COMING SOON! INSPIRATION!

Inspiration is everywhere. Ah, but whether you stop and notice, that’s the issue.

Mindlessly watching television, I found the end of a tennis tournament. Suddenly, there’s Kevin Spacey being interviewed. Quick blurb. “Defeat, failure, falling on your face, falling on your ass are the only things that teach you how to win.”

That applies to us all. Does it inspire you?

Read it again.

“Defeat, failure, falling on your face, falling on your ass are the only things that teach you how to win.”

Heck yeah it inspires whether you’re running the next marathon, competing for a client’s business, or writing your first novel. Or your next novel. Or your short story.

A few days alter, Inspiration surprised me while walking through the boy’s  department in a popular store.  I snapped a picture.

 

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What inspires you? Whatever it is, take advantage of it. If it’s a sign on Pinterest or the World Cup stage or a blurb in a magazine. Use it. Make a copy. Put it in your office or in your kitchen where you love to write. PUT IT UP. See it every day. We are visual creatures. Remind yourself that what you are doing is important. What you are doing is important. Do I have to say it again?

In an earlier blog, I took a picture of a tiny plant driving itself up through the concrete to about three inches on the side of the street where I walk everyday. The picture stayed on my board for a year.

The other evening I discovered the same plant like a familiar friend. It had come back and was bigger and stronger. I walked past it. Had second thoughts. Then I turned around with my iPhone and snapped a current picture.

It reminded me where I’d been last year. The umpteenth draft. Now I was finished with my book. I felt miles ahead of where I was last year. And the plant was a visual reinforcement. It made me feel stronger. It made me proud of myself.

Just think of inspiration as a coming attraction.

“”Coming Soon. Inspiration. “”

Don’t wait for it.

But, do watch for it.

 

 

 

 

NOT WRITING — NOT AN OPTION !

What is it you tell yourself when you’re supposed to be — but you’re not — writing?

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9 EXCUSES

  1. The smoke alarm went off all night. No fire. Too high to replace the battery. I need a nap. I’ll write better after I catch a few.
  2. I’ll watch “Murder in the First.” Then I’ll start writing. It’s research!
  3. The leaves on my weeping fig tree need cleaning. I can think and plot as I clean.
  4. Look at all the books on my shelves. I’ve never read half of them. Reading is essential to writing. I’ll spend a few hours reading.
  5. I need to sit on the deck and think about the ending to my book. Maybe  I’ll get some new ideas.
  6. Wonder what Plato said about excuses? I should research that.
  7. My blog is what’s important. Helping other writers learn to write better. That should come first, shouldn’t it?
  8. My pro bono editing. The client is waiting half a world away for corrections.
  9. What about all those people waiting on my novel? Hmmm.

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JOY IN MUDVILLE

Nothing can match the joy I felt when I opened a brown box with no return address. Thinking about it now, I suppose I should have been cautious. Not me. I instantly ripped right into it.

get-attachment.aspxMy cup, my cup!

An anonymous reader miraculously found the exact cup to replace my broken one. (See blog before last)

“There was joy in Mudville tonight.”  Why did that quote come to me? Why did I  say that?

I thought I had heard it before. It came creaking into my brain from somewhere. Oh, yeah, it was a poem. Junior High School.

As a writer, I became curious. I looked it up. The quote was in reference to a baseball player named Casey who struck out. The correct quote was  “But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.”

As a writer, I became curious.

Who wrote something so long ago that had resonated with me on some level even today and stayed with me for more years than I want to count?

Ernest Lawrence Thayer. Born in 1863, died in 1940.  Edited Harvard’s satirical magazine, the Lampoon. Worked on the West Coast in the newspaper era for the San Francisco Examiner, contributed occasional humorous columns to the paper under the pen name “Phin”–derived from a college nickname, “Phineas.”

Although he had poor health, he continued to write for the Examiner, much of his work syndicated by the Examiner.

DeWolf Hopper, a comedian/actor read his poem at the Wallack’s Theatre in New York City. That particular evening was a “baseball night.” The crowd loved it!

For years no one knew who Phin was, but in the early 1900’s it became clear the author of the famous poem was indeed Thayer.

As writers our work comes in many stages from many directions and inspirations, easing out into the public in many forms. And we may not know what people think of our work right upfront. In some cases, we may never know.

As a columnist for years, I received instant feedback. As a blogger, I receive instant feedback. But if you’re writing a novel, not so instant.

Thayer’s story can teach us one sure thing. If you’re writing and no recognition should ever come, would you still write?

If you are a true writer, yes.

So get to it.

 

BLESS YOUR IKEA HEART

The reflection of IKEA is in my rear view mirror. I’m early. Traffic is congested on I-25 where I have an excellent view. Something to entertain me until the doors behind me open.

imagesUsually, I’m in the middle of traffic, dodging vehicles, changing lanes, looking for roads less traveled.

Everyone is going. Or coming. And I wonder randomly about all those drivers.

I think of their TO DO lists.

People on personal missions.  What holds them back? Did they plan well? Did they think it out? Are they going to make it to their destinations? Or will they change their minds in the middle of the journey? Being  in the right place at the right time. How many will make it to work on time?

Writing toward publication is like that.

We have our chosen work, something we believe in. Each day we show up. Things change. Our vision is altered. We inadvertently change our course.  Or we allow someone else to change our course. We take a wrong turn. Turn right when it should have been left. Was it enough planning? Was it new information that grabbed us by the hair of our heads? Redo, Redo. The words flash before us.

Have we depended on an expired GPS?

Listening to too many people and adjusting to a collaborative vision?

Allowing traffic to interfere.

Have the whiz-bang gurus disrupted your idea, misled you?

Regroup.

Move on.

But move.

 

A CUP IS A CUP IS A CUP

Windows wide open, birds warbling, rain drops struggling for freedom in grey hovering clouds. Beautiful except for one thing. I am mourning.

It is not a life or death loss many of us have had to endure. But it is a personal, straight to the heart loss that cannot be dealt with except with the passage of time.

It concerns the destruction of something very dear to me. And perhaps you will laugh or maybe relate.

Someone broke my coffee cup. And worse, I don’t have a picture of it. (The insert is nothing like my cup, but it will have to suffice.)

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I hear a snicker or two from a couple of you. I see the roll of eyes. But you have to understand that I drink copious amounts of coffee every morning and that white cup with a red postage stamp on the outside of it was the only cup I faithfully used every morning for three years. I still see the dark steaming liquid swirling against the red interior.

It was love at first sight.  It was a celebratory white cup made for Valentine’s Day. I carefully lifted it off the Starbucks shelf as if I’d found the Ark. I clutched it and took it home as if it were the dearest friend I’d ever had.

That cup was with me through the writing of my novel, through the editing of my novel, through the angst of my novel and through the happiness and delight of my novel.

That cup was there to greet me at 3:30 in the morning. It was valiant and lovely and truly my best friend. It was devoted to me. Rarely did I share it for fear that it might break.

And when I least expected it,  it did.

To the person who threw away the pieces it was only a cup. And I can understand that. How could she have possibly known?

Immediately I searched online for another. Nada. Even if I could have procured another exactly like it, it would never have been the same. Not really.

It reminded me of one thing. Enjoy the cup you are with. Live in the very moment.

Take no cup for granted.

 

 

 

Back on the Writing Track

Am I the only writer around to unintentionally take time off?

No writer’s block.

So what was it?  Did I not know how to end the book? Maybe.

So how did I feel not working on my novel?  Like the life had been literally sucked out of me. Truly. Like I was a ship without a safe harbor. Clichés? Sometimes you have to say what you feel and just let it out.

It began with a few trips that put my writing life on a roller coaster.

Sunrise in Australia

Sunrise in Australia

You can always take your laptop with you on trips. But I’m weak. I always find other things to do.  But this much I know. I don’t like it when I’m not writing. I don’t feel whole. I’m serious. (Oh, Darla,  you’re just trying to have something to say to get this blog up.)  No, it’s the truth. I am miserable. I mean utterly miserable. I am not myself.

My first book is currently with an excellent editor.  So I have released that one. But my second book is weirding me  out. It’s moving in a direction that has surprised me. And I like it. It borders on the best writing I’ve ever done. (And remember whose opinion that is…) But I am feeling terrific today and wrote from 5 -11:30 a.m. and had a glorious reunion with myself. And how did I get back on track?

I got up, put the coffee on, kept all the windows shuttered and began reading and editing the last forty pages.  Editing words, making corrections and amazing myself at what I had previously written.

Funny thing is I got to page 240 and anxiously scrolled down awaiting the next page only to discover blank pages. It seems I had stopped there. No, no and no!!!! What happens next?It was good and it was bad.

It was good because I realized that it was exciting enough that I was in turmoil because I didn’t know what happened. Yet, I was in a funk until tomorrow the same time when I work out the dilemma I left them in. Will I kill off a character? I think I have to. Will it hurt? Probably. Will they feel it?   Hey this is fiction.

Thoughts anyone?

D-d-d-d-doubt.

“All of us, whether we are in this business or not, have little voices that tell us we’re not good enough.” Ellen DeGeneres 

Thanks Google!

Thanks Google!

Ellen is once again hosting the Academy Awards this year.  If Ellen can speak of  those scary voices,  surely that alone will bring unbridled relief to the rest of us!

We may all have those moments when we are at the top of a precipice and can either slide down the back way or go for the gold. Largely, and apparently, it’s up to us! We stick or we slip.

Some even believe that self doubt can work for you.

Dani Shapiro Thanks Google!

Dani Shapiro
Thanks Google!

Dani Shapiro, author of  “Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life,”

“…I’m not sure self-doubt is an obstacle. It might even be a writer’s best ally. It seems to me that every really good writer I know is plagued by it. Confidence is highly overrated when it comes to creating literature. A writer who is overly confident will not engage in the struggle to get it exactly right on the page — but rather, will assume that she’s getting it right without the struggle. People often confuse confidence with courage. I think it takes tremendous courage to write well — because a writer has to move past the epic fear we all face, and do it anyway.”

And, no matter the current books written by Anne Lamott, I always return to her “Bird by Bird.” Surely a standard for writers everywhere.

Anne Lamott Thanks Google!

Anne Lamott
Thanks Google!

“You get your confidence and intuition back by trusting yourself, by being militantly on your own side. You need to trust yourself, especially on a first draft, where amid the anxiety and self-doubt, there should be a real sense of your imagination and your memories walking and woolgathering, tramping the hills, romping all over the place. Trust them. Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.”

I love those words. And isn’t that what we are here to do?

Would love to hear how your dancing is going.

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