Category Archives: Quotes

Nothing Gold Can Stay

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Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost

The first official day of fall isn’t for a couple of weeks, but I can feel it coming in this weekend. Fall is my favorite time of year in so many ways. It is the most beautiful to me – the leaves, the light, the perfect temperature. It also has always felt more like the new year than January does. Fall is one big last burst of beauty and harvest, before winter comes and things go dormant again, burrowing under ground and building beauty anew for the coming year. I reflect in the autumn, review the year and let go of my own dead leaves, after they have revealed their true colors.

I had a cold this week and slept terribly. This weekend has been quiet, but in a way, it was exactly what I needed. I have slept, written, read, eaten comforting healthy food and sat outside in the breeze. I’ve done some cleaning too and later today, I’ll do some cooking for the week, but I needed to rejuvenate and regroup this weekend.

I’ve been very emotional these last two weeks too. I have been vulnerable and spoken to friends and a counselor. I am processing. Mainly, I want things in my life, that I don’t have. I am a glass half full person and most of the time I am content and at peace with most areas of my life. I do still struggle with releasing my urge to control life and letting go of the reins and having faith can be difficult more times than not.

It is the 25th Anniversary of the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I have written about this book before, but I have been thinking about it a lot lately and needed to write about it some more. It is my all time favorite book. It speaks to me and moves me every time I read it and I assume that it always will. It is a simple story with complexity that unfolds more with every reading. I have a beat up dog-eared copy that is highlighted and underlined. I also have a twentieth anniversary copy that is in good shape as a keepsake.

The story holds so much truth and I seem to reread it in the fall, which upon reflection doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. In the fall, I take stock of where I am and what I am grateful for. I also reflect on the things that I hope to change or see flourish in the coming year. The Alchemist reminds me that the Universe conspires to meet me and help me achieve what I was put here to do, just like Santiago in the story. I also go through hard times on my journey and am continually trying to interpret the omens and follow my path.

I splurged on Friday and bought an elegant new lined notebook. It is bound with soft leather and the cover features autumn leaves that seem to be floating. I am hoping to use it as inspiration to get back into an old work in progress, The Lost. I still really believe in the story and want to tell it, however, I got confused about the direction the story was going and instead of following my characters into the woods – I left them.

I was able to build up some momentum over the summer and I am writing, in some form, almost every day. I’ve asked a colleague to read my drafts in an effort to keep me accountable to the story and I am wooing my muse with a new notebook. I’ll let you know if any of it works.

Nothing gold can stay… it is true in so many ways. I am trying to make the most of the gold while it lasts and continue to reflect, change and grow in the coming year as a person and a writer.

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Odds Are In Your Favor

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Sorry I’m a day late. I got home super late last night and just couldn’t get this posted.

I was reviewing some notes I had jotted down in a notebook yesterday and I came upon some writing advice I had found by Laurie Halse Anderson. Some one asked her how you maintain confidence when your success rate is 0.1%. Her response was great, “If you quit, your success rate is guaranteed to be 0%. Which odds do you like better?”

I was thinking a lot about this today. I haven’t been writing much. It’s crazy because I think about it all the time – setting, characters, arc etc. I’m just not writing. I think because I have so much else going on, I just put it off but then before I know it, it is midnight and another day has slipped through my fingers.

I was writing consistently 20 minutes a day for a while, but now that I’m out of the habit it’s hard to get back in the saddle again.

While I waited to get my hair cut this afternoon, I was thumbing through an old songwriting book. There was a great article by Patty Larkin about Luring the Muse. She thinks of writing like going fishing. Similar to Laurie Halse Anderson, Patty says that you can’t catch anything unless you go to the water’s edge and put your line in. I think she’s right. I can think about my stories or ideas for songs all the livelong day, but if I don’t do any writing than I’m batting at zero.

A friend of mine recently told me of an experience he had over Spring Break with two different yoga teachers. One teacher’s focus centered on technique and no one did much yoga in the class because you couldn’t move on until the technique was perfect. On the opposite end of that extreme, he went to another class where the teacher said that yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory – the more you practice, the better your theory becomes.

I thought this was a perfect analogy for writing or any creative pursuit. So many people procrastinate and put off their creative expression for a whole slew of reasons (myself included) when if we would just practice all the other stuff would fall into place.

Even though I have a ton of work to do for school this weekend, I want to work some at getting to the page as well. I want my percentage to be above zero!

Personal Heroes

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A Wrinkle in Time is one of my all time favorite books. I have no idea how many times I have read it. I remember reading it as a child and being overwhelmed with how great it was. I devoured all of Madeleine L’Engle’s books, but A Wrinkle in Time is still my favorite.

I was reading my new Writer’s Digest magazine today and a short story contest winner quoted Madeleine’s Newberry acceptance speech and it really hit home. She said, “Unless a writer works constantly to improve and refine the tools of his trade, they will be useless instruments if and when the moment of inspiration, of revelation does come. This is the moment when a writer is spoken through, the moment that a writer must accept with gratitude and humility, and then attempt, as best he can, to communicate to others.”

It helps me to think about daily writing in this way. If you are writing daily and refining your skills, then you’ll be ready to do your best work when the lightning strikes and you get those one of a kind ideas. I have written the last two days and that feels good. It hasn’t been my best work to date, nothing too brilliant, but there are words on the paper. I need to keep showing up at the page and refine my skills.

In doing some more research tonight for this post, I found another quote that moved me. More sage advice from one of my personal heroes.

I have advice for people who want to write. I don’t care whether they’re 5 or 500. There are three things that are important: First, if you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair. And second, you need to read. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. It’s the great writers who teach us how to write. The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it’s for only half an hour — write, write, write.

It’s true that great writers teach us how to write and I’m thankful to have Madeleine L’Engle as a teacher.

I Have a Dream

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Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. day. My fourth grade students worked on a writing prompt in literacy about a dream they have that would make the world a better place in honor of Dr. King. Today we worked on editing their final drafts and I enjoyed hearing about their dreams. Some students wrote about cleaning up the litter and pollution in Denver. Other students wrote about ending bullying. I felt that Dr. King would have enjoyed their essays too.

I was lucky to be a part of writing an African-American History book the summer between my fourth and fifth grade year when I was in elementary school. I knew a little about Martin Luther King Jr before this writing experience, but not much. That summer I made new friends, became a minority for a small amount of time, made sweet potato pie, worked hard to be a better writer and discovered the heroism and inspiration of Dr. King.

Almost fifteen years later, I became a member of The Romero Troupe. During a play about Labor History in our country, I learned even more about Dr. King. I gained an even deeper respect and admiration for him and his work.  Memories from our “I Am a Man” scene with remain one of my proudest moments on stage for the rest of my life.

When President Obama was elected into office, I remember watching the inauguration and my thoughts went to Martin Luther King Jr and all that had changed since his tragic death.  Over the past two years, I have been saddened and dismayed by the outright prejudice expressed by people I know and civil servants in our government. I wonder how much progress we have really made.

I am encouraged by Dr. King’s words, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I am also encouraged by a class of fourth graders who understand Martin Luther King Jr had a dream and the importance of making the world around them better.

Evolution Of A Flower

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And then the day came
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to Blossom.

Anais Nin

I’ve always loved this quote. I found it in the classic book by Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way. I remember how it made me cry because the quote described exactly how I felt. I typed it up in a fancy font and put it on my cubicle so I could remember that I was not a corporate robot – I was an artist.

It still amazes me that even though I first read it almost seven years ago, it still applies. The thing is, I’m still growing as an artist. I am so much further than I was sitting in that cubicle, yet I’m still blossoming. I hope to be blossoming for a long time.

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately. I’m always researching…trying to learn more. Learning about other writers and their experiences shows me that I’m not alone. There are others out there…somewhere. It must be my inner Sociologist. I observe and apply what I can. I connect the dots and step back to see the picture.

Doing what you love is risky business. You need a thick skin and practice at mending broken hearts. I remember how scared I was to submit to agents. It’s still scary, but each submission is a battle wound. Eventually, the scar tissue builds up enough that I can put the envelope in the mail or send the email without feeling nauseous. Even though rejections are never welcome, you learn from them. You get better. Even if it isn’t obvious from the outside, you grow and shift and evolve. I know that every day, every word, every action leads me in the right direction. Even if I can only manage to write a sentence, it still counts.

It’s unlikely that writing and being an artist will ever be a walk in the park. The blossoming process won’t ever be easy. You finally finish your book and you manage to find a publisher, then your world shifts and you have to work through months of edits. Or you have to battle your stage fright to go on  a book tour and find your audience. You have the perfect idea, but every time you sit down to write the words refuse to come. You write the best story of your life and the critique group rips it apart. There are challenges at every turn.

The sky will darken and the wind will blow. You might not see how you’ll ever survive. But you commit to the process and trust that you’ll eventually bloom again and have your moment in the sun. The truth is once you start to blossom it’s hard to go back to a bud – no matter how much you wish you could. You might as well keep growing and see what happens.