Wednesday, December 30, 2009
This morning, as I slowed down for yet another red light, I wondered: is God teaching me a lesson?
I believe that we are given signs every single day that teach us something we need to know to live a more fulfilling, peaceful life. The problem is, we don't always recognize those signs and lose out on our chance to learn.
The lesson for the last few days? Patience.
It's a lesson I need to learn again and again. There are times when my lack of patience literally makes my shoulders bunch and spikes my blood pressure. Those are the times I need the patience and just don't have it. Lately, I've needed patience in a lot of areas. My writing. My career. My relationships (especially with men!). And since I haven't had that patience, I've struggled and wrung my hands a lot in the past few days. I've lost focus of my goals and have spent more time than necessary worrying, being frustrated, and generally being unhappy.
Result? Stoplights. God tapping on my shoulder and saying, "Patience, my child. My time, not yours."
So once again, I am having to draw back, take stock of where I'm at, do lots of praying, lots of journaling, and lots of thinking. It feels like I've been doing that a lot lately, but it's been a roller-coaster of a year.
I've come to realize that life is just like this. We ebb and flow. Sometimes, we're focused. We're at peace. We're sure of where we want to be and sure of what path to take. Other times, we get off track. We get frustrated. Then we have to stop, take a deep breath, and slowly work our way back to that moment where the world made sense. We just need the gumption to know when we need to stop instead of barreling full-speed over the cliff and ending up with a huge crash that takes us far too long to recover from.
That's where I'm at. Taking stock. Journaling. Thinking. Praying.
Monday, December 28, 2009
I have an amazing family that surrounds me with support, warmth, and love. I would not be who I am today without them. Fortunately, the weather enabled me to spend a few extra days with them and it was a true blessing. I also had the chance to meet with some old high school friends. We had a blast catching up and reliving old times.
I left the country and the small town behind last night and made the long drive back home to my city. Thankfully, the roads were completely clear. Already, I miss the closeness of hanging out with my family, of playing Wii with my nephew, of chatting about boys with my teenage niece, of laughing with my brother and my sister-in-law, of sharing conversation with my mom, of talking and laughing with my dad, of sitting on the couch and discussing the wonders and absurdities of life with my grandmother.
And this morning, as I sit back in the office, I'm eating homemade banana bread from my sister-in-law and thinking about how truly blessed I am to have such a wonderful family and so many awesome friends.
What is your favorite part about going home?
Thursday, December 24, 2009
It's been wonderful.
Monday, December 21, 2009
I started a group for the Amateis family and already I've had a great response. I have relatives from Italy and Argentina (apparently my relatives didn't stay in one spot!) as well as the United States. I'm sure there will be more forthcoming.
Ten years ago, it would have taken lots of digging, lots of letters overseas, and lots and lots of waiting. Now, with the click of a button, I'm finding relatives that I probably never would have known otherwise.
I'm hoping to get lots of genealogical information together and start mapping out the family tree. It will be a difficult, yet fun project. And who knows? It just might turn into a novel someday...
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Of course, I had to go download it.
With contributions from 60 other artists, this book is a goldmine of creative goodness. And best of all? It's free. In fact, author Seth Godin wants to give this book to as many people as possible. That's part of his strategy. As Pressfield writes, "What we can learn from Seth is how to use the principle of Giving It Away–to connect, to raise visibility, to make friends (and maybe even a little profit) and to actually help."
That sounds like an amazing goal to me.
So here is the link to go to Seth Godin's blog and download the e-book, What Matters Now. Prepare to be inspired!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
The marketplace is very, very tight right now. This is the second agent who has had the full manuscript who has told me that while she likes the book, she doesn't think she can sell it in this market. Since my books are set in America during WWII, I'm pretty sure that has something to do with it. I think publishers are banking on projects that have a history of selling - and what is hot right now is not WWII America, unfortunately. I could be wrong...
What's a girl to do?
Well, after much gnashing of teeth and a longing for a whole bag of Dove chocolate, I decided that I can't quit writing what I love. It's that simple. Right now is the time to write for the joy of it. It's time to hunker down and wait out this dip in the marketplace.
And you know what? That takes some of the pressure off right there. Writing for the sheer joy of it, regardless of if it sells, is what we should all be doing anyway. That's an incredibly hard mindset to get into, but if you achieve it, you're golden.
Here's hoping I can keep this mindset and keep churning out the words. For a brief moment, I thought, I'm done. But then I realized that even if I never sell a book, I'll still keep writing. That's who I am.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Wow. We had one heckuva storm yesterday. It snowed all day and then the wind started blowing last night. As a result, we got lots of snow and lots of great big drifts. These are the views from my apartment after they plowed. The poor guy in the last two pics really had to dig out his car. As I type this, he's still not done digging.
Hardly anyone could make it into work today and I didn't want to chance it since I now drive a car and not my beloved Jeep Liberty, so daughter and I are staying home today. She didn't have school yesterday, either, so it's been a nice vacation for her.
On tap for today? Maybe a cup of warm cocoa, a book, and my laptop. I got some writing done last night as the wind was howling and I'm thinking today is the perfect day to keep up the momentum.
Monday, December 07, 2009
Ahh. Here's the finished Christmas decor in the living room! It went together well and I'm pleased with the results.
Today is also the 68th anniversary of the attack of Pearl Harbor - December 7, 1941. You can read President Roosevelt's speech asking Congress to declare war on the Japanese here. Unbelievable that it's already been 68 years - and even better? The Japanese are now our allies. Amazing what happens in history, isn't it?
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Of course, I can't do this as I am a mother, have a job, and well, it's not in me to give up. I'm a fighter. Or at the very least, a survivor.
The latest emotional upheaval left me reeling and I've felt scatter-brained and "off" my game ever since. I haven't looked at my novel since Wednesday (I actually wrote a page or two on the laptop while on the road home - don't worry, I wasn't driving!) and I miss it. My writing is my escape.
I also am not yet possessed of the Christmas spirit. This is my favorite time of year, a time when I'm usually blissfully happy and loving the spirit of the season. Yet I haven't felt the joy. Last night, my daughter convinced me to put up the Christmas tree. I wasn't in the mood, but I wanted to do it for her. So I put on my Christmas music and we hauled out the Christmas tree. I felt maybe a twinkling of Christmas spirit, but nothing like I usually do. This saddened me.
There are bright spots in all of this. I have reconnected with old friends, discovered (once again) what an amazing and awesome family I have, and this weekend, I have a few Christmas parties to go to that require dressing to the nine's. I'm looking forward to it.
But mentally, I need to go to a cave for awhile. I need to regroup, rethink what I want out of life, and do some serious soul-searching. This is a good idea to do every few months anyway, but right now, it's paramount to my sanity. I've lost focus and need to regain it in a lot of areas of my life, particularly in my faith, in my writing, and in my relationships with others.
Sometimes I wish gut-punches weren't so painful. But they all include a lesson that I need to learn. Even though I have to go through the agony, it makes me a stronger, more resilient, and much wiser individual. And really, you can't beat that.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
The majority of my Christmas shopping is done - hooray! Now all that's left to do is wrap the presents, decorate the house, and put up the tree. But I'm just not in that Christmas spirit yet.
I'm sure I'll get there.
Have you started decorating the house for Christmas? Started listening to Christmas music?
Monday, November 30, 2009
I'll post some photos when I get them downloaded. Got home late last night, so I didn't have time (or the energy) to get out the camera.
I'll definitely need to get back to the gym, though, after all the food I ate!
How was your weekend?
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Anyway, I thought she might be just a bit tired today, but this was confirmed when we were getting ready this morning.
She came out into the living room and said, "Mom, what is wrong with these jeans???"
She had them on backwards.
"Umm," I said, trying not to laugh, "they're not supposed to go that way."
She looked down at her pants, realized what she'd done, and burst out laughing.
We're still laughing about it. What a memory!
Monday, November 23, 2009
Her name is Lisbeth Solander and she is so unique, you can't help but wonder what makes her tick. She's a skinny 24-year-old computer hacker, with tattoos and piercings, a penchant for doing what needs to be done (even if it's illegal) and a loner. She comes to life on the page. Larsson does an incredible job of creating her, of making her real, yet still manages to keep some of her secrets that really are the backbone of who she is. It's a fascinating technique. As a reader, you really want to know what those secrets are - it makes her all the more intriguing. But Larsson doesn't tell you.
Of course, since there are two more books in the series, I imagine that some of these secrets will be revealed. But it doesn't detract from the power of her character in the first book.
What makes a great character for you in a novel? How do you try and translate this to your own work?
Friday, November 20, 2009
It's been glorious. I already have over 1,000 words written. More are to come. This afternoon, I'll pick my daughter up from school - something I never get to do - and we are going shopping at the mall.
Spontaneity is the spice of life.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I determined that getting rid of t.v. was one of those things I definitely wanted.
I have -zero- channels on my two televisions. One t.v. is in my daughter's room. It is hooked up to her Playstation, GameCube, and DVD player. The other t.v., a miniscule thing in my bedroom, is hooked up to a DVD played and is lucky to be turned on once a week, if that.
It is so normal for me to not have t.v. channels that I don't miss it. At all.
What have I learned from my experiment that has actually morphed into a lifestyle?
Here's a list of pros and cons:
1) My daughter is not bombarded with endless advertisements for the "latest new toy!" and that means I don't have to hear the endless dialogue of, "I want this, I want that!" Instead, my daughter has developed her own interests and only wants things that she is really interested in - not the latest fad.
2) When I am bored, I no longer have the option of turning on the t.v. and spending mindless hours vegging in front of it, watching stuff that I don't need to watch. This forces me to do other things. Read. Write. Embroider. Take a drawing lesson with my daughter. Take a walk.
3) No t.v. noise. Ahhh...do you know how blissful this is? Before, the t.v. was always on at our house and I really got sick and tired of listening to the loud commercials and jibbering voices. Now I listen to music or radio programs or absolutely nothing at all. Heavenly.
4) I watch what I want to watch. I have a huge DVD collection and if I am in the mood for a movie, I can choose one. Here's the funny thing. When I realize that a movie will take approximately two hours out of my time to watch, I often don't watch it - that's two hours of time that could be better spent doing something else. Of course, there is an exception to this rule - sometimes my brain needs a break and vegging on my bed with a bag of popcorn and watching a movie is just what I need. I allow myself that.
5) No reality shows. 'Nuff said.
1) I can't watch some of the programs that I'd really like to watch - namely those that appear on The History Channel or PBS. There is a new program out on The History Channel called World War II in HD that I'd really like to watch, but can't. Simple solution - rent it on DVD and watch it on my time. So I suppose this is a pro/con.
2) Mad Men. This is the only show that I watch and really enjoy and wouldn't mind watching in "real time." Fortunately, the glory of the Internet makes it possible to watch the next day - for free. Again, on my time. Another pro/con.
Really, there aren't many cons - if any. I have to conclude that my experiment was a resounding success, so much so that it is just how my life is now. Of course, I don't knock those who do watch t.v. I've just learned that it's not for me.
No t.v. Which means more reading. More writing. More living.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Now it's time to give back. Suzanne is trying to land a blogging job that will help her stay afloat as she is a single mother trying to make a go of it on her farm in West Virginia. She's as frugal as they come, but with three teenagers, it's still hard to make ends meet. Getting this job would be a true blessing to her.
If you have a chance, go and watch her video entry and vote for Suzanne. Help a fellow writer out!
EDIT: You can vote once per day. :-)
Monday, November 16, 2009
As I walked back to the office (thank goodness the library is only a block away), I thought, "Life is better with books."
Then I thought, "What if we didn't have books?" Horrors!
So how would you finish this sentence?
"A world without books..."
Friday, November 13, 2009
As I ponder that statement, I realize that most of the time, I don't follow it. Why? One simple reason: I can't write the books that I want to read and can't find.
I like intricately-plotted, danger-filled novels full of spies and bad guys and romance and thrills. When they are set during World War II, I am a very happy camper. I devour those types of novels. Greg Iles' Black Cross, Ken Follett's The Eye of the Needle, and Jeffery Deaver's Garden of Beasts are great examples of the types of novels I love.
Unfortunately, I can't write those types of novels. Don't get me wrong - I wish I could. But my stories are far more simpler. When I have attempted to go the complicated, danger-filled route, I stumble around and more often than not get a huge case of writer's block because I can't figure the darn thing out. I have lots of notes on these failed novels and plots. But the novels I've finished - three - are nowhere near that type of thriller that I love to read.
So in this case, I'd have to say that axiom doesn't quite work for me.
What about you?
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The Band of Brothers is coming to my town.
Ok, for those of you who do not know why this is such a big deal for me, a quick background: I love World War II history. This is what I focused on when I received my MA in history. The Band of Brothers was originally made famous by Stephen Ambrose's book by the same name, and then HBO turned it into a miniseries that won countless awards and was produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.
The Band of Brothers are specifically called Easy Company, and were part of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. They went into France on D-Day and ended up at Hitler's Eagle's Nest. Their stories are nothing short of remarkable.
When I saw the headline in my newspaper, I immediately sent a text to my brothers (aha! See? The text is easier in this instance since my brothers are both busy with corn harvest and it's too loud to talk in those combines, y'know!) and an email to my dad.
"Come to Lincoln! The Band of Brothers will be here!"
Why did I contact my brothers and my dad?
Well, I believe all three of them ordered HBO specifically so they could watch the Band of Brothers miniseries. Dad has read the book.
Now you see where I get my fascination with World War II. It runs in the family.
The surviving members of the Band of Brothers will be flown into Nebraska and will be at the Strategic Air and Space Museum. For more details, check out this news story.
I love reading about history, watching it on the big screen, and discussing it with others. But the best part of history is actually speaking to those people who lived it.
I'll get to do that next month.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Are you writing?
Managed to get some character issues worked out, which made the floodgates open and everything now make sense. Love it when that happens.
It was a relaxing weekend all around. Finished a book (my first Suzanne Brockmann and it was good, yet a bit predictable), watched Song of the Thin Man, took a nap, made a roast in my slow cooker (and it turned out AWESOME), and my daughter and I headed to Hobby Lobby to get some art projects to work on.
Friday, November 06, 2009
My answer: No. *gulp*
I admit it. I haven't been writing this week. I've been reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield that I won from Jenna's contest (thanks, Jenna!) and it's a very direct call to get off your tush and just do it. It specifically talks about Resistance and how that derails us at every opportunity possible.
Well, it's been derailing me this week. I've allowed my personal life to interfere with my writing instead of using my writing as an escape, a relief, a chance to get my mind off what's going on in my world and focus on something else.
I hope to get back on track this weekend so that next time I ask this question, I can answer with a resounding, "YES!"
What about you? Are you writing?
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
My pen is waiting.
Monday, November 02, 2009
I had to share this photo - this is a mustache she got out of one of those coin vending machines.
I'm ready to stay put for awhile. I made three trips home in the month of October - that's roughly 1800 miles I put on my car!
Friday, October 30, 2009
I'm hoping the roads will be decent enough to get me there and after that, I shouldn't have any worries as the sun is slated to come out! But I've got my snow boots packed and my gloves. Looks like we'll be taking my daughter trick o' treating in the snow!
I've got a few good books to listen to on CD - one is a contemporary thriller, the other is a history of the Founding Fathers. Can't wait to get started on them.
And, thank the Lord, I actually got some writing done last night in the midst of packing!
Have a wonderful weekend!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
I just ran across a perfect article for staying in touch with your novel and finding time to write while you're freakishly busy. It's called Guerilla Writing and you can find it at Writer Unboxed, a wonderful resource for genre fiction writers that you definitely need to check out.
Here's just a snippet...
"How do I prepare? Part of my mind is always dipping into my fictional universes—mulling over characters, considering plot direction. You get the idea. It doesn’t matter so much what my mind is doing story-wise, so long as it is spending as much time in that creative space as possible. I keep a little black notebook in my back pocket at all times—don’t tell my wife, she might get the wrong idea. Every inspiration that comes across my mind is precious—these ethereal light bulbs might not end up being good fodder for a story or novel, but at the end of the day, they’re still creative output. Jotting these thoughts down not only helps me to remember them, but it’s another way of flexing that creative muscle and having something tangible to show for it. Words on paper—cocktail napkins, notebooks, receipts—go a long way to maintaining motivation. "
Read the rest here.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
It's not the driving that causes this - it's everything else. I usually spread myself pretty thin while I'm at home in an attempt to see everyone - my mom and her husband, my dad and his girlfriend, my grandmother, and my brother and his family. And when you only have two days to do all that (technically a day and a half because of that driving!), then I feel pretty frazzled by the time I get home, unpack, and prepare for the work week.
Here's my question. How do published authors on book tours keep writing and stay focused enough to write? I know when I went to a Stephanie Bond workshop, she said that she would write on the plane with her AlphaSmart, and undoubtedly in her hotel room. I'm sure other authors do the same.
But I can't write and drive at the same time - just doesn't work. And when I'm at home, I'm visiting my family, not writing.
I just wish that when I get back from my trips that I could focus on my novel and just seamlessly flow into it. So far, that hasn't been working.
Monday, October 26, 2009
I got text messaging on my phone.
I am really not sure why, other than it might be handy for the times that someone should text me instead of call. When those moments would be, or who would happen to need to get a hold of me in such moments, is unknown at this time.
Already, I have rebelled against the "norm" of text messaging.
How, you might ask?
I spell out every word.
Take that, technology!
Friday, October 23, 2009
I love writing it all - even when it's hard, even when the words refuse to come, even when I swear that everything I'm writing is complete crap. If I didn't love it so much, I certainly wouldn't have kept doing it for more than 20 years.
In your writing, what do you love the most? Creating characters? New worlds? Writing description? Dialogue?
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
It's time for writers to stop adding to the already teeming pot of emotions that our craft demands. Instead, we need to adopt a different tactic.
If you don't meet your word count or skip your writing session or whatever, change the message you tell yourself. Instead of saying, "You are worthless! You can't even sit down and write. You're not a writer. What is WRONG with you? Why can't you do such a simple task? Now quit messing around and GET TO WORK", I suggest you say this: "Ok. You messed up. It happens. You're a human being. The key is to try and not do it again. So forgive yourself and try harder next time."
I'd much rather hear the latter than the former, wouldn't you?
I think I'll get more results if I am kind to myself as opposed to being a tyrant. This doesn't mean I let myself off the hook. I hold myself accountable, but in a far more understanding manner.
Do you do this to yourself? Beat yourself up when you don't do what you're supposed to do with your writing? Do you think changing tactics might help?
Monday, October 19, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
This saddens me, and not because I am a history lover who treasures old things, but because I feel we will lose a fundamental part of who we are as human beings if we leave handwriting by the wayside.
Our handwriting says a lot about us. There are handwriting experts out there that can decipher the type of person you are, your health issues, your past experiences, hidden talents, etc, just from how you write. That's an awful lot of information! But when you stop and think about it, our handwriting is as individual as we are. We move the pen or pencil across the paper in a certain way, making unique loops and swirls that showcase our originality.
While I love my computer keyboard for allowing me to write much faster than I can with just pen and paper (plus editing is a breeze without that pesky white-out!), I also cling to my old-fashioned paper and pen. I even went so far as to buy a quill feather pen, ink, and parchment paper to experience how those of yesteryear wrote letters and novels and stories. It's something I think everyone should do at least once so that you may truly appreciate the art of handwriting.
And that's just it - it is art. Calligraphy is essentially the art of handwriting, but I'd like to argue that even ordinary, everyday handwriting is art. When I sit down to write in my journal and let my pen flow over the paper, I marvel at how I create words with all these different angles and curves and swoops. It's actually quite amazing.
When is the last time you looked at your handwriting? Played with it? Wrote your name over and over, making it look fancy or goofy or serious or fun? Maybe sometime in the near future, grab a nice pen, one that flows well when writing (I'm a big fan of the gel pens) and just start writing. Don't become a slave to technology. While the computer keyboard and the Blackberry and the cell phone have improved our lives, they've also robbed us of part of our personality, the personality that comes through in our handwriting. And don't even get me started on how these devices have butchered the English language and our inability to write complete sentences. (Fine examples include: C u ltr or U c me? GAH!!!).
Thankfully, my daughter's school still teaches handwriting, and my daughter has even won prizes from her teacher for her excellent handwriting ability. That makes me extremely proud. I want her to know how to write. And you can be sure that I'm going to put off buying that cell phone for her for as long as I can get away with it.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
For some reason, my desire to write becomes much stronger during the autumn and winter months - especially when we have dreary, cold days. Snow during the winter is even better!
What is your perfect writing day weather?
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Unfortunately, all that relaxing didn't do much to help me ward off this cold. I think last week was just a harbinger of things to come. Things felt pretty tight in my chest, but after I took an expectorant, I really felt the affects (or is it effects? I'm too tired to go look it up...). Let's just say the six-hour drive home was NOT a fun affair. This morning I woke up feeling absolutely wretched. After I got some meds, I slept for over six hours.
That expression "sick as a dog" would seem to apply here except that my dog was NEVER this sick!
My cat has kept me good company today, though. I'm just grateful that she's not mad at me for leaving her behind while I went on vacation.
Unfortunately, most of everything we took on the trip just got dumped in the living room last night as I didn't have the energy to put things away. Today, those bags are still there. Oh well. I'll get to them when I get to them.
The funny thing through all this? I've had an itch to write. Unfortunately, I can barely stay awake long enough to do so!
And not being able to work out is driving me batty, too. Hopefully this cold will clear up in a few days and I'll be back to my normal self - whatever "normal" is.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Ah well. At least it happened when I got all my sick leave back from work, right? Gotta look on the positive side!
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Writing is going well so far - got some good words done last night and tonight. It helps when it's chilly outside, I've got my classical music going, and my sugar cookie-scented candle (though it does make me hunger for the real thing!).
Enjoy the photos and the rest of your weekend!
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
He was right. Completely and totally right. I'm ready to write and need to stop procrastinating. My story is a good one, I'm excited about it, and I'm trying something new with it. So why the reluctance to hit the page?
I've been too soft on myself lately. And it was needed, believe me. I needed to take a break from the "should" committee - i.e. you should be writing, you should not be crying over your divorce, you should put on a brave smile to the world, etc., etc.
But now the time for that is past. My dream has been restored to me and I mean to go after it.
Sometimes, it just takes someone to point you in the right direction.
Monday, September 28, 2009
I love autumn for a lot of reasons - the leaves changing colors, harvest time, the crunching of leaves, the wonderful smells of pumpkin pie and apple cider...
But I also love autumn because summer is over, the heat has receded, and the days and nights grow chilly again. I love curling up on my couch with a blanket and a book, a fire roaring in the fireplace.
Most of all, though, I love autumn because my entire mood changes.
I've been in hunker-down mode for awhile and it was much-needed. Now, I feel refreshed and ready to tackle things again.
What have I learned during this time off?
1) I need to pray more and listen to what the good Lord has planned for me
2) I need to be content with what I have now instead of always looking for ways to be happy. Instead, I can be happy right now - no special magic required!
3) I have incredible friends, both online and in "real" life that have helped me navigate this recent difficult journey.
4) Nothing, but nothing, beats the power of a good book to help you escape the world for awhile.
And speaking of good books, I have to give a shout out to Francine River's Redeeming Love. It is one of the most powerful books I have ever read and it has made me re-evaluate some key issues in my life. I encourage you to check it out.
How are things in your life?
Friday, September 25, 2009
I'm at home today with a sick little girl. She's got a fever, a slight cough, and is tired. Poor wee thing. But she has an excellent appetite, so I'm hoping this isn't that nasty H1N1 virus that's been going around. (She just popped in here and said she's tired of laying around. That's a good sign!)
We Have a Winner!
Last night, my daughter told me that she won a drawing contest at her school. Every 4th grader in her school (probably around 60 kids or so) drew a poster for our local fire department fire safety contest. She was picked out of them all. Now she is a semi-finalist for the city-wide competition. We'll keep our fingers crossed! When they gave her the blue ribbon, they had all the kids stand out in the hallway and cheer for her as the principal handed her the prize. I almost started crying when she told me (I'm a sap, I know). How special it must have been.
My blog posts have been sporadic, at best, but I almost feel ready to jump back into it with both feet. If I haven't shown up at your blog lately, don't feel bad. It's all been part of my "hunker down" mode.
And like blogging, I almost feel ready to jump back into my writing, as well. I'm excited and feel more refreshed and ready to tackle it.
On the Weekend
My mother is coming to visit this weekend. We plan to hit a pumpkin patch and the local arts festival - in fact, my daughter was concerned that she wouldn't be well enough to visit the festival tomorrow. Here's praying she'll be much better by then! I'm also hoping to find a cool painting for my living room wall. I've been here almost a year and I've been searching and searching for just the right painting. Maybe I'll find it tomorrow.
Have a great weekend!
Thursday, September 24, 2009
I'm thinking this is more a female trait, but I could be wrong. Anyway, I was feeling pretty blue last night for no good reason and after a good cry, I felt better. Something about releasing those emotions does wonders for me.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Is that one of my goals? Sure. But it's not the be-all-end-all reason I write. And it shouldn't be for you, either. Why?
Because even after that book is published, you still have to write the next one. Only this time, you won't have the luxury of making your own deadlines or watching your favorite t.v. show instead of writing. You also won't have the luxury of keeping your story on your hard-drive where it's safe. No, it's going to be in front of editors and reviewers and readers. And that, my friends, opens up a whole 'nother can of worms.
If you do not have the strength and fortitude of knowing why you write - really why you write - to sustain you through the publishing world, you won't survive. You need to have the reasons why you write locked tight inside the very core of your soul, ready and waiting for the time that you want to give up the game and chuck your latest contracted manuscript into the trash.
Now I'm speaking from the unpublished side of things. I don't know what it's like on the other side. I have an inkling, thanks to the great published authors out there who share their experiences. But in reading books on writing from those who are published, I keep hearing the same thing.
After you're published, you still have to write. Only I think that writing is now even harder than it was before. Why? Because you've got an audience, you've got an editor, you've (maybe) got an agent, you've got reviewers, etc. And in the midst of all that, you still have to churn out your next book. So the question of, "Why am I doing this?" will surely come up when the pressure is on, when the deadline is days away, when the reviews are nasty.
You need to rely on that core.
I think that at this stage of the game, laying the foundation of who I really am as a writer is a necessary and vital part of making sure I can navigate the publishing world. Let's face it. It's not going to be easy. The heavens will not part and I will not suddenly be gifted with flawless words and a perfect life when my book is published.
So before that publishing moment happens, I need to establish my writing core and focus on why I write.
What about you?
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Last weekend, after picking my daughter up from daycare, we came home and she immediately started working on her new drawing project. She wanted to create a Crash Bandicoot book. If you don't know who Crash is, he is a video game superstar. This is what he looks like.
My daughter loves playing the video games which, I admit, are pretty silly and fun. When you conquer certain levels in the game, you are rewarded with "extras" (think DVD extras). In this case, it was a storyboard of the game, panel by panel. For each level you conquered, you would get a new storyboard panel. These panels all looked hand-drawn by pencil.
This is where my daughter's creativity kicked in. She wanted to draw all of these panels and make a book to tell the story of Crash's journey to victory. Now I thought this project might just last an hour or so, but it didn't. She worked on it all night long. In fact, I fell asleep around 11 p.m. or so and she was still working!
The next day, while I read and puttered around the apartment, she still continued to work. She would play a level of the game, get the next storyboard, and draw it. This went on from 10 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. when I finally decided we both needed to get out of the house! After we went grocery shopping, we came home, ate supper, and then she went right back to it. Play the game, draw the panel. Play the game, draw the panel.
Sunday morning brought church and my little miss didn't want to go because she wanted to work on her project. I assured her she would have the rest of the day to do that. And that is exactly what she did.
Finally, she finished all her drawings and I am not kidding when I say she had done around 50 of them. Coloring came next. She got out her colored pencils, matched the colors up to what was on the video game, and dove in. By bedtime, she wasn't done and wanted desperately to stay up late so she could finish it. I couldn't grant her wish since she had school the next day, but as soon as she got home from school on Monday, she set to work on it again and finished it.
She is so proud of her finished product. And I am in awe of her complete dedication and focus. She is only 9! Yet she could teach us all a lesson in commitment to our craft.
Monday, September 14, 2009
There's a longing for a blanket, for candles lit on the fireplace mantle, for the sound of leaves rustling against the house, for the smell of pumpkin and cinnamon and spices.
I love this time of year. The summer months bring about depression for me (I think I have the opposite of Seasonal Affective Disorder), but with the coming of cooler breezes and the change in the landscape, I feel positively alive.
Are you ready for fall?
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
In this world where we are constantly driving ourselves to succeed, to be involved, to do this, to do that, we put a tremendous amount of pressure upon ourselves.
Just looking at that list overwhelms me. I have the urge to crawl into bed and pull the covers over myself in a vain attempt to hide from the world and all that pressure. Are you feeling it,
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be or do any of these things. Who doesn't want to be a better mother or father or be healthy? Many of us believe that we need to do these things to be happy, to find contentment. And this is true in many ways. But it's the pressure to be perfect that throws a monkey wrench into the works.
I highly doubt I'm ever going to be a size 7 again. It would be nice, but my body has changed since I was in college - for one, I had a child. And two, well, metabolism changes as you age. But instead of looking at my attempts to lose weight and eat right as a quest to be the perfect size 7, I've had to perceive it differently. Instead of "needing" to lose the weight, I "want" to lose the weight because it will result in a healthier me. Have I lost track of this vision? Sometimes, especially when I'm at the mall and see all these perfect size 6s and 7s walking around!
But the pressure valve can be released on many of these situations if we simply change our perception. If, instead of saying, "I need to be a perfect mother/father", we say, "I want to be a better mother/father," that takes some of the pressure off.
Look, perfection in this world ain't gonna happen (forgive my lapse in proper grammar). So why do we keep wearing ourselves out trying to find it? Why do we continue to put more and more pressure on ourselves to achieve something we'll never have? I'm never going to be a perfect size 7, never going to write a perfect novel, never going to be a perfect mother or daughter. What I can do is be a better writer, a better mother or daughter, and heck, a healthier size --whatever--.
I think this whole bit of "hunkering down" I've been doing lately has shown me some truths. I think too much, for one, and I am putting way too much pressure on myself with my writing. I need to back off. I need to write just to write. I need to isolate myself from the publishing and marketing news and just focus on the story. This also means perhaps backing off on writer-related posts on the blog. I feel a foolish superstition that if I let anyone know about the project I'm currently working on, the motivation and love I feel toward it will melt away. So I'm keeping my yap shut. This may be hard for me, but at this point, I feel like it's the right thing to do.
And it has eased the pressure.
Have you felt under pressure from too many things in your life lately? Has it affected your writing?
Monday, September 07, 2009
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Like the State Farm commercials say, "I'm there." I modify it to say, "I am so there. "
Rejections are part of this business. But it seems that those rejections come a lot faster when you don't write the "normal" type of fiction. What is normal? Hmm. Well, perhaps that is a wrong choice of words. But for example, I don't write what's "hot." I don't write fantasy or paranormal or vampire novels. Heck, I don't even write novels set in the Regency anymore (though I do have one of those languishing on my hard drive that will never see a bookshelf and that is a-ok with me) or even novels set during contemporary times.
I write novels set during World War II.
And yes, there are many novels set during this war out there - but the majority of them are thrillers or deal with the Holocaust or are more literary in tone. (If I lived in England, well, it would be a different story. There's LOTS of WW2 novels over there!)
I don't write literary. I don't write thrillers (though I'd love to be able to as I love to read thrillers - but my talent does not shine in this format). My stories are simple, as I've blogged about before. I believe there is a market for them. I know this in my heart. And the book I'm shopping around right now to agents is a deep reflection of who I am as a storyteller. It is the first book that I truly believe showcases my voice. Simply put, I love and adore this story.
All I have to do is wait for an agent to read my query, request my novel, and then say the same thing - that they love my book, that they want to get behind it 100% and find it a home on the shelf. I keep telling myself that when a rejections come in, it wasn't meant to be, that God has a plan and I have to wait on Him - my motto is, "His time, not mine."
But the battle sometimes gets me down. I feel weak and battered, and want to go hide in a corner and eat lots of chocolate.
I'm not looking for sympathy or any, "Poor you. Don't give up. It will get better!" Reason being, I know all this. I'm not giving up the fight. I am just weary, that's all.
I might take a hiatus from blogging for awhile, or I might just post whenever I feel the need. Lately, though, I've felt more of a "I have to write a post" feeling rather than "I want to write a post." It's no fun when you're blogging because you have to.
There's been a lot of regrouping, rethinking, and redoing in my life lately. This thought-process has fallen on just about every spectrum it can - my health, my role as as mother, co-worker, and friend, my faith, my career, and yes, my writing.
Sometimes, you have to hunker down in the foxhole and stay put. Sometimes you have to get out and yell, "Charge!" Well, I'm in the hunker phase. The shells are exploding overhead, I can smell the smoke and sweat of battle, but I'm not going anywhere. So while I'm still in the battle, I'm holding back for a minute, looking at the situation, and seeing which direction to take next.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Then why am I sitting at my desk with a blanket around my legs, shivering?
It could be because the air conditioning is cranked up in my office building. Or it could be because it's not even 70 degrees outside. It's probably a little of both.
Yesterday, I sat on my deck and actually shivered. It was chilly. This feels more like October weather than August! Yet we've hardly had any really hot, miserable days this summer. While this makes me very happy (as I despite hot, muggy weather), it's also making me wonder what's to come for fall and winter. Early snow? Lots and lots of snow? (I probably won't be complaining, especially if it comes around Christmas!)
I know other areas of the country have been super hot. Rene told me the other day they were expected to reach 106 degrees. That very same day, I had a blanket wrapped around me!
Nebraska weather just doesn't act like this during the summer. But I'm not complaining. ;-)
Hmm. There is --no--writing news to report. Bad writer, bad! But honestly, I think my brain needed this break. Instead, I went shopping with my daughter on Saturday, and Sunday, I spent the day cleaning house, reading, and relaxing.
I am officially a Mad Men fan. I'm all caught up and am just waiting to watch last night's episode on the 'Net when it becomes available (as I still do not have cable at home). It's a great show - crisp writing, gorgeous costumes, and characterization that blows you away. It's weird to watch something so politically incorrect or where everyone smokes all the time and drinks at the office. The character of Don Draper, though, is, quite simply, amazing. Multi-facted and dynamic, Don Draper is the main character of the show and utterly fascinating. He's also drop-dead gorgeous.
I'm looking forward to seeing what the writers do with the show in the coming episodes. Should be good.
Friday, August 28, 2009
What are you reading?
Currently on my end table: Nora Roberts' Tribute, a book of short stories by noted Nebraska author Bess Streeter Aldrich, and Stephen King's On Writing (I'm re-reading bits and pieces of it).
What about you?
I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance! www.melissamarsh.net
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