Writing


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.

Hello everyone!

I apologize for not posting for a while. I’ve been deep in writing.I was surprised to realize that it had been so long.

This past Wednesday I was in having my hair done, as I do every six weeks, and realized I had written about 25,000 words on “Change Your Life” (CYL) in six weeks. Considering all of the other projects I have going on, that was fantastic! I was commenting to the hair stylist about it which segued into the latest chapter I had thought to add when she asked, “Does your brain ever just STOP? I mean, how do you stand it? I guess when you go to sleep…”

I shook my head, “No, I dream about my work, all the time. I wake up four or five times a night thinking about ideas, new chapters, new classes I would like to teach…it’s rather exhausting.”

She just laughed and shook her head. But it caused me to think about how incredibly manic my life can be and I made a few changes:

  • I went home and crossed off several teleclasses I had wanted to squeeze in to my already packed schedule.
  • I sat down on the living room floor with my toddler and played with her new Curious George jack-in-the-box over and over (and OVER) again.
  • After that I took a short half-hour nap (having been awake since 4:30 am).
  • I picked up and then set down three different books I have been ‘meaning to read for research purposes’ and briefly walked through our yard and wished it were spring and green again.

I still woke up at 4:30 am this morning, despite the fact I had no reason to be up at such an early hour. But instead of filling my head with way too much information – I wrote on CYL and sipped my coffee and sat and thought.

My hair stylist was right – I’m tired all the time and distracted. I need to slow down just a wee bit – get a little more sleep and spend more time rolling on the floor with the little one.

But I doubt my brain will ever stop running at its frantic pace…at least not any time soon!

My main focus on CYL this morning has been that of structure rather than in-depth writing. The chapters I have written in the past were put together differently than more recent chapters, so I was trying to get the structure more in line across the board. I stopped at one point and formulated some key points on a chapter that is still under revision – “Get the Balance Right” and had to laugh.

How often do we teach the words and yet not follow the advice?

“You think you’ve got a hold of it all
You haven’t got a hold at all
When you reach the top, get ready to drop
Prepare yourself for the fall, you’re gonna fall
It’s almost predictable

Don’t take this way, don’t take that way
Straight down the middle until next Thursday
Push to the left, back to the right
Twist and turn ’til you’ve got it right

Get the balance right

– Depeche Mode


Yep, you heard me right. Or should I say, write? That’s what today’s blog is about.

I came home, exhausted and in pain and said to my DH (Darling Husband-and he really is…darling, that is) – “I’m going to have to let some of my cleaning clients go. I know we need the money, but I was working away this morning and realizing I feel like I did when I worked in an office. I’m so busy getting there and working away that all creativity has been leached out of me. I can’t even begin to develop story lines or round out my characters…because I’m completely in work mode! Something has got to give!”

Add to that the pressure my “life coach” is applying…

“How you doing on writing these days?” he asked the other day. “You know, NaNoWriMo is coming up,” he pauses, “are you going to participate this year?”

I want to cry, hide under a rock, maybe even heave the rock in his direction…

I went to Red Room, a site that offers prizes for NaNoWriMo winners and had to copy and paste the following:

THE RED ROOM PHILOSOPHY

• Taking a writing class … is not writing.

• Therapy … is not writing.

• Attending interesting lectures about writing … is not writing.

• Reading books about writing or anything else … is not writing.

• Completing writing “exercises” … is not writing.

• Attending a peer critique writing group … is not writing.

• Feeling guilty all week for not writing … is not writing.

• Participating in NaNoWriMo … is you actually writing.

Save the seminar on publishing for after you have a finished, polished manuscript. Save the group therapy for another night of the week. Recognize that you are doing these other activities instead of completing a manuscript. If you want to leave a legacy of more than just having attended classes or reading the New York Review of Books with keen interest, you need to participate in NaNoWriMo.

If you truly do not feel ready to write what you want to write without more research and personal growth … you’re mistaken. The majority of the most brilliant writers in history had absolutely no training, useful industry information, or self-awareness. Stop talking and start writing.

And that’s it, man. I mean, really, that is it. All bullshit aside. If you want to be a writer, then you have to do one thing, WRITE. That’s it. The rest will follow.

And that is true about all things in life. If you want it, really, really, REALLY want it…

Then go out and get it.

Don’t wait for someone else’s blessing, for the clouds to part and the sun to shine down. Don’t wait for ‘that perfect moment’ that never comes when all the stars align and a heavenly chorus begins to sing.

We make our own luck.

We make our own future.

Best get started.