The Mechanics of Writing

As a child I often wondered what my life would be like at eighteen, twenty-five, forty, fifty. I’d picture myself as a take-charge adult, someone who has had things happen, good things. Marriage, kids, successful career, I think I imagined it all.

As a teen I began to write fiction novels, mostly keeping them to myself, for a long time not daring to let anyone read anything I’d written. Over the years I finally began to allow a friend or two to read something and invariably they’d say a little something good, maybe voice a criticism or two, and I tried to take it in my stride, not be offended, but when you love books and read a lot and then dare to write something and then ask other people who, by and large, did not read or write anymore than they had to, for their opinions, well, it didn’t always go well.

It took a lot of time for me to learn that I did need to take criticism but only from someone who knew what they were talking about. Someone who never cracks a book open doesn’t get to criticize my writing, any more than I would go into a mechanic’s shop and tell someone how to change a carburetor.

The biggest piece of advice I give aspiring writers is to read, read, and read some more. There is no better way to prepare to be a writer than reading and writing. Once you’ve conquered the basics of grammar and spelling and sentence structure, it then becomes about figuring out just how to put words together in such a way as to engage the reader. Like a lot of things creative, I find that people either know how to do it and just need tons of practice, or they don’t have it and there will be no teaching it. You can teach grammar, you can teach spelling, but putting words together is a different skill altogether.

When I wrote my first poem in my twenties, I let my parents read it and I’ll never forget the look on their faces. It was as if some new facet of myself had just been revealed to them. I’d surprised them, and this time in a good way. They saw something they hadn’t seen before.

I continued to write throughout my life, in between marriage, kids, and other things, and from time to time, I’ve surprised other people. Other family members, friends… they’re the ones you have to impress after all. The strangers who read your writing have absolutely no preconceived idea of whether or not you have any talent at all, they just read and enjoy it or don’t.

But the thing to remember is that I became more confident in my own abilities and talents, and didn’t have to be blown apart by some non-reader telling me that I should’ve started my book with the words “It was a dark and stormy night.” As if all books can begin that way.

Now I’ve got several books in print and spend a lot of time and energy writing, editing, and helping others be better writers, and I’ve learned a ton about who to listen to in regards to writing.

So learn, take classes, and read, read, and read some more, and for heaven’s sake, if you want someone’s opinion on your work, ask someone you can trust, someone you know full well is a reader if not also a writer. Nobody else gets to have a say. If someone gives you good advice, take it. If they give you bad advice or just plain criticism that is not founded in reality, learn to shake it off and keep plugging away. After all, you’re not trying to re-build a carburetor.

Back Into the Light

Sometimes we confuse emotional or spiritual need with material or physical. How many times have we tried to fill up our insides by buying something, or eating something, that, while it may bring us a temporal feeling of comfort, leaves us once again empty in the end?

Eating disorders, out-of-control spending and debt to acquire more faster, filling an inner ache with drugs or alcohol, there are as many coping mechanisms as there are people in the world, I suspect.

I’ve learned to identify and get in touch with what’s really underneath it all. It’s still a process, we’re all works in progress.  But often when we peel off layers and find that scared little kid underneath it all and we have to actually feel our pain, well, it ain’t easy.

Whether it’s some trauma from your past or not being cared for or nurtured in some way, if your greatest expectations have gone unmet, if your heart has been shattered into tiny shards, whatever lies beneath, know that you can and will survive and in one of the great ironies in this life, once you press through, grieve, and move one, you may find yourself in such a better place.

It’s tough trying to get from A to Z or back to a new A for a new beginning, you must do the hard work. This life doesn’t come with shortcuts.

When you know yourself fully and heal yourself (allow yourself to be healed) there is a new life awaiting.

Chase God/goodness/light/life while finding yourself, the combination of the two is immensely powerful.

Come out of the depths of your despair and back into the light. It’s a lot of fun up here.

There is very little I need

 

Life is made up of many little epiphanies throughout it. I had a mini one today. There is very little I need.

I have a good roof over my head and more than enough food within reach when I’m hungry. I have a soft bed to sleep in. I have a man who loves me freely and without condition, and a handful of friends that do the same.

I realized that–if someone wanted to get me a gift today–I’d be hard-pressed to name anything.

When I was younger (and still on occasion) I loved to shop. There was always a list of things somewhere that I wanted, some purse or pair of shoes that I thought I might die if I didn’t get. With age comes wisdom in many areas. I don’t ever remember being this content or having such a lack of need to shop, purchase or acquire.

The needs I feel in my life now tend more towards those things less tangible that I can’t grasp in my hands. I’d like to have more influence, to expand my boundaries so that I might reach someone or teach someone something that I came by the hard way, that I might make a difference in someone’s life.

I’d like to share my art with the world.

I’d like to pave pathways for those that come behind me, to point the way and show them how NOT to stumble.

It was kind of shocking to see and know the difference in my desires from then and now. I’m so much happier now, so much more content. I seek for soul-affirming, spirit-reaching, life-affirming things and people.

Music, art, poetry, the thrill of finding a new fiction novel that will transport me to a new world, a new poet that will encourage and inspire me, these are where it’s at for me, and still, as I enjoy these things I realize more fully every moment

There is very little I need.

 

The Artsy Life-Love It or Leave It

I don’t know why the creative life is such a bi-polar one. Everyone I know that has ever made anything good with their creative gifts has also suffered mood swings from a super-confident high to some very low lows. But there are those of us who are blossoming, blooming, learning that our artistic life is not the beginning or the end of the world, it just… is. We’re learning to express freely, without hesitation, then let it go, stop standing there next to our work, hat in hand, waiting for the crumbs of acceptance or approval. If it lands with someone, it lands. If it misses, it misses. No matter.

If we’re blessed with the ability and the opportunity to make art (music, writing, sculpting, painting, whatever in the world it is that you do) we are blessed indeed. I, personally, am in the very midst of learning to let everything else go. I do it because it is in me and it is me (and in some cases if it doesn’t come out of me I will explode). It’s very freeing to realize that if your spouse or a friend doesn’t love your work, you’re not going to die. You’re going to be okay. If an art critic doesn’t like it, you’ll live.

The absolute most powerful lesson I am learning in my life right now is that there is freedom and joy in the letting go… letting go of expectations, letting go of criticism and opinions, letting go of all the negative voices, and just dancing in the utter joy of simply being.

I told someone the other day (when he brought up expectations) that they are indeed the source of all pain, and the longer I’ve tromped around on this planet the truer I have found this to be. I can pretty much look at every single instance of pain in my life and realize that any emotional pain I have gone through has been because I had some expectation of someone or something that did not pan out like I thought.

This is why I’m always saying (mostly to myself) Let it GO!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s a process.

Happy creating!!   🙂

Follow Your Passion

I have always sought beauty truth and love and have tried to be as genuine as I knew how to be at whatever point in my life I found myself. You do what you know to do, like Maya said, when you know better, you do better.

I’ve learned so much over the past several years, it’s amazing what comes to you straight from God/the universe when you tune out all the noise. There was a time when isolating myself would’ve brought me destruction but this time it brought me salvation in its truest sense.

Why is it that I am now in my early fifties I see so much clearer than I ever have? It’s hard to have any kind of spiritual experience, epiphany or paradigm shift without everyone around you blanching and fleeing. Such experiences are as personal as your own blood and DNA and often cannot be fully related to others, I’ve learned to accept that. I don’t know why I feel such a need for others, particularly those I care about, to understand me, but I am now settling for acceptance and I’m also allowing that those who need to leave my life are going and new ones are pouring in every day. Finding a new tribe at this juncture in my life… who knew? And I love the ones leaving enough to let them go, want them to, even. And I welcome my new friends with open arms and an open heart.

This path I’m living and walking down is so full of wonder, joy, and contentment and that is because I’ve been blessed with love and care in my life and creative outlets that keep me sane. I’m a recovering people-pleaser who has been set free and I’ve learned that more people than ever connect with me when I’m my truest, realist, most vulnerable self.

Anytime you do something creative you are putting yourself out there—wide open to the judgment of others. Writing, painting, poetry, all of those things, can feel as though you’ve emptied your very heart and served it up on a platter. Then comes the tough part of seeing how others react to that, to the things birthed out of your very soul. It’s not an easy life if you are sensitive (and by and large Creatives are very sensitive), so we must develop the thickness of skin to let criticism fall away (from those who just don’t get it) secure in the knowledge that those who DO get it, they are your audience, your target. You WILL find those who love and appreciate both who you are and what you do.

To my fellow Creatives out there, if you’re feeling unloved and misunderstood, welcome to the wonderful world of Creativity! It can hurt sometimes, but you’re gonna love it. Press on, don’t listen to nay-sayers, follow your passion.

 

 

 

 

 

power and control and being a woman

Bringing Order to Chaos, that’s what I do 

Or at least that’s how I explain it to myself and others but what it may actually be is trying to impose a measure of my will in any given situation, to prove I have some power.

 What causes a control freak, what are the ingredients?

Is it born with you as part of your DNA or is it that which life draws onto your soul?Looking back over my early life I remember many times I felt I had no control and that made me anxious, maybe even rebellious because by damn nobody was ever going to control me again. I’d be the master of my own destiny.  

That “don’t tell me what to do” attitude grew in me quicker than a fox on a hunt. At seventeen I just knew I was grown… enough. Had to move out of my parent’s house even before I graduated high school because I knew better, I didn’t need anyone else telling me what to do. 

I can remember feeling powerless with a guy in the back of a car, powerless and also ashamed that I’d allowed myself to get into such a position. That wasn’t me or who I was supposed to be. But I was there, not because I really wanted to be, what I had wanted was someone’s time and attention, affection… love. I had no desire to be mauled in the backseat of a car. But a man (or I should say boy) knows exactly what to say to get a woman to respond, just what she wants to hear.  

But when a woman stands up for herself and takes back control she’s seen as sinful, brazen, haughty, bitchy. How dare we stand up for ourselves and demand respect? Who do we think we are? 

Unfortunately just saying “I am not in control, God is in control” has not been enough for me. 

Are we not also created by God to be loved, cherished, beheld? Yes, but not our strength, no, never that. We are loved so long as we stay in our place. This feeling I understand. Of course I do, I’m a woman. I’ve been objectified, talked about as if I wasn’t in the room, used and discarded like a wad of tissue, teased, bullied and perhaps above all, underestimated. Maybe that’s the worst one of all. Having people expect less of you because you’re a woman, think you are not smart, not intelligent, not capable of any sort of greatness in thought or deed. 

I’ve never really considered myself to be a feminist, at least not in the same way that others appear to be, I’m not a very militant person, but even I know that every human being deserves, and has the right to demand respect from others. I agree with equal pay for equal work and some other issues. 

In my life I’ve seen so many women utterly lose themselves in a man, and not always in a good way, I mean totally lose sight of who they are.  

A friend of mine when I was young used to drive with her windows down in 90 degree summer weather, not because her car didn’t have a/c but because her husband forced her to. He wanted to save a few pennies on gas, you see, but she was the one who worked fifty-plus hours a week while he tried to find himself. (He wasn’t looking very hard. I knew just where he was) but she never seemed to get it. He ruled her with an iron fist and her eyes were clouded over with love. Really? That’s love? If I have learned anything it is that we must respect and love ourselves before we can expect it from others. We have to know what it is, enough to recognize what it is and what it isn’t.  

And that’s only one example. I saw it many times throughout my life. Girl meets boy, falls in love but doesn’t realize he is only out to use her. Women put up with emotional, verbal, physical and sexual abuse and will stand up and defend the one perpetrating it on her. All in the name of love. 

We women love hard and often foolhardy. 

So when I speak my mind, when I follow my heart, when I use a gift, I am asserting a measure of control over my life.  And maybe at least some of my past experiences have influenced this control thing. (And my Rebel/Free-spirited DNA.)

 And like the song says, “God bless the broken road that lead me straight to you”—I can now say I’ve found a man that shows me a free and giving sort of love. I hope he understands me when I try to assert my power, when, as he hovers over me to give me a kiss I sometimes back away. It is sometimes a knee-jerk reaction. I’m making sure that I am in control, that nothing is gonna happen that I’m not okay with. I’ve had man-handling and I’m not okay with it, not ever again. 

He loves his mama and his sisters and he treats me with such love and respect and kindness and he brings out the best in me. Maybe he’ll be around when I finally conquer my control issues.

blah blah blog

This week hubby is on vacation and since we’ve just had to replace the roof on our home, I’m not sitting on a beach or visiting family in far off places.

It’s going to be nice just hanging out together though, getting some projects done in the yard or around the house. Hoping to see the grands that live nearby over the coming weeks, and I get to see my younger son and his wife and family this week as well (from VA). Summer seems to bring excitement of its own…. pool times and daughter times and lots of inspiration to be found for writing poetry and painting.

Writing (and painting too for that matter) helps me process life, helps me cope and deal with the chaos in the world and often in my own mind and soul. I wonder at times how people cope if they do not have outlets such as these.

I suppose some just lead horribly stressful lives, get ulcers, eat too much or drink too much, do drugs, whatever. Anything to deal with the woes and pains of life. Faith offers a refuge as well. I am a firm believer that all people find coping mechanisms… some are more obvious than others.

But we are all humans, doing our best to navigate this earthly existence. Perhaps how we navigate is the point in the end.

Off to do something with hubby now… pull weeds or varnish artwork or run errands, not sure what, but I will do it in peace. However you cope this week, I wish you a good one.

May the Fourth Be With You! (And a bit about flowers and just being.)

A productive day today, indeed, a great week thus far, but I have not painted in a few days. Lots of  errands done, cleaning, laundry, groceries bought and the like. Keeping the day-to-day business of  life going. But like a lover pining over an out-of-town love, my heart keeps yearning for the peace, joy, contentment and often euphoria that comes with creating.

I don’t know what it is about us “Creatives” but I’m convinced we see things others do not see. For instance I’m obsessed with the flowers on my deck, the yellows, pinks, oranges… (this photo does not do them justice as they’ve been pounded with rain and wind today) but their beauty is obvious when the sun is shining and all is as it should be. They need the nourishing rain but when that sun comes out they stand a bit straighter, open a bit wider and appear to smile at the onlooker. You’ll never catch a flower struggling with ego and self, with God or fellow man, they simply… are. They spend their time being what they were created to be, in all their glory.

Is it their color that attracts me or their innate ability to fully be what they were created to be??