Monday, August 30, 2010

Published Clip

On the news front:

In March, I sent a tip into Country Woman's reader Almanac. My dazzling and insightful tip on drying hats appears in the October/November 2010 issue. Check out the mag to see my name in (very small) lights!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Personal Perspective: Purity of Intention

Last week in The Prosperous Writer, Christina Katz wrote about purity of intention. I confess that I was going to let this writing prompt slip by. I told myself I was too busy. I told myself I was too tired from being sick and taking care of a sick toddler. I told myself it’s gelato season, and I just have to realize I don’t have as much time to write right now. Then I realized I was actually scared.

I realized that not because of what Christina Katz wrote (insightful as it was), but because of a blog response by T. L. Cooper on her blog, Write with TLC.

I’d like you to follow that link and read the whole post. In case you don’t, though, here’s a snippet that grabbed me.

As I begin to look at where I spend my time and energy, I feel a little disappointed in myself. Over the years I’ve taken on more and more responsibility because I feel like I have to. I feel like it’s expected of me. I feel like I “owe” it to other people. I agree to help friends and acquaintances even when it interferes with my goals. I agree to take on one more chore or run one more errand to make my husband’s life easier. I agree to add one more thing to my day because “it’ll only take 5 minutes.”

I don’t know if this is a common human malady…or common to women…or common to wives and mothers. Whatever the case, the desire to please other people has always driven far more of my actions than it should. The result is that I am in constant motion yet rarely feel I’ve gained anything in my struggle to be a writer.

After reading Christina’s post earlier this week, I pulled out my submission tracking sheet and took a look at it. The kick to my gut was that I haven’t actually submitted anything since June. WHAT!?!? JUNE?!?! When, how, why did that happen? I know I’ve been doing. In fairness to myself, I’ve been churning out marketing materials for clients. That was never where I wanted to focus, though. So, again, what happened?

The problem is that my purity of intention has slipped…a lot.

Cooper also talks about spending too much time with people who drain her creativity. I meet--and live with--far more creativity suckers than creativity boosters. Personally, my father has always been a creativity-sucker of nearly mythic proportions. Living under the same roof with him, even as a 32-year-old wife and mother, establishes a constant dampening effect on both my energy and creativity. (After all, wouldn’t enough “get a real job” hints get to anyone after a while?)

Okay, so I mentioned that I was scared to tackle this subject. Yes, just plain chicken-livered. That's because, deep down, I realized I'd lost my purity of intention. I just didn't want to admit it to myself. We usually have to face our fears in order to deal with them, though. That's true whether you have a a fear of spiders or a lack of purity!

I don’t know what to do about creativity-sucking relations. I do now realize that I need to dig out and refocus my own intentions and purify them until they’re crystal clear and sparkly-clean. If I want to be a marketing copywriter, my energy goes there. If I want to own a gelato business, I need to focus on that. If I want to write articles, that’s what I need to do. If I want to write novels, I need to spend time with my plot and characters. Will one help with the other? Maybe. If not, out it needs to go. Easier to say than do, of course. A fact, nonetheless.

At this point, I’m so mired in non-writing obligations and commitments, I can’t even see my way clear to get shed of them. With some work and clarity and prayer, though, I may have an answer soon.

I’ll keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Personal Perspective: The Best-Laid Plans

Things don't always go as you plan.

For instance, I planned on working while I was on "vacation." A professor once said there was no such thing as a vacation for a full-time freelancer, because everything is an opportunity to discover new writing topics. I took that seriously. So, for our two-week trip to see my husband's family in Buffalo, I took along my novel hard copy, my general-purpose notebook, my note-taking notepad, my journal, my laptop, my USB cord and my flash drive. I had visions of Internet connections in hotel rooms and friendly libraries. I pictured myself saying, "No, I really can't watch the movie, I have work to do," with firm conviction. I imagined side trips to discover new and interesting topics for magazine articles.

I might as well have spared my car the extra load.

With three twelve-hour driving days in each direction (yes, that equals SIX days on the road, just like the song), a toddler, normal in-law craziness, a jam-packed activity schedule and time-zone lag (yes, it happens even without jets), it was all I could do to keep from blowing my lid.

I did make it back to Oregon on schedule. That left me back on track to drive to Milton-Freewater and shoot some photos for an article I'm trying to sell. It was a wonderful day, with a more relaxed drive than I've had in recent memory, a fascinating conversation and the chance to sit through a free folk concert. I planned to give myself the following, and last, day off, and get back to it full force on Monday.

Then I came home and came down with a cold.

The speed and severity of the onset were for the record books. Got home from Milton-Freewater: fine. Three hours later: sniffles that had nothing to do with the movie I was watching.

Again my plans were laid aside as I spent the next several days getting over a pretty nasty cold. Here it is, Wednesday, and I'm only just beginning to form coherent thoughts that don't involve Kleenex.

And, you know what? There weren't fifty phone-message from editors who wanted that story only if they could have it three days ago. My clients weren't irate at the two-going-on-three-week setback in their project. No one shot themselves because one of my four blogs wasn't there for them to read. The gelato is still getting made. (Okay, so I had to don a dust mask and drag my diseased carcass into the kitchen to accomplish that, but who cares.)

The earth is still here, serenely spinning away.

Given the fuzzy nature of my thoughts right now, this blog post doesn't have a profound point. If it leaves me--and perhaps you--with one thought, though, it's that the world doesn't actually stop if we do. We (writers, women, mothers, humans) don't often give ourselves permission to hop off the hamster wheel and actually sit still. If we push it long enough, though, God and nature will force downtime upon us. It may not be as we would have envisioned...or planned...or preferred...but it will happen.

So, don't be afraid to take a bit of hiatus before you've reached that breaking point. If your best-laid plans are anything like mine, the globe will still be twirling when you get back.