Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Building Possibility

Although it might appear that my bloggy dedication is waning, I assure you there is a good reason. The best reason imaginable (especially to a bunch of writers). Yep, you guessed it, my new YA novel is about to hatch and head on out to market. My readers have been dedicated, my critique partners vigilant in helping me craft my query, and that NASA T-minus-so-many-seconds clock is ticking down. My final polishing reader is awaiting her crack at the novel. I’m squirming my way through the synopsis (my absolute least favorite part of the agent-acquisition process... and agents get extra points with me if they don’t ask for one).

And the best part, the excitement is building. The feeling that this project could get me to the next step, teach me the next lesson, and take me for a wild ride. My last project, though it didn’t get me an agent, yielded a great deal of interest, wonderful feedback, and was proof that I was on the path. It is a fun prospect to be able to query for this new project by beginning with all the people who requested partials and fulls of the last one (especially those who took the time to share their thoughts).

The truth is, only by leaning forward and in some ways beginning again with a new project can we build possibility for ourselves and our dreams. I love this new project, but I loved and will always love the last one and the one before that. Each word, page, book is our legacy of growth. I recently wandered through my first completed work from a few years ago and while I still love it, I know I’ve come a long way in my writing. Measurable proof is a satisfying thing. So, whether this book wows the world or just helps me to hone my craft, I am building possibility in the only way a writer can. And that is an empowering feeling.

Huge thanks goes to my readers and those willing to wield a hefty axe to both my books and that darn query letter. You make me a better writer and share in the possibility.

Quote for the Day from Karen Ravn

“Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be.”

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Willingness to Hear

We all know the saying that if people were meant to talk more than to listen, we’d have two mouths and one ear (I’d like my uno-ear right in the middle of my forehead, thank you very much). I certainly agree with the saying, but I think it requires a little more because there is a mighty difference between idly listening and truly being willing to hear. And I’m not just talking about other people’s words, but rather our own inner dialogue, our guide and constant companion through the trials of life.

For a long time, I had that listening thing wired. I took time every day. I was upbeat and happy. I was rolling. And then I wasn’t. Plans had to be changed for practical reasons. Vacations ended. Dog health deteriorated. Nutrition plan sat ignored. And now, a few months later, I realize that first and foremost, I floundered because I quit truly listening and taking the time to take care of myself on the level I had previously.

And then I got a puppy, and everything about my life began to take on a frenetic pace. Getting her out to walk. Playtime. Training and correcting until the cows come home (she has a strange fixation with chewing on my 86-pound ridgeback’s lip that we are really working on). Puppy Kindergarten. Plus a full-time job. Writing. Being there for friends and family. Life.

Amidst all the seeming chaos, I found some things I’d lost: the joy of walking, the playful spirit that recently inspired me to acquire some new rollerblade-ish toys called Land Rollers, the enjoyment of just being in the backyard while the birds sing and dance around and a deer miraculously barreled through while I and the dogs stared on in disbelief (leading me to believe that Bambi is very scary). Simple joys all. Simple. Something I have to struggle to be.

I felt things stirring in a healthy direction, though I still felt the toiling inside. Then, because of my willingness to hear when given a direction, I found something that raised me to a new level, not just to where I’d been before I faltered. And that came from a dear friend. A suggestion to participate with an online event called Wish: Women’s International Summit for Health. Something about it appealed to me and I signed up. It’s completely free and just takes following links to daily conversations about women’s health and happiness.

A spark of cynicism still existed about self-helpy things, but I persevered and am so glad I did. Things I needed to hear bounced at me from the beginning. Sometimes just one thing, other times many. They said we should take notes, which I scoffed, “I’ll show up and listen, but I’m not taking notes.” Well, that lasted through one session and then I was furiously taking notes as you do when you stumble onto something that could change your way of thinking. And now, after just two sessions, I feel like I’m back on a path toward positive growth and connection with self. In truth, this outcome may be simply the ripples from taking time to put that healthy attention back on myself and my journey, more than any one thing that was said by the speakers.

This experience has also made me realize the effect of grief on my life and my energy. Grief, even when it’s about letting go of goals until the time is really right, saps the connection with self and in so doing creates a disconnect that can last a long time. And then real grief, involving loss, creates a deeper divide and it becomes too easy to lose sight of personal growth because everything becomes about just surviving. Passion and hope get lost in the landscape littered with unhealthy debris, and before you know it, you are stagnating. Usually, for me, a spark of something is required to shake me loose.

This round goes to the puppy and a dear friend. Where will your spark come from? And are you really willing to hear?

Quote for the Day from George Eliot

“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”