Catching up – everything and the kitchen sink

i-missed-you

So I realize I’ve been absent a while. Many of you know I started a new adventure – my family etsy store. Not only have I been busy creating, filling custom orders and managing the biz, I have been studying up on other items we will soon be adding. (By the way, the store is http://www.etsy.com/shop/cedarcreekhaven and if you want a 10% off coupon, one will go out in the upcoming March newsletter, and you can sign up for it here.) Also thinking about adding a blog related to the store and creating/crafting, perhaps showing how-to’s, perhaps how-to instructional videos, step-by-step how to’s…I don’t know…it’s just a thought. Not sure if people would be into or open to that. What do you think?

But my absence is not only in relation to being busy with our store. I’ve been working, of course, with my clients (non-store related) and, admittedly, I’ve not made much time for writing. Like everything I do in life, I put it off. I put off what’s important to me. I push it off the plate, talking myself out of it, as if I have no time for it, or I tell myself I’m not a good enough writer or look for some sort of way to self-sabotage because that’s what I do. It’s what I’ve always done. Okay, maybe not with everything. I mean, I have run businesses that I started myself and ran for years and actually loved it and was quite successful. I question myself there, too. How could I have been?

***I had an idea. I didn’t spend a ton of time planning and thinking about it. I just thought about it for a day or two, made a quickie 1-day plan, started finding ways of drumming up business, got booked for a couple of months making more per hour for myself than half that working for someone else, put my 2 weeks notice in at my regular job that I hated, and POOF! I was running with it and I ran with it for years.

Then the recession hit the fan and I was offered a full-time gig working for one of my clients, so I took it while the taking was good and before I ran out of work. Girl’s gotta pay the bills. Plus, firms were slowing down on calling my freelance legal service. After years of being highly sought after, the calls stopped, but I could still pay the bills because I opted for the full-time gig. Smart, right? I mean, sure, the money was good and I had benefits but isn’t there more to being happy than that? It can’t be all about the money and benefits package.

What about the inner-most callings of your heart? My heart?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer. A writer of books. Of course, I didn’t know when I was 5 or 6, it was about books. At that time, it was about making up funny songs and imaginative, adventurous stories to tell my dolls (Patty, Lisa, and Tender Love Baby Doll) and stuffed animal (Peaches, the Wonder Dog!), and oh my, how they loved hearing them, as they sat on the edge of their seats, gripping the covers, wide-eyed and gasping, on the edge of my bed, and sometimes couldn’t even contain themselves, as they fell right off.

And then time passes by and your stories have become private – your innermost secrets not shared with anyone. Not even your dolls because they are packed away.

And then time passes and you’ve lost all belief in yourself, so you stop writing. Anything.

I sat one day thinking I used to write great imaginative stories that my teachers loved and asked to keep. I used to write poetry and songs. I even wrote love letters to my beloved one-day husband, or who I wished to be my husband – not that I had anyone particular in mind but more of a dream of what I wanted him to be… I never met him. I married once, had the daughter of my dreams and lifelong prayers, and happily divorced. My daughter is still the child of my dreams and prayers, and I’m happy being single, but deep inside, very very deep inside, I still wonder what it would be like to have that best friend, that confidant, that man that actually listened when I had something to share, and actually remembered what I said. That man who knows how to make me laugh when things have become too serious and knows how to make me laugh just because he knows I love to laugh. That best friend who shares his soul and allows me to be heard, respected and treasured. I still wonder if he exists. Who knew I had any sense of being a hopeless romantic?! I surprise myself. Or maybe it’s just me living in my own little dream world bubble.

Even the thought of the love letters drifted through the years and I had resigned myself to never marry, adopt my daughter when I turned 35 and live happily ever after as a writer or secretary. I knew one thing for certain. I had to have my baby girl. Thankfully, love is blind and I married and had her and she looked like me, which made me appreciate my looks for the first time. Since then, she’s brought me to appreciate so much more about me and about life and about humanity and God. Actually, she brings out the best in me. She helped me to appreciate my mother more and to see everything differently. I treasure every second with my mom and daughter.

And I was a secretary for over 20 years.

More time passes and you start writing again because if you don’t, you’ll just burst! The voices in my head could no longer be stifled. I had to let them have their say before I lost my mind. I tried to ignore them for years. They were just not having it. I’d start a book. Then, at 2 am, I had a nightmarish idea for another book, so got up to write everything I could remember about that dream. Then, I’d start another book from another dream. Other voices showed up. It was a nightmare! Creation overload much?! Some might be thankful for the outpouring of such creativity but I was easily overwhelmed, I have to say. I told the voices that I have a job and a family and I need sleep, so the voices stopped again. The cool dreams stopped. I worked, I was there for my family. And then I wrote articles and sold them to magazines. And I ghostwrote stuff for clients, which worked well. I edited for them, proofread, a little of everything really, but I still, deep in my soul, was unhappy. I just could not understand. I gave up writing books, even though it made my heart so full of joy, and I’ll tell you why…

It wasn’t earning me any money. It can take years to write a book, especially when you are working full-time hours and taking care of a home as a single parent and raising a family. It just didn’t seem feasible. And I was giving myself negative self-talk such as “You aren’t a writer. You’ll never be any good. What are you doing? Why waste your time? You have no talent.” Actually, I was looking for ways to sabotage myself. It’s what I do.

I go back and forth with this all the time and I don’t know that this time will stick but I’ve been making small steps lately, making changes, trying to simplify my life. I realized and I’ve known for a long time I’m a hypersensitive person. Everything affects me. I cannot watch the news or read it or even hear about much of it because I will go home and cry my eyes out. I cannot see graphic pictures and videos that hurt my heart, mind, and soul, so I am careful what I view and I’ve been in the process of deleting Facebook “friends” who choose to post such crap and say stupid stuff like “Oh, I should have warned this video was graphic. Sorry, not sorry.” Some of my friends call me an empath. I don’t know what I am except I am going to be careful what I let into my brain because I am a very sensitive and emotional person. I feel deeply and I think it sucks. I guess that’s one thing that can possibly make a writer good – you can feel the feelings of every character easily. And since I’ve been so unhappy not writing what’s truly in my heart, I’ve decided to get back to it. I did participate in Nanowrimo in November, so that was a step in the right direction for the book I’ve worked on for the last 2-3 years. It’s more than half finished so that’s another perk. Much of the research has been done. I’ve talked with several experts in various fields, so there’s much truth to my fantasy adventure YA novel series. No more am I going to focus, at all, on ever having it published. I may continue to get my finished children’s book out there – I have been submitting to agents for a little while. From now on, when I write, I will write for me. I will act as if never another set of eyes will grace my typed pages and when it reaches completion, once I’ve revised once and twice and polished and proofed and final, I will then, and only then, take it to my Beta readers and decide if it’s meant to be out in the world.

And since I’ve been so unhappy not writing what’s truly in my heart, I’ve decided to get back to it. I did participate in Nanowrimo in November, so that was a step in the right direction for the book I’ve worked on for the last 2-3 years. It’s more than half finished and books 2, 3 and 4 all have a bit of work done so that’s another perk. Much of the research has been done. I’ve talked with several experts in various fields, so there’s much truth to my fantasy adventure YA novel series. No more am I going to focus, at all, on ever having it published. I may continue to get my finished children’s book out there – I have been submitting to agents for a little while. From now on, when I write, I will write for me. I will act as if never another set of eyes will grace my typed pages and when it reaches completion, once I’ve revised once and twice and polished and proofed and finalized, I will then, and only then, take it to my Beta readers and decide if it’s meant to be out in the world.

But until then, I write for me.

***(reading back over this, I think I need to return to this plan – not the legal thing but the 1-2 day brainstorm/planning, 1 day of going with the plan and taking action, getting the word out, getting clients booked and just go, go, go!) Stop thinking. Start doing. Thinking is my biggest problem. It’s always been my biggest problem. I overthink everything!

Anywho, sorry for my rambling on. Just wanted to catch you up on everything and I got carried away. But now you are all caught up. Did I leave anything out? Sounds like I put in everything but the kitchen sink. Oh, guess I just added that. Huh?

I hope you are all well as are your loved ones. Drop me a line and let me know how everything’s going. I’ll attempt to do better on updating more regularly. And I’ll try not to be too wordy.

Love, hugs and smooches,

Carol

 

Animal Crackers in Your Soup, or Nah?

mark

“A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it.” ― Mark Twain

__________

Don’t you totally agree?  Information left out leaves more room for the imagination to fly off in many varied directions.  Ultimately, even the sky isn’t the limit.

As a writer, do you find it hard to leave stuff out?  Do you feel you have to tell the reader every single thing you’re thinking or the characters are thinking?  Are you afraid they’ll miss something?

We should give readers (imagineers) more credit.  I don’t know about you, but I love to read a novel where much of the details and backstories are left out.  For one thing, it leaves more room for another number in the series but it’s good to let the reader think and imagine for herself/himself.  For another, too many details and too much backstory and you can lose the reader in less than a minute and that’s never good.

I don’t know why Shirley Temple’s song, “Animal Crackers in my Soup” came to mind when writing this.  I suppose because I saw the commercial advertising her greatest hits a while back and the song stuck in my head — it’s a bit catchy, isn’t it?  And no, I don’t think I’d like animal crackers in my soup.  I think it’s a bit much.  I’d like to taste my soup.  I think it’s better with leaving a bit of the additives out.

Maybe just a little cheese.

Which Kind of Writer Are You?

George“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.”
George R.R. Martin

__________

I used to try to be the architect.  I thought, ‘With all this planning and knowing, surely it will be better thought out, better organized and in the end, a better story.’  Ya know what happened?  I realized it wasn’t truly who I am.

I had written out all these outlines, all these interesting colorful characters, their names, their personal stories, backgrounds, drew out the scenes, the sounds, the fragrances in the air, the certain feel to the place, how I felt being there, what’s to happen in order to get here and there, blah, blah, blah.  Ya know what that did to me?  It robbed me of living in the moment of each individual character and scene.  It robbed me of living the story.

Life, no matter how much you want it to be, is not going to be planned out.  Or it might be planned but it will turn out differently.  Sure, you dream of the house in the country, the white picket fence, the 2.5 children, the adoring helpful husband that will always be by your side.  You plan out the wrap-around porch, the porch swing, the hanging plants, right down to the kind of grass you want in your front yard.  The truth is, not all those plans are gonna pan out.

I think a novel should be the same way.  It should be lived moment by moment.  At least for me.  I want to be in the moment and I want to breathe in that aroma that fills the air when one of my characters is baking gingerbread or chocolate chip cookies.  I want to get choked up when someone beloved dies suddenly and unexpectedly.  I want to be surprised.  Yes, surprised by whatever may occur in a story, even as I’m writing it.  I want to laugh.  I want to be heartbroken.  I want to be terrified and petrified when the hairy scary monster demon thingy is trying to eat my face off.  I want to be angry when one of my favorite characters gets killed off.  I want to feel the love and crush one character secretly holds for another.  I want to be swept up in the rapture that is complete ecstasy.

I gave up trying to plan every detail of my life.  After I got the two main ones, those are my mashed p’taters.  The rest is gravy.  I gave up trying to plan every detail of my book, too.  I think I’d rather live in the moment and be surprised, myself, how it all comes together in the end, if it ever does end.  Ya know how those sequels go.  Yup, I’m a gardener.

What are you?  A planner or a pantser?  An architect or a gardener?  😉

Can I Get Your Opinion?

When I first asked this question to several people, I got more of an answer for story number 2.  They said that to read about depression would be depressing; the ones who claim to not have depression do not wish to understand it; and some are put off regarding reading about God, thinking that everything relating to God will be somehow religious.  Lately, I’ve been asking people again about the books and I’m getting more answers for story number 1.  A few have said both.  I’d like for you, the readers, to weigh in, if you would on which you would be more enticed to read.

Please pick which book you would be more apt to read:

1) on depression and God; how this person takes action to improve their level of depression, how to deal with God and how he plays into it all; helping one understand how to deal with someone in their life with depression — this would be written by someone with a lifelong history battling depression, not with a degree in psychology, so this is not a clinical book; more of one’s story overcoming obstacles — humor, anger, love, sarcasm, real life and just finding calm and carrying on (yes, I said it); or


2) on a teenage girl born of a witch and vampire, having her powers bound as an infant and adopted by nonmagical parents (raised in the South) to protect her from the crimes committed against her birth family and the entire magical world. After a tragic series of events, she’s thrust into a crash course in magic (humorous as well as terrifying trial and error) when she discovers she has magical powers she never wanted and is depended upon for ending the war ensuing between the magic and nonmagic worlds, or at least part of the war… — humor, love, small amount of romantic tension, tragedy, action, friendship, mystery/ suspense, sci-fi/fantasy/adventure…

Thank you.  I appreciate your opinion and your comments.  Toodles!  😉