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Live The Dream

That book contract thing I mentioned the other day. That really happened.

And, with you as my witness, it did not happen overnight.

My grown daughter, mother-of-many, congratulated me, adding, “Mom, I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t know you wanted to be a writer.”

And it hit me. That’s a lot of years to want to be something. I hadn’t realized I wanted it so much, for so long, that my children were aware of it. I know I hadn’t been doing what I should to make it happen.

It made me think about others who might face the same situation. If I had one thing to tell them, it would be this: Do not wait until you are the mother-of-a-mother-of-many to go after your dream.

But saying one thing is not my strength, so here is an entire list:

  1. Do not wait until [insert excuse here] to go after your dream. Don’t wait until you lose the weight, make a good living, raise the kids, finish college, go back to college, have your forever home, and on and on and on. Jump in where you are. I promise it will be worth it.
  2. Believe in yourself. When your teacher/parent/friend/sibling/co-worker told you that you were good at something, believe in that. Even if they didn’t, and your truest self knew it anyway, believe it. Believe it. They didn’t tell you that to be nice, and you didn’t know it, despite their oversight, because you were fooling yourself. You are good at it. And you will be better after a lot of hard work and trial and error. There is a spark of something—even if only a secret desire—that makes you different than the average bear. Embrace it. Believe it.
  3. You write, therefore, you are a writer. Think like one. Act like one. Be one. Don’t let the money factor stop you from thinking of yourself as a writer. Writers write. You are a writer. The other stuff will come if you just keep writing.
  4. Comparison is the thief of everything. I mean it. Stop comparing yourself to anyone. Just do your own time, in your own way. You may never write the stuff of Pulitzer prizes. That does not make your work unworthy. Your writing process might not be the same as someone else’s, but neither of you are wrong. There are better authors than you, and there are worse ones. Some of the worse ones make a good living at it. Just do you.
  5. Listen to those who have been where you are now, but also learn to trust your instincts. Yes! Learn from critique partners, contest judges, friends with more experience. But know that none of them understand your story and characters, and what you want out of them, more than you. Take in all the suggestions. Let them ruminate for a while. Make the changes if you want to, but don’t be afraid to change them again, when doing it your way feels better. Trust your gut. The first inspiration came to you, not to your mentors.
  6. Have the courage to be terrible. You know that talent thing? It’s way over-rated. The world is full of talented people who never sit down and write a darn book. Write yours. It will be terrible. ALL FIRST DRAFTS ARE TERRIBLE. (Look up Ernest Hemingway’s quote on first drafts. His career turned out okay, and every one of his first drafts, according to him, were steaming piles.) You can fix a bad page. You can’t fix a blank one. [—Jodi Picoult] Your terrible pages don’t have to stay that way. That’s what revisions are for, silly.
  7. It’s all about perseverance. If this writing thing is what you want, keep working at it. And when it’s time, query and submit the heck out of that puppy. It’s a numbers game. Very subjective. All you need to do is get it in front of the right person’s eyes once. It might take 100 wrong people first. And that’s okay. Or publish it yourself. It’s a marvelous time to be a writer.

This is just the first book. It’s not even published yet. I’ve got such a long way to go. But I’ve crossed a hurdle that kept me from legitimacy in my own mind for more years than I’d like to admit. And it feels amazing. If I can finally cross that hurdle, you can too.

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I’m Bouncy, Trouncy, Flouncy, Pouncy, Full of Fun, Fun, Fun!

http://coloringpages.net

http://coloringpages.net

The title of this post might be untruth in advertising…Only the picture of Tigger is fun, fun, fun.

I woke up at 3:20 am with conversations of last evening going ‘round in my head. Did I say too much? Did I not say enough of the right things?

Captain Awesome Man and I are in Phoenix, on family business that had been potentially serious, but turned out to be less so. Still, we’re glad we got to spend time with his family—some I only knew through Facebook, some I hadn’t seen since they were children. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t the blood relative. When you’ve been a member of a family for 36 years, it kind of doesn’t matter, I guess.

At any rate, after staring at the dark this morning for a couple of hours (with a dead phone, so I couldn’t listen to something to distract my thoughts and go back to sleep), I got up and tried to shower and collect my stuff in the dark without waking C.A.M. (unsuccessfully). 45 minutes later, I woke him again, trying to feel my way to the outlet and get the laptop cord untangled from the suitcases. He is patient with me when he knows I’m trying to work.

I always think that, since “I can write anywhere,” I’ll just carry on and knock out those words while traveling. While I have managed to get some stuff done on trips over the past year, it’s never enough. But then, I have too many days like that at home, too. I can’t blame it on jetlag. (Arizona Time is the same as Pacific Time in the summer—they don’t do no stinkin’ Daylight Savings Time.) I can’t blame unfamiliar beds, surroundings, foods, company, etc. It’s more about this brain that bounces around in the middle of the night.

I’m working on a super-secret-sauce project that I’m really stoked about. (Dude!) It could potentially become my actual day job, and pay the bills, while the novels go through their rounds.

About those novels…Pitches went well at the Romance Writers of America national conference, in San Diego, in July.Two new requests came from it and some excitement about the current work in progress. I did my very first “elevator pitch,” and it wasn’t scary at all.

I should probably translate.

Agents and acquisition editors go to writing conferences to seek out new projects. Authors request 10-minute appointments with of all the professionals they think might be a good match for their work. The conference organizers give the authors only two appointments, based on the wish list and availability. In that 10 minutes, the author has to concisely (I know, I know) describe their book and persuade the agent or editor that they want it. Either it fits their needs, or it doesn’t. If it does, they request the manuscript to read and decide if they want to represent/publish it. An “elevator pitch” is the quick version—for when you happen to catch one of the professionals in the elevator (never the bathroom). My elevator pitch took place in the foyer, actually, and it was an editor I’d already met, so it went well.

All right. Gotta run. Every word on the blog is a word NOT in the book. I just wanted to have a short chat with you… But you can see why my rambling, circuitous, bouncing thoughts might keep me awake at night. Boing, boing, boing…

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She Felt Too Much

I wIMG_2538as cleaning out a notebook and came across this bit. It was a workshop exercise at a meeting of Idaho Writer’s League, more than a year ago, but I don’t remember what the assignment was or what spurred this particular narrative. I wanted to capture it here before I throw away the scrap of paper. It was written on the fly, no thought beforehand, and is basically a brain dump. But I kind of like it.

Her biggest problem was that she felt too much. And also her greatest asset.

An asset, because empathy made her everyone’s best friend. A problem, because she wasn’t the sort of best friend who got invited to parties or dinner (especially “couples” dinners), or even for Holidays, when everyone knew she lived alone.

No, she was the best friend people called when they needed a good whine about their first-world problems, their busy schedules, their spouses, who just didn’t understand.

She was the “good listener” who absorbed everyone’s trivial trials like an overnight Depends.

She never forgot birthdays or anniversaries, and remembered what everyone took in their coffee.

Were she to ask any one of her “best friends” what her favorite color was, they’d likely say, “beige” when she wanted them to say “fuchsia.” (Of course they would say beige. Beige blends and goes away altogether when something more colorful, like them, is laid against it.)

If she were to ask any of them where she would like to travel to someday, they would stare blankly, because she wasn’t the sort of best friend who one thinks about having hopes and dreams and aspirations.

So she created her own best friends, whose skeletons and flesh were comprised entirely of ink and paper. Her best friends lived vibrant, happy lives in which she was an integral component. Or they lived lonely, tragic lives—but let her be the whiner, pouring out her soul in their creation.

Her real best friends, though not of genuine flesh and bones, tucked her into bed at night, as she thought of their next plot twist. They greeted her each morning with their voices in her head, begging to be written in witty dialogue.

Her biggest problem (and asset) was that she felt too much.

(And, no. I don’t think this is entirely autobiographical.)