Creative Push

It’s amazing to me what a little push of inspiration can do.

The other day I used a B&N gift card to buy “624 Things to Write About” and the prompts are great so far!

Of course it’s wonderful to sit down with a blank screen/page and have creativity just pour out of you without need for prompts, but sometimes we need a little bit of a nudge in the right direction. It puts me back into that college workshop mentality. Sitting down with a group, getting the same bit of inspiration as everyone else, and going with it. That was always interesting–to see where people’s minds went. Creativity is great like that–very specific to each person who is cultivating it.

I am a busy girl currently with a lot on my mind (two volunteer mentoring gigs, full time job and part-time job, trying to get a book published, other personal situations) so being able to sit down for a brief amount of time but still have a decent amount of creative productivity is amazing! And much needed. :)

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A Quiet Moment

When is the last time you just… sat quietly?

I suppose I should preface by saying I do have this luxury, as a childless young woman who lives alone (save for my sweet, sweet Lillie cat).

That being said, I don’t do it as often as I would like. The other night I went out onto my patio, turned on my decorative, soft patio lights, lit a cherry cigarillo (shhh, I know, I know. It’s just an occasional treat!), turned on some hip-hop, poured a glass of wine and sat with my thoughts.

It was glorious. Almost meditative.

Then I did some writing, some reading, and journaling. God it was awesome. I definitely think I should make it more of a habit.

The only thing really stopping me from doing it every night I’m home by myself (sans boyfriend) is this Arizona heat. :) It’s still 90 degrees at 8 p.m. which is a slight deterrent. And actually I don’t know why I just said when I’m home without my boyfriend visiting, because we’ve done it together before and that’s almost better. To know you can just sit in the silence with one another, each in your own little world, relaxing and still somehow enjoying each others company… it’s a lovely feeling.

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Let’s Try This Again

I took a few deep breaths, and I think I can rewrite this post now. HaHa! Seriously though, don’t you HATE that?! You write out this entire thing and you’re all jazzed about it, and then you forget to save. THE WORST EVER. Ugh. Moving along.

Books. I got my library card on Friday (hadn’t done it since technically moving to a different city) and then Saturday took a trip to Changing Hands (Twitter: @changinghands), a lovely, local cornucopia of books, so I just have books on the brain.

When I walk into a library or bookstore there is a very distinct physical feeling I get. It’s as if my heart reaches out, hungrier than ever for words and stories and other worlds and lives to explore. I genuinely feel it, this yearning. I don’t know where it comes from. Basically from the moment I learned to read, I’ve been devouring books as often as possible.

I don’t want to compare it to a spiritual experience, but it really almost feels that way. In the sense that when I pick up a book, feel its pages, and read its words… it feeds my soul, I guess. It gives me a sense of joy and peacefulness unlike almost anything else.

I’m sure I had more written on the subject, but that’s the gist of it. :) Book nerd status.

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Good. Lord.

I had this whole post written up yesterday… and apparently never saved it. I forget that WordPress doesn’t save automatically like Gmail. Ugh! 

I need a minute. -__-

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This post isn’t particularly writing-related, but oh well. Sometimes we veer off the path, right? :)

On Thursday I have orientation for a volunteer program, and I’m so excited about it! It’s a great program working with middle and high school students to kind of guide them toward college. The kids sign up voluntarily and must be first generation college hopefuls. How great does that sound?! I will essentially be a mentor to one of the students.

My current volunteer mentor program is still going on (and is wonderful!) but technically it ends in a couple of months. I will obviously still keep in touch with that “mentee” though! She’s a wonderful girl, and I always want to be some part of her life.

That’s what I love about mentoring. Connecting with someone and making a positive impact in their life. I think that’s one of the most important things in life; to spread inspiration, positivity, and love to as many people as you can!

Also (okay I guess sort of writing related now!) I love having these experiences with different programs because it’s a goal/dream of mine to start my own. Maybe not an entire organization… but some sort of writing program for kids. To cultivate creativity within them and I guess, inspire them. To let them know that they don’t have to be some epic romantic poetry writer to benefit from writing. It’s therapeutic!

That’s all for now, kids!

Pitch Wars – Second Attempt!

I will be having another go at Pitch Wars this year… yikes!

If you aren’t sure what that is and you are interested… go see one Miss Brenda Drake for more details! She’s the woman in charge of it all. :)

Basically, I will pitch my book to various mentors in the hopes of one of them choosing me. If so, they will help me get my manuscript in top condition, and then in a few months I will pitch it to the agents who are partaking in hopes of actually getting an agent. Woo hoo!

Last time I had good feedback, but it seemed that I miscategorized my novel. Magical realism and urban fantasy can have many similar characteristics and I couldn’t decide! Wikipedia’s description of magical realism is: “a genre where magic elements are a natural part in an otherwise mundane, realistic environment.” Urban fantasy is described as: “a sub-genre of fantasy defined by place; the fantastic narrative has an urban setting.” My novel is set in the modern day world, in a standard, realistic American city, and has some mythological elements in the form of special powers that the main character has. Do you see my confusion?!

I ended up choosing magical realism, and two mentors told me that they had to pass because they weren’t interested in urban fantasy, and that’s what my novel seemed like to them. #fail

HaHa! Nah, not a fail… just a learning experience!

I’ve obviously worked on my query further, so hopefully it will be even better! And hopefully my urban fantasy choice will be largely agreed upon. :)

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Writing Groups-yay or nay?

I have a love-hate relationship with writing workshops. Obviously I see their value; unbiased eyes are always appreciated.

My issue is that I’ve found that there are a lot of people who join these groups and leave their opinion in the equation too much when critiquing someone’s work. Now, our opinions will always be present and have some say in how we view a writer’s work–I get that. But it’s when people aggressively critique someone’s work simply because they “don’t like it.” They don’t like science fiction, they don’t like female protagonists, they don’t like romance, they don’t like that word, etc. To me, that is irrelevant. Perhaps mention it if it’s clouding your ability to critique (eg: “I do think you have great sentence structure and character development, it’s just hard for me to get really into the content because I don’t connect with romance all that much.”), but there are quite a few people who can be blatantly rude and who tend to focus only on what they don’t like, rather than what is working or not working in someone’s piece. I just don’t find that kind of input helpful in any way, shape, or form.

I do, however, find the sense of community helpful. Being surrounded by other writers not only helps me be more accountable, it inspires me to write more. Even if we aren’t critiquing, simply writing in the presence of other writers is beneficial for me.

Recently I found a writing group that I’m excited to attend. They don’t typically critique. They just get together at a cafe, restaurant, bar, etc. and write! It seems that sometimes small groups will get to know one another and want each other’s input so they will create their own little satellite critique group, and I’d be interested in that for sure. I just love the idea of sitting down with other writers to write and motivate each other. Hopefully this group meets (or exceeds!) my expectations!

Adjusting My Mentality

I may have talked about this topic before, but it’s currently on my mind so here I go. 

For the large majority of my life I was always anticipating the next step. My mind was constantly already on the next big thing. Impatiently waiting for a new chapter to start. That whole “13 going on 30″ thing was especially true for me. I couldn’t WAIT to be an adult. I couldn’t wait to get to high school, then college, then get married, then have babies! 

I’m quickly approaching 28 and most of the things I thought would have already happened haven’t yet. As the years went by I realized that the preconceived timeline I had in my mind wasn’t really important after all. Not to me, anyway. I don’t have any children yet… and while I did get married I also got divorced! And I don’t care! That’s not to say that I think divorce is frivolous and something to be taken lightly; I certainly don’t. But I’m definitely not beating myself up over the fact that my life took a different turn. 

Something that I did start beating myself up about, however, was that I’d been working on a book for 2 years and hadn’t finished it. It’s like my mind was always so preoccupied with the future that I wasn’t taking the necessary steps in the PRESENT to get to the future… if that makes any sense. It does no good to anticipate being an author if you aren’t finishing an actual book. Duh. :) I needed to adjust my thought process to focus on what was going on currently in my life rather than anticipating what I wanted to happen in the upcoming months and years. I mean, this seems fairly self-explanatory, I’m sure. But it really did take some effort to switch this up in my mind. I needed a jump start. 

Living pretty much entirely in the present is not only helpful for my work (I’ve been more productive in the last year than in the last THREE years), but it’s helpful for my personal life and my general state of mind. I didn’t want to look back and feel like I missed out on life because I was too focused on what was coming up in life. 

So here I am. Doing my best to live in the moment–in the present. I finished my novel and am working on the sequel. I started my freelance editing side gig. I started volunteering as a mentor to a foster child. I’m working up plans for a potential after school writing program (we’ll see what happens!), and I’m just doing what I can to enjoy life right now. 

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Agent Kindness

The outline for the sequel to my book is in the works… !

I don’t typically find outlines very useful. But I need to organize the storyline in my mind before I start working on it very seriously.

Part of me feels kind of silly working on the sequel when I haven’t even gotten an agent for the first one, but I want to be proactive. Rejection letters won’t stop me, dang it! HaHa.

I received a really nice rejection letter the other day, actually. As strange as that may sound. The agent listed a bunch of successful authors who were found in the slush pile after receiving multiple rejections, and urged me to continue. :) I thought it was a nice little touch–a thoughtful touch that they didn’t need to bother with, yet they did.

Kindness is so easily forgotten by so many people. I appreciate people’s small acts of kindness quite a bit. :)

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Magical Optimism Unicorn

I am a positive person, as you know if you’ve been reading my posts for any significant amount of time. That being said, I have my moments. Sometimes people who know me seem to get the impression that I never experience negative emotions/thoughts.

Rejection is difficult no matter what. And I think we all have this pre-determined timeline for success and as the days pass by it’s not uncommon to have moments of panic. “Am I ever going to reach my goals?!” “What if I die without ever having acheived this?!” Or is it just me? I’m just being honest. My perpetual optimism is not some magical unicorn/mermaid. I am not some freak of nature who never feels defeat or worry over the possibility of not succeeding.

It is a conscious, constant choice. I see rejection, accept it, and push it into my “motivation” file in my mind and my heart. I choose to deal with it in a positive way rather than let that moment of negativity/defeat overtake me. What good would it do? None. It would not benefit me in any way, and I am all about making choices that will better my life and my mood. This is why getting older doesn’t bother me much… or thinking about dying. What good is it going to do me to fret about these things? I’m still going to age. Some day, I’m still going to die. It’s life! I have better things to use my energy toward.

The same goes for receiving criticism or rejection. Fretting about it will do nothing. Seeing it as an opportunity for improvement, or simply as someone having different taste, is the only way to go! Rejection, like death and the loss of youth, is a fact of life and there is no getting around it. :)

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