Real Books, Surreal reaction

Finally got finished published copies of both my books in my hands. Whew.

MotherLove and Kiss’N’Kill

It’s the craziest thing to hold a solid object made of your own thoughts and imagination. Or to see a movie set, with props, actors, production people, camera and light techs all interacting to display the story a writer created out of mental wisps.

Wildest belly flopping emotion.

Quickly followed by the stupefying realization it must all be done again. Quickly, because the audience/public/readers want more.

The ideas pour out. The skills get better and smoother. And it’s fun to disappear into the wonder of creation. But I can’t help but think, when that mushroom cloud swelled across New Mexico skies, did the scientists quiver, just a bit?

Not that my stuff is atomic bomb magnitude to anyone else but me. Still, tummy turning.

Even writing this blog post today makes shivers that were never there before. And yes, I tried to rewrite that last sentence six times to get rid of ‘that’. Sometimes, ‘that’ is necessary.

So, once again the name is out there, books are presented before other eyes and I am at work producing more. The Writers Prayer Journal (in a set of three 30 day entries) is half way through the writing process so it should be ready by November this year.

More sweaty palms to come.

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Time: lost or misplaced

How much time is lost every day? Lost time, lost reward.

4 hours a day on the phone? Really? Really. Life is a series of moments, cast to the wind, to fulfill what?

What matters most? Me or what I think is me?

Is this small thing worth my time?

What is worth my Time?

What is my time worth? A quick glance at my Instagram page or telling my husband He makes my heart happy? Which has more value? Picking up that sweater I tossed on the chair or getting out the door before traffic backs up? And if I’d put the sweater away in the first place, it might not have that stain from the chocolate syrup dripping from the edge of my bowl last night? Really?

Not my fault. Life gets in the way. It does.

In the way of what?

What I really want to do, or what I let myself do?

 

Sudden thought. Intrusive thought at that. Responsibility.

That I take note of the response in me to events around me? Refuse to assign blame or claim blame, but notice my own response. Hmmm.

Time.

Noticed, examined, responded to.

Whew.

Gotta think about this.

Projects. Hmmm

Been working on a couple of things lately. Okay, more than a couple but at the top of the list, two projects only.

On top of the stack, a trilogy kind of thing, three books of writing prompts combined with a writer’s prayer focus is a smidgen ahead of getting a manuscript out of my head and onto paper. And as I think (and write) about it, actually two other manuscripts.

The writer’s prayer journal, broken into three volumes, is a quicker thing so I use it as a jump start to the manuscripts. Funny how working on something for other people to use actually helps me write my own material for me. And yes, most of the time the writing really is for me. Keeps me off the streets and out of trouble. Sometimes. In truth, off the streets only.

Now if I could just find a way to keep my mouth shut while in public…But that’s another battle I choose not to fight today.

Back to the point.

Projects. What they are and what they do.

You have projects? Betcha do. Most people do. Those things you really want to touch, deal with, arrange and send out into the world. Except life gets in the way, gotta make a living, time is short, it’s a half baked idea, as a general rule.

Oops, got caught in the loop there.

My projects exist in my head, in notebooks and on my desk. And in my knitting basket. Sometimes they languish in limbo because I lose focus. More than once, an outside event jostled me into action and all over again, I learn the delight of finishing a project.

In the last 30 years, I’ve written seven book length manuscripts, 23 short stories and a handful of blog posts. Two of the books are now published, accessible to the public. A third book is about to go into editing. By the end of the year, the short stories will be in book format, ready to be edited for publication.

And it’s the prayer journal that got me over the most recent bump in the road. The prayer journal started because a friend (who writes/edits/publishes) encouraged me to Try Writing It.

Wow.

Because of her words, this three part Writers Prayer Journal is well past half way done. The end is in sight, done in 30 day segments with book covers in design.

Friends don’t let Friends Stop Writing. Especially when the writing matters. A grateful hats off to faithful friends.

The Noble Nap

Restorer of mental processes, renewer of fuzzing brains. And to be honest, scourge of small children, hated interruption to those plans of taking over the world. Or at least all the toys.

As an adult, I wish I’d taken more. When my kids went down for a nap, that meant I could finally get to things without interruption. Later, with them in school, I had until after school. All the out of the house chores had to be finished by mid-afternoon, because after school stuff, homework, dinner took the rest of the day.

And crazy as it sounds, the routine of Everything away from the house Must Be Done by 3:30 stayed with me long after they went to college. So no nap then either.

Took me a while to realize I really did have a life in the later afternoon. I know, slow learning process. And sleep deprivation.

Which is why in the last couple of years, a 20 minute snooze has become my secret weapon. As a morning person, I usually have more brain power first part of the day but hit a drag point around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, before the to-do list is beaten down to manageable levels.

Taking a nap means I get stuff done without having to re-do them.

Turns out, lots of people take naps. Winston Churchill (as reported by Google) often took 20 to 30 minutes naps, even changing in pajamas to insure he rested. Thomas Edison, Leonardo De Vinci, Margaret Thatcher…they all napped because they were busy, inventive and they had STUFF TO DO.

I wake up in the morning saying that. Ask Long Suffering Husband. He thinks it’s my motto. And kinda is. ‘Cause it’s true.

Ah, naps.

 

Write the stories you love.

Write the stories you love.

That line comes to me often. When I hit an emotional wall, when words won’t flow, I hear those words. The stories I love, those tales that capture my taste for mystery, excitement, resolution.

And if I put my fingers to the keys, words flow. Not always making sense or useful images, but they flow. Like the tide coming in, wave by wave, so that the water line rises ever so slowly. A faint breeze stirs, tiny warmth encroaches against night cool.

Far to the east, out of sight, waves tickle the sand, teasing movement along the beach. In less time than it takes to make out the scene, lace foam decorates dampness with ripples, smiling at me. Waterline upon waterline vanishes under the next watery curl and the tide chuckles in.

Sunrise whispers into early dawn, nudging dark with filmy hints of light. A few reluctant cloud bits protest being edged away, then slide off. Light-fingers extend, tracing pathways for new sunbeams.

Drowsy bird chirps shift to full song. Leaves uncurl in the cottonwood, beginning to rustle. The mocking bird flexes his throat, his repertoire beginning with a robin’s borrowed voice .

Yellow-red sunlight saunters up and out across the horizon, spreading Day.

And I write.

Writing is such sweet sorrow

Yeah? And what’s that mean? Besides corrupting a perfectly good line by Bill Shakespeare.

Started a new disciple recently, 15 minutes a day . During those 15 minutes, ideas, concepts, results all flowed with precision. Half way through the flowing, I got the Holy Nudge: write ‘em down.

Result?

A cohesive, realistic to do list with steps to achieve each one of those Today Tasks. One of which was to create a blog entry on what writing is for me. Crazy, I know.

Writing for me is a release, a safe place where I can tell stories from my head onto paper. Or simply explore concepts and structures I want to understand. No one else has to see them, hear them or even agree with those creations inside my own head.

The sweetness?

A good place to be myself.

The sorrow?

That I fear. But my private writing, is a laboratory for me to gut through what’s real and what’s an ephemeral creation of fear. And that work makes me stronger in me.

The craziest part is I didn’t always think I had that right. But Long Suffering Husband, he always gave me the space, encouraged the thinking. Even when he didn’t get what or where I was going mentally, he encouraged or sometimes shoved me into taking time to look deeply.

The man is Amazing.

But wait! This blog started out about me!

Aha. Now I see.

Most of what we think is about us is really about those around us and how they deal with us. The us of this world, those who observe, ponder, question, resolve then act or continue watching, we need places to do that kind of work.

‘Cause it is work. And we know it.

And I suspect, every us has someone who comes along side to help us find our own laboratory. Often a tangible human, because we are tangible and we are human. God made us that way on purpose.

‘Cause He is God and He knows what He’s doing. Ponder that for 15 minutes and see what happens.

Purpose statement: Huh?

Ever heard of a purpose statement? You know, that pithy, short sentence that reminds you the point of whatever it is you’re attempting to do? Heard a gentleman suggest we all need a purpose statement for our life, a reminder to put in front of my mind so I know when I’m off track. Or in my case, wandering through those crates in the storage building I call my mind.

Funny part is, wandering around is sometimes part of my purpose. The fun of wandering is actually finding a treasure not looking like treasure, brushing it off and discovering it’s exactly what I was looking for, while avoiding the TASK everyone else says is what You Should Be Doing.

Ah. Treasures hidden in darkness.

Kinda think an aspect of my purpose is to open painted over doors, lift sealed windows so others can find their own treasures which may not look treasurable or much less tidy results. Life gets messy.

And wandering is sometimes the only way to find the real path.

So, got a challenge for ya. In the next few days, steal a moment or two to write down your own Purpose Statement. What are you here for?

If you write, put down the words of your search. If you bake, dream the flavors of your recipe. If you build, sketch out the design of your structure.

Prepare to be surprised, scared, delighted and befuddled.

Rest? Rest!

Ever wonder about rest? I mean, what is it really? Sitting at the local coffee shop, making fun of the traffic flow that you aren’t in at the moment? Don’t deny we all do it from time to time.

But ya know, rest is not doing nothing. It’s a conscious act to cease activity, for a moment, in order to do more of what I do.

Whoa. That sounds so, so, self-aggrandizing. And fake smart. Like all those inspirational posters, meant to instill some greater sense of purpose in the work place. Truth be told, sense of purpose comes from the heart, not by looking at an enhanced photo of an iceberg. Or a jumping blue whale.

And back to the point, what is rest and how do we achieve it. Should we even try to achieve it? Funny thing about rest, God says it is a gift so important that to ignore the gift brings death.

Discussed this thing of rest with friends a few evenings ago. How it’s one of the Ten Commandments, and how in the Old Testament, violating this particular commandment had fatal consequences. Then in the New Testament, Jesus says the Sabbath, the day of rest, was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

So binge-watching every single episode of the original Magnum P.I. is good? Hmmm. Can’t really ever get those hours back. Or undo those last 20 games of Sudoku.

Not sure that’s what Jesus was talking about.

What if…and I’m just posing the question…What if it’s true the Sabbath was made for man and what if, ignoring a day of rest brought not just a judicial death sentence but a more damaging spiritual death?

How’d that look?

We need rest. And whether it’s the nine-to-five job or beating the laundry into submission while prepping dinner, as we shuffle kids to and fro, work is part of life. We need rest from work.

And yet to lay around, sit for endless hours, mind captive to whatever floats through the ether is also death. Endless tv, or hours of sitting even in an office chair damages the body, numbs the soul and dulls the brain into an inability to function. That is not setting a specific time apart as holy, sacred.

When awake, infants move all the time, constantly exploring the immediate world. Kids play with each other, talk, try new things and learn about everything. Teenagers, even the quiet ones, gravitate toward action, either in watching it or taking part. Adults spend resources on hobbies, work, plans for vacations, all the stuff of life.

All that action slows for periodic naps, sleep, quiet gazing at nothing in particular because the enjoyment of the moment, the rest for body and spirit restores us. The commandment to rest is for our good. Abusing that commandment, in too much or not enough, always leads to death.

Death of dreams, death of joy. The cessation of Life.

Life comes from the One who created Life. Resting in that awareness is true rest, which may not mean no activity. Or look like just chillin’.

So, yeah. Rest is not doing nothing. It is living life to the full, in abundance. Which is what Jesus promised. Whoda thunk it.

Organization?

Organizational, I am not.

Okay, okay, you can stop rolling your eyes. I can see that, ya know. And since you did it out loud, hear it as well. You know who you are.

As I was saying, or more exactly confessing, my organizational skills are a tad… primitive. Working on three different projects at the same time, in addition to the other parts of my life which involve people who do Not Write, means I must Get Organized. Or at least fake it until something shifts.

A friend told me how she attends a weekly staff meeting, just her and Jesus. Because she is the staff of one in her business and He does run the show. The same in my life. So, after a second or two of prayer, I decided to try it.

Made a list of really what it is I do. In the writing world, and a couple of other things that repeat in my life.

Which is:

Blog (of course, you know this)

Short stories (they keep popping up)

Books (2 published, 2 completed-not yet published)

Journal (really a book of prayer journaling for writers, will be published soon)

Bible study (personal and with others, couple of studies written but not ready)

 

Whew. Looks like a lot. Ah, not really. But I do want to keep up with them, ‘cause I do all of it. And it grows all over the floor. Might as well keep up with it.

And of course, family stuff. Grandkids and all that.

I don’t count housework. Or baking, knitting, other fun details. They fit in the corners of the other stuff.

My point is I Must Get A Handle On It All. Crazy, I know. But the crazier part is, it is working. I mean, not crazy that He does do stuff but my own follow through is not always a given.

So far, I’ve actually accomplished what we discussed on our first staff meeting. Blog entry, done. Prayer Journal entry, done. Letter writing, done. And I do have time for lunch. Hmmm. Can’t wait for tomorrow to see what happens.

New Project Jitters

Been working on a new project for the past few weeks and it’s always lurking in the back of my mind. Even random quotations jump into focus, then blur into murky threads, if I don’t get them written down fast enough.

Like today.

There I am innocently knitting, creating a fun thing for a friend (who for the record did ask for it) when a quote from a cryptogram came to mind. It’s a great quote, planting an image, an idea, a struggle in the morass of my brain, when BLAM, another unrelated concept slips in, smacks me between the frontal lobes.

And just as quickly, dissolves into some gray goo. Leaving no bread crumbs to follow, no scent to suggest a direction, no taste to remember What Was That Thought?!

Is it because I’m in the middle of writing a new thing I’ve never done before? Could be. All the insecurities of new territories mess with my head, so it could be that. Or fear. Or my own brand of nutty creative spasm.

That I do like, because then I don’t have to do anything with it. And I am nothing if not always evading what I don’t have to do. ‘Cause all the stuff I want to do won’t go away until I Do It.

Motivational posters give me hives so I make fun of them. A lot.

Wacky enough, the new project gets into that area. Every time it starts to get pompous, I rewrite and write to rewrite.

Writing is serious good stuff but taking myself too serious is not good stuff. Which, now that I think about it, may be the reason, that thought melted before I had the chance to trap it.

Ah, ha. One more item off the to-do list. Someone mention lunch?