Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Take Time

I'm grateful to have grown up in a slower generation. On hot summer days we'd lie in the tall grass, watch the puffy clouds roll by and dream up all sorts of adventures. We'd sit on the porch at dusk and shell peas and listen to stories of days gone by.

Today there are so many things vying for our attention. Electronic gizmos. Blogs. Netflix. Facebook. I even know someone who carries not one, but two Blackberries. Really? We drive to work with the traffic if we wouldn't have known we were in a traffic jam without the radio. We text through lunch and call our friends on the way home. We eat by television and go to sleep by Mp3.

Each moment of every day is filled with... well, stuff. Loud, distracting, snippets that we can neither repeat nor understand. Things that are utterly unuseful to us and eternally intrusive into our thoughts.

As writers we should... no, we absolutely MUST take the time to reflect... in silence... you know, like, alone with our own thoughts? No music. No TV. No talk radio. Just us and our inner voice, who in my case is feeling a bit rejected right now.

It's been proven that some of the most creative thoughts pop into our heads when we're not thinking. Or at least when we aren't concentrating, brainstorming, multitasking and tweeting our genius out to the world in 140 characters or less.


Take time to just let your thoughts wander. You and your readers will be astonished at where your random thoughts will take you. My bet is it will take us all to a much better place. I believe that call that Paradise!

Friday, January 21, 2011

It was Only a Dream!

Sometimes I work late hours sitting in front of the computer, creating all manner of evil against my protagonist. That means the next morning, my horribly intrusive alarm clock doesn’t punch me in the nose to abruptly force me into consciousness. Since I slept in this morning, I had a car accident. Yep. A carload of kids pulled out right in front of me and, try as I may, I could not avoid hitting them. They jumped out to survey the damage and thought the whole thing was hysterically funny. They even laughed when I pulled out my cell phone to dial 911. Really?

Fortunately, moments later I woke up to discover it was only a dream. Even though there was not a shred of reality to my “Morning-mare”, I still felt the emotion of it. Now wide awake I could look at things rationally but the emotion was still there, just as if I’d slammed into those kids with my car.

The fear that I’d injured them had quickly turned to anger when they bounded out of the car as if the whole thing was a joke. I sensed dread that my insurance rates would spike. Though the whole incident was only a figment of my slumbering imagination, as far as my body was concerned, it absolutely happened!

As writers,we face this same thing every day. That’s right, I’m not the only one who conjures up weird and wacky reactions to things that really didn’t happen. You have a dream to be that best-selling novelist.Sometimes the dreams turn to nightmares because you imagine the horrors of trying to achieve. Monsters come out of the closets. Your plans end in ruin. They crash and burn.

The way I overcame my car accident this morning was to wake up. That’s right. I opened my eyes, looked around and realized I was in my nice, comfortable bed rather than the side of the road with a crumpled up car. Once I could see the reality of it all, my angst disappeared.

When you're having that bad dream, just wake up, open your eyes and see the reality of your life right now. Reality is you are a writer, diligently studying your craft to earn that book contract. Reality is you have taken a huge, if not heroic step toward your future. What's more, you continue to do that each time you sit at the computer to type...even a single word.

Studies have shown that the imagination can create a far worse depiction of the events in life than is even possible. That happened with me this morning. It also happens to writers every day. After all, we do have vivid imaginations. But when the dream turns into a night or day-mare, wake up, open your eyes and see the new reality you have built for yourself. It’s what we do. We’re writers!

Monday, January 17, 2011

For Everything a Season

I watch the news as it reports most of the country being paralyzed by snow. Though I live on a lake in Central Florida and normally am surrounded by great blue herons and white ibis, I have also experienced the effects of an abnormally cold winter.

Today is a dreary day. The bright Florida winter sun is hidden by gray clouds. The children who normally play at the lake have opted to stay indoors. Dog owners hurry their furry friends to complete their "business" so they can return to the warmth of their caves. I open my windows to take in the crisp air, all too aware that in a few short weeks, the only cool air I'll get is from the air conditioner.

I'm comforted to know this is but a season. Like all other seasons-even long ones- this, too, shall pass. The time has not gone to waste. The climate was not lost on me. I had no trouble today hibernating in my house, sitting down at my computer and creating prose. The sunshine did not lure me to the outdoors, nor did the laughter of children beg me to join them at play.

No, today I sit with keyboard in hand and create all manner of romantic suspense for my readers of tomorrow. I'm grateful for this day, grayness and all. God knows best how to create the perfect day in which to work. I look through the grayness and know the seeds that are planted in this season of gray will soon bloom into fragrant prose!

Friday, January 14, 2011

What Dreams May Come

Twenty-five years ago in a small town, a young lady birthed a dream. She vowed that one day she would see her own novel in bookstores. Stories, ideas, creativity flowed as visions of publication were recorded in her heart.

Years went by without Barnes and Noble calling for a book signing, and Oprah didn't choose her manuscript for her Book of the Month club. Publishing companies rejected her work.

Yet she kept the dream alive. She worked hard at developing her skill. She attended writers workshops and registered for author's retreats. She read author's blogs and books on how to write a breakout novel, and hung on the coat tails of those who were already published.

And she wrote. And wrote. And rewrote. She edited. Had others critique. Wrote some more.

Thousands of times she could have thrown in the towel. She'd already gone farther than most at living her dream. You know... that impossible, always illusive dream. Yet the flame burned ever hotter inside her. And the story cried within her to be shared with others. She continued to be faithful to her dream.

Decades after the seed was planted in her heart, years after her first rejection letter littered her mailbox, her manuscript was accepted by a major publishing company. Her diligence, tenacity and refusal to abandon the dream will be evident in her smile as she autograph's that novel for you.

We all will do well to follow in her dream... BIG... and never, never never abandon the dream. If you dream it, and remain true to it, your dream will come.

Thanks friend for showing me the way. You are my hero! Because of you, today I dare to dream!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Roses in December

"God created memory that we might have roses in December"
Italo Svevo

Don't worry. I do realize it's January but there is such wisdom in that quote. All those thoughts of hot steamy summers with flowers blooming reminds me that winter is only temporary.

Along the eastern coast in Central Florida lies a beautiful state park. Washington Oaks Gardens gently boasts a quiet, natural setting in the salt marsh. Great blue herons, white ibis, manatees, and the occasional bald eagle welcome visitors into their living room. At a perfect moment, you could watch the sun set over the marsh at the same time you behold the moon rising over the Atlantic Ocean.

One of the short trails spills out into a beautiful rose garden. Every type and color of the flower can be found in this horticultural miracle. Unless the garden has been damaged by a rare cold November, hikers will actually see roses in December. Red, yellow, pink, orange, white. Large, small, fully open, still in bulbs. It truly is an amazing spectacle.

One December I drove up to the park just to see the roses. To my utter shock, there were none. Not a single bud on any of the bushes. It looked like a graveyard for dead flowers. Sadness rushed from the well of my soul and erupted, spilling tears down my cheeks to the dry dirt below.

I remembered how plush the flowers were the last time I'd visited. I closed my eyes and could see the roses display their splendor. Their unmistakeble fragrance filled my senses. I opened my eyes and could see, if only in my mind's eye, gorgeous roses in full bloom. It was as vivid as if the flowers were within my touch.

Today I remember that December of long ago. I inhale the sweet aroma of rose. Their colors dance in my eyes. Memory. Precious here-and-nows that were deposited in my banks. How valuable they are today.

Thank God for memories. Thanks to that precious gift, I can have roses in December or snowflakes in August. I can identify with what my character is experiencing right now. I know how they feel. I can sense their pain, their thoughts, why they make the decisions they make. I write a better scene because I'm right there with them.

Roses. In December. Only the wealthy would dare. I'm rich with memories. It just doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Apollo XIII Club

I've been surrounded by the NASA Space Program all my life. Today, as the crow flies, I live sixty miles from launch pad 39A, where the space shuttle launches. Sometimes I go wander around Kennedy Space Flight Center. It always amazes me how man could create something so incredible out of nothing more than an idea. Believe it or not, it reminds me of how God created the Earth out of nothing.

I lived in the Houston area when Apollo XIII took its ill-fated flight. There was no hope. There was no possible way to perform an in-space rescue. The craft, with the three brave astronauts aboard, would perish. Lives would be lost and mankind would be set back decades.

Then flight director, Gene Krantz uttered words that literally changed the outcome of that mission when he said, "Failure is NOT an option." They methodically worked the problem and brought three astronauts home in a crippled space craft.

The human spirit is like that. The will to survive and thrive pushes us to move forward and find a way to succeed. I apply that to my writing. It's tough. Downright impossible at times to find the right words. That's why I created my own Apollo XIII club. I have a hat with the official patch of that NASA mission. When things get tough, I put on my cap. Literally. It inspires me. Reminds me that I, too, can bring my writing craft safely home again.

God has placed within all of us the ability to go far beyond the odds, the impossible, and the roadblocks. My hat helps me tap into that. I'm a member of the Club. I boldly go where I've never been before to complete my mission.

Maybe you don't have any interest in NASA or space but that same pioneer spirit is inside you. I wish for you today that you become a member of the elite Apollo XIII club, whose dedicated soldiers refuse to stop until the craft is safely where it is supposed to be!

Monday, January 3, 2011

A New Resolve

          Know the most challenging thing I face in writing? Not finding words. Not placing them in the write order to say what I want to say. It’s not even the Evil Editor who tears my beautifully constructed sentences apart. No, it’s not that at all. It’s me! Yep, that’s right. I am the single largest barrier in my writing world.

          There I stand right in my way to stop my forward progress. To tell myself how bad I write. To convince myself to go watch that movie rather than work on that difficult scene or my word count. After all, I’m really a horrible writer. Why even bother?

          I made a fresh commitment to my writing for 2011. I sense the excitement of what could be. Of what is meant to be. I even partnered with a friend to pray for each other. Yet, two hours later as I prepared to put the period at the end of New Year’s Day, the voices came back. Those menacing chants that haunt me from the darkness. From my past failures. They all tell me to stop wasting my time. I’ll be much happier watching Sunday football than writing.

          Yet, I’m at my computer, typing away. Why? It’s who I am. It’s what I was created to do. I’ve given in to the voices in the past. I’ve believed their lies and let precious moments click off the clock without finishing my course.

          My commitment to myself for 2011 is that it will be a year of NO EXCUSES! I will write because it is who I am. I will write because it is what God would have me do. I will put words on the page because I have stories inside me that are just screaming to get out.

          I know 2011 will be a great year. I embrace it and will allow it to lead me wherever it will, albeit turning a deaf ear to all the monsters that jump out of the darkness to remind me how bad I write. My journey has begun and I will reach my destination.