Saturday, August 29, 2015

The End of the Tunnel

Hi folks,

I've traveled through a dark tunnel creatively, but I'm standing here now blinking at the bright light at the end of the tunnel. The best part of my life is that I am surrounded by tremendous people. It's insane to me how many wonderful people have blessed me with their friendship. I received a 10 page hand-written letter from an old friend this week (one of the treasures). The first two pages were quotes from letters over the decades. I wrote this many years ago.  It reminded me of what I am about. 

"I had a perfect mommy moment today. I was reading a book. I had rolled over on my side and had my legs bent. Slowly I realized I wasn't alone. A sweet child had tucked himself and his book in the crook of my legs. He didn't say anything. He just curled up and looked at the pictures in his book. I felt warm and glowing inside. I felt like I was fulfilling my life. I never have to do anything more."

I am a cozy sort of person.  I like cups of hot tea with lemon cookies. I love a ramble in the morning. I love watching stars of a frosty night with warm blanket. I love curling up with a book and being transported to other worlds, other times, and other minds. I love to scribble stories. That is enough. 

Our friends find us when we can't find ourselves. They keep us when we are lost. They make us remember when we have forgotten. They name us. I am so thankful that I have found friendship is the light at the end of the tunnel.  Making moments for others is a deep part of why I write.  I hope you light the world with your creative gifts this week. Art is truth beyond the words. 

I will be back next week with a new series. 

Here is a doodle: SHARD. 

Here is a quote for your pocket. 

"Why did you do all this for me?" he asked. "I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you."
"You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die. A spider's life can't help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone's life can stand a little of that."

—E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Sink Overflowed

Hi folks, the sink overflowed this week. My son came home for lunch and found the mess. He didn't say a word to me and just cleaned up the water. I found a soaked roll of paper towels on the counter. Nice to have a family that supports creative endeavor.

What is this all about? Translated, my writing is popping. I'm back in the mode when I mean to sit down for thirty minutes of writing, and I end up writing for over an two hours even though I think thirty minutes. I know, I wish writing could always be this way. My story is Profit, a sci-fi epic. As usual, I so believe in this story. I'm leaving bits of my heart and soul on the page. I am inside a vast fictive dream that is so beyond me that it makes me tremble.

Here's the ramble. Chase after your creative dreams, folks. Don't worry. I know this can be tough, but always remember that the freedom is in the work. Every time you turn to the work you will find energy. I love to create. I love to see the work emerging, to experience it, and to bring it forth. I write words, but the important messages seem to be beyond the words. There is a hidden unseen part of creating. A great story builds something in the heart. It transfers true experience. It expands the world of the reader. It opens the reader to new ideas. It is bigger than me.

All creative work seems to do this. It connects us with the beauty of the universe. Consider this. Instinctively, we know that the chasing after money hurts. Our factories chug out greenhouse grasses, people fight for a buck on Wall Street, our green-less cities of steel are surrounded by isolated people in their ant-like cars, or worse bombs fall from our streaking jets, sending a message of --what? The best of us is in quiet souls toiling in corners often without pay or praise.  Every building that is more than square block of steel, every car with energy efficiency, every act that brings peace, and every creative endeavor opens the soul of human experience. Be in the business of making us more.

Do what you can with your life. Bloom in the pot you are planted in. Find ways to express yourself creatively.  Live mindfully. Live well.

I will be back next week with more meandering creative thoughts. This doodle comes from my husband Tim.  Yes, we all doodle at my house.


A quote for your pocket.

Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense. Marcus Aurelius

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Not Type A

Hi folks, this month there is no series.  These topics all stand alone.  It's my birthday month and I want to dig deep and be more. Here's one thing I've been thinking about. Welcome to my meandering.

I cringe every time I hear the dreaded words: I'm a Type A personality -- high achiever, driven, worker, leader, competitive. Man, if you need the most cookies, take them.  On my worst days, I'm a type D and on my better days I am a Type C.  I lack assertiveness.  Type As are always apologizing for being Type As even though they are thrilled by their achievements and are determined to achieve more. Uh, this is not humility.  Here's the deal Type As, every personality type has a downside.

Don't think this a Type A bashing post. Type As are getting the most cookies, so chill.  Type Bs don't care if they have any cookies or not. Type Cs would like cookies but are too shy to ask. And Type D, those folks needs therapy, drugs and understanding.  But I digress, back to Type As. They are missing out some good stuff.  I was with a friend at a yogurt shop nodding knowingly about not being a type A.  We both have felt that "odd person out" feeling about not being Type A. 

We were laughing about typical Type A stuff. They think that everyone wants to be them and are sold are on the idea that you must be positive and have it all together 24/7. The rest of us types cringe, continue to play Candy Crush,  enjoy the frozen yogurt, and wander off topic by discussing the hotness of actor Robert Vaughn from the old TV show Man from U.N.C.L.E. vs hotness of David McCallum, who is now a nice old man on a show call NCIS. This would drive type As crazy...but we were happy as clams. That's right, not stressed, not organized, and totally chill. YAY!

So how does personality play into my life: I would like a writing cookie, but if it means I can't smell the roses, do my own thing, and daydream days away, no cookies for me. I also need lots of time to read books, enjoy good conversations, and afternoons poolside. In kindergarten, Mrs. Crabtree impressed on me the importance of being yourself. She believed that every child would shine and made sure that every student in her class had a moment to do so. Overall she taught me that life is about our relationships and nothing else. 

You are needed. We are all needed.  So "Not Type As" take a deep breath. It is okay. 

I will be back next week with more. 

Here is a doodle. 

And finally

A quote for your pocket.
Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it. Bruce Lee

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Cutting the Strings of Success

I've traveled a rough rough creative year. I found out pouring out my soul is not enough for success. That left me leaning against the walls, sobbing (I know, embarrassing but nevertheless true). I ache inside to write something that actually means something to a multitude of people. I still ache for this, but at to this point I don't really know what words will do that.

Publishing work is a tough thing. A writer scrapes down to the bone, and then goes even further, like stripping pieces of your soul and then handing it out. This is a difficult thing to face: a monumental creative effort of mine was like passing out flyers on the corner of some nameless city and, while a few people went into the show, most just tossed the flyers on the ground and moved on.

Very few care. Not an easy answer for an artist. My first reaction was childish. How dare the folks not love my work. How dare they!  There are no gimmicks or tricks in my bag.  I have no pile of money to lean on, no celebrity to tap into. I have to rise up on the merits of my words alone. Blue collar girl here, and few of us really get a chance to say anything. 

There is more to my story. I have integrity. I didn't just slap some stupid and uncomfortable sex on a page. I didn't try to titillate, seduce or toss on some bondage. I went with the stuff that means a lot to me: honesty, humanity, and small town values -- the golden rule, love your neighbors, and be yourself.  Surely this will rise. Surely!

I am really embarrassed right now. Have you ever boasted? I have. I thought for sure I was going to be a player in the writing world. Do you know how painful it is to rejected by an agent because you are just "a midlist author and never are going to be more than that."  To be told by really successful editors that your writing is fantastic but it's not likely to connect. I blindly believed  they were crazy. Then I put the work out there and find out that those voices were not messing with me. They were trying to be helpful. Why did humility have to be such a hard lesson? 

I am pretty sure there must be more truth that no one wants to tell me. They probably think I can't take it, and they are probably right.  I read Charlotte's Web, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Book of Three as a kid and thought surely I will find this magic too. People are going to read my books just like those. Now I am beyond 50 years old, and, guess what? Yet, I am still writing, but I have taken a paring knife and cut the strings to success--this kind of success: the attainment of popularity, profit or both. 

And here I am living the Blue Bird of happiness story. I found the magic of the stories. What I need is the golden rule, to love my neighbor, and to be myself.  I am some pig. I am terrific. I am radiant. I am humble. Love really does take the day and save those I love. And assistant pig farmers find out that that is really what they are and that isn't something to be ashamed of.  Everything shines.

Neighbors, because if you are reading this, you are my neighbors. I hope you find the magic in stories too.  If you want, my book PLUMB CRAZY is on sale on Kindle for 99 cents for my birthday week. I will be back next week with more musing about the creative life.

Here is a doodle for you.

A quote for your pocket.

When I was very young, most of my childhood heroes wore capes, flew through the air, or picked up buildings with one arm. They were spectacular and got a lot of attention. But as I grew, my heroes changed, so that now I can honestly say that anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me. Fred Rogers

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Publish: Optimism and other lessons

Hi folks, I am writing a summer long series. It's called Publish and is in conjunction with my TEENS Publish workshop at the Ringer Library in College Station, Texas. The tribe is almost finished with their masterworks. The title of our anthology is A New Generation: TEENS Publish 2015 Anthology. Our revision letters are in and our last meeting is over. It was hard to say goodbye.

I learned so many things over the eight weeks we met. The first thing was the power of optimism. Your dreams can come true, ask anyone in the tribe.  It's just that easy. If you dream a thing and seek it, you will find it.

I loved that the writing tribe faced every bit of the writing process with an upbeat attitude. They expected to find the story they were trying to carve out. Failure wasn't an option. Critique was just a way to do better. Take a lesson from the tribe.  Assume your story will float. How can you do this? Buoyancy comes from your upbeat spirit. Here the deal: if you are writing, a place for that writing will form. That's just the way the universe is put together. 

Another thing I've learned from the tribe is if you are not excited about the next amazing thing you are about to do, you have missed the creative boat. The mind is flexible. Let it bend the way it wants to. Not knowing the "rules" is a major big blessing. Don't worry about what has come before. Don't worry about the next big thing. Trust your big old imagination. It is going to surprise you again and again. Yes, it may sound crazy. Go there. The tribe reopened me to the possibilities. 

Finally, not understanding what to do is okay. Asking questions is okay. Not knowing where you are going is okay. Trying all kinds of things is okay. Creativity is about the willingness to make mistakes, lots of them. It's fine to be where you are on your journey. Be glad that you have a journey. Embrace it. You never know what your mistakes will teach you. The writing tribe embraced the mysterious, the unknown, the uncharted country. 

Personally, I feel I will never face a writing project the same. I have a blank page in front of me. Is there any greater writing magic than that?  I hope you have enjoyed the series. Usually in August, I dig deep into my soul and explores some of my burning questions. I hope you drop in for some of the fire in my bones. 

Here is my doodle:Tree

Finally a quote for your pocket.

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. Helen  Keller