Top Ten: Some things no one tells you about writing

Chazz is a great source of inspiration to struggling authors everywhere. This blog is an example of why you need to follow him. I think there are more than ten things no one tells you about writing, but these are key to start with.

C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

1. Nobody cares about your book at first, even if you think they should. Even if you think they care about you, they’re indifferent. It’s maddening. For you, each book is a magical dream made real. For them, “Nice hobby, but so what?” 

2. Since typing looks a lot like writing to the casual observer, you don’t get extra respect for being a writer from a lot of people. Anybody can type, so don’t think you’re special. “Who do you think you are, anyway? You think you’re better than me?” Oh, they won’t really say that. That’s silly. But some may as well say that by the way they’ll treat you.

3. A lot of people can read, but don’t. They care even less than the casual observers in Items #1 and #2. I don’t understand these people. Why live? It’s a mystery.

4. Some people do read, but they’re…

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My Life: Best Seller or Dust Collector?

This post is inspired by Wordpress for listing some great ideas for blogging.  The idea was, if your life was a book, would you read it?  If you chose to read it, you have to read it from cover to cover.

This made me think.  I’ve had some “interesting” things happen to me in my life.  However, is it a story of amazing tragedy, triumph over the impossible, or an unforgettable love story?  Nope!  While all three of these things happened in my life, do these single or multiple episodes make up a scintillating best seller?  Probably not.  Would it be a dust collector?  Depends on my level of commitment to market the heck out of it, and I don’t see that happening.

I think it is hard for us to look at our own lives and think that it would be an interesting read for others.  The grass is always greener effect seems to be in play here.  There are those amazing stories you hear about, like war heroes, hostage situations, abuse, love that conquered all, and inspirational comebacks, but again, these are time stamps on the fabric of what makes up a lifetime.  Does it mean that person’s entire lifetime is remarkable?  Most likely, the vast majority of us are not Mother Theresa’s, Nelson Mandela’s, or Ghandi, and thus fall short of a lifetime of remarkable.  However, that doesn’t mean we don’t have something valuable and worthwhile to share, even if it is a little snippet of your life line, and not the entirety of it.

I look at imparting what I’ve learned to my children as a way of making all of the good and bad things that transpired in my life to be meaningful.  I look at imparting to others, whether it is words of wisdom, encouragement, sympathy, or constructive criticism as a way to bring my past experiences richness, fullness, and worth.  The greatest joy of being a parent is when you hear your child share with one of their friends words of wisdom you have imparted to them.  It brings validation and a sense of purpose to all that forms the story of your life.  It is in these living pages, where reality isn’t fiction, but a hard won truth that will live on long after you are gone; these are the moments that make your story worth reading, even if that is the only page anyone ever sees.

As an author, I love words.  I love holding a book in my hand and being transported to another place.  What I realized though, while contemplating the blog post suggestion of a book of our lives, is it isn’t the words that make the story of our lives; it is the people we encounter and leave changed, or that change us that are the real story.  The living pages of what shapes our personality, our character, our integrity, or our future.  When you look at it like that, my life is an open book.  Easy to read for the most part, with drama, intrigue, passion, vulnerability, struggles, temptations, short-comings, joy, and triumphs.  All the messy bits of life that make us unique, special, and worth knowing.  People through the ages have tried to have their name memorialized in stone, in music, in print, etc., but I think the real legacy is how many people have been positively impacted by us.  They carry a tiny piece of us with them, and in turn, mix it with a part of themselves and pass it on to another.  We keep living long after we have ceased to draw breath.

While I have no desire to write the story of my life, I certainly want to keep adding living pages to my timeline on this earth.  If it indelibly touches another, then it is the most powerful story every told.  In that way, I will be a best-selling author, even if I never collect a single royalty from it.

Cultivating Joy While Life is Kicking the Sh** Out of You

We have all had those years in our lives when everything seems to turn into hell in a hand-basket.  Every time we think we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, we realize it is just the next train about to hit you head on.  Whether it is something you personally are being challenged with, or a member of your family, it hurts like crazy regardless.

Then there are those years where everything seems to be turning up roses.  You get the promotion you wanted, you get married, you have a baby, or you win the lottery (still waiting for this to happen).  This is usually followed shortly thereafter by some calamity, big or small that drops you on your butt and leaves you scratching your head.  That was my year in 2013 in a nutshell.  If it was the only year it happened, I wouldn’t be writing this blog.  Mind you, I didn’t say leaves you crying.  I’ve done that too, but for the most part, I choose to laugh rather than cry.  However, I’m not made of steel, nor am I a super-hero, so I do have those days when crying seems the best option.  I don’t pride myself on the fact that I choose not to cry, I just try and look at the situation from a different perspective; that of the stand-up comedian.  These are the situations that make for great jokes and super funny punch lines, well not initially anyway.  I laugh because I just can’t believe another situation hit me like a two-by-four to the side of the head.  However, after the initial disbelief, you have to be able to change the focus, or it will suck you under and drown you in a wave of depression the size of the Titanic.

I would like to claim I am an all-star at being positive and changing the perspective of things, but I am not.  Some days I am better at it than others.  If I made resolutions for each new year, I think mine would be to cultivate joy regardless of what is happening around me.  Joy comes from a place of gratitude.  In a culture of entitlement, gratitude appears to be in short supply.  I want to grow a frick’in acre of gratitude this year.  It will produce a bumper crop of joy, and joy is infectious.

Attitude is the key to unlocking the reservoir of gratitude and joy.  Most people would say I am happy.  They always see me smiling.  For the most part, that is true.  In fact, when I am not smiling, people have come to know that something is very, very wrong.  I am reminded of when I was pregnant with my daughter.  I was twenty-seven weeks along and this agonizing pain started one morning every time I moved.  I was not smiling that day.  I got an emergency appointment with my doctor.  She took one look at me and said, “You’re not smiling so I know that something is really wrong.”  It turned out to be a five day stay at the hospital and later a horrendous four day delivery at thirty-seven weeks and five days gestation.  I was crying then, I assure you.  I was in agony and left with complications I wouldn’t fully realize until I was pregnant with my son, but that is another story.

All that to say, you can choose to let the tragedies and hardships of life keep you crying, or you can change your perspective.  Who hasn’t complained about the cost of their heating/electricity bill?  While your complaining, be grateful you have heat and electricity, as there are millions of people who don’t have that luxury.  How about the mom complaining about constantly picking up her kid’s toys?  There are thousands of women who can’t have a baby, or thousands more who have lost a baby, and would love to have that problem.  It isn’t fun picking up after a two-year old, but at least you have that blessing.

I recently saw a post on Facebook that I reposted to my wall about a 92-year old woman who is blind.  I loved her life philosophy, and I am going to share excerpts from it here.  “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life.”

She went on to explain, “Old age is like a bank account, you withdraw from what you’ve put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories Thank you for your part in filling my Memory bank. I am still depositing.”

And with a smile, she said: “Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less

Thank you Mrs. Jones, your wealth of experience is a great lesson to us all. 

What are you depositing today?  It brings to mind the Bible verse in Matthew 6:19-21; “Do not store up for yourselves wealth here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and burglars break in and steal.  Instead, store up for yourselves wealth in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and burglars do not break in or steal.  For where your wealth is, there your heart will be also.”  I am not suggesting you shouldn’t save for the future, but the focus of this verse for me is the last line.  What is more important to you, hordes of money that can be gone in an instant, or hordes of joy that can’t be stolen; you have to choose to give it away?  I will save money, but more importantly, I will be depositing heavily into my “happiness bank account” this year by cultivating gratitude and reaping joy, regardless of what train is heading directly in my path.