30 October 2015

don't apologize

Well, I should qualify that. Do apologize if you step on someone's foot or are an inadvertent jerk, but don't apologize if you're trying to create a masterpiece of some kind, and it falls short in your eyes.

There has been a lot of apologizing in my fiction writing course lately, and I say people, STOP apologizing for your work.

My partner and I always joke that it's too late to apologize.

Seriously, though. You are where you are, and that's just part of the process.

Ira Glass said it so well here.

As my acting teacher used to say:

You aren't the best; you aren't the worst.

So, let's put our egos aside and focus on the work.

Instead of saying, "I'm sorry," say:

"I'm awesome" 


Because at least you're trying, and that's more than many others can say.

Boo ya.

16 October 2015

just say no


I'm more focused on saying no to too many commitments, but I thought this image was funny
(and saying yes to tacos is always a good thing, right?). 
It's easy to want to say yes to everything, but I am feeling more and more that time is too sacred and scarce to share indiscriminately. It's not like I'm going to die tomorrow (well, I hope not), but I want to do so many things, and especially with two little children, the time to get things done is minimal.

We've learned that sleep deprivation makes you stupid and zaps your creativity, so my earlier tactic of simply not sleeping to get everything done isn't the way to go. And if we only have so many waking hours, what can we do?

We have to cull. The word, cull, comes from killing off weaker animals to strengthen the herd, which seems appropriate. You have to be ruthless if you really want to make progress. What is absolutely crucial? What are the things that truly makes our souls soar into the sky? We are what we spend time doing.

For me, I'm on a mission, and I'm starting to cut everything out. If it isn't time with my family or writing, it's pretty much getting cut out of my life. I want to finish these writing projects, and I want to spend time with my family. Everything else feels like a distraction right now. I know I'm being a bit intense, but you have to be, or else life will pass you by—and "eventually" will never come. At the writer's conference, one of the instructors said he scheduled his writing time and treated it like a real appointment, never to be missed.

So, if you want to develop a craft or fulfill a dream, you, too, will have to protect the time doing what is most precious to you, and say no to everything else (even if it's fun).

14 October 2015


You know that intoxicating, exhilarating feeling you get when you're falling in love with someone or something new? Where you feel like you've been crumpled up into a tight little ball all of your life and can finally spread your wings and be you and free and open and larger than life and part of the universe at large?

I found it.

For now.

I've fallen in love before, felt this high before, and then life gets in the way, and I lose it again. Well, I'm a little older and a little wiser now, and I'm hoping I'll get to enjoy this flight a little longer this time.

And where is this magical feeling? Funny enough, it has been inspired by my first MOOC (massive open online course) that I'm taking with the University of Iowa. Yes, they're considered the bastion of creative writing in the country, etc., etc., etc. And the fiction course has already been both illuminating and fun. But the real spark for me is the combination of actively writing while also being part of a writing community.

It's like being a frog in a duck pond for years and then discovering other frogs. I've finally found my tribe, and we are a wonderfully quirky bunch. We make jokes about Oxford commas, exalt in a beautiful phrase, and delight in making sentences richer or tighter or more compelling. We bang our heads, drawing the famous trio of body fluids (blood, sweat, and tears) as we struggle to translate the inklings in our heads that feel so magnificent into concrete words that will hopefully also make sense to other people. And maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to write something that someone else will recognize as the truth.

I've connected with one writer so far who I'm already calling my MOOC BFF, and she alone has made my experience as a student once again so much more entertaining and more inspiring than I expected or thought possible. Having someone along for the ride, even if I've never seen her face or heard her voice or know what race she is or anything else, has given the solitary writing career a warmth that I didn't realize was possible. We are connecting as writers first and foremost, and that is an amazing validating experience, too. Thanks, Heather. I've only "known" you online and only for a few weeks so far, but you've already made a positive impact in my life.

So, I tried one career after another, "dating" usually for about four years, and now, I think I've found the One. I'm hoping to finally settle down and commit to being a writer. 100%. No more excuses or distractions.

And from this dream cloud I'm floating in, filled with love and light and enthusiasm, I wish this feeling for everyone. I'm working on a screenplay and hoping to finish it this month. Then, I've signed up for NaNoWriMo and hope to write the novel version of the story in November. And then I have another previous story that I hope to craft into both a novel and screenplay. So, I've made my public commitment and now have to live up to it.

What makes you come alive? What would you do if time and money were no object? What can you do right now/today/this week to inch closer to your dream life? Let's make it happen!

I'm fired up! The sky can't hold me! Want to join me? Let's go!