Thursday, September 23, 2021
Sunday, May 23, 2021
So... I'm going to keep this brief because I have work to do. Today I'm working on translating the work I've done, putting my story beats into a chapterized format. But the big thing is, I am definitely starting writing this week, maybe even tomorrow. It's been a long time coming. It's exciting and nerve-racking to finally start the actual writing again. But I've been working towards this day for a while.
I have a little bit of time to get some work done this morning, then I'm off to an REI-sponsored women's learn to kayak class with a friend. I have kayaked plenty, so I probably won't learn much new, but it will be nice to be out on the water on such a hot day--we'll be hitting over 90 in DC, and it's still May!
Sunday, May 9, 2021
So one thing that my writer friends and I talk about ALL THE TIME is StrengthFinders. A close-knit group of us have all taken the Write Better Faster, and related courses with Becca Syme, and knowing your strengths and how they can work for you is one of the key takeaways. And it's fun because we all know each other's and can help each other see if our strength is working in the balcony (in top form) or the basement (bringing us down).
My #1 strength is Self-Assurance. No, it's not what you think. I'm not hyper self-confident. According to CliftonStrengths, it says "people exceptionally talented in the Self-Assurance theme feel confident in their ability to take risks and manage their own lives. They have an inner compass that gives them certainty in their decisions." It says how I can thrive is to "Trust your gut, and live life on your own terms."
But frankly, lately? My decision-making has been all over the map. I am spiraling and have no idea which way is up.
I was planning to take at least a couple years to give this writing gig a real shake. But when you've been in the corporate world for the past 15 years, it's a little hard to make that shift. I was NOT looking for jobs, but then a dear friend saw a job they knew would be perfect for me, and it kind of turned my world upside down. Do I apply for this? But this is my year to write! But jobs like this don't come up every day. In fact, I've seen ZERO jobs to this point that even tempted me.
And truthfully, I was feeling a lack of confidence about my decision-making around my book. My plot just hasn't been where I want it to be. I don't believe there is enough conflict, but I can't seem to figure out the right way to introduce more. And when self-doubt enters the picture for a creative, the grass starts to look greener where the group health insurance lies. LOL.
But I convinced myself that I will stay focused on my writing and stop thinking about how I can help dream marketing corporate job achieve their goals. Then, I had my Wednesday Night Writes meeting, and my writer friends were like, what's it hurt? Throw your name in. You don't have to say yes! And I thought, oh what the hell, and applied the next morning.
Then, later in the day, I was thinking about how every job I've ever landed has been through networking. So... I called up the hubs, who happened to have charity work ties into this job, and asked him if he could pull a few strings. I knew there were almost 200 applicants and figured that he could make sure my application didn't get missed, if nothing else. And the hubs said, "I really just want you to write." I was like, wahhhh? I knew I needed to dig more into that response. Did he want me to write because it was my dream? Did he want me to write because he liked having me at home more, having a flexible schedule to support family home life and travel more, or what was driving this comment? Because these are important factors to know in my decision-making.
So the next day, I probed further into his comment. And he basically revealed that he wanted me to write because it was my dream because we're in a good place in our life right now for me to give it a fair chance. He didn't want me to take a job and a couple years from now and be like, "I wish I were writing..."
I was like, this makes sense. He's right; this is what I need to do. And it's so awesome and amazing he supports me in this way.
And THEN I saw another job on my neighborhood listserve. This one was part-time, 15-20 hours a week (supposedly), like a block from my home, something easy and fun that would give me health insurance. (Can you tell that I just lined up our private health insurance and am suffering from some sticker shock?) But I started to do the math on how many hours that would consume, and then picking up kids and running them to their activities, etc... and realized I still don't think I'd have much time to focus on writing. This won't work either.
So the good news is--I went through a week of questioning and self-introspection and found my way back to where I THOUGHT I was confidently headed back in the right direction, focusing on my writing. And I could remove these distractions and really turn up the dial with the writing.
EXCEPT... I started digging into my conflict and the issues with my story and literally pulled the rug out from under myself. I worked, and I worked pulling at all the threads to try to figure it out, and I was getting more and more frustrated when I couldn't solve it. And that's when the self-doubt starts really rearing its ugly head. And you start to question if you're any good and if you can really do this.
Once again, I had a call with my Wednesday Night Writes folks. And what it did was made me realize what a mess I had made of my story. I had the two old versions of the book I wrote, and I had this new version with NEW, BETTER conflict! And I couldn't even tell what my core story was. It was too complicated. I was losing sight of my original vision. (Let's be honest, I lost sight of it a long time ago. That's why I moved on to book 2 of my trilogy a while back.)
I have to admit I was disheartened the next day to realize my self-assurance compass was still spinning with no clear direction. My STRATEGY #3 strength and my MAXIMIZER #2 strength were all freezing me up... BUT I was also feeling incredibly driven--probably largely because I had just disbanded all whims of going and landing a "real job," and damn it, was going to be a writer. So I went at it again, hard, the next day. I literally sent two of my writer friends in the next 24 hours three versions of my synopsis. Not to mention researching every aspect of the business ends of my book like a maniac to know what was realistic.
Today as I'm writing this (it's Friday before this blog will go out), I had a call earlier in the day with one writer friend. We talked, and we talked, and it was so good to have someone to listen to all my doubts and insecurities, help me see what's working and what's not, and help me focus on both simplifying and staying true to my core story. To have someone remind me to trust my gut. But what she said to me that I really needed to hear was, "You're closer than you think." So thank you to that friend; you know who you are.
Here's to me cracking this darn story's nut... hopefully soon (or my ACHIEVER #10 strength is going to lose its mind).
Sunday, April 25, 2021
After two weeks of spring break in Kiawah Island, SC I have a bit of a hangover... but not in the I consumed too much alcohol way, LOL. I'm just out of the swing of normal life!
I did writerly things... mainly volunteering for the Washington Romance Writers annual retreat as the editor agent pitch coordinator. It was the first year we've done it virtually, and while I believe it was a success, I can't lie that it was chaotic and consumed a lot of time.
I've learned my lesson--I am the WORST about overcommitting, and this plus the Vivian judging kind of put me over the top. I didn't realize it'd all hit in one week, and at the same time as having to oversee virtual schooling for my 6-year-old and host family in our condo.
Such is life--and I definitely feel that I made some good writer friends through it all so it was worth it. But NOW... I have to get after it. So I've been revisiting all my goals and timelines to see what's doable. I still intend to output my full trilogy this calendar year... but the editing will have to push into next year. So sad. NOT! (And now I've aged myself... again.)
Next week, I'll check-in and let you know if I stuck to my deadlines to hold myself accountable publicly!
Sunday, April 4, 2021
So since Sundays are supposed to be a day of rest, and I suppose of all days Easter should be, I'm re-purposing an old Facebook post for y'all, but it's a goodie. This is the story of my first tattoo--that is both tied to my writing and my spirituality--so I think fitting.
From February 2, 2019:
So I got my first tattoo today at the ripe old age of 37. Thanks Hannah!
I’ve been wanting this tattoo since a sermon my pastor gave on October 4, 2015. However, I’ve been busy, you know having babies and whatnot, so it took a bit for me to pull the trigger.
I’m a spiritual person, but don’t make it to church often. But this one message really resonated with me. My pastor spoke of the “power of yes”. That yes is ultimately a word of affirmation that we are all looking to hear.
This “yes” represented many things. Saying “yes” to God, and God saying “yes” to you in return. The life-giving force when parents say “yes” to their newborn, though figuratively by their embrace. The yeses we deliver and receive when agreeing to marriage, offering or receiving a new job, acceptance to college, or even to sit at someone’s lunch table. Yes to life, yes to ourselves, yes to each other.
To me, the longer I’ve dwelled on it, yes is not only affirmation and acceptance, but empowerment and attitude and ultimately fearlessness. Of course, there are times to say “no.” But aren’t we all looking to hear a little more “yes” in our lives?
So when my husband looks at me and says, “Hey babe, let’s take X trip.” I try to say “yes” whenever I can, even when in my head there may be more work and personal hassle than might make it worthwhile. When my 4YO little girl says, Mommy let’s build this STEM toy (which is always time-consuming), more often than not, I try to put the dishes and the laundry out of my head, and say “yes, baby, let’s do it,” and her joy is so simple and fulfilling.
Less than a year ago, when I had a respected colleague at my day job asked me if I was interested in moving departments, to head up something under him that was new to me and challenging, and leave behind the autonomy and comfort of something I’d known and owned for almost 12 years, I took that leap of faith, and said “yes”, following the advice of another mentor who told me “shed to grow.”
And for here, this account where I share my pursuit of becoming a published romance author, I say “yes” as an affirmation to myself and my writing, that I believe in the works I’m creating, in myself, and that I can do it. Placing this ink in my own handwriting, on my right forearm where I can see it, every time that I’m writing, is my special reminder.
So tonight as I relax with a glass of wine and contemplate my new and first! tattoo, I smile at having said “yes” to this little adventure. I went solo for myself and by myself, and can’t wait to continue to say “yes” to more adventures, to God, to writing, to fearlessness... knowing fear is the edge of opportunity. And to deal affirmation out as often as possible to all the people I love.
NOTE from today Easter Sunday 2021: I'm now going for my 3rd tattoo soon. Yes, they're addictive!
Sunday, March 28, 2021
When you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on..."
Each writer has a different process and needs different support. Rookie authors try to absorb all the information out there about how to do this, but ultimately it's all about figuring out what works for YOU. Why did it take me so long to figure that out? Although I'm still figuring out what works for me... 😂
Sunday, March 21, 2021
One of the biggest things I've learned in 7.5 years of writing fiction regularly is that there is no one way to do this. Everyone has tons of advice, just like when you're having a baby for the first time. But ultimately, you have to figure out what is going to work for you--warning: sports metaphor... how you can keep pumping the knees and moving the pile.
It's taken me kind of a long time to figure out what works for me. Some of the things that worked for me when I was balancing an executive career, being a mama (not a super mom because who can be?), moving and renovating homes, etc., have changed since I've become a full-time writer and working from home. You have to be able to adapt and evolve and find your new right way.
For this blog, I'm mainly going to talk about the planner I'm using right now. I know RIVETING!!! Except for you planner junkies out there, I know this is like candy for you. Or at least affirmation, LOL. (Oops, sorry, Gen Z. Shhh... I'm sporting a side part too.)
Here it is... duh duh DUNNNHHHHH!!!