Monday, November 28, 2011

Finally Posting a Poem :)

If you are new to reading the blog... I will post the warning poems are dark (I'm not a depressed person, it's just freeing to tap into other people's emotions and utilize the full creative spectrum). So, you've been warned :) But this is one I wrote over the weekend because I had just read an article about a mental institution and I was wondering what the people inside of those places felt like. Enjoy!!

Pain and suffering pounce at the door
They ooze through your skin-- from the walls, from the floor

The stark monotony of the halls and the cells
Where “commitment” means shackles and not wedding bells

Locks and bars cannot prohibit
Malicious intent against oneself
And pharmaceutical drugs cannot inhibit
The soul’s regretful journey
Through its own cranial hell

They battle through life—
Every torturous breath
While freedom for them
Lives only in death

So these talking heads
Lay in hospital beds---
It’s not safe where they lie
It’s not safe where they hide…

Scared to be together, terrified of being alone,
They’ve nowhere to stay, but nowhere to go--
Nowhere to stay, but nowhere to go…

Saturday, November 26, 2011

ADD Isn't Working For Me

I think it's time to set a word count goal for myself again. 

I have so many projects going on right now, I need a tangible goal every week. That is what I did with my first book and it worked so amazingly well, I actually ended up exceeding the lofty goal week after week until the book was finished, but I needed that incentive. 

I want to be dedicating myself full-time to everything right first book's release, my memoir, my new book and the other project I'm working on that will coincide with my memoir and I'm not actually giving anything the full attention it deserves. Since I don't have an agent, I do have to do everything myself and I'm not able to juts focus on little parts of each project, which is difficult. Many established writers can just focus on their writing or promotions. I have to do the proposal, writing, editing, cover designs, marketing packages and advertising, all on my own...which in this stage also includes researching and figuring out how that works in this industry. So, it's a lot of work...and don't get me wrong...I chose this path...I'm not complaining, I'm just wishing I had more hours in the day and more answers more quickly. But, when all is said and done, I will be glad I did it this way because I'll truly know my industry and my's just hard right now :)

That being said, I don't mind being on the hamster wheel at all, I just need to pick a wheel and be on ONE of them instead of trying to be on four of them at the same time. I think perhaps I should finish the release of my first book, which might take another month or so and then work on either the memoir and accompanying package or move on to dedicate myself to the next fiction novel at that time. I also think the quality of my writing will be stronger if I am doing that because I do much better when I am really intensely focused on something.

I guess that is the plan :) Maybe today my blog did serve as sort of a journal! I am going to sign off right now and work on the final stages of prepping my novel for Kindle release (the research, the marketing, etc.) and I will keep you all updated on what the next phase will be...not sure if I feel more passionate about memoir or fiction after that, but I will let my heart decide when I am at that point...that's kind of the way of the writer, anyway! 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cliches and Holidays

I'm not going to go too far into Thanksgiving because I am trying to keep this blog about writing and not about my day-to-day personal stuff, but I am still so excited about what a wonderful Thanksgiving I had, I just wanted to say that I hope you all had a day that was equally as beautiful, if not more.

It's funny because it's always easy to use holidays as milestones in our lives to think about where we were or what we were doing at that exact time the year prior or many years ago. At Thanksgiving last year, I remember telling everyone that I was almost finished writing a book. The funny thing is that as I was talking about it, I doubted in my own head whether I would ever actually finish writing it. In fact, I doubted my ability to write a novel all the way until I had finished my THIRD edit. It took that long for it to actually sink in that I had really done it. I kept thinking that after I turned each page, the rest of the pages would either be blank or not make sense or that something would be terribly wrong and that the book wouldn't actually be finished. 

Finally, after reading it three times and frankly, getting kind of sick of it, I finally accepted that I had written my first book :)

Anyway, so using last year as my go from wondering whether or not I would ever even finish it and not knowing what I would do after that to where I am now is nothing short of a miracle for me. I've completed it, polished it and most importantly, I believe in it. I'm proud to send it to agents and publishers. I'm thrilled to tell people about it.  In fact, once you get me talking about it, it's hard for me to shut up about it (hard to believe from someone who was nicknamed "motormouth" that I would talk a lot about anything, I know). Last year, at Thanksgiving, I remember telling someone that my book was "nothing special" and that it was just "a regular fiction book that is ...I don't know...nothing really exciting...." In all fairness, that was before I wrote the awesome ending :) but it's just the fact that I wasn't willing to call myself a writer until now....which is a huge transformation (that will be part of my next book, or at least my memoir) and all of that is really exciting for me. 

When it comes down to it, the saying "what a difference a day makes" is certainly true...but the difference that three hundred and sixty five of them can make is pretty astounding!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Timely Words

It is strange, but I often get random song lyrics or just phrases (often quotes) in my head and while they seem random at first, they always apply to something I'm going through or need to hear at that point in my life. I'm not sure where they come from...maybe my subconscious, or maybe my conscious mind, I don't really know, but I will just be in the middle of something and in what feels like it came out of nowhere, I will hear the words loud and clear. Ironically, that is often how I write most of my best poetry as well. I just hear or even see the words as text in my head and I go write them down somewhere.

But yesterday, I had the experience where I heard lyrics and it was what I really needed to hear. It's kind of's almost like I have an internal therapist somewhere in there :) What won't come as much of a surprise, I'm sure, is that this and many of the other instances have been Stevie Nicks' lyrics. They aren't always, though. In fact, sometimes they are lyrics of songs I don't even like or quotes from people I don't even necessarily admire or respect, but I hear them when I need to hear them. It's a very strange phenomenon and I'm sort of flushing it out as I write it.

Often times, since I keep a journal, I will go and journal about the lyric/quote I heard/thought of and what it means to me at that point in my life. I didn't do that yesterday, but since I'm blogging now, I will just write it here...although I'm not going to elaborate on what it means because there is a fine line between what I will blog and what I keep in my journal (don't worry, I'm not keeping stuff from you guys, it's just that THAT stuff is going in the memoir!)

...anyway, the lyric was from Landslide and it was "Well I've been afraid of changin' cause I built my life around you..." and no, it's not about a relationship.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Heard From The Agent...

Ok, so I promised I would update as soon as I got news on the exclusive I had with that agent....and I finally heard back today.

As of today, my status is....drum roll please....back on the market!

I guess if this were Facebook, I would have just gone from "It's complicated" to "single." :)

Am I mad? Not at all. Disappointed? Of course, I'm human.

What I am happy about, though is that someone took the time to read my work. Even more importantly, I know it actually was considered by an agent that I really like and respect, which in itself is an accomplishment. Plus, I trust and value her opinion, so it is not just "another rejection," it is something I take to heart and am really looking at what might need to be tweaked. I am honestly grateful for that opportunity and now I feel like I can't say that my book wasn't given fair consideration, because this agent did give it the attention that I was hoping someone would give it.

I really wish she would have liked it, but that is a matter of personal preference. As I discussed in my post "From the Agents' Point of View," we all pick up books we don't like...and then we put them back down. That's the beauty of having such a wide selection of books to choose from. Plus, most of us aren't trained to read books with the keen eye that agents are. To be honest, I would hate to have their jobs--I know that as I hone my craft, I will look back on probably my first and second novels and see how much I needed to improve...and they have to read that stuff all day long, and then try to sell it.

I guess the fact that this particular agent didn't stay up all night turning the pages of my book could mean a number of things...but it might mean something so simple as her preferring not to read the style that I write in. After all, I will be the first to tell you, I am no Pat Conroy. I would actually say my writing style is more aligned with Sophie Kinsella's (Madeleine Wickham). While my topics go a lot deeper than hers do (no disrespect, she is one of my favorite authors), we have a similar voice--admittedly she is the Celine Dion and I am the American Idol contestant singing a Celine Dion song...but nevertheless. Not everyone can get into that. It's a little hyper-cerebral, but in a scatter-brained sort of way and has a lot of inner dialogue going on.

Wow...after reading that last paragraph back to myself, I guess my blogging style isn't much different than my novel-writing style, is it? :) Our writing doesn't stray much from our true selves, apparently, even if we do call it "fiction"....

Anyway, so those are the results, as promised. I am sorry that I am not posting with better news, but one of these days I will have good news and we will celebrate that together :) For now, I will keep moving that I am free to send to agents again, I have two or three that I am considering sending to...otherwise, it's off to the writer's conference and then if all else fails, the book will be on Kindle soon enough!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weeding Out

When I first started this blog, I promised myself that I would be 100% honest with everything that I put up here. That is why I have posted my rejection letters, that is why I have vented my frustrations or shared on the days that I am feeling more optimistic...and I will continue to do that.

So, in the spirit of honesty, I haven't written anything in almost two days. That goes for this blog, which I'm sure many of you have noticed, as well as my writing outside of the blog (my novels, poetry, memoir, etc.). I had a lot of thoughts swirling inside of my head with things I wanted to write, but I just didn't feel like writing, which is extremely unusual for me.

It's not that I don't know why, either.

Writing is a tough gig. I'm going to be honest about that, too. Sure there are some people who know the right people or who possibly get lucky...not that they're not good writers, but in this business, it seems that getting your stuff in front of the right people is 90% of the battle and writing is only the other 10%. For the rest of us, though, we have to keep writing new stuff and keep whoring ourselves out to any media outlet or literary connection we can find with the hope that the right pair of eyes will see it and like it. It isn't always fact, it never really is. The only fun part is the writing...the in all truthfulness, 90% of being a writer really isn't very fun at all.

I suppose it's just about loving the other 10% THAT much where you are fulfilled enough by it to push through the rest-- the part that is the demeaning, ego-destroying, hope and dream-crushing process that is trying to get your writing recognized. In the end, I've realized that the ones who endure are those who are writing for the love of writing...and that like most other things, this might all just be a weeding out process.

That being the case, I'm in it for the long-haul...I write because I love to write...even if I have to do something on the side...even if it's another ten years before I get published or if my writing never gets recognized, I'm never going to stop writing because that will mean I've clamped the valve that flows from my soul.

What is the take-away from this blog? I'm not sure if I was convincing myself that it is ok to keep pushing through for what you love when the going gets tough or if I was writing it for someone else out there who might be in the same position and feeling the same way...or perhaps both.

So, to that person...if you're out there...Let's make a deal...Do what you love, and so will I :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

No News Is...Just No News!

So, I've been keeping myself pretty busy lately, but every once in awhile, someone will ask me if I've heard back from the agent who has an exclusive on my book yet.

Of course, I will update right away when I do hear something. That being the case, the fact that I haven't posted anything about it is neither good nor bad, it simply just is :)

When I sent out my first round of queries awhile back, I waited on pins and needles after someone requested material. I was literally nauseous every time I saw an email from an agent because I was so worried about what they were going to say.

I can't say I don't know what has happened between then and now, because I do, but this time around is a completely different experience. I want it just as badly...if not more, but that desire is manifesting itself differently in terms of the energy.  The only way to really articulate it is to say that where before I had the nausea and anxiety, which were negative energy, now I am just excited and somehow strangely calm about all of it, which is a much more positive energy.

I believe that my book is going to land in the right hands and if this agent is reading it and liking it, that is wonderful!  If, on the other hand, she is reading it and not enjoying it, I doubt she'd be very excited about pitching it to publishers, first of all, and second of all, me getting nauseous about it isn't going to make her change her mind.

...and that is sort of where I'm at.  So...for those of you who had been asking if I'd heard back yet, there is your (long-winded) answer... BUT I promise you that I will post news as soon as I have any! :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Another New Video!

As promised, a new video...I never promised it would be exciting, though :)

A Purist...Or Just Antiquated?

As I juggle back and forth between writing poetry and book material, I've noticed a funny little quirk that I have (one of many).

When I write poetry, I absolutely have to write with pen and paper. When I write for a book, however, I absolutely have to write on the computer. I won't even brainstorm with traditional writing utensils.

It's very strange, but I actually get writer's block if I try to interchange those methods. On those rare instances when, somehow, I am able to force something out, it's noticeably sub par.

I haven't been able to figure out why this is...I don't know if it's because I actually have different writing styles when I write poetry versus when I write novels or if it's because I'm just plain crazy :) I'm leaning more toward the latter! Honestly, though, when I write poetry, it is not linear at all (no pun intended). I will write a line that I want to start the poem with and then go 2/3 of the way down the page and write a line that I want to appear midway through the poem and then go back up and write the beginning of the poem again and the whole thing ends up being a chaotic mess with chicken scratch ALL over the page--in the margins, in between lines, over and underneath words, but somehow it all makes sense to me.

It is that process, of being able to take the words from all over the place and fitting them together like a puzzle of abstract art where only I know what the final product is supposed to look like that I enjoy most. So, to be confined to the neat little lines and keystrokes on a computer screen just completely constipates my thought process when it comes to poetry.

For novels, on the other hand, I find comfort in that confinement. I feel like that keeps me on track. I have weekly word goals to meet and I can fit a certain number of words on each page--they are great little "mile markers" for me. I also feel like I'm always working toward my goal because there isn't any doodling going on (it's amazing how many times one can mindlessly write their name on a piece of paper when sitting there bored without even noticing), I'm not filling the pages with junk that I have to sift through later for the "good stuff" and I'm making sure that all of my time is being spent productively (which often means shutting down my internet connection because I often lack discipline). Regardless, it gets done :)

Case in is a single page out of one of my poetry notebooks. Can you imagine a novel's worth (90-100,000 words) of this?!?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What Would Freud Say?

I've been reading a lot of my old poetry lately and writing a lot of new material...and I have to say, there is a definite theme to my writing...even to my novels, actually. I like to write dark stuff.

This is really puzzling to me because I'm a really happy person and I'll come right out and say it, I don't have anything "buried" in my past, so I can't figure out why I have this fascination with death, crimes, criminals, psychopaths, etc., but alas, I'm intrigued... and most of my material has some thread of that in there.

It's interesting because if someone were to find my creative writing (not my journals or anything) long after I'm gone, they would say I must have lived this dark existence, much like we think about Edgar Allen Poe (I'm on a Poe kick right now) and even many classical musicians who wrote tragically brilliant material, but did they really? Maybe they were just like me where they lived these perfectly normal lives and writing was their complete escape where what they wrote was completely antithetical to their own lives.

Maybe they weren't deeply disturbed or hiding anything at all...maybe that is something we fabricate in our own minds because we want them to be more exciting than they actually were?

Perhaps they were even better writers than we give them credit for because they WERE able to tap into those emotions without ever having experienced them.

All I know is that I would love to see what Freud would have had to say about my writing. Unless there is some past life that I'm unaware of, I couldn't have written a better childhood for myself and that goes all the way down to the very last detail, especially the "main characters," my family.

So, I'm not quite sure where this theme or fascination comes from, but I'm just acknowledging that it's definitely there in the stuff I produce and it is definitely making me think if perhaps we've been too quick to jump to conclusions about the personal lives of those who came before us based solely on their CREATIVE writing...

Monday, November 14, 2011

You Say Tomato....

I wanted to call this blog post "Tomato, tomato" as in Tomato, TomAto, that cute little phrase that distinguishes how two people call essentially the same thing two different things, but I couldn't write it without it just looking like I wrote "tomato" I had to use a different title :)

Anyway, I've been really distracted the past few days working on my autobiography...which is where the semantics come into play. As I was researching agents, I couldn't find hardly any agents that handled autobiographies.

I was a little stumped.

I've seen hundreds of books about people's lives all over Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. Certainly they were books written about that individual's lives, about themselves, which, as I learned in school were called autobiographies...but they were nowhere to be found. Then I remembered another word that I've been hearing a lot lately....memoir. So, I looked for agents that handled "memoirs" and I hit the jackpot! Apparently, most of those books that I've seen, although they could be technically be defined as autobiographies are now called "memoirs."

It seems that the term "autobiography" is now reserved for either the famous or infamous. So, if you have an interesting story to tell, go ahead and write your memoir, but it seems you have to be recruited or selected to write your own autobiography, which is strange.

Here is a sample list of some "authors" of recent autobiographies:
*Dolly Parton
*Donny Osmond
*Bette Midler
*Jenny McCarthy
*Shannon Doherty

Memoirs, on the other hand, are written by people who have been through something interesting, experienced something interesting or just have a story to tell. In short, it seems to be less about what is on the cover and more about what is on the pages.

Also, a memoir is often about a transient time in someone's life (a struggle, an experience, a transition, etc.) where an autobiography often spans one person's entire life....

So, to correct myself, being as I'm not famous (and fortunately not infamous either) and while I would like to think my whole life has been interesting, the world might not agree entirely. Therefore, I am working on my "memoir," NOT my autobiography :)

Although, I still think every day is a chance to write another new and exciting page in our own autobiography, whether it ever gets published or not!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

New Video Up Today!

Sorry it took so long...not much news on the writing front, but I promised I'd do a video every week :)


Well, since I wrote that Edgar Allen Poe post last night, I've been obsessing about poetry. I've been reading through old poems that I wrote ages ago, I've been writing new ones and I've been looking through old notebooks with half-written poems that I never finished.

Poetry was what really made me fall in love with writing. In fact, I didn't start really committing myself to writing novels until I decided I probably couldn't make a career out of writing poetry. Although, even my first novel is threaded with poetry. That is actually the linchpin in the book. The whole plot swings along a pendulum of poetry and depending on what the mysterious poet is doing in the book, the plot adjusts accordingly...and that is all I can say because the agent still has an exclusive for another few weeks, so I'll leave it at that for that book, but in short, I love poetry.

As I was writing my first book, I actually wrote it around the poetry. The reader doesn't even really notice the poems in there, they kind of seem like an important afterthought, but as I was writing it, I wrote the poems before I wrote the chapters...and then the plot formed around that. I think I might make that my little trademark because I do love writing poetry so much, I can't imagine just writing novels and falling away from the poetry aspect of writing.

Wouldn't that be cool? To always write books with some sort of poetic aspect laced through, where the reader might not even know they're reading poetry?

Again, hats off to my idol Stevie Nicks for incorporating the most beautiful poetic prose into some of the most wonderful songs the billboard charts have ever seen and people who ordinarily wouldn't have, enjoyed poetry without even knowing it.

I'm considering posting some of my poetry up here, but for some reason, that's a big step for me :) Not even my blog entries, which in their own way are a form of journaling are as cathartic as my poetry...those are about as personal as it gets...but the good thing is that most of them are pretty cryptic. I learned from the best!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Raven and Raven and I?

Just as I predicted, I was up all night writing.

Writing through the night always feels a little Edgar Allen Poe-ish to me. For some reason, though, when it rains, that feeling is overwhelming. I love it! I feel like I've plunked myself right into The Raven.

I remember the first time I heard The Raven. I was in elementary school and we were sitting in a little assembly room. They read it to us as some sort of "culture" thing to broaden our horizons, I guess...I don't really know the logic behind it, I was about 6-- all I cared about at the time was that it didn't cut into recess (it didn't).

That was one of the first times I realized that I had a special relationship with the written word. After our teacher, or whoever was reading it (sorry person who read it, I'm sure you're a great person, but I don't remember who you were) was finished, everyone said how stupid it was. They all ran around on the playground shouting "nevermore" and I remember being haunted by it for days. I remember thinking in my head that I wanted to be just like that guy who could FEEL stuff like that.

I wanted to know his secret.

To be honest, I didn't even know what the heck most of it meant, but I knew it was heavy and the things I did pick up on were powerful. I had this crystal clear vision in my head of what his "chamber" looked like and of what he felt like sitting in there with this bird taunting him, unleashing his own private hell on himself. I didn't know anything about anything at that age--I didn't know about wars or bombs, evil or hate, money or poverty, or even love or heartbreak, but I knew what that man was feeling when he wrote that poem simply because I felt it in my soul when I heard his words and that changed me forever. That made me want to be a writer. I wanted to do that to touch people that profoundly.

That was when I started writing poetry...and I have never stopped.

Will I ever touch people in the way that Edgar Allen Poe did?

It's a lofty goal...but the way I'll keep trying because I am the kind of person who never says never....more :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Rain and Writing

It's not very common that it rains where I live, but today happens to be one of those days.

Most people say that when it rains, they just want to curl up with a good book. It's not that I don't understand that sentiment...I do, especially if I happen to have my bookmark lodged between something that has Dean Koontz or Dennis Lehane's name on the cover. What I have a stronger inclination toward, though, especially when it rains, is to curl up WITHOUT a good book and walk away with the promise of one. In short, I LOVE writing when it rains. In fact, at this time last year, it rained like crazy and my book really took shape. I remember locking myself in my room for days at a time, sometimes just staying in my pajamas and slippers, listening to the rain outside and pounding away furiously at the keyboard as if I was one of those mad genius concert pianists.

The great thing is that for the past week, I had kind of hit a lull in my writing and as much as I don't really like the rain (I'm more of a heat person), it was exactly what I needed to kick myself into high gear and get back on track.

Will I sleep tonight? Probably not, but that is exciting to me. I will stay up and observe the lives of the characters I've created as they go through another day in the world I've created around them.

That's the coolest thing about's almost as if you get to read those "choose your own adventure" books as often as you want to (remember those from the 90's?) Since those were my favorite books as a kid, it's no wonder I get a thrill even out of writing the chapters that I simply delete or throw away. I just get to go back and choose a new adventure for my characters :) How lucky am I?

...What ever happened to those books, anyway?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mind Jell-o

It has been so hard to throw myself back into "work mode" since my sister's engagement (I'm probably ALMOST as excited as she is) but I need to! I haven't been doing as much writing as I usually do and I haven't been reading either, which inspires me to write. Plus, I didn't do a Youtube video this week!

I promise to get my act together in the next few days!

I don't like taking any breaks from writing because as I've blogged about before, a one, two or three day break can turn into that number's equivalent in months or years. I know it sounds like the slippery slope way of thinking, but in my case, it is often true--especially when it comes to workouts, but those are another story :)

So I am forcing myself to sit down and write tonight...even if it's taking the suggestion that one of the people who commented on a previous post said and just writing 500 words on something, I am going to do it. If I come up with anything interesting, I will post the results on here. I just need to get back in writing mode.

Although, for my loyal readers, I think I've only missed one day of blogging and I even blogged that I wouldn't be posting that day, so technically I (hope I) haven't let you guys down :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Researching E-Books

I've been doing a lot of research on e-books the past few days and I'm really starting to get comfortable with the idea. I actually set some firm deadlines for myself and if this agent decides to pass (I'm still hoping she doesn't)...please don't pass, agent, if you're reading this!!!!! ...and if I don't get picked up by another agent that I'm comfortable with in the interim between the end of this exclusive and the writer's conference, I've decided I'm going to go the e-book route. 

I've been trying to get this book published for over a year now and call it vanity, call it whatever you like, but I really think that once people read it, they will like it. Every time I have explained to someone the concept of the book, they go crazy. It's completely unique and I think it will blow people's minds. I think it's book club material, honestly. Is it the best book in the world? I'm confident, but I'm not crazy....I know there are better books out there, but I also think I have a good concept and strong characters and that people will enjoy reading it if I just put it out there and give them a chance...but I'll never know if it just sits in a file folder as a word document on my computer. 

I promised myself that I would try EVERY possible avenue to get my writing out there...and I'm going to fulfill that promise...So, if all else fails, I will be publishing an e-book in early Spring...stay tuned :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Minor Technicality

Sometimes I forget that whoever is running this whole operation--be it God, the Divinity, Mother Nature, your own higher power, whatever you believe in--definitely has a sense of humor. Either that, or this omnipotent being really has it out for me. I prefer to believe the former.

So, yesterday I posted about how I was SO happy about leaving the corporate world and pursuing my passion. I was feeling really great about that...and I still am, because I LOVE to write. All day I was kind of on this high about writing and the thought of never having to sit in a cubicle again. It felt amazing! I pictured what my life was going to look like now that I had truly committed to this and removed the "corporate" option from my game plan. It was matter what I was doing, I knew I'd be happy and more fulfilled. I was on Cloud Nine!

...and then...

The Universe flipped me the giant bird!!!!!!! I got home yesterday evening and checked the mail and I got hit with a monster credit card bill. To make matters worse, it was one of those one-two punches where I also got a bunch of annual bills (car registration, insurance, etc.) in the mail along with that. So, all of a sudden I feel like I'm being robbed at gunpoint every time I open an envelope.

In short, corporate jobs pay the bills MUCH better than writing does, that's for sure! But I'm not ready to give up just yet. That being said, I have set a more firm deadline for myself where if I don't get a book deal by a certain time, I'm going to publish my stuff as e-books and just go that route...and maybe pick up little (non-corporate) side jobs while I do that.

I suppose everything has trade-offs, but having been on both sides of the equation, I still don't believe that a great paycheck feels better than the feeling of fulfilling your dreams.

For the people who have been able to do both, hopefully I'll join you someday :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pursuing Your Passion

It's funny, I was at a party this weekend (the party that ended up being my sister's engagement party) and I had always kind of been quiet at parties. I never wanted people to ask me what I did for a living because I wasn't happy about it (I was originally heading to law school and then I was a corporate analyst). I either avoided the question altogether or answered very abruptly and changed the subject whenever I was asked because I felt like I spent enough time doing that stuff during the week, I didn't want to waste another second of my free time, the time that I should be enjoying myself, talking about something that made me so miserable.

I had even kind of flip-flopped the past few years being afraid to really commit myself to writing or my creative side in general, being worried that if it didn't work out, I still needed to cling on to that corporate, cubicle-dwelling part of myself just as a safety net. I even kept my "business wardrobe" hidden away in boxes because if I "didn't get a book deal" I thought I would need it.

So answering the "what do you do?" question was always something I dreaded. I almost wanted to tell people  that I was writing, but had the cubicle "plan B" in my back pocket just in case, so I wouldn't lose their respect...because I had some fallacy that it was contingent upon that.

Well, now that I'm finally doing something that I love, writing, I find that I love answering that question and I actually get more respect when I just end the sentence there..."I'm writing and I love every second of it!"

I look forward to the question now.  In fact, sometimes it's all I want to talk about :) At one point during the party, I was talking to this sweet girl that my sister works with and I said in my head "ok, SHUT UP about the writing, already!!" --which was probably some rudimentary form of mind reading because I guarantee she was thinking the same thing, but she was too nice to say anything :)

It was so neat, though, because I even found other people at the party who were similar to me. Honestly, I had always kind of had trouble finding my "niche" of friends because the people I was "supposed" to be hanging out with (the other corporate people) I just never really fit in with. So, I would try to hang out with them and it just never really felt right.

Now that I'm finally pursuing what does feel right, though, I'm gravitating more toward people who are similar to me. In fact, I met the coolest person at the party who does make-up for a living and she was the most fun, outgoing person ever. I kept thinking "why haven't I been hanging out with people like her all these years?"

I guess it's because I've been denying that part of myself even to myself this whole time. I've been trying to be the corporate, left-brained person and trying to fit "that" stereotype and not letting myself be the more creative/artistic person that I am who surrounds themselves with people who are more right-brained...who, as it turns out, I get along with REALLY well :)

Not that there is anything wrong with people in the corporate world, it's just not for me. As it turns out, I'm "one of those creative people" :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

No Blog Today

I sat down and tried to blog a few times today, but my mind was racing and I just couldn't do it. My sister's boyfriend was planning to propose this evening and it's been all I have been able to think about for the past 72 hours. Today, it was even harder to contain my excitement and I was so desperate not to let anything slip, I didn't want to go on Facebook, Twitter or even blog. I didn't want anyone texting me, emailing me, calling me or doing anything that would require me to explain what I was doing tonight because I wanted to tell everyone SO badly and couldn', instead, I basically fell off the grid for a few days. In fact, I even ignored my sister for a little while when I found out because I can't keep secrets from her and I didn't know how to handle it. My brilliant solution was to stay away from her...but being as we talk every few hours, I realized quickly that wasn't going to work, so I had to battle my way through that one!

Now that it's done, though, I can finally jump on here and explain my absence...and talk to everyone again!

....and oh yeah, she said yes! :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

The More I Write...

Ironically (or maybe not), that sentence ends exactly the same way it begins. The more I write....the more I write!

When I'm really heavy into writing a novel, whether it is forced or just flowing really well, the pace will naturally pick up more quickly. My weekly word counts (I will talk more about those in another post) will go through the roof. It is not unusual for me during those times to double, or even triple, my self-imposed quotas, which are not lackadaisical by any means. Also, when I am making more time to write, even if the focus is elsewhere, I will find myself taking other times to sit down and write more poetry, short stories, ideas for other books, anything, really.

It's not that I'm feeling extra creative during those fact, it's often the opposite. Sometimes the fact that I'm writing more means that I'm not feeling creative and have literally forced myself to sit down with a pen and paper or in front of the computer for a certain amount of time and write because I know that if I don't, days, weeks, or even months will pass before I write something substantial again. Truth be told, the goldmine might not be what comes from one of those forced writing sessions--I have had it happen, but it's rare--it is just that it keeps my brain in writing mode and it breaks through that wall of avoidance that I'm building up so that I can sit down naturally to write either later in the day, or maybe the next day and then every day after that, whereas if I would have avoided it as I wanted to in that moment, my creativity would have stagnated.

I look at writing as sort of panning for gold in one's own brain. Sometimes you get all of your tools and you sift and sift and sift and nothing. Sometimes you write hundreds of pages and there is one tiny nugget in there, but it's there and it's beautiful. Other times, you  have a day where you mine just a little bit and you have these solid, gorgeous pieces that you didn't have to work very hard at all for. But the point is that you have to go in there and continue to pan because there is a lot of sand and other junk that has to be sifted through. You're not going to get the gold every time and that stuff HAS to be cleaned out. So every time I write, even if it is muck and sand and dirt, I appreciate that because it hopefully changes the ratio of junk to gold of what is left up there and maybe next time I go panning, I will strike it rich!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"Good" Traffic?

Living in California and driving the 405 on a regular basis, "traffic" is a term I never thought I'd hear with a positive spin...but WOW...I cannot believe how many hits the site got after the Stevie Nicks post! I can't take credit for that one, though. There are a lot of Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac fans and they are amazing people who did a great job about spreading the word about that post, so thank you again to all of them.

It's funny because I never really realized the power of the little keywords at the bottom of the posts until I put "Stevie Nicks" in there and then all of a sudden, WHAM, as opposed to what I felt like driving home from LA yesterday, a lot of extra traffic out of nowhere was actually a good thing :)

I guess now I know why marketers use the keywords they use and why I get emails and pop up ads for such things that...well, don't apply to me. They know what people are searching for, apparently. Don't worry, I'm not going to put any irrelevant words in my blogs or keyword boxes...I'm not going to sell my soul for site traffic, I'm doing this blog to chronicle my journey and for nothing else. I want people to read my writing, but only those who genuinely want to read it, not people who I tricked into coming to the site. So, if you're here and you're reading it and enjoying it, thank you for being here :) If you somehow got here by wasn't any genius marketing tactic I devised, I promise, so clear your cookies and search history, but if you like what you see, bookmark the site and stay for awhile!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Stephanie Lynn Nicks

...or better known as Stevie Nicks.

If you didn't know who I was talking about before, I bet you do now.

She is known for many things, most notably, a rock and roll icon. Many musicians even cite her as being their inspiration in terms of voice or style, so how can it be that me, who has zero musical ability whatsoever (for any of you who have heard me sing or play an instrument, you know there is solid empirical evidence to support that statement) has been unwavering in my insistence for over 10 years that Stevie has been my inspiration to write?

I was sixteen years old when I was first introduced to her fact, her career had arguably hit its peak before I was even born...although she's still going pretty strong even now. But what did this woman have to offer that nobody else did?

Rhetorical brilliance, that is what.

The only way I can come close to even vaguely capturing the essence of what Stevie does is by saying she is a Michelangelo with words. She takes pain and makes it beautiful "Rock on gold dust woman, take your silver spoon and dig your grave..." [Gold Dust Woman], she takes struggle and turns it into something verbally aesthetic "...well I've been afraid of changing 'cause I've built my life around you..." [Landslide], she even makes heartbreak hauntingly alluring "I know I could have loved you but you would not let me...I'll follow you down 'til the sound of my voice will haunt you. You will never get away from the sound of the woman that loved you..." [Silver Springs]. But the best part about Stevie Nicks, believe it or not, isn't her beautiful voice because it does convey all of those emotions and really make you feel what she is singing. She has an incredible gift for doing that. What she is even more gifted at, however, is writing those words. Stevie doesn't walk into the studio or on stage and sing what someone else wrote. She isn't an actress with a good voice. She is a writer, through and through.

In fact, I believe that is what makes her performances so much more compelling. But even when other people are singing Stevie's songs...even when Dixie Chicks are singing Landslide (which I thought was well done) or Lindsay Lohan is mangling a cover of Edge of Seventeen, Stevie's words are still there, the message is still there. Brilliant writing shines through, no matter what.

Stevie is a masterful artist with words. When I am struggling or get stuck, I just sit and listen to her music or read through her lyrics and I'm always inspired. Truth be told, she's inspired me in more ways than one. My most precious thing in my life, my dog, Bella Donna, is named after her first solo album. In fact, there is a little bit of her in everything that I write. I feel like that helps me raise the bar every time I put pen to paper. You can't read Stevie's stuff and follow it with something terrible of your own. It's like playing baseball and going up to bat behind the person who just hit a grand slam and striking out. It simply isn't an option. So many times, I have been reading through her lyrics and thought to myself "if only I could have written something HALF as good as that..." The crazy thing is that she kept surpassing even her own best and making it look easy...and still is.

Is it crazy that as a novelist, my absolute idol in the writing world isn't a novelist at all? Perhaps, but being as I started as a poet, I suppose that explains some of it. As for the rest, go read some of Stevie's lyrics and then try to find ANYTHING in the literary world that weaves words together more beautifully :)

"Once in a million years a lady like her rises...." [Rhiannon]

Writing and...Chocolate Cake?

Writing a book is a funny thing. It sounds so easy, yet when you actually sit down to do it, it's really not very easy at all. 

I thought it was going to be a very simple task. I thought, "I have plenty to say, I'm creative and I've always been a good writer...or at least everyone (teachers, etc.) always told me so. This should be a piece of cake." Well, if it was a piece of cake, it was one of those giant pieces of cake that you see on TV (for those of you who know the slices of cake at Claim Jumper, think of it as one of those) where it seems delicious at first and then you realize you have too much of a good thing and even though it's all good and enjoyable, you're not sure you'll be able to finish it because it actually becomes too difficult. Imagine that...eating cake becoming an impossible task?

That's what it starts to feel like, though. Think of it this way. You have a HUGE piece of chocolate cake...I'm talking enormous... and you're sitting there and you  have to finish it all. Well, maybe about halfway through, you get full, or you wish you could eat vanilla instead. That's what happens when you're writing. You have good characters, a good plot, a good story going and then a few months in, you might get stuck, you get bored with them or you think of something else that is pulling at you MUCH stronger and it doesn't fit into the current storyline, yet you can't just abandon the one you're working on for fear that the two will get tangled or one will become contaminated with hints of the you're stuck. 

Is writing still the greatest thing in the world? In my opinion, there is probably no other way I'd rather be spending my don't get me fact, as much as I love food (I'm Italian, it's in my DNA), I'd even pick writing over eating, so that says a lot about it. I'm just saying that everyone hits that wall where you're devouring something you love and it is such a huge task that it actually becomes so tedious, you wonder how that piece of chocolate cake could have ever looked inviting in the first place. 

For those of you who are chocolate fans. This is what it feels like when you sit down to write a book..imagine putting this in front of yourself and not being able to stray until you finish the whole thing. It seems like a good first :)