This month I’ve been thinking about – and experiencing – the magic of sensory memory. Have you ever smelled something that reminds you strongly of a particular memory, or perhaps a person? Maybe tasted something that reminds you vividly of an experience?
I referenced the idea of this in my book Must Love Death, and I have been experiencing it like crazy with the scent of a particular face cleanser. It reminds me of my paternal grandmother, but the strangest part is: I don’t know why! Even so, the scent of it brings me back to summers at her house, the sound of foghorns and the beauty of British Columbia with incredible intensity. Have you ever had that happen?
I’ve had it happen more often with sensory memory when I relate it to something that I’m aware of. For instance, in Must Love Death, I reference both of my grandmothers. The scent of cinnamon gum always reminds me of my paternal grandmother and at least this time I know why. She always had some one her, and seemed to always have some in her purse too. I have an old wallet of hers and to this day, it still smells of cinnamon gum. I like to open it sometimes just to remember her laugh.
For my other grandmother, the sensory memory is more related to taste. Whenever I have anything related to rhubarb, fresh raspberries, and especially Angel food cake which was one of her favourite things to make, I can’t help but think of her. I have a special rhubarb tea that I always save for the days when I just really want to feel her. Oddly enough, I was never able to share it with her, so I wonder if she would have liked it. She was sure to always have a pot of tea ready, and usually some treats too whenever anybody came by.
Have you ever had that experience? The magic of being reminded of someone who maybe is no longer with us, but who in that moment, as we experience that sense and that memory that’s associated with it, it’s almost like we feel their presence too? I’d love to hear your story if you have one.:)
Otherwise, I hope you have a wonderful July, and here’s to always being able to find the magic in the ordinary world.
You know what I find magical? Birthdays! My Dad always gave me grief as a kid for decorating for my birthday about a month ahead, LOL! While I don’t enjoy them quite as much now (they’re just not as fun as a grown up!) we have an almost double-birthday this month. My eldest daughter and my dad’s birthdays are just four days apart (my daughter was supposed to have been born on his birthday…but apparently she had her own ideas.) I find it fascinating some of the similarities between them as Aquarius babies. Do you think the day that you’re born is part of what determines who and what you’ll be?
Years ago, by chance, my husband and I came upon this book, The Element Encyclopedia of Birthdays. Looking up the birthdays of those we knew, we were rather surprised to find some of the personality similarities in those we knew listed according to their birthday! I think my husband was the most surprised, since he’s definitely a skeptic when it comes to things like horoscopes and predictions.
Each of the birthdays is also given a name, a greatest challenge, a dark side and what that person is at their best. Mine is “the birthday of expectation” and even I was surprised and laughed a little to find that my greatest challenge is listed as “knowing how to relax.” Why is this amusing? Because I forgot about the reminder – but definitely didn’t forget that it’s still a challenge, LOL! There are a lot of other elements though that definitely fit who I am.
What about you? Do you think that the day you’re born has any influence on your personality or who you are?
We are well into the January and mid-winter “Blechs,” aren’t we?
I think this year it’s feeling worse for probably almost all of us since there’s the usual dull-dark of January – especially if, like me, you live in the northern hemisphere with snow and generally less light and sun at this time of year – but this year brings us still more special stresses, doesn’t it? With Omnicron and the news, etc, etc.
It’s started to feel like there’s a lot of “etc, etc” isn’t there? As in, just when we start to feel more positive about things, there’s something else. Granted, I think the media generally latches onto that “something else” as newsworthy, so perhaps it gets more attention, but nonetheless… there it is.
I hope whatever you’re doing, you’re doing something that’s helping you find some joy and light in these dark days. You deserve it.
Me? I’ve been writing, or in some cases, writing about writing. 😉 I’ve been working on Shade to Measure, the second full-length Shades of Beckwell book. This one is about Ash and Jessie, princes and female-owned-and-led construction firms. And, as I’ve recently discovered, music and sound. I often wish that I’d figure out some of these strange extra details BEFORE finding myself well into the book and sometimes a bit lost… but sometimes the draft just doesn’t work out that way.
I’ve also been crafting, mostly making miniatures still for my craft of choice. After finishing Santa’s House in December, I’ve been working on a grocer’s and connected post office, all still in quarter scale. I’ve decided to start making what will amount to a little town, which I think is kind of the direction I’ve been thinking since the start – as in, all of these buildings / structures while not obviously connected, are part of the same magical world. Kind of like my writing is, I suppose. It’s been interesting, and I’m getting a little closer every day to more assembly.
Next up (and a 3D file from a company called Infinite Dimensions) is a full, five story medieval hotel! I’ve been drooling over that building for awhile, and while some people might say 3D printing is cheating, I’d compare it more to getting a kit. Yes, the walls and floors are attached, and each floor is broken into 4 pieces. It still needs to be prepared with sanding / primer, etc before it’s painted and then fully decorated and furnished. That’s how most 3D printed objects are, both the ones you purchase and the ones I design: while yes, the 3D printer helps manufacture the actual object, it’s just another tool that helps bring it into being – BUT the work isn’t just done at that point. I adore my little 3D printer and I’ve come to enjoy learning 3D design too (on a simplistic scale at this point, but still.) It feels a bit like something between sculpting and drawing, so I really enjoy it. Therefore, I’m a bit defensive when it comes to anyone calling it “cheating” or “simplistic.” I challenge them to actually try to do all of those things and experience what it’s actually like. But, I’ll get off my soapbox before I really get into it. 🙂
The other light I’ve been finding in the dark is reading.
I read a great book called The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig. Officially classified as horror, it’s twisty, mysterious, at times creepy…but ends on such a hopeful, optimistic note, that in itself was quite a feat. Plus, this is the first book I’ve really felt sucked into for a long time, so if you have a chance to read it, I highly recommend you give it a try. The paperback edition is on its way (I read the big old hardcover that I was lucky enough to get for Christmas.) 🙂
Anyway, that’s pretty much been the sum of my January. Writing, reading, and crafting are my light in the dark. I hope you’ve been able to find light and hope for you, too.
Take care, and as always, I wish you the joy and ability to find the magic in our everyday world.
Well, we made it to December and the end of the year – hooray!! While this year may not have had quite the sticker-shock that 2020 did, I still wouldn’t give it a five star rating, would you? Sometimes that’s made it a lot harder to see the magic and humor in our world. But it’s still there, whether we’re able to see it or not.
And now here we are, barrelling into the holiday season (which I always picture somewhat like a trip in a barrel down Niagra Falls. Just me? 😉 ) Now that I have kids, I find this month more stressful than ever, what with the school’s never-ending list of “fun activities for parents to discover 15 minutes before the bus arrives.” 😉 But I also do it to myself, applying pressure to somehow keep a work and production schedule as though this were just any other month that didn’t include extra social activities, baking, everything-else-ing. And honestly, I love the holidays. It was one of my grandma’s favorite holidays too, and that’s where the magic is.
When I bring out all the Christmas decorations that seem to accumulate with a life of their own, I don’t just see the little shiny red ornament. I remember that red apple the year Grandma decorated her whole tree exclusively in them. I remember the excitement of Christmas when I was a kid, whether that was the weeks leading up to it – yes, probably enjoying those school activities. Or, eating waxy cheap advent calendar chocolates that tasted extra good with each growing number. I hold onto the wonder and memories of Christmas Eve, out with my family and visiting my great-aunt, often with both sides of the family there, a crazy fun evening of food and laughter and drinks. Every ornament, every holiday brings back those ghosts of the past, hanging around and over us for better or for worse. There’s something magical in those echoes of past laughter and memories, as though they’re all gathered around us, helping us celebrate the current holiday simultaneous with the past.
That’s the kind of magic I want to bring my girls every holiday season. That’s why I’ll plan our advent calendar full of activities like decorating stockings for the new kitties, or going out to see the lights, or wrapping gifts. These are the memories that I hope bring them that sense of magic and wonder in the years to come, maybe many years from now, as they still do for me.
Of course, the holidays can also bring back the not-so-good memories too. The stress, the anxiety, the depression that many fall into, some of it having to do with the holidays, some of it with the ending of the year. Which is why I think being able to see that humor and magic becomes both harder and more essential. I have two things for you that I hope might help.
First, an early gift for you! Here’s a printable adult coloring book (click here to download yours) that I made with images and quotes related to Shade for Love. If you color any of them, please share – I’d love to see them! I also hope that in even a small way, they give you that moment of quiet and peace you deserve.
I’m also sharing a picture of our own personal “tree-cat” in hopes he offers you a smile. Cats and decorations can be a fairly catastophic combo, can’t they? This year I suspected that would be the case, especially with three kittens, so I stuck strictly with plastic ornaments. I hadn’t expected that a) one of the kittens would literally knock the ornaments out of my hands and off the branch as I tried to hang it, LOL! or b) that another of the kittens would attempt to curl up and sleep IN the tree. That’s Loki, and yes, he is VERY aptly named. 😉 If the tree goes down, you know who’s name I’m probably shouting. 😉
Anyway, as we end this year, I just wanted to thank you so much for joining me here. I wish you and yours all the best this holiday season, whichever holidays you may celebrate, and here’s to a very wonderful year ahead in 2022! See you then.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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!