Monday, October 31, 2011

Exceeding Your Limits

This week I exceeded my limit for social outings that I can comfortably handle. By the time Thursday approached, I wanted nothing more than to hole up in my house until Monday and write, clean, read, cook – anything that wouldn’t involve making conversation with real live people. Then I got a phone call –a last minute invitation to dinner that I just couldn’t refuse. But something unexpected happened. I enjoyed myself. Socializing didn’t feel like work and by the time we left, I felt invigorated, and even went to my writing group after dropping my husband off at home. I inwardly acknowledged that I was making strides towards my goal of becoming more social.

 But even so, by the time Friday afternoon came, I was feeling taxed by even my normal responsibilities. When I finally got home, I closed myself in the bathroom and cried, followed by a quick fix of chocolate and then – I sat down and visited some of my favorite blogs. I know, I know, this is a form of socializing. But it’s one that I actually enjoy, and it even soothed me to be around others who understand what it’s like to favor words on a page.

So, no, I haven’t given up on socializing, even the old-fashioned, face-to-face version. But I have learned that I need to take it slow. We all have our limits.

What limits have you done battle with lately?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Voices of a Love/Hate Relationship

When my children were small, the only time we listened to the radio was when we rode in the car, so I always had command of the controls. My goal was to teach them to be discerning listeners, explaining why I flipped the station each time something inappropriate came over the airwaves. I was guiding them, providing a voice for them, until they began to hear and listen to their own inner voices.

As a writer, I often have a love/hate relationship with voices. I love when the muse whispers to me. I love when my characters seem to write themselves onto my heart, demanding that I put them down on the page. But then there are the voices that tell me I’m not good enough, I’m delusional to think I could ever really do this. That’s the hate part of the equation. But in the end, we all choose who we listen to, don’t we?

I’m thinking about voices a lot this week as I return to my WIP after an eight-week cooling period. In an article I read by Writer’s Digest’s Brian Klems, he shares The Geyser 5-Step Approach to Revision. Step Two he calls Invite the Flow to Return. This was a perfect reminder to me that revisions are not just about addressing the technical issues. It’s about recapturing the feeling you had when you were writing, and letting your characters talk to you again.

In honor of characters who speak to us, I’m sharing on of my favorite songs: Voices.  Enjoy!

Do you have a love/hate relationship with voices? How do you decide which voice to listen to?

Speaking of voices, I’m trying out my reviewer’s voice this week. My daughter, Amanda, invited me to share a book review over on her blog, Born Bookish I hope you’ll check it out!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Moving Forward Without Fear

A while back, I read a story about a man with an extreme case of OCD. As a small boy, he recalls his father yelling at him for having left the lid off of a jar of jelly. That same night his mother dies. And in his young mind the two events become linked. He begins to think that his “mistake” of leaving the lid off actually caused his mother to die. 

An overwhelming fear grips his life, as he comes to believe that one small misstep from him will cause loved ones to suffer or die. He becomes paralyzed – sometimes standing in place for hours – for fear of making the wrong move.

At its worst, Ed Zine's OCD kept him a prisoner in his own basement for years, unable to move forward in his life. His case is extreme to be sure, but to some degree we can all relate. How many times have we let fear stop us?

When Ed strays from his normal, “safe” daily routine, he performs elaborate rituals to “rewind” time to put himself back before the misstep took place.

You can’t read his story without thinking about your own life. Who hasn’t had regrets? Who wouldn’t want a do-over every now and again? Yet, life’s not really about going back. It’s about making mistakes and learning from them as we move forward.

I’ll be delving into revisions this week. It’s been nearly two months since I’ve set eyes on my WIP. I think I’ve safely come through the dreaded “hate stage” and am ready to look at revisions not with the negative outlook of going back to fix mistakes, but with a hopeful eye toward moving forward, and getting closer to the goal of a finished manuscript.

How do you view the revision process?  

Photo courtesy of Free Artistic Photos.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Conspiracy Theories & Trusting the Process

Five years ago, I took a writing class at the local night school. Upon completion, instructor Jamie Cat Callan presented each of us with a diploma: a scroll, tied with ribbon, containing the following quote: “Every moment of your life is infinitely creative and the universe is endlessly bountiful. Just put forth a clear enough request, and everything your heart desires must come to you.” – Mahatma Gandhi

At the time, it felt like a personal confirmation. I had decided to take up writing again and by putting myself out there, taking that class, I was putting forth my clear request. And indeed, good things did come to me. I was invited into a wonderful writing group. I began writing regularly, submitting my work, and the acceptances started rolling in.

This summer, children's author Anna Branford blogged about what she called positive paranoia: a belief that the world around us is constantly plotting and conspiring to make us content, successful, and surrounded by beauty.

Which is something like one of my favorite Bible verses. “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28

Sometimes we bask in all the good that surrounds us. And other times we lose sight of it and need to be reminded. Currently, between nursing a case of carpal tunnel and trying to dig myself out of the "hate stage" with my current WIP, I realized it might be a good time to remind myself of all of the positive points along my writing journey, as well as the good that I trust will ultimately come of all of it.

I have a lovely leather journal full of handmade paper that I've been saving for "something special." Aside from flipping through the pages to rub my fingertips over the delicate yellow petals and tiny green stems within the paper, the journal has remained untouched for years. 

This weekend I finally began putting down in ink reminders of the good that surrounds me, on my writing journey and otherwise. Call it positive paranoia, trusting the process, or simply counting my blessings. But I have a feeling these pages are going to fill up fast.

In what ways do you remind yourself of the good things in your life?

Photos courtesy of Free Artistic Photos

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Dreaming of Trees

I have this thing about trees. They show up in my stories as the inadequate shelter to a young victim of abuse, as the unlikely friend to a lonely the child, on the aged skin of a man as a sprawling tattoo. And in my paintings half leafless, encircled in vines, or perched on the edge of the world. They even influenced the theme of this blog.

I tend to fixate on things. I get stuck on songs, listening over, and over, and over. I have a good friend who tells me that there’s a message I need to take away from the lyrics, and when I do I'll be able to move on. Maybe it's like that with the trees as well.

I was in a small jewelry shop last weekend where I saw a necklace that featured the tree of life. The meaning of the symbol was explained this way: we are deeply connected to nature, our branches embrace life and our roots keep us grounded. I like that. Maybe the trees that show up in my work represent something as simple as that- a constant state of living with arms raised to God, while still remaining firmly grounded in this life.

Whatever this thread of connectivity means, as long as the trees show up in my subconscious, I'm willing to put them down on the page.

Do you have a common thread that runs through your stories?

Photos courtesy of Free Artistic Photos