Family, Power, Reflections, Writing

Chow Mein for Breakfast

I’m alone—in a quiet house—today, so I ate leftover chow mein for breakfast. That’s the sort of wild and crazy thing I do when left to my own devices. My youngest son, Daniel, is visiting from Nebraska and took some of the family to the Cincinnati Reds game in Oakland today. I stayed home to care for the dogs.

connect_heartNo next novel in production, yet, but I may get my brain in gear to revise a short story today. Otherwise, I’ll probably read the afternoon away. I’ve surprised myself by reading seven novels since I wrapped up An Illusion of Trust. For me, since I started writing seriously, that qualifies as binge-reading.

Maybe soon I’ll be able to shut the doors, insert the earplugs, and binge-write. I’ve been a little nervous that one of my novel ideas hasn’t taken me captive. But now I’m trying not to listen when the dark side whispers, “Does that mean none of your story ideas is worthy?” I’m trying hard not to take my Muse’s silence as a sign that I shouldn’t write at all. I’m trying to keep my distance from that perfection trap.

I wish I could remember where I saw the link to Brené Brown’s TED talk, which I’ve linked to below, but I thank, thank, thank whoever posted that so I could find it—and watch it over and over. I’m learning to have the courage to be vulnerable. I’m learning the difference between shame and guilt. I’m learning to accept my short-comings and still feel worthy. I’m doing this because I want to connect to life wholeheartedly.

More than anything, I seek connection through my writing. But as an author, just as in my real life, I allow my fears to restrain me. I write from my heart, but I don’t write wholeheartedly. I let my perfectionism steal that from me. Maybe when I learn these lessons, I’ll be free to write another novel.

Also read: Knowing that my friend, author Michelle D. Argyle, struggles with some of the same issues, I shared the link with her. Brené’s talk inspired her to blog about The Price of Perfection.

How are you living wholeheartedly?

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Dream, Fiction, Imagination, Inspiration, Musings, Novel, Power, Short story, Words, Writing

Dreams, daydreams, and nightmares

We write fiction because we are dreamers. Whether we dream by day or night, whether our dreams are sweet or nightmarish, our stories and novels come from that place where real and imagined combine.

Rêverie (Daydream) – Paul-César Helleu, 1901

At the mere mention of that place, some of us may drift off to ponder the nature of reality. Before long, we’re crafting a tale of some fantasy “I wish” or historical “what if” or futuristic “it could” or contemporary “it does.”

What power we writers hold. We create. From a lock of hair, a tilt of head, a room, a city street, a desire, a fear, a thousand other details, we fashion a character, a locale, a situation. We write a thousand words, a hundred thousand. “It’s alive!”

Some of us write brilliantly. Most of us less so. But we are writers all. We record what we dream because we have that ability. Because we want to. Because we have to.

We give life to our dreams out of despair, joy, hope, fiendishness, playfulness, cleverness, daring. What else can we do?

We are dreamers.

We write.


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Author, Books, Inspiration, Life, Memoir, Musings, Power, Real Life, Reflections, Writing

Change is Always Happening

Twice before, I’ve written posts about Dani Shapiro’s memoir, Devotion, and how it touched me. Now and then, I pick it up to re-read an entry at random. A few days ago, I read this:

Change is always happening. So simple. So obvious, really—and at the same time so terrifying. A friend had recently sent me directions to her house, and in describing the way the names of the roads changed for no apparent reason, she had written:  Everything turns into something else. No wonder I didn’t want to think about this. What was the point of thinking about this? Love, joy, happiness—all fleeting. Trying to hold on to them was like grasping running water.

I’m older than a lot of you reading this. I think Dani’s realization is one that comes to most of us as we grow older. Everything is fleeting. Everything turns into something else. What was most important to you at the age of five is forgotten and replaced by real concerns at fifteen. And then again at twenty-five. And forty. And …

Everything changes. All things renew, reform, restart. I think back on the times I thought, I can’t survive this. But I did. I remember the times I thought, Nothing will ever be better than this. But I was wrong. Everything changes.  Everything turns into something else.

Grasp what you can and don’t worry about the rest flowing through your fingers. This is a lesson I need to relearn daily. How about you?


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Fiction, Life, Opinion, Power, Real Life, Writing

Why age makes you a better writer

A few days ago, I confessed that I once burned books. I am not proud of that action, but while reading your comments, I realized something. I do not regret being the person who committed that act. I don’t regret being any previous version of me. I believe they were all necessary to make me the person I am today—someone I sort of like.

Towanda in action!

I used to envy those of you who are writing seriously at a young age—and young being relative, that means most of you, as far as I’m concerned. But you know what? To paraphrase the great Towanda*: “Face it girls, I’m older than you and I have more experience.”

I’m able to write from a different perspective. Think about this: at the age of twelve, fifteen … even twenty, could you have written with the depth you can today?

We are admonished to write what you know, and because of my advanced years, I’ve accumulated a good bit of knowledge—mostly trivial, yes, but what better use for trivia than to spice up your writing?

Write what you know can also mean write what you know from an emotional level. The older you are, the deeper the emotional well you have to draw from. Even pain can be used for good. You must have lived in order to write about life.

Of course, some you youngins have probably lived far more exciting lives than I have, but for the sake of my argument, I’ll ignore that. Age makes you a better writer. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

* If you haven’t read Fried Green Tomatoes (or seen the movie) you really must.

Doubt, Motivation, Power, Writing

Warrior Woman

What a difference a week makes. This time last week, I had sunk the lowest I ever have in discouragement over my writing. Then a river of encouragement lifted me up and carried me away from that dark place. Since I blogged about that, I feel an update is in order.

Victorious!

So, yeah … I fought back against that Blue Muse. How? During this last week, I wrote a new synopsis, a new query letter, a new first paragraph, a one-paragraph pitch for a contest at agent Nephele Tempest’s blog, audio recorded and edited two novel chapters, and entered the Sandy Writing Contest.  I also attempted to dissect Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” which wasn’t easy, considering I have very little practice.

I think that’s what you call a blitz attack. And it worked!