who eventually will, and that is the most important reason of all to keep trying.

So, with all of these struggles in mind, I thought it would help me to develop my own writing manifesto. My own reasons for writing when the struggle gets to be too much. Maybe, someday, someone will quote me, or, if nothing else, my family will understand why I wrote.

I write because it helps me understand a situation when I am too scared to talk. I write because it helps people to understand me. I write to gain courage to live my life and share my insights with others.

Have a great day, everyone!

 

Writing Quotes

I thought I would take the opportunity today to share some quotes about writing I have come across recently and share what they mean to me. There is wisdom in the people who have come before me, and I want to make sure I take advantage of it.

First is a quote by Maya Angelou. I came upon this yesterday in a Facebook post by Jeff Goins, and all I could think of was how true it was because it gave me the idea for today’s post. Here’s the quote. “When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.'” I was working on my latest piece, and nothing was happening. I couldn’t think of anything to write so I just started writing words. Words I knew would come out in editing. And then something in my brain clicked. It was something that would take my story in a direction I’d never thought of. It was good too. I started writing, and before I knew it, I had written several hundred words. Not bad for an afternoon’s work. So, that’s what the muse coming feels like, I thought. I’ll have to remember this the next time I get stuck.

The second quote was just as illuminating as the first. From George Washington Carver, “When you do common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” This quote helped me to know that I need to become comfortable writing in my own voice. Yes, lessons are helpful. Yes, I can gain wisdom from those who have come before me. But, I will be the most successful at this writing craft when I let my voice infuse my words which will turn into stories only I can write.

I especially liked the third quote from nineteenth-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. I had never thought of dancing as anything but what you do with your feet, but I liked how he related it to writing. Here’s the quote. “Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education; dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen?” That’s how our words come alive, I would think. Come alive in the reader’s mind; come alive in those who would like to see the change reflected in our words; come alive for humanity. Dancing with my words so that they reflect who I am–this is something I aspire to as a writer.

Finally, there is this quote from Gustave Flaubert. “The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” I have found this to be true for me. Writing is the third component to sealing a belief in my heart. I can see something in writing. I can hear someone read something. But, before it goes into my personal belief system, I have to write it down. I have to write my own beliefs in words I can understand before I can say I believe them. It is as important to me as someone else’s creativity is to them. Writing is how I express my heart and soul to the world.

So, there it is. Four writing quotes and how they apply to my life. May we all be willing to glean wisdom from others as we discover our own writing voice!

Hope everyone has a great day!