Sunday Snippet

Needless to say, it’s been quite a weekend here in the United States and around the world, really. We’ve seen a beloved president leave, a new one step in, and protests and marches take place.

While I know the election has created turbulence at home and abroad, I hope you will join me in reaching out to family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers, and embrace them with kindness during what is proving to be a difficult time many. We don’t have to agree in order to be kind.

Love trumps hate, my friends, and the minute we give in to hate, we lose.

dont-give-in-1

 

A Little Update

Friends, I have a confession to make. And please don’t judge me too harshly for it.

Until this last week, I’d never sat and watched the Star Wars movies in order, in their entirety. I’d seen chunks of each movie out of order, but I never had the opportunity to sit and watch the entire saga up from its beginning up until The Force Awakens. I have yet to see Rogue One, I might add, but it’s on the to-do list.

That said, I’m feeling rather accomplished. I’ve always wanted to sit and follow the story from its beginning all the way through and now I can say that I have, minus RO.

I don’t know about any of my other writer friends, but storylines like Star Wars, Harry Potter, and yes, even Twilight are fascinating to me for a few reasons, the largest being that these epic gifts to our pop culture all came from someone’s imagination – someone who had an idea for a story and created a world, or galaxy/ies for that matter – and launched a global phenomenon based on it. I will always find it intriguing to trace such stories back to their origin and then reflect on where it started, where it’s been, and where it will go. It is absolutely fascinating to me to take the journey with the creator from a writer’s standpoint as well as that of a fan’s, and it’s motivating to say the least.

Another take away from my marathon came in a connection I made to Dreamweaver. The premonitions that Anakin (my favorite character, by the way) experienced had small, though present, similarities to some of my own ideas and I had fun using that influence to sort of amp up my story and then dig deeper into it. I realized I’d still only been scraping the surface until that point, and it has made a drastic impact on where I plan to take my characters. Or where they plan to take me, I should say.

I also realized over the weekend that the Academy Awards are right around the corner and I am pretty excited about sitting and watching this year. Last year was probably the first time I really sat and appreciated them for more than just finding out who won best actor/actress and such. Don’t get me wrong, though, I was absolutely over the moon that Leo finally won! Anyway, last year’s show set a certain tone for me as a writer and I felt an overwhelming sense of motivation and pride in my craft after witnessing the talented screenwriters win awards for the stories we came to know on the big screen in 2015. My exact thought? “Why not me?” And man, have I clung to that belief. I’m not one to set unattainable goals, but it definitely makes me want to work hard and have a certain amount of confidence in myself as a storyteller.

Honestly though, why not me? Why not you? Why not any of us? I was talking to my mom a couple of weeks ago about how I was really starting to ask myself that question more often because I don’t like the idea of anyone telling me I can’t do something. Not because I don’t respect authority – I do – but because who is anyone else to tell me I can’t dream big and set out to make it happen? I mean, even J.K. Rowling (a huge influence, I might add) was told “no” multiple times before HP was finally picked up and published, and look at how that turned out. Her perseverance paid off. And I plan to do the same – persevere. That’s not to sound arrogant, ignorant, naïve, or anything of that sort. I just don’t think letting someone else guide my dream is a good idea. It’s MY dream, after all. One door may close, but there are so many other doors to choose from, and knowing myself like I do, if the door I’m looking for isn’t there, I’ll build it myself!

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a pretty good attitude to take into the new year. I want 2017 to be a year unlike any I’ve experienced before and I know that progression with my book so I can finalize and publish will be a huge aspect of making that come true.

Some of you might be wondering, since it’s been about a month and change since I’ve posted, if I’ll have that sneak peek for Dreamweaver ready by Christmas like I had hoped. At the moment, it’s a little up in the air. The plot shift I experienced over the past weekend changed a bit of what the story is doing and I don’t want to share something that will likely change as I work to solidify its course, but I do want to give you something, even if it’s small. Maybe main character names and backgrounds, maybe a scene that I know won’t change for any reason…I’m not sure yet. But I will try to make sure I have something to offer in the coming days.

In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy the days leading up to Christmas, and if you don’t celebrate the holiday, I hope you are still finding joy in the beautiful season that is winter.

I’ll catch up with you all soon!

When the Going Gets Tough…

Writing is hard.

I’ve spent two weeks filling a notebook with ideas and then sitting down at my computer only to get back up again because I just didn’t feel ready; my headspace wasn’t where it needed to be.

A lot of people, upon asking what I do for a living, say things like, “Oh, that must be fun!” or, “I’ve always wanted to do that!” and I kind of sit back and say to myself, ‘You know, it is fun, but it’s a damn challenge, too.’

I try to ignore the comments because I feel they sort of discredit what I’ve set out to accomplish. Yes, anyone can write, but I get a bit sensitive when someone mentions writing like a bucket list item. That’s my deal though, and I’m trying not to let it get to me as much, especially since a lot of those people aren’t intending to come across the way I take it.

But sometimes it truly is hard to get around those comments because writing is so hard. You can literally sit and pour hours into a piece only to hit the delete button because it just wasn’t coming together and no amount of editing could save it, pour your heart out onto a page only to question whether anyone will care about what you’re trying to say, and pour your soul into something that you might never see a return on but know that you need to finish it anyway.

On top of the time spent and the amount of yourself you pour into your work, you also have to believe it’s worthwhile. You have to have some semblance of faith in your decision to take this art and craft it into a tangible career prospect because without that faith, it becomes hard to keep pushing.

Because writing is hard.

It’s long hours and not-long-enough days, deadlines and self-discipline, procrastination and stress. It’s research and fact-checking, editing and revising, criticism and constructive feedback. It’s hard work, dedication, rejection, and perseverance. And it takes heart and soul.

Writing is hard because every word you put on a piece of paper or type into a processor is a part of who you are, and I know that for me, I want every word I publish to the world to be composed the right way. I want it to provide the correct and most authentic message, present my genuine voice, and share my ideas in a way I can be proud of.

My greatest fear as a writer is that I’ll embarrass myself somehow or damage my own credibility, or even force something to the point that it no longer reflects who I am. The amount of work that goes into this craft far surpasses simply putting words to a page and is the reason I respect anyone who sets out to make a career out of it.

Despite the drawbacks and seemingly negative aspects, I wouldn’t change my decision to shape my career around writing. It has given me so much more than I could imagine with any other pursuit and at the end of the day, it is my greatest strength and the one thing I know I can make a difference with.

I am definitely not the greatest, nor will I ever come close, but I do hope that I can make an impact in at least one person’s life with what I have to say. And that hope is what helps to keep me going, along with my faith and the fact that I’m not really living unless I’m creating art with my words. It’s how I make sense of the world around me and understand myself in relation to the world, and without it, I would be absolutely lost.

It’s hard, but so worth it.

Fall Session, Falling Back, and Falling in General

With the first half of my Fall session at ASU in the bank and the second half kicking off, I’m definitely feeling the pressure of my number one enemy: TIME. There is so much to do with this book and the clock just keeps speeding up despite my begging for it to slow down. I picked up two fairly heavy English classes for the second half of this term so my time spent writing is now time spent reading. I don’t mind that as much really, but it doesn’t make the process of writing a book any more efficient.

My saving grace? The fact that we’re about to fall back. I know it’s not technically a gain, but my brain tricks itself into thinking it is and that helps. If I think I have an extra hour, I feel more productive. Feeling productive makes me happy, and a good mood usually gives way to good writing — a win all around if I do say so myself.

Life has decided to throw a few more curve balls as well; some brief, others lasting, and it stonewalled much of my get-up-and-go. This is where that extra hour of trickery will come in handy (fingers crossed). I just hope my family can catch a break and I can catch a breath in there somewhere that allows me the clarity to organize this endeavor a bit better.

The point of this post, you ask? I’m just giving some excuses as to why I haven’t been present or working as hard as I should be on the novel. I really hate excuses, but it is what it is and sometimes things just move faster at times and slower at others. This is a slow time. But I think it’s also a good time to crack down and set a solid goal for myself that I can’t budge from. I’d really like to give the first peak at the world I’m creating by Christmas and I’m worried if I don’t commit to a schedule now, this dang story will never be told. And that’s a shame, because I think it’s pretty solid.

Anyway, to sum everything up — I’m slacking and I know it. Just needed to own that so I could cast off some of this overwhelming guilt and set a new line for myself. School is school. Fall is life. Life is in free-fall at any given time. But I’m going work on this story and have something to offer in the next 6-8 weeks. Maybe sooner if I have something I think is worthy of sharing to sort of amp up the excitement of a second sneak-peak.

In the words of the great Ernest Hemingway, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” And I’ve got a lot of it to do.

 

A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes

It’s no secret that we all have our own unique ideas about what we want our lives to look like. They may change or evolve over time, but the wish to achieve our heart’s desire is always there, and I know this to be true because my own dreams have changed drastically over the years.

When I was younger, I wanted to be a teacher. After having my daughter at 17, I seriously contemplated becoming an advocate for other teen moms and building a life coaching career around it in order to empower young mothers. In 2008, I gravitated again toward education and becoming a high school English teacher when I was hired as a paraeducator. I shifted again toward a focus on special education and Autism since my students had had such a profound impact on me, and I actually started college with the goal of a Master’s in Education with a focus on Autism Spectrum Disorder. Along with these paths, I also toyed with the idea of cracking down on my fitness and nutrition and building a career out of that because I felt it would hold me accountable and I could help others at the same time. And to build on that, I considered life coaching again after some great feedback from friends. I was also all but signed up to attend culinary school at one point but didn’t have the support necessary to be successful.

I’ve dabbled in many areas (including retail which I will gladly never do again, sorry not sorry) and while many of the things I have been interested in would make me happy, it wasn’t until I remarried that I was pushed to follow my biggest dream – one that I had always been told was foolish and wouldn’t provide for me or my daughter while it was just the two of us. I have always, always wanted to write for a living. Freelance work, novels, my blog; I just wanted to share my ideas and creativity with the world. But it wasn’t until my husband offered me his unconditional support in this endeavor that I decided to say to heck with the nay-sayers and go for it. I got into Arizona State University, but instead of working toward my original goal, I decided on a Bachelor’s in English. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself. I am just a year shy of completing my program and have begun getting my feet wet in the writing world. I have two books and a screenplay in the works, a horror collaboration with a good friend starting up, this blog, and some freelance work happening on the side.

So why all of this talk about dreams? Well, I’m a firm believer, especially now, that you should do whatever it is your heart is set on doing no matter what anyone says. At the end of the day, this life is your own and you should spend it doing what makes you happy. Want to be a chef? Do it. Want to be an engineer? Do it. Want to work at NASA? Make it happen! There is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t strive to give our hearts what they desire the most in this life and if we don’t, we are only selling ourselves short. I don’t know where my life will end up in five, ten, or twenty years, but I do know that I want to spend those years creating a career that I can look back on with a smile on my face and pride in what I have accomplished.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Any goal we set for ourselves that is worthwhile won’t be all unicorns and rainbows. It will take work, determination, perseverance, and tenacity, but if it is important to you, then the effort will be worth it in the long run. I see so many friends who simply throw in the towel because they don’t believe they’re capable of the work it takes or they opt to quit because someone is critical of their plans. Well, I’m here to say that I believe in each and every person who decides to make their dreams a reality, and I urge anyone on the fence because of someone else’s opinion to shut that negativity out. Everyone deserves to have the happiness that comes from doing what they love each and every day. Take it from me. Not only did I follow my dream of writing, but I now have a platform with this site where I can discuss and share my passions. Following my dream has given me the ability to address all of my diverse interests and gives me the opportunity to share my insight, ideas, skills, and knowledge with the world.

Another factor that prevents people from bringing their dreams to fruition is that they never act on them; they never bother to set goals or deadlines for themselves. If you want to do anything in this world, you most certainly need a plan. Heck, even running my house on a day-to-day basis requires a plan, better known as my “to-do” list. 😉 And an important aspect to remember about making plans is that they do change, so if this happens do not get discouraged! Adaptability is KEY. I originally started school with one degree path in mind and halfway through I completely changed it. Remember: it’s okay to change your plan when necessary, as long as you continue to have a plan in general. Adapting to these changes with grace will not only guide you down a positive path toward your goals, but it will also keep you sane. If I hadn’t learned to let go and let God, I don’t think I would have made it this far.

So, if you find yourselves questioning whether you’re truly doing what you want to do, I urge you to take a long, hard look at how you can get from where you’re at now to where you want to be. Trust yourself. Be confident in your abilities. Know that you are capable and understand that failure is a part of the game. But above all else, at least give yourself the opportunity to make your dreams a reality. We only have one short life on this Earth and too many of us spend it doing things that do not serve our souls or our purpose. If anyone stands against you, well, that’s their problem and most certainly not yours. You should not be defined by someone else’s standards.

And please, feel free to reach out to me! I would love to hear about your dreams and goals and how you plan to make it all happen! I will never tell you that you cannot do something; I will only ever offer positive and constructive feedback to help you on this path as well as support and encouragement. Leave a comment if you’re comfortable doing so, and if not, you can contact me through the link above or direct message via Twitter or Facebook. ❤