Category Archives: success

Revelation and Inspiration

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I’m still pretty tired. It’s amazing how being back at school is taking it out of me. I haven’t been sleeping very soundly the last couple of days either and that probably has a bunch to do with it too. It’s crazy how easily I can slip back into my old ways of staying up way to late. I had a major power struggle with a student today, which was a bit exhausting as well. It wasn’t a power struggle, per se, because I was very consistent and would not budge with it. I am very stubborn and it actually served me well today. I was calm and firm. It was hard to hold my ground, but he was looking for an inch of wiggle room and I never would have got that authority back. I love him. He is bright and I enjoy working with him every day but he challenges me almost everyday as well. I think the is on the Autism spectrum and he is being observed this month. I am grateful for him because he makes me a better teacher. We are learning from each other.

On a nicer note, two of my 5th grade students finished my book over the Winter Break. One of them saw me in the hallway today before our group and stopped to give me a hug and tell me she had completed it over break. She struggles with reading, but she works hard to improve. She was so happy to talk to me about the book and she asked me when she could read another one of my books because it was so interesting. I said, “Well, I’m still writing it…”

She said, “You better get busy! I want to read it soon!”

That is inspiration and a lot of pressure 🙂

I told her how proud I was of her for finishing it and doing such an amazing job. It was the biggest book she has ever read and she read it in less than two weeks. It was above her reading level and she really pushed herself. She had a huge grin on her face and I knew she felt my pride and excitement for her awesome accomplishment.

I haven’t been writing. I think about it all the time, but I haven’t even tried to write anything other than journaling or Morning Pages in months. Having the students enjoy my book so much and be excited to read what’s next has been a revelation and inspiration to get off my duff and just try to get some words down. I have had little spurts of inspiration with these WIP’s, but mainly a lot of one step forward two steps back.

I resolved to write more again anyway, so time is of the essence!

What inspires you to keep writing and persevering when writing gets tough?

I know I will see that student’s grin in my head from now on when I sit down to write.

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Patience Is a Virtue

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I recently watched the movie The Adjustment Bureau. I remember seeing the trailer and thinking that it looked really interesting. I was so impressed with this film. It was suspenseful, romantic and thought-provoking. As I was watching, I Googled to see if it had been based on a book. I found out that it had been inspired and loosely based on a short story called Adjustment Team. This short story was written by Philip K. Dick, a man who wrote forty four published novels and one hundred and twenty-one short stories. Although he wrote full-time, he never experienced much success during his lifetime and once said, “We couldn’t even pay the late fees on a library book.” However, nine movies (many blockbuster successes) have been based on his stories and films based on his works have accumulated over one billion dollars.

I’ve read numerous times that the mark of a real writer is someone who will write regardless of whether or not they receive any acclaim or success. Real writers are compelled to write. Philip K Dick was a real writer. He had patience and perseverance to write without much reward to keep him going. I find it inspiring and it helps me to cultivate some of the same patience and perseverance in my own writing life.

I have received many little messages from the universe lately. I am being haunted by yellow butterflies. They are everywhere. I’m not sure who it is, but I’m paying attention. I also have been upset about not being called for interviews yet and being impatient about waiting to see where I am going to land with regards to a teaching job. I told my mom last night that I’m having a hard time understanding why others are getting jobs and I am not. I’m struggling to not take it personally and stay positive and hopeful.

I realize that this isn’t unlike waiting to hear from an editor or an agent about a manuscript for months, years or never at all. I read two essays in daily meditations books for July 7th about patience. I became less frustrated about waiting because those essays resonated as omens that I need to take a deep breath and surrender.

I also have been compelled to find out about Philip K. Dick since I watched that movie. After some research, I found out that he is buried in Fort Morgan, Colorado with his twin sister Jane who died when they were six weeks old. I also feel led to go to his grave site for some reason. I think I have an appreciation for his desire to write and feel I need to bear witness in some way that is deeper than just reading his words. I told my friend this a week ago and I said, “I want to look for his grave, but it could take hours to cull through and I still might not find it.” My friend said there might be a directory, which is possible, but it felt like I would be looking for a needle in a haystack.

Tonight as I was preparing for this post, I entered Philip K Dick in Google to look for a nice picture to include. I scanned through pages of photographs, but kept coming back to the one I inserted at the top. I finally decided that I was coming back to this one over and over for a reason and clicked on it.

To my surprise, the picture linked me to a website that gave me the exact plot location of his grave.

I love synchronicity of any kind, but this felt very powerful. I’m definitely going to Fort Morgan soon to pay my respects. I am also working on practicing patience.

A Room of One’s Own

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This is a photo of Virginia Woolf’s office. Virginia Woolf speaks in her essay/lecture A Room of One’s Own about the necessity for money and a room of your own as a woman and a writer. I have observed that many people agree with her.

I’ve been reading a book on writing by N. M. Kelby called The Constant Art of Being a Writer. She talks in the second chapter about setting up your practice as a writer and how setting up your office is so important. She also talks about the importance of writing in the same place at the same time every day. A writer should put in business hours just like any other profession.

There was a point in time when I agreed with this opinion wholeheartedly. Not anymore. Mind you, every writer is different and for some people a strict writing schedule and location is imperative to their success every day. But I berated myself for not sticking to this rigid schedule and inevitably didn’t work at all.

Julie Cameron is on the other side of the fence on this issue. She believes that setting too tight a rein on your creative life hinders that flow of ideas. She speaks of artists not tieing themselves to such rituals because she worries that they will only be able to work under those specific conditions. What do you do when life gets in the way.

Julia does talk about using a gentle schedule called a grid to map out time for your creative priorities. I have learned that as a writer, myself, I must have some more freedom in order to work well. For instance my grid shows twenty minutes a day of writing time, but I don’t say when that twenty minutes has to happen. Or even where those twenty minutes happen. Last week I wrote for ten minutes at school during my lunch and for ten minutes in the car while I waited to meet a friend for dinner. The important thing was that I wrote. If I had set up my practice to only write at my desk in my room, that day’s writing wouldn’t have happened.

I think Virginia Woolf was onto something about having a room of one’s own, but I’m not sure I believe that room has to be a physical location per say. Maybe it could be a state of mind – a committment to guarding your own time and making writing a priority. I’ve decided that that’s all I need to set up my practice.

And the Winner Is…

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I woke up this morning with a horrible stomach ache and have spent most of the day throwing up. I must have caught some kiddo germs at school last week  – yuck. Needless to say, I haven’t gotten much accomplished today. I did get some writing done and I’ve watched a ton of episodes of one of my all time favorite t.v. shows, My So-Called Life.

I’ve been watching the Golden Globes tonight and I have to admit, as embarrassing as it is, I always think about what I would say if I ever found my name called at one of these events. My imaginary speech changes a bit from year to year, depending on what fantasy award I’m winning. I think it’s kind of silly too, but for years a big award on t.v. epitomized what I thought success would look like.

Don’t get me wrong. A big deal award like an Oscar or a Grammy would be amazing and I wouldn’t turn it down, but over the last year my success meter has been shifted.

These days success looks like a class of fourth graders who can’t wait to talk with me about writing. Or seeing my e-book on major bookseller websites. Writing every day for two weeks is a great realistic success that I won’t get any fancy awards for, but it feels like a Golden Globe to me.

I haven’t written consistently in almost a year. I’ve written some, yes, but mainly in short bursts of inspiration followed by extra long periods of frustration and blank pages. A couple of weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to commit to writing every day, but this time I didn’t put any expectations on it. I’m shooting for about 20 minutes a day, however yesterday I only wrote a paragraph and never got back to it. I wasn’t upset though because at least I wrote a paragraph. Even one new word would have been a success.

I’m not sure how long it will take to finish this book with this new writing goal, but I do know for sure that it will get written.

Maybe some day I will find myself in a fabulous ball gown dripping with diamonds walking up to stage to accept an award. Maybe I won’t. But either way I’m glad that I found a way to shift my perspective on success. Who knows what successes I might have waiting for me. I just have to keep telling the story and watch my own story unfold.


The Best Christmas Presents Ever

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As I look at 2010 coming right at me, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for all the love that has come my way these last months from the amazing people who have read my book The Christmas Child.

Hearing stories of reluctant readers putting aside their video games to read or people who have found hope on the pages and now feel Christmas in their hearts. With each story, I am blown away and deeply humbled.

In all honesty, I had a hard time finding the Christmas spirit myself this year. I have been struggling financially and spiritually. I have been putting myself through the paces for things that are outside of my control. I have been more like The Ice than myself!

But hearing these stories and receiving hugs from readers have made all the difference. Even if I never sold another book, I would still feel like a successful author! I also understand more than ever the power of story. I am grateful for everything that has happened this year in relation to The Christmas Child.

I’ve heard it said that we write what we, ourselves, need to hear. That could not be more true with this book. The Christmas Child is ultimately about the power of belief, especially the belief in yourself. I struggle with this often and I have learned so much from Becca’s journey and transformation.

So as 2009 comes to an end, I would like to say thank you to the wonderful people who came to book signings and my launch at the Mercury Cafe. To the classes I visited, the kids and kid’s at heart who left their world behind to travel to the North Pole with me…you have made my heart light and joyous. I am so grateful and thank you doesn’t seem big enough to describe what I feel.

Here’s to a happy and prosperous New Year for everyone. Cheers!

The Eve of Christmas Eve

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Oh blog, how I’ve missed you. I kept saying to myself, “I really should blog…” and somehow it just never happened. I have had so much that I wanted to post about too! But teaching, coaching and candy making has been taking up all my time. I am starting graduate school in January and my life is going to get even busier. I have to find time to write and blog on top of everything else and I’m a bit concerned. I am famous for taking care of others and running myself ragged, but I’m not so great at caring for myself. I’m going to work really hard to change that in 2010.

I smell resolution in the air! My resolution for 2010 can be expressed in one word – balance. I will be striving for balance in 2010. I have never been good at balance. I’m generally juggling way to many things and I usually wind up burning the candle at both ends. I’m crazy excited about getting my master’s degree and I’m loving the teaching,  but I have accomplished so much with my book in 2009 that I don’t want to lose any of my momentum in the coming year.

I also need more rest, more excercise and less processed food! So, yes kids, the word of the day is BALANCE!

Blogging will also be a part of my daily dose of writing. I need this as a daily check in. Even if no one is reading this, it is still important for me to write it and get it out into the world.

I’ll have some time off in the next week and I will post some pictures and talk about the book events in late November and December. I am so happy with all the wonderful things that TCC brought me this year. I’m also very grateful for all the obstacles I faced. They showed me how committed I was to making this work and taught me to be more flexible. I have a more realistic perspective for next year and I have eight to nine months to work at getting my baby farther out into the world.

A friend of mine is home for a visit after his first semester of college. He was congratulating me on the book and we were discussing some of the marketing strategies that I’m putting together for next year. He told me that The Sorcerer’s Stone took a year and a half to catch on. He also told me that when J.K. Rowling came to The Tattered Cover for a book signing, that no one came. It’s hard to imagine that, but humbling to remember that even J.K. Rowling had to start somewhere.

2010 will be a big year. I will be striving for balance in all of my endeavors, I will be starting a new career as a teacher, working hard to sell more books, writing daily and building my body of work and last but not least, I will be turning thirty.

I am looking forward to many things in the coming year. I’m also looking forward to some quiet moments in the coming days where I can take a deep breath and look back on the year. I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday, and can have some comfort from family or friends. I watched a special this evening on adoption and my heart rips for all those kids who don’t have someone to love them this Christmas. It kills me that they don’t have someone to love them any day of the year. If I could take them all home, I would in a second! In the meantime, I can send them all my love and hope that it finds them and brings them some warmth this Christmas.

Happy Holidays! Make sure to leave out carrots for the reindeer!

Definition of Success

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What is the definition of success for a writer? I’ve thought about this a lot over the years.  Is it a combination of books sold, starred reviews and millions in the bank? Is it getting an agent and a publishing contract?

As I wrote TCC, I daydreamed about success all the time. What my first launch would look and feel like. How it would feel to sell the movie rights. As I received rejections and passes on the manuscript, I would dream and think of success even more. Maybe to compensate for the blow to my ego and the rip in my heart.

I have felt many successful moments on my publishing journey with TCC and each success felt awesome, but nothing as wonderful as this –

An eight year-old boy can’t put my book down. He hasn’t played video games in days, he takes my book to the table with him and reads it before school. I can hardly believe it, even as I write this sentence.

This is my new definition of success. I can’t put into words how incredible it felt to hear this news. I hope that TCC goes on to connect with more readers, but anything else will be icing on the cake.