Monday, November 24, 2008

Celebrate Writing...

“Why do writers write? Because it isn't there.” ~~Thomas Berger

Thanksgiving, for those of us in America, has grown and evolved like most holidays. Pilgrims, turkey (or Tofurki), football, parades, and pumpkin pie. Yet tucked within the basting and the touchdowns is the root of an idea. Thankfulness. For family and friends, for prosperity and health, and for life itself. And let me add one more item to the list… Thankfulness for creativity. I love being a writer. Don’t you?

“One nice thing about putting the thing away for a couple of months before looking at it is that you start appreciate your own wit. Of course, this can be carried too far. But it's kind of cool when you crack up a piece of writing, and then realize you wrote it. I recommend this feeling.” ~~Steven Brust

I love pulling out stories I have written. Even the fumbling attempts from several years ago (when POV was merely a suggestion *grin*). Is there a greater thrill than marveling over a sentence that you recognize is really damn good? Just like that gorgeous homemade pumpkin pie beckoning to your taste buds from yonder table, the story your eager eyes pore over started with a few simple ingredients. You stirred it up, baked it in a feverish oven of imagination, and after a suitable frame of time, produced a marvelous dish. Except one little difference. It’s all yours, baby. There are no other “pies” quite like the ones you bake.

We Are Originals.

How about that?

“The novel is an event in consciousness. Our aim isn't to copy actuality, but to modify and recreate our sense of it. The novelist is inviting the reader to watch a performance in his own brain.”~~George Buchanan

It’s astonishing, really. The courage and strength it takes not only to compose an entire novel (wow!) but to allow others to read it, well… that’s truly amazing. I’m thankful for the sheer audacity within my soul. Do you realize what a pioneer you are? How gutsy and innovative it is to even attempt share your thoughts, your dreams, your imaginings on the printed page? What an incredible career we have. We Are Writers.

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”~~ Cyril Connolly

Yet one of the dilemmas we face (and with rare fortitude) is The Big Choice. I salute us all for taking the risk to write what we please. To recognize that success is measured by happiness and self-satisfaction. Persistence does pay off (ask any published writer) but they’ll no doubt agree that unless you write a book which pleases you, no worldly success will satisfy. So… if, when you read what you’ve written at the end of the day, you feel a rush of pleasure, my friend, You Are A Success.

“Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing.” ~~Melinda Haynes

Celebrate and relish the joy that comes from this unique gift. To write is like nothing else. Nothing can compare. Harry Potter appeals to the masses because the stories tap into humankind’s deepest and fondest fantasy. To create magic. Well, dear friends, that’s exactly what we do every time we write a story or share insights or explore our hearts within the pages of a journal. We are magically creating something out of nothing but the barest wisp of imagination. We Are Magic-Makers. We Are Writers.

“I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten - happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another.” ~~Brenda Ueland

Celebrate the joy, the exhilaration, the rush of pure pleasure as you write. This is a wonderful time to embrace this delightful opportunity of ours: to create magic on a regular basis. To be thankful for the gift, for the spirit, for the opportunity to express ourselves. Yay! We Are Writers!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone…

--Chiron O’Keefe

PS… I also want you all to know, how thankful to all my readers. You’re like my family too. When I lift a glass in celebration I’ll imagine my online friends *clink*, as we all share a toast. *smile*

Monday, November 17, 2008

Your Day of Opportunity

Every morning is a fresh beginning. Every day is the world made new. Today is a new day. Today is my world made new. I have lived all my life up to this moment, to come to this day. This moment--this day--is as good as any moment in all eternity. I shall make of this day--each moment of this day--a heaven on earth. This is my day of opportunity. — Dan Custer

Last night, my husband and I were chatting about this and that when he gave me a suggestion for a writing project. Thinking about the idea, I felt a tingle of anticipation. A Fresh Beginning. I love that feeling. Something NEW. Yet how often do we lose that sense of wonder and exhilaration with the ongoing stress of Finishing a Book, Sending Out Queries or Meeting A Deadline?

Ever watch a child at play? Their sparkle and glow comes from a freshness of experience we now only carry in our hearts as a faint memory. We’re like the lazy cat watching amused in a distant sort of way as the kittens leap and tumble ecstatically in the air. Youth recognizes instinctively that every new day is a new life. After many years of patiently greeting my cat when she would arise from one of a dozen daily naps, I woke up to the fact that her enthusiasm wasn’t just because she loved me. To her, each new awakening was a Brand-New Day. “Good Morning, Good Morning,” she purrs. “Aren’t you thrilled? It's a Brand-New Day!!”

Imagine that. A dozen mornings in a scant twenty-four hour period. It boggles the mind.

When I read the above quote, I felt shivers. THIS is my day of opportunity. How might my world view changed if I chose THAT as my perspective?

Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.--Meister Eckhart

While the birds chirp out a vigorous salute to the morning sun, we too can celebrate each day as if our world was today newly born. I relish the experience and wisdom I have garnered with each writing year I tuck under my belt. Yet if I don’t remember to approach my work as a beginner, I may become complacent or worse, jaded. Somehow, I suspect, when I read a “NY TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR’S” work and become dizzy with a POV that jumps with erratic glee six times in one paragraph, that this is a writer who doesn’t care. Not anymore.

We all know such laxity would never fly while in the desperate process of seeking representation or publication. Perhaps there’s a sense of relief to reach a point of success where one can just phone it in. I hope that won’t be me. Or you. So many authors here sweat out the hours required to pore over each manuscript with a magnifying glass—smoothing out the wrinkles and sewing up the gaping holes. We may curse the effort required but what makes the work truly stand out is that willingness to be a beginner, every single day. And besides the obvious reward of having a manuscript that is blemish-free, something else occurs when you give that extra push. Something magical and wondrous.

Sometimes when you think you are done, it is just the edge of beginning. Probably that's why we decide we're done. It's getting too scary. We are touching down onto something real. It is beyond the point when you think you are done that often something strong comes out. --Natalie Goldberg (author of Writing Down the Bones)

Ah-ha! And it’s true. We all know it. Writing the “good stuff” takes more than effort. It takes courage. Tapping into that primal spot deep within your soul can be as pleasurable as… well… la petite mort. *wink* Yet sometimes it’s more like a damn root canal. Ouch! *heh-heh*

The result, though, is paramount. A story that resonates. That’s what we all yearn for, right?

So… touching down on something real, remembering to approach each page with a beginner’s eye, and seeing that This is our day of opportunity. What else could be left?

“You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”--Joe Sabah

Oh, yeah. *grin* There’s that.

Good Morning! Welcome to a Brand New Day…


Monday, November 10, 2008

Dressing for Success

I couldn't wait for success... so I went ahead without it. ~Jonathan Winters

Years ago, I moved to Hollywood—land of a thousand dreams. *smile* In love with an actor, these were heady times for me as we explored our mutual love of the performing arts. One adventure I remember fondly was my foray into student films. You see, Hollywood is abundant not only with eager stars-to-be but also many an aspiring filmmaker. Those who yearn to be the next Scorsese or Spielberg. A number of these budding directors study either in New York's film schools or in the land where palm trees sway and convertibles rule the road.

How does the next winner of the Oscar for Best Director learn how to create that mega-million blockbuster? By producing small budget mini-films starring just as eager actor-wannabes. *grin*

So there I am newly arrived in Hollywood, scouring the dailies for audition possibilities when lo and behold I spotted a notice for a student film!

Wanted: Business-woman-extraterrestrial.

Perfect! *laughs*

Now while the competition isn't as fierce for student films as blockbusters (go figure) there's still a crowd to contend with. Obviously, I wanted to stand out as The Perfect Candidate. So what did I do? I dressed in the business suit I used in my Kelly Services marketing jobs, put my hair in a tight bun and went in dressed as close to the description of the available part as I possibly could. In this case, I quite literally dressed for the part.

And nailed it. *woo-hoo!*

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. ~Winston Churchill

Now this ties in with last week's essay on visualization. Whatever "part" we aspire to, we need to approach our chosen new reality in a similar manner. In this case, dressing for success isn't limited to a wardrobe choice. As most people know, how we carry ourselves is more vital than the clothes we wear. In men's magazines, for example, the question is often posed, "What do you find sexiest in a woman—clothes or attitude?" The answer invariably remains the same. Confidence is the sexiest accessory one can wear!

Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples, don't count on harvesting Golden Delicious. ~Bill Meyer

I'm going to make a sweeping assumption here that everyone reading this essay desires success and happiness in life. We want but we may not yet believe that we can achieve our desires. Beliefs, as previously noted, are the tools our mind utilizes to manifest our reality. In essence, they are the "wardrobe" of our mind.

The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes. ~William James

By choosing to Act As If You Are A Success, you do two things. You send out a message to all you meet, and the universe in general, that You Are Indeed A Success. You also confirm to yourself this most vital message. Think about it. If today you had achieved your dream goal, how might you approach your day? Would you devote more time or invest more enthusiasm? Would You… Believe?

What a man believes may be ascertained not from his creed, but from assumptions on which he habitually acts. –George Bernard Shaw

Let's choose this week to reinforce our visualizations with action and attitude. Here's an exercise. Go to your mirror and pretend you've just met someone new. Looking yourself in the eyes say, "I Am A Success." Do this a few times and let yourself work up a good dose of enthusiasm. Anytime you shake someone's hand, or offer up a hug, repeat this phrase in your mind. You'll really be amazed at how this translates. It's almost spooky just how much our attitude affects others as well as our self.

Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude. ~Ralph Marston

Remember, reality is flexible stuff. If you don't believe me, watch siblings compare notes about their childhood. *grin* Often people growing up in the same house, experiencing identical events nevertheless remember things completely differently. Rather than arguing for poor memory skills, consider how this reflects a vital truth: Reality is based on perception and perception is based on beliefs.

Reality is what we take to be true.
What we take to be true is what we believe.
What we believe is based upon our perceptions.
What we perceive depends upon what we look for.
What we look for depends upon what we think.
What we think depends upon what we perceive.
What we perceive determines what we believe.
What we believe determines what we take to be true.
What we take to be true is our reality. –Gary Zukav

Here's our affirmation:

This week I will remember that I AM a success. I LOVE Being A Success!
Let's make this November week shine. Through winter's rain, snow, and blustery winds, let's snuggle down with keyboards and legal pads and trek through lands of our imagination. Happy Writing, everyone! Ready to set goals?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Love Your Blog Award!

Monday, Monday, time of new beginnings. *grin* Yesterday I was touched by an angel. Or so it felt. The lovely and super-talented Gillian Layne of the wonderful blog The Gentle Art of Conversation bestowed an I Love Your Blog award to The Write Soul. *happy dance*

*Bows* Thanks, Gillian!

Now there are some rules to follow here:

1) Add the logo of the award to your blog

2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you

3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs

4) Add links to those blogs on your blog

5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs

Although numbered, each blog on the list has my equal devotion. So… drum roll please!

1. Miss Make A Movie defines itself as a pop culture peek-a-boo. *grin* A group blog, these authors explore the ins and outs of movies, television and the fine arts, and what I adore is they don't hold back. Check it out if (like me) you love to explore what makes pop culture Pop!

2. Adventures of the Road to Success. Kate's explorations intrigue me and I love how she shares little tidbits of writing.

3. Pumping Your Muse Prompts by Donna Sundblad is a delightful source of inspiration. This published author (of both fiction AND nonfiction) provides a constant source of get-up-and-go-Go-GO…

4. The blog, Me, My Muse, and I by Jennifer Shirk gives me a lift! Maybe it's how she includes recipes or the wacky pictures her kid draws *snort* but she makes me smile.

5. If you like blogs that realistically should come with a "spit-take" warning label, read The Last Word. CJ Redwine is hilarious. And I'm serious about the warning. *grin* Put down the drink lest your keyboard and monitor get soaked.

6. Fellow "The Sims" lover, Deborah Dale has a fun blog. Check out Gemini Musings and make sure you say hi. *Grin* Also... do try the yummy zucchini quiche recipe!

7. Although for the most part, I'm thinking this award should go to authors, there has to be one major exception. The BookEnds Blog written by the agents of BookEnds Literary agency is a must read. Most posts are penned by Jessica Faust. I've learned so much about the market and the crazy, hair-pulling, exhilarating path to publication through this blog. I just have to give a shout out and a reverent bow.

Thanks again, Gillian! And to all my readers, thanks for so many lovely comments and positive energy over the months I've been at this. And for those who've asked, maybe I will put these essays in a book someday! *grin*

Happy Writing…

Monday, November 3, 2008

Reprogram Your Mind Towards Success

"Success doesn't come to you…you go to it." --Marva Collins

A classic book on self-improvement was published in 1960 with the title, Psycho-cybernetics. The author, Maxwell Maltz, was a successful plastic surgeon who noticed a peculiar and discouraging phenomenon with some of his patients. Despite the removal of what they considered physical flaws, many still believed they were unattractive. Maltz realized their perception was distorted because of a flawed inner-view.

Bottom-line, self-image is based on inner beliefs, not outer appearance.

"Self-image sets the boundaries of individual accomplishment." ---Maxwell Maltz

This phenomenon also affects our basic interaction with life itself. Our core image determines how we will approach both goals and opportunities that come our way. To put it simply, You Are What You Believe.

"It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not." ---Author Unknown

Now this is not new stuff, but the Dr. Maltz's approach may feel fresh, even nearly fifty years after its first publication. He likened the mind to a cybernetic "servo-mechanism". Pretty fancy, huh? *grin* The idea though is straightforward: our mind is like a computer-controlled missile heading to a target determined by beliefs. The self-image we possess is the result.

The target is determined by your beliefs. Think about that. Where have you painted your bulls-eye? How many times have you heard (or said) this common phrase: With my luck, THIS will happen…


"You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them." ---Michael Jordan

Since the publication of this classic (and I do recommend it to one and all) the idea of beliefs shaping the reality we encounter has become quite popular. Although, in fairness, the idea has existed for eons.

"The mind is everything. What you think you become." Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.

Yet today we still struggle with beliefs that affect our behavior and our self-perception. Why do some people manage to accomplish so much while others clench their fists in despair? How can we achieve success and happiness in life? Obviously, effort must be made. Goals set and reached. But unless you believe you can and will achieve anything of value, you may unconsciously set yourself up for failure or just languish in procrastination hell.

"Low self esteem is like driving through life with your hand brake on."
---Maxwell Maltz

The good news is we can change our self-image. We can reprogram our brain to believe in success. One very powerful tool is visualization. By placing an image in your mind, you can reprogram your thinking. As children, we learn behavior by imitating others. We put a picture in our mind and strive to faithfully reproduce that image. We Form Habits.

How many here have to think before tying a shoe? Not many, I'm guessing. *smile*

Our mental habits are much more powerful than we realize. And those mental habits are part of our neural network. How we respond to a smile from a stranger, for example, is based on a series of beliefs. How we respond to rejection is also based on beliefs.

"It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to." ---W.C. Fields

So… how do we use the power of visualization to change our self-image, to attract success and to become all that we long to be?

Form a mental image of something concrete. A writer can visualize herself typing The End or signing a contract with a coveted publisher. You can form a picture of yourself paying off bills, marking PAID IN FULL. Perhaps focus on the image of a confident, radiant YOU giving a lecture or shaking hands with strangers who welcome you warmly. Reinforce your image with an affirmation set in the present moment. Instead of saying you will be (fill in the blank here) say I AMThe mind will respond As If This Is Happening Now. You are restructuring your beliefs and setting a new target for your mind to lock onto.


Focus on this image for at least five minutes, perferably twice daily. Maybe in your morning shower (or even better, while looking in the mirror!) and once before bed. Suspend all disbelief and let yourself *feel* excited. Woo-hoo! I AM A Success!! Tell yourself firmly: This Is My TRUE Reality. Everything else is an illusion I no longer need. Stick to this for at least a month. If negative thoughts pop up during the day, remind yourself that the "illusion" took time to set-up and might take time to fade away. However… This Is My TRUE Reality. Everything else is an illusion I no longer need.


Take action. Every day do at least one thing to reinforce your visualization. If you're trying to finish a book, for example, write at least one page and then repeat your affirmation. I finished that page! I AM a writer!


Persevere. Stick to this and you'll be amazed at the results.

Only as high as I reach can I grow,
Only as far as I seek can I go,
Only as deep as I look can I see,
Only as much as I dream can I be.
~Karen Ravn

You Can Do It! Autumn is here and soon winter will sneak into our lives. As the leaves drip off the trees and animals hunker down to ride out the cold weather, the urge for retreat can swell. Let's utilize this time to pull energies that have been scattered all summer and refocus on our writing. This will be a productive month! I can feel it… Let's Make It Happen…

Goal setting time:

15 pages.
New essay.
How's about you?

Write-write-WRITE! Go-go-GO!!
PS... *grin* I also wanted give a BIG Thank-you to those readers who signed up to follow my blog. Smiles and hugs your way!