Category Archives: Good news

For What it’s Worth

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If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you would have noticed that I have had trouble getting back into a writing groove since The Christmas Child was published. I have had some false starts and some deep dry periods. I don’t know if it’s fair to say I’ve been blocked because I think about writing all the time – I just haven’t gotten many words on the page. 

Things are changing. I have some major writing momentum right now and it feels great. I am flooded with ideas and edits and images. Over spring break, I took some quiet time to go inside and practice some necessary self-care. I worked most of the week on an application for a content writer position for an online magazine I really respect and believe in. It felt like a long shot, but I thought it might be good for my inner writer to work through this and write the two samples they requested for the application. It felt good to find my writer voice again. It felt great to edit and fine tune every paragraph and sentence. It was difficult to write with such extreme honesty and vulnerability, but it shook something loose.

Surprisingly, it opened the floodgates for my fiction as well. I started to work through the details of a short story project I’ve been sitting on for a couple years. I felt renewed enthusiasm for my wip and have a plan for finishing this draft. In this environment of self-care, I’ve been able to drown out a lot of noise. I think some of these ideas just needed a safe space available so they could show up. 

This last week I learned I made it to the second round and they published one of my submissions. I was so proud to see my article on their website, next to articles that inspire and move and challenge me. My excitement only grew when I was met with such support and love from the people in my life. On Saturday, I learned that I got the position and will be signing on for six months, with an option to extend my contract after that. It still doesn’t really feel real as I write that. I have been published before, but never on this scale. I am beyond honored and grateful to join them and add to their work. 

When I let people know, I was overwhelmed by their excitement, joy, encouragement and validation of the worth of my writing and my worth as a writer. I was worried that my work might not be up to par, but these people never doubted it. I even received a handful of comments about how they were happy to see this organization was seeing what they already knew. 

It occurred to me that a lot of the “stuck” energy I have been feeling over the last couple of years has been about not feeling worthy or good enough. I wrote this one thing I was proud of, but could I write something else that was good? I clearly had other stories to tell, but could I get out of my own way to tell them? The answer was no for a long time. That answer has started to change. 

I’m still an equal mix of excitement and nerves. I am empowered and feeling very humbled all at once.  Hearing kind words and support of my worth is helpful, but I am starting to feel my own worth as a writer again as well. I am looking forward to seeing what this next chapter has in store. 

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Moving On Up

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Hi there,

I have been avoiding packing all day, but I can’t escape for long. My moving truck is confirmed and I have a handful of people planning to help so I better get myself in line.

I will be out of the loop for a bit while I finish putting my life into boxes and getting settled in my new home.

I’ll be back soon. Happy Labor Day.

Victorious!

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Having faith is not always easy. But I’ve been reminded recently that when I truly need assistance in my life, it always shows up at just the right time. Last week I was beside myself with worry, so much worry that I didn’t even think to ask for help. Regardless, angels have swooped in to save me again. I am very grateful for all the big and small opportunities to make some extra money that have come my way lately.

Also, I have yet to get back into my daily writing grid again, but I have been working out some of the bugs in my wip and that feels like progress even if the page is still blank. I also have been reading a lot of short stories and feel inspired to write short fiction again. I think the commitment of a novel has me a bit spooked lately and a short story might be exactly what I need to get my butt back in the chair.

Yesterday I was working on lesson plans at school with my Clinical teacher. I sat at her desk and worked on plans while she read through our students fiction stories. I had worked hard the last month on creative writing lessons and these were the students final copies. A couple of weeks ago I noticed that one of our kiddos had a fantastic lead in his story. I was curious to see what he did with the rest. I found out yesterday that he not only had a wonderful lead, but he also used specific vivid language and wrote a truly engaging story.

I was almost brought to tears as she read it a loud and I experienced the story as it unfolded with all my senses. My student had taken all the story elements that we had talked about during those lessons and created something magical. I felt like a superhero. I can’t wait to talk to him about it this coming week and congratulate him on such a thrilling story.

His victory fuels my desire to tell another story of my own.

Bits and Pieces

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Perfectionism has caused me nothing but trouble. This is true in all areas of my life, but especially in my writing. I concoct these lofty ideas about how much I should be writing a day or that my first draft should be Pulitzer prize worthy or that all my writing will flow easily with brilliance…

In reality, most of my writing in the last year has been an uphill battle. Mainly because my perfectionism has prevented me from even writing at all. I fill up every moment of the day and then it’s midnight and my writing goes untouched. I promise myself that I will write tomorrow, but when tomorrow arrives I seem to follow in the same steps as the day before. In the end, nothing much gets accomplished and I feel lousy, like I’m letting down someone important. I am letting down someone important – me.

For years I’ve dreamed about how wonderful it would be to be independently wealthy and have all day to write. I would wake early and enjoy my coffee on the deck of my perfect house, getting inspiration from the breathtaking scenery around my property. I would climb into my tree house office and curl up in my favorite chair to write illustrious prose for eight hours that I never have to edit because it was so impeccable the first time.

Is that fantasy ever going to come true? Doubtful? So what is a writer with perfectionist tendencies to do?

Julia Cameron talks about stealing moments to write in her book The Right to Write. She reminds me that books are written a word at a time. A sentence at a time. A paragraph at a time. I can write a sentence in a spare moment between classes. I can write a paragraph during my twenty-minute lunch. I can find spare moments in time to write.  My perfectionist side says that this can’t be good enough. A real writer needs certain conditions met in order to write well. My inner storyteller just wants to tell a good story any way I can.

The last week I have been I have been writing in bits and pieces. In one sitting I wrote fifty words at school. Yesterday I wrote 532 words after dinner. I have written more in the last week than I have in months. I think my bubble has been burst about the fantasy of needing lots of uninterrupted time to write. I’m realizing that even little snippets of writing will add up and lead me to a finished story one piece at a time.

No internet and New, Scary Internships

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I made it through my first week of my new High School internship, but barely. I’m soooo not used to waking up at 5 am anymore and that was crazy hard! High School is such a different feeling than elementary, which is logical, but even the demeanor of the teachers is so different. I like it and I know I’m going to learn a lot about the reality of teaching in an urban school and all that this entails.

I didn’t have internet access this week which sucked at first, but I got some reading and thinking done, which was probably better for me anyway. I saw Eat Pray Love last night with a friend and was very impressed. It in no way replaces the book to me, but it was nice to experience Liz Gilbert’s journey with such vivid images of places I have only been in my dreams – Italy, India and Bali. Bali looks like a paradise that I could get used to seeing every morning!

I’ve been on a quest of my own lately. In all honesty I seem to always be on a spiritual quest of sorts. Always searching. Always questioning. The way my mom tells it, this has always been the case. Even before I could talk, you could tell that I was looking around, observing it all and trying to assimilate it into answers. Once I could talk, I never stopped. Once my grandmother asked, “Mary, could you be quiet for just a minute? Please!” To which I stated, “No, grandma. I was just born to talk.” And that was that. She laughed and realized that I wasn’t going to shut up anytime soon.

Lately,  though, I have seemed to find some peace about who I am and what I believe in. It’s always bothered me that I believed whole heartily in things that are not popular. I’ve never really been able to come to terms with the “beat’s to a DIFFERENT drum” element of my psyche and soul. This is starting to change. This change will not always be comfortable or welcome and that realization is becoming more of a blessing than I ever could have imagined.

I’m not the Dalai Lama or anything, but I’m learning the twisted road map of my heart and soul and skin and all that. Surprisingly enough I’m following the dirt trails and have avoided any head on collisions. It might not make sense to anyone else, but it really doesn’t need to. Just that sentence means I am finally on the right path. The right path to what you might ask? Enlightenment. Freedom. Bliss. Joy. Peace. I don’t know. All of the above or maybe none of the above…but if I stay the course, I’m sure I’ll figure it out. And knowing that for certain is a blessing in itself.

March Madness

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I’m not talking about basketball… this has been a crazy 24 hours in Colorado. Spring storms can be unpredictable, but this last storm was unbelievable. We even got a snow day today to boot. It started raining at 3:00 pm and by 5:30 Denver was a winter wonderland. By 6:00 pm it was a total whiteout and I have never been so scared to be on the road. By the time I got home, I was shaking and in tears. Tonight, there is still a ton of snow around, but the roads are clear and dry. Go figure.

This is my Spring break from the university and even though I’ve been subbing, I haven’t had homework or reading to work on. I’ve been able to get some things done that I’ve been avoiding and I already feel lighter. By the end of the week I will be able to take a deep breath and finally feel settled. I’ve also been working with feeling my feelings for real and connecting with my body again. I have lived in my head for so long, it seems strange to check in with my body but it seems like the key to whats been missing for a long time. It’s a least a good place to start.

A good friend of mine just emailed that she has three agents interested in her manuscripts and I’m so happy. This amazing warrior woman has the greatest work ethic I have ever seen. She has worked so hard and I am overwhelmed with excitement for all the great things that are coming her way! Congrats Sam!