Inspiration from all around

It’s the good news story types like this one http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/return-sender-101-old-message-bottle-finally-arrives-194658324–abc-news-topstories.html that make me smile. I can’t help but imagine the 20 year old man putting this note in a bottle and a century later his grand daughter being handed it. There is a story there, a real story…and it’s quite amazing I’m sure!

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Finding my writing groove

As I have mentioned before it’s difficult at times for my to find my groove. I make up excuses – I’m too tired…my work day was too hard…I don’t have the right space to be creative in…I need more time in my day…What if I finish it and it’s no good…Ah, fear that fear always sneaks in and allows doubt and excuses to flourish. It’s safe not writing at times, if I don’t write, no one can reject it.

What is that saying “ships are safe in harbors, but ships were not built to sit in harbors”. So, it’s time once again to knock the excuses out of the way and focus…focus daily. Honestly, I think of writing all day long, every day. I think up plot twists, I make notes on little pieces of paper, I write in my journals, I look up answers to questions that pop in my head. I do love writing. I brainstorm and think..I just need to act. I need to let my ship out of the harbor.

I have been searching for some quiet space around the city. I do have a small space at home, I do have some alone quiet time there, but sometimes I just can’t focus at home… I usually need a jump start and then I can write anywhere! So I founds some quiet study rooms at various libraries around town. Why had I not looked into that before?! You can book them for up to two hours and then if no one else is waiting you can stay longer. A small room, enclosed, quiet, non distracting. Sounds perfect. I have tried libraries and coffee shops before, even book stores and always get distracting either people watching or by the actual books. Being locked in a closet, er uh, ‘study room’ sounds perfect! And one such place offering these rooms is just 10 minutes from home with after work hours free. SO there you go fear and excuses…take that.

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Exploring creativity

Below is a photo (from my cell none the less, so excuse the blur) of a view from a co worker’s office. Well, he left about a month ago and I have kept his door open, so I can scoot to the left of my desk, lean my head over and be reminded there is life out there. Having four walls around me most hours of my work day, this view and light shining in (even on cloudy days) is a life line; a window to day dreaming.

As I gazed out this window yesterday I found myself thinking of the trees and a location I use to work at that I can see the tip of when I lean over and stand up a bit. After my few moments of day dreaming it was about lunch time and I caught up on some blog reading of one of my favorite authors; Peter James Lamb. His posts are real, well written, entertaining and inspiring. I found him on Goodreads and then started following his blog posts http://www.peterjameslamb.com/slovenia-blog.html . I recently ordered his book the Midlife of Dudley Chalk and looking forward to reading it as it seems on topic to what I am currently writing about the ‘afterlife’.

I have enjoyed his posts for a few months now and recently, Peter (as I may be so bold to call him by his first name), replied to an email I sent him asking if I could pass on his blog and posts and credit them for a realization I recently had. The email was as inspiring as his posts.  So thank you, Peter. For example – http://www.peterjameslamb.com/3/post/2014/03/noise.html – Noise …

After reading about his adventurous move, his ski lessons, sounds reminding him of childhood, how he is exploring his current home –  I recalled a time when I had that passion about this city, my city. Even though I have lived near this city my entire life I find it amazing how much there is to still explore.

I use to work even closer to the heart of downtown. I grew up in a very small town outside the ‘big city’, as we called it growing up, even though it was less than an hour away. I still live outside the city in a not as small town, but still smaller than most. The job I had in the heart of things allowed me to explore A LOT during my hour long lunch and directly after work. I found quaint little cafes, book stores, libraries, etc. I even became a regular at a few; called by name as I entered, asked ‘the usual?” by most servers, etc. It was a good feeling living in the peace and working in the midst of artist, writers, dancers, ‘city folk’.

When I started working there in 2003 I was a bit shy and even closed minded; I said I liked new things, and experiences, but never followed through as I was quite content in my little bubble. I met one of the most interesting people ever and still a dear friend to this day while working there. She was from KC and had lived in NY and quite the explorer. She wasn’t closed minded, she lived life to the fullest (still does!). She introduced me to the city, to exploring, to bursting that bubble that I protected so well. After venturing out to a few new places with her, I started exploring on my own (how bold was I?!). I started telling other friends of MY adventures…I had stories to tell, places to recommend, knowledge of events, a ‘usual’ to order, and a calendar that was filling up weekly. I found myself having to turn down invites to events. Me!! – The small town girl who was so content in her bubble!

I took my camera on lunch and dinner dates around the city; inhaling a quick lunch so I could go explore and capture the city on my break or packing up a snack and venturing off to the area parks and spending an afternoon into the evening capturing tree after tree, view after view. I filled journals and notebooks, wrote detailed emails and spoke to all who would listen. I would see a painting at the museum and the next week I’d be in the secluded museum reading room with a stack of old books learning more about it and it’s artist. I day dreamed while living out the dreams, I wrote and was inspired. The more I explored the more creative I got!

Somewhere in 2009, when I left that job, I disconnected with the explorer in me, I wasn’t in the heart of the city anymore, I wasn’t as adventurous, life happened, career got more demanding over the next few years and I built that bubble around me again.

BUT – Peter James Lamb has reminded me to explore. Even if I can’t move out of the country or even the state I can still explore, I can still stir creativity. I had it in me once, it’s sleeping and I’m ready to wake it up again! I’m inspired…I’m eager to learn, I’m ready to shake the inner explorer and pick up where we left off. Not being content with my view I have to scoot and contort to see. I’m ready to be out in the heart of it. Bubble, be prepared to burst.

 

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What an opportunity!

I think I finally found my reason to join twitter! What an amazing opportunity this would be!

http://blog.amtrak.com/officialterms/

Best wishes and much writing success to anyone that follows this dream!

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Getting away

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This weekend my husband and I rented an outpost cabin at Lake of the Ozarks State Park. The cabin had electricity, but no running water of any kind, but within walking distance of a nice shower house and bathroom. The cabin was secluded considering seven other cabins were within the same area. We packed like we were going camping; sleeping bags, blankets, cooler full of food, flashlights, etc. Even with electricity in the simple cabin, no lights and no water took a bit to get use to. It was nice having the day light and our electric skillet though, quite a gift actually! The photo is a view from the sleeping area downstairs. We also had a view of the lake out another window.

This weekend was all about relaxing, getting away, spending quality time together. And while it was all of those things, it opened my eyes to much more. Simple life is not convenient. Walking down a long wooded path, across a gravel courtyard, to a building with ‘privacy enough’ to use the restroom or shower was humbling. It made me realize I take so much for granted. Including the free moments I could use for writing when all I want to do is ‘veg out’ or zone out on TV because my work day was hectic I feel I need a break… I am not only thankful for water on demand, indoor toilet and shower, but I’m thankful I have the time to enjoy such things. I do want simple. I realized that this weekend. I am a bit spoiled with my luxuries, even though we live in a very small modest home, I don’t have lavish furniture, cars, etc. , but I do have more than I need or want. I am truly blessed and it took this past weekend to make me realize as blessed as I feel, I take some of my blessings for granted.

To the writing part of this – I told my husband I want to go back one weekend, stay longer and close myself up in the loft and write and write. This trip was short and took some time to allow this somewhat of a city gal to get acclimated in the ‘simple’ life style. As we say the park volunteer he mentioned that there is a woman that comes down in the winter when the weather is suppose to turn bad to get snowed in on purpose and write. What a luxury! She stays in the same cabin we stayed in. The writing energy was there… calling me. I was so into the silence I did not write, but I did recharge my batteries… and I did gain a new appreciation for all the blessings in my life.

cabin stove view

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An ‘aha!’ moment

So, you know those moments that seem so clear once you accept them, once you choose to see that which has been right in front of you? Well, Tuesday I had finally saw it. It’s been there…dancing in front of me, waving its arms, kicking and screaming for attention…Finally, I chose to see it.

I have been reading blurbs, reviews, etc. on several books that are similar to the novel I’m currently writing. I have buried my face in reading about others that are ‘similar’. When what I should have been doing is reading on a particular non-fiction topic…gathering information and trusting my own interpretation and of course WRITING. 

Duh. Thank you realization for slapping me right in the head and getting my attention. Seems so simplistic right now… Duh, indeed.

I can’t write a novel based on other fiction words that seem similar, making myself fit into something I think is the norm…I can value the other author’s, value the stories, enjoy them…but I can’t re-work my novel to make it fit into something…I need to write freely and embrace my own voice…celebrate it…Type it out loud!

Duh.

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Learning…

So, has it really been two months since my last post? Seriously? OK… so thinking of a post does not magically make it appear here does it? Lesson learned.

I could blame the cold weather, the snow days, the Holidays that came and went….Lack of time…hmmm, none of those excuses are sounding concrete now that I type them out.

I have been researching. Not an excuse, a fact. I have been going through book blurb after blurb trying to find similar story lines. I have become somewhat addicted to finding authors I can say “Oh yea, I’m kinda like when so and so meets so and so”…I have found a few, but for some reason I’m searching for more, like it’s a game show task or treasure hunt. After attending the JRW conference in Oct., I can’t get that out of my head (to find like authors, narrow down my fiction genre, and build my platform)… Well, the first step is admitting the problem, right?

Even if I spend the majority of my day working, commuting, and sleeping, I still am a writer. I still breath creative ideas, plots, twists, character flaws and development, synonyms and chapter outlines. So why do I get caught up on putting the cart before the horse. Don’t I need a finished novel?! I know I need to narrow down my genre and find like authors…but I have a handful already. Having content for a query letter without a finished novel seems… what is the word I’m looking for here? Maybe a phrase is more appropriate…maybe fear has me stopped in my tracks. When people ask me about my writing and I say things like “oh yea, it’s coming along, but there is much more I need to do to be a writer than just write, I need to research…etc.” it’s an excuse for letting fear of failure get the best of me.

Fear…You always sneak your way in don’t you? I guess if I keep gathering information, setting up a query, reading other authors, etc. then I can’t fail…but I can’t succeed either!

Writing goals are back on…I have already come so far. I actually have a finished draft, I just need to revise and send on to the editor. Why am I putting it off?

Writing goals are back at the top of this list…fear or no fear.

 

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Daydreaming is writing in progress

I daydream a lot. Ask my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. George, who called my mother in for a conference because I stared out the window at school and was ‘in another world’ when called upon. My mother’s response? “You called me here for that?! You call me back in when my young baby girl ISN’T day dreaming, then I’ll be worried.” Thanks mom 🙂

So yes, I’ve been daydreaming of writing…of character traits, quirks, their conversations and how they react to other characters. It’s part of my process. Is it proper? Is it in the writer’s book of how to? Doubt it…but it works for me. I could sure be more proactive, I realize I need to put these dreams into action, but I’m glad I was raised a daydreamer.

A few months ago we purchased a piece of property (if one can truly own property…) and there is a huge abandoned home on it. The man who owned the property died several years ago, didn’t really have any family and the house if full of personal items. The home needs to be torn down, but I can’t imagine just turning all of this man’s personal items into trash. Clothes, dishes, blankets, pillows…sure I can see throwing them out, they aren’t ‘personal’, they were items used by him. But the books and handwritten stories that fill binder after binder?! The family photos…the inventions with drawings and details….I can’t trash those things. I decided to buy some plastic bins and put the photos in them, the books and some drawings. The novels I plan on taking out of the decaying binders and put them into something else. Not sure what I will do with them, but I can’t trash them. He has quotes written on the walls throughout his home all go something like “If I try then I have not failed and I am somebody.”

I have daydreamed about his writing method…who or what was his muse…when did he write…are the character outlines based on real people? His writing starts off neat and small, perfectly written, then you see the lines slant, the writing turn to scribble, the words grow…I have done this; written until my hands don’t allow me to anymore. I never met this man, but as a dreamer and writer I can’t trash his work. I will post some photos soon.

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Updates

Well, I have been absent, but not unwriterly (a word I think, right?). Revisiting my to do list after returning from the JRW conference, I am not ready to mark off as much as I had hoped, but I have been working on it!

Make the first rough draft into a better second draft! -lots of brainstorming, but no 2nd draft yet.

Turn 20,000 words into at least 60,000 or 70,000. – working on.

Reserve some domain names and build a website. – Have researched, but not committed yet.

Start building a better platform (potential readers, etc) – I have been doing this.

Define my genre more clearly. – Working on.

Read at least 50 flaps / book covers of books in my genre. This weekend I read 15. Wow, are there some amazing novels out there. One grabbed a hold so tightly, even despite owning a Nook, I had to purchase the hard copy, feel it in my fingers and look forward to reading it – By Lawrence Norfolk , John Saturnall’s Feast. This book intrigues me, the content, the pictures and recipes, the flap was an amazing read and I’m looking forward to more.

Determine two authors I am similar to (I’m like …when so and so meets so and so). Got one down, searching for the other. 😉

Contact editor referral and send her completed 2nd (or 3rd) revision. – in due time….in due time.

Update my blog weekly or more often. – ummm, well here I am.

While at the bookstore this weekend I almost had a reader frenzy…while reading all these great flaps, I wanted to buy them all, lock myself in a room and read for 72 hours straight, having meals slid under a door (or in a creative slot usually used for mail)…There are so many books, for a moment I thought “there is no room for mine!” How can I compare to these wonderful titles, flaps, and author bios?! A few deep breaths and sitting in a nice wooden chair practicing anti-anxiety attack methods…my husband came up to me and put his hand on my shoulder and asked if I was OK, as I sat with 5 books in my hand and a glaze eye stare…I looked up and said “I’m not good enough to be here, I can’t do this.”  He squatted down beside me, smiled and said “first of all, yes you are, but don’t let this overwhelm you or make you doubt yourself, let all these books prove to you that you ARE good enough, that thee is hope…” then he quoted one of our favorite movies (the Edge) “What one man can do, another man can do.”

Ah….breath…..look around, be encouraged and hopeful that we live in a society where so many books are published, welcomed and read. Yes, I’m working on my to-do list. Thank goodness I have a supporter in my corner that doesn’t let me give up.

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The fairy tale

Well, while going through notes and scribbles of ideas for my current novel, I found a short write from 2004. I was 32. Life was, well lets just say I have grown a LOT in the past nine years; even my writing has (thankfully). I wanted to share this anyway and will find some other old writings (some even from middle school) and share them periodically…

My writing style and topics have changed, but I am still a day dreamer and found myself staring out into space when I re-read this today…The oak tree was real. I would stare at it out the front window of the home I lived in from first grade to my junior year of high school. Only once did I make it up the hill, through the farmer’s field and sit below it…but that moment is still with me to this day. I was (and still am somewhat) a hopeless romantic 🙂

May 5, 2004 – A Fairy Tale

Once, there was a girl consumed with daydreams. She would sit under her big oak tree and daydream for hours. Her entire life seemed to be one big daydream. Her friend’s lives were busy, but hers was not. She had all the time in the world, but everyone else was so busy, they could not share in her musing. She could sit for hours and think, rather dwell, in her loneliness.

One morning while sitting under her oak tree a boy came up and asked if he could build a tree house in her over sized oak tree. The girl thought and thought about this. Finally, she stood up and properly introducing herself. Then asked why he would want to build in her tree, for there was already one tree house built there, although it was run down and no one used it anymore. Due to this outcome, the girl feared neglect. And being the worrier she was she worried that this might happen to the new one. Besides there were plenty of other trees around he could build in.

The boy replied “I have watched you sit under this oak tree for months now. I’ve watched you weep, I have seen you smile at the animals playing, and I envied the sun as it warmed your face. I’ve seen you sit patiently for hours allowing butterflies to rest on your shoulder. I know the particular mood you are in by the expression on your face. Even though you are always alone, and I have not had the courage to come talk to you until now. I too sit and daydream. I use to daydream of great adventures, of me conquering the world, always alone, but hoping someday someone would walk beside me. And since you have come into view I find myself daydreaming of you, of us, and nothing else. If I may build this tree house, I promise to make it big enough for two, and keep it maintained. I will never leave you alone in it, for if it is empty it is because we will be off daydreaming elsewhere, but we will be together none-the-less. The day my tree house becomes unused will be the day I breath my last breath.”

The girl stood in front of the boy astonished. She had missed hearing such kind words, for she had heard similar words in the past, but not with such sincerity, not with such passion. The months she spent sitting under the tree consumed with loneliness, dreaming of love did not feel so wasted now. Her days of loneliness seemed to disappear as she looked in the boy’s eyes. To think that someone had been daydreaming of her was overwhelming. She too had been daydreaming of this boy standing in front of her she just didn’t know he existed. She looked deep into his eyes, trying to reach his soul; trying to confirm his sincerity. As blood rushed through her veins, and the boy’s hand caressed her cheek, she knew this boy was sincere.

She gave the boy her permission to build his tree house.  The boy spent hours each day building the perfect tree house, as the girl spent hours disassembling the old one. Although they did not have much time to speak, only seeing one another in passing, the few smiles and moments they did share were treasured. For finally, there was light at the end of the tunnel for them both. Their loneliness slowly disappeared. Even with rainstorms and cold weather suspending their projects, they knew one day it would be completed and the tree house would be perfect. There would be no more distractions, no more heartaches, the loneliness would disappear and almost be forgotten forever. Their lives would not know the words lonely, desperate, unhappy, cruel, or impossible.  The girl was feeling as if she was living a real life fairy tale. Was this possible or was she daydreaming? Was she fooling herself? She asked herself these questions only once. After feeling the boy’s warm embrace, and listening to his reassuring words, she never needed to ask them again.

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