Saturday, December 30, 2006

New Year's Resolutions for Writers

I thought I’d post some resolutions particularly appropriate to writers so here they are:

1) I WILL finish the damn book.
2) I WILL send out the book or story or article or poem or.....
3) I will find ways to make writing fun.
4) I will find ways that work for me as a writer and not worry whether other writers do things this way, too.
5) I will care about what I write.
6) I will do research necessary to my writing but I will not get lost in research in the place of writing.
7) I will put my beloved characters in jeopardy when that will make it a better book.
8) I will listen carefully to feedback AND I will trust my deepest instincts.
9) I will protect the manuscript/idea/writing until I am ready for that feedback.
10) I will write through the fear—knowing that EVERY writer is afraid at some point that this time this project won’t work out.
11) I will celebrate every success—even if no one else does.
12) I will nourish the spark of faith in myself and the joy of writing that was there when I first began.
13) I will write. I will write first for myself and then for the world. No matter what, I will write.
14) I will remember there is life outside the writing, too, and I will not let my sense of self-worth be tied entirely to the writing.
15) I will celebrate all the successes and all the strengths in my life.
16) EVERY DAY I will find reasons to smile and laugh.
17) I will occasionally clear off my desk.
18) I will ways to promote my work that energize and don’t drain me.
19) I will not read negative reviews if they upset me.
20) I will celebrate and remind myself of the readers who do love my work.
21) I will celebrate the success of my fellow writers and commiserate with them when they have a setback.
22) I will never let myself forget why I write and what it means to me and to those who read my work.
23) I will remember to sometimes get up from my chair and move around.
24) I will realize that maybe taking the time to do something that truly makes me laugh might be better than playing that 300th game of computer solitaire.

May 2007 bring all of us health, happiness, and much success!


Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day

I sit here looking at my tree and smiling, enjoying the peace of nowhere I have to be, nothing I have to do except what I want to do. My daughter and I opened presents this morning. Last night we went to a candle lighting service.

Some thoughts about the past few days...

My daughter got in late Friday and Saturday we went into Austin. A good bookstore, a coffee shop with live music, another place with live music. Moments of laughter and of contemplation.

This morning laughter as she opened a present I bought 2 weeks ago not knowing why. Pierced earrings--but I didn't know until she stepped off the plane that she had gotten her ears pierced.

Fresh baked Finnish coffee bread. Music playing.

Deeply needed rain the past two days has changed over to a gloriously blue sky and sunshine.

I wish for all of you today peace and joy and a passion for life and writing. I hope that this Season has brought you joy and closeness with friends and/or family. I hope that the New Year will bring health and happiness and much success.

I believe that we are all connected--no matter what our superficial differences may be. The success of any one of us is a triumph for all, the joy something to share, the frustrations something we all know as well. May 2007 be a year in which we can see the best in each other, listen—truly listen—to each other ESPECIALLY when we disagree, and together begin to create a better world, each in our own way.

Blessings to all,


Sunday, December 17, 2006

My Friend Began Chemo...

Several of you have asked about my friend who has breast cancer so I thought I’d post an update. She began chemo this week. They didn’t want to wait until after she and her husband took a trip for their anniversary because the form she has is so aggressive.

True to who she is, she didn’t wait for her hair to fall out (they told her it definitely would) but went ahead and got her head shaved. She got a wig and started chemo when they told her to. Because she’s not the sort to give up. Because she’s not the sort to avoid what needs to be done.

She says the staff is wonderful. And there are all sorts of advances in diagnostics and treatment these days. That’s the good part. The frustrating part is how long it took to get in to get the mammogram and then the biopsy. If her primary care physician hadn’t intervened it would have been even longer. Now she’ll need not only the chemo but radiation after that as well.

Not exactly a typical holiday topic to blog about, I know. And yet....maybe it’s not such a bad thing to remember that even as most of us focus on laughter and joy and fun at this time of year, we all know people who may be dealing with challenges in their lives. For some it’s a loved one lost this past year and this is the first time this holiday will be celebrated without them. For some, like my friend, it’s a physical challenge. For some it’s a financial challenge. For others, it’s...whatever it is. If we remember this and do not just assume everyone is having a wonderful time we will hear the note in the voice, the words perhaps tentatively spoken that will let us know this person could use a little extra support right now. This is a person we might want to show extra kindness.

I read today that this is a time of year when we all feel the sense of oneness—that we are all bound together and differences are all superficial. This is the time of year when we seem to come closest to understanding that what happens to any one of us affects all of us. We cannot hurt someone else without hurting ourselves. We cannot ignore someone else without ignoring a part of ourselves.

I often tell writers as they begin to plan out their stories that it is not the circumstances of the lives of their characters that matter nearly so much as what the characters do with those circumstances. It’s as true in life as it is in our stories.

I hope all of you are finding ways to bring joy into your own lives at this holiday season and into the lives of others around you as well.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Perfect Christmas Gifts for a Writer

A few days ago, a friend asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I didn’t have an answer. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that most of the perfect gifts for a writer can’t be bought. Here’s what I suspect is every writer’s secret (or not so secret) wish list:

1) An agent who believes heart and soul in the writer and his/her work.
2) An editor who believes heart and soul in the writer and his/her work.
3) Wonderful reviews.
4) A place on the bestseller lists.
5) Time and quiet to write.
6) Never ending inspiration.
7) Fellow writers with whom to share the ups and downs of being a writer.
8) Faithful readers who will follow us no matter where inspiration takes us.
9) Belief in ourselves so that even in those difficult moments when we know the story is going wrong and we don’t see how to fix it we will have faith that sooner or later we will figure it out.
10) Love and laughter and sunshine because without those what’s the point?
11) Wonderful books to read because we were all readers first.
12) Movies that make us laugh and cry and think.
13) Places to go to inspire us.
14) People to meet to inspire us.
15) A maid to clean the house and a cook to fix wonderful meals so that we can focus on our writing.
16) Fireplaces for chilly evenings.
17) Good champagne and chocolate to celebrate our triumphs and drown our disappointments.
18) The ability to always find laughter and joy and faith within ourselves so that nothing ever discourages us from sharing the stories we have to tell.

Wishing all of you love and laughter and kindness and abundance this holiday season.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Spinning Stories

If we’re writers, we see story possibilities everywhere. Decorating a Christmas tree we may find ourselves spinning stories about an unusual ornament or what it might have been like long ago or even what we wish things could be like now. That’s one of the advantages of having a good imagination. We can always create stories, imagine new possibilities, and envision worlds we would love to visit.

The question is: How do we use that imagination? Do we imagine the things that could go wrong in our lives or do we imagine what could go write? I’d argue that imagining what could go right is the optimal strategy. How often have we put off doing things because we were afraid they wouldn’t work out? I’m not talking about taking reckless chances; I’m talking about things that could enrich our lives.

If you are a writer, how many times have you put off writing afraid that it wouldn’t be good enough? How often have you put off sending out what you wrote for fear it would be rejected? Imagine instead that what you write will be wonderful. Aren’t you more ready to sit down and write? Imagine an editor calling ecstatic after reading your manuscript? You probably would feel more like sending it out.

We get to choose what kind of life we want to lead. Do we want to live a life where everything always goes wrong—because that’s where we spend our time even if only in our thoughts—or a life where most of the time things go right because that’s where we spend our time and emotion living as we imagine the future?

Ideally we live in the moment. If you ever manage to figure out how to do it, please let me know! Until then, I know that I will choose to spend my time focusing on what might go right and therefore feel better, most of the time plus have the courage to do new things.

Imagination is a wonderful thing. Aren’t we writers lucky to have it?

Wishing all of you a wonderfully imaginative week!