There are times in your life when the freeway gets closed and you’re trying to figure it out. GPS keeps taking you back to the freeway, or places unknown. The car is passing roads that aren’t on your GPS map and you know if the banjo music starts you are toast.
I know. It sounds crazy pants, doesn’t it?
But you can write your own way.
You might not get published. You might self publish and not sell enough to make money. I know those are the dreams, the goals, the reason many park but in chair. But it’s ok to write what you want, what you enjoy. You don’t know where those secret little scribbles that you only share with your very best friends (If them) will take you.
Sometimes those secret scribbles take you in a direction you never knew existed.
Sometimes it’s where you hone your voice, cut your teeth on the truth your soul wants to release into the world. This is art. Our art. Shouldn’t we be writing what brings us joy and makes us giggle or touches our own heart first?
You find out that those secret scribbles that you never knew where to send have a place in the world.
So. Go forth and write your own way.
Who knows where it will lead?
I have many cheerleaders when it comes to my writing and I adore them. They give me the lift of a bit more confidence when I need it. They have cheered me on when I doubted that I could write a sentence, let alone a coherent story. They have been invaluable in my getting to the point where I’m currently at.
And yet even as I’ve been writing stories that I am so proud of, I haven’t been submitting them. Don’t have time to edit, or find markets, weekend was busy, blah blah blah. There’s a ton of excuses and I’ve used many of them. I don’t know why…
So I called someone who I know doesn’t really put up with bullshit. During the conversation, I told her off the bat I don’t need someone to tell me I’m great, I have that confidence. I need someone who can kick my ass. We talked about what I needed to get done, how I needed to change the conversations with myself, and lots of things. Including making a dream board.
I had a lot of goals for that first weekend. I made not a one of them. So I messaged her, told her that and what my new plan was.
Not a word.
I’m sure she thought I was just going to stay stuck in my ways. I considered it.
But I didn’t.
Instead, I hit each and every one of my goals for the week. Made the dream board, checking in with her, got an “awesome!” Out of her and kept moving forward. My stories are submitted, I’m up to date in class and am working on my next submission.
The cheerleaders are invaluable. I wouldn’t be writing without them.
But I wouldn’t have submitted them if I hadn’t had the courage to ask someone to step into the role of coach. She’s not a writer, probably would never to think to read what I write if it wasn’t by me. But she’s tough enough to hold me accountable and not accept any excuses.
I believe in the power of prayer. I understand that gut feeling that you need to help a specific person, or for me, send a certain person a card. There have been so many times that I would go through my address book pick a person and send them a card. There have also been so many phone calls, cards and instant messages telling me that they needed it so badly right there and then, that it came at just the right time.
Cool. I have a super-power. Spreading sunshine and love through cards.
But this is about the power of prayer.
I have a customer, and we’re going to call him Smiley. He’s a real Hot Rod of a guy. He lives on the other side of the country from me. We have never met in person, but we have a really good rapport on the phone. He always ends the call with “Be Blessed.” Which makes me smile.
The first time this happened, there was no way he could have known. I had just received a phone call from my sister. She used to reside in Paradise, CA. and at the moment when Smiley called, I didn’t know if she was alive or dead. He called in an order and at the end of it he said “I don’t know why, but I feel I need to pray over you.” And he did.
It gave me comfort. And then something happened at work, and both the computers and telephones were taken out. So i was able to pray constantly for a while… Until I got the phone call that my sister was safe.
The second time he prayed over me, I had just gotten an email from my son’s school. They were on lock down due to a bomb threat. I was beside myself. I couldn’t go, I couldn’t stay. What was going on? Smiley called, he prayed, and then another email came through. It was apparently part of a nationwide hoax. The police were checking everything out, just to be safe.
We’re going to detour here for a moment away from Smiley to one of my card buddies, T. She sent me a Valentine and wrote “I miss your smile.” and my first, the honest, gut reaction was— I miss it too. So I sat down and wrote her a note about it, and set about trying to correct that.
I’ve started making plans with friends, had a magnificent birthday weekend with Linda and our kids. Made plans for something I really really wanted to do in May and bought the tickets!
Friday, Smiley called. This was the only thing we talked about. I think he called specifically for this reason. The following is going to be a paraphrase because it was one of those times when the message was so important that the meaning sank into my heart instead of the words being memorized. He told me something to the effect of “you need to let go of all those things that are draining your energy, that are taking away your joy. You were not put on this earth to be miserable, but to be joyful. Your true purpose, your calling, will fill you with joy,”
It kind of knocked me for a loop. I have a calling that I’ve been neglecting, one that I enjoy and that brings joy to others. (2 cards went out today, btw.) I’ve been working on my writing and that is a joyful struggle.
But I had been bad. I was sucked back into facebook and the stupid stupid articles that i was reading just to have something to read. And I don’t know why my google page looks like it does, but it isn’t good stuff to read. I went off facebook for a long time and didn’t miss it too much.
But you know, I picked up Anne Lamotte’s Almost Everything before Christmas. Started it and put it back down. I am savoring it now, have been reading it enough that I’m almost through the first 5 chapters. The 6th chapter is on writing— it’s one of those I can’t wait so I’m making myself wait kind of things.
But also? I’m finding my smile again.
All because of a man who believes in the power of prayer, and in sharing his testimony.
But never fear, I’ve been writing. I’ve been writing many many words.
I started back at WVU (Writers Village University). Now, you may not have heard of WVU, so let me tell you a little bit about it. It is not an accredited university, it’s a peer run site. And there are times when you sign up for a course and no one else does.
And then came the MFA program. It’s a certificate program. You have to not only do your assignments, but also leave feedback for others, and it’s a specific type of feedback. No “great job, bye bye”. And the classes themselves, doing your own work, taking the works of others and internalizing them and applying them….
My God, how I’ve grown.
I had begun to believe that I only wrote light and fluffy. And I was fine with that. Light and fluffy has a place. Even if I sometimes slipped the leash and wrote dark and twisty, sunshine has a place.
Just because someone seems all Pollyanna does not mean that they do not notice the world as it is, or cope with the shadows. I had a problem admitting to those depths in my writing, in shying away from the deep dark and twisty. I have these diametric opposite parts of me, and I wasn’t willing to admit to them. Or try and see how they work together.
I’m ready and willing now.
And with the help of some fabulous facilitators and a group of peers who are ready and willing to help… I’m very close to being there.
Thank you, WVU.
So I received another rejection the other day. This time, it didn’t crush me. It just made me go hmmmm…
The first paragraph was pretty boiler plate. But the second, oh the second…. it broke it down. They liked the story, but the ending didn’t hang right for them BECAUSE there wasn’t enough setup and/or foreshadowing. It depended too much on those things being inferred.
Sometimes, it feels like you’re banging your head against a rock to get through the publishing door. This time, they told me how to move the rock, roll it away.
I know what I have to do. I know what specific things to ask my beta readers. And I know that in my editing I probably need to add words. Instead of tightening, I need to expand…. bring the reader with me.
I can do that.
Soon I may have mentioned that I’m taking writing classes. I started taking classes at Writers Village again mainly to get writing again. Which I Am! Score! I’m pushing myself, writing new things and coming up with writings.
In one of my current classes, the goal was to write a flash story without looking at the screen. If you have a monitor, you turn it off. On a laptop, you change the font to white. I have a laptop. White on white did not work for me.
I tried, oh how I tried. But those darn red squiggles were driving me batty! What’s a girl to DO? The story was going nowhere.
So I tried an old standby: turned on my iTunes and started writing with my eyes closed.
And it was marvelous.
I’m not sure what it is, the symbiotic relationship between the arts. Music, writing, dance, painting and so many others. It’s as if we all have the ability to help spark that next person… no matter what our preferred form of art is.
Till next time