July 2010


I woke up at 6:00 and was hard at work by 7 this morning. Except for a couple of breaks…and a small little nap [ahem] I’ve been going strong all day. It’s been fantastic. How often do I get a full day, a FULL day with no one and nothing to distract me or need me for anything? The husband is off on a short trip to California, the little princess is spending a couple of days with her Grandori, and I have the house to myself.

WRITING TIME!

Since my last post on 7/10, I have felt the floodgates open and the creativity spark. I keep finding my feet guiding me back to the computer, despite the mounting pile of dishes or the quickly multiplying weeds in my raised beds. I am well and thoroughly hooked, and the progress I’ve made has been quite rewarding. I am now at seven books, all significantly outlined and I am nearly ready to begin writing. Just a few more details and I will be there, ready to roll.

Before I started to work this morning I thought about a book I read recently, “What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self” by Ellyn Spragins. The thought occurred then, and again today, that I would much prefer to write a letter to my future self. Somehow, it seems more…useful.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved reading Ellyn’s book. It made me cry and smile and think of all that has happened in my life, especially the last five years. But it also got me to thinking about what motivates us. What keeps you going? What makes the difference between today and what happens tomorrow? How do we stop from giving up, five minutes before the miracle? How can we accomplish our dreams on our terms, in our own unique way, and within some reasonable time frame?

Does it have to take five, ten or twenty year to make that leap? To jump off the cliff and turn your world on its ear?

It can be so hard, stuck in the present, dreaming of an unknown future, and hoping, praying for a change to happen. I know I’m not the only one who has felt that way. So, before I sat down and began to work on the details of my new book series I wrote a letter to my future self. I wrote it, then I printed it out, and I stuck it on the wall right in front of my face. It is there, along with the quote from Thoreau, an email from my firstborn, and an email from my dad commenting on “War’s End”. I would like to think that when I hit a brick wall (most likely of my own making), that my eyes will stray to that letter and that I will renew my belief in myself again, long enough for it to take hold and make a difference and keep me on the path.

A letter to your younger self is wonderful, but I think that who we want to be tomorrow needs to be believed in and visualized today. And perhaps that is realized in a letter to the person you will be tomorrow or the next day or next year. Think about it, write your own letter to your future self and keep the faith. We are all on such a marvelous adventure!

Here is my letter to my future self…

Christine –

On this day, July 13th, 2010 you are 40 years old. You may look at this in just a few hours or a few days or even months and be filled with fear, stress, or worry. You may tell yourself “it’s shit” or that nothing good can come of it. You may castigate yourself for wasting time that you could have been working and making money. You may tell yourself that you aren’t a good writer or that you will never, ever be published.

But Christine, it isn’t true. None of it. Of all the things I know, in this moment, in this place, on this beautiful sunny summer morning – I know you are capable and that you have this within you. You WILL be published. You ARE a writer. And this project, whichever you are working on at the moment, is WORTH IT. Why? Because you have something to say and it is worthy of being heard.

So Christine, keep writing. Do it for me/you. Do it for your children and husband and friends and family and for the untold thousands who will someday read what you have read and tell you it moved them or amused them or maybe even made them cry. Do it, because this is what you were meant to do.

Oh, and Christine? Stop crying and get back to work. It’s high time the world saw what you are capable of.

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I had a good laugh at my own expense this morning and I’m going to share it with you.

I recently finished writing “War’s End” a fictional book I had been working on for way too long. It’s been submitted and now it is a matter of waiting to hear back. Meanwhile, I began to sort through my different book starts, looking for the next project to begin working on. Mercedes Lackey said it best, “I often have a project in the planning stages, one currently being written, and another in the editing stage at any one time.” In other words, if you are a writer, you keep going and don’t get to sit on your laurels for too long.

I had settled on choosing between two possible projects, and as I made notes, created time-lines and character descriptions in each of them, much to my dismay, I found myself gravitating towards the bigger of the projects. How big, you ask? Try FOUR books big. A bigger project than I could have even imagined a few years ago when I was just trying to get one written.

The funny part of this is, the sheer number of books (four, plus several – even possibly many, spin-offs) doesn’t faze me as much as one little, tiny, small little problem…I don’t have the details down of who Liv Rowan encounters, how it might be a problem, or what she might do to fix it. I’ve got four working titles and a solid idea of what happens at the end of book 4. And…that’s it.

I would be writing about this on one my private blogs, I actually started to do so this morning, until I was reminded of the quote from “The Stand.” The big bad guy is interrogating one of the people from Boulder and she claims she has no idea who the guy he is looking for is. He responds, “All the same dear, I think you do know.” For those of you who have seen the movie, you know it doesn’t end well for her, but it got me to thinking.

When I am working with a coaching client and they hit a wall, usually the reason they have a coach in the first place, they will say to me, “I just don’t know what to do.” In that moment, no choice seems right, and the way in front of them is blocked. What might seem incredibly easy and clear to me, is clouded and dark for them. We work on it, nibbling away at the edges, pushing gently against the metaphorical wall, until there is that moment when things suddenly resolve into clarity and conviction. The client is excited, I’m happy for them, and there is progress past this stumbling block.

My job as a coach is to be the catalyst for change. I don’t provide the answers, or try and tell a client what they need to do. I believe the answers are within them and that they know, deep inside, what will work best for them. My job is to get them to the point where they are listening to that quiet voice inside. Once they can access the answers from within, they can make changes in their lives that will serve them well in the weeks, months and years to come.

  • What do I want to do for a living?
  • Is this relationship good for me?
  • Where do I want to live?
  • How do I want to proceed?
  • What should I do about this particular situation?

I believe we each have the answers to all of those questions and more, waiting inside us. I believe that we intuitively know, without a shadow of a doubt, the course that would be best for each of us to take. Life, culture, expectations, upbringing – all of these things pull us away from the truth and distract us from listening to the one person who knows you better than anyone else in the entire world…you.

So how do these two topics – writing and coaching – fit together?

This morning I got up, as I have several morning over the past week, asking myself, “What happens to Liv Rowan in Byd Arall?” It’s been driving me crazy. How can I be so audacious as to suggest I have four books to write and not have story plots worked out for them yet? Who am I kidding?

It was the certainty I have felt over this series that has allowed me to suspend my disbelief at my current writing situation this far. I cannot tell you how I know, but I know for sure that what I have here (as scant as it is at the moment) is worthy of my attention. Something deep inside is pushing me towards this, pointing insistently, determined that I continue.

“I don’t know what happens to Liv in Byd Arall!” I told myself for the 20th time this week.

And then Randall Flagg from “The Stand”…

“All the same dear, I think you do know.”

And with that, the path before me is clear. No, I don’t have all the answers, not yet. But I know it’s in there somewhere. I just need to be patient, eventually I will find it. Most likely it will find me. Somewhere in there, is a complete story. If I keep nibbling at the edges, the details will come.

The answer is within.

Last week I received the following email:

Hi Christine!

My name is Ann and we were on the Self-Directed Learning call this morning.  I hope you don’t mind me writing.  I looked you up on the discussion board and really wanted to reach out and let you know that hearing your story in class today was very inspiring to me.  You seem like a very courageous person who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to shake things up and make your dreams a reality.  I admire you!

–“Ann (from Pennsylvania)”

Thank you, Ann, you made my day. I wasn’t having a bad day, but this little note sure kicked my day up a notch. It was a nice reminder to me that (forgive me for using an rather over-used phrase these days) being authentic is often appreciated by others.

I couldn’t help but love being referred to as courageous. Moi?! Weird, independent, heck, even crazy often fits. But courageous? Is it silly to say I don’t often think of myself that way?

But this email got me to thinking that we often fall into patterns. Patterns of how we view the world, ourselves, and maybe even life in general. Without input from others, our interpretations of who we are often remain static. It takes someone else’s input to shake things up. Hopefully for the good. I find it is the little things, like what my mother once said:

Well, someone once put that couch together, you can figure out how to take it apart. (This said to me when I was fretting over HOW could I reupholster the thing)

Or the bigger stuff, like my Dad saying:

I am really enjoying your book. You are such a good writer, the book just pulls me in. It has generated a lot of reactions in me, but as of right now, the overriding feeling I have is that this book is so real. You have formed your characters as very believable, three dimensional people. And the world in which you have placed them in is totally natural and familiar. Though you have created a rich tapestry of details, it is not the details so much as the way you have seamlessly and, apparently, effortlessly integrated into the story without having them call attention to themselves. You have really hit your stride.

Or simply the words of Mom again, years ago when she said:

Christine, you inspire me.

These are the words that echo in my mind when I am faced with trying times, moments of self-doubt and fear over what tomorrow will bring. Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment” and he was right on.

It is often those thoughtful words said to others that change lives and open up new worlds of possibilities. All that we are, the endless possibility and potential that lie within, are awakened and pushed to exist with just a few simple words of encouragement. Whose life can you change just by a simple note that reminds them they are unique, worthy of love or respect, and are cared for?

Something to think about…