The One Where I’m an Idiot

I’m an idiot.

Okay, in reality, my trying to foster the right type of mood for the writing I was working on was headed in the right direction. I consider myself pretty self-aware and know what changes my moods. Like my sister and a good friend both mentioned in the comments, music can be very influential. I couldn’t agree more. Music has soothed my soul for as long as I can remember. Even before I can remember if you want to go by my mother’s account of the excitement I expressed when John Denver would come over the radio.

On Monday I was way too chipper. The weather was sunny and fairly warm. I had lots of errands to take care of and the day went way too well for me to flip the switch to somber. Tuesday didn’t look any better. I was starting to hunt for the right CDs to edge me into a darker tone. Maybe I could draw the blinds and eliminate some of that glorious sunlight. 

And then…

Then the rain came. The gray, chilly rain. This seemed promising.

You might be wondering where I realize I’m an idiot. It’s about to happen.

I put on my favorite sweatpants. I make a cup of tea. I grab a blanket and the remote and get comfortable on the sofa. I found a movie on the Sundance channel that I had missed once before and as I watched, felt the clouds gathering over my head. Then it hit me…MOVIES. All my life I have wanted to act or have some involvement in the entertainment industry. Just like reading a book, you are watching a story unfold in front of your eyes. Your emotions are manipulated by what you are seeing and hearing. When I leave a movie theater, I feel like I was a character. My mood is fully enveloped in what I’ve experienced.

How did I not think of this first?

Between the rain and the movie, I felt myself sliding down a slippery slope to gloom. I opened my laptop and the words started to flow. New ideas struck in intervals along the way; the lightning that sparked my character into motion. It felt good to get all those scattered thoughts I had been having come to fruition.

I’m not sure if I’ll have to wait to be wholly inspired to work on this piece again, but at least I know what can nudge me into the right state of mind now. The facepalm from not using what I’m so passionate about in the first place was enough to knock  the sense into me. 

 

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Brewing a Storm

Recently, I started writing something I didn’t expect to write. I was thinking and my thoughts seemed like an nightmarish movie playing in my head. I wanted to get rid of it so I did what I do to cleanse my thinking palate, I put it on paper….well, sort of. My thoughts poured out out of my fingertips, furiously typing to drain the storm cloud over my head. When I finished, I had what seemed like a few pages of a good idea for a book. 

Rainstorm Over the Sea by John Constable

I tucked it away in my documents folder for another rainy day. It’s been a few weeks and lately I’ve been feeling anxious to work on it. More ideas have been stirring on how to shape it and where it will all lead. The inspiration is brewing, but what I really need is another storm.

Every day brings different emotions in varying depths. Whether I’m up or down or pensive or dreamy shapes how my writing develops. However, never have I intentionally looked for a dark mood to come to create an intensive writing environment. This week will be my trial. In the past few years, I’ve made it a habit to wake up deciding to be happy. So, this week, I’ll decide to be sad. Sad and morbid with my heart heavy.

It’s a path I haven’t taken before, but I’m interested to see its effects on my project and my life. It should be a strange week, but hopefully a productive one.

I’d love some advice from other writers on how you “get in the mood” to write darker pieces.

Pushing Boundaries

Let’s just ignore the fact that I haven’t blogged in ages. Deal?

Deal.

Moving on…

I’ve been trying to push the boundaries of my comfort zones in different aspects of my life. With any task, I can usually go only so far and pinball around in my own small space of familiarity. I ricochet off the same ideas over and over. But, how long before I hit TILT?

I’ve always fancied myself a bit of a chameleon. I take bits of what I see and know to help myself evolve. The problem is, I’m not finding my own way. When I recently started a project journal, I decided to stop allowing the lined pages confine me. I’m varying the size of my print, the margins and using words to carve pictures. For every little step across a line, I feel a little more liberated. And also a bit more inspired.

Creativity is something I always envy in others. Whether it’s writing, art, cooking, fashion, anything really. I’m always thinking, I wish I had that ingenuity. Now, I do think that this is not always a learned thing. Some people are just born with that door open. However, I don’t like limits and I do believe that you can be taught, conditioned, to a certain degree.

So this is my current self-improvement project. Pushing my boundaries. Letting my brain forget about common practices and finding what works for me. I’m hoping to pick up some forgotten art projects to give me a push in the right direction. That was actually one of my wants in a previous post. And as an update, numbers 2 through 7 I’m doing well with. I’m still working on 1 and 8.

Even if your goal is to write, exercising your mind in other areas helps you branch out. If I can pick up an old craft project, I can look at it and see how to make it better. I can dig in and clip here, add there. The same goes for my writing. Editing is like pruning the rose bush. Or adding a red stripe to that abstract painting. And the more I push my creativity, the better that final product is going to be.

*Please feel free to share how you boost your creativity in the comments. I’d love to hear your ideas!

Ink Stains: An Ebook Review

I’ve told you before about author Lara Zielin when I reviewed her book Donut
Days
. Well, when she asked me to review a new ebook, Ink Stains, which she
compiled with eight other authors, I jumped at the chance. Between these
authors they have more than 25 published books, so it’s only natural that they
would have some great advice to share with other writers.

The career of a writer is often an uncertain one.

Will I ever be published?

Will anyone buy my book?

Is it even worth the effort?

We ask ourselves a million questions and doubt ourselves a
million times. Rejection and criticism can hail down on the delicate surroundings
we’ve built with our words. It’s hard to stay motivated and focused when
there’s a cloud of doubt raining over your thoughts. So, let Ink Stains be your
umbrella.

With each author’s contribution, you’ll gain insight into
dealing with some of the most common worries that writers have. Questions you
may have posed to yourself, they have asked themselves already. Bumps in the
road? They have had the same ones to cross. Topics like the time spent on your
work, how to handle the criticism from editors, writer’s block and even how to
answer the ever-popular question “Am I a writer?” is addressed.

Each entry is told in a conversational tone, so it’s like
you are sitting with the author in a one-on-one interview. All of which are
easy to relate to because these are real people with the same problems every
writer has experienced. Whether you have already published, or this is the
first time you are putting pen to paper, this is a great read.

Ink Stains isn’t a tell-all novel with every tidbit about
writing you have ever wanted to know. It’s a quick read with honest opinions
and personal accounts from published authors. After reading it, you’ll feel a
renewed inspiration for your writings. But make sure you keep it on a nearby
shelf because picking this up every so often for a reread just might do wonders
for your progress.

My Very First Giveaway!

I met Lara Zielin on Twitter some time ago and found out quickly how easy it is to like her. She is always sweeter than the donuts she loves and giggly as a teenage girl. This is obviously a winning combination for a Young Adult author. However, I wondered, should I pick up her book? At the time, I was struggling with whether or not I should be reading YA novels since I am, sadly, no longer a young adult. After blogging about rereading A Wrinkle In Time, I realized it would be more ridiculous to NOT read her book.

So, I read it. AND, I loved it. And because Lara is so superfabulous, she offered to give away a copy of Donut Days to a commenter on my blog! *happy dance*

Now don’t go hopping straight down to comment! At least read what it’s about first…geez…you guys are so impatient.

Emma is an aspiring journalist hoping to win a scholarship from a local newspaper so she can attend a non-Christian university, which is against her parents’ wishes. The neighborhood debut of Crispy Dream, a popular donut shop chain, is the topic of her story, along with the people camping out for days in anticipation of its opening. However, the events that have been occurring in her parents’ church threaten to distract her away from everything she’s working for. While she’s spending time at the camp, her mother’s minister status is being questioned because of a supposed prophecy made by a member of the church. On top of it all, Emma’s best friend has turned on her and is now hanging out with the daughter of the man who made the prophecy that started it all.

Lara has created a novel that is easy to love. The major events are not your typical teenage problems, but they are framed by the common issues of friend betrayal, growing up and falling in love. The combination makes for a relatable, page turning story. The characters are well developed; it’s not hard to endear to Emma and her family within the first few pages. And with Emma narrating, you are placed in her shoes, feeling her frustration of what has happened. This is not an action packed book, but Lara keeps from lingering in one spot too long, which avoids any lulls in the story line. And when it comes to Emma’s love interest, it’s simple and promising. I loved every inch of this book. Every word and every page had my full attention. I’m sure you will, too.

Ok, NOW you can go comment! Leave me a comment and I will use a random number generator to pick the winner of the book on Friday, May 21.   

Perserverance is Exhausting

The past few months I have been spending a lot of time job hunting online. I’m searching for various jobs to piece together enough freelance work to create a substantial income. I don’t need to make six figures. I just need to pay the bills.

In the meantime, I’ve gained immense respect for freelance writers. There are numerous sites for writers to post their details and look for opportunities. I have been signing up on many, but it seems a full time job just keeping up with every page. I spend time hunting for jobs here. Then I look for more there. Check my email for responses to my inquiries. Hunt some more. Write some articles. Scour lists of needed articles. Edit, edit, edit. Check the email again. How do they find the time?!

I’m neglecting my blogs. I’m falling behind on all the reading I want to do.

Whoa! It’s time for dinner…find something to cook. Dishes, laundry. Buzz around the house to get some chores done.

I’m being productive!

Can I just go outside and enjoy some nice weather?!

The good news is, I’m learning a lot. I’m finding more opportunities and slowly crawling towards an actual career.

The bad news is…there is a very long road ahead of me. And I don’t have a fast car to get me there any quicker.

And so….I perservere.

A Writer Needs Writers

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to join a group of writers who have recently started coming together. I was apprehensive about how this was all going to go for me. While I have already shouted my newly earned title as a writer here, I had no idea what type of experience the other attendees might have. Surely they would all have much more under their belts than I do. The more I thought about it, the more inferior I felt.

So, the day arrives and I spend the morning preparing. I dropped the kids off and headed into the city with my obsessive compulsive directions written out and tucked under my leg for quick reference. Oh, did I not mention? I’m not a city driver. I panic about what lane I should be in and what to do if I miss the exit I need. And while I love the city itself and dream about restaurant hopping and strolling around every touristy spot, I have no desire to navigate its labryinth of one way streets. Nor do I wish to attempt squeezing my SUV into insufficient parking spaces.

I digress…

I arrive, blood pressure in check after following excellent directions (obvs) and intervals of deep breathing. I’m the second one there…and I only find this out after asking a girl, who I just assume is there for the same reason. After some more arrive and introductions are made, we grab some chairs and quickly slide into casual conversation. There’s some chat about books we’ve read. Some talk about work they’ve done. We joke. We laugh. And then I wonder….what the hell was I worried about?

So what if these people have more experience? They are incredible people that I can learn a lot from. There was not one moment where I felt like I didn’t fit in. I heard about critique groups and submission processes. We chattered about our own habits. Best of all, I am looking forward to going again. 

Even though I have made irreplaceable writing friends on Twitter, having a group of people to meet with in person is a new and exciting trail to blaze. A writer definitely needs other writers. They not only help educate, but also inspire. You can be opened up to all the different ways they tackle their talent. They can sympathize with each others’ frustrations and cheer each others’ successes. 

A writer’s world can be a lonely one, with hours spent at desks, in libraries or even huddled in the corner of their favorite coffee shop. We write on our own. We don’t turn to our neighbor in the office to ask them how to get that last metaphor just right. But being able to leave our laptops and notebooks to come together from time to time can show us that for as long as we are alone…we are not alone.