Sunday, August 31, 2008

Write What You Love...

Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for. –Ray Bradbury

This week I pulled out some of the stories written at the very beginning of my foray into fiction. What started me on my journey as an author was a love of speculative fiction. Twilight Zone stuff. My passion for the eternal "what if?" drove me to create my own worlds where strange and wondrous things might occur.

On one of my many writing loops, an author had posed a question about Taboos in Writing. Along with penning New York Times Bestselling novels, Allison Brennan always has time to add her voice and provide inspiration and insight to her fellow writers. Her comments charged me up yet again, reminding me that writing must come from the heart or it's just words on a page.

I really believe that you have to write what you love, and if you hold back or water it down you're cheating yourself and your future readers. I also think that it's harder to sell, because the passion won't be in the writing. Almost every editor I've spoken to has said that they buy because they love a book. Often they can't articulate why they love it, but usually when pushed they'll say "voice and characters." Allison Brennan

In the feverish pursuit towards publication, some of us may find dangling before our weary eyes the temptation to shelve what we love in order to write for the market. For a scant few, this will work. For most of us, it's a dangerous path. Be wary of closing your heart to your true passion. Remember always… Write What You Love.

Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn't wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say. ~Sharon O'Brien

Unless your writing enflames you with a sense of wonder and passion, why bother? Let Writing Be A Path Of Self-Discovery. Push yourself to question your characters and let them teach you about life and yourself. Writing is an exciting adventure or it's merely chewing cardboard. *grin*

The writer writes in order to teach himself, to understand himself, to satisfy himself; the publishing of his ideas, though it brings gratification, is a curious anticlimax. ~Alfred Kazin, Think, February 1963

Push yourself beyond your limits as a writer. Push beyond the story, beyond the outline, beyond what you first wanted to say. When you do this, a curious thing happens. The story takes over where your intellect first began. You move from being a writer to being a listener. Your heart will guide you. Let it.

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. ~Anaïs Nin

Find your passion. Discover your inner dreams. And Write ON, my friend… Write on…

Let's set some goals!

Outline is finished so writing for me. I'm shooting for:

15 pages.
Weekly essay.
Rewrite of a short story.

How about you? Ready to share some goals?

Here's to a week of self-discovery!

Go-go-GO! Write-write-WRITE!


Monday, August 25, 2008

The Path of Persistence…

"I handed in a script last year and the studio didn't change one word. The word they didn't change was on page 87." --Steve Martin

There is nothing more eye opening to the Real Business of writing than handing over your manuscript to a professional editor. Or, even worse, entering a contest and having your entry trashed by an anonymous judge. Ouch!

We've all felt it. The sting of rejection. The reason this hurts so very much is because we become attached to our words. We slave over them, take pride in them, feel a special glow when we reread them. Every artist shares this. Once a well-meaning hairstylist gave me a 'do which she thought would absolutely make my singer-songerwriter persona. When she spun me proudly around to face the mirror, I saw my hair shooting out like spikes. I made the mistake of bursting out with laughter (to my credit, it did seem kinder than bursting into tears).

Yet we ARE writers. Real writers. Which means, once we experience that slap in the face (and it really does feel like that, doesn't it?), we pick ourselves up, collect our pages and start polishing once again.

"Real writers recognize the words they cut are as vital as the words they leave in." –Chiron O'Keefe

We get our hands dirty, so to speak. Real writers don't back away from the tedious and messy task of revisions. Some love this part (I'm one) and some would rather poke their eyes out with a burning stick. What fills me with awe are those writers who hate revising and still they tackle it without hesitation. Bravo to you, I say!! Take a well-deserved bow. Considering all the souls in the world dedicated to procrastination and avoidance, You Are A Winner.

"In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dull and know I had to put it on the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well-oiled in the closet, but unused." --Ernest Hemingway

Truth is, "natural born" talent is overrated. As a musician, I speak from experience. As a teen, I remember being awestruck by the talent of two girls. They could play music, write songs, and harmonize, everything I yearned to do. Well, decades later, I am the far superior musician. Why? Because they never went further than their initial talent took them. While I (who had NO TALENT to speak of) persisted and pushed to reach a level of expertise. Every week I keep learning more. As far as I'm concerned, I haven't reached my pinnacle yet! They skated on their fluency and stayed there.

Persistence, dedication and passion will take you further than "natural born" talent ever will. The passion must spring from a desperate need to for self-expression. It's not enough to want to write, you must burn with desire to Tell Your Story Your Way.

"A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us." --Franz Kafka

"You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club." --Jack London

"Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie." --Stephen King

Axes and clubs! Writing is brutal stuff. As we scribble pads or tap keys searching for the truth in our story, we must persist. Take heart though, because the rewards are unparalleled.

You Are A Writer.

You Create Worlds Within Each Story You Pen.

"I admire anybody who has the guts to write anything at all." -E.B. White

So do I… *grin*

Here we are entering the last week of August. Summer will soon be a memory as the leaves transform into brilliant bursts of gold and scarlet, reminding us of autumn's approach. Enjoy those lingering rays of sunshine, my friends, then… Back To Writing! *smile*

Ready for goals?

I finally finished my tentative outline. *faints* Thank Goddess!!

So… writing this week. Shooting for fifteen pages.
My weekly essay.
Four chapter crit.
Might be pulling out my second book for revising too.

How's about you?

Go-go-GO! Write-write-WRITE!!


Monday, August 18, 2008

Creativity Requires Courage...

"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties." –Erich Fromm

Yesterday, at the store I ran into an old friend from many years back. We hugged and shared tidbits of our lives. Her mom approached and my friend offered up introductions, adding, "Chiron's writing books now."

Her mom smiled as she gripped my hand, saying, "That's wonderful that you make yourself do that."

Laughing, I responded, "And I do make myself do it."

It takes courage, you see, to be a writer. Not just stamina and perseverance, but the courage to Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before.

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." –Helen Keller

Having the courage necessary to accomplish what we choose is not always easy. We tend to beat ourselves up not only for every mishap, *groan* but for every quiver of fear that sneaks into our hearts. We think, "real" writers wouldn't tremble and shake. Uh-oh. There follows the logic that we daren't admit those worries lest others sneer at us, as we sneer at ourselves. *sigh*

This tied in with a dream of mine. I was trying to cross a bridge that consisted of nothing more than a long plank and a wobbly cable on either side. Sheer terror gripped me. I backed away, explaining to my friend that I was afraid to fall. But I needed to get across! Finally, the solution came to me. I grabbed a bandana with the intention of tying it around my eyes, and letting my friend lead me across. Hah! Sometimes just pretending what we fear isn't there can give us the courage we need to cross that bridge.

With every book we write we're "crossing a bridge", and yes, the truth is, we might fall. Sometimes we have to close our eyes to what frightens us and move forward anyway.

"It's not so much that we're afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it's that place in between that we fear . . . . It's like being between trapezes. It's Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There's nothing to hold on to." –Marilyn Ferguson

In my dream, I not only closed my eyes and refused to look at what feared me I also did what every writer should do when panic or discouragement strikes: I reached out to a friend. Writing is a solitary business; it's easy to feel we're all alone. Remember this, my friends. You Are Not Alone. Every writer experiences panic, discouragement, fear and trepidation. If you're reading this, you're already connecting with another writer who "gets it." *smile* If you're involved in a writing chapter or you have critique partners, reach out and say… "Help!!" The community of writers is a family and while there will always be a relative or two that makes you roll your eyes and duck into the corner, *grin* you'll find most of us are willing to help because We Understand.

"Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them." – (attributed to) Ralph Waldo Emerson

This week, I reached out to two of my most trusted compatriots. Their insights and encouragement helped me to "cross the bridge." Courage, my friends, is what being a writer is all about. Courage to face those empty pages, or yet another query. Courage to tackle a fresh scene that eludes us. Courage to revise, once again, a book struggling to come alive. Take just a moment now and consider just how courageous you are! You Are A Writer. This is scary stuff indeed. And here's something to think about… Daredevil stunts or taming lions, sure that's dangerous. *grin* However, once you've jumped out of an airplane, you pretty much know what do next time around. With writing, Each and Every Book Is New. You, my friend, are the ultimate adventurer. *wink*

"Yesterday I dared to struggle. Today I dare to win." –Bernadette Devlin

"To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself." –Soren Kierkegard

The best part is that we aren't solitary adventurers! There's always encouragement or support when you need it. Only one catch—you have to reach for it. Extend a hand and let your fellow writers know when you need help crossing your own bridge.

Courage is the hallmark of every writer. Still, courage is not necessarily an inborn trait. We develop our bravery just as we develop our writing. Part of the process, of course, will be incidents that demand valor. Horrid contest reviews, anonymous rejections, or just the dread arising when you worry you'll never finish your scene-chapter-book. *gulp* Reach out and take a hand, my friend. Even the most courageous writers need to remember… We Are Not Alone…

"One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential." –Maya Angelou

Here's to a week filled with adventures in writing, eh?

I've got a new spin on my WIP, which means I'm eager to see how I can make the new ideas fit. So… Outline Week!


New essay.
Research on submission prospects for my last book.

How's about you? Care to share your goals? I'd also love to hear your own stories of courage… How have you handled fear or discouragement? Please share!

Now… let's get writing!! Go-go-GO!!


Monday, August 11, 2008

Success is in the Doing--The Power of Choice

“Never give up, never surrender!” ---Commander Peter Taggart (lead character in “Galaxy Quest”)

Whenever I’m feeling down, I love to put up my feet and sink my mind into an old favorite movie. The reason is obvious. A good story, whether silly or profound, lifts us out of our ordinary life and into a new perspective. And within each story is a kernel of truth that some reader (or viewer) takes to heart. Perhaps that is the essential ingredient we strive to discover in each of our own stories. That kernel of truth. This is what sets each story apart. For me, this new week, I’m quoting one of my favorite fictional heroes. And I want to urge each of us to Never Give Up, NEVER Surrender!

“Part of the issue of achievement is to be able to set realistic goals, but that's one of the hardest things to do because you don't always know exactly where you're going, and you shouldn't.” ~~ George Lucas

Ah yes, the challenge of balancing the need for realistic goals and the reality that because each story is an independent creation there are quirks and inevitable diversions. Not to mention the unavoidable distractions that daily living often presents. Like Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

We writers also face another challenge in our careers:
“You have to put in many, many, many tiny efforts that nobody sees or appreciates before you achieve anything worthwhile.”
--Brian Tracy

Time. Yikes. So many little revisions, hours spent on research or even just staring into space while searching for the exact right word. How many here have sweated over picking the Perfect Name for a character? *smile*

Obviously, these precious moments invested are worthwhile. We love being writers, which is why we write. Yet too often we spend just as much time chiding ourselves over the hours wasted or bemoaning the lack of substantial feedback. We all have end goals in sight. A beginning writer hopes to get a positive response from a query. A published writer yearns for a stellar review. A multi-published author strives to reach a particular sales level. And it’s almost certain that every writer will judge herself at each stage, certain that she SHOULD be doing better.

"Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be." ---Zig Ziglar

Let us remember, and remind each other as often as we can, that while we should damn well strive to reach whatever far-reaching goal we set our hearts on, We Are Successful. Reaching for the highest, becoming all we can be… That is the best goal we can hope for.

Would we sneer at our best friend for her efforts, or judge her for not reaching her goals quickly enough? Of course not! We’d point out that the strongest trees grow slowly, sinking roots deep into the ground. A spindly sapling that shoots up too quickly might snap in a heavy wind.

“Trust, have faith, and keep doing the work,” we’d murmur with an encouraging smile. Part of the process of staying motivated is keeping your spirits high! As the marathon runners stumble past, the onlookers cheer and shout their support. Imagine if they offered up the kind of words we’ve been known to toss at ourselves when no one is listening. We’ve all done it. My personal favorite is to shout, “I’m a hack! My writing sucks!” while pacing around the room. *rolls eyes* Not very best-friendish, eh?

“Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes." - Oscar Wilde

The truth is, everyone must strive to reach heights that are unfamiliar. We need to keep in mind that even those blessed writers who do get published immediately have issues or personal struggles of their own. We all share the need to better ourselves, to reach our personal heights, to become the Best We Can Be.

Part of what makes the difference with writing is perspective. The more we put the pressure on, the more it seems like WORK (the dreaded four letter word) and less like PLAY. Yet this is what we want more than anything, right? We’re not digging ditches or scrubbing toilets. This is our life’s dream, our greatest joy. Sometimes I find that my whole attitude shifts when I make a few changes in perspective. Rather than saying “I HAVE to finish this book” or “I have to meet this deadline,” how about “I GET to finish my book!” “I get to meet a deadline!” How lucky am I? *grin*

“The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work." --Richard Bach.

And when you get right down to it, there’s nothing you HAVE to do. Really. Everything is a choice. Even breathing. Sure, the alternative is I’d suffocate *cough* but again, it’s what I choose to do. Sometimes we Choose to take on obligations. It’s easy then to believe we HAVE TO do this or that. But the simple truth is, we Choose. Each and every time. To be responsible. To be kind. To be mature (sometimes *grin*). To write our books.

So let’s make that choice and recognize the beauty and absolute pleasure it is to Have that choice. YAY!! We Are WRITERS!!

My choice this week is to…

Continue on with WIP—more pages, more scenes!
Weekly essay.
Begin submission process with last book.

How about you?

Have a fabulous week, everyone!! Go-go-GO!!


Monday, August 4, 2008

Double Dare—Dreaming and Doing…

Self-reflection (it's not just for breakfast anymore). *smile*

"The person who gets the farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore." --Dale Carnegie

To achieve your greatest goals requires two things. First, you must believe you can reach your destiny. Second, you must take action.

Dreaming and Doing are the keys to success.

Let's start with dreaming. What distinguishes a daydreamer from an active dreamer? Dreamers often hold up their pleasant fantasies up as a balm against their negative beliefs. They fantasize about winning the lottery (for many writers, that amounts to hitting the NY Times bestseller list!) as a way of feeling better about the lack of success in their life. "Wouldn't it be lovely…" they sigh, followed by "but of course that will never happen."

Excuse me? Let's rewrite that sentence… *smile*

An active dreamer recognizes that anything is possible.

They actively visualize achieving their goals and reinforce that visualization with reminders that this "dream" is not only possible but can and will happen as long as they continue to take action. These active dreamers are found in so many fields it's mind-boggling. Olympic gold medal winners, CEO's, famous authors, actors. Ever hear the story of how Jim Carrey kept a check in his back pocket made out to himself in the amount of ten million dollars? He'd pull it out and focus, telling himself he would achieve his dream.

That's the way!

To achieve our dreams, we need to believe we can.

"A man's doubts and fears are his worst enemies.” – William Wrigley Jr.

Action is imperative but unless we believe our destiny is possible, we're more likely to encounter obstacles than success. Belief pulls towards us circumstances that reflect our attitude. Doubts and fears are like kryptonite against our super-visualization powers. *Grin*

I remember years ago, I let a friend talk me into rock-climbing. This is not my forte at all, let me tell you. Ask me to dance wildly in front of a crowd and I'm fine. But place my slippery hands on a ledge with sharp rocks waiting below and I'm a wreck. So there I am, shaking so hard one friend called it "sewing machine legs" (picture my knees bouncing like a needle bobbing up and down). My grip is slipping and this guy says, "Just grab a rock and pull yourself up," all casual-like, totally ignoring my fear. He didn't seem to grasp that unless I conquered my fear, the abject terror that had me paralyzed (except of course my shaking legs and trembling hands—oh, Lordy), I truly could slip and fall.

Another friend figured it out, scooted down and calmed my fears. After I stopped shaking, I did manage to climb up and avoid certain calamity.

Fears are real. They can paralyze you and hold you back. Even worse, the embarrassment over your fears can lead you into a self-destructive cycle. Yikes! So, what do you do? Surround yourself with like-minded folks who can reassure you past your embarrassment, calm your fears and talk you up that rocky mountain wall.

"We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs." ~Kenneth Clark

Once you've moved past your fear, you can develop a positive attitude and help your fellow writers up their own mountain!

"Attitudes are contagious. Are yours worth catching?" --Anonymous

Dreaming and doing…

Let's focus on "doing" next.

"Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned." ~ Peter Marshall

We must set goals and work to achieve them.

Anyone can dream of hitting the NY Times bestseller list. Only "doers" will work to reach that goal. Word goals, page goals, query goals, revision goals, whatever your focus, set your benchmark and push until you get there. Did Tiger Woods say, "I'll practice today if I can make the time?" *grin*

"Don't wait. The time will never be right." –Napoleon Hill

"Success will never be a big step in the future, success is a small step taken just now." -- Jonatan Martensson

Take the double-dare, my friends!

Dream of success and Do what's necessary to Become Your Destiny.

We Are Writers. We Are Successful, Published Authors. Let's make it happen!

"What is opportunity and when does it knock? It never knocks. You can wait a whole lifetime, listening, hoping, and you will hear no knocking. None at all. You are opportunity, and you must knock on the door leading to your destiny. You prepare yourself to recognize opportunity, to pursue and seize opportunity as you develop the strength of your personality, and build a self-image with which you are able to live—with your self-respect alive and growing." –Maxwell Maltz

Ah, the beginning of August. The Double-Dog-Dare You days of summer are upon us. How many goals can we accomplish this week? Hmmm?

My goals:
15 pages of WIP.
Weekly essay.

Dream and Do!