I am interested in posting reviews of books and will starting that as a new element to this blog this coming week. If there is a book you would like me to review, please send me a quick message.
I love to cook. This has always been the case, but it was very difficult to cook for one for many years. It took a while to figure it out. I also have two major food allergies that make it difficult to eat out and be satisfied. I can modify just about anything, but if I want it, I have to figure out how to make it happen in my own kitchen. This could have been very challenging, but it’s actually been a positive thing. I had to learn how to cook again and it has opened me up to another form of creativity.
I have been listening to podcasts recently as I cook dinner. One in particular has been incredibly juicy. Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. Her book of the same title came into my life at a critical time and it has helped me dispel some of the myths I had held about myself and my ability to create. The most recent episode really hit me, as did the episode with Neil Gaiman. These podcasts have quite literally been food for my soul.
The podcast I listened to tonight spoke of many important things, but most importantly for my journey, was the concept of showing up before you’re ready. Knowing that you are never going to truly be ready, but here is the Universe offering you an invitation anyway. I cried as I sautated my Brussels sprouts, hearing my thoughts and feelings expressed through another woman’s voice. I think this is why I create. To find meaning and find myself in others. It helps me feel connected to something bigger than I am. It helps me makes sense of the world, when it is so often senseless.
My life has been topsy-turvy the last few months. I made a major change for my good, but I am not someone who handles change well. Even when it is what is best for me. Creative endeavors ground me. They lead me home and I discovered later than I care to admit, that when life feels overwhelming, the best thing I can do is create. I might never write the great American novel or headline Red Rocks (although I’m still working on making those things happen) but I can make dinner. I can take ingredients and use my magic to create something special and delicious. I am going to continue trying to find meaning. I’m going to start accepting that invitation.
Today is the first day of fall. I realize that I haven’t written here in a really long time. I think of it often, like a childhood friend. However, that was not enough to get me here. Many things have contributed to this, but I am starting to get my sea legs again and felt compelled to write today. Autumn is so yummy. I have written about it here almost every year. I have written a song about it. I take dozens of pictures every year. The weather cools to a perfect degree. The light is spectacular all day and the world perks up with deep hues on every leaf.
It also signals an internal change. I go inside and reflect. I take stock of the year, the previous seasons, and think of the trials and the triumphs. I remember that soon the world around will get darker and cold. Maybe this is why fall is so beautiful. To remind us that not every moment can be bold and colorful, there has to be reserve and stillness for balance.
I have been slowly making my way back to a writing practice. I am making real head way with a book that has been haunting me for years. I am doing yoga and dancing and meditating. I have been okay with saying no, when it needs to be said. I changed jobs. I planned to move, only to learn it was best to stay put. I went on an amazing adventure with one of my best friends, and got to see some things I had been dreaming to experience since I was a little girl. I promise to write about it soon.
Autumn teaches me important lessons. It has ushered in new love, and guided me back to my heart time and time again. It is magic and I’m exited to see what it has to show me this year.
Well, all of a sudden, it is that time of year again.
I am perpetually amazed by how fast time flies. This carousel spins faster and faster every year. I have been thrown into the holiday spirit early this year with working on holiday performances and getting my book The Christmas Child out into the world again.
This week is Thanksgiving and I am feeling very grateful for all the wonderful blessings in my life. This is the first year I’ve had the entire week off for the holiday and that, in itself, is a huge blessing.
I am walking a fine line of excitement and stress these days, holding both opposing forces in my hands, learning how to embrace both – good and bad. This week will allow me time to rest, prepare and reflect. I am humbled by the beauty of friendship, love and support that has surrounded me lately.
The Bookies, a wonderful independent bookstore in Denver, has embraced my book with such gusto – I am still so overwhelmed. The Tattered Cover stores will be carrying it again this year as well. It never ceases to amaze me, that I can visit some of my absolute favorite bookstores and see my book staring back at me.
I will also be working as a volunteer bookseller at The Bookies on 11/30/2013 as a part of Indie First on Small Business Saturday. Sherman Alexie called authors back in September to step into bookseller’s shoes and help out Independent bookstores. You can read his awesome call here. I worked hard as a bookseller for many years in a big chain and indie stores and I am excited to do it again. I loved passing on great books to eager customers and I am crazy grateful that booksellers are now doing that with my book. It is a dream come true!
I will be recouperating from another surgery in December and although I am disappointed to go under the knife again, I am grateful that it will be taken care of soon. As Kid President says, “Life is tough, but so are you.”
I am tough and I know I will be okay. I am grateful for the time to rest, write and heal. I am grateful for family and friends who love me and are willing to do whatever to help me. I am thankful for bookstores, booksellers, books and stories. I am grateful.
It’s late and I should have been in bed an hour ago, but I needed to post and wanted to get it out before the weekend was over. I have been thinking and pondering why I haven’t been doing too much writing recently. Even though school is kicking my butt and I have a million balls in the air, I could be writing every day and the sad reality is that I haven’t been. I think about writing, my stories, the characters and their stories all day…but nothing is getting onto the paper.
I chatted about it with my writer soul mates this morning and I think it’s cause I’m still trying to fit these new wip into a box that doesn’t fit them. These stories need room to breath and I need room to breath and arm room as I sort through all the intricacies of what these characters want to say.
I have to give myself the permission to write badly and to write whatever needs to be written in order for me to get the stories out into the world in the right way. I need some wiggle room, not a straight jacket. That seems reasonable, doesn’t it.
I am understanding that the way to tell these stories won’t be a straight stretch of highway, but a winding and unpaved road that leads me into uncharted terrain.
I have to surrender to the process…to this new process and get the words down anyway. I have to give myself permission and freedom to sort through all the white noise and find the right notes for the melody in the characters heart. It really isn’t wasted time ( as my wise friends pointed out today). It might actually lead me directly to the best way to tell these stories.
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.
I finished reading Water for Elephants yesterday and I really enjoyed it. I liked the story and delighted in learning the history as well. I’ve been planning to write historical fiction of my own for a while and this book got me all juiced up again. A little too juiced up, because I now want to abandon my current project. I won’t, but it’s tempting.
In the meantime, I can focus on the research that I need in order to be ready to jump in when this current project is finished. I’d love to launch right in, but that lack of foresight is what’s clogging things up in my current project. I started it for NaNoWriMo so I didn’t do much planning. It wasn’t a problem for the first 15, 000 words but now I’m running into road blocks. I know I need to step back and sort the story out before I proceed.
I hated history until my senior year of high school. One of my favorite teachers, Mr. Melbach finally made history interesting to me. He opened me up to a whole new world, so to speak. He also taught us history through literature which appealed to my love of reading. I realized that if the story was engaging enough, I could savor the history lesson too.
During the last semester of my bachelor degree I needed one more class to graduate. I decided to take an Irish in America class on a whim. My ancestors are Irish and I thought it would be interesting. It was one of the best classes I have ever taken. I learned a ton about my heritage and I met Jim Walsh. Jim is an incredible teacher, but he also became my friend. Jim introduced me to what he calls, “History from Below”. The idea is that the real history is the people’s history and that is rarely what we read about in text books.
I am a member of a local acting troupe that Jim started called The Romero Troupe. I have been honored to be a part of this group and learn history from below with these amazing people. You can see more info about the troupe here if you’re interested.
Being in Jim’s class and working with The Romero Troupe has led me to a love affair with history. It adds such a rich background for storytelling. I read that Sara Gruen found the inspiration for Water for Elephants from a picture of traveling circuses that ran with an article in the Chicago Tribune. I also have been inspired by pictures for some of my stories. I think looking at historical photographs will play into my research for the next book too.
Do you like historical fiction? If so, what’s the best historical fiction book you’ve read?