This Writers Life: About Strength and Loss.

grieving-takes-timeSo I have been thinking all week about what I would write about today. I debated on talking about the first week back at school for my kids, the books I have been reading, or even posing a few questions. But none of those really struck a chord with me that made me want to write about just yet.

Finally, I decided, just this morning, that I wanted to write about strength and loss.

On Saturday evening, I lost my Grandfather. It hurts. After I got the phone call I began making my own calls. Making sure I had someone to stay with the kids, a place to stay when I reached Maryland (thank you to my bestie who would have slapped me through the phone for thinking I even had to ask if she could have), and making sure I and my spouse had the time off work to get there and be there.

But then, I get another call. There won’t be a service.

Now, this came as a shock to me. Why? Why wouldn’t there be a service? It made no sense, and made me think it was a lie. I still think this. But I’m not going to voice why.

So I started making calls again, thanking all those who had stepped up in my time of need, willing to help ensure I could get there, but that I wouldn’t be heading out of state. Of course, they were all shocked as well.

I don’t pretend to know what people think, what makes them who they are. I am not a psychiatrist. I didn’t want to sound selfish, and therefore, did not voice my objections and feelings of hurt at learning there would be no service, I just said ok.

But why?

Because, I’m not the only one who lost someone. My mother lost her father, my aunt and uncle lost their father as well. My cousins and I lost our grandfather, and my children lost their great grandpap. Everyone is hurting.

Loss is such an insurmountable feeling. I can understand what my mother is going through having lost my own father a few years ago. But I know there is still nothing I can say or do that will help her grieve. The only thing I have to offer is strength and understanding. To her, to my kids, to the rest of my family.

While my heart hurts, and I will miss him, my family needs me here. And for you I say, feel the loss. It’s supposed to hurt. While you may feel that someone has more of a right to be hurt than you do, that is simply not true. You are entitled to your feelings, they are valid.

I do not care if it’s worse somewhere else, you can’t push your pain away for that reason. “I know it could be worse,” “Someone else has it worse than I do,” stop it. So what. Someone somewhere will always have it worse than you do, but that doesn’t make your feelings any less real.

Grieve.

Which is what I have been doing this week. I am strong for my family, but I still allow myself to feel the loss. I am not pushing it away. Strength can come in so many different guises. You don’t have to pretend that everything is ok to appear strong. Sometimes, the strongest thing you can do is feel the pain.

Be strong for those around you while they need you, but never forget, you lost someone too and are allowed to feel it.

R.I.P Grandpap, I love you, and will miss you.

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This Writers Life: About Bravery

BraveSo today, I want to talk about bravery. As writers, as people, as humans we sometimes shy away from doing something we want to because of fear. We fear how we think we may do, we fear what others may think of us, we fear failure.

This week, I witnessed bravery in the face of something that would have terrified me. And I witnessed this from a teenager.

Now, I have said before, that I believe teenage girls to be the cruelest animal on the planet, and I stick by that. But, setting that aside, I witnessed my daughter look that fear in the eye and… shrug.

This week my daughter tried out for the High School Volleyball Team. Why did this simple act put me in awe of her? Because she has never played volleyball in her life. Aside from the few times in gym class, which of course does not go over the rules or positions. So she really had no experience in this sport.

Given that, she had really enjoyed playing in her gym class, and was set on trying out. My stomach was in knots for her, but of course I supported and encouraged her. She wanted to do this thing, where the odds were greatly stacked against her. Trying out with a bunch of girls who had far more experience, far more skill, and she still went for it.

I took her on the first day of tryouts, and I watched her shoulders square, her chin lift, and walk into that gym with her head held high. In that moment I stood in awe. So proud that she was trying, so proud that no matter how nervous she was, she didn’t show it, so proud that she didn’t let the fear stop her.

Now tryouts are over, and this isn’t a story, this isn’t fiction, and my heart broke for her when she told me she was cut and didn’t make it. However, she still said, after telling me she didn’t make it, she wants to practice, and she wants to go to the summer volleyball camp over the next summer so that when she tries out again next year, she will make it.

She faced the fear, the insurmountable odds stacked against her, and faced it with bravery. And though she didn’t accomplish her goal at this time, she isn’t lettting it stop her. In fact, she is more determined than she was before tryouts. To improve, to make it next year.

Sometimes in life, we allow these things, these fears of failure and doubt, to tell us we’re not good enough and we don’t try. We aren’t brave. I was reminded this week why we shouldn’t let that stop us. And I was reminded by my teenage daughter.

And though she didn’t make it, and though my heart still hurts for her, I couldn’t be more proud of her. For the way she handled herself, for the way she faced something that most adults would have shied away from, for the way she didn’t let this one obstacle stop her in her tracks. That she became more determined. And proud, that she taught me something.

So, to my daughter, one of the bravest people I know.

Wednesday Writing Tips: 5 tips to overcome self-doubt

Wednesday Writing Tips overcoming self doubtThere is no doubt, that no matter where you are on your writing journey, you have faced self-doubt. That you probably still feel it. Whether each time you sit down you feel it like a shadow creeping in on you, or after you find yourself published you wonder if it was a fluke.

Every writer has self-doubt. Because writers, as a group, want what we write to be amazing, to be perfect. It’s why sometimes we find ourselves in a circle of revisions, always feeling it could be better.

Writers demand a lot of their writing, because readers demand a lot from what they choose to read. This can cause a crippling effect for the writer. Always thinking of how their writing will be received, the comments they will get, the feedback, and most of the time our minds always wander to the worst case scenario.

If you feel this way, know that you are not alone. This is a completely normal feeling that most, if not all, writers have. I know I do. So here are 5 tips to help you overcome self-doubt about your writing.

  1. Write. 

No, seriously. If self-doubt creeps in, write. Write through it. Don’t think about what you’re writing, just write. Write a novel, a short story, a poem. Just write. When you work through your doubt, when you keep forging ahead, by the time you finish you will feel so overwhelmingly relieved that you finished, that self-doubt you had about writing will wash away.

  1. Ignore the negative people.

I know, I know that it’s hard. It hurts when we get particularly hard criticism. As writers we know we need to have a thick skin, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t feel. In fact, I have found through other writers, that we feel a little too much some times. These can cause self-doubt to creep in again.

When this happens, remind yourself, you’re writing for you. This is your story. You’re not writing to make friends; you’re writing because this is unequivocally what you want to do.

Take every review, every comment, every critique with a grain of salt. You can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time. Some people, no matter if you are the second coming of Hemingway is going to hate what you wrote. Some people are just going to hate it. And that’s ok. If you can please yourself, if you can tell the story you want to tell, and you are happy with what’s on the page, that is what matters.

Keep this in mind, it does not matter how many and who hated what you wrote, what matters are those that loved it.

  1. Talk to other writers.

Yes, this can be a huge help. When you are facing self-doubt, instead of wallowing in it, talk to other writers. Every writer, everywhere, has dealt with it at one point or another. When you can talk with others that have been exactly where you are, they could offer insight, guidance, and advice on how to move past it.

Knowing that you are not alone, that this is a normal feeling, a rite of passage if you will, can help you greatly when that monster of self-doubt is lurking in the shadows.

  1. Get inspired.

Yes, when writing there is no muse sitting there whispering in your ear making everything you write gold. If you are waiting for inspiration to hit you before you start, you may be waiting a very long time. But you can inspire yourself.

Go outside, people watch, imagine what their lives are like.

Read, read widely. Every genre. Get inspired by other writers. Their words, their stories. By no means am I saying to use their stories for yours, but use them as inspiration. To fuel your imagination.

Daydream. Daydream about what it would be like to win the lottery, if a dragon came crashing down on your house right now, if the zombie apocalypse were to happen right this second.

Your imagination is a muscle like anything else. You need to work that muscle to keep it flowing. Use it, and let the inspiration flow through you, to fuel your writing.

  1. Accept the fact that sometimes, sometimes you will just fail.

Failure is a part of life. It’s our failures and how we handle them that we grow. It helps to mold you, it teaches you, and you learn from them. It’s also our failures where the self-doubt stems from.

I have found that I have learned more from my failures, than from my successes. While yes, of course I love the successes more than the failures, but the failures I am grateful for. It’s the failures that stay with me. It’s the failures that I will analyze. The failures that I will pour over to learn from. To find out what I did wrong and to determine what I could have done differently, so I don’t make that same mistake.

So don’t let any past failures hold you back. If you started 50 novels, but never finished, analyze why. Learn from it, and try again. If you finished that novel, but always failed to edit it, find out why. Learn from it, and grow. If you finished a story, and you just hate it, and so do your critique partners and beta readers, figure out why. Where you not in love with it when you were writing, did you not do enough research, are your characters flat and 1 dimensional? Find out, and fix it.

Failures are just another step on the journey. You have so much more to gain from your failures than from your successes. Take a step back, realize what you messed up on, and fix it.

So there you have it, 5 tips to overcoming self-doubt in your writing. Now obviously, there are so many more things that you can do. Do you have any to add to this list? I would love to hear them!

Monday Motivation and Humor

This is starting to become one of my favorite days. Sharing the funny or motivational images on reading or writing I found throughout the week before. Really, I look forward to it.

I hope you all find it amusing as well.

Sometimes, if I’m stuck writing, or on my lunch break, I look up funny memes for reading and writing, as well as motivational ones. I started doing this just to release stress and laugh, because let’s face it, that’s essential.

But now I get to share what I laugh at with you all, and that makes it even better.

So here are the ones I found last week.

This Writers Life: Grateful for the little things.

what-are-you-grateful-forSo, last weekend I purchased a new laptop, and I love it. In fact, I am writing this blog post on said laptop from the comfort of my bed. Not that this will be a common occurrence, but that it’s a possibility, I’m grateful.

You see, I work from home. For my day job. The thing that pays the bills and keeps a roof over my head. I have my own in home office and have it all set up for that job. I wake up, go into that office, and work until late into the evening.

That job is not exactly great for creativity. When I am working in there I have found that it is hard for me to switch my brain over from day job, to creative it’s time to write mode. This was becoming a problem. To the point that I didn’t even want to write in there anymore. While in that office, all I thought about was day job work, stress, day job emails, etc. Not the best place to focus on my writing.

So buying this laptop, while a little thing, opens up so many possibilities for me. It will allow me to physically leave the office, and still work on my writing. It will allow me to have one central location for my research, drafts, images, etc. Without it being bunched in with work stuff. It will also allow for an automatic brain shift. You see, this laptop will only be used for writing, either for the blog or my current work in progress. So when I open it up and turn it on, my focus is solely on writing and nothing else.

This excites me. I have felt so hampered and distracted in the office as I always found myself drifting back to work stuff, even after I was done for the day. On Sunday I turned on the laptop and set everything up. Switched everything that related to writing from the office computer to this laptop. I immediately felt freer. I am now free to work on nothing but work stuff while in the office, without thinking about writing, and free to work on nothing but writing and writing related things without thinking about work stuff.

It’s a little thing, but it’s those little things I am grateful for. Just this small, seemingly inconsequential thing, has opened up so much for me. It’s amazing what a small item can do to shift the way you think about things and how you work.

So how about you? What are you grateful for today?

Monday Motivation & Humor

Good Monday Morning!

I will admit, I was a little slow moving this morning. Not really wanting to get out of bed. It didn’t feel like I had a weekend we had so much to do. All I wanted to do was stay in my bed and pretend it was Sunday.

Unfortunately, when you are a grown up and have bills to pay, that’s not really possible. So I dragged myself out of bed, got dressed, and headed to my office.

So here I sit. But, while browsing over the images I was going to share, I found my mood lightening, my body waking up, and just feeling better.

Which, is why I thought humor and motivations on Monday’s would be a great way to start the week. So here we go, a few funny and motivational images for the writers and readers.

 

This Writers Life: Hooray for time.

It’s Friday morning and I am sitting at my desk, coffee in hand, half sad and a little happy.

You see, all through June and into this month we have had my step-kids here. It’s been a busy, noisy, full house. While I love having them here, and I know my husband enjoys having them around, at the end of this weekend they go back to their mothers.

I’m sad because I will miss them. My husband will miss them. My kids will miss them. But, a little happy too because it will be a little less chaotic, and a lot less loud. I will be able to get more writing done, which is good.

But for now, it’s Friday, and we have the weekend left with them. One last weekend to spend together as a family. We have time.

So what’s on the agenda?

Friday: Get some (hopefully) writing done today and then dinner out. Our usual ritual with them. Which tonight, it will be Dave & Busters. Which is a grown up Chuckie Cheese for those who don’t know. We all love it.

Saturday: All about the pool. We have a cook out planned with the rest of our family so that they can see my step-kids before they go back to their mothers. Sadly, no writing planned.

Sunday: Reading, Relaxing, and trying not to focus on how the the clock is counting down to their eventual departure.

*sigh*

At least our grocery bill will look better. Silver lining.