Day 40: Freeing Ourselves from Our Backstory

One day in my twenties, I had the realization that at some point we have to take complete responsibility for our lives and our choices.  We can blame anyone we want for the things that are screwed up in our lives.  We can talk all day about how circumstances doomed up.  Did my parents give me everything that I needed to be able to become a writer?  No.  Were my circumstances ideal?  Not really.  Did those things hold me back?  Probably, to a degree.  Can I, at 58 years of age, still blame everything on my parents and my earlier circumstances?  Sure, but what purpose does that serve?  Well, none, but it takes all the blame off of me for not being where I want to be in my life.  That, my friend, is bullshit.  Our parents could have done a horrendous job of raising us and our circumstances could have been dire but at some point in our lives, we must take responsibility for ourselves…for our failures and our successes.  We have the ability to untangle ourselves from our backstory and I promise you that it is one of the most freeing things you’ll ever do.  It’s so easy to blame others but what does that get you?  An excuse.  And what does an excuse get you?  Pretty much nothing.  All the time and effort that we put into the blame game could be used so much more constructively.  The second you became an official adult and moved out of your parents’ house you should have begun distancing yourself from the parental blame game.  No one had perfect parents.  No one grew up in ideal circumstances.  But those things are your past so stop making them your future.  Leave them behind along with your excuses.  Move forward with your life and your writing.  If you fail at something, get up, wipe yourself off, and be determined to do better next time.  If you succeed at something, be proud and accept the accolades.  This is your life so make it what you want it to be.  Nothing can hold you back as long as you don’t let it.  Not even your past.  So, stop playing the blame game, take responsibility for where you are in life, and then take aim at what you want.  It’s inside you…it’s always been inside you so don’t give up now.         

“Healing comes from taking responsibility; to realize that it is you – and no one else – that creates your thoughts, your feelings, and your actions.” ~ Peter Shepherd   

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Day 39: I’m Not At All Normal

So, tell me, are you normal?  Are you a square peg that fits perfectly and happily into that square hole?  Or, are you like me, a round peg that’s been trying to fit into the square hole all of your life?  First, it’s parental pressure, then peer pressure, then school pressure and then finally the all-important societal pressure that makes us believe that square normal is the only normal.  I fell for that early in my life but with every year that has passed, I’ve discovered that being a round peg is pretty cool.  It’s allowed me to approach life in different ways and to not ignore paths that might have seemed strange otherwise.  I’ve acted impulsively, experimented, made mistakes, corrected those mistakes, then made new mistakes but I’ve learned so many things and met so many different and wonderful people that I probably would have never encountered on that square path.  I knew from a relatively early age that I wasn’t like most people that I knew.  My home life was a bit chaotic and it did affect emotionally.  I was somewhat of an introvert that could be outgoing under the right circumstances.  I was very introspective with an active imagination.  I entertained myself with worlds and people that I created and tended to live more in those worlds than the real one.  They were more welcoming and understanding, of course, since I invented them.  I wrote letters to imaginary people and answered those letters.  I kept a diary that was part fact and part fiction.  I never shared any of this with anyone because, even at a young age, I knew that it wasn’t what anyone would consider normal.  It was definitely not square peg behavior.  As I got older, I realized that if this behavior were discovered, people, parents included, would think of me as odd, if not downright mentally impaired, so I stopped most of it.  I still invented worlds and people but I didn’t interact with them any longer.  I moved on to writing poetry and short stories.  I honestly don’t remember ever sharing any of my writing with my family.  I doubt that I did because I didn’t always feel especially nurtured or valued.  Don’t get me wrong, my parents loved me but throughout my childhood, my mother favored my younger brother in every possible way to the point that I sometimes felt that she didn’t even love me.  My dad owned a construction company and would usually leave the house before I woke up and work until the sun went down, ate dinner, read the paper, watched the news, and then went to bed.  We’d spend time together on the weekends but I don’t think that he really understood me and I can’t lay all the blame on him for that because I wasn’t the most forthcoming child.  As I got older and learned more about them, I really did understand that they did the best that they could with us.  They both grew up during the depression on farms so it was a hard life and there were a lot of kids in both families.  They showed their love for us in other ways.  We never wanted for anything.  Christmases were amazing as were birthdays.  They paid for college and cars and helped with down payments on our first houses.  After we were both married, they’d gift us with cash.  After my divorce when I was working a full-time job and 2 part-time jobs to just pay my bills, they helped me with car repairs, a deposit on a rental house, and various other things.  So, yeah, they did love me but they weren’t the best at demonstrating it emotionally until we were all much older.  So, I kept my creative side hidden and protected from everyone.  Maybe that was because I was a round peg in a square peg world and didn’t think that anyone would understand or place any value on my creativity.  Maybe it was because of my introversion.  I never wanted to be the center of attention which also made me odd peg out in my family because they were all extremely extroverted and my dad and brother were very talented musicians that loved to be center stage.  The problem, I think, is that our society places more value on intellectual abilities and aspirations than it does on creative abilities so the majority of people don’t know how to really appreciate or even acknowledge their child’s creative abilities and aspirations.  And, as children, we’re taught to learn and excel in subjects that don’t feed us creatively so we sense our roundness and everyone else’s squareness and everyone’s square expectations so we bury our creativity to protect it and try to keep it round.  I spent too many years trying to force my round peg self into that square hole and I’m tired of it.  I am a round peg and I will NEVER fit into that square hole.  For now, I have to work in a square peg job to support my round peg aspirations but I have other plans for my life and I have the support and understanding that I need now to make an all-out effort to implement those plans.  So get out of my way…round peg comin’ thru!       

“When you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” ~ Maya Angelou                          

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Day 38: Organizing My Space

My little writing haven that I’ve created is very small mainly because of all of my crafting supplies, equipment, books, etc…, so it’s difficult to fit everything in here that I’d like to have available while writing.  I am thinking about getting another of the larger ottomans to use for my cardmaking equipment so that I can clear an entire table (there are 3 arranged in a U shape) so that I’ll have enough room for more of the books that I like to keep handy and for all of my notebooks that are filled with information and things for ROW and SWW.  I’d also like to have a clear space that I can use for actually writing in notebooks.  I can do it now but I have to rearrange things first.  As a writer, my brain is a jumble of things…what I want to write, how to find time to write, this blog, how to organize my space, work, laundry, chores, this and that and something else, etc….  I think that I might think if I can organize my space, I can organize my brain…or vice versa.  I don’t think that we, as creatives, have in our heads the same thing that the “others” have in theirs.  Or maybe our brains are different…they process information differently.  We perceive things differently, think differently, organize information and things differently, and just process everything differently.  I believe that creativity comes from a “shift” in our brains.  Have you ever noticed that the majority of truly creative people have a history of performing poorly in school and many were considered to have learning disabilities or to be “special needs” as children?  I, personally, did fine in grade school and junior high, where I was placed in advanced English classes, but once I was in high school, except for a few classes, I despised it.  I skipped school a lot, did the bare minimum of homework but aced my tests so I’d pass with C’s.  The classes I loved, I did well in them.  The classes I loved were a very eclectic mix…ROTC, Honors English, German, Creative Writing, Aerospace/Aviation, Power Mechanics, etc….  The guidance counselor administered an IQ test and it came back in the genius range.  He called my parents and me in and told them that I was gifted and needed to be in Advanced Placement classes because my regular classes were boring me.  Fortunately, the counselor was a pretty cool guy so when I told him that I was perfectly happy with how things were and that even in the advanced classes, they were only going to be regurgitating the same things that I’d been hearing since at least junior high.  So, he and my parents agreed that I should just continue on just the way that I was.  So, I graduate with almost no idea what I wanted to do afterward.  My dad told me that he didn’t care if I went to college or a trade school but I was doing 1 or the other.  So, I went to junior college and took general classes and a few others that interested me and guess what…I flourished.  I was a 4.0 student but could never decide what to major in.  I have 4 disparate majors that I dropped out of within a couple of semesters of completing…religion, a double major in psych and social rehab, accounting, and legal studies.  I was too ADD to stick with any of them all the way through to the end.  I loved all of my majors but I think that somewhere in my brain, I knew that I wanted to write but there wasn’t a clear writing career track that I felt was solid enough to jump on.  Aside from my junior year creative writing teacher, a freshman/sophomore English professor, and a creative writing professor in college, no one had ever complimented me on my writing.  No one in my life even considered it an actual career.  For me, it was something to dream about.  I knew that I loved writing but it was a hobby…nothing more.  So, I became an accountant.  I enjoyed it but it didn’t completely fulfill me.  So I wrote in my spare time and then one day, I was “discovered” by a publisher that had read some excerpts of my novel, in its infancy, on the website deviantArt.  He optioned Rapture.  It ended up not going anywhere because he got sidetracked by a production company that wanted to do a web series based on Rapture.  I ended up telling him that I couldn’t do the scripts like they wanted and that I wanted out of the deal.  We came to an agreement and I got to keep the option money.  Then, as I’ve written on here before, life went a little haywire and I stopped working on my book.  And, now I’m back and I have a lot of support.  I guess that one of my points is that schools need to stop just teaching the 3 R’s.  They need to look at kids as individuals that have different abilities and talents.  Some will grow up to be academics, some will be career people, etc…, but some of these kids will grow up to be artists and writers and schools need to learn how to teach them rather than just trying to herd them onto a traditional career path.  If a career as a writer had been presented to me even as late as high school, who knows where I’d be now.  There’s no guarantee that I’d have a different life but I would have had a different outlook and I could have at least entertained a career as a writer earlier in my life.  I lived in a smaller, somewhat traditional town when I was growing up so the schools were very traditional as well.  Now, at least there are arts magnets schools that kids can attend but not all school districts have them.  And there are more progressive schools that introduce kids to these other possibilities but, again, not all districts are progressive.  So, our best bet is what it has always been…the teachers themselves.  Teachers will be the first ones to recognize the kids that are like us.  They need to encourage those kids and tell them that they aren’t defective just because they would rather draw or write poetry than figure out what X stands for in that algebraic formula.  But they’ll also have to figure out a way to teach them what X stands for because the more traditional ways might not work.  I’m not a linear thinker and I’m sure that a lot of you aren’t either.  We learn differently.  The teachers that were successful when teaching us kept us engaged rather than just reciting dry facts and formulas hour after hour.  Actually, to break it down to the lowest common denominator…treat all students as individuals with different gifts and abilities.  And when you ask one of them what they want to do when they grow up and they say that they want to be a writer or artist…don’t discourage them.  Sure, it’s a difficult path for most aspiring writers and artists but so is becoming a physicist but that’s encouraged wholeheartedly.  Traditions are great but when it comes to education, we need to do better than what we’ve always done.  There have to be more paths that we can send students down other than the ones that adults deem to be appropriate and viable.  And parents need to be more encouraging when their child tells them that they want to write.  I know that the odds are against them but what if that child is the next Stephen King or J. K. Rowling?  Don’t crush their spirits by trying to force them to be “normal.”  Encourage their individuality and talent.  We all need that in our lives whether we’re aspiring writers, artists, or even physicists. 

“Everyone is a genius.  But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” ~ Albert Einstein (it is disputed that he actually said this but I personally want to believe that he did)                  




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Day 37: Wasted Time

Today, I woke up early with all kinds of plans about how I’d spend my day.  A big mug of coffee to really wake up while letting the critters outside and then a trip out front to feed the strays, squirrels, raccoons, birds, and possums.  Then I’d start my real day…write this blog, organize a few documents, work on Rapture, and do some other organizing…oh, and my laundry.  Well, it’s 9:30pm and I’m just starting this after doing nothing plus taking an hour and a half long nap.  I still need to organize documents, work on Rapture, do laundry, etc….  I could be beating myself up over this but, you know what, I’m not.  I haven’t felt well all week, I got some not so great news from my doctor on Wednesday, work was kind of brutal all week, and I was just tired.  Sometimes, we have to take a step back and just rest,  We can’t keep burning our candle at both ends, day after day, week after week.  We have to take care of ourselves and sometimes that means that we have to not do the things we feel that we should be doing or even want to be doing.  If we don’t take that day off or even just a nap occasionally, then we run the risk of getting to the point where we just aren’t able to continue doing the things that we enjoy doing.  We need to stop beating ourselves up for what is reasonable self-care.  When I first woke up from my nap, I was so angry with myself but then realized that I was just taking care of myself.  My laundry is now in the dryer, my blog post is close to being finished, and I think that I’ll go ahead and get some of my paperwork organized before I go to bed.  Honestly, I could go to sleep right now but I’m determined to get those things done.  That way, I’ll have tomorrow to devote to Rapture and maybe even take another nap if I feel like it.  So, take that nap or the long hot bath with decadently scented bath salts and candles, read the book you’ve been longing to read, take a long walk and enjoy fall’s beautiful colors, go shopping or have dinner with your friends.  As long as you’re able to make progress with whatever project you’re working on, you’re doing just fine.  We deserve as well as require this occasional downtime.  So, do what you need to do to take care of yourself and don’t feel even a little bit bad about it.  I don’t.

“Self-care is not selfish.  You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” ~ Eleanor Brownn   

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Day 36: Getting Lost

One of my absolute favorite things is when I get lost in what I’m writing.  You know exactly what I’m talking about.  You sit down in front of your computer and begin to write.  The words flow effortlessly and you get pulled deeper and deeper into the story.  Time seems to stop.  You hear nothing but your words being spoken by your characters.  All distractions just fade away.  Sometimes this can last for a few minutes while other times, it can go on for hours.  Then suddenly you are released from the trance that you’ve been lulled into by your words.  You feel tired yet energized, a little drunk, a little hungover, and a bit amazed by what just happened.  You look up at the clock and 3 hours have passed since you first began typing.  That’s why I love writing.  And just think…if writing it can transport you to another place and time imagine what it would do for a reader.  We have within us the ability to transport people to a world that is of our creation and steal hours from their lives.  That is a magical power that we, as writers, possess.  We can terrify people and break their hearts.  We can keep them guessing for hours on end.  We can make them laugh and we can make them sob.  We can make them think and care about imaginary people.  We entertain and anger people.  We can control and manipulate all of their emotions with our words.  Do you see just how powerful we are?  That’s why books have been banned by governments…they gave people ideas that the officials didn’t want them to have.  We change governments.  We change societies.  We change minds and points of view.  We change lives.  With words.  Our words.  That’s why we have to keep writing.  And we have to keep reminding ourselves of that when we start wondering what the point of our writing is or if it’s a waste of time.  And even if the only point of your book is to entertain…great.  People need entertainment because it helps them escape from their reality for a while.  While they’re reading they don’t think about work or relationship problems or health issues, etc…, and we all need that escape in our lives.  So remember, every book is important for its own reasons, so you as a writer are important.  Keep writing.

“I write to give myself strength.  I write to be the characters I am not.  I write to explore all of the things I am afraid of.” ~ Joss Whedon   

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Day 35: Setting Boundaries

One of the most difficult things that we must do as writers is set boundaries.  Boundaries at work, with family, with friends, and even with ourselves.  Even the people who cheer us on and offer support need reminders that we need time to write.  It’s easy for others to dismiss our writing as a hobby or something that just keeps us busy.  They can’t understand why it’s so important to us or exactly how difficult it can be at times.  As I’ve probably mentioned before, my husband, who is extremely supportive, once told me that the reason that I wanted to take the writing class rather than the accounting tax class was that writing was easy and fun and the tax class wasn’t but I should take the tax class because it would be useful in my accounting career.  That made me so angry and I let him know that writing could be fun and easy at times but it isn’t always.  So why do it?  Because even when I’m struggling with my writing, it’s a part of me that I can’t/won’t give up and I love it…usually.  Anyway, we have to make sure to protect our writing time.  It’s easy to say you’ll stay a little late at work or that you’ll do some chore at home or go out for drinks with the girls for an hour or two then realize that you’ve gone past that time frame by a couple of hours or that you’re just going to watch one episode of your favorite Netflix series then you end up binge-watching the entire series.  I’m not saying that you should cut everything out of your life in order to write.  You just have to be more aware of the time that you do have so that you can make the most of it.  If you’ve set aside a few hours on Saturday to write, don’t let yourself be guilted into doing something that you don’t have to do or want to do.  All you should have to say is that you need/want to spend the time writing.  I’m the worst about telling people no.  I’m a people pleaser and I don’t like tense situations so the word no is a bit foreign to me.  I’m currently cutting back the extra time I spend at work so that I have time for other things, including writing, in the evening.  I’m also working on the amount of time that I waste each week.  I really should document that time so that I can see where I spend my time.  5 minutes here and 15 minutes there and an hour here, over a week’s time, can add up to a big time suck but it happens in such relatively small increments that we don’t notice it until we get to the end of the week and we haven’t written anything and wonder where the time went.  I am the usually the guilty party when it comes to misusing my available time.  I can’t often point the finger at anyone else, it’s just me.  So when I start setting boundaries, I have to start with myself.  Maybe you do as well.  Or maybe it’s your job or your partner or friends.  All I know is that we do have to guard our time otherwise it just slips through our fingers.  Again, don’t cut out everything and everyone.  We need downtime and time with loved ones and friends.  We just need to be more aware of how we’re spending our time and then, if necessary, set boundaries with ourselves and others.  That’s how you finish a book!  Or so I’m told.

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Day 34: When to Give Up

Before you read this, know that there might be typo’s and who knows what else.  I have an appointment in a very short time but I wanted to get this post up before late tonight.  So, forgive me for anything that you might find.

When do you finally decide that enough is enough and just give up?  Nothing’s going the way you want it to go and your attitude has gone from hopeful to hopeless.  Is that the time you throw in the towel?  Well, I guess it depends upon what the situation is that you feel has become hopeless but I’m talking specifically about your creative endeavors.  It’s hard to continue to feel optimistic and hopeful when you keep running into brick walls every time you turn around.  One of the things that I’ve discovered is that, at least in part, I am responsible for some of those walls.  I don’t have time to write and then sit down and binge watch a series on Netflix.  Or, I’ve run out of ideas…seriously, that’s not happening and I’d know that if I just put my brain to work rather than playing 20 rounds of Trivia Crack on my phone.  No one will want to read my book…that’s not true, people have told me that they really do want to read the whole book once it’s finished after hearing/reading a sample of it.  And so on and so forth.  If I gave up right now because of these excuses I’m telling myself, I wouldn’t be giving up on Rapture…I’d be giving up on myself and that is not acceptable.  So take a few minutes and just go over all of the excuses you’re putting out there for giving up.  How many of them are legitimate and how many are self-inflicted?  Are you just looking for reasons to give up?  Ask yourself why.  Are you not enthused by the subject matter of your project?  Maybe you just need a break from it.  Put it aside for a while and work on something else.  Have you done like I did and written yourself into a corner and you’re not sure how to get out of it?  Read it and try to find the point where it just seems to stop working and then try to fix it.  I know…easier said than done.  We never would have started writing our story/book/poetry if we hadn’t been passionate about it in the beginning.  If you think about it, it’s not all that different from falling in love.  In the beginning, everything is exciting and new.  Your heart skips a beat every time you see them or hear their voice.  You’re discovering new things every day about your partner and yourself.  Then, 5 years into the relationship, your love has grown and deepened but there don’t seem to be quite as many butterflies in your stomach when you’re together.  That doesn’t mean that your love for them has lessened, it’s just evolved   That could be what’s happened between you and your story.  You’re not feeling the butterflies and excitement when you open your laptop and begin to type.  As I said before, step away from your story and concentrate on something else for a while.  Maybe even reimagine your story…if it’s a love story, turn it into a horror story.  Or a murder mystery.  Turn your mousy librarian into a femme fatale.  Just play with it for a bit and see where it goes.  Maybe it’s become difficult because you’re in the guts of the story now and you’re juggling characters and scenes and subplots and story arcs.  Don’t give up…work through it.  One of Winston Churchill’s quotes has gotten me thru a lot of tough times.  He said that when you’re going through hell, keep going.  If you really have decided that your project is no longer doable for whatever reason, then quit.  Give up.  And you might find, after a short time, that you really don’t want to abandon it.  Just like you and partner need a little space sometimes, maybe that’s what you and your project need.  There’s something about giving up on something that can really stir up the desire to go back to it.  So, when do you just give up?  That is an individual decision.  Sometimes giving up is just a waste but other times it’s just what you need.  Just don’t do something rash like shredding your hard copy and wiping it from your computer so that you can rid yourself of it.  You’ll regret it.  I can almost guarantee that.                     

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Day 33: Ramblings

I love fall…it’s my very favorite season.  The different path the sun takes.  Waking up early and finding that the sun is already peeping over the horizon.  Sitting in my little writing haven and enjoying the new shadows that are playing amongst the trees.  Watching the leaves swirl in the wind.  I just wish that the temperature stayed down in the cooler range rather than racing up to the 80’s and sometimes 90’s during the day and back down to the 40’s and 50’s at night so that we have to run the heat in the morning, A/C in the afternoon and heat again at night.  Then we’ll have a few cooler days and nights but return to the warmer days much too soon.  That will usually last until mid-November.  I just wish that I lived somewhere that was more colorful than a Texas fall.  I like to joke that Texas has 2 seasons…hot and not so hot.  I’ve spent more than a few Thanksgivings and Christmases in shorts.  We’ve had freezing temperatures with sleet and snow one week and then 90 degree days the next week.  I’ve played outside in shorts then later in the day, watched it snow.  Texas weather is a complete dichotomy during the fall and winter.  Maybe that’s why I love it…it’s unpredictable.  Summer is like one endless sweltering hot day that feels as though it will never end.  Spring is a bit like fall in that it is also unpredictable with the storms and fluctuating temperatures.  Actually, the storms aren’t completely unpredictable.  You can usually feel them coming…especially the really bad ones.  The barometric pressure drops.  The wind picks up and starts whipping around.  The sky darkens and then begins to turn green…that’s when you need to start getting concerned.  Then there’s hail…you need to get really worried.  The wind picks up even more and it’s swirling the leaves and loose objects around and the sirens begin to sound…it’s time to head for an interior bathroom or closet.  Sometimes that’s as bad as it gets but other times it’s much much worse.  I’ve watched the debris on one side of the road blow east while the debris on the other side of the road blew west.  I’ve been caught on a bridge in traffic while a tornado was on the ground very close by and felt my little Accord being pushed toward the side of the bridge by the outflow from the tornado.  I’ve been caught in traffic at night while tornadoes were touching down all around me and the hail was so large and coming down so hard that it sounded like 100 sledgehammers were pounding on my car and I was sure I’d die that night.  I have a lot of stories like that because this is Texas and I’ve lived here all my life.  I remember as a child, we were going to visit my aunt and uncle in the country and the weather suddenly turned bad and I watched 2 small tornadoes traveling the same direction as we were out in the freshly planted fields alongside the road.  Usually, these storms are one and done but other times they come in waves over a week’s time.  Once in August, every single night for a week, the sirens would sound around 11:00pm.  At first, I worried and stayed up but then I just decided that a tornado might or might not hit my house but there was very little that I could do about it so I just went to sleep.  I love thunder and lightning and the wind howling and rain blowing against the house.  That will rock me to sleep like a lullaby.  My mom was terrified of storms and she had a habit of calling at the height of the storm and when I answered, she’d scream at me for answering the landline while there was so much lightning around because she was convinced by doing that I’d be electrocuted.  She didn’t see the irony in the fact that she was also on the phone and that she was the very reason that I was on the phone.  I miss my mom.  Yesterday it was 81°, today it’s 72° but tomorrow it will be 63° and over the next week, the temperature bounces up and down.  Dress for fall in the morning, then summer in the afternoon and winter at night.  In Texas, we’ve learned the importance of layering our clothing for just that reason.  And we’ve also learned to check the weather apps for the hourly temperatures the next day so that we know if there’s going to be a temperature drop or spike.  I always feel sorry for people that have just moved to the area and haven’t learned how to navigate our seasons and weather.  There is a definite learning curve.  Well, I suppose that’s enough rambling for today.  I don’t really know what brought it on but it just felt like a good day for it.   

“Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.” ~ Albert Camus                

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Day 32: Our Tribes

Having a tribe is very important when you’re a creative person. We need people to bounce our ideas off of, to be supportive of us, to be honest with us, to commiserate with us, to encourage us, to mentor us, etc…. They don’t even have to be located near us since we have email, internet, FaceBook groups, blogs, apps like Skype that allow us to communicate face to face and, of course, cell phones. We can meet in orchestrated or random ways. The thing is, we usually know each other as soon as we meet. I found my current tribe in 4 different places…Succulent Wild World, Rhapsody of Writing, The Sunday Night Writing Group and Divinely Wild Women. I know that if I am having a problem with my writing all I have to do is post it and within minutes, someone will usually respond. They might not have the answer but just the fact that someone read my post and cared enough to respond is amazing. We all need that in our lives. Being creative can be lonely and we often feel isolated even when we’re surrounded by people. Most of the people in our lives, no matter how supportive they are, will never understand our creative side or our struggles. Being creative is a bit like having multiple personalities. We have our creative side and then we have our “normal” side that we present to the non-creatives in our lives. I personally think that if those non-creatives could spend just an hour in our heads it would warp them forever. We are usually non-linear thinkers, we jump from one subject to another with little warning, we’re a bit ADD and OCD, and we always have more than a few of our brain’s browser tabs open.  Something totally random can send our brains spinning off in a hundred different directions.  Usually, it has to do with our current project but it could have also planted the seed for a future project.  We’re always thinking about what if this happened or if that didn’t happen; what if he did this and she did that.  Our Google searches could get us convicted of crimes or committed to a mental hospital if viewed by someone that isn’t a writer or doesn’t know that we are.  This is especially true for writers of thrillers and mysteries.  We talk to ourselves…and answer.  We even debate ourselves.  We work on dialogue out loud using different voices for our characters.  The books that we read when doing research can sometimes be bizarre and people tend to stare if we read them in public.  Responsible adults shouldn’t be reading about vampires, werewolves, ghosts, mythical creatures, or how to murder someone and get away with it.  We sometimes have to be coaxed out of our reverie when we’re out with others because we’re lost in thoughts about our characters.  You get the idea.  Basically, we’re not really what most people consider to be normal.  But, you know what?  I like how my brain works so I don’t care that others might think I’m strange or slightly unhinged.  Or that they tease me about being a daydreamer.  I don’t care because my tribe gets me.  They don’t think I’m odd or that daydreaming is a waste of time.  They just understand without me having to explain it to them.  And when the normal world gets to me, I can go play with the people in my tribe.  So, you really do need a tribe if you’re pursuing a life of creativity.  They’re out there waiting to be found so don’t waste any more time…get out there and start looking.  You’ll be glad that you did.   

“Let your weird light shine bright so the other weirdos know where to find you.” ~  Spirit Science   

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Day 31: Gaining Time

It’s kind of magical to awaken with an extra hour.  I slept in this morning but still woke up on time.  Now tell me that’s not magical.  The question that begs to be asked and answered is how will we use that extra hour.  Will we waste it?  Use it for something special?  Will we just forget that it happened and go on with our day?  I’m using mine to write this blog and then print out Rapture and start the task of editing it.  I’ve done a little editing based on reading the 1st few pages out loud for ROW.  It’s amazing just how different your writing can sound when it’s read out loud rather than just hearing it in your head.  I found several ways to improve the flow by doing that.  I am going to print it out and read the whole thing out loud.  I’m hoping that by doing this, I will find any problems in the part that I’m basically happy with and find out where it flew off the rails when I was forcing the writing rather than letting it flow on its own terms.  I was more interested in finishing it than telling the story.  I put too much pressure on myself while doing that and it did not end well.  As I’ve said before, I know that there are some good portions so I have to mine those and weave them in when I begin to rewrite the book.  So, I’m feeling a little bit of dread and some excitement that I can move past the Frankenstein’s monster that I stitched together.  In ROW, for our next Retreat, we have to set a minimum, a median and a maximum for our work…this is taking into account what we want to accomplish with our project for each of those.  I’m working on mine.  It’s a little difficult to do that with my monster in the shape that it’s in.  Our next Retreat is the 17th, so I’m hoping to at least be at the point where I can begin the rewrite before then so that I can set realistic goals.  We all know that if we set goals and don’t reach them, we get discouraged and at least contemplate just forgetting them altogether…so we don’t want to set one that’s completely unrealistic.  But if you set them too low, we don’t have to stretch to reach them and that’s where the growth comes from.  So we want a goal that we have to stretch for but not that we have to be a quadruple-jointed contortionist to reach.  Just like everything else in life, it’s a bit of a juggling act.  We do something called Micro Movements, thank you, SARK, where we set a goal and then we lay out our micro-movements to reach it.  And, just as it sounds, we take small steps toward the goal so that we’re not overwhelmed but still make progress.  I’ll be filling out a few of those wheels for editing, rewriting and for my minimum, median and maximum for my book.  SARK has so many helpful tools that can be applied to everything in life.  If you aren’t familiar with SARK, Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, check her out.  Most of her books are available on Amazon as well as her website, PlanetSark.  I have been reading her books for years and I’m currently in her groups, Succulent Wild World (SWW), and Rhapsody of Writing (ROW).  She is a funny, open, warm, compassionate and caring mentor who truly cares for her students and wants them to reach their goals.  No, that wasn’t a paid advertisement for SARK.  I just really love her and her work.  Anyway, using her techniques, my maximum goal is to finish Rapture and get it published, as well as work on a sequel.  I don’t even want to set minimum and median goals.  I just need to figure out my timeline to reach that goal.  We all need goals in our lives…especially when it comes to our writing.  Without a goal, our writing will sit unfinished on our laptop just waiting for us to come back to it.  Today, right now, set a goal for your writing.  It doesn’t have to be a crazy one like you’ll have your book ready for a publisher in a week when it’s only half finished.  Set an easy one at first to get back into it…write for 30 minutes a day or make notes in your spare time that you’ll incorporate into your book on the weekends.  Just have goals and keep building on them as they are reached.  You can go a great distance by taking small steps as long as you don’t stop!  Try it and just see how far you can get.  It might just surprise you.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccesful men with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” ~ Calvin Coolidge               

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