“A dream left in the dust will stay covered forever unless it is uncovered. Let the air stir the voice within.” -- Crystal Chameleo
A few weeks ago, a mentor of mine recommended that I add writing samples to my website. This addition is necessary so visitors know more about my writing style and hear my voice. She said to pick parts of my manuscript (not done) that will showcase the best of my writing and provide enough to entice readers to want more. Her recommendation was to provide some dialogue and non-dialogue that would showcase my protagonist.
The problem is, I don’t know what to add. It’s overwhelming to me. Maybe this is the case because I haven’t finished the manuscript yet? It’s scary. All in all, I’ve come to the realization that I’ve been hiding and scared to just unleash the writer I want to be. Oh, sure I’ve been saying for months that I’m a writer. That was a big step! To add the word writer on my website was another brave step.
It’s been a process of baby steps for me to come out of the shadows of my full time career. Let me be blunt. It’s so much easier for me to talk about my career and what I do for a daily living. As much as I love managing client loyalty surveys, building relationships, and driving business results – my love is not nearly as deep as it is for the story I’ve been writing. It’s not so much that I see the manuscript as the end all and be all…it’s more than that. It’s exciting to think and dream of another world where a young girl can be more than what she realizes. That’s really what gets my heart racing!
Why? I’m the daughter of a single mother and if it weren’t for her ability to raise me right and believe in myself then I would not be where I am today. Every young girl needs that.
Young girls today are hungry for a heroine they can relate to on an every day basis. They want to imagine going to school with her or, more than likely, BE her.
When I write, I believe that I can be more too. Even though I’m not a young girl in my teens, I too want to be more than what I am today. To escape the day-to-day life of work, family, kids and a pregnancy gives me wings to fly into a world that only exists through my feverishly typing fingers.
It’s freedom to believe.
With my day job, I already have proven to myself that I can be successful. I’ve even stepped out of a role that I spent my early real-life years striving for with what to me now seems desperation to be perfect.
With writing, I know I can’t be perfect because there will always be improvements. There will come a time when I will have to stop revising and have the manuscript done before I query. For the time-being, I just have to be me and write. That’s a freedom I can’t get from 9 to 5. There are limits. Don’t get me wrong, the passion I have for customer service has made my job very enjoyable for over three years. Then my life turned upside down back on October 9th due to a complete blood clot in my deep vein. I could have died along with the unborn baby I carried. I could have lost my leg. Life was more precious and my dreams flashed before me. I didn’t want to die with the regret of not trying to finish my manuscript. That’s why I believe I’m still here. I have finished business.
After that near death experience, I’ve had a recurring thought. A dream left in the dust will stay covered forever unless it is uncovered. Let the air stir the voice within.
What to share with the world on the other hand is what this blog is all about. The fear of putting that content out there means that dream is not just mine any longer. Like a baby in the womb, I get to feel the kicks of the story growing. After the baby is born, like many mothers feel, I have to share it and take all that goes with it. It’s not so much ridicule but rather that now I know that whatever I do is public. Many writers share this feeling I’m sure.
The call? That burning excitement of the unknown and what could happen. What if I take the chance and go for it? What do I really have to lose? Nothing.
Remember when you first learned how to ride a bike without training wheels? I couldn’t wait to get those wheels off and be like the big kids. When the training wheels came off, I fell more than a few times. The rose bush hurt the most. True story! I careened full throttle into my mother’s red rosebush next to the driveway. To this day, I won’t plant a rosebush next to a driveway, walkway or any other way where a person could get harmed! There were some thorns to pick out of my leg and I still have a slight scar on my leg that only I can see because I know it is there.
Of course, I eventually moved up to a ten-speed bike and then I had to learn how to use the brakes and balance. One time, I hit a crack in the street and went flying into grass. Lucky for me my pants were torn and a minor cut was the only issue.
The last year, I’ve watched my youngest bike faster than ever even with training wheels on this tiny bike. Next year, she’ll still need them but I’m sure will want to be like the big sister or other kids who don’t have them.
Thinking of being a kid and learning how to bike, I realize I was so focused on the goal that I didn’t enjoy the journey of biking all that much. Maybe I did and I just have over-simplified the process as an adult. However, I noticed that lately I’ve haven’t been enjoying the journey I’m on now which is writing my first manuscript.
After some thought on this, I realized I want to enjoy it. Just like my pregnancy, I want to savor the daily growth of a baby on her way in the near future. My other baby, my manuscript, is also growing in word count. The problem? I’m not enjoying the journey since I’m worrying about everything I’ve been learning.
The stream of thoughts go something like this:
- Word count matters. How many words did I type in the last hour? (Checking...)
- Voice. Can I hear my writer voice?
- What will I do for the next chapter? I need to outline. Wait, I can just wing it!
The thoughts were overtaking my creative mind and I had lost that enjoyment of writing. Perhaps I spent too much time trying to learn how to write this way or that.
I want to enjoy the journey of being a new writer learning the ins and outs of the publishing world or the new options that await us. For any new writer, there are more options than ever for getting a book published. If you realize this, you know that no matter what, you can end up having your novel done and published even if it is only in an e-book format. That goal is the destination.
With that thought, I realized that this journey I’m on now will happen to me only once in my life. There will be only one time I get to write my first manuscript. Even if I don’t publish it, I want to finish it.
The age to use to training wheels goes by quickly. My kids are proving that time flies. In a matter of months, we can write our hearts out and lose that first time feeling of our first completed manuscript. No matter how painful the process may be, how many falls we make, or scars we my have at the end – we only get to be the newbie one time.
So let’s finish it but enjoy the journey along the way but stay away from rosebushes!
Even though I didn’t participate in #NaNoWriMo
, I can relate to having a plan to write X number of words within a certain time. I’ve always been goal oriented. What I had to learn along the way, especially as a former manager of direct reports, is that I can’t let a missed goal become more of a distraction. That thinking has, in the past, caused me to delay any additional positive movement to attain the goals set after the missed goal. The chain reaction would spin me farther down the negative black hole. I’ve had this struggle the last few months due to health reasons but even before that I would miss goals. Either way, I’m still frustrated that my first draft sat around this long with the word count needle nearly stuck in the same position.
When that feeling of hopelessness creeps into our brains (and many of us writers hit this wall now and again), we need to hit the brakes before we head face first into the palms of our hands and give up hope!
During the last 24 hours, many of my writing friends have been bummed with missing their goal (especially some who aimed to complete the #NaNoWriMo
challenge). What we as writers must realize is that even if we missed the goal, we should celebrate any accomplishment. Don’t celebrate to the point that we make excuses though but rather think about how many more words we have because of having the goal in the first place! No matter how small that word count is, it is more than what you would have otherwise. What was the starting word count? Zero. Now what do you have? More than zero I hope. If not, there must be a reason to explore. (For me, October was a near zero because I got that pesky blood clot/ DVT in my left leg.)
Lately, I’ve been diving back into writing my first draft. For example, I had a goal of 1Kaday over Thanksgiving and I got a whopping 2245 words written (sarcasm may not be clear here but it's there). It’s frustrating, but I let the fun of the holiday distract me. I have kids and they are getting older. Whatever the reason, I am accountable for that goal being missed.
I’ve learned that I wish I had a higher number to celebrate. At least I have more than what I had though.
The number one rule is to remember this feeling of guilt and learn from it. If we want to be a writer, we must write. Therefore, I am accountable to my individual goal of being just that – a writer. If I continue down the path and delude myself then I will have to be accountable either way. On the flipside, if I learn from this I can set perhaps a more realistic goal over the time I take off in December.
I am accountable to take action to meet the goal of finishing the first draft. Step by step, word for word. It is all up to me. Given the last few months, I had to move out the timeframe a bit. I refuse to let one missed goal stop me from what the final goal is – my first finished draft.
- Remember, don’t let one missed goal derail you from the overall goal.
- Learn from missed goals.
- Revisit your goal planning to plan realistic, attainable goals.
- Celebrate the goals along the way.
- Keep writing with the long-term, high-level goal in mind. Every milestone counts.
- You are accountable to yourself as a writer (first draft, revised manuscript, or whatever the end goal may be).
I hope everyone is back into the groove of working and burning off some of those Thanksgiving leftovers.
Tomorrow is it for many writers making it to the end of NanoWrimo. It’s the end of November. I had plans to join in on the event but with the emergency room visits in October and November for my DVT and pregnancy… it didn’t happen. Life is like that. I’m okay with it and have let the discouragement and frustration go.
For some reason, I was not happy about how little I’ve written the last two months. Now with one day left of November, I tried many times to finish the blog post I had started during my Thanksgiving Staycation.
Recently, some family members told me about Joyce Meyer (www.joycemeyerministries.com) so I watched a show of hers this morning that I had recorded on my DVR. I’m not a person who would get up to watch a show at 5 AM. Call me a nightowl! What struck me during the show is how we can’t go take action on something without taking accountability. Moreover, she spoke about how we need to clean our houses. Seriously, she said, “Go clean your house!”
After limited mobility the last two months…well…my house is a dusty mess. Clutter and papers are sitting in stacks where I never would have let them accumulate.
After working my morning hours, I took lunch with the hopes of writing my blog for today. The idea from Thanksgiving was there but nothing, nada, zilch came to mind after staring at my laptop screen. Lunchtime was half over.
I looked around at my house with an open floorplan. I could see my mess from nearly every vantage point. Joyce Meyer, in her firm voice, echoed in my head, “Clean your house.” Now that I’m getting larger with the baby and my mobility is still not up to par it would be a workout. Something stirred in me. Oh, that’s the baby again kicking me like some martial arts star in the making.
Sighing, I got up slowly and walked over to my office table that I use to spread out my creative wings. I mean papers. Pulling up a chair, I sorted paper into piles for tossing, recycling and keeping. Maybe this is procrastinating but after nearly 30 minutes I felt better looking around seeing more of the work surface without an overwhelming sense of where to begin.
I had started to declutter!
What does this have to do for writing? I felt that the small steps for writer kind were stirring, not just the baby kicking my bladder.
Sitting down to write, I felt words come to me and I feel good for writing a blog and can feel my heart racing as my mind wanders to writing my WIP.
My protagonist awaits…she wants something. Maybe she is a teenager who wants to clean her room? Nah…but she definitely wants to clean up a mess of a story that has been left dust covered for nearly a week!
Today’s blog is short in comparison to Tuesday’s because it was one of those days I struggled to get all my thoughts in order. Now that I’m back into writing again, I have had to figure out where to begin (again).
What I am currently struggling with is with the list of ideas I have for various scenes and I’m overwhelmed. I want to write them all – now. It’s a great feeling but definitely not doable. Facing the reality, I was procrastinating one particular scene I had left in the dust. Rather than put it off any longer, I followed my instincts and used one of my “trick yourself Crystal” moments to get some writing traction.
What I did is what some may say is a form of procrastination. For me, it could be that but I do my best to use this trick sparingly. I started doing research on one particular scene that involves a dress. This dress is just that – a dress in a scene that needs to be written next.
Once I thought of the dress and designing it…and how it played into my character’s life experience then I found the sweet feeling of creativity flowing. My heart raced and my fingers were going faster and faster on the keyboard.
What I’ve found with me is that when I hit a “writing” wall, I gravitate to details. Perhaps thinking of a detail in your story could spark a revolution of creativity.
Here’s a list of how to do this at a high level (looking at an area of your WIP that is need of depth):
- Focus on a particular section of the story, not an entire chapter. For me, I find I'll read the last two pages at most.
- Search for it if you have to it. Read it as objectively as possible and ask questions of yourself as a reader. Would I want to know more? How would such a small detail impact my story?
- Think about stories you love to read again and again. Was there a small detail in the story that let you in to the character’s life more than you would expect? What did it tell you about the development of the story or other characters?
- Is there some detail or item in the story that occurs often enough to lend itself to be more important than it seems?
- Brainstorm. Write anything that comes to mind.
- Use your senses. Do your best to view your scene through the eyes of characters. Would their view change the item’s significance?
- Write and don't stop about that item. Let it go and see what happens. It may not mean anything. Or, it may just give you that moment in the story that takes us a ride we never expected.
While reading, I look for those small diamonds in the cave of the story…the hidden places where you can figure out more about a character and dive deeper. It usually can show more about where the story is going. Someone reading this may not think that the dress I'm obsessing over means much. In fact, it may not in the end. What matters is that it got me going again.
But, I think many writers will understand how I could obsess over something that is seemingly insignificant.
Has anyone used this approach to get the writing creativity thoughts going again? If you try it, let me know if helped. I’d love to hear your feedback!
Before I dive in, thank you to everyone for your comments! Being new to this blog/comment process has been a learning experience the last week. Please know I appreciate your time to make a comment on my blog and am looking into replying to you! I spent the last few minutes finding the comments and will get back to each of you personally! (Ah the lessons we learn as we stumble along the way… sigh!)
Last Tuesday, I posted my first blog in quite a long time writing about my experience with a very challenging pregnancy and how I had to put my writer dream on hold during that time. I'll explain how all of this ties into writing.
A week later, I’m still on the journey but just one week further along. During this time, I’ve reflected on how far I’ve come and I’m celebrating. Why? I’ve made it another week and I’ve posted two blogs and met some amazing people on Twitter.
24.4 represents the number of weeks and days I’m along in my pregnancy. Each day counts. Looking back on the last 24 weeks, I’ve made through every struggle with the goal of still being able to live and follow my dream of being a writer. It’s not a marathon sticker number I can put on the back of my car but I’m just as proud.
There have been three phases to the pregnancy that made my word count take a nose dive.
During the early weeks I had horrible morning sickness and I didn’t care about writing.
Next, I had walking bacterial pneumonia since my immune system was down and again, I didn’t care about writing. (Weeks are going by and no writing!)
I hit a few weeks when I felt better and started writing. Finally! It took a few hours…okay a day or two to be honest…of trying to figure out where to start again or where I left off the last time.
Last Tuesday, I mentioned that I had a third final blow and I'll attest that it nearly took me out of writing and shut off the dream.
The day was October 6th and started like every day. Ache here, hungry, getting restless about what to get done for the day. I ran errands, felt great, even dressed up (that means a nice top and jeans for me, not velour or PJs) and just felt great. Suddenly that night around 9 PM my left leg started swelling. By 11 it was 3 times the size of my right leg. My husband took me to the emergency room. After an ultrasound test came back negative for any blood clots, the nurse told me I had probably overdone it and need to take it easier.
The next day I was miserable but made it to my prenatal appointment in the morning. My doctor told me he was surprised that I didn’t have a clot because I definitely had the symptoms. My leg, still swollen, hurt and I couldn’t put a lot of pressure on it. My OB told me that if it got worse “at all” to go to the ER because even if a clot wasn’t found that one could be there, perhaps so small not caught. (That was great advice by the way.)
I went home and googled about blood clots. Do this if your gut ever tells you something is wrong. It was scary to learn read about blood clots but I believe this knowledge saved my life.
Let's skip by some time of me going to the Pumpkin Patch and sitting on a bench the whole time or just me sitting around on Saturday. By Saturday around 7:00 PM I was freaking out because my leg swelled more and turned a reddish purple color. Trust me, I WAS freaking out. I cried thinking that I was going to lose my baby, leg or life. My husband took me to the Emergency Room. The same nurse was there from the other night and her first question was to my husband, “Did she overdo it again?” Before he could respond, I firmly said, “No, and there is definitely something wrong. It’s only my left leg which is a major symptom of a blood clot.” She didn’t know this, but I had on my iphone ready via Safari the list of symptoms. Yes, I had every single symptom of what is called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or simply – a blood clot in a major vein.
This time around though, a different ultrasound technician found the clot and the Emergency Room doctor said she was happy I came in again. I was immediately admitted into the hospital and put on herapin, a blood thinner. For two nights, I did a lot of thinking.
What does this have to do with writing? Everything. I had the chance to nothing but think for two days and nights about what I wanted to live for: dreams, hopes, fears, life, kids, husband and that novel I wanted to write. The baby inside me had so much to live for as well. It was a time to dig deep on what I felt that was spiritual and supernatural. I won’t deny it. I didn’t get to death’s door but I got a bit too close to ignore it.
The sudden surge of emotions centered on the fact that I was blessed with a great job and I loved what I did. However, I also wanted to continue writing my book and let my characters come to life.
Let me add one more phase representing when I turned a corner.
I would be okay. I would write.
This isn’t over by any means. Every day I am taking two shots of blood thinners and making my rounds to visit various doctors. Tomorrow I have an appointment with the high risk doctor again. It’s scary. Again, I won’t deny it. Writing this blog has helped me feel a sense of purpose and more confidence about following my dream of writing. It's a welcome distraction. Eventually I’ll create a more seamless “My Story” about what has happened but I can’t help but share my thoughts as they occurred during such a tough time. It’s my hope that I help someone who may be going through a tough time in their writing and feel hope. Without hope, I always feel I have nothing. With writing, I feel that inner hope come alive – just like my protagonist. She’s been sitting in the chair waiting patiently for quite some time. Funny though, I swear I hear her tapping her foot waiting on me to get back to her. I better get going!
Until next time…please dream as if your life depends on it.
Before I get into today’s blog post, I personally want to thank everyone for taking the time to stop by and read my blog starting on Tuesday. I realize this is a new blog and it’s awesome to see in my stats that people are clicking on my site. The feeling from seeing these results has been humbling and motivating. Please feel free to leave comments! Now for what’s on my mind…
On Tuesday, I posted a blog about fighting for the dream and how we have to keep going. I know I wrote that I would blog about my personal experience but something happened after I posted that blog that I feel takes a bit more precedence for today’s post.
Within a few hours of posting Tuesday’s blog, a tweet appeared in my newsfeed with a RIP reference for the rapper @HeavyD.
My first thought was, “No way, he’s gotta be young…what 40’s?” With a certain amount of disbelief, I looked it up to find out that HeavyD had passed away suddenly after being rushed to the hospital. Again, this all happened the same day that I posted my first blog in nearly five months.
Why is that so important to me? Back on October 6th I woke up fine in the morning. That night, my left leg swelled about two times its size and I was rushed to the hospital. That morning I had no idea that would later be diagnosed with a DVT by Saturday. (Again, I’ll post a more detailed blog in the coming days about this.) I went back and read Tuesday’s blog post again I ended my blog about having no guarantees. We need to get going and take action on our dreams! If you find that you easily put off writing then think about how much you want that dream to come true – that feeling of finishing the novel. No matter the quality yet but just getting it done. What a feeling that would be! (I speak from my own experience here.)
What struck me is that is Heavy D died so young at the age of 44 and so suddenly. When he woke up that morning, I’m sure he had a list of things he wanted to do and some dreams he wanted to tackle. Do you? I know I do.
One more thing, if you check out @HeavyD on Twitter you’ll see an amazing last tweet. It is simply, “BE INSPIRED”. What an awesome last tweet. Let’s be inspired by that and get moving. Take action on your dream.
Now I need to go put my own words into action and get writing that novel stuck in my head. How about you?
I wanted this and wanted that. I had a goal to start writing a blog and work on my dream of being a writer. With over 60K words in the WIP Bank I felt I was on my way. Then, life happened. Much to my surprise and husband’s we found out back in June that we were expecting our third child March 2nd! We had come to a point in our lives we felt blessed with our two beautiful children and I started focus on the next phase of my life and a dream to be a writer. I balanced being a full-time job, mom duties, and all the other things that go with daily life. Okay, as balanced as I could be and still go after that dream of writing my novel that is.
What I didn’t expect was a roller coaster ride that would derail my dream of being a writer. Yet I’m a fighter and after a time that spirit came back to the surface and I’ve made the decision to go after that dream. The book in my head is there. The characters are waiting for their lives to be more real and tell me they can’t live their lives until I live mine. It’s the crazy writing thing that writers hear characters in our heads. They bang, scream, and do anything to get our attention. My characters changed after awhile and got sad. They wanted to know their futures. So do I.
During this rough journey the last five months I’ve learned more about life and dreams than I ever would have otherwise. I believe that with all my heart. I plan on writing about the journey but will summarize that I had plenty of time to sit on my laurels and think about exactly what life meant to my future, family, and friends. Trust me I thought about what I really wanted and had thought I wanted.
I wanted to write a blog about writing. In hindsight, iIt was one-dimensional and was not enough of me to give. It took all these troubles to realize that.
After some thought, the urge to write a blog that encompasses more about how I would approach this writing dream in general became my goal. It won’t be just about writing or my career. It will be deeper than that. Most of what I’ll write in the beginning will be about what has happened, how I faced a very troublesome pregnancy, and how I value the life I have and the one inside me. My wish is to share my journey to support people in their dreams and get through the rough times the best I can. There will be some focus on the daily ups and downs of bedrest and two distinct points of time when I ended up on my back in a hospital and told how lucky I was by an ER doctor that I trusted my instincts. Mainly though, I’ll write about how I plan to learn from this experience and how it has changed me as a person and as a writer. For women, I hope that if you have some of the troubles I had that you feel you are not alone. That goes for all the writers reading this as well.
Remember, there are others out there going through tough times. You are not alone.
Remember, there are others out there with dreams. You are not alone.
Remember, it is okay to feel fear of the unknown (medical, writing, career, etc.). You are not alone.
You can feel afraid. It’s okay. How I now get motivated is think about time as a precious gift and that if I let fear overtake me, I’ll have to face regret, not just fear. I’ve chose to face my fear and dive in…go for it. That way at least I know I tried.
For my next blog, I’ll get more into some of the pregnancy struggles I’ve had since June and therefore am providing a high level overview of what I see as the “Big 3” challenges so far.
These three phases of my pregnancy that were challenging to my body, mind, soul and each required bedrest of some kind:
- Morning Sickness which meant morning lasted all day and night
- Walking Pneumonia (bacterial)
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) AKA a blood clot in a major vein of my left leg
This journey of life is always in motion. There are no guarantees. As I write this, I know that the baby inside me is at risk. But aren’t we all every second?
Yesterday was one of those days when I sat there in front of a blinking cursor and heard my friend's voice, "You're thinking too much." Diane, a beta reader, told me that a few months ago when I was rambling about how I need to cut out this and redo that in my WIP. She was on to something. I cut but didn't cut as much as planned. After all was said and done, I felt great about what I had cut from the WIP and posted that as a status on my facebook page. Since then, I've heard her voice loud and clear ring through my head causing me a healthy pause at the perfect moments.
What exactly was I doing? For starters, I was thinking how I could make these two chapters spin differently. My protagonist sometimes tends to follow easily and then there are days she fights back. While attempting to write yesterday, I found I wanted to "force" the story my way. It wasn't going so well for me. Meanwhile, my protagonist was getting a bit more assertive that she really wanted to go quite an opposite path.
Something didn't feel right and I knew it. I fought this way for an hour. Writing. Deleting. Writing. The cursor and I weren't getting along either!
What did I do? I walked away. It was one of those days when I needed to get away from the computer and let the story wait. It isn't easy to do that but it was a day of letting go. Let the story come alive again tomorrow. My protagonist could wait. We would meet up tomorrow and collaborate. I would listen. However, I would decide because I know my plot and ending. The ending of my WIP won't change. It's just the daily writing that gets me there to that ending.
Today is a new day to write. Just don't think too much. Let the story be.
What have you done when days like this happen? Do you walk away? Do you have tips or tricks that help you get through it?