Well this is the last day of CampNaNoWriMo and I wish that I could report that I have finished my novel which is what I set out to do. However, I did not manage to finish the novel. In fact I wasn’t even able to get nearly as much done as I thought I would be able to. Granted I did get some work done on it and I reignited the energy to actually finish it, it’s just that I had wanted to be able to move onto the next project soon and I simply can’t now until this one is finished.
Even though I didn’t make it through camp season with a successful outcome it was not completely without its usefulness. It got me started again when I had been stuck for quite some time. Sometimes when we attempt to do something and manage to fall short of our expected goals we have to keep ourselves from dwelling on what wasn’t accomplished. Instead, we have to focus on the accomplishments that were made and how much further we are in the process then we were before we accomplished those particular goals.
Sometimes it’s not about winning the race so much as it is about showing up and putting in every ounce of effort that we can muster up. So remember when you are pursuing your goals and you are giving it your all that your best is good enough even if you don’t get everything that you were going after. It’s not the winning that matters the most, it’s the fight that you put into the race.
It is always good to have someone in your corner. Someone who reassures you when your confidence is beginning to waiver and who is going to stand beside you come hell or high water. Everyone deserves to have that kind of support. Typically you are going to find that support within your family and your very close knit friends but what do you say to those who are supposed to be your family and don’t have your back. How do you respond to the people who are supposed to always believe in you telling you that you won’t make it?
I try to figure that out because I have several of those in my family, people who consistently let me know that they don’t think that I am going to reach my destination. I tune them out most of the time but when you hear people talk about not knowing where they would be without their family believing in them it seems sad when I look at my family and think I don’t know where I would be if I were to actually listen to them. Yes I actually do know. I would have given up on my dreams a long time ago because that’s what they’ve always wanted me to do.
Every goal that you go after is always easier to reach if you have a few people standing in your corner. Not a lot of people, just two or three is good enough to help remind you that you are strong enough and to keep you from turning around and running away from the dreams you have for yourself. I know that I may not have family that is standing in my corner, praying that my successes are made a reality, but I do have at least one really good friend, my best friend, who I know will always be there.
We may not always get to have the crowd of believers that we want around us but then again do we really need a big crowd? Sure it would be nice if everyone was as sure of your choices as you are (most of the time) but truthfully you can get where you going without that big crowd. You want that support system in the corner standing by but the most important person that you need in your corner is you.
You have to fight for that dream and you have to do it regardless of whether you are fighting with that big crowd, or you are fighting for it alone. No matter who I have or don’t have in my corner, I know one thing. I have me (and of course God) and that’s all there really is. So no matter how large your corner is expanding make sure that you remember that no one can fight for that dream you have like you can.
I used to think (when I was a much younger writer) that all of the really great writers wrote fearlessly. I used to believe that all of the work that the great novelists produced was flawless and perfect from their start until the finished product when it landed on the bookshelves. It never would have dawned on me that writers like Steven King, Terry McMillan, James Patterson, or Sue Grafton just produced excellent first drafts and that they felt no fear at all on whether or not they would be able to get their work published.
Of course now I realize that even the greatest writers were once amateurs or first time novelists once upon a time and that someone had told them no too. It’s easy to think that you are the only one that is afraid of doing what you love but the fact is that you are not. Fear strikes us all, true enough in different ways, but we are all hit with it from time to time, some more than others.
I seem to be one of those people that is paralyzed by it more so than others but I am working on that. I thought of some strategies that I have learned over the years and a couple that I am still trying to put into practice that help me to work on facing those fears instead of burying my head in the sand.
Face the Fear You Feel Head On— The usual response to something that you are afraid of is to run from it as fast and as far away as you can. You can’t to rely on the comfort zone that you have set up for yourself, that place where you know every answer is going to be yes and everyone is going to like whatever it is you do. Where’s the fun in that, or the challenge for that matter. Comfort may be good for a short period of time but it becomes mundane and frankly boring. Do the things that scare you because they are the things that will bring the most rewards.
Let the Rejection That You Fear Fuel Your Drive— Okay it is a given (unless you are the world’s most perfect writer) that you will indeed receive rejection letters in your career. Instead of shying away from doing things that will get you a rejection letter, do them anyway and celebrate the fact that someone actually took the time to write you that rejection letter because while what you’ve submitted may not have been right for them at the time they saw something in your work that resulted in them sending you a letter. When you think about it, they could have just tossed your work and not sent you anything. For every one rejection letter you get, send out ten more query letters. Let those rejection letters do more than just pile up on the corner of your desk.
Know That If You Weren’t Afraid, It Wouldn’t Be Worth It— If you weren’t passionate about your work and it didn’t mean so much to you then you wouldn’t be so afraid of failing at it. Things that mean something to us, things that we know we are good at and that we are supposed to be doing, they’re scary. God forbid you fail at the one thing that you feel deep in your soul you are supposed to be doing with your life. What then? The thing is that you can’t let that fear paralyze you into just not moving forward. Take that fear as a sign that you are, in fact, walking the right path.
Reflect and Refresh—When you are feeling like your work isn’t good enough, take out all of your old work. Look at all of the things you’ve written over the years and how much your writing has grown. Every now and then I do this and I find myself saying “wow, I wrote that” or even “I’ve gotten so much better”. Sometimes when you reflect on your works of the past you have no choice but to acknowledge how much you’ve grown in your work and it motivates you. It propels you forward with that knowledge of knowing your potential to produce greatness.
Just Sit Down and Do It—Fear, or writer’s block as it is most often referred to (okay sometimes it really is writer’s block but not most of the time) has a knack for stopping you from producing anything. Sooner or later you get so scared that you will be rejected that you end up just not writing. This is not going to help you. Fear or no fear, just sit down in that chair, open up that computer, and start writing. Even if you think that it’s bad writing, it’s still writing nonetheless. Write anyway!
Maybe one or more of these ideas will help you tackle that fear that keeps holding you back. I know that it is something that I am still working on to this day but I really think that these strategies will be a step in the right direction. If you have any strategies for overcoming your fears as a writer please share them with me. It never hurts to have enough ammunition to battle the fear with!
There are some days when you just feel like you can’t climb out of the hole you’re in. When the walls start to close in more and more and it starts to feel like you just can’t breathe. I know that everything is not going to always go your way because that would be unrealistic to think that it’s supposed to work like that.
I know what people say about nothing worth having ever being easy. I also whole heartedly believe that when all is said and done God is not going to bring me to a place that he doesn’t feel I can’t pull myself out of (with his help of course). Having said all of that, it doesn’t make it any less stressful and challenging to actually have to go through all of the trials and tribulations that it takes to get to the destination that I am meant to get to in the end.
There are some days when I feel like I don’t have a support system and like I don’t have anyone in my corner and some days that feeling hurts more than others. I feel like I’m walking on this entire journey all by myself. Perhaps that’s how it’s supposed to be but it sure does feel lonely at times. I guess you have to know how to walk alone but it sure would be nice to have a walking buddy at any given point on the path. Then I have to remind myself (and keep reminding myself repeatedly) that I am not the only one walking this path because God is with me, leading the way.
There are those who don’t have to constantly remind themselves that they aren’t walking by themselves on the way to their destination because they don’t have so much worry and they don’t get afraid of being left to go it alone. Then there are those like me, who are terrified that I won’t pick the right door or the right path, and that I won’t make precisely the right decision. I get worried but it’s not because I don’t believe in the path that God has for me, but rather because I don’t want him to give up on me.
I get to the end of that rope and sometimes it just doesn’t seem like it’s long enough. I keep forgetting the things that most people never forget, that I am never walking this path by myself because there are always those second set of footprints in the sand. So if you are anything like me, afraid that you will somehow not be able to pull yourself up and like the rope you were handed just might not be long enough, just remind yourself today that you are not alone on your journey. God is always there leading the way, you just have to trust that he will never guide you in the wrong direction and he will always be on the other end of that rope to pull you back up.
I know that there are tons of lessons that I have yet to learn from writers who have already been propelled to a Hollywood level of success that I eventually hope to get to. Writers like J.K. Rowling, Terry McMillan, Tyler Perry, James Patterson, or Sue Grafton. Reading their works, studying their patterns, their habits, are valuable lessons to be instilled in my everyday quest for reaching my goals.
However, there are other writers also, other not yet famous (and I say yet because they are either just getting on their way or they will be) authors that this industry should be on the lookout for. There are 3 writers in particular whose lessons I can’t disregard and one’s that they are currently teaching me for my present circumstances.
Then there is Catherine Ryan Howard, who is a prime example that being a self-published author is not a death sentence to your writing career but that it could potentially make you more of a household name. Catherine Ryan Howard has a remarkable blog and has self-published several books that are successfully driving her readership higher and higher and her determination is something to be admired.
Speaking of determination, not to mention drive, LaMonique Hamilton, who launched her online magazine, PieHole, just last year, is a writer who I admire greatly. She has such a love and passion for writing and for the media industry in general. She really will be the Oprah of the next generation and her passion for the arts is contagious.
There are many other writers whose names aren’t on someone’s Hollywood hit list yet that we can learn from on our way to career success. Let’s not take for granted the lessons that can be learned on a smaller scale that will help us get to the larger scale that we’re looking to get to. All lessons are important no matter where they come from. Even the small lessons that we learn can lead us to big results!
I usually try not to get too political with my post here but it’s so frustrating that Congress could not come together on something so vitally important. It doesn’t make sense to me how a common sense bill for gun control wasn’t worth it to Congress for them to pass it. It is not violating anyone’s second amendment rights to ask for deeper background checks on individuals who want to own and operate a gun. To be honest, I don’t even understand why they are fighting the ban against individuals owning assault riffles.
After all of the tragedies that have happened within the last couple of years, I just can’t comprehend why Congress isn’t taking some kind of action. Regardless if they feel like it’s not going to make a difference, some action is certainly going to do more than NO action. We have got to do better.
Congress is not listening to the Americans that they are supposed to be representing and they are certainly not thinking of the families of those lost in the recent tragedies. If it were their families that were affected I think that they would feel differently. This is a sad day for Washington because Congress is full of so much disdain for the Democratic Party and for the President that they refuse to see the bigger picture. We have got to start voting for the right people to represent us and take a stand!
Yesterday the April issue of Write 2 Be magazine came out and in my letter from the editor I wrote about springing into action before too much time has passed and you realize that you haven’t even accomplished half of what you set out to achieve this year. As I was uploading the issue to the site the news about the Boston Marathon explosions broke in on the TV and I just shook my head at the actions of someone who was obviously busy doing the devil’s work. It made me saddened for those who were injured and certainly for those killed but I also felt like my message of springing into action was even more relevant.
None of us know what is going to happen from one day to the next and waiting around for the eventual time that is going to come for you to achieve those goals might just result in you wasting time that you may not have to waste. We have to stop living for some time period that is a year or two from now and live for the moment, for today. We keep putting things off and biding our time until someday gets here when you’re finally going to get moving and attack those goals, those dreams, with the determination and drive that should have been there all along.
For the ones at the marathon that died yesterday, particularly the eight year old little boy, they won’t get a chance to wait for someday to get here. Their someday is gone now and while there is nothing that we can do to bring them back, there is something that we can do to honor them and to honor all of the lives that have been taken way too soon from their eventual tomorrow. We can stop waiting for someday, or for a year from now, or even months from now. We can start living out our dreams and serving God’s purpose NOW! Not tomorrow, but right now.
They say that there is no time like the present and when I was younger I really didn’t get the depth of that saying. However, as I have gotten older and as I have seen terrible things happen throughout this world I understand what that means. There’s no time like the present because that’s all there is, is the present. Live as if today was the last one you had. I don’t mean live as if you’re going to die tomorrow, but rather enjoy your life today, enjoy the opportunities that you have today, take advantage of the goals that you can achieve today, and be happy today. None of us knows what tomorrow will hold. All we have is today!
I read a blog post yesterday that questioned whether or not the classics are necessary to be read. It made me remember that I once questioned that myself. I must admit that when I was in high school I didn’t read a lot of the classics that one was supposed to have read at that age. I read some but others I attempted and just couldn’t get through it, at least not then anyway. However, since then I have read a lot of the classics that people always talk about and refer to quotes from as books that are just meant to be read in one’s lifetime and I must say that I think reading the classics makes a writer better.
There was a certain standard in literature that the classics upheld, a certain caliber that they were an example of. A certain level of writing that one had to be qualified to have in order to really truly have their books on people’s shelves. In the days of the classics they wrote deep, thought provoking stories, and breathed a particular depth into their characters.
In today’s society, while you have your writers who have that special something, who are of that caliber and who do uphold those standards of classic literature, there are far too many writers who haven’t met that standard and they don’t hold themselves to a particular style of writing in which they don’t just settle for putting anything on the page. I thought about some of the classics that I have managed to read (some later on than others) that made a difference to me and had an effect on my writing. Maybe some of these had an effect on you too.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
WutheringHeights by Emily Bronte
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The SecretGarden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
Here are some classics that I still have yet to read (although I should’ve read them already by now) but that I plan on making an attempt to read sometime soon.
A Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
What are your favorite classic novels? What classics would you still like to read if you weren’t so busy writing your own novels?
Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely hate taking pictures. Not taking pictures from behind the camera lens but to actually be in front of the camera lens itself. So I’ve been on a weight loss journey for the last few years now and I committed to this journey no matter how long it took for me to get to a place of being healthy (and yes thinner too) and happy. I also knew that I couldn’t do this quickly and rapidly because I had tried that before and it didn’t stick and that I didn’t want to lose weight surgically (not knocking it for anyone who has had weight loss surgery—just not for me) but rather naturally and that meant it was going to have to be slow and steady.
I’ll admit that at certain periods throughout the process it has been slower than others and of course there’s moments where you reach a new stage and you plateau. However, I have managed to remain vigilant and have lost well over a hundred pounds but yet I still don’t like taking pictures. My best friend asked me once if I had any before pictures so that I had something to compare things to because I constantly have an issue of looking in the mirror and thinking that nothing has changed regardless of the fact that my clothes have gotten looser on me and my face is visibly different, but as I stated before I have never liked to take pictures with me in them.
So today when I went to the gym (knowing that I had taken a picture for the membership card when I first joined the gym) I asked if I could take a new picture for my membership card. When she took the picture and printed out the new card I took out my old one and looked at the side by side view (you can see it below-sorry it’s not a clearer picture) and the difference was, in my opinion, very noticeable. I was ecstatic and overjoyed and of course I went and showed everyone in the gym my before and after and one lady even pointed to the before picture and asked who it was. That motivated me even more.
What does any of this have to do with my writing you might ask? Well you know they say a picture is worth a thousand words and in today’s case my before and after pictures made a lot of things clearer to me. That before picture was not a happy woman, perhaps a woman who faked it with some success, but definitely not happy. But the after picture was a happy person, a more confident person, a more secure person, and a healthier person. It in many ways mirrors my journey of writing that I spoke of with such frustration in yesterday’s post.
My writing career, years ago, around the time of that before picture, was existent (barely) but it wasn’t moving in any direction. It had gotten off the ground (maybe about a couple inches) but it hadn’t took off, it hadn’t even gotten midway, it was just stagnant hovering somewhere around the point of the wheels of a plane being an inch off the ground but not yet ready to take off. It has been a slow journey in that regard as well but unlike with my weight loss journey where I had succumb to the reality that slow and steady is better for me and in the end will garner more promising results, more lasting results, with writing I had wanted it to be a rush to take off. I hadn’t thought about the fact that if slow and steady can win the race in one area, why wouldn’t it be the right track in the other area as well.
My writing career is still definitely not where I want it to be but it is definitely beginning to take shape and it seems to be ready to take off. Just as with my before and after pictures in my road to a healthier and happier version of myself, I couldn’t see the progress before and it appeared as if nothing was really happening, my writing career has its before and after points as well. My writing career, my writing style, has changed and taken different shapes right along with me and looking at the body of my work over the years I can see the progress now. I can see the fruits of all of my hard work and I am just as overjoyed at that as I was to look at my before and after pictures from this morning.
Sometimes to see the bigger picture, you really do have to capture it in a picture. A picture doesn’t just show the physical changes in a person but sometimes you can see a whole story in the person you are looking at in that picture, the emotional changes, the mental changes, the career changes. So what would your before and after of you look like? What story would it tell to the world?
“Faith isn’t believing without proof – it’s trusting without reservation.”
~William Sloane Coffin
So I’ve been having one of those days where I’m wondering what all of this is for. What is the point of pursuing all of my dreams when the journey to get to them is so daunting and frustrating and exhausting and painful? When I still find myself having to worry where the next flow of income is going to come from and nothing is definite (which is what the beginning stages of a writing career looks like), it makes me wonder what I am really struggling for.
I am a chronic worrier and while I know that it is not good for my health to stress about things that are beyond my control I still somehow manage to do it. I keep thinking, this year it’s going to happen for me just the way that it’s supposed to, and then it doesn’t so I get geared up for the next year to be the year that my hard work begins to pay off. Yet still, not the rewards I had hoped to be reaping by now.
I get worried sometimes that this is all for nothing. The struggle, the sacrifices, the tears, the anxiety, the not knowing, all of the things that come with following your dreams and just throwing caution to the wind. I wonder if I made the right decision years ago and if maybe I was wrong about my ability to really make this work.
Yeah it’s been one of those days. I have those days sometimes, and some are worse than others. But then I remember that writing is something that I live for. It is my purpose in this world and it is my vehicle to express myself and to be able to change the world. Writing is something that I was born to do and it is the purpose that God gave me in this world. On the days when I am in a state of constant worry and when I am wondering what the point of it all is I will have to try harder to remember that the point is to serve my purpose no matter how hard the struggle or how long the journey.