Saturday, May 26, 2012

Validation versus Worth

Hi folks, I'm directing you to a wonderful interview by Lois T. Stover of Conrad Wesselhoeft. She asks him questions about the healing value of the arts in young-adult literature and he encourages us all to "swim toward the shimmer." Good stuff.

This week I'm going to talk about validation versus worth. One thing that I have noticed about the publishing industry is it doesn't always get behind great writers. Readers don't always rush out and buy copies of the best books. Friends and family don't always approve of writing in general, treating the craft as self indulgent and lazy. Many wonderful writers received little validation in their lifetime: John Kennedy Toole, H.P. Lovecraft, Franz Kafka, Emily Dickinson, F. Scott Fitizgerald. These are a few that come to mind. For many more authors validation is a glacial process.

The bottom line, the system of validation is imperfect. This includes published books, shiny stickers, and massive sales. I say move away from the crazy. Excessive validation hunger leads to bitterness and  grief. It will overwhelm your creative spirit.  Validation is like gold in the Laura Marling song, "Alas, I cannot swim." The lyric goes like this: "Gold is fleeing. Gold is fickle. Gold is fun!"  Validation is like that gold, Have fun if it comes but don't seek it. That desire can mess you up.

What you can do is continue to ask yourself to jump up. I think recognizing your worth as a writer is important.  But more so, I say seek worth.  Ask yourself what can you do to make your work stronger.  Determine to finish works. Take time to celebrate all small successes. Follow the paths of those that have created master works -- persevere, imagine, dream, and work your b--- off. Pack as much caring and love for others into your work as you possibly can and don't worry about the rest. Embrace the pressure and believe that it will transform lowly carbon into fabulous diamond. 

O, seize the day, creative ones. I hope you do. I really hope you do. 

Here is this week's doodle: "Moon Shining on Water".

Here is a good quote to tuck in your pocket this week.

Don't worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.

Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Writing Attitude

Hi, folks, another week has rolled by. This week I'm going to talk about attitude. Your attitude is going to make or break your book. Your feelings about your success or failure are going to be in your work. You manner of working is an expression of your attitude. I think that's why so many writers say write everyday.  This expression of perseverance says you believe there is end to your journey and that you are approaching it. You must tend to the manner of how you write. Are you only dashing off a few words at the end of the day or you carving out some choice time to get to your work? You attitude toward your work speaks volumes.

How can you shape your attitude in a good way? One way is read good books that speak to your soul. I know, writing is the best job in world -- reading novels is in the job description. The attitude of other writers will seep into as you read, so pick your books carefully. You will become what you read. Make sure you have a steady diet of the "best of the best" books. Another way is to think about the people who form your support group. Yes, you must have a support group -- no one is a island, and if your want masterwork, you must join to some kind of "crititiquish" group. Seek out attitudes that spur on the best in you. Avoid those who bring you down.

I think the best way to shape your attitude is to take the time to  have something to say. Think deeply and consider carefully. Don't worry about publication but focus on story. Write something that shakes the foundations. Write something that rattles the cages. Write something useful. This attitude will keep you through ups and downs, and you will experience both.  I find a push to always be positive and never experience lows actually stifles my work. I think it's not about being positive all the time, but about not being too self-centered. I'm going to call this an outward attitude. My words are not for now or just for me, but for the future and others. I put them on the page to make a difference someday.

Seek an outward attitude and write, write your heart out. I hope my musing today helps you. I really do. See you next week.

Today's doodle is called: "French Horn."

And finally a quote for your pocket this week. I like it because it calls for a good attitude...

It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short term and the long term for both yourself and others will come. Dalai Lama

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rejection Therapy Steps

Hi folks,This is the last weekend to view my sample of PLUMB CRAZY in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest before the announcement of the finalists. Please give my sample a look and  "like" it or review it if you are so inclined.. Thanks so much!

This week I'm going to share my "Rejection Therapy Steps."  I like to be ready beforehand. After a mountain of rejections, I've gained a little experience about how to face another "no" with dignity. These steps insure that after each rejection, I'm ready to take the next step on my creative journey and that it is the best step.

1. Recognize you are not your work. You are a person of worth. It's an inherent thing. You will continue your work. Don't mix up yourself with a weak expression on your creative persona – just do better next time.

2. You have a gift and it will make a place for you. Trust that this closed door is part the Universe's plan to lead you to the right place.

3. Glean something useful from the rejection. Remember any feedback is a gift.

4. Read the rejection to a loved one and go out to lunch. Remember the loved one is important and always needs a ton on tending. He or she cars about you and cares if you are here for your family.

5. Call a mentor or collegue and read the rejection and then talk about it.

6. Let yourself feel the disappointment. Don't act like it didn't happen.

7. Remember you want to write something that is over the top awesome. Something for the ages. Cling to your goal.

8. Turn the focus away from you. Call another friend and encourage her about her work. List out 10 things that are awesome about her creative journey.

9. Take American Idol lessons to heart. (Hey, I'm not too good for pop culture.) On the show, those who aren't true to themselves always lose. Don't sing Karaoke. With each try, jump up and be more amazing.

10. Don't worry. Just let your journey unfold the way it wants. You are not in control of outcomes. I'm a faithful soul so here is a dose from my faith,: You can trust God loves you and wants great things for your life. TRUST. Don't let one more rejection get you down. Forget the things behind and press on.

I hope that one of my rejection therapy steps helps you. It is about writers who are struggling to find the true expression of their voice. Just keep going with flow. I will be back next week with more inspiration to help you seize the day.

And now this week's doodle. I call this one: "Face study."

Here is my quote for the week:
I think all great innovations are built on rejections. Louis-Ferdinand Celine

Saturday, May 05, 2012

The Art of Listening

Hi folks. My novel PLUMB CRAZY is a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. Please give the excerpt  a look here. If you enjoy it, consider liking it or reviewing.

I hardly know what to write this week. Rough waters to tread right now. I thought I might write about what I have learned about those rough water days and how to keep moving forward as an artist. I know I'm a writer, but I always think of myself as an artist. I think this makes all the difference. I paint my pictures with words. I weave my tapestries with words. I sew my quilts with words. I carve my sculptures with words. I build my boats with words. Like Walt said, "I am multitudes." The artist within in me is a wise old soul. 

On rough water days, my artist self knows to call a friend and talk about it. I think about being kind. I make space for imagination . I open to the art of others.  I hope.  I pray. I do the work of communicating. I don't hide.  I take time to connect with the natural world: the shape of the moon, the touch of the wind, the warmth of the air, the curve of the land.

The trees whisper to me, "We keep standing.
The creek says, "You are being shaped into the form that you are destined to be."
The flowers promise. "You'll bloom. "

I listen.

Isn't the best art born of a listening soul?

I know the rougher waters shape me,  bringing out the best parts of me and washing out the worst. Whereever you are on your journey of life,  I hope you all seize the day this week. Let your art rise.

Here is my doodle this week, This doodle is called "Dolphin Faces."  Something about dolphins brings me words like jubilation and joy.

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent.

Martin Luther King, Jr.