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Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year's (Eve)!!

"For last year's words belong to last year's language

And next year's words await another voice.

And to make an end is to make a beginning."

~T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

I know it’s only New Year’s Eve, but, I woke this morning with a renewed sense of awe. Awe in the fact that the New Year offers me another opportunity to embrace change, a chance to begin again (a little older and hopefully wiser), and another year to consider the possibilities… a new beginning, fresh, clean, and unblemished. The New Year is like a blank journal, waiting to be written in, day after day.

For me, as a writer, who has had a very challenging last few years (which included cancer surgery), it simply means that I can shake off the disappointments of the past and push on forward with my dreams and goals of 2011. And boy, do I have dreams and goals!

As many of you know, I had pushed aside my writing endeavors for a few years and have recently picked them back up and am running full speed ahead. I could easily look back on that experience as only negative with regard to my writing. But, I choose not to. I choose, instead, to look at how I’ve grown as a person. I’ve learned, the hard way, what is and is not negotiable for me anymore. (In all areas of my life, not just as a writer.) Now, I’m excited to take what I’ve learned about myself, and what I’ve become, into this next year.

Will 2011 hold challenges and disappointments for me? Absolutely! But it will be what I do with these upcoming challenges that will determine what I accomplish and where I go in my life, as a writer, and personally. I have learned above all else, that giving up is no longer an option. Tenacity is the key!

I’ve also learned that regret can be crippling. If you’re anything like me, you may be harboring regrets of the past year (or more). If we’re not careful, the regrets of the past can very easily be brought into our future. We have to decide if we will wallow in them (our regrets) or learn from them and therefore, turn them into opportunities for positive reaction. When we learn from regret, we grow. It’s when we live in regret that we whither and die inside. It’s what we do with our regrets that either shape us or break us.

As William Hefferman once said, “Good work doesn’t happen with inspiration. It comes with constant, often tedious and deliberate effort.”

What is my main writing resolution (or promise to self) for 2011? Tedious and deliberate effort (in both writing and learning to write better.) And, to not withhold myself from my passion for writing, due to timidity and fear of rejection.

I would like to encourage you in the same. Let us not sell ourselves short in 2011. Now, go musing!

Many blessings to you, and a very happy and prosperous New Year!


P.S. It would be very nice to read your thoughts about my posts. I know that I have a lot of people who read them, but, every now and then, it's really nice to see whether or not someone has received encouragement or have just enjoyed what they've read. ;-)

Shoe Mood:

Making a deliberate effort, but, sparkling
and shining along they way.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Love Being A Writer!

“Love being a writer.” – Maurice Erickson (Filbert Publishing)

I love what I do. Right now, with no accolades, no applause, obscure, and unknown, with all of its frustrations, I still love what I do.

Why? Because, I’m a writer. From the depths of my being, I can bring to the surface something that has previously never existed. I get the pleasure of creating individuals who, before me, never uttered a word, or felt an emotion, or experienced life. I can paint beautiful pictures with words and control destinies.

Wow! Power trip? No, just appreciating the gift; the honor of writing. No matter where we are in our writing careers, or what exactly it is that we write, whether we’re just beginning or have been published ten times over, we must never forget that we have the ability to imagine, and to invent something that no one else can; our individual stories.

Only we can tell our stories. Even if the cord that runs through them are similar at times to others, our stories are as unique as we are, and they have come from our heart and mind; no one else’s. It’s our uniqueness that brings the flavor and color to what we create. That’s what’s beautiful about being a writer.

As discouraging as it can be, it’s our enthusiasm about this craft that keeps us going, and creating. As many times as we may give up and walk away (I have three times now, some seasons of being away have been longer than others), and think we’re done and dry, a wave of refreshment will pour over us, reviving the inspiration and restoring us to our former determined selves.

We may be at a place in our writing journey where we have a long road ahead of us, but the great thing about these roads is that they will eventually lead us to our predetermined and charted course. Some roads are shorter than others, and some have detours that seem to take us out of our way. But, eventually, we will arrive at our destination.

My intention and purpose is to enjoy this journey. Even when times get tough, and they certainly will, and when I feel overwhelmed by it all, I will sit back and think about what it is I really do, then purpose within myself to dig deep down and give it my all.

Love being a writer!

xoxo CJ

Shoe Mood:

Making 2011 a year to shine!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Time to Cast Some Vision

The other day, I made myself a new "Vision Board." Most of you would know what I mean by that... a "dream" board where you adhere pics of things you're working towards in your life, inspirational quotes that fuel your energy to get there, as well as other bits and pieces that symbolize your life journey and where you would like to end up at a certain time frame in your life. I like to call them "focus triggers" that help me stay on track with my life goals.

I had another "Vision Board" some years ago, and lost it during one of the many moves we've made. I had folded it and placed it in a treasured journal, that obviously, was lost as well. (I still grieve over that lost journal to this day.) For some strange reason, I never made a new one. But, upon looking back on what I can remember about that particular board (it was actually a piece of paper where I had pasted and taped these "focus triggers") I realized something, I had actually seen it all come to pass. Every single thing that I had placed on that board happened. They weren't only dreams for myself, but for those of my family.

Now, mind you, I'm not a "name and claim it" kind of gal, and I'm fully aware of the foolishness that can transpire when individuals look to this process to be nothing more than trying to hit the "jack-pot" of life, and miss the whole point. There's so much more to it than getting what you want materialistically. Certainly, there can be those benefits. But, the over-reaching blessing of it all is to have a sense of fulfillment in the act of becoming all that you were created to be. Also, being a person of Christian faith, I do believe in, "writing down the vision and making it clear so that those who see it, can run with it and will know how things will turn out...," Habakkuk 2:2-3. ( I've paraphrased a bit, but you get the understanding.) Other faiths have their "visualization" process as well.

There's something to be said for focus and predetermination... an advanced resolve for our lives, if you will. It's a very spiritual process. It can serve to keep us focused on the very best parts of who we are. Tapping in to the creative spirit that we have all been blessed with in one arena or another.

It's also and endeavor to find out who we really are. What really makes us "tick." When I sat down to make my new board, I dug deep within myself to find what it was that excites me, what inspires me, what drives me. I needed to determine what motivated me to take the steps needed to become who I want to be. Some things spoke to my future, while others speak to me in the now. I needed things that would encourage me when I'm being challenged by self and others to reach my goals, or when I feel like throwing in the towel and giving up. I needed to have something that would remind me of who I really am and why I do what I do. And, when I'm not being the best of myself, an encouragement to return to "me."

I guess I've said all this to serve as an inspiration to anyone who reads this to think about who they really are and what they'd like to see develop in their lives as we enter this new year. What we're willing to settle for and what is not going to be compromised. As Martha Stewart would say, "It's a good thing."

Let me know if you've decided to make a "Vision Board." I'd love to hear about your process and how it may have changed your idea about your future, or re-awakened you to your real self.

xoxo CJ

Shoe Mood:

Determination and sparkle is what it takes to walk out what's planned for my life. How 'bout you?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Let's have a "Write A Handwritten Letter Day!"

Okay, so, I was just thinking about the beauty of the written word, and it occurred to me how public schools are not focusing much, if any, attention on cursive writing. At least, not in my daughter's school. What a travesty!

In this modern age of technologic advancement, it seems as though we are losing our souls and sacrificing an art form to another god of convenience. It saddens my heart to think that within another generation, we as a civilization, could forfeit something so beautiful, so tactile, so... personal.

Just like calligraphy, as well as other forms of personal touch, we may be looking at a future where cursive writing may become something that is studied as a hobby. Can you see it? Non-accredited classes will be held in community colleges to teach the art of cursive writing, along side of belly dancing and crochet. Ughhh! This cannot be!

There is something to be said for the written word, especially in cursive. Just knowing that, when we receive a handwritten letter, it was physically in the hands of the one who had sent it. They physically and thoughtfully put pen to paper. They lovingly folded and placed the letter in an envelope, that too, was hand addressed.


So, what I'm proposing is a "Write A Handwritten Letter Day!" Let's not allow the coldness of mechanical text to replace the warmth of the written word. It all has its place. I'm not against technological advancement in any way. I just don't want to see something so beautiful as cursive writing to be lost along the way. It needn't be an "either/or" situation. They can both, wonderfully, co-exist. Let's discuss...

Let me know if you took the challenge and how it made you feel. I hope it even inspired you in other areas.

xoxo CJ

Shoe Mood:

In it kinda deep... (Have a whole heck of a lot going on!)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Picking Myself Up by the Stilettos..

It's been nearly one full year since my last post.

Shocking, I know!

It's been a year of learning, and change, for me in so many areas. I've taken on new challenges, and I've let go of certain things that I had previously found my identity in. Unfortunately, writing was one of those identities that found itself, temporarily, on the chopping block. Not by choice, mind you. But, by necessity.

Now, before those of you, purist writers, who would come down on me for selling out to the business of life, know that I'll be the first to confess my fault. Yes, I threw up my hands in defeat and wavered in my tenacity of "writing spirit" and walked away for a season. I'm not proud of it...

But, also know that I've discovered a new sense of self. I've unearthed the authentic "me" that had been buried under the pressures and demands of vocation and day-to-day life.

It was difficult to lay it all down, the blogs, the works-in-progress, the revisions of completed manuscripts. But, I had to exchange it for "life."

Sometimes, I find that I have too much info on the brain and I just tend to shut down my creative side in order to facilitate the "business" side of my mind. I've learned that allowing that to happen may make more room for my vocational responsibilities, but in exchange, withers my imaginative soul.

I'm an all-or-nothing type of gal. And, that poses problems for me. Especially being equal-parts right and left-brain. My creative muse is smacked down by my editorial diva on a continual basis. It can be an awful stress factor. And, there are times that I live the administrative part of my life and allow the imaginative side to fall away. It's almost easier to let her go and to focus on my job, only. (My "job" can be demanding. I direct a preschool academy, I assist my hubby in children's ministry, and I'm managing the music department at our church on an interim basis.)

So, this past year, I've become all about my vocation and nothing about writing. Bummer...

This is just not acceptable!

So, I've picked myself up by the stilettos, and dusted off my keyboard. I'm not promising great things, just baby-steps. It's not like riding a bike... for me anyway.

I'm not making guarantees of prolific prose, or even consistent daily posting. What I can promise you is a depth of heart and transparency, that when written, will be my authentic self. I'm learning that sometimes, being quiet speaks louder than yelling.

I don't have to fill space with just anything to keep readers. That was a trap I fell into before. I felt the pressure to post something every day or I would be in danger of losing the interest of my subscribers. It stressed me out and overwhelmed me.

If I don't post regularly, maybe I will lose you guys, maybe I won't. But, I'm finding that I should only speak if I have something to say. This revelation has brought me a renewed creative vigor. I can do this... if there are no preconceived ideas or demands placed on me, by me.

So, what I do commit to is loving the writing process again... the good, the bad, and the ugly. I commit to posting as often as I have something cool or revelatory to share. It may be about the writing, it may be about the living, or it just may be what's in my heart at the time. I vow to court the muse.

What I'm asking of you, is another opportunity to be heard once more. Besides, haven't you missed my "Shoe Mood?"

Let me know how you guys have been doing. I will visit you again, as well.

I've missed you...

xoxo CJ

Shoe Mood:

'Nuff said!

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Book Lover's Diary

My sweet husband bought me a wonderful little "Book Lover's Diary" for Christmas last year. With everything that has transpired this past year, I've yet to do anything with it. But, I absolutely LOVE IT!

So, as I'm enjoying another "snow day," I've picked up the little book, and have decided to begin recording the contents of my "library."

This journal is fabulous! A true reader's companion. You can make book lists to read, record books that you've read, lists books you want to own, books you've shared and with whom you've shared them (to insure their return, of course! ;-) etc. And, it's not very large.

If you want one, check out the Victorian Trading Co. I love that place. I own many things from them. They have a simply delightful array of items that evoke feelings of the past. Simply inspiring.

On the writing front, I've overcome my meltdown, of sorts, and have decided that until I get a definite sense of direction, I'll work on my new WIP and leave my revisions for a little while. In the past, when I have felt driven, it's usually a cue for me to take a step back and relax.

I've reinstated my writing classes as well. Now, I'm awaiting my next assignment. I'm hoping to have my old mentor back. He was so helpful and encouraging to me. I've recently recognized the need for accountability in my writing life. Not that I'm lazy, by no means... just have a lot on my plate, and I allow my writing to suffer because of it. I've not treated it with the respect and attention that it needs and deserves.

What has occurred to me is that the thing about blogging your personal writing life, is that you can come off somewhat "bipolar" in the process. You can swing high then very low. You think things are going well, then, "WHAM!" You've hit a brick wall, face on. It's the nature of the beast. It's an emotional journey. But, what fun would life be without a little emotional drama now and then?

"I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train." - Oscar Wilde

xoxo CJ

Shoe Mood:

Baby, it's cold (and very snowy) outside!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Counting the Cost of Taking a Risk

Presently, I'm enjoying a rare and totally self-indulgent day to myself, afforded to me by the always hoped for, sometimes prayed for, ever welcomed event called the "snow-day."

Being that I work in a preschool, when the upper grades in the district have a call for a delay, we have the day off. I was really hoping for this one, and I got it... YAY!

I don't want you to think that I don't absolutely love my job... I do! It's just that I've had so much activity in my life, that I desperately needed some me-time. Today is "Me O'Clock!"

So, I plumped up my pillows, grabbed my current non-fiction read, a cup of coffee, covered up with my warm, cozy quilts and simply enjoyed the morning. Then the time came to take my 11 yr-old to school, shovel the drive, and sit down to catch up on my blog. So, here I am. The laundry can wait.

On the writing front, I've not gotten very far with my current revisions. (Are you honestly shocked by this? I think not.) However, I'm slowly, but surely, poking along. I'm trying to decide a few things about direction. I'm rethinking some advice an agent gave me. Yet, I'm not so sure that I want to go in that direction. I have to decide if I'm honestly willing to change the "bones" that much. It would be a major change in my character. Actually, it would change a lot. Who am I kidding? Only the names would stay the same. Well, the premise would be the same, I guess.

I'm just trying to decide before I get too far in my fourth revision. Do I want to keep my original intent and stick with it through "hell or high water?" Or, do I take the advice and do a rewrite to make the whole thing more "marketable" to a different age group? This has been my inner debate for over a year. Same premise, different time frame in the life of my main character. Crap!

Up to this point, I've been somewhat stubborn and inflexible. Well, not totally inflexible. I did one rewrite with a flavor of the suggested changes incorporated. But, it wasn't ultimately the total transformation that may have worked. Or, would it?

I'm quite the purest at times, to a fault. I think that many of us as writers are. We have our moment of brilliant inspiration. We free write until our fingers bleed. We research and rewrite. We revise, revise, revise, revise... We believe in what we are saying to the point that we refuse to compromise our characters and who we see them as. We know them, intimately. We gave them life. They are real. Then, we are faced with the thought of changing them. These characters are created from the depths of our being. We bought into them. We believed in them and what they had to say.

Then, when we are presented with other thoughts and directions, we have a decision to make. Do we remain pure and faithful to our initial inspiration and consequent plot-line? Or, do we take the input, and break-down our character to mere shadows of their original self? That is the question. Will they end up a Frankenstein or will it be a beautiful rebirth of someone we loved?

It's a gamble. But, isn't that what this industry is? One big fat gamble? Some writers are fortunate enough to roll the right combination. Others are not so lucky. Either way, there's no winning without the risk. I just have to decide how much risk I'm willing to take. My decision means the difference between a mere revision (I say that "tongue in cheek") and a complete rewrite.

Hmmmmm... I'll have to get back with you all on this one.

xoxo CJ

P.S. "High stakes yield high success." - Donald Maass

Shoe Mood:

Enjoying it while it lasts!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hellooooooo out there...

Well, it's only been in November since I've last posted. SHAME!!!! LOL!

Let me update you guys on the latest...

I'm feeling FABULOUS! Seriously! I feel really good.

I was out of sorts for a while. Had a bit of surgical shock and fatigue that was bringing me down. When I wasn't working, I didn't have the energy to blog, or work on any writing endeavors. I had to take some time to truly regenerate myself. (Being a preschool teacher and academy director can run you ragged!) I used all of my energy for work, and was empty when I got home. I did begin another blog about "Cottage Life," if that interests any of you. It's sparse as well, because it too suffered at the hand of fatigue and want of energy. But, I love it. It's another creative outlet for me. It's about "creating home" as I like to say. Check it out, if you would like. It will be updated soon, as well.

But, now I'm feeling much better and ready to take on the responsibility for what I want to happen in my writing life.

I've begun my fourth revision of my manuscript. (Don't get too excited, as I'm only on page six.) Well, at least I've started. And, I've re-enrolled in my old writing classes to keep me accountable, and dust myself off.

I hope all has been going well for you, my dear friends. I'll be returning to your blogs as well, as I've missed you guys very much!

"The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say." - Anais Nin

xoxo CJ

Shoe Mood:

I'm feeling schnazzaaaaay!

Must Reads

  • "A Long Fatal Love Chase" by Louisa May Alcott
  • "Gone With the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell
  • "I Capture the Castle" by Dodie Smith
  • "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo
  • "Rebecca" by Daphne Du Maurier
  • "The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing" by M.T. Anderson
  • "The Grace Awakening" by Charles Swindoll