Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Five Biggest Bullies for Writers

Ever try to put your finger on the five greatest culprits of your career? Recently I did.
Here’s what I came up with regarding my vocation…

Taunting Tom
Taunting Tom is the voice in your head siphoning all the goodies. Tom tells you you can’t write for squat. He rattles on about your ineptitude until you’re tempted to start believing him.

Tell Tom to take a take it out on someone who’s willing to believe him. You’re done.

Pseudo Sue
Pseudo Sue’s greatest desire is to convince you to become like all the authors you admire. To morph into everyone but yourself. Sue encourages you to not just practice writing like them—to actually try to pattern your style, your writing voice after them. Meanwhile, Sue is robbing you of the most valuable gift writing offers—finding yourself in your words.

Send Sue sailing on the winds of change.

By the Book Barbara
Barbara is that gnat in your ear reminding you to cross all your Ts and dot all your Is. She’s stifling your inspiration with her musts and have-to lists. Coiling around you like a python, By the Book Barbara chokes your creative connection to the world around you. There is no one way.

Buy Barbara a one way ticket to Bye-Bye Ville.

Computer Crash Cal
Pulling out the big guns now. As a writer, nothing puts an abrupt squeeze on your lungs as fast as that little blinking cursor at the upper left hand corner of your all black screen. Dead. Gone to pasture. Cal is dying to gobble up your latest WIP faster than Cookie Monster and his flying cookies. Speaking of cookies…

One way to cut Cal off at the knees is to back that thing up.

Look a Rabbit Rebecca
She’s always there with a smile and a great story. And for some reason she always wants to share. Problem is, one thing leads to another, then another, then another… The rabbit trail is looking more and more like that curlicue path from the Candy Land board game every day. She means well. You mean well.

But Rebecca is robbing you of your most precious commodity—time.

So whether she comes in the form of good, but not great ideas, babbling acquaintances, or your own novel tripping along one rabbit hole after another, I’m here to encourage you to redirect Rebecca. So you can move on and “go confidently in the direction of your dreams” (thanks again Thoreau…I keep quoting you lately).

Can you think of any big bullies you’ve encountered when it comes to your vocation? How did you simmer, silence, or solve (I’m all about alliteration today) the bully issue?

*photo by stock.XCHNG
I’ve been having a blast featuring books written by some close friends of mine. Dani Pettrey’s book Shattered has gotten stellar reviews. Check it out!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My Right Brain & Left Brain Involved in a Discussion about…You (& Blogging)

Right Brain: What do they want? {nods head in your direction}
Left Brain: I’m going with posts that are less than 500 words. You know, the inspiring stuff. Not that I know much about any of that. I only care if everything is spelled correctly.
RB: So by inspiring you mean encouraging messages?
LB: That’s your playground. I’m inside crunching numbers.
RB: There are days I’m fired up to write totally random posts.
LB: Totally random. Not computing. Could you expound upon that some?
RB: Sure, confessional. Like maybe how I cried so much last summer many of the eyelashes above my left eye fell out. My mascara went on wonky for months. Word on the street is that vulnerable is good.
LB: You sure you want to go that bare bones?
RB: No, but that’s what writers do. We tell the ugly truth. We’re known for taking {hold your breath LB} uncalculated risks. We wear it on our sleeves so much the fabric is but shreds.
LB: Why not just become an expert on something?
RB: Yeah, I’ve heard that’s the way to go. I’m currently contemplating becoming an expert at being an expert. Or maybe I’ll be an authority on rapidly changing back into what my mom used to call play clothes (hear pajamas) after I return home. Under ten seconds flat.
LB: You are such a right brain.
RB: What’s that supposed to mean?
LB: Don’t you ever decompress?
RB: Now I’m not computing. Letting myself explode with possibilities has nothing to do with not being able to relax. {mumbles how it can believe it’s being accused of not being able to decompress by LB of all brains}
LB: Really? Tell me the last time you stayed on one thought for longer than a minute.
RB: Wait a second, I thought we were talking about them. {motions toward you behind your smudged computer screen} How did this get turned back on me?
LB: If you want to know how to bring it for them you need to know what lights you up. They’ll only feel your passion if you feel it.
RB: Hard to pin down. Hey, I think you’re reading this from some Guide to Blogging book.
LB: No book. I have a lot of data mired in here. Try. Try to pin it down.
RB: For starters, I believe books make the world go round. I’m wired to empathize with women, and I’m constantly meeting characters that rub familiar at first hello. I’m motivated by stirring others to turn certain thoughts in their brains as they would a hologram in their hands. I’m crushed by injustice, grateful for laughter, appreciative of relevancy, passionate about mothering, and mystified and humbled in grace. I’m most myself in nature, have an insatiable thirst for learning, and a stubborn will to follow hard after my dreams.

I’m entirely broken and entirely healed—a complete dichotomy. A science experiment. A comical and stupefying psychological study. I’m a raging fire for Him as well as flickering candlelight, at times no larger than a thumbprint.

What lights me up? Thoughts that move. I’m radiant in those.
LB: Start there. At those beginnings.
RB: You know, for a Left Brain you can be mighty insightful sometimes.
LB: Where would you be without me?
RB: Really? I’ll throw it back at you—where would you be without me?
LB: Crunching numbers. Checking spelling. {gasps} Editing.
RB: Woe is you. Should I buy you a T-shirt that says Editing is for Left Brains?
LB: Yeah, and I’ll put it on in under ten seconds flat. Call myself an expert.
RB: Good one.
LB: I’ve still got it.
RB: Half of it anyway.

Now that it’s been discussed (out in the way open by my right and left brain) it’s time to ask you, what do you want? What brings you here to thoughts that move today?
*photo by stock.XCHNG
**Over the next few weeks I’m going to suggest awesome reads written by some dear friends of mine.
First up, Wishing onWillows by Katie Ganshert

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

When What We Need Makes Us Vulnerable

Giraffes need water.

But did you know giraffes have to spread their legs and bend down awkwardly to get water?

And every time they do this they make themselves vulnerable to predator attacks.

So what do giraffes do in order to get what they need despite the prowling lions and hungry crocs?


Look up & find water elsewhere (acacia leaves)
 We too can find what we need by looking up. More often than not we convince ourselves that what we need will only—can only come from someone else—something else. More often than not it’s a fallacy. We have all we need in God.

Avoid waterholes where predators hang
It’s worth it to pay attention to the company we keep. I’ve walked out of some settings and mumbled, “But for the grace of God.” Skin of my teeth moments. Beyond grateful that more detrimental events didn’t occur in those places.

Though, this one has a tendency to be more difficult to discern. Lions can waltz into our lives disguised as affable elephants. But a lion will always reveal its claws at some point or another. Unfortunately, lions also like to hang around waiting too. This is why there are circumstances in life when we are better off skipping the waterhole and lifting our heads.

Go together
I’ve reaped tremendous benefits from seeking (and being open to) accountability in my life. Not long ago one of my closest friends stopped me midsentence and said, “You need to shut those thoughts down, Wendy.” And it hit me…I was giving credence to lies. The affirmation I started off needing came blessedly wrapped in a whopping bout of truth-telling.

Take turns
We all have moments of weakness—times we know our legs won’t cooperate beneath us when we tell them to bend. Time to keep watch for someone else.  Or we encounter stages in life when our eyes blur, clouding our vision. Time to step up to the water and awkwardly shift our legs.

There’s a beautiful give and take that occurs in relationships that we’re bound to miss if we’re always the one taking—or giving for that matter.

Drink 12 gallons of water at a time
I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” Henry David Thoreau

There’s something to be said for investing deeply, for being grateful for every moment given to us living as though we may not be granted another—for learning to appreciate rare opportunities.

Something to be said for slurping up 12 gallons of water at a time. Go, giraffe, go!
I’m fascinated by animals and nature. It never ceases to amaze me the innate ways animals circumvent threats.

We need to feel safe. We need love. We need other things. What happens when what we need makes us vulnerable? In times of need, we’re wise to be mindful of how a giraffe approaches a watering hole.
Which one of the above are you most likely to forget in times of need? Which one has benefitted you time and time again?

**2 more interesting giraffe facts: a giraffe’s heart is 2 feet long & weighs 25lbs and giraffes communicate by emitting low notes humans are unable to hear
***photos by stock.XCHNG

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

How We Change Time

It all began with Stephen King’s 11/22/63.

And a coffee shop.

And that silly question I asked myself (as most imaginative kids do at some point) wondering who’d I’d be—or even if I’d be if my mom or dad hadn’t been born?

Here’s where I bring it all together for you.

Remember my post last Tuesday about how we’re all being prepared for something? No one could argue 

I’m hardwired to work at coffee shops. I’ve worked as a barista in Connecticut, Hilton Head, and in Georgia. I must have a Sumatra blend pumping through my veins.

Only natural I started my job last week assisting the owner at a ______________ . You guessed it, a coffee shop.

There I am weighing and grinding beans, absorbing everything I can about the shop when I catch snippets of conversation the owner is having with a woman at the counter. The customer with long gray hair passes a well-researched handwritten family tree to the owner. I’m intrigued. Invited to join the conversation, I envision this woman, this genealogist, as a character from one of my novels.

She’s immediately likeable. The three of us engage in fascinating chitchat about bloodlines, difficult lineages to trace, and how every family has colorful characters in their tree. I laugh and share how as a kid I had an unusual comeback whenever I got teased “What’s your middle name, Isa?” Get it? Wendy “Isa” Paine. Ba dum dum. My comeback often had something to do with Thomas Paine being my ancestor. Yep, it flew right over their taunting heads. But it felt great to say (even though as a second grader I didn’t fully grasp who TP was or what that meant).

Then the genealogist in the coffee shop makes me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

I jot down names.

And within twenty-four hours this woman went to work, digging up treasures from my line.

Are you wondering how I’m going to connect this to Stephen King’s latest, 11/22/63?

I read King’s book recently. 11/22/63 offers a glimpse of how the world changes each time Jake Epping walks down diner steps into a time travel portal and rewrites history.

The book churned up a lot of thoughts about how we’re influenced by the past—how history is secured like bricks beneath us. Without it we lack foundation. We’d crumble.

Before reading King’s book I might not have written down those names for the genealogist. King’s book sparked a curiosity in me that wasn’t there before.

That and the reality that this month marks the third anniversary of my father’s death. 

One of the first pictures the genealogist sent was a black and white photo of my dad as a little boy, all smiley-faced and full of potential. My initial reaction produced a few tears. Then, in his best Mufasa impersonation, it was as though I could hear my dad affirming the past matters.

All of us, every single second we are alive, are doing things to influence the future.

We change time.

Have you ever researched your family tree? Does genealogy intrigue you? As a kid did you ever wonder who you’d be or even if you’d be if your mom and dad had never been born? Finally, do you believe you are changing the world—that you’re changing time?
(Feel free to answer any or all of the above.)

*photos by stock.XCHNG
**Get this! In her devoted search of my lineage this dedicated woman sent me a real mindblower last night…my great grandfather X 9 was named Stephen Paine. Nothing unusual about that. But add to that his occupation as a miller. Well now, things just got interesting. I married a Stephen Miller.

Taking Time

college applications                 homecoming                            flag football                basketball             SATs   ...