Writing Without Regrets

It has been brought home to me of late the fragility of life and how little time we actually have in this world.

A few weeks ago, my only remaining grandparent, my dad’s mom, passed away at the age of 81.

Last night, one of my best friend’s grandma’s was given less than 48 hours to live.

Working in the medical field, death is something I see almost every day. In the past six months, at least two dozen of the people I treated as a physical therapist in the hospital passed away, many of whom I’d gotten to know.

Dwelling on death can be crippling, but it’s also made me realize I shouldn’t have any regrets. Eighty-one seems young to me, since I see many people live far past that age. On the other hand, I’ve known too many people who’ve passed far short of that age.

I’ve decided to take on a new stance regarding my writing due to all this personal experience with death lately: I shall not regret a word I’ve written, good or bad, positive or negative. Every bit of my writing has shaped me into the creative artist I am today.

What about you? Do you regret anything you’ve written?

Happy writing, my friends.

 

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

“It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.”
Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

“Is That All?”

Why do I hear this phrase so often? “Is that all?”

On almost a daily basis, I get asked at work, “So what did you do last night?”

My answer (for weekdays, anyways), is inevitably, I went home, had dinner, and worked on my books/writing/editing, etc.

Then comes the dreaded question. “Is that all?”

angry-woman

HHHWAAAARRRGGG!!!!!!

Don’t make me punch you in the shins!

Does nobody else in the world besides other writers understand how difficult and time consuming and altogether draining it is to write? They must think that, because it’s a “hobby” of mine, I shouldn’t put so much effort into it. Or they think that, because I’m sitting at a desk, or on a couch, or in my bed while I write, that I’m automatically lazy! Excuse me?!?!?!?!!!!

But then I say the same thing to them about their gardens or baking or TV watching. If it’s ‘just a hobby’ for them, why do they spend so much time on it?

When did the world get to the point that it’s okay to say you went home and watched a movie or TV, but it’s not acceptable to write all evening? Isn’t that thinking process a bit backwards?

Does anybody else experience this? How do you deal with it?

Happy writing! And I mean that most sincerely.

“Books are not about passing time. They’re about other lives. Other worlds. Far from wanting time to pass, one just wishes one had more of it. If one wanted to pass the time one could go to New Zealand.”
― Alan BennettThe Uncommon Reader

“I can elect something I love and absorb myself in it.”
― Anaïs NinThe Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934

“Writing has become more than just a profession, and hobby…it has become a way to express my feelings and pour my entire soul into the pages of my books. Thank God for the little things in life that makes us feel infinite and tranquil…the little things that make way for us to escape reality and enter new worlds that we create.”
― Nina Jean Slack

25 Things Creative People Do Differently

25 Things Creative People Do Differently

You need to go and read this list. Seriously.

How true is this list? For me, it’s hit-or-miss, but I know many other creative people for whom this list is spot-on. (The numbers are based on the list).

The items that are true about me:

2. I don’t have a normal job. Being a physical therapist seems fairly bland to most people, but I do travel PT, which means I get to go anywhere in the country my little heart desires. That is definitely not ‘normal.’ Traveling allows me to explore places I’d never have a chance to with a ‘normal’ job.

3. I see inspiration in everything. This is SO true! I’ve had so many random creative thoughts while driving along the road, or when someone at the coffee shop talks a bit too loud, or just be seeing an interesting turn-of-phrase on a billboard or bumper sticker. And nature?? Oh, yeah, baby! Nature inspires me more than anything.

4. I never stop questioning. Yep. I always have a question in my head and I love to learn, and asking questions is one of the best ways to learn.

6. I am a very independent person. Um… I think this is accurately portrayed in the fact that I travel alone for my job. Yep. Independence and I are close buddies.

8. I use my pain to fuel my passion. Yes. My best writing is almost always when I’m depressed, furious, excited, or shocked. I never limit myself at these times and write anything that comes to mind. It’s almost always my most inspired bits of writing.

9. I practice self-development. Since I’m a lifelong learner at heart, and a gigantic nerd, this is insanely true. I love change and finding out new things about myself. For instance, I just learned how much I dislike baths. I’ve never been a bath-taker, much preferring the shower. I don’t like the idea of soaking in my own dirt, but recently I took a bath that I thought would be glorious because  the tub had jets. But it just ended up being uncomfortable and boring. My brain doesn’t do well with stagnation, so lying around in a tub drove me nuts. I feel the same about laying out at beaches. BORING!

10. I daydream. Far too much, I’m sure. Even when I’m treating patients, my mind will wander. Some of my treatments are incredibly boring or just so easy that I let my mind float around in space and dream up new books and characters and dialogue. I can’t seem to help it. Nor do I want to.

11. I enjoy spending time alone. That is for true! I lived alone for seven years, and now I travel the country alone. While I do appreciate having people to talk to, I treasure my alone time almost more than anything else. I’m such an introvert, if I don’t have alone time, I go nuts.

12. I’m not afraid of being different. I’ve been different my whole life, swimming against the tide of the ‘popular way’ and going my own way. Life is so much more interesting that way.

14. I often act before I think. I can’t count the number of times I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth because I didn’t stop to think first. Or, I simply didn’t know the connotations or implications of my words because I’m a bit of an innocent. Even after working in Detroit. I know I’ve accidentally offended a good many people by my impulsive speech. Oops.

15. I do things most people aren’t willing to do. Probably. I remember in school, some of my classmates would be afraid to ask the teacher questions (this was middle school), so they’d have me do it, instead. What did I care if it was a dumb question? Also, traveling all over by myself isn’t probably that high on most peoples’ list of fun things to do.

16. I have a “yes” mentality. I wish this wasn’t true about me, but it is. I really wish I had more of a “no” mentality sometimes, or at least a balance between the two, but I have a tendency to say “yes” to far too many things, especially if it will help someone else out.

17. I have a strong work ethic. Seeing as how I average 50-60 hour work weeks and would work between 2 and 4 jobs at a time, I’d say this is true.

19. I get bored with the same old routine. YES!!! Gah! I think I’m one of the rare people who actually enjoys change. Most people fight it, but I embrace it. Which is probably why I can’t stay in any one job for more than a few years. Traveling negates that now, thankfully, but I have such a low BS tolerance for poor behavior, laziness, disrespect, and futility in my jobs/bosses/management, that I can’t stay if I feel like I’m not making a difference. What’s the point?

20. I move around a lot. Again, already answered above.

21. I am a highly emotional, intuitive person. I’ve never been much of a crier, but I do feel things deeply and can easily dip into despair when something in my life or my friends’ lives go wrong.

22. I have a hard time falling asleep. It takes me at least 30 minutes to fall asleep. I have to try my best to quiet my mind enough to drift off, though it rarely works. I survive on much less sleep than you’d think.

The items I’m on the fence about:

1. I work when the work comes to me. This is both true and false. While I do believe the best work comes when inspired, sometimes inspiration is so rare, if I did nothing in between those periods, I’d never get anything done. Often, when I sit down to write as if sitting down to work, I become inspired and I get more done.

5. I’m not afraid to fail. WRONG-O!!! Failure is one of my biggest fears. I abhor it. In grad school, I had to sit alone and do deep breathing exercises to calm myself before a practical because I’d be so afraid I’d fail.

7.I’m a risk-taker. Not in the conventional sense, no. My biggest risk-taking venture is traveling for my job. Otherwise, I’m not. I won’t skydive, or bungee jump, or even downhill ski. I’m all about safety in that way.

13. I only want friends who uplift and inspire me. While I do wish this, I seem to draw in friends that are conflicted and depressing and who drain my energy. I don’t know why, but I have a fair amount of these people in my life.

18. I am a complex person. I don’t think this is true. I think I’m pretty simple.

23. I take care of myself. Actually… I’m not always the best at this. I *mostly* eat healthy, but my exercise is inconsistent at best. While I do pray frequently (they say meditate here), I have a tendency to work too much, exercise too little, and indulge my sweet tooth too often.

24. Life means nothing to me if I don’t follow my heart. I agree with this in principal, however, I’ve had to make many an ‘adult’ decision that my heart did not like, but that was the best logical option all around. Sometimes being an adult really stinks.

25. I live life on the edge. Um…no. I like change and I love to travel, but I wouldn’t exactly call that the edge, would you?

What about you? Do these items apply to your creative self? Would you add anything to this list?

Happy writing!

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
― Albert Einstein

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
― Walt Disney Company
“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.”
― Pablo Picasso

Write the Book You Want to Read

IMAGEN_5Source: morgueFile

For the longest time, I never knew what that phrase meant. “Write the book you want to read.”

I mean, I understood it at face value, but I always scoffed at it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all the books I’m working on, for different reasons. But there are so many books out there I love to read, what’s the point of writing for the sake of simply enjoying my own ideas?

This past week, as I was reading a few different MG and YA books, a thought walloped me upside the head.

I always thought the above quote was referencing plot. Write the type of plot you’d want to read. But I realized, why can’t it mean style? POV? Syntax? Voice?

It can!

Lately I’ve been frustrated with MG books. That’s what my current focus is in my own writing, so I’ve been reading a lot of MG books. In my life, I know I’ve read hundreds of MG books, but maybe because I’m writing more, I see so many things I’m unsure of in other peoples’ writing.

There seems to be an onslaught of writing for kids that tries too hard to be fancy. To use words and sentence lengths and paragraph lengths that seem more suited to adult fiction. My good friend at BumblesBooks said that so many writers now are trying to write MG books with the idea that they will also appeal to adults. And she’s right! What? Middle grade is for KIDS! Hello! Adults may enjoy them, but kids are the prime audience. Why would we write hoping against hope adults will also love our books?

Anywho… I kept rolling my eyes at all these super complex phrases that made me want to tear my hair out. It’s just not the genre for them.

There’s nothing wrong with expecting kids to learn as they read, or to encourage them to expand their horizons with artistic turns of phrase, but I also feel much of that is extraneous to a story. I don’t want to underestimate the potential of a MG reader to comprehend the written word, and I don’t think I do, but the current trend of voice in MG fiction is just not my cup of tea.

I realized that writing a book I’d want to read, for me, is not as much about plot as it is about style and voice. After trudging through those books by other authors, I returned to my own book and was amazed to find I much preferred my own style of writing. Simple, straight-forward, but also requiring curiosity and intuition to understand all the aspects and nuances of the plot.

I adore the classics and high literary books, but that’s just not how I write, and I love that! I’ll never write the next Great American Novel (which I think is a ridiculous phrase), and I’m not trying to.

Embrace your style and your voice, writers! They’re the most unique parts of your writing. There are only so many plot-types in the world, but your voice is your own.

Write the book you want to read, in the style you want to read, with the voice you have that is utterly unique.

Happy writing!

“Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.” — C.W. Ceram

“Those who write clearly have readers; those who write obscurely have commentators.” — Albert Camus

“As it is my design to make those that can scarcely read understand, I shall therefore avoid every literary ornament and put it in language as plain as the alphabet.” — American revolutionary Thomas Paine

The Great North

IMG_1721

Ahhhhh… Up North.

For those outside of Michigan, it may be a strange circumstance, but going “up north” is something that happens all summer long, and often into the fall.

People from downstate buy or rent cabins on lakes, in the woods, and travel there for a weekend getaway.

I’m not sure how common this is in other states, but in Michigan, nearly everyone goes “up north” for the weekend. Or know somebody who does.

Well, I am currently up north. The first location of my traveling PT job is in the northern part of the lower peninsula in Michigan. Tons of snow, lots of deadly icicles, pictured above at the cabin I’m staying at, and a veritable wonderland of outdoor activities.

Since starting this new job a couple weeks ago, I’ve written more in my gargantuan re-write than I have in the past five months. I knew that would happen. Surrounded by nature and natural beauty never ceases to inspire me.

It also helps that I don’t have internet in the cabin I’m staying in. (My choice).

Although the internet has many uses, it is mighty distracting for someone who procrastinates with her writing because she’s often overwhelmed by the enormity of it.

I apologize if I don’t answer people as quickly as I used to, or am noticeable absent from the blogosphere for days at a time. I can’t get on with my work laptop, so the only time I can use the inter webs is when I haul myself to a coffee shop or the library.

And, God bless ’em, but the libraries in small towns close at 5 or 6 o’clock most days. Well, for us working stiffs, that doesn’t do much.

How has everyone else been? Have you made any headway on your writing lately?

Something I’ve learned in the past few weeks… turn off Mr. Negative!

Writing is such a personal process, like all the other arts, and it is all too easy to have your own personal storm of negativity constantly brewing storm clouds over your head.

I know it’s hard, I struggle with this on a daily basis. But push that storm away from your atmosphere and close your eyes. Write whatever comes to mind.

Ignore the “that stinks” or “are you sure?” or “nobody will like this” comments that filter through your mind.

Open yourselves up to the immense creativity we’re all capable of. Don’t go with the common route that’s been established by so many other authors.

Search for new avenues and let your mind wander into places you wouldn’t expect.

And have fun!

Happy writing, friends!

“The battle you are going through is not fueled by the words or actions of others; it is fueled by the mind that gives it importance.”
― Shannon L. Alder

“Try giving up all the thoughts that make you feel bad, or even just some of them, and see how doing that changes your life. You don’t need negative thoughts. All they have ever given you was a false self that suffers. They are all lies.”
― Gina LakeWhat about Now?: Reminders for Being in the Moment

A Wee Small Problem

I was going to title this post “Bedroom Confessional,” but that’s a bit too risqué for me. 

Notice anything about the following picture?

Image

 

How about this one?

Image

Or this one?

Image

 

(Besides the big book at the bottom that says Lust. That’s just a comic book. Called “Lust: And Other Uses for Spare Hormones.” It’s in the Zits comic family. Hilarious! And one of my guilty pleasures).

Anywho…

Can anybody guess what kind of problem I have going on here? 

Some might say it’s my TBR (to-be-read) list. But sadly, not. These are my CR (currently reading) books. And that was after I had taken down some of the trembling stacks of books perched above my head.

But let’s face it. Every single book I own is on my CR list. I never could understand how people could read a book only once. It boggles my mind! There are so many nuances that are missed on the first go-round. Maybe it’s because I’m a speed-reader, and even when I force myself to slow down, it drives me nuts after a few seconds and I have to speed back up. I can’t help it! 

And the answer to your question is: Yes. I have been awoken in the middle of the night by a pile of books falling on my head. More than once, I’m afraid.

I can’t seem to help myself. Maybe I’m a little ADD? I’ve never been tested, but my dad is, so it would make sense.

This lovely pile of books constitutes everything that I am currently reading. And that’s maybe, MAYBE, 1/15th of my book collection. If my bookcase weren’t a bit messy, I’d take a pic of that too, with evidence of the spillage of books from one shelf to another. The shelves are two and three books deep, in a wide variety of topics and genres.

What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just finish one book at a time?

I have a problem.

The problem is too many fabulous books.

That’s right. I’m blaming you all and every other writer on the planet for being far too talented for your own good.

How does taking the blame feel, hmm??? It’s all your fault.

 

Happy writing! (Although I don’t know why I’m saying that since all your books will just be added to my forever mountainous stack of books. Dang you, talented people!!!)

 

“[I] read books because I love them, not because I think I should read them.” 
― Simon Van Booy

“I read like the flame reads the wood.” 
― Alfred Döblin

“…there are so many books left to read. For that reason alone it is worth going on living. Books make me happy, the help me escape from reality.” 
― Félix J. PalmaThe Map of the Sky