Friday, March 30, 2012

Lighten Up and Laugh Often

I’ve been at my new job for just under six weeks and I’ll admit it probably hasn’t been long enough for me to say I’ve totally adjusted to the new schedule.  However, I am glad to say that I am doing well at adjusting to making time to write every week.  I’m very pleased with the amount of time I’ve been able to work on (yet another) edit on my first book, as well as the amount of time I’ve been able to spend writing on my second book. 

If you are patiently (and I may use this term loosely) waiting for me to finally make my books available, bear with me.  It’s a process.  I’m truly optimistic that I will have the first book published by this summer and if all goes well, the second book might be as well.  That’s the plan and I’m seriously working towards those goals.
Besides spending time at work (not to mention getting ready for work and driving to and from work), spending time with family, spending time working on the craft of writing, and, God willing, at least 7 hours of sleep, you can imagine there isn’t much time for anything else in any given day. 

But as busy and as serious as life might get sometimes, it just doesn’t cut it to always be so serious.  Sometimes, you just have to look at the lighter side of things, find the humor around you and every once in awhile, give in and just laugh till it hurts. 
It’s not often we serious, hard-working adults get to do that, is it?

But it feels so good when we do.
E. E. Cummings said, “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”

I tend to agree.
I ran across something the other day and it gave me a good laugh…not because it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever read but because after going back to work full-time in an office setting again, it made me wonder how my co-workers would react if I were to exhibit the following behavior:

Ways to Maintain a Healthy Level of Insanity

1)      At lunch time, sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and point a hair dryer at passing cars.  See if they slow down.

2)      Page yourself over the intercom.  Don’t disguise your voice.

3)      Every time someone asks you to do something, ask if they want fries with that.

4)      Put your garbage can on your desk and label it “In.”

5)      Put decaf in the coffee maker for 3 weeks.  Once everyone has gotten over their caffeine addictions, switch to espresso.

6)      In the memo field of all your checks, write “for smuggling diamonds.”

7)      Don’t use any punctuation.

8)      As often as possible, skip rather than walk.

9)      Specify that your drive-through order is “To Go.”

10)  Order diet water whenever you go out to eat, with a serious face.
The above list is only half of what the original list included but these were the ones that made me smile as I imagined how anyone in an office setting might be scrutinized if they were to behave this way.   
It might be fun for a day. 

On second thought, having only been at my job for a month and a half, it’s probably better if I don’t make them question my sanity.
But whatever tickles your funny bone, I hope you find it often; whether it’s with your family, your friends, a book, an old series like Friends or Frasier, or even your pets (mine make me laugh often).

And to end this post, here’s a great quote by Michael Pritchard…
“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old.  You grow old because you stop laughing.”

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fun Facts For You

Whenever something interests me or tickles my funny bone, I’ll print it, save it or tag it for later.  This is something I have been doing for many, many years. 

I’m sure you already noticed my interest in quotes, as I have so often shared them with you during past posts. Whenever I find a quote that touches me in some way, I’m always quick to write it down so that I can add it to my notebook, where I have stored many over the years.
Quotes aren’t all I collect.  Another favorite of mine are any tidbits where I can learn about fun facts.  This may be useless information to some but I am always interested to learn new facts, especially when they are about day-to-day activities or items I never have a second thought about. 

So I thought I’d share some of the fun facts I have accumulated over the years.  Since my blog is about writing, I thought I’d start by providing fun facts that have to do with words:
·         Dreamt is the only English word that ends in the letters “mt”

·         Maine is the only state whose name is just one syllable

·         No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple

·         “Stewardesses” is the longest word typed with only the left hand and “lollipop” with your right

·         The sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” uses every letter of the alphabet

·         The words “racecar,” kayak” and “level” are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left (they are called palindromes and these are just a few)

·         There are only four words in the English language which ends in “dous”:  tremendous, horrendous, stupendous and hazardous

·         There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order:  “abstemious” and “facetious”

·         “Typewriter” is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard
So how’s that for some fun facts?  Do you enjoy learning something new about what you thought you already knew? 
Here’s a question for you: 

Do you know the name of the first novel ever written on a typewriter?  It was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  Mark Twain used a Remington typewriter in 1875 to write his book.  Wow…that’s only 137 years ago! 
Don’t know what a Remington is?  Here’s a photo of mine.

I don’t type on it, of course.  It’s a keepsake.  It’s what my grandfather used to type on all the time even into this century.
Okay.  How about this one…if you were to spell out numbers beginning with the number one (“one” “two” “three” “four” and so on), how far would you have to go until you would find the letter “a”?

Give up?  Believe it or not, that answer is One Thousand! 
That one made me scratch my head because it seemed unlikely it would take that long before the letter “a” would appear. 

You tell me if I’m wrong…I’m still running the words through my head just to make sure…

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Hunger for a Good Book

Some authors come up with an idea, then they run with it, do what they can to publish it and if luck or perfect timing is on their side, it can become a roller coaster ride of mass proportions.

The Hunger Games written by Suzanne Collins has become one of those examples.
Not since the Twilight series have I heard and seen so much hype about a book series.  The Hunger Games has been a hot topic in our household for quite some time now.  Ever since The Hunger Games became available to read and my youngest read the first book in the series, he was hooked.  He has read all three books in the series at least three times and I have no doubt he’ll read them again. 

When my son first explained to me that The Hunger Games was about an extreme government which pitted child against child to the death for the sake of retribution and enjoyment, I was at first questioning and then concerned.  Why did he enjoy reading a book about such things?  The whole concept, from a parent’s perspective, was awful.  But as my son explained to me what he was reading as he moved along in the books, I could see that he had come to not only enjoy the books and the way they were written but he was also becoming very close to the characters themselves. 
That, as an author, is what we strive for…we can only hope that readers will not only enjoy the story and how it is written but even more, that they will become close to the characters and really care for them.  It is the characters, when it comes to a book series, which will keep readers coming back for more again and again.   

Once the news of a movie based on the first book was announced, the chatter of opening night at the box office was in full force.  My son was so excited about the news of the upcoming movie that he stored away a movie ticket he received as a Christmas gift, stating that he would only use the ticket for The Hunger Games.  I think he wanted to make sure I had no excuses when it came to taking him to the movie since I do often complain about the cost of movie tickets.    
As everyone knows, opening weekend was this weekend.  The theater where we saw the movie had showings every half hour and it would appear to have been a good decision, based on the amount of people we saw during the first showings of the day.  Not having read the books yet (believe me, my son is begging me to read them so I will eventually take the time), I will say I thought the movie was pretty good.  It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me hope that somehow these kids did not have to also made me wish one of the characters in the movie would tell Effie Trinket her makeup looked ridiculous (but for her character, it was completely perfect).

But as with most movies, I doubt it stands up to the actual book.  My son also enjoyed the movie but he did agree the book was better, giving more depth to the characters and the plot itself.  Even so, he is excited about the prospect of a second movie and I think that is partly due to the fact that his favorite book in the whole series is the second book.  I hope the movie doesn’t disappoint him but as with any avid reader, he can always lose himself again in the paperback version of the story. 
When Suzanne Collins first came up with the idea for The Hunger Games series, I doubt she had any idea what a phenomenon she was going to create.  I read that she is the first children’s or young adult author to sell over one million Kindle ebooks, making her the sixth author to join the “Kindle Million Club.”  On top of the traditional book sales, that’s a huge accomplishment! 

All writers can hope to enjoy this sort of fame but such a thing is itself a rare phenomenon.  I applaud Collins for her success with this series, not because of the money or the numbers, but because it is exciting when a book or a series grabs the attention of so many individuals.  Not only is this a positive outcome for the writer but even more important is that there are writers capable of gaining the attention of children and young adults so that they actually enjoy reading. 
Reading should not be a chore but rather an enjoyable diversion we try to sneak in whenever we have the time.  In my opinion, when an author causes such a stir so that even those who may not read often decide they should check out a book to see what all the fuss is about, that result is true success when it comes to a writer’s accomplishments.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Favorites: Miniatures

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a Friday Favorites post so I thought I’d take the opportunity today.  Not only is it a way to share something I enjoy but I like the opportunity to talk about a subject more on the lighter side of things.

So what is something I would add to the column under favorites?  This may be totally off the wall but one of my absolute favorite things is…miniatures.
Miniature what, you say?

Anything miniature, is my reply.  If it’s hundreds of times smaller than the original, I’ll love it.  I’ve collected miniatures most of my life, some I stick with, others I do not.  But my absolute favorite miniature of all time is something I spent hours and hours on over the course of about ten years.
Ten years sounds more like a job, I know.  But when you find a hobby you enjoy, it’s something that can consume your spare time.  What consumed my spare time for ten years?  Well, it was a house.  Not just any house, mind you, but a Victorian house.  And not just any Victorian house, but a miniature Victorian house.

When I was pregnant with my first son, I decided I wanted to tackle a project.  I had always wanted to have a doll house when I was young and other than a Barbie house, which to a nine year old was actually pretty cool with three stories and an elevator, I never did get to have a real doll house.  So, as an adult and pregnant with my first baby (the sex of which I did not know at the time), I decided to buy my very own Victorian doll house.  Back in 1992 it cost me a cool $117.00.  Inflation hasn’t been too bad in the doll house business, I see, as the exact same doll house is now only $169.00 on sale.
Once I received all the pieces along with the schematics, I toiled and troubled over the house for months…gluing the pieces together, adding shingles to the roof, adding wiring for electricity throughout the house, wallpapering the walls, painting the ceilings, cutting carpet and other flooring for each room.  It was quite an experience to take on such a project. 

And then the fun really began as I purchased furniture for each room as well as other items to make the house a little home.  There’s everything and more than you can imagine available to purchase for your new miniature home.  Some items can cost you though, which is probably why I spent a decade adding furniture and other items.  Even now, the house is not quite done.  But whether it’s a miniature house or my very own real-life home, nothing ever feels quite done.  The hobby isn’t one I spend time on anymore but I still enjoy having the house, especially after all the work I put into it, and especially when I can share it with young children who visit.  I did finally decide to enter the doll house into a local fair a few years ago and I was thrilled to receive a First Place award as well as a Special Award.
The house takes up a corner and doesn’t get as much attention as it used to but it is a part of me because of what I put into it.  My firstborn and also my second turned out to be boys, so I don’t have a daughter to pass the house on to but that’s okay…I will keep it until I do have someone to pass it on to.  Until that time, it’s a reminder to me that it’s never too late to live out a childhood dream.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Don’t Sink Like a Shark!

I was reading some blog posts the other day and I came across one which I initially just glanced over but eventually came back to out of curiosity.  Titled The Hidden Secret, FOMO, and Tubthumping, I was somewhat curious because I had no clue as to what any of these terms might mean.

The first paragraph commented on the hidden secret of depression some writers go through.  Of course, we all know anyone, no matter what their trade or circumstances, may be dealing with that hidden secret.  I wasn’t in the mood to read about depression…I’m not sure exactly when I would be in the mood but I forged ahead anyway to see what tidbits the blogger might offer me.

The blog post then moved on to feelings of missing out when we see others get rewards we may wish for ourselves.  I’ve tried to avoid this feeling because there’s really no point in comparing myself to other authors.  Some have put YEARS into the profession while others may have just gotten lucky with a first novel.  Every story is different.  I may wish for certain things to happen but I won’t begrudge others for getting there before me. 

The post also touched on how a writer might experience self doubt while overcoming various setbacks.  That’s part of the job, unfortunately…rejections, uncertainty, fear of failure. 

You can imagine my frame of mind at this point, whether you know me or not.  I mean, this was getting a bit depressing!   And then, finally, I read these words, “The good news is, there are things we can do about it…” 

Be a shark and keep moving…If you stop moving, you die.

Say what?  Why would anyone want to act like a shark?  They are without a doubt extremely dangerous even if they are very interesting to observe, from faraway of course. 

Would I choose to act like a shark? 

·         Sharks are intimidating.  I’m far from intimidating, unless we’re talking first thing in the morning before I have my coffee.

·         Sharks are very aggressive.  I may get aggressive if I really want something but I tend not to bite if I don’t get my way.

·         Sharks can be unpredictable.  My middle name should be “routine” which makes me the opposite of unpredictable.

·         Sharks eat a variety of items that aren’t good for them.  Okay…I’ll confess to this one.
But what the heck do sharks have to do with writers having depression, feeling left out or having self doubt? 

Good question.

What sharks also do is move…constantly; otherwise, they may die.  Most need to constantly swim to breathe or they will sink and they do not sleep very long, if at all.  Obviously, if we tried to live like a shark, we’d all eventually become just as intimidating, aggressive and unpredictable…or just always in a very bad mood. 

However, if you don’t take the quote literally, the meaning is much different.   

The author says that by acting like a shark means to do something every day to advance your writing career.  She says to find a support network, find the humor, keep it together and remember you have options.  This advice would be true for whatever profession you are in, whatever you may be dealing with in life or whatever goals you may be trying to reach.
This blogger’s tip hit the mark, for me at least.  I would rather keep moving than to sink like a shark.

Finding the humor reminds me of one of the best movies when it comes to cartoons…Finding Nemo.  A quote by a fish called Dory would equate to what the blogger in the “be a shark” post was trying to say.  Remember the funny fish called Dory (even funnier with Ellen DeGeneres’ voice)?  She said:
“Hey Mr. Grumpy Gills…When life gets you down do you wanna know what you gotta do?   Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…”

Whether you act like a shark and just keep moving or take Dory’s advice and just keep swimming, it’s the same either way and it’s what is most likely the best advice when it comes to all sorts of dilemmas, trials and tribulations we may face throughout our lives.

I now have Dory’s, or Ellen’s, voice in my head repeating, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”  I guess I would consider myself Marlin who said to Dory, “See I’m gonna get stuck now with that song…now it’s in my head!”

Have a great night everyone.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Time to Manage Time Management

That’s quite a mouthful, don’t you think?  It’s quite the task as well. 

According to Wikipedia, the definition of time management is the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity. 
Wikipedia further introduces the wide scope of activities involved with time management, to include:  planning, allocating, setting goals, delegation, analysis of time spent, monitoring, organizing, scheduling and prioritizing.

The activities involved with managing time as noted above would appear to be overwhelming.  However, in order to complete a project, especially a large one, there is really no way to do so without finding a way to manage the time it takes to reach completion.  Of course, you could shrug off the urgency and just let the cards fall where they may…
But why begin a project or attempt to reach certain goals with no assurance that you will see results on a timeline you can manage?  It’s much better than waiting for results based on someone else’s timeline, as there are no guarantees when you do not take control.

And that’s what I have been doing…taking control. 
I will first apologize for not posting at all this week but that was due to what this post is all about.  While I continued to edit my first book and add more content to my second book, I was also working on a writing schedule that I could realistically manage with my new work schedule.  In my attempts to map out a good schedule, I was not able to commit to blog posts for the week. 

As I researched ways to manage time, I found a new book titled, Writer with a Day Job written by Aine Greaney.  I have to say I was excited to find the book while browsing my favorite book shelves full of writing books at Barnes & Noble.  When I quickly flipped through the pages, I immediately appreciated the way the book looked and the way it was written but when I turned to page 36 and saw the words…”If you’re a writer who’s starting her first job or rejoining the workforce after a long hiatus…,” I thought, this book was written for me! 
I have just about completed Writer with a Day Job and I will agree with the tagline that it is a book filled with “Inspiration and Exercises to help you craft a writing life alongside your career.”

A book I discovered some time ago is titled, The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen.  Its tagline is “Tips and Tools to help you write more, stress less & create success.”  This book also includes a lot of ideas, tips, quotes and information on how to use your time productively.  It’s a fun little book, one that easily fits in my purse so I can read it whenever I need some motivation. 
After scrutinizing my schedule and the realistic amount of time I have available to write every day, I believe I have come up with a plan, which is the first activity when managing time as noted in Wikipedia’s definition.  I have already set my goals and have mapped out a schedule.  From there I will continue to analyze the time spent so that I can monitor whether the writing schedule is working for me.  I am not concerned with the task of organizing; I can do that in my sleep.  It is prioritizing that is most important and sometimes difficult to manage but with scheduled writing periods throughout the week, I believe I will effectively tackle that task.

Benjamin Franklin expressed it best with the quote, “By failing to plan, you are planning to fail.” 
It is so true when it comes to all aspects in life, really.  Coasting through life might bring about less stress but for anyone who strives to do something with their abilities, their dreams, or plans for the future or what they hope for when it comes to their children’s future, a good plan can only lead to success.

What are your plans in life?  How do you manage your time so that you work towards accomplishing them?  Have you ever received advice from someone that struck a chord and motivated you towards successful completion of those plans?  If so, I’d like to hear from you. 
Remember, sharing is caring.  Or better yet, remember this quote from C. S. Lewis…“Nothing is really ours until we share it.”

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Novel Beginning: Week 18

We’ve finally reached the end.  These were the last journal entries during the last week I spent working on my book before finally completing it and printing it out for review.  It was during the Christmas holiday when so many other things were going on between Christmas shopping, baking, gift wrapping, having the kids home from school and visiting with family.  I’m now shaking my head in wonder at how I was able to even make the time to write.   

Week 18

Christmas is right around the corner and I have been very busy the past few days with gift shopping and cookie baking but also with writing.  I am trying to tie up some loose ends in my story so that I can print it out and begin the editing process.  My other goal is to have a copy boxed and wrapped so that I can give it to my husband for Christmas.  He has been asking for it and I have told little white lies so that he believes I’m not quite ready to print.  I want him to be surprised and in order to do that, I have to let him believe I haven’t had much time to write.  I have two more days to finish with some additions and get the ending put together.  I am anxious but also excited about how my husband will react when he opens the box to see what I have given to him.  I know how proud he is of me already but I can’t wait for him to be able to hold my first draft in his hands.     

I’ve secretly been working on my book, or at least I believe it has been in secret.  Whenever my husband has come up to my office to check on what I’m up to, I quickly switch the screen to Facebook or another website so that he’ll believe I’m just playing around and not working.  I don’t know if I’m fooling him or not.  If I am fooling him, I do feel bad but I really want to surprise him.  I have finally finished with the ending, as far as I’m going to get right now anyway.  I will have to add to the ending once I complete my first edit but right now it’s good enough to give to my husband so he can begin reading it.  I’ve been wrapping presents today and while I’ve been wrapping I’ve also been printing.  It’s a demanding job for my printer and it took quite a long time to print out all 366 pages.  It has struck me again, now that I’m seeing the book in print, exactly what it is I have accomplished.  I have spent the past four months working on this book and I’ve managed to put together a 366 page, 102,132 word document!  It’s incredible.  The book is finally printed, I’ve hole-punched all 366 pages and I’ve put them in a binder with a cover I put together.  Now, it’s time to put the book in a box, wrap it up and offer it up for scrutiny. 
I gave my husband the neatly wrapped package after all other gifts had been opened Christmas morning.  I believe he was hoping to receive it but was pleasantly surprised because he wasn’t sure if I had been able to complete it during the busy holiday week.  It was also during this time that I showed the book to family who came to our house for Christmas dinner (but they weren’t allowed to read it) and when I made it known to the rest of my family that I had finally completed the book.  I had already made the decision to begin working on my platform once the book was ready for editing so on New Year’s Eve I built my Blog and published my first blog post, When Dreams Wake You Up.  Once the Blog was up and running, there was no turning back.  I informed family and friends and colleagues about my Blog, my book and my hopes for the future.  I was terrified of the response I would get from everyone.  But once again, there was a quote to help me push forward when I worried too much about how others would respond…

“Until you’re ready to look foolish, you’ll never have the possibility of being great.”  By:  Cher
The response I received from family, friends and colleagues was both encouraging and motivating.  The response to my future goals and to my first blog post was amazing.  There was only one response that caught me off guard, when a colleague responded to my news with the question…

“Why do you want to write?”
Well…you’d think that would be an easy question to answer.  But responding with the statement, “Because I love to write” just didn’t seem good enough.  Why indeed?  He knew I wasn’t yet making money with writing so of course, it wasn’t about a paycheck.  He knew I was running a business and had family and other obligations so that my time was limited. 

His question seriously made me think.  It did not make me question my reasons for writing but it made me wonder how to respond to any critic who viewed writing as more of a hobby.  Right now, the inner child in me just wants to respond by saying…

“Because I want to, that’s why.”

Writing can be a lonely business but living out your dreams is a wonderful thing when you have an unlimited amount of support.
I am thankful to have that support, of which I should not have expected anything less.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

It’s a Small (World Wide Web) World

It has been just over two months since I decided to build my Blog and write my first post.  It has been quite an experience, most of which has been very enjoyable.  However, there are those days…

There are the days when I stare at a blank screen and wonder, ‘what the heck should I write about today?’  But thankfully those moments do not last long.

There are the days when I compare myself to other bloggers I read on a frequent basis.  But then, I have to remember they have been blogging for years and have more experience.
There are also the days when I read over my Blog and my older posts.  I don’t know why.  I’m sure I have better things to do…like work on my book.  Some people like to hear themselves speak…I guess I just like to read what I write.  As I continue to learn and experiment with my writing, I’m curious whether I will still enjoy reading my first posts another year from now. 

And then there are the days when I view my stats.  Keeping track of the stats is still foreign to me but Google does make the whole concept pretty easy to follow and understand.  The only problem is that it can be distracting…how many pageviews today?  Yesterday?  Last week?  Which posts are the most viewed?  How are followers finding me?  What traffic sources are followers using to find me?
All the stats listed above are something to watch and compare but my most favorite stat so far has been surprising…who is my audience and what are my pageviews by country?

I never thought this would be a stat I’d get so much fun out of so soon.
Why?  I didn’t think anyone outside my friends and family would be viewing my Blog, at least not this early in the game. 

I was wrong.
Even if I thought it was likely friends of friends and friends of family would be viewing my Blog, I guess I assumed most of them would reside within the United States.

Again, I was wrong. 
Most of my pageviews are from the United States, no question.  And stats also show pageviews in the United Kingdom, which is not surprising since I had family residing there.  But I also see pageviews from Russia, Germany, Cambodia, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, Cyprus, Latvia, Malaysia and Turkey. 
It’s hard to explain in words how it feels to know there are people in other parts of the world who apparently either like what I have to say, enjoy how I write or are in some way curious about what I am doing.  I appreciate the fact that any individual from any country in the world is taking the time to continue to follow someone they know nothing about other than what’s provided to them through this amazing technological wonder we call the World Wide Web. 

The wonders of today mean that becoming acquainted with someone has no relevance to where you might reside at the time.  Someone in Germany or Sweden can appear to be as close as your next door neighbor while in fact, your next door neighbor can remain a complete and total stranger. 

When it comes to technology, we live in a very small world.  When it comes to being a writer and a blogger, that fact is a wonderful thing.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Novel Beginning, Weeks 16 & 17

During weeks 16 and 17, I found some good blocks of time to write and felt very good about what I was able to accomplish while experiencing some breakthroughs in my story as I neared the conclusion of my book.  Even with the good times comes the bad, as these two weeks also brought about days of absence from my writing due to other distractions, which caused me to make a major life change I knew would make managing time to write somewhat difficult.
Week 16

I took four days off and it’s killing me but it was for a good reason…my son’s 14th birthday and activities planned all weekend.  It was an enjoyable weekend but I was itching to get back to writing.  I felt like I really had to write…or else!  I just finished about three hours of writing and I am so excited I can barely contain myself.  I had hit a bump in the road of my story, not sure how I was going to tie in a relevant piece of evidence to the murderer without making it too obvious.  Again, writing just to write really does work for me.  I had no plan but I wrote out the scenes leading up to a certain angle and then before I knew it…BAM!  It hit me.  I had no idea until that time what I was going to write but now the scene is set and I can move on with the outcome.  There are still a few areas I need to work on but the key piece of evidence has been planted in the appropriate place so that the story can move along fluidly.  I am very, very pleased with what I have accomplished today and even though I had to take time off, I feel I very much made up for it.

I’m so close!  Almost to 300 pages and I thought I would make it today but I kept getting interrupted by the boys.  They know I’m busy and shouldn’t interrupt but things just come up.  I’m sure the boys are annoyed when I get lost in my story while completely ignoring them but I know they’ll get over it.  I have to pinch myself when I think about the fact that I have done something many feel is impossible.  It’s not impossible; anyone can write, whether it’s a journal entry, a short story or a book, but many people just do not write…at all.  The whole concept of writing is just not their forte, even if they do like to read.  Although there are many authors out there, and many more writers who are not yet authors, it is still a small percentage of the population as a whole.  I have completed what is very likely the biggest project I have ever attempted.  Writing a book is a project, a process, a purposeful act with an unknown end.  I feel very proud that I have accomplished this huge task and I’m even more thankful that it was actually an enjoyable process, for the most part.  Whatever happens at the end, whether it gets published or not, wins a contest or not, gets picked up by an agent or not, I can actually say “I wrote a book” and I can feel good about that fact alone.

Today was a terrific day for writing.  I wrote about 25 pages and I was able to tie up a few loose ends that were running around in my head.  I even wrote a tense action scene I really hadn’t anticipated being able to complete.  It is strange, almost like I have a split personality.  One half of me might write a bit mediocre but when the other half of me writes…look out!  It’s not true; I don’t have a split personality.  However, there are days when I do write much better than other days and in such a way that I really surprise myself.  I find myself in awe of where these words came from.  Here’s hoping others feel the same way.  It would be a terrible thing to believe you can play with words in such a way as to entertain only to discover you only entertain yourself.  I am very close to the conclusion in my book so only time will tell whether what I have to offer is any good.  I have been reading up on gaining a following; an odd thought when I do not yet have anything for anyone to follow.  I understand the need to become known before you publish a book because it gives an agent or publisher more reason to want to sell your book.  I’ve ordered some more books that will help give me a better understanding about how to put together my platform.  What is your platform?  Not a question I can easily answer at this point.  It might be obvious but it’s all too overwhelming right now.  I will work on the platform building after I finish the first draft of my book, which I am so close to accomplishing.  While I edit the book I will also try to figure out how the heck an unknown gains a following.

Week 17

This has been a week of ups and downs.  I have been able to write but not in large blocks of time as I would like.  Part of that is due to my work schedule and time spent with family.  The really difficult part of the week involved receiving some bad news that caused my husband and I to seriously look at what was in store for us in the future.  Writing will sometimes take a back seat to what is happening around me but I hope to always remember how important it is to find time to write even when times are tough.  Writing helps me to relieve stress because I can bury myself in my book, my characters and what their lives involve.  To me, writing is like a form of therapy, which is necessary in order to manage any stress thrown your way.  Exercise, meditate, spend time with family, spend time with friends, read a good book; those are all ways to alleviate stress.  Writing is another one.  At least it is for me. 

I’ve had to share my writing time with a new distraction the past few days…I’ve been spending time preparing paperwork for some jobs I have decided to apply for.  Based on recent developments, I can already tell this next year will involve many, many changes.    My husband has voiced his concerns about how I will find the time to write if I go back to work at a day job in an office.  I’d be lying if I said I did not also have concerns.  I have to say, it is wonderful to have my own fan right here at home.  He would love it if I could just stay home and write.  However, that is not a possibility at this point.  If my writing takes off, it will be incredible but until then, I need a regular paycheck and benefits.  I will have to change my schedule and become a lunch time/nighttime/weekend writer.  If I truly wish to become a published writer, I will make the time and I will take the time.

Although I did apply for jobs before I was actually finished with my book, a job offer was not made until a month and a half later, giving me the additional time necessary to finish writing my book, begin editing, begin working on my platform, and also take care of work associated with my private investigating business.  If you have followed my Blog, you know that I just started my new job two weeks ago and I have been adjusting to the new schedule.  I feel fortunate I was able to complete the first draft of my book and begin the editing process before I started the new job.   It is a change, it is a challenge but these experiences are valuable.  Now, when people ask me what I do, I say I am a legal assistant, I am a licensed private investigator and…I am a writer.

Friday, March 2, 2012

And the Winner is…

Not me, I’m sorry to say. 

Am I disappointed?  Sure.  I was hoping for a phone call or an email telling me how much they liked my short story and wanted to publish it. 
Am I heartbroken?  No.  The story is now mine again to do with what I wish.  I can enter it into another contest or I can publish it myself.  Although I had hoped for a quick and easy way to become published, there’s no real easy way to accomplish this.  I don’t believe there’s a dictionary in existence which will define publishing as “easy.”

What this post should focus on, I really can’t decide because the results of the contest brought about a number of thoughts and emotions.
For example…

There’s disappointment.  I won’t deny to having feelings of rejection and disappointment based on what I had hoped would happen.  Not winning might appear to be a form of rejection but at the same time, I did not hear the words “your story is just good enough.”  There were thousands of submissions so I really can’t say I know where I stand out in the crowd.
There’s acceptance.  Once I came to terms with the fact that the short story did not win, I have been able to process it and move on.  That one short story is not what it’s all about or what my writing life revolves around.  As I continue to write my books, I will most likely enter more short story contests but I will graciously accept whatever the judges decide.

There’s perseverance.  As with many things in life, the good things don’t just come easy.  You have to work for them.  I know with perseverance I will continue writing with the belief that despite any obstacles I may come across, my hard work will pay off some day.
There’s determination.  I have a fixed purpose.  Whether it is this short story or another, the book I am editing or the second one I recently started, I am full of ambition and determination to write and to succeed in becoming published.

And finally, there’s endurance.  With continued endurance, no matter how difficult or frustrating anything might get, my continued belief in myself and my writing along with perseverance and determination will give me the strength I need to move forward with a positive outlook and the acceptance that not all things will go exactly as I would like. 
I knew this journey was going to be a rough and winding road but it’s exactly these types of roads that make you sit up and pay attention.  A long straight stretch of road may require less attention and feel safer, but it is also devoid of interesting, stimulating and exciting challenges.

As I continue on my journey as a writer, I hope you continue to enjoy it with me, where ever it takes me, even as I maneuver around the pit stops, potholes, bumps and curves.