Monday, December 31, 2007

Cheers to a New Year!

“A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.” ~Author Unknown

As a new year approaches, the urge to take stock of our life bubbles up like a sip of fine champagne. Let’s lift a glass and toast our accomplishments, savoring the taste of our creative endeavors… the potential of the New Year sparkles like stars within our hearts!

We’ve all made goals… Some we’ve achieved and some still dangle like a sprig of mistletoe, just out of reach. The beauty is, no matter how far that finish line may seem, we’ve all done remarkable things. I’m not yet published in fiction, yet I’ve written three books. No one can take that accomplishment away. Every page I’ve sweated over, every idea that’s seen fruition is an amazing accomplishment. We are Do-ers. We WRITE.

Now, we can shake off whatever frustrations we’ve battled and relish the opportunity to begin fresh.

“For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
~T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

The days stretch before us like pristine snow. It is up to us to step forward and forge our own path. How freaking exciting is this? A whole year to accomplish new goals, to wrap up ongoing projects, to meet the face of destiny and see that face is our own. *smile*

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.” ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Now’s the time to choose how to fill those pages. How best to seize opportunity. How to celebrate our awesome career and relish in our gifts. We Are Writers. No matter how onerous the task can be, we are the luckiest creatures that exist. We Create Worlds. We Are The Magic Makers.

“We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives... not looking for flaws, but for potential.” ~Ellen Goodman

And while, at times, we may be tempted to chide ourselves or bemoan the days behind us, let’s make a pact to focus on the potential instead. Who cares if we didn’t plant a seed in time to catch a particular rainstorm 273 days ago! There are seeds aplenty and a promise of sweet rain to nurture those budding plants to new heights. Plot out your garden and plant away! Harvest time will come, and we will be ready.

"A new year is unfolding—like a blossom with petals curled tightly concealing the beauty within.” --Anonymous

Let’s tease out the beauty within each idea. Breathe gently to encourage those petals to unfurl. Those ideas nestled deep within your soul are aching for release. We are the luckiest of all people… We Are Writers!

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. ~Oprah Winfrey

Have a lovely New Year!

--Chiron O'Keefe

Monday, December 10, 2007

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart...” –William Wordsworth

Being a writer is amazing. Carving stories out of thin air… making substantial the dreams and speculations within our hearts. Yet most of us here want more. It’s not enough to doodle vague ideas onto paper. We yearn for accomplishment. To write not just a sentence but a complete story. To see that story magically bound with a glossy cover. To know that complete strangers read our words and are engaged, amused, transformed…

Which takes us beyond carefree imaginings and into the realm of practical endeavors. *Grin*

“Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I'll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals and I'll give you a stock clerk.”--J.C. Penney

Whether the goal is to write one page or one hour. To reach a desired word count or flesh out a scene. To edit, revise or outline... All goals matter. Without a destination in mind, we are merely wanderers.

There’s an old saying by Lloyd Jones about failure and success that always appealed to me:

“Those who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed.”

Hah! Yet there’s more to striving than simply setting goals. We must push ourselves always to go a step beyond our comfort zone. If success were defined only by doing what is easy, we’d all congratulate ourselves continuously for walking and breathing on a daily basis. *wink* Remember as a child, how even while playing the silliest of games we strove to better our past record?

Hopscotch or jump rope, foursquare or dodge ball. Heck, even on the swings we always wanted to fly higher and higher. Our human instincts impel us to reach for the stars. As adults, and particularly as writers, we must not let go of the instinctive urge to best ourselves—to continuously update and expand our definition of achievement.

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” –Michelangelo

As writers, we must strive to maintain a balance between pushing ourselves too much and not pushing ourselves enough. And the truth is, we may be all writers, but each one of us is an individual as well. Part of your personal journey is to find what motivates you. Some thrive with far-reaching goals that would make others blanch. Find your rhythm, find your own theme music, discover what dance steps you require to get the blood pumping and then crank up the energy and let those fingers fly!

And remember…

“Failure is the path of least persistence.” –Anonymous

*wink* *grin*

During the holiday season, time is at a premium. Few will have the extra minutes (much less hours) our hearts desire to pen a few words or edit our WIP. Yet this is a lovely time to begin contemplating our future goals. The year is nearly at an end. A new one bursting with potential beckons from the wings.

For those who have the time and will to write this week, what are your goals?

Monday, December 3, 2007


Weekly Motivational Essay for Writers:

“You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call "failure" is not the falling down, but the staying down.” —Mary Pickford

Being a writer requires many qualities to succeed. Talent, perseverance, passion, persistence, and of course, the ability to learn, grow, and evolve. Yet few focus on an essential ingredient in this engaging slop of characteristics: Courage.

Writers must have unwavering courage to face each day. Courage to dare to begin a new story. Courage to push through not only our fictional “black moment” but also our own inner obstacles to finish what began from nothing more than a promise and a dream. Courage to edit and revise what we thought was perfect. Courage to query and submit (repeatedly). Courage to face the reviews and the next project. Damn.

Courage to pick ourselves up, when staying down is so very tempting…

So how do we do it? Well, as we all know, part of it is involuntary. We Are Writers. We have no choice. We simply must put words to paper. We must write—it is survival. So, in response to our need for Fresh Air and a Fresh Start, let’s look at some survival tactics. *smile*

Embracing a New Beginning…

“The greatest masterpieces were once only pigments on a palette.” --Henry S. Hoskins

Every artist starts at the exact same place. The beginning. As you type that first word remember this... all the authors you admire most, every one of them begins with The First Word. The playing field is always level. No matter how accomplished or how novice, each writer must begin the novel and finish it. That never changes.

Write What You Love…

“It's a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy." --Lucille Ball

It really is… *grin* Lucille starred in a CBS radio program, “My Favorite Wife” with hubby Desi Arnaz. CBS asked Lucy to develop the show for television. The initial pilot failed and the couple took the show on the road as a vaudeville act, which resulted in a smash success. *snap!* CBS picked up the soon-to-be-classic comedy sensation. Yet here’s a bit of trivia… When they first began filming, the show fell flat. Desi realized exactly what his wife needed in order to shine. He brought in a studio audience and A Star Was Born. Knowing what makes us happy, both in our personal life AND in our creative pursuits… that’s one helluva good start. *wink*

Every Day a New Opportunity…

"Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and dance." –Oprah Winfrey

YES! I love this quote, not only becomes I am inclined to do just that at any given moment *cough* but also because This is the way to approach our writing. Breathe deep, kick off the restrictions and let our imagination, our love of writing, our joy Dance Across Each Page. This is not just a labor of love. This is a dance. Let’s try to remember…

Each Struggle Teaches Us, Strengthens Us, Gives Us More to Work With…

“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”— Friedrich Nietzsche

Ah…. There it is. The conflicts and the struggles. The sting of defeat, the exuberant laughter. Each tender, fragile moment that touches and sometimes even shatters our vulnerable self is a gift. The gift of an unpredictable life bursting with potential. The potential that each writer here can tap into. Let the chaos reign, let the birthing begin!

Stealing A Few Precious Moments To Write…

“It is better to begin in the evening than not at all.”— English proverb

Some of the best writers, and the most successful authors, started with little time to spare. Carving out moments when the first rays of dawn barely pierce through the morning’s fog or fending off the need for sleep to tap out a page or two before tumbling into bed. Some here sketch out ideas between children’s naptime and the scramble for a family meal. I’m in constant awe and touched with admiration for everyone here that masters those time constraints and manages to produce books, query agents and editors, edit and revise, and all that a career in writing requires. Take just a moment (I know you have few to spare!) and acknowledge your strength, your courage and your astonishing persistence. You Are Amazing—You Write…

When I began this essay, I hoped to provide some hope and inspiration for all those who desperately need that bit of fresh air and now, I realize my goal has evolved yet again. I want to express my appreciation, my own humble admiration for all the writers whose talent and spirit is matched by their amazing perseverance. You Are Incredible. Thanks for the constant inspiration, and for the never-ending examples of what A Writer Can Do.

In this spirit I want to offer a quote, one of my very favorites, from an author whose work has touched millions of hearts. From a story that resonates through the ages.

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they went skipping about and that was the beginning of fairies.”— J.M. Barrie ( 1860-1937) Peter Pan, Act1

Remember, always, We Are The Magic-Makers. We Are Writers!

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson

And the creation of a thousand books begins with a single word…

What are we waiting for, let’s Write!