Monday, June 22, 2009

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 John 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?

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!”

Wow! 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 *wink*). 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 first draft of suspense. I'm so close to the end I can taste it!

Weekly essay.

How about you?

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

Chiron O'Keefe

Also featured at Pop Culture Divas and Between the Lines.


Tiffany James said...


Loved this post!

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

A shift of perspective - that's just what I needed.

I'm still struggling with the kids being out of school. Well, enough! I'm going to make a plan and make it happen because I get to write and I get to finish my book. And if I have to take them to the pool everyday until they are shriveled up like little prunes (while having the time of their lives), I'll do it!

This week, I'm going to write for two hours each day (except Sunday - a girls gotta have a break). :0)



Misty Evans said...

I'm trying to be an oak tree, Chiron, and your post this week reminded me that growth is a slow process but worth every minute of it. Thank you!

This week, I get to work on the sequel to my paranormal comedy and start on the galley for the second book in my CIA series. I'm lucky and it's all worth the time and effort because I'm a writer!


Miss Mae said...

Had to chuckle over "my writing sucks!" Yep, that's me. That's what I do. I read another author's work and I marvel at how smoothly their writing flows and their descriptive prose, and then I come back to my shoddy manuscript and I want to scream!! It's so glaring that I have NO talent, I mentally kick myself until I can't sit down! LOL

What triggers me to even attempt to keep going? Orneriness, most likely. *grin*

Wonderful post as always, Chiron. Thank you for hitting us right where we need it. :)

Chiron said...

Hey Tiffany!

Isn't that quote by Richard Bach great? Yes, a shift of perspective.

Hmm, I remember as a kid that the best thing in the world was going to the pool, and yes, I did it every day! So maybe you're on to something there. We really are lucky that we can write, aren't we? *grin*

And yes, I take Sunday off. Usually I don't even open my email so I can have a break. Very smart!


Chiron said...

Hello Ms. Oak Tree aka Misty! *grin*

Yes, we are so lucky to be writers. No matter how much time and effort it takes to pen a story, the reward is so fulfilling. I love to write!!

Can't wait for the sequel, by the way. I so loved the first, Witches Anonymous. Woo!


Chiron said...

Hi there Miss Mae!

*laughs* Yup, other people's writing can often make me gulp and wonder if I really have what it takes. Ah, but look at you, my dear, with multiple published books under your very fashionable belt. *wink*

You Are A Writer!! Yay!! Thank goodness for your orneriness! *heh-heh*

Chiron O'Keefe
The Write Soul:

Kathy Holmes said...

Wonderful, as usual, Chiron! And when I received 3 rejections in one day on the way back from Southern California, I realized it's all about getting the lesson. There's a reason I'm going through this and it's really a gift - something I can't always see as a gift - but am thankful for the times I can.

Chiron said...

Hi Kathy!

Oh, so sorry about the rejections. Big hugs your way. You're right, of course. For the most part we can't always perceive the reason until down the road, yet every challenge and every detour seems to have a purpose. Good for you, tapping into that ahead of time!

Thanks so much for stopping by...


Tracygrrrl said...

Chiron, I loved this post, and so did the president of my RWA chapter. I'd love to reprint it in our chapter newsletter (because everyone can use a dose of motivation). Would you please email me if that would be okay?

TracyMontoya (at) aol (dot) com

Thank you!

Chiron said...

Hi Tracy!

Thanks so much. *smile* Sent the email already. I appreciate you visiting!