A Maverick


I hate it when people start off giving me a definition.  However, to convey my thoughts I’m going to give you a definition. (Boo, hiss!)  The definition of a maverick is a person that takes chances, one who departs from the accepted normal course.

Garth Brooks sang it well!  (Nathan Fillion’s butt! tee hee!) James Garner portrayed it, as did Mel Gibson.  Someone who goes against the grain, takes the road less traveled, a free-thinker.

Some refer to us as: bohemian, dissenters, extremists, nonconformists, radical, rebels, revolutionaries, and entrepreneurs.  We pave our own way, make our own paths. We stretch the rules, bend them to our whims, we color outside the lines.  We are often perceived as a threat to those who are happy with status quo. Status Quo blows!

Traditionalists don’t like mavericks. We disrupt their universe.  They build their little box and we mess it up. They tidy it up, we rearrange their furniture. We are the free radicals of society.  Most of society likes to be told what to do when to do it and how often to do it.  Whatever the “it” may be, workers are expected to do and not think.  Thinking has been discouraged in our society.

NO! I’m serious it has.  From a minimum wage job of flipping burgers, to the factory worker on an assembly line to the lab technician that has a set routine, a formula that they follow.  The mindless dance steps of their daily job require little brain power.  The general masses fit into this group.  I’m not knocking it, or criticizing anyone who is content with a set routine.  Some people thrive on normalcy, and routine.  Every one of them mindless job zombies, not to be confused with Rob Zombie.

A maverick however dies a slow tortuous death in such an environment.  Writing a technical manual for the targeting division of the defense department was dull and tedious.  I found the addition of a tense relationship between two of my soldiers and their object of their affection, a female officer, added a certain dramatic element.  The love triangle added a dimension to the manual unprecedented. Apparently I was the only one that the dullness of the government document bothered.  I was told to remove it, and was sent to a procedures class, followed by a sensitivity course.  DARN!

I worked in an environment with engineers, scientists, geodesists, and other cartographers.  They follow the dance steps; it’s just a different dance than the factory workers at an auto plant.  I don’t line dance; you know that country thing they do?  Everyone does the same steps at the same time on the same beat.  The Cupid Shuffle is OK at a wedding. The Electric Slide is a mandatory tradition. Beyond that I’m an eighties gal and I dance freestyle.

The masterful choreography of daily routine across the globe makes the cogs work.  I get that.  But, it’s the free thinkers that come up with ingenious and witty inventions.  Writing is one outlet for my creativity.  I have others as well.  My plan is to have multiple streams of income, not one linear model of time exchanged for money.

Creative’s look at the world differently.  They aren’t rose colored glasses, that’s a term deigned from the traditionalists we irritate. I have gold-rimmed glasses with a leopard print inside the frames, little bling blings on the side, and transition lenses that turn black as I step outside.  Yeah, that’s right I’m bad! They rock!  They ought to, I paid a small fortune for them.  Glasses or contacts help correct your vision.  The creative’s lenses gives crystal clear clarity that the general population never sees.

Think in terms of pearls:  A grain of sand is an irritant to the oyster.  It secretes a substance to get rid of the irritant.  Years go by while the secretion continues, making the irritant larger and larger inside the oyster.  Then one day some one or some thing cracks open the oyster and eats it.  A beautiful pearl has formed.  Yeah, I may be an irritant now, but by darn one day I’m going to be a pearl of great value!

The life of a maverick is risky.  The pay is inconsistent, and there are no benefits in the beginning.  It’s appealing to many to get the 9 to 5 job that offers the company car and the health care package.  The safe path isn’t as secure as it once was.  The days of retiring from a company with the gold watch are behind us.  Company loyalty means nothing – it’s not personal, it’s just business.  There are no guarantees.

It’s not called starving artists for nothing!  It’s often feast or famine. In addition, the critics come out of the woodwork because we are going against the grain. They criticize because we don’t play by their rules.  They are afraid to step outside the box, while a maverick fears the confinement of the box. Cut them some slack, they just don’t get us!

I got the mental picture many years ago, of the scene from Metropolis by Fritz Lang, from 1927, where the men lumbered en masse into the factory.  This is the status quo.  It’s a mind-numbing, dream killing, monotonous grind.  There is more to life than existing.

Dan Miller sums it up like this: “We can transform our work by seeing it as the primary application of our purpose rather than a necessary and practical evil.”  By changing the perspective of how we view work, a J-O-B becomes a meaningful expression of who we are.

It’s not a life for everyone; it takes a certain bent to be an entrepreneur.  Writing is one expression of entrepreneurship.  Eventually entrepreneurs’ can hit it big.  I’m one witty invention, one creative idea away from financial success.  In the meantime, I have bills to pay and work the J-O-B while I pursue my dreams of publication like a second job.  Traditionalists think I don’t work, but I work a traditional job, am a mother (translate: chauffeur, maid, housekeeper, laundress, teacher, warden, chef, etc), and I am a writer.  Trust me, the traditional job takes the least brain power, or effort.

Perspective is the difference from feeling downtrodden and the uplifting of spirits.  It helps us re-order our priorities, and unravel our own destinies.  Opportunities abound all around us, it’s the free thinkers that can see them and make something of them.

Are you where you thought you’d be at this stage of your life? Are you suffering death by a thousand cuts in a status quo job?  Are you content with the status quo or do feel the need to paddle upstream?  Do you have a sense of accomplishment or a sense of purpose in your life?  If you want different results, say five years from now, what are you willing to change to obtain the results you want?

If you can’t be happy with what you’re doing, maybe you should be doing something else.  Life is too short to waste it being unfulfilled and merely existing. Whatever your dreams are – go for it!

Write on my friends, write on!

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Make The Time To Write


Most excuses  are just that – excuses.  It’s no different for writing than any other pursuit.  If it’s important, you’ll make the time.  I will be the first to admit that there are many that are more diligent than I am.  The initial excitement soon gets bogged down in the middle, which becomes work, but tenacity forces us to continue.

Whether the goal is weight loss, learning a new skill, or writing a novel it’s important to make the time to focus on the goal.  Weight loss just doesn’t magically happen, well at least not for me.  It’s a matter of daily decisions accumulating to a one pound loss, then five pounds then more.  It takes a deficit of 3500 calories to lose one pound.  As the pounds add up, the motivation rises.  The finish line gets closer with each smaller accomplishment. My weight loss has been slow, but steady.

It’s the same principle with writing.  If I write only one page a day –  that’s about 300 words, I will have a book in a year! With other obligations in our lives it is sometimes difficult to manage even that minimal amount.  Last year I made writing a priority.  I average around 2000 words per day.  I don’t write every day because there are days  when life gets in the way.  For those days, it averages out for the days when I write huge amounts.  My record is close to 10,000 in one day but that is the rare occurence. My writing pace is much slower than I would like.  In the past six months, a friend made a simple statement to me that greatly impacted my thinking.  If you’re going to be a writer then approach it as a real job.”  So simple right?

If I were at a “real job” I wouldn’t spend work hours folding laundry.  I wouldn’t spend hours watching mind numbing tv shows on the job either. When I worked in an office I was prompt and professional.  Should I apply myself any less for my own success? I know others who work from their home, and they spend virtually all day in their pajamas.  I can’t do that.  I need to apply more self-discipline to be my own boss than when I worked in the office.

Here are some simple tips to make the time.  It’s easy to apply the same tips to whatever your specific goal is.

  • Write every day. This saves time as you don’t have to reread as much to figure out where you were going, and it sets the daily habit which is important.
  • Set daily and weekly goals.  I’ve fallen down on this one more than a few times.  If I fail to set goals then I tend to meander aimlessly or lose motivation.
  • Use your writing time wisely. This is where you have to apply your unique approach to optimize your efficiency.    If you are a morning person then make the time to write in the morning.  If you are a plotter,  then plot out an outline to work from.  Have the tools you need ready  for best productivity.
  • Know your work area.  Do you require a perfectly sanitized clean desk?  Do you have a mountain of clutter?  Are you somewhere in between?  Know which is best for you and maintain your work area.
  • Don’t ‘research’ during prime hours. It is a major disruption to the flow of your writing to have to stop in the middle of a scene to research.  I make notes on a notepad, yes the old-fashioned kind with an ink pen as I work.  I note the chapter, scene, and sometimes page where I need the information.  I jot down a note, then usually the next day I research when I’m online.  I find it too distracting to actually write when I’m online because I want to chat with my friends.
  • Decide how badly you want it.  Are you willing to give up television?  Are you willing to give up housework?  ( A hearty amen to that one!) I’ve decided that I can’t afford to sacrifice sleep any longer.  Sleep deprivation is not something I’m willing to go back to.  I’m not willing to sacrifice my family for my writing endeavors.  Managing this one takes planning ahead, and being disciplined with yourself.

Above all, realize we are only human.  My friends remind me constantly that I am merely human.  I have a tendency to think in super human goals, making it impossible to achieve.  That is a self sabotaging trait that I am working on overcoming.  The overachiever in me has to be realistic and breathe.

Have you ever set your mind to a task and achieved it?  Would you be willing to share your struggles with others?  Strong willed people tend to have to figure things out on their own.  I can read about someone elses struggles and appreciate their growth but it isn’t until I learn from hands on experience that it really sinks in.  What  about you?

Write on my friends, write on!

 

Satisfaction


There is nothing like that sense of satisfaction when you’ve completed a task.  Reaching ‘The End’ of one of my stories brought a great deal of satisfaction.  Smaller tasks can bring that same sense as well.

Completing a project at home like switching out the seasonal clothes often turns into a bigger project than planned because inevitably there is still comething in the laundry or the swimsuits get packed away and I have to unpack them to use at the YMCA.  When that project is completed it is satisfying.  Undone projects tend to carry a sense of turmoil with them.

This morning I spent the better part of three hours scheduling posts for antoher blog.  I have most of the month of November covered.  In the process there was some “maintenance” issues that needed to be handled.  Although there are mixed emotions about some of the decisions that needed to be made, there is a sense of satisfaction knowing that I did the best I could.  “The End” of a stressful situation has been resolved.  Regardless of my warring emotions, it is resolved for the sake of a group of writers that have shown themselves to be professional.

It’s always sad to me when you watn to see someone step up their game and succeed, yet they have determined that other goals are more worthy of their pursuit.  Are we as a group expecting too much?  I don’t think so.  When an individual’s goals are different than that of the group, then perhaps it’s best if they find a more suitable group. Still, I think it’s a bit sad that they weren’t a good fit for our group.

As the leaves blow through the chilly air outside, swirling in the gusts, I see the changes coming.  Just as we transition through the seasons we transition thorugh seasons in our lives.  Some of our friends are seasonal, and just as we hate to see them leave, we can remember the good times we shared.  I hate saying goodbyes and I hate it even more when I”m not given the opportunity for goodbye.

Satisfaction will come though in new relations that will be formed.  There is always a newness, just as spring will come.  We don’t know when that first crocus will pop through the snow, but it will.  New friends will come into our lives.  Some will stay, some will pass through, and some will remain.  Each person affects those they come into contact with.  They leave an impression and sometimes a lasting imprint on our hearts.

Dealing with bittersweet emotions make  the transition difficult, but saitsfaction will come.  I can already sense it’s not far away.  Good things can come out of difficulties, an although it’s been a rough couple of months in the group, those of us who remain grow stronger.  We learn, move forward, encourage each other as we move towards the distant horizon.  Every day is a winding road . . . that takes us on an adventure.

We have to learn to put those things behind us, shake off the dust and grime, pick up and move on.  We learn from every experience along the way.

Khalil Gibran says, “Your joy can fill you only as deeply as your sorrow has carved you.”  The bittersweet tears of goodbye will make a place for future joys.  True satisfaction is never achieved without a little pain along the way.  Pain carves us into better people.   Even though we may feel brittle and near breaking,  we will be stronger.  Pruning out the dead wook makes us a healthier oak!

Like a fine wine, we improve with age.  Well, at least that’s the story I’m sticking to.

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

More On NaNoWriMo


Previously I had polled my writing friends to get their input on participating in NaNoWriMo.  There were a few that couldn’t get back with me  right away with their responses.

Ticket to Write is Cassidy Frazee’s thoughts on NaNo.

I absolutely agree with Cassidy on several ponts here.  I’ve seen some of the “first drafts”  that people published through NaNo. One of the prizes for finishing NaNO, is that you get 5 printed copies of your book.  That was an enticing little tidbit for me, but when I reached the end of NaNo, and had written my story, I realized that it was in great need of editing.  There were plot holes that you could drive a fleet of semis through!  That happens when I totally pants a project.  It would have been the length of war and peace had I continued on the same path to reach the conclusion.

During NaNoWriMo, when I had lulls in my train of thought I would go back and edit.  I removed scenes because they didn’t progress the story.

Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting

A lot of would be writers would greatly benefit from reading Robert McKee’s book.  There is an art to storytelling.  Unless you’re writing ‘The Neverending Story’ , or ‘1001 Arabian Nights’,  then the story needs to hae a beginning middle and an end.  Many books seem to get lost in the mire somewhere in the middle.  That’s what I did with my NaNo novel.  It got bogged down in scenes that werre fun, that were good writing but they didn’t move the story forward.  Adventures are one thing but they were no more helpful than a gratuitous sex scene.

The true work of writing is in the editing.  Anyone can write.  Not everyone can write well.  For those writer’s who consider themselves writers and not hobbyists, editing is a necessary and helpful tool.  Sometimes it may seem like we’re in a bad bdsm scene, taking stripes on our backs – “thank you sir may I have another” – but ultimately it takes maturity to realize thaht your prose is perfect on the first, or even second draft.

Cassidy also referenced that it isn’t like a sprint, but more of a marathon.  For the sake of NaNoWriMo, I will agree to a point.  It’s definitely not a sprint.  However, to me it was more like boot camp;  30 days of intense training.   At first it was hard, but as the days wracked up and the word count climbed it got easier.  I finished the designated goal – writing 50,000 words.  I finished my story.  I counted myself as a winner and was proud of myself for achieving a goal that I had set for myself.

I did not take advantage of the offer for five free copies because as I worked through that month, I would review and edit throughout the month.  I knew it needed work.  I knew I wasn’t satisfied with it.  I’ve spent the better part of this year revising, refining, and editing that project. This isn’t a game to me, this is no longer a hobby.  This is a passionate pursuit  in which I want to create a quality product.

For those that take the challenge as a hobby, it’s a great experience.  For those that take the challenge to help boost your self discipline I applaud you.  We should always be challenging ourselves at some level, pushing beyond where we are now.  If we don’t move forward, we tend to slide downhill.

NaNo WriMo is a major commitment.  If you choose to participate, don’t do so flippantly.  Also, I have to add here that if you are one of those people that post in Facebook ‘Epic Fail on NaNo today’.  I will feel compelled to comment.

Write on my friends, write on!

A Dragon’s Song


If I were to describe my book by a song I would choose “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence, to describe Kiss of the Dragon (copyright Ellie Mack 2012).  Kiss of the Dragon is a paranormal romance about Isabelle Lennox, an interior designer from Texas.  She falls through a mirror to end up back in medieval times where she meets Zanathrus Fallon, Lord of the Green Dragons.

Everything that she has thought about who she is, is about to be shattered.  When she is thrown into Zane’s world, it “wakes her up inside” awakening her true being. Like a Celtic knot, her life is interwoven intricately into the tapestry of life, prophecy, and destiny. The hidden truths begin to surface as their relationship develops. The ordinary existence she had is nothing compared to the grandeur of who she really is.

In a world of dragons, wyverns, mages, and warriors; Isabelle discovers her own strength and purpose. She is either the destiny or the destruction for the dragon world.  Which will it be?  Either way, there’s no turning back to the darkness that was before.

In the chorus the female lead singer is singing “wake me up inside, bid my blood to run, save me from the nothing I’ve become.”  Then at the end of this song the lyrics are: I’ve been living a lie there’s nothing inside, Bring me to life.

Reality has never been as good as fantasy.

Lyrics to “Bring Me to Life”

How can you see into my eyes like open doors?

Leading you down into my core when I’ve been so numb.

Without a soul, my spirit’s sleeping somewhere cold

Until you fixed it there and lead me back home.

Wake me up (wake me up inside)

I can’t wake up (wake me up inside)

Save Me (Call my name and save me from the dark)

Wake me up (Bid my blood to run)

I can’t wake up (Before I come undone)

Save me (Save me from the nothing I’ve become)

Now I know what I’m without

You can’t just leave me

Breathe into me and make me real. Bring me to life.

Wake me up (wake me up inside)

I can’t wake up (wake me up inside)

Save Me (Call my name and save me from the dark)

Wake me up (Bid my blood to run)

I can’t wake up (Before I come undone)

Save me (Save me from the nothing I’ve become)

I’ve been living a lie. There’s nothing inside.

Bring me to life.

Frozen inside without your touch

Without your love, darling

Only you are the life among the dead.

All this time, I can’t believe I couldn’t see

Kept the dark but you were there in front of me

I’ve been sleeping a thousand years it seems

Got to open my eyes to everything

Wake me up (wake me up inside)

I can’t wake up (wake me up inside)

Save Me (Call my name and save me from the dark)

Wake me up (Bid my blood to run)

I can’t wake up (Before I come undone)

Save me (Save me from the nothing I’ve become)

I’ve been living a lie there’s nothing inside

Bring me to life.

“Kiss of the Dragon” is a current work in progress that I will be submitting for publication in 2012.

Write On my friends, write on!

The Opportunity Fleet


Opportunity is all around us.  Every day there are opportunities for something.  For example, I had the opportunity to play games online and waste some time.  I had the opportunity to go shopping for the day, but I chose not to because I have a backlog of work that needs to be finished.

Some opportunities are great, others not so much.  The hubs got an opportunity for a new job.  At first it sounds great; substantially more money,  he could work from home most of the time, and it’s with a major defense contractor.  Sounds great right?  How many of you realize this is an election year?  Defense contractor?  Let me translate  they can pull contracts as fast as they write new SOP’s.  Which means no job security.

The money would be a large increase, but wait he would have to buy our own health insurance so that decreases the amount substantially.  Initial contract period is only six months, then what?  We looked over the list of pros and cons and decided that this opportunity really didn’t work into our short or long-term plans.  It sounds great on the surface, but when you scratch below the veneer it wasn’t a good fit.

I have the opportunity for another writing venture.  It sounds exciting and is something I think I can do but . . . I have promised myself that I would finish the projects I already have started. I have other people involved with current projects.  There is already a shortage of hours in the day to dedicate to writing as it is.

We let these opportunities pass us by, but we are not disheartened because we know that opportunities are everywhere.  Some aren’t for us.  some aren’t for us right now.  When you find the ones that you feel are golden, those are the ones that you latch onto an pursue with abandon.  The allegory to opportunities have been compared to ships such as the expression ‘ her ship has come in.’  Well the thing is more like at the docks, ships come in ships go out. some are laden with resources.  There are cargo ships, passenger ships, transport ships – I don’t want to go into this a lot because I really don’t know much about ships besides my love for all things aquatic.

The person that hinges on the dream “someday my ship will come in” is severely limiting themselves.  It’s a busy dock down there on Opportunity landing.  I plan on having several ships come in, not just one lone ship sneaking in after dark.  Somehow we got that image that we have to constantly be watching, yet in the back of our mind this lone ship named Opportunity eases in like a ghost ship some time around midnight, silently skimming over the water, barely making a sound, and only docks for a short amount of time before easing out from the dock just before sunrise.

As the song from Porgy and Bess says, “It Ain’t necessarily so.” I may be starting with an old beat up tugboat, but that tug is a powerful little vessel despite the worn paint and dings along the side.  Next I’ll have me one of those cargo ships, buying and selling merchandise.  Before you know it there will be a whole fleet of Opportunity vessels at my dock.

Eventually one of them will be a luxury yacht!  It all starts with the little beat up tug.  It doesn’t  look like much on the outside but  that tugboat is a vital piece of equipment to the opportunity fleet.

Here’s a hint though, you have to visit the docks in order to find the right ship.  Hanging out  at  the mid city bar is fun but you’re not going to find a ship there.  Ships come by waterways, waterways are life to a region.

We live by the Mississippi River, a major shipping lane for grain and other commodities.  The cost of shipping the same amount of grain by land in trucks would increase the cost by three or four times the cost of shipping by barge.  Each barge holds the equivalent of like 18 semi trucks.  (Don’t quote me on that – it’s a rough estimate, ok?  but it’s a lot more than a semi truck!)

Please tell me that you’re getting my allegory because I’m feeling a bit light headed from lack of caffeine. Here’s the bottom line, opportunity doesn’t just knock once or twice.  It knocks frequently.  Ships are coming in all the time – check the schedule.  But be wise and inspect who you’re opening the door to because traps come disguised as opportunity and some boats have holes in their hull.

Have you passed by an opportunity that others think you’re foolish to pass on?  Have you been holding out for the single ship named opportunity?  do you think I’ve gone off my rocker for good this time?  Give me some feedback, after all we’re all in this together.

Who knows, if things don’t work out with the tugboat theory there’s always piracy.  Arrrrggggghhhhhhh!

Write on my friends, write on!

Is NaNoWriMo Right for You?


November is National Novel Writing  Month.  Last year I endeavored to tackle this mountain and had planned to do so again this year.  However, as life has a way of throwing you a knuckle ball once in a while I will not be participating in NaNo.  NaNo is free to join, and there are daily inspirations to keep you motivated.  There are groups in local regions that sometimes meet at bookstores or cafes.  There is a local St. Louis group, but as I’m not really participating this year I don’t think it would be fair to show up and distract the other writers.  Most often it’s a write in.  The writers show up, order their drinks or food, make a few quick introductions maybe discuss their story a bit then start writing.  Last year there were two individuals with note pads and pens while everyone else had brought a laptop. It was great to get in on the beginning conversations last year as the designated leader had some questions to start the conversation.  Everyone briefly made a short blurb about the book they intended to write.  Many had their story planned out,  some had index cards with notes, others had pages of scribbles, doodles and notes.  I joined at the last minute last year.  I had barely more than a vague idea. When I do NaNO again, I will plan and outline my story.  The object of NaNo is to write a 50000 word book in 30 days.  Many of my friends are participating and I met a bunch of cool people last year.

In that vein, I have asked several of my friends their thoughts about NaNo.

What are your thoughts on NaNo? Are you are participating in it ?  Why, or why not?

Dominique WaterSinger-SpiritFingers Goodall responded:

NaNoWriMo is important for anyone who can see being a writer as something they’d love to do. It encourages discipline and allows people to learn something about deadlines. I am taking part in NaNo for the second year in a row as it’ll encourage me to work on something different to what I have going on now.

The benefits are amazing. You meet the best people about. NaNo writers are encouraging, friendly and less likely to see you as a threat than other writers.

Linda Bowers Bolton responded:

I tried NaNo in Aug with a writing partner. We did great for a few days and life took over. I signed up for Nov but now have found I will be doing edits for my book. So will I do any better this time? I don’t know. I’m working on a different MS than Aug. If nothing else I’ll have 2 erotica in the works. After Nano and edits for my novel I’ll need to start on another romance for MasterKoda. Busy Busy.

Why am I bothering with NaNo? To try to set some discipline. I have been lacks in writing and exercising. . .  need to get things in perspective.

David ThinkParis Alvin also responded:

The best way to start is to start. You’re likely to have what you want to say, to do well before you write an outline for the story, AND PLEASE don’t be afraid to stray from the outline. There are no hard and fast rules any more than there are for most reality shows, just write.

(Oh wait: the rules I’ve heard “stated” for Survivor and likely works across the board are two. 1) You cannot hit someone. 2) You cannot conspire to split the money.)

In NaNoWriMo terms, I think that means you can’t keep someone else from doing their work and outright insulting it — everyone’s on a learning curve here AND that every one of you who write in this 30-day wild abandon are out for yourselves; in a Darth Vader tone to Boba Fett “NO COLLABORATIONS” 😉wink

I also asked the question, ‘what do you intend to do with what you write during NaNO?”

The majority replied that they needed to get some discipline, improve their discipline or establish the habit of writing daily.  Last year when I signed up for NaNO, that was my goal, to establish the daily habit as I had let it slip.

Most have an outline, or at least a basic outline.  I think that would work much better than what I did last time – fly by the seat of my pants.  Some people are adamant pantsers, but I ended up way off course when I did it that way.

The idea that they could publish wasn’t at the forefront of their minds.  Most of them pointed out the need to edit what they will have written, before throwing it into an e-book.

 

If you’ve ever thought you wanted to be a writer, perhaps trying it out during NaNo would be a good fit for you.  You may find you live it, or that you loathe it.

Write on my friends, write on!

Aurora Martinez is going to attempt NaNo for the first time.  We’re here for you Aurora!! 

That’s the biggest thing I think, is NaNO is such a wonderful community of writers that pull together and encourage each other.

check out my friends blogs:

http://dominiquegoodall.wordpress.com/

http://www.authornataliestar.blogspot.com/

http://www.delarosasreviews.blogspot.com/

http://www.lindabolton.blogspot.com

http://heroesdontkill.blogspot.com/

Write on my friends, write on!

 

Give or Take


Writing is a form of original art.  It’s an expression of the artist just as paint on a canvas, or the song by the musician. It is not every work that becomes a masterpiece, but that one special piece that plums the depths of their heart, the depths of their minds, their souls, their pain or joy. A selfish writer expresses the selfishness in his work.  It’s focused on him: perhaps he features himself, not necessarily by name, but he’s in the work because he’s egocentric.  ( You could easily place her in here for pronouns for my reference I am using him.)

They are the takers, it’s always all about them.  They boast about their own work on forums and groups.  They toss out their  “brilliance” in a conversation that the rest of us are expected to recognize as such even though it stops the conversation cold.  They never ask what others are doing, they could care less.  What someone else is doing has little bearing on them because they are takers.

Givers on the other hand make the best artists and writers.  They pour out of themselves, sometimes emptying  themselves in their work.    They share from their hurts in order that someone else might not have to go through the same pain.  They share the lessons they’ve learned, not to sound superior but that the new guy won’t have to start at the very beginning.  They ask questions in the group, not to steal ideas but because they view you as an equal.  When someone has a problem, they offer assistance  or tried to advise where to find the assistance.

We all know takers and the rare giver.  The piece doesn’t have  to solve world hunger, or even offer a cure for stage 4 cancer.  It expresses a compassion and a depth that the taker can never muster.  It speaks to the reader because the writer “knows” from their inner being the struggle, or issue, or topic they are addressing. Sometimes takers try to copy this, but it never lasts long because sooner or later it has to be about them and no pretense in the world can disguise a calloused, egocentric, uncaring heart.

Takers prey on the giver, like a parasite.  Sometimes it’s subtle at first, like an ambient host relationship, but eventually the taker begins to drain the life force of the giver to a degree that even the most naive trusting soul can see clearly what’s going on. I’ve been duped, taken advantage of and I let myself think I was helping.  It’s at that point of feeling drained when it finally comes together  and I realize that I feel like the biggest fool in the world.  The sad thing is I’ve allowed several takers to occupy a great deal of my time. I saw the signs in their writing, I should have recognized it.

I realize with the techno savvy crowd, and the uber  stylish that handmade, home crafted items are out of favor.  However, to some a gift made with love and personalized is often cherished above the commercially produced product that is cranked out in factories by the truckload.  I’ve made hand crafted cards, afghans, quilts, and various craft items that have been both appreciated and ridiculed.  Recently I spent a great deal of time learning jewelry craft, learning a Celtic braid, and making a handcrafted item.  The main part of the jewelry: the findings, clasp and the pendent itself were sterling silver.  It was a one of a kind piece, similar to another but yet unique.

At the point when I realize the person is a taker, and has been milking my sense of compassion they let it slip that they didn’t care for the piece and passed it on to another.  Usually not a big deal, except for the time and effort I put into the handmade item.  The statement was “I don’t know what jeweler you used but they are crap.”   OUCH!

I don’t expect people to like everything I do, or say, or make.  Normally it probably would be no big deal except for the recent revelations of their style.  It hurt to hear that my efforts failed, it hurt to hear that the person didn’t even appreciate the efforts, but what hurt the most was when I listened to their words, I realized I inferred a whole lot more than was ever there.  I guess that’s not really their fault, is it?

I can’t just stop wanting to give to my friends, because I  get a great amount of joy in giving to whatever capacity I am able.  I’m not buying anyone diamonds or rubies here so no great financial loss.  Maybe that was the bottom issue, the handmade is often interpreted as cheap. But, as with some of the handmade items, if I change one little word – handmade to handcrafted – they now have a higher perceived value.  Is it really any different though?  I suppose it depends on what you place your value on.  Friendship?  Relationship?  Money?

Takers will always take, and givers will always give.  It’s the nature of what they are in their inner being.  Once you know , then you can deal with it accordingly without getting hurt.  I won’t stop giving gifts.  But for the takers, perhaps I’ll stick to generic store-bought cards.

Write on My Friends, write on!

 

How I Got Into Writing


I have often been asked by friends, coworkers, and fellow writers how I got into writing. Here’s the short version.

As a child I became fascinated with Tom Sawyer.  I wanted to be the female equivalent, making my own adventures. I believe that was the first spark that ignited my wild imagination. A few years later I discovered Carolyn Keene and a new mystery was behind every corner.  I spent many summer days in my tree house, or at the picnic table filling multiple spiral notebooks with story ideas and fantastic adventures. I still have many of those notebooks.

When I chose a career field I followed the safe practical route. While I loved my literature classes and the process of writing research papers, I continued my pursuit towards a B.S. in Cartography (map making).  I was reprimanded for being a daydreamer and a career in writing was simply out of the question for practical purposes.

The degree in Science landed me a position with the Department of Defense. It was a challenging and interesting field.  During this time I authored government documents and training manuals.  In my spare time at home, I wrote scandalous tales of espionage and romantic mushy tales of love.  The government job paid well until I took an early retirement to start the next phase of my life as a full-time mom.  During this time I began delving into my writing aspirations.

I joined a critique group where I sharpened my skills.  Just before she passed away, my mother signed me up for an online writing course as a gift.  Through my instructor’s encouragement and direction I gained the confidence to begin submitting my work.  Our local paper liked my work, and soon I had an Opinion column. Unfortunately, the newspaper went out of business and my writing outlet ended.  That’s when I took the plunge into blogging.  I love it!  My blogs are fairly short and allow me the time to continue my pursuit of being a published novelist.

Providing target data for the military defenses  was exciting and paid well, but it didn’t satisfy my cravings to express my individuality.  It’s through writing that I feel I express myself best.  The creation process is often messy, and difficult to follow, but when I’m finished there is a sense of satisfaction that nothing else has provided.

Time Passages


So you’re recovering from the weekend, whether it was  the neighborhood football game, acting wild and crazy, traipsing over woodland trails,  or household repairs.  Then it’s back to work on Monday.  Wait?  Wasn’t there suppose to be some resting somewhere?  Do you ever feel like you need a rest from the weekend?

Monday begins the work week, new projects, new routines.  Ever get to where you feel like screaming “Jane, stop this crazy thing!”

It’s pervasive in our society – – the constant rushing, the over scheduling — all of which leads to feeling grossly overwhelmed.  I know I don’t do as much as my friends.  I hand them the superwoman costume gladly!  I’ve spent a great deal of time helping others to accomplish their goals, but ironically there’s never anyone around to help when it’s time to accomplish my own goals.  Nobody is going to guard my time but me.  In the business world time is money!  Actually I feel time is more valuable than money. You can always get more money, not so with time.  We get 24 hours in a day, universally.  When you work for someone else you are trading your time for money.

When dissatisfaction occurs, you begin to question the merit of that, and realize that time is a harder commodity to come by than money.  It’s why you pay the plumber to fix the clogged drain – because the time it would take you versus the time it will take him is worth the money.  It’s why you pay someone else to do the physical labor.  Consider the cost in everything you do. Sometimes it’s more beneficial to pay triple what you could do it for yourself if  you are DIY handicapped.   There are times when it’s worth the time it will take you, and save the money.

I don’t mind painting.  In fact, I enjoy it.  I will gladly sand, spackle, patch, prep and paint the entire house  because it’s something I enjoy doing.  It would be disastrous for me to try to tackle the wiring.  Aside from not knowing electrical codes, and not having the proper certifications or licenses, I would likely cause a fire or cause damage to myself!  It’s worth it to pay the electrician – and thank you Chris for  fixing my  kitchen outlets!

There comes a point when you have to guard your time.  It seems there are more people trying to take my time than there are people trying to separate me from my money.  I am setting a new schedule to help me achieve  my professional goals.

Monday starts the work week, and usually that day is swamped.  Tuesday is sometimes less hectic, but in my case lately, not so much.  Often it is midweek before I actually get to address the “new ideas”  I had for Monday.  My big plan for  a new schedule that was supposed to begin on Monday has been pushed back.  That’s ok, it gives me a little more time to adjust it and make even further improvements.

Setting a workable schedule is an important aspect to working from home.  Aside from the constant stream of traffic that think I do nothing since I’m home, there are the distractions of my own making.  There are five areas where I undo my best laid plans.

1. meals   I make sure the family is fed and out the door in the morning, but often jump into my work without eating breakfast.  Sometimes I forget to eat something until 2 in the afternoon. By then I could eat anything and everything in sight.  Not a good thing for someone who is trying to lose weight.  Skipping meals is not a healthy thing to do!  Then there’s the flip side of that – after several days of skipping meals I’m ravenous and the kitchen is just right over there ! (points to my left)

2. Chatting  I open Facebook to check on things, read comments, catch up.  I can easily get tied up in a chat with a friend much longer than I intended to. What can I say, I’m a chatty type of person.

3. Research – Follow the bouncing link into cyberspace infinity.  Come on, you know you do it too.  There  are links demanding to be  clicked!

4. Reading articles  My friends post all sorts of interesting articles, I click and read.  I want them to read mine so I read theirs. I will include blog posts in this as  well.  Chuck comes up with some interesting things. Not to mention Raymond, Joseph, Aurora, Penelope,  Boogz, yeah I could go on and on and unfortunately I often do.

5. Multitasking can be unproductive  Splitting my time between multiple projects keeps me busy – oh yes very busy.  However, it can be rather unproductive when project A has a deadline tomorrow and I haven’t made the progress I had planned, so everything else is put aside to finish project A in time. Project B is vitally important to my career, but seems to be pushed back frequently.

It’s amazing how these things just creep in and take more and more time from my schedule.  It’s the same principle as feature creep.  You patch that spot on the wall, then notice another, and another. soon you’re painting the wall, then the room, then the entire house.

Working from home requires decidedly more discipline than working in an office if you are ging to be effective at it.  It also requires re-evaluating your progress periodically to see where you can make changes and improve the processes.

What are your areas of feature creep that are stealing your time?  Are they self-made disasters  or real constraints?  Leave me a comment, even if it’s to say I’m the only one that deals with these issues.

Write on my friends, write on.