Sunday, July 16, 2017

Time to Grow Up?

I was talking to a friend on Twitter today about writing goals and aspirations. He is working diligently on a screen play and obviously is very invested time-wise with his writing career. The subject of my second book came up and he very innocently asked if I had started it.

If Twitter had sound effects, a derisive snort would have accompanied my response that I not only had started it, but that it was done...and, truth be told, it's partially edited. Making this admission to him had an interesting effect on me. The first is that I realized that I have written two books. I've always dismissed the second book as not counting because I haven't yet published it. But, saying to my friend that the book is done and really not far away from being published... Well, I totally see myself in a different light. 

I think I may well be a writer.

Maybe not well-paid. Maybe not well-sold. But I did write two books. That's got to count for something.

And I've written short stories that have been published in minor publications, as well as written all the other short stories and poetry that I never tried to publish. Maybe I'm not like all the other "I've written novels since I was two and would die if I didn't write" people. But, maybe--just maybe--I really am a writer.

The second effect was that I thought, "What the hell is wrong with me that I'm not just finishing and publishing the damn thing!" It's been five years--Five years!!--since I started writing the thing and I just keep dragging my feet and ignoring the pleas coming from my laptop to finish the little darling and set it free.




I know I've mentioned this curious procrastination here before. This reluctance (inability?) to get unstuck truly boggles my mind. I have a sneaky suspicion that anxiety is involved somehow. I'll go to write or to edit--I'll WANT to write or edit--and then the What-If's creep in (what if it sucks, what if I suck, etc...) and I just don't.




Yesterday my family and I went to Lincoln for one of the concerts of the Meadowlark Music Festival (Saxophonist Marco Albonetti with percussionist Dane Richeson). Before the concert we went to Barnes and Noble and I went back to the Writing section--a little reluctantly, believe it or not. 
Sitting on the shelf was a book called Fearless Writing by William Kenower. I'm not saying this book is going to be the savior of my procrastinating self. Last night, though, I read through the introduction and feel better because if someone wrote a book about "how to create boldly and write with confidence" then it's not just me with this problem.

Do I feel silly? Yes. Part of me is rolling my eyes at the part that is reading a writer's self-help book. But, I want to write. I want to finish my story, I want to figure this out.



Have you heard of the book Fearless Writing? Does fearless writing come naturally to you? 

Friday, July 07, 2017

Funny Friday Photos: Cute Squirrels, Dead Ducks and Delusional Deer.

Happy Weekend!

Things I learned over the last two weeks:

1. I better write posts on Friday nights, because if I wait until Saturday it won't be written.

2. How I define creativity needs adjusting. The first week of living an artist's life was fun, but I found that viewing creativity as an end product (ie. something I could see or read) was incredibly limiting. I did find that I was eager to be creative each day, so even just in a week my motivation improved. But lack of tangible "product" ideas made me stop the second week. I've decided that I'm going to commit to another week of daily creativity, but it's going to be writing focused. I think I'll include editing as an acceptable creative act, as well. Even though it's not new writing, I figure you have to use creativity to fix old writing.

3. My thirteen-year-old Visla is a bird killing machine. When she was a couple of years old she caught approximately five birds out of the air one summer. This summer she's killed two birds so far - a robin and a baby barn swallow. My children are horrified with her bird killing ways, but I explain to them she can't help her instincts. She would have been the best hunting dog, if we did that kind of thing. I still feel bad about the baby bird, though. She didn't crush it outright, so it was still living when she gave it to me, and it died in my hands. :(

Well, now I need some funny photos! Are you ready? Let's go!








It's expression in the bottom picture is exactly how excited I get when I catch a new Pokemon in Pokemon Go!






Yes,  I know this is an elk, but did you know that elk are one of the largest animals in the deer family? So I wasn't wrong when I called it a deer in the title. Yes, I actually worried over that and looked it up.




Pun!



I don't really have a favorite this week. I think they're all kind of cute.

Have a lovely weekend!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Artist's Life

We could probably start this post by talking about a sort of identity crisis I had when I moved.



Let it suffice to say that when I moved I was stripped of all the ways I used to feel important and special. It's just what happens when you change up your life completely.

Family



I've always been mom and wife, though, even after moving (of course.) Over the last two years I've learned that those are the two roles that mean the most to me and make me most proud of who I am. Perhaps that's why, if I have a choice between spending time with my family or working on a story, I'll most likely choose family.  Over the last two years, I've decided to not feel bad about that fact, either. My kids will grow up and eventually I'll have all kinds of time to to write and edit. I want to fill my memory with as much love and children hugs as possible now while I can still get them.

Career

After the first year, due to monetary issues (ie. lack of...) I returned to social work.






And now I've comfortably reclaimed social worker as another part of my identity. Different population and different type of social work, but it turns out I really do enjoy helping others, and seem to be pretty good at it. Nobody enjoys the paperwork, but I feel good when I get it all done, so there's that bit of silver lining.

Writing

When I released Finding Meara I added the role of author to my identity, even though (because I self-published) I felt a little like I was cheating. Now, five years later, I don't know what to think. Am I an author, really? Or because I haven't been making writing a priority does that mean I'm a big fraud and never was a writer/author? If I do still consider myself a writer, what kind of writer am I? Will I ever be disciplined enough to actually finish editing Through the Fairy Ring and write more/new stories?


I honestly feel like I am a writer, but I sure don't act like one!

And then, when I do try to write, my muse is...well, absent? I don't know, but I don't really feel all that creative. I'm trying to pump water out of a dry well. I plan to write every day, and I really do want to. I WANT to write. A month ago I plotted a flash fiction story for a Wattpad contest. I thought it was great, right? Went to write it out a couple of weeks ago and realized it was...well...crap. I mean an honest to goodness craplet. I can't seem to work on anything that gets me excited to write. I'll have little brushes with words and ideas that make me believe I'm going to turn on the writing mojo and get cracking again. But it just fades away or gets stalled out.

What's a writer to do?

This week I was driving to do home visits in a nearby tiny Nebraska town and heard a John Mellencamp interview on NPR. He said that one day he'd realized he'd become someone he didn't like. He was focused on how his records were performing and getting frustrated if they didn't get a lot of acclaim or do well. He was living a "rock and roll" life, focused on the money, glory and how his music benefited him instead of living "an artists life" and was determined to change that.

He decided he was going to "create" every day. It didn't have to be any certain type of creating, he just had to create. He paints, or writes, or plays music, or whatever. And he found the muse became readily available to him. He'll be painting something and all of a sudden his Muse will overwhelm him with something he needs to write. He'll be writing and a melody will come to him. He said that the act of choosing to create every day has enabled him to get out of his own way and just make art. He doesn't worry about if it's good or bad, or whether it'll be profitable or if people will like it. He just creates. Every day.

So, I figure, what the heck? Why not give it a try. Let's see if by creating anything I can start writing something. I'm not terribly talented in many artistic areas. Most of the creative arts I've been involved in require other people (acting, drumming.) But, I figure it doesn't matter, really. I will just try out some new things. I'll draw, or paint, or write, or craft something (scrapbooking page? beading? wire art?)

I've decided to commit to one week of living an artist's life. I know myself well enough to know that I need to make a declaration of my doable goal in order to even have half-a-chance of actually doing this. Here it is, my declaration. You, reading this right now, are my witness and it's to you I'll have to report to next weekend.

Today, obviously, this blog post is going to be my creation. Tomorrow, who knows. But I think it's going to be fun to find out. And that might be what I've lost in writing. Why my muse doesn't want to come and play. I'm no fun to be around. Hopefully I'll find that changed, even if just a little bit, by next weekend.

How do you maintain creative flow in your life?
Are you a "show up and work" kind of creator, or do you have to have inspiration to create?
(I really do want to know!)

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