Heather Sellers

Birth of an Idea

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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.

Every.

      Last.

            One. 

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”

 

All You Have to do is Answer the Door

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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.

 

When You Can’t Find the Words …

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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.

 

Preptober is in Full Swing

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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.

Try Harder. Fail Better.

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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.

Try.

Fail.

Try harder.

Fail better.

 

Welcome, Autumn

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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.

Life is What Gets in the Way of Living

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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 Create, Therefore I Am

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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.

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.

Be you.

Be amazing.

Be enough.

 

Like a Rushing River

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I turned 35 this year and maybe it’s existentialism clawing at my very being, but I’ve started to look at my life and I’m feeling a little torn. Torn over what it is I’ve actually accomplished, where it is I’m going, and if I’m really happy with who I am when I present that who out into the world. (The who that is presented out in the world, in question here, is certainly different than the who at home.)

It’s a lot to reconcile.

It’s a heady emotion to feel. Like a rushing river. And now the dam is full, ready to burst.

For well over a year I have begun to walk down a road that makes me really take a hard look at myself, my life, and what it is I want.

Some will say “Oh! You have a husband, three great kids, an established career …”

That’s all true. And I’m grateful for all of it. Yet none of that is an accomplishment – even though I love my husband and children very very much.

THEY ARE NOT an accomplishment. Their lives will be THEIR accomplishment. I will be very happy for them, and I encourage them, but aside from biology I am not about to begin taking credit for what they will accomplish in their lives.

As for the career?

I just happened to be standing in the right place at the right time to fall into a career that paid well and that I was pretty okay at. Top it all off? They lauded me with praise and I had my father’s approval.

Today? Daddy is gone and the praise feels hollow.

So now, who was it all for? And where do I go from here?

Those questions have fueled this blog on many days where I wondered exactly what I’m doing.

So today I sit here and find myself trying to understand how to find happiness in completely overhauling my life. How to align 15 years of experience in a career with only an Associate’s degree under my belt and a hope in my heart.

And then I remind myself that a hope can help light the path while I find my way. That for any one of us trying to figure out how to take a love for the creative and turn it into an accomplished career all we have to do is take the first step.

 

Best Laid Plans …

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Ever hear the one about the best laid plans of mice and men? I imagine the group of us who have had our plans go awry isn’t limited to just myself and Robert Burns. (Extra Credit this week – the original credit of the phrase “The best laid schemes of mice and men” goes to the poem “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns.)

Sometimes things don’t go as planned, and then you have to decide how to deal with the aftermath. My failed plans occurred when last weekend I was on a camping trip with my daughters many miles away from internet and cell service. I thought (mistakenly, I might add) that I had my post written and scheduled. I am still not sure if I failed to schedule it properly, or if I just failed to save the post properly – I’m leaning toward a little of column A and a little of column B.

So this week I’ve been thinking about what happens when we fail to get things set up properly. What that can impact, and how to feel about not following through. Everywhere I turn on the internet there are people talking about the importance of consistency and regular content updates.

Yes, I feel that this is important too.

No, I don’t think that we should go into a tailspin or self destruct because we fail to meet that most important rule.

I do, however, think it is necessary that we acknowledge what went wrong and what we can do better for the future.

Were you in a hurry? Did you not verify all the settings before crossing your fingers and hoping for the best? Whatever it was, can you identify a correction to future efforts?

If not, why not? Really think about it. Feel it. Turn it over and over in your hands and really see what you could have done differently, and seriously, don’t just focus on what Janet on site bippityboomagicalcreating.com (no it’s not real, but I really feel like it needs to be now) says you should have done – her inputs are helpful, but doesn’t cover all possibilities. Really consider how you feel you could do things next time, and what it would take for you to make it happen.

So instead of kicking yourself while you are down bemoaning failed plans look at what you learn from that moment. Maybe you can do things differently next time, and maybe not, but you’ll definitely be more likely to check if things worked at the first available moment (first available, by the way, does not mean anything other than when You are available).

 

You’re Doing Great!

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Some days we wake up, and put on our faces for the day – maybe that face is happy, or maybe sad, maybe contemplative, or anxious – and we greet whatever is headed our way. We hope that we are prepared, perhaps even believe that we are prepared for whatever obstacles we come across. Unfortunately, if you’re anything like me, we find that we aren’t at all prepared.

In fact, we’re just winging it. Faking it ’til we make it. Hoping that no one else figures out the fact that we are just as helpless at avoiding the coming tide as they are. The only difference? We hide it better (or at least we convinced ourselves we hide it better).

Funny story, though. We don’t actually hide it better. We really don’t hide it at all. Secretly, in our heart of hearts, we want someone to know we are winging it. Because at the end of the day we want that person to take us by the shoulders, look us in the eye, and say “You’re doing great anyway.”

So ……

Take a moment to look in the mirror and really make eye contact with that reflection and repeat after me –

“You’re doing great!”

The only person who needs to believe in you is you. Once you believe in you there is no more need to hide that you can’t because it will be clear to anyone with eyes (or ears, or a sense of smell, well you get the idea) that you CAN.

If you’re finding that belief in yourself a little hard to come by know that you are not alone. We all have our faith in ourselves shaken. Because the alarm clock didn’t go off and now you’re late to a big meeting, or you overcooked the scrambled eggs. Maybe you missed your turn and spend a few extra minutes getting to an appointment. There are any number of things that can shake our confidence.

There are also any number of things that can build our confidence. In fact the things that should build our confidence in many ways should outweigh what shakes our belief in ourselves. Because we bring success to the table everyday. Waking up on time 99.9% of the time, or making bomb omelets that keeps everyone’s belly full until lunch (I haven’t mastered the omelet yet, so if you have, that in itself is A-MAY-ZING).

So every day make eye contact with your reflection and remind yourself that you are doing great – repeat twice daily for maximum success.