Lightning strikes. In a flurry of activity you quickly jot down every piece of information that has come to mind. Afraid to let even one tiny bit get away.
Having given birth to an idea you slump back, drained. Your eyes are now a combination of dry and itchy and glazed. Reality seems hazy. You look at your creation and beam.
In that instant you know you would do it again.
Having had three children I very much can attest to the similarities of giving birth and coming up with an idea. The lightning strike is the day of birth. The many years of watching your baby grow are the months of shaping your story into something you will maybe someday publish.
The birth of the creative work – bringing a book into reality for someone else to read – no longer just hidden deep in the imagination.
The wonder held at that initial inception of idea is not the final payoff. Instead you look forward to the months (or in some cases, years) of writing after that inspiration has struck as the first few years of life. Your idea is rolling over for the first time, taking its first steps, speaking its first words. It’s the beginning of many sleepless nights as you run into the other room to check on it.
You have read all the books that are supposed to guide you on the journey.
And still, you worry about whether you are doing everything right.
None of the rules, guides, advice from others will matter as much as making sure you are following what feels right in your heart.
After all is said and done you have to care enough to be honest. With yourself. With your story. With your readers.
Then you have to let it go out and find its own way.
Or, to quote Semisonic –
“Closing time –
Time to open all of the doors and let you out into the world”
Conversations sometimes lead to the most interesting detours.
I was talking with my son, also a writer, this evening. He is still in high school and navigating his own journey with the W’s of writing. The what and the why, and who he wants to really be after all is said and done. How he wants to be portrayed in the world after he writes his first ideas.
And so …
He was asking me about what my blog is about. How I plan things out and how often I write.
I felt a little shy telling him. It was strange, this young man who came from me, who trusts me and looks up to me. I felt nerves grasping from deep within me as I answered these questions.
With each answer he was more encouraging. He pulled more out of me. Was more intrigued. More amazed. And with each positive feedback he gave I found myself more excited and wanting to share more.
Such awesome insight from a young man. He had somehow figured out what I needed before I did. And sometimes all it takes is encouragement from someone we love to remind us that we’re on the right path.
Being positive is kind of what I do. It’s a huge part of how I identify myself and how I keep putting one foot in front of the other. I joke that I’m a realist, or just a positive pessimist. In reality? I’m a 100% bonafide optimist.
Just. Well. Some days the optimist in me takes the day off. It pulls the covers over its head and says nuh-uh, not today.
Usually it’s because I find myself overwhelmed. Too much bad news. Too many people asking for more than I can give. Too many times I avoid saying no because I don’t want to let anyone down. I stop my routine of self-care.
It’s easy to forget to care for ourselves when we worry that it will be seen as selfish. We do the bare minimum (eat, sleep, clean, repeat). We ignore the things that feed our soul. We stop all things that we see as “extra” and instead replace those with priorities of those we see as our responsibility.
Not that this isn’t important. I know that for me my loved ones are part of what feeds my soul. And there’s the rub. How to balance all the parts of our soul?
I talked awhile back about Navigating the Whelms – and I have to accept that I’ve lost my perch on that precarious balance between overwhelmed and underwhelmed. Too many moving parts and not enough breathing room.
So when you feel overwhelmed know:
- You can say no (and yes, even to family and friends). Try this: “No I can’t go to such and such event. I have a full plate and would love to get back in touch when things ease up. I hope you understand.”
- It’s okay that you didn’t accomplish every goal on your to-do list today (100 items is unrealistic and set you up for failure to begin with).
- Being underwhelmed does lead to feeling overwhelmed. It shows it’s face often in the form of being bored or unable to get started. So today was a bust? Tomorrow is another chance to try again.
Not every day is a huge success. And sometimes it’s even a failure. Acknowledge this and then move on.
Let your inner optimist take the day off, they deserve it too.
After all. Tomorrow is a brand new day.
(And yes, my inner optimist just couldn’t help herself, she talked me back into a positive head space after all.)
Ever experience that feeling when you sleep well into the middle of the day and wonder exactly where the time went?
It’s been one of those days in this neck of the woods. Heck, one of those years if I really think about it.
Today I meant to get up and plod around the house getting some chores done. Perhaps clean the oven so it doesn’t smoke the next time I preheat it. Maybe even replace the filter on the cat’s water dish.
I did none of those things. As a matter of fact I ignored the snow outside and burrowed deeper under the covers and pretended it isn’t Sunday. I pretended tomorrow isn’t the start of the work week. I let myself believe I have no upcoming deadlines that I am bound to.
I am also struggling with delays in other areas as well. Sometimes you just have to accept that best laid plans are going to change. Sometimes the timeline you are working towards isn’t going to work out. Maybe when you realize that you just pull the proverbial covers up over your head for a month or two (or six or nine), and let out a big sigh.
The best thing about plans? They don’t stop being your plans just because the timeline shifts. Sometimes shifting timelines are exactly what you need and other stresses can slide off the plate for a bit. You can buy yourself more time.
And with that … Sunday night is upon us. Tomorrow is coming whether we are ready or not. So here’s to getting ourselves into the right frame of mind for whatever Monday morning brings.
What does it feel like when opportunity knocks?
Do you rise to accept the challenge, brazen and prepared for whatever the winds of change are blowing your way? Or does it feel more like your knees are knocking together and you wish you had a lovable (if always hungry) Great Dane to hide behind while you work up the nerve to do something with said opportunity?
What if the funniest part is that the opportunity doesn’t even have to be real? It could be imagined, or even just a job posting you happen upon, and it’s not really for you?
But it could be for you, right? All you have to do is open the door. Step outside. And look that opportunity in the eye. Show it first hand that you are exactly what it is looking for. Let it know that it can stop. Right here. Look no further.
Can you do it? Can you stand up and say: I. Can. Do. THIS!
I bet you can. I bet – even if you’re shaking your head right now saying no way – that you can definitely do this.
Open the job posting. Respond to the email. Say yes to the dress. Scream from the top of your lungs … that yes, you know exactly what is going on and you can absolutely be the one to see it through.
Let today be the day you start looking forward to opening doors to opportunity, instead of cowering from the possibility of rejection.
Because even if you aren’t selected by this particular opportunity, you don’t have to be afraid to walk down the path to see what it could turn into. To see what new opportunities might be turn out to be THE opportunity.
Today really could be the first day of the rest of your life.
Oh, there they are.
This week I had too many conflicting thoughts about what to write about. What do you do when that happens? When the words that feel natural might not create the right impression? When your feelings may get in the way? When every single word you type comes out … wrong?
It’s complicated to try to navigate the tangled webs of the mind sometimes. You know, on some deep core level, the image of what you mean. Yet the words refuse to cooperate. Or maybe it isn’t the words, because the words themselves are always clear and concise. It’s the emotions that refuse to line themselves up into neat little boxes.
Ahhhh, it’s always the emotions.
Stubborn, hurt, prideful, sad, scared, excited, elated, nervous, ashamed, vicious … oh round and round the emotions go. Where they stop no one knows.
And the many different situations you may find any combination of those emotions. Sometimes (scratch that, most of the time) taking the person feeling said emotion completely by surprise.
And yet … this is where being the adult sucks. Royally.
You have to overcome. You are supposed to be bigger than the emotion itself.
But what if you find that you just can’t?
Does that make you a bad person?
Does admitting, honestly, openly, how you personally feel really mean you are bad? How do you tell your children that honesty is always the best policy except in case a, or case b, and definitely not in case c … ?
This week’s Sunday night thoughts brought to you by the emotion confusion. The swirling feeling that comes along with trying to always do the right thing, even when you aren’t exactly sure what the right thing is.
We are one full week into what is fondly called “Preptober” and this time last year I was drawing up a plan for NaNoWriMo. What is the plan for this year?
Some of you might remember that after last year’s National Novel Writing Month I was not so sure if I’d participate again. I felt drained, and underwhelmed by my performance during the experience.
I still stand by the fact that it was good for me to do, but I won’t be participating this year. At least not in the traditional sense.
I am committing to writing daily in the month of November. I will be continuing my piece from last year. I won’t be counting the words. I won’t be entering the efforts online.
And that’s what the whole effort is really about anyway. Encouraging consistent writing.
In the meantime? I’m working on a series of short stories to enter into a couple competitions. I’ve been dabbling with poetry a bit – something I haven’t really let myself look at since my cringe-ridden high school days. Not that all of it was cringe-y, but the raw emotion leant a certain desperation to anything I wrote then, and I’m glad to see that isn’t making a reappearance now (or at least I don’t think it is, hmmm …).
How is your writing going? Will you do NaNoWriMo this year? If so, good luck! I’ll be rooting for your success.
October is right around the corner, stores have Halloween merchandise displayed (and our winter holiday decorations and gift ideas to follow on the heels of that). The year has flown by so fast and it will be time to ring in the new year before we know it.
Check in time!
Where are you with your goals this year? Feeling like you’ve made the best of the time you’ve had? Or are you looking back over the last nine months wishing you had balanced things better?
For example – I stated at the beginning of this year that I wanted to write six book reviews and six articles. I wanted to write more short stories, work on my NaNoWriMo novel, and start getting my podcast back on track, as well as maintain regular posts with this blog.
I can safely say I have completed multiple short stories this year, and am looking at a few writing competitions to submit them to. I’ve managed to stay on top of the Sunday night posts.
But … I have not completed a single article or book review (or even finished reading a single book on my list I compiled in January). I have opened my podcast notes twice this year.
While I still have some time left before the end of the year I really have to consider what went into the goals I am attaining, versus the ones that I have not come close to completing.
I have to admit time has been a huge factor this year, or rather, the lack of time. It seems like over the last nine months there have been more activities, more work hours, more stress, just more everything. The concept that hours in a day can be quantifiable is man-made, and also enforced by the human ideas of the meaning of time (and all the things that entails). While time itself isn’t tangible, the things that are done with that time is, and we use that as a measurement of our success.
When we don’t have a tangible product we identify that we have failed.
And product is important.
Yet we can’t ignore the lessons we learn when we fail.
So if you aren’t where you expected to be at this point in the year look instead at what lessons you have learned.
And don’t let failure stop you.
There is a certain romanticism that comes with the first day of Autumn. Many authors have written love letters to the season, or wistful notes to the end of the vibrancy of summer. What does the transition from hot summer nights to cold autumn days make you feel?
Do you create more when the weather cools and you’re drawn indoor? Or is it harder to focus with the days beginning to grow shorter?
Perhaps you find yourself drawn away from one genre to another? Perhaps the poetry of the season pulls out your lyrical nature? Or is the lure of NaNoWriMo teasing a novel from your songwriter’s fingertips?
Do you read more when it’s colder out, finding this the ideal time to take in the work of others?
Whatever your traditions or habits this time of year, remember that now is the time to harvest the seeds that were sown in the spring. I hope that your gardens, be they literal or figurative, are plentiful and take you well through the winter and into the next spring planting season.
Do you know that feeling when you can’t quite articulate what you’re feeling? Not even to yourself? And the harder you try the further you get from what it really is?
There is a Buddhist teaching that the harder you reach for something, the harder it is to see, and once you stop trying so hard to force it into focus the easier it becomes clear.
That’s an easy thing to think about, when you aren’t trying to make things happen. But that’s the point right there, isn’t it? It’s easy to believe when you don’t try so hard? That’s the point that is overlooked when the sensation of being overwhelmed kicks in, when you feel frustrated and lost. That it’s easier when we stop struggling quite so hard.
This week has felt like a test of sorts. Hot water stopped working last weekend, missed a day of work to see what the options were to get it working again, and then it was a week before it could be resolved. That’s a week of organizing trips to the folks for hot showers, a week of working extra hours to make up the missed time, a week of waiting and feeling let down.
During that week it felt like a struggle. Like an uphill battle, both ways, in the snow, and darn it I was lucky I had shoes! But now – after taking a hot shower in my own bathroom and feeling relaxed it becomes easy to put the week into perspective.
Life happens. That’s what gets in the way when we’re living. And it’s going to keep happening. I might have preferred extra time to work on my writing – but I made the choice to stay home and work extra hours later in the week. Life is a series of choices that create a path. What we do today will indeed identify what the next twists and turns will look like.
So the moral of the story? Quit struggling against the twists and turns and instead let yourself see from the perspective of life happens.
I tell people all the time I’m a writer. My business card declares I’m a writer. My web page says I’m a writer. So there you have it. I’m a writer.
And yes, I’ve written some things. This blog, an article or two I’ve stashed on my web page, a short story I submitted to a contest (and then also stashed on my web page).
When asked what I write, though, I become a lost child. “Oh … Ummm … a little thing, not really much to talk about, really an immature little story.” All things I have said in the last couple of weeks.
FOR PETE’S SAKE!! WTH IS THAT?
Do you find yourself making excuses or becoming awkward when referencing your talent?
Do you fumble for words when your brain is screaming for you to instead climb to the tallest nearby structure and scream into the sky “I’m a creator! I create things! Amazing things! You should look at it!”
So this week I’ve been looking at ways that I can branch out more. Become more confident in what I do and how I introduce these skills to people.
For me this is looking at poetry open mic nights, or a short story contest. For other types of creative talents it might be submitting your photography portfolio to a company, or stand up comedy open mic nights. The list of creative endeavors and our options to showcase them are unlimited.
So why do we shy away so quickly?
Is it a long standing tradition of parents fearing that their less logical child will not succeed in life? That without a “real” career they will never find their footing to survive in the vast world ahead of them?
Today stand up and shake off their fear. Don’t own it. Instead own your confidence.