“A writer is a world trapped in a person” – Victor Hugo
Unless you are a writer, I don’t think people truly understand this. It’s hard to explain to people that there are worlds, characters, ideas and concepts that never leave you. That are never more than a heartbeat away. It’s even harder to explain how those worlds and characters interact with you before you ever get them down on paper.
I used to tell people I would write when the voices got too loud and I could not ignore them anymore. It may sound weird to some but yes, I am actually having conversations in my mind with different characters. Things happen around me and it sparks off an internal landscape that grows and shapes itself until I can’t ignore it anymore and it has to go somewhere.
I dream about stories. I dream about characters. I get frustrated when what is in my head doesn’t come out on paper the way I experience it in my mind. I write and think it’s awful. I get anxious about other people reading my work because it’s such an integral part of me that their feedback has the power to destroy me or lift me up.
I struggle with ending’s because, for me, their stories don’t end. Where do you call a life finished? Complete? As I write romance is that the moment when they recognize in each other a great love? No. For me that is the beginning.
Ernest Hemingway Quotes. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” I understand that. I feel it. I experience it. The thing is, it’s like a kind of madness I cannot escape even if I wished to. This is the burning flame within my soul and a good day is when I fan the flames and let them burn higher.
I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it. Isn’t that how the song goes? Let’s talk about excitement.
Life would be so much better if I did _____! Current life choices + _______ = me < (greater than) I was before. So yesterday I wrote about 5 things to do less of and today I am writing about 5 things to do more of.
I’ve been systematically working on improving my life for a year. Not that my life sucked mind you, more that I was aware of the need for improvement and change. So although I haven’t progressed to where I want to be. I am making progress. These are the things that I have been focusing on:
- Gratitude- practicing gratitude can really make a difference in your life. Every day before I go to bed I write in my journal one thing I am grateful for that happened that day. It gives me time to think of all the good that has happened. I’ve also noticed that the more grateful I am the more I find to be grateful for.
- Friendships- okay this might sound silly but focusing on my friendships has really improved my life. I have lots of friends but I wasn’t paying as close of attention to the relationships as I should have. I started calling people more, visiting, going to lunch, grabbing a cocktail or dinner. I started reconnecting with old friends too. I found I had been taking my friends for granted and once I started paying attention to the state of my friendships I found myself in a happier place.
- Recognizing happiness- so I read a book not long ago called The Happiness Project and it really made me take stock in what makes me happy. There were lots of things that made me unhappy and I addressed them but I also discovered the things that made me happy and I gave myself permission to do more of those things even if it makes no sense to anyone else. Now I’m aware of when something makes me happy and I try to incorporate more of it into my life.
- Giving of one’s self- so for some people it is a requirement to volunteer and give back on some way to their community. I’ve never been a serious volunteer. That doesn’t mean I haven’t given hours and hours to projects, places and people in the form of service…it just means I don’t go out of my way looking for ways to volunteer. However, I believe that giving of one’s self can be done through time and talent. I can donate my time or my talents and skills to help others. I’m trying to do more of this on a broader spectrum.
- Writing- okay, for me, my creative outlet is writing but for others it can cooking, art, music etcetera. By writing a little each day I fee better overall. Everyone needs a creative outlet. Spend time letting those creative juices flow. When you open up to creativity you also open yourself up to new experiences. It works. Really.
Changing your life for the better can be as simple as making one small change. You don’t have to radically shift your whole life. Figure out where your life can improve and then find one thing to do that will head you in that direction.
I’m finding that there are themes in my life and by blogging I am discovering just how tightly these themes are woven through me. For example: today’s topic is something I will always do. The first thing that popped into my head was writing.
It has been my go to since I was in high school. The way that I relax, express myself, get creative. It is such an expression of who I am that I don’t even notice how it effects everything. A pen and paper, a computer or tablet are never far away from me and I can often be found jotting something down.
More than that though, I often turn to other people’s writing for inspiration and direction. I am a quote whore. I can pretty much find a quote that applies to anything. I love them. I surround myself with them. I send them to friends when they need a lift. So I guess you could say that I will always have writing and the written word in my life. Its as much a vital part of my existence as breathing.
What is that one thing that is so interwoven in your life that you simply can’t imagine your life any other way?
Books…they are a passion. Actually, they are more than that. They are an obsession. I love books. I realize we are in the digital age and books are so easy to “take along” with you in the form of smartphones, tablets, iPhones, iPads, mp3 players and multiple kinds of eReaders. I will admit that I absolutely love reading books on my phone and my tablet. It’s extremely convenient.
That being said, I would call myself a traditionalist because nothing replaces the feel of a book in my hands, the smell of a new book when it is opened or the highlighting and notes in the margins of books that I have found inspirational. I can look at a well-loved book and the worn cover, creased spine, sometimes tattered pages and feel overwhelming gratitude for the author that has given me so many hours of pleasure.
Books and reading are an essential part of who I am. If I couldn’t constantly be in the middle of some story or another I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. I find there are so many thoughts in books that make me think, that challenge my own ideas, that engage my sense of humor or tap into so many of my emotions it feels like I am on a roller coaster but that is what I love about books and reading. I’ve learned so much about myself from books.
I guess that is one of the reasons that it was hard to claim I was a writer. I truly look up to writers. I admire and respect them so much. I value their courage to put their thoughts and opinions out into the world. I guess my dream is that someday, something I write will impact and change another persons life in a positive way and that person will be grateful that I had the courage to sit down and put my thoughts and opinions out in the world too. So, I suppose it all begins here, where digital pen meets digital paper and in the meantime, I read books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.
Today I attended the first half of a two-day training on Non-Violent Communication. So, you may be wondering what exactly Non-Violent communication is. I knew very little about it myself when we started. Well, simply defined it is the ability to create a quality of connection with yourself and others through compassionate listening and speaking so as to understand everyone’s needs and so that everyone’s needs are equally valued. That’s a big mouthful to say, that it is communicating in a way that shows I care as much about your needs as I do about my own. (or at least that is my layman definition) Anyway, I really learned a lot today. There were several quotes and key points I took away from the training. I have pages of notes and a few “ah-ha” moments that I get to ponder for two weeks until the next training day. There are so many things that I could share with you but I think the thought that has settled into my mind for deep consideration is this: “We all come into this world with two basic needs. Unconditional love and unconditional acceptance.” – Cat Zavis
Isn’t it amazing that everything can boil down to those two things? Everything we say, do, think, feel, experience and create is an attempt to bring us one or the other of these things. Even the negative expression of these actions is an attempt to bring us these two things. It is unconditional love and acceptance that we yearn for in the deepest part of our soul and we will do anything to get it. This isn’t a conscious thought behind our behaviors. It’s just a subconscious motivator, a filter if you will, that we live our life by. If you can look at everyone you come in contact with through the eyes if understanding that they are looking for unconditional love and acceptance even if their behavior doesn’t appear to show that, it completely changes how you see people. It changes how you will interact in the world.
Since the new adventure of writing has been my topic of late I did a little bit of internal investigation on how this thought tied into my recent decision to work on my writing and blogging. Once I applied the light of our two basic needs to the fear of me writing for the public it became crystal clear. I desperately want unconditional love and acceptance and I am afraid that the “Trina” the world will see through my writing won’t receive those two things. It is the core of the fear that has been holding me back. One of the tools you learn in Non-Violent communication is empathy – to self and to others. Now that I recognize the core of the fear I can give myself empathy and slowly erase the fear. It’s a step of faith, just like walking into the writer’s group the other day. Only this time the step of faith is into myself. It is a step of faith that I can love myself and accept myself in the role of writer. So I ask you….where in your life are you challenged to love yourself unconditionally and with unconditional acceptance? Are you brave enough to have empathy for yourself and see where it takes you?
If you are then this quote is for you: “Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing there is a field. I will meet you there.” – Rumi, the Sufi Poet
Last night at the writing group someone mentioned that a speaker at a big writing convention in Seattle said that writers should aim to release 4 books a year. 4 books a year? Are you freaking kidding me? I can’t get one done in a year! okay, admittedly I don’t work on my writing enough but holy crap, really? 4 frigging books a year? I don’t mind saying I wasn’t the only one to react in a “non-positive” way at that announcement. I did feel a bit better about myself to see all these other writers, some published, reacting in a similar way. However, I’ve been thinking about it all day and was reminded of an email I received from Brian Johnson, the creator of en*theos and the Philosopher’s Notes which I had kept. I went back and found the email. It was titled “Practice, Practice, Practice”. Now if that isn’t a portent of the direction my life is taking I don’t know what is. Anyway, in his email he quoted a couple of things from Eric Butterworth:
“Ask the great athlete or the concert pianist or the successful actor if they arrived at the place where they need no further practice. They will tell you that the higher you climb in proficiency and public acceptance, the greater the need for practice.” ~ Eric Butterworth from Spiritual Economics
How about this:
“The great piano virtuoso Paderewski was once playing before an audience of the rich and the royal. After a brilliant performance, an elegant lady waxed ecstatic over the great artist. She said, “Ah Maestro, you are a genius!” Paderewski tartly replied, “Ah yes, madam, but before I was a genius I was a clod!” What he was saying was that his present acclaim was not handed to him on a silver platter. He, too, was once a little boy laboriously practicing his scales. And even at his peak, behind every brilliant performance there were countless hours of practice and preparation.” ~ Eric Butterworth from Spiritual Economics
The point he was making was that no one becomes a master until they put in the time to become a master. Everyone starts somewhere and it is the dedication you put into the craft that makes you great. In a later email Brian says something about the actual amount of hours that it takes to become a master. It was something like 10,000 hours. When my husband and I did the math we figured out that it equals 8.5 hours a day in dedicated practice to become a Master. Now I don’t know about you but the thought of giving myself 1 hour a day to write seems like a stretch and a HUGE commitment. I guess that is where I am though and that means that is where I have to start. So for me…..I am going to start with blogging more frequently, attending the monthly writer’s group and setting aside at least 1 hour of my day to journal and work on my writing. Mastery of the craft is the goal but its going to take baby steps to get there.
So today I took a deep breath and did something I have talked about, thought about, dreamt about, but never had the nerve to do. I joined a writer’s group in my home town called the Upstart Crows. So what’s the big deal you ask? Well, since I was 15 years old writing has been a secret passion. It has been an escape and an outlet for my creativity. I used to write stories for my friends when I was in high school, often featuring their current love interests and all the typical drama that makes up the life of a teenager. It was something fun for me and my friends loved it. When my boyfriend went into the Navy I would send him a chapter a week in the mail of a love story featuring us and as he made friends on the ship I added them into the story and created love interests that were their “dream girls”. The guys would pass the chapters around the ship.
I even wrote a short story in my high school English class and I have had other people suggest that I should try to get that story published. And there lies the crux of the matter. Something that has always been so much fun for me becomes a thing of great fear when I think about writing for the general public. Crazy I know but I actually think I am afraid of being successful. I mean, what happens if I actually can write and people like what I have to say and then, God forbid, I have to write on a schedule or finish a story to completion?
Of course there is that voice in the back of my head that says, “You aren’t a writer. No one would want to read what you write. People will think it is awful and criticize you.” and of course then there is the voice that says, “People are going to know that you wrote those words, they came from your mind.” It’s almost as if I am afraid that people will be able to see me through my writing. To understand me, to really know me and it scares the crap out of me.
I have the saying, “You have to want it more than you are afraid of it” as my phone background so that I see it multiple times a day. Tonight, I finally took a step of faith and went the first meeting of the year for the Upstart Crows writing group. I didn’t know a single person there and I went by myself. I sat in a room with 20 other people and announced myself as a writer, declared I write romances and made the commitment to myself to take this step of faith and see where it will take me. Yes, it’s scary as hell but at least I am doing something now instead of just dreaming about someday.