Cages

A pig face looking frankly at you and telling you that you don’t belong in a cage!

How often have you experienced the kind of overwhelm that comes from feeling that there are so many things you “should” be doing, and that list is so long, you end up paralyzed and end up doing nothing?

I recently finished reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle. She talks about how the cages that society creates for us leave us trapped and stifled, often trying to live definitions of ourselves that come from outside of ourselves. (This is definitely paraphrasing. Go read the book yourself to see what I’m trying to get at. )

Anyway, today after reading something from a friend who’s definitely feeling that overwhelm, it made me think: how many of those cages, especially as writers, are we creating for ourselves?

I mean, yes, there are definitely things that we have to do as writers – write books or write something for other people to read being, likely, the number one thing. But other than that, it feels like so many of the definitions of things we “must” and “should” do is a proscribed list that if we actually obeyed it, we’d have no time whatsoever for a life outside of work… and probably no time to write either.

I do wonder if this is perhaps worse among female author-preneurs, or if it’s prevalent everywhere, but if you’re a writer looking to publish and sell your books, you’ve probably heard of some of the things I mean.

  • You have to be on every social media account that has and will ever be (come on, aren’t you signed up yet for the one that won’t exist until 2023??)
  • You should be active on all of those social media accounts too (but be fresh! Just be you! Keep it real… as you force yourself to follow all of this advice.)
  • You must be constantly building relationships with every person out there (forget actual relationships … or, like, family. Nope. No time for that if you’re doing what you “should” be doing.)
  • Make sure you’re making ads for all of those social media accounts, sell, sell, sell, … but gentle sell, not spam sell.
  • Plus make sure you’ve got ads running on all the platforms (because if you’re making less than $2k a month, you’re a failure!)
  • Have you spent thousands of dollars on classes that promise you THIS is the right answer to make you a millionaire and selling millions of a books a day? (Come on, you didn’t think you actually had time to do things, like, write, did you? And wave to your family through your office doors… if you still have one.)

On and on it goes, and you know what? I’m going to stop, because it’s stressing me out.

And it’s driving me nuts. All of it. And I know it’s driving lots of other authors nuts too.

You want to know the real secret?

There is NO secret.

Nope. Sad, isn’t it? Yep, I was looking for it too… along with possibly the drafting or editing fairies that help get books done when things aren’t going well. But, they don’t exist any more than the perfect formula to sell all those books – no matter how much that workshop costs. Game the system? Sure, you can follow those examples, buy up case loads of your own book and “buy” your way onto the lists. You CAN do a lot of things. But what works for Lizzy P. Author may not work the same for you.

You’re not her.

You’re YOU.

And yes, let me pause and insert here that not all advice is bad advice. Do I take workshops, try to keep learning, try to keep improving in both my writing craft and the business side of my career? Absolutely. Is there lots of great advice and information out there? Yep. That too. Are there many things we can do to tweak our marketing / get better at the business / get better at our craft? Yes, indeed, and there are a few specific ones on my list all the time.

My objection comes when all that advice, when all the things you “should do” stretch into the bars of a cage. When you’re so hemmed in by all those “shoulds” that you feel like you can’t breathe, let alone write the next word, the next sentence, or hardest of all, the next book.

I’ve been there. I fall into that cage every so often. Was there yesterday, as a matter a fact, when all my emails seemed to be screaming at me to “just do this to double your sales” or “just keep up this to guarantee search engine results” and so on. These were legit blogs I follow too, because I usually appreciate their advice. It got me so depressed, I did the bare minimum of words, but tried nothing else, too exhausted by all the “shoulds” that I had to focus on the “could.”

That’s what I usually come back to. What could or CAN I do? What do I WANT to do? And what do I really NEED?

Yesterday, I needed to recharge so I don’t get burned out. I needed to remember there is more to my life than writing.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: sometimes we get terrific advice, but we need to be wise enough to recognize when it isn’t the right advice for us. Perhaps it won’t ever be right, perhaps it just isn’t right because of where we are financially / personally / emotionally / whatever. But it’s up to you to stand up for YOU. To recognize that feeling when your chest tightens, your shoulders tense, and the whole world is demanding more and more, or something is telling you that it just isn’t right for you… just tell that advice “no.” (You’re welcome to use stronger language and swears. Swears are fun. 🙂 I’m just trying to be polite.) 😉

Sometimes maybe you’ll need to sit with that feeling for a little while, think about where that resistance to the advice or next “should” is coming from. Maybe it’s child-you deep inside that’s stubbornly insisting “No, I don’t wanna!” And sometimes you need to tell child-you inside that it’s okay, we can still do scary things that will just make us stronger. So sometimes you try some of those things. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.

But you pick and choose which of those things you try. Ignore the others. Cut down on the blogs and other input you take in that feeds into that stress and fills your head with Shoulds. Connect with people in your field and outside of it, people who care about you, that can help pull you back from the madness of trying to do all the things all the time. You don’t let the Should-Army flatten you down and stop you from doing what you need to do.

And if you’re a writer, you need to write.

You’ll do that too at your own pace, in your own way. You’ll find ways to reclaim and hold tight to the joy of pure creation that is the work, that is writing, because there are days when it won’t feel that way. But you, you will write.

Because you are a writer. And you are free.

My Story of Perseverance: 21 Years and 220 Submissions

Hi everyone! Today I have a special post as part of the Writers Persevere event that authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are running for the next few days to celebrate their newest book, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma. This book looks at the difficult experiences embedded in our character’s backstory which will shape their motivation and behavior afterward.

To help them celebrate this release, many of us are posting stories about some of the obstacles we’ve overcome as writers. As we all know, this isn’t an easy path. Writing is hard and as writers we tend to struggle with doubt. Sometimes too, we don’t always get the support we need to follow our passion, or we have added challenges that make writing more difficult. Because people are sharing their stories this week about how they worked through these challenges to keep writing, I wanted to post about it too.

***

As of October 11, 2017, I was finally able to say I was a published author. And while newly published, “new author” isn’t a title that fits. I wrote my first novel when I was in junior high, around the age of fourteen. I had to look up how many words even qualified as a novel at the time, and mine was 55k. I subsequently rewrote that novel many times, and my very first recorded submission was in October of 1996. I *might* have been convinced that I’d be one of the youngest successful authors in history. 😉

I’ll do the math for both of us, since I confess I never have. That’s twenty-one years between my first submission and actual publication. It’s more than half of  my life. It’s also around thirteen completed manuscripts, and since 2004, it’s 220 submissions that include queries and requested submissions. In that time, I’ve also gotten married, built my dream house, and had two children.

When I began writing, it was because I loved the idea of story. I loved the scratch of my pen across paper, the feel of the words, the very act of creation. Sometimes in my years of writing and submitting I’ve misplaced that initial love. Sometimes I’ve doubted myself, doubted the possibility of my dream. And in the end, my dream of becoming a published author didn’t come about exactly how I’d imagined. I chose to independently publish when I realized I was letting other people determine my self-worth and the value of my writing, and when I decided that while I still want to be a hybrid author (both traditionally and independently published), perhaps I’d start with indy.

Not that this meant I just threw my work out there – I hired a developmental editor and went through three rounds of editing, rewriting almost three-quarters of the manuscript in the process, because I was determined to put the best work out there possible. I also hired a talented cover artist to make sure my book looked at least as good or better than some traditionally published books. This was neither cheap nor easy, but this was fulfilling my dream: it wasn’t supposed to be.

Over the years, I’ve also used different coping methods to continue to persevere. I’ve made a list of reasons why I can’t just quit which is personal to me, and contains the fact that I don’t want to disappoint either myself–or my children. I’ve made connections with other writers so I don’t feel so alone in this process, because the “process” is so much more than just the journey to publication. I’ve improved my craft, taken workshops, entered contests, found an amazing critique partner, and joined a group of incredible writers who kept me going even on the days I wanted to quit. And I’ve worked hard to remember we all rise together, so that when I feel professional jealousy over someone else’s success, I don’t let that jealousy cause rancor or resentment, but try to turn it into something more positive.

So why am I sharing this story with you today? To gloat? Far from it. I’m writing this today for you, the newbie author, still glorying in the power of words, but also for you, the not-so-new author, still writing, still struggling to fight on, to persevere. And I’m writing to say that I believe in you. I know YOU will find your success story, too. I’ve found one of mine, and I continue to persevere, continue to move toward new goals, and I know that you can, too. I’ve been there. I know it can hurt, I know it can seem so much easier to give up. But you know what? You’re not going to. Because you are a writer. You have a story to tell, and someone out there needs that story. So keep writing. Keep believing. Borrow some faith, ask for some support (I love comments and mail – email or snail-mail!) and I am more than happy to cheer you on. Because you’ve got this. I know you do.

***

Do you have a story to share, or some advice for others? You can join Becca and Angela at Writers Helping Writers from October 25-27th, where we are celebrating writers and their stories of perseverance. Stop in, and tell them about a challenge or struggle your faced, or if you like, write a post on your own blog and share it using the hashtag #writerspersevere. Let’s fill social media with your strength and let other writers know that it’s okay to question and have doubts but we shouldn’t let that stop us.

GIVEAWAY ALERT!

There’s a prize vault filled with items that can give your writing career a boost at Writers Helping Writers.

I would love for one of you to win something that will help you get closer to your goal!

The giveaway is only from October 25-27th, so enter asap. And don’t forget to share this using the #writerspersevere hashtag so more prizes will be awarded!

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On the Power of Hope and Dreams for Writers

Perhaps it isn’t surprising that in my first book, the acknowledgements section is pretty long. 😉 I also dedicate my book to all the dreamers out there. And the reason for both is very much the same: I was, and am, a dreamer. And without the support of all those people I list in the acknowledgements – plus probably many more I’ve neglected to mention – I wouldn’t have had the power of hope to keep fueling my dreams. 

I do believe that dreams and hope are a writer’s fuel. Yes, we need concrete goals too – we can’t just get away with pretending everything is a lollipop dream where someday things will be perfect (spoiler alert: that’s not reality.) We have hope that we will accomplish our dreams, and sometimes, that’s what carries us. It’s the space between hope and dreams where the hardwork comes in, where we have to set goals, solidify our intention, and get work done. Yet, without hopes and dreams, I wonder at our ability to create whatsoever.

If you think about it, that first story idea you get, heck, the very idea of writing whatsoever, is something of a dream. Perhaps it came to us literally while we slept – or at least the initial concepts of it. Perhaps it’s only the initial stages of the idea of writing a story or an entire novel. We have to be able to conceptualize it first, to have some faraway plateau we’re reaching and striving for – and those are our dreams. They are the seeds of all we will create, and perhaps indeed, all that we will become. 

But let’s face it: it’s a lot easier to just dream of writing a book than actually getting the work done. Even if we do write the book, or perhaps many books, we face rejection, critique, and doubt. Then say we actually get published. Sorry say, but those challenges that hurt before continue to dog us. Sometimes, we will want to give up. Some might even say it would be more sane to give up (because what we do? It’s perhaps not entirely sane in the first place.) 😉 

And that’s where hope comes in.

Hope fuels us, keeps us striving for those dreams, even if (or when) they might be completely ridiculous. Hope makes us certain that somehow, we will get there. Or if not certain, at least still willing to fight. 

And when the really dark times come, that’s when our support network comes in. They lend us their hope. They help shoulder our dreams, and trudge forward, perhaps dragging us along in their wake, even when we’re certain we can’t take another step. They keep pushing, tugging, hauling us forward until we get another glimpse at our dream, another refuel of our hope. That might take the form of a great review or an enthusiastic request. Whatever the case, onward we go again. Still hoping, still dreaming, still creating. 

So if you’re out there, and you’re writing or working toward your dream, whatever it is, remember to fuel your dreams with hope. Remember to borrow some when you’re running short, and whatever the case, to keep moving forward. I’ve dedicated my book to all the dreamers out there with the certainty that if you don’t give up, if you cling to your hope and your dreams, as shifting and changeable as they may, that you will achieve your goals and dreams too. Dream big. Hope furiously. Make your own happy ending. I know you can do it.

Now to you: what do you think? Are dreams and hope linked? If so, how are they linked for you? 

Thanks for reading! Have a great week, and remember: there’s always magic in the world if you look for it. 

Spreading disease isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

 

Piper Bane wants nothing to do with her pesky Pestilence bloodline and would give anything to be a Normal. In fact, she put Beckwell–land of the paranormal and home of the weird–in her rear-view ten years ago, and hasn’t been back since. Until an invitation to her best friend’s wedding coaxes her back home and reminds her what it means to continue the legacy of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. She receives a typical Beckwell welcome the second she reaches the city limits where she’s stalked by a toad and wraps her car around a tree. And is rescued by the one person she most wants to avoid: Daniel Quilan. Town doctor, genuine nice guy, and her ex-fiancé.

 

 

Ten years hasn’t been long enough for Daniel Quilan to forget the only woman he’s ever loved. His responsibilities as Beckwell’s only doctor keeps his mind off the hole Piper Bane left in his chest when she broke his heart and skipped town all those years ago. His not-so-ordinary patients and his trouble-making twin brother keep Daniel occupied twenty-four-seven, not to mention magic going haywire throughout town. But his plan to stay busy as the town’s golden boy is shattered when his latest patient turns out to be Piper. How good she looks isn’t his concern. How she still makes fire shoot through his veins isn’t his focus. But the fact that someone wants to end the world and will use Piper to do so……that makes her impossible to ignore.


Buy links: 

Amazon http://hyperurl.co/gz32q5  

Apple http://hyperurl.co/t8ikfb 

Barnes & Noble http://hyperurl.co/9oletm 

Chapters http://hyperurl.co/221yzq 

Kobo http://hyperurl.co/q0dfix 

 

Google http://hyperurl.co/xdwkfg




Magical World

I write this post sitting in my living room using only the light of the windows since the power is out due to a snowstorm, and I can’t help but think: we live in a pretty magical world. And I don’t mean magic like witches and wizards and the paranormal (though those are definitely cool too!), but just this world. Nor do I mean to say we live in a perfect world. But even still, I think we can still take moments to remember that there is magic around us in so many amazing forms.

I’m inside my house, and though the heat is out and it’s just below freezing outside, I’m safe and warm. I mean, technically if the power’s out for any longer, I can light a fire like our ancestors used to have to, but it’s still an option here. Although I live in the country, I can still easily and quickly travel into nearby cities for whatever I need in relative speed and comfort. A tiny device like my phone or tablet can hold entire libraries worth of books and resources, at my fingertips. Although my phoneline is technically down, I can still contact the outside world using my cell.

Heck, thanks to this modern world, we’re being introduced to new ways to publish, share, and make our mark on the world. I no longer have to slave over handwriting versions of a very limited book, nor do I have to seek out a printer, nor a publisher. You don’t have to know me to buy my book, to find out about it. It exists in a nebulous realm of the electronic world where you can push a button, it will be printed, and someone will get it to you, not even at great expense. Think of all those options we have, how much easier our lives have been made with these conveniences and modern marvels, because while we might barely give them any thought, they really are marvels.

I’m using the last of the juice left on my tablet (already used up my laptop’s very sad battery), and I’m writing something that could be seen by someone miles away, in different countries, just minutes after I post it. Before the invention of the telegraph, the fact that you had to physically get something in front of someone for them to see / hear about it was just the way life was. Now, think how much the world has changed even since the prevalance of smart phone has changed our lives and society forever? News can be shared the moment it happens. People I’ve never actually met can hear about me, my little book, my little life so easily via things like social networking, and then there’s the entire world of possibilities that the internet opens up. 

Indeed, yes, there is a darkside to the speed and connectedness our modern society has and the world we live in. But just right now, I want you to imagine the magic. I want you to look for it. Yes, there are terrible things happening in our world all the time, and sadly, there probably always will be. And we need to try to alleviate suffering and do our best to make that world better. But I also believe that means we need to sometimes step back and look for the magic, look for the joy this world has to offer. Because it’s there too, if you remember to look for it. 

So I’m asking you now: what magic can you see in the world around you right now? I love comments. 🙂 

Thanks for reading. And hey, want more magic? I’m starting a newsletter where each month I’ll share 5 magical things I see in my world, and I invite you to share those too. Come visit me at shellychalmers.com to chat, sign up for the blog or my newsletter, or just share some of the magic of the world.

Thanks for stopping by, and remember: there’s always magic in the world if you look hard enough. 

Failure, Shame, and Faith

I’ve been thinking quite a bit failure. And shame. And the confidence to have the faith that your path is the right one for you.

Why do we sometimes feel ashamed of our accomplishments (or perhaps lack thereof) and not want to share them? This makes me sad, for anyone feeling that way, and frankly for myself too, since I have felt (and do feel) that way.

First, I would never, ever want anyone to feel they somehow weren’t measuring up – or indeed, that they had to in the first place. Because that’s often how I feel. And I confess I probably wouldn’t always recap my weeks accomplishments to my writers’ group if I wasn’t the one collecting said recaps. 😉

Second, why do we do that to ourselves? Measure ourselves against one another – even when we KNOW our journey is our own, our path isn’t the same as anyone else’s, etc, etc. And I say the etc, etc, because sometimes that’s how I hear the words too. Yes, I might know-but it doesn’t mean I don’t still compare myself anyway, despite my best intentions and efforts not to.

And finally, what do failure and shame mean, and are they necessarily a bad thing? Sure, I might not have gotten as many words as someone else. Maybe it was a crappy week. Maybe it’s been a crappy month. Maybe it’s a crappy book. But where is the line? Where does a failure become something we learn from and move forward, whereas other things / events shame us, holding us back? Why is it some failures / mistakes are easy to classify as “a learning experience” while others seem more like signs we’re doing the wrong thing / on the wrong path / making yet another mistake?

The short answer is that I don’t know. Although I suspect it has to do with how some so-called “truths” are easier to accept or buy-into because they somehow fit some inner narrative we’ve created, whether it’s a false narrative or not. Therefore, it’s easier for me to be ashamed of the fact that I’ve written a heck of a lot of books (10 at last count, I think) and I’m still un-agented and unpublished. Since I’m a Gemini, I simultaneously get to think of some of those books as the learning experiences (aka failures) they were.

It’s where one draws the line that gets me. Is it just time that helps me shift some experiences and creations into that “learning experience” category whereas others –rightly or wrongly–remain in the “still worth trying or I’m a failure if I give this up” category? I’m not sure. But I’m always trying to move forward and understand. And hopefully understanding failure doesn’t have to mean shame. Nor, I hope, does it have to mean comparison.

I am me. I’m doing the best that I can. Sometimes that’s better, sometimes that’s worse, but I’m still me.

What do you think?

Wishing you a great week of writing, and remembering (and valuing) who and what you are, no matter who or what anyone else is. 🙂

 

Plan Happiness

As I’m looking back at many of the posts I write, I notice that first, this blog is older than I remember. 😉 And second, that I write a lot about overcoming frustration, remembering our successes, and moving forward even when we get discouraged.

Because here’s the thing: I get discouraged, too.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. My first stories were kind of romances since I wrote about people meeting and “loving” each other (I didn’t know how to spell the word “like” and getting everything corrected by the teacher annoyed and slowed me down, so I stuck with words I knew.) I have written ten complete novels, with four or five more abandoned early on (though I do have plans to go back to them – really!) And when I tell someone I’m the writer, the first thing they ask is: are you published?

I know at this point hitting them over the head or screaming is not an acceptable response. After all, I am trying to set a better example for my daughters (I try, anyway.) I want to grind my teeth. Perhaps a bit of gnashing. But instead, I usually smile politely, and say “No, not yet.” I may even try to enlighten them a bit as to how our industry works, ie: while there is the option of self-publishing, it isn’t the path I wish to take just now, and it can take a long time to become traditionally published, etc, etc.

But you know what? Especially at the end of the year, when I have to look back at what I’ve accomplished, the “still not published” rankles. In fact, if I let it, it can blot out all the other wonderful, great things that HAVE happened that year. It can blot out the fact that while I may not be where I want to be yet in my career (and to be honest, I suspect no matter where I am, I’ll probably always keep wanting to reach for whatever the “next step” is), I am moving forward. I am always becoming a better writer. I have met some of the most wonderful writers, and consider some of them my friends, for which I am incredibly fortunate.

And so this year, I decided to do things differently. This is my jar of “Good Things” for 2016, and on into the foreseeable future. I am far from the only person doing this, nor is it originally my idea, but it’s one I liked. I made this jar and placed it prominently on my mantle where I can see it everyday. And I chose the saying “Remember…Life is Good” to remind myself of that, especially on the days I have my doubts. 😉

As you can see, there are already some pieces of paper in there. And so this coming New Year’s Eve, as I look back on 2016, I plan to read these pieces of paper with my family so we can remember all the wonderful things we enjoyed, instead of bemoaning anything at all.

It’s only January, almost into February. I can hardly wait to see what this year brings, and this time, to remember the great things.

What about you? Are you planning on happiness?

Thanks for stopping by. Wishing you a great week, and happy writing!

Taking Stock of the Year

So you’ve survived yet another year. YAY! Glad you’re still with us. 😉

And at this time of year, it’s only suitable to start to look back and consider the year. Remember those goals you were supposed to write down at the beginning of the year? Yep, those ones. Go drag them out now, hmm? I’ll wait.

(waiting. Tapping fingers. Playing with iPad.)

Back? Excellent. Now, take a deep breath, close your eyes for a minute, and start to read back over your goals. DO NOT jump to your first conclusion of “gee, I didn’t get this done … or this … or this.”

Instead, check off the things you DID achieve. There are at least one or two in there, right? Maybe expand on it a little, going over how you achieved it, maybe padding the achievement a bit. Did you only get one book written? Yes, but this was exceptional circumstances, and it’s now the best book you’ve ever written, with blood and tears,  a steep learning curve, and the potential for bleeding fingers. Did you achieve some of those bigger goals? Woohoo! Celebrate and be happy (though you were celebrating those things at the time, right?)

Now it’s time to start a new list. Write down what you DID achieve this year. If you want to stick to career only goals, or if you want to branch out to all areas of your life, write it down. Did you learn a new language? Paint your house? Do something you’ve always wanted to do? Maybe celebrated a milestone, or completely changed your life with a new child, a marriage, a move, etc.

Now add this to the original list. And take stock. It’s strange to see an entire year summed up that way, and it’s very easy to forget some of the things we have achieved, especially if we’re focused on the negative or perhaps mired in a bad mood at the time we look at the list. And while it can be easy to say it was a “bad” year, or “hard,” guess what buttercup? Most years are. Because that’s how life is, and it’s why our victories seem all the sweeter. So remember gratitude and the wonderful things you’ve experienced this year, and all that life has brought you. And then get ready, set, go, because a new year is about to come, and it’s ripe with potential and waiting for you with all the best intentions.

Happy New Year to you, and may 2014 be a fantastic one! 🙂

Thanks for reading, and see you in the new year.

Crap, Crap, Everywhere: How to Find Perspective When You Think the Pages Stink

Yep, I’m still in revisions. And this post is late today (sorry about that!).

I’m at the point where it feels like revisions will never, ever end and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. It was turned off last Tuesday. Or maybe back in December …

Anyhoo, I’ve been going through my pages making notes for yet another round of revisions, and frankly, things are worse than I thought. And when that sort of thing happens – especially when you’ve been working on the same piece for too darned long – it can lead to a slippery “everything sucks” path. Yes, I’ve been there. Many of us have been.

So, how to avoid that slippery-nastiness and stay high and dry on your quest for an awesome rewrite? Here are my five tips to find perspective:

  1. Have someone else look at it.  Sometimes, we’ve read our own words so often that they literally blur before our eyes. That’s where critique partners and groups come in. Polish the pages as well as you can fairly quickly, then send them out.  This gives you distance and time away while they’re in someone else’s hands, and when you get back, you may find out things aren’t as bad as you thought.
  2. Step away from the pages … Yes, I mean you. Leave them the heck alone! Other times, leave the darned thing alone for a little while. If you’re stuck on a particular scene or chapter, beating your head against the same wall day after day will give you a headache. Instead, leave it be and let your sub-conscious stew on things for a day or two, maybe longer. Who knows what it will come up with (though I’m hoping for something awesome.)
  3. Work on something else. Like the first two sections, this is to give you some distance away from the stories, away from the same words you’ve looked at too many times, poked and prodded to no avail. Instead, work on something else – another novel, plotting, flash fiction, maybe non-writing – anything to get your mind flowing out of the stuck-in-peanut-butter section, and towards something more positive and productive.
  4. Remember to highlight the positive as well as negative. If you critique for others, I certainly hope you don’t just point out everything you don’t like about a piece, since that’s a big downer. So remember to point out the bits that you do like, too, and give yourself the same kind of critique you give others.  Remind yourself what is working… and hopefully those sections can survive the revision and get even stronger.
  5. Be nice to you. Yes, let out the annoying inner-editor, but don’t get flayed alive. There will be parts that will suck. A lot. But it can get better, too. You will become a better writer. The scenes will get stronger. So while you’re making note of problems, suggest possible solutions to yourself – just as you would to a critique partner – and try to make your rewrites easier and less painful.

So, was that helpful? How do you make it through revisions, especially a tough revision? Have I missed anything important?

And hey, liked this post? Why not sign up for the blog.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week. As for me, back to work!

The Power and Danger of “If”

BC2010 Holiday Aug4_10 040“If” is a strange, tiny little word. On it’s own, it doesn’t do much. But give it a dance partner, and it changes everything.
Think of all those “if then” statements from programming.

And of course, the all important “what if.”

What if leads us to wondrous places, flying wherever our creativity can take us. We soar and dance with this statement, ever onward and upward. There are no limits to where “what if” can take us – and then, in turn, our readers, whoever else it touches. “What if” is powerfully contagious.

Of course, his darker brother is, too. “If only.”

While “what if” can let us soar, “if only” plops us right back on our behinds, or mires us in depression. “What if” leads to our dreams, whereas “if only” laments and regrets, depresses us, dampens our dreams and our pscyhes. “If only” leaves us looking sorrowfully back at the “could have beens” and makes us ignore the freedom and possibility of happier creatures, like “what if.”

Funny think, that one tiny little word, the power of “if.” And the danger. Be careful where it takes you.

What do you think? Where has “if” taken you?

Thanks for reading. Have a great week – and may “if” leave you soaring. 🙂

7 Reasons for Hope to Persevere

It’s scarcely 1/6 of the way through the year (17%), and I begin to wonder if I can achieve what I set out to do, if this will be another year when I try hard, but nothing seems to come of it. More rejections, and I fear contest entries were more like throwing away money. In short, self-doubt and depression come calling.

What about you? Have you fallen off the goal-wagon? Are you, like me,  frustrated with your progress in life and career?BC2010 Holiday Aug4_10 055

Don’t be.

  1. There are 10 more months left to reach those goals – that’s 83% of the year.
  2. It’s winter. Everything sucks in winter – that’s not your fault, so don’t let it suck you in.
  3. Spring is right around the corner. No, really. Those snow drifts will melt away just like the resistance you’re feeling right now; bright green buds will sprout, along with new opportunity and hope you didn’t think existed.
  4. Things have to be crappy sometimes so we appreciate when wonderful things happen. That means wonderful things are right around the corner.
  5. Your life is full of blessings and wonderful treasures – even if your immediate goal is still out of reach. Take the opportunity to open your eyes and appreciate what you have, what life is RIGHT NOW, instead of what you want it to be.
  6. Change is hard. Growth can be accompanied by growing pains. Just wait until you see what comes next.
  7. This gully is just part of the road you’re on. You are NOT the road. The vista will look brighter from the top of that next hill.

How do you find and maintain hope?

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.