Worth Celebrating?


It’s the small things.

Yesterday, I received word that an article I wrote was published online at Bucket List Publications.  I’ll confess that my heart made a little flip flop of excitement. I ran downstairs to tell my husband.

“That’s great darling! We should celebrate!”

I assured him that I thought one small article written for fun and exposure rather than pay hardly seemed worthy of a celebration. A sense of achievement did fill me with a bit of pride though.

Today, my son sent me a text saying he had read my article and really liked it. Again, I chuckled at how something so seemingly insignificant could mean so much to me.

I replied to his text with:

 It’s encouraging to have something positive happen in the direction you’re headed even if it’s a really small something.

As writers we spend so much time putting in the work: learning our craft, writing, editing, rewriting, making connections, building platforms, marketing our work—and sometimes it seems as if we’re not getting anywhere.

Will I ever make a difference? Will anyone notice? Will my message be heard or helpful?

Then someone puts your words in print (or cyber print as the case may be). A crisp breeze of relief blows through your spirit, and you think Maybe, I am making progress!

Thank you Bucket List Publications for the breeze you sent my way!

 

Do you have an adventure to share? When have you felt a cool breeze of encouragement blowing your way?

For some amazing stories of adventure and extreme challenges, check out Bucket List Publications and editor, Lesley Carter

 

Getting to the Destination


Change your perspective.

Nearly every day I walk at the beach near my house. From the top of the cliff I make my way down a staircase that boasts 151 steps. Naturally, when I finish my walk, I often take the same set of stairs back to the top. Some people, including my husband and his friend, run up and down them numerous times as part of their workout regime. I’m lucky to get back up them once.  I make it up the first three flights pretty easily, but when I hit that fourth one and see three more to go, I have to change my perspective. The only way I can manage is to not look at the top from where I am. From that point on, I only look at the next step, and then the next, and so on. Breathe deeply and finally I’ve reached the top.

Allow me another anecdote.

Today I attended a wedding at which we savored delectable food. As is usually the case, the bride and groom cut their wedding cake and plates were passed for the guests. I thanked the attendant who offered me cake, and after I took one bite, I turned over the remainder to my husband. The chocolate melted on my tongue with delicious temptation, but I simply didn’t feel compelled to finish it. One taste was enough. That’s because three weeks ago I decided to go without eating any added sugar for three weeks, and as a result I didn’t crave it any longer. I had been indulging a bit much in sweets for the past…uh…too many months (like since Christmas goodies), and the benefit of those extra sugar calories was only the rise of numbers on my scale. I could have said “I’m never eating sugar again” (highly unlikely!) or “Boy, I really need to lose weight” (ya think?), but thinking that way would not have been helpful.

I knew I had to set a concrete and drastic goal.

You may be wondering what these two seemingly unrelated stories have to do with writing…or maybe you’ve already experienced the ah-ha that I did recently. These stories describe two of the most important things I’m learning about writing:

  1. Don’t worry so much about the big picture (which only overwhelms you); focus on one step at a time
  2. Set concrete and somewhat drastic goals that will lead you to the desired outcome

For me, one step at a time is editing my book without worrying yet about where I will send it when I’m done; or developing a character for a book without having the whole story of his/her life mapped out within the novel yet.

A concrete goal has been writing 1,000 words per day; editing 20 pages in a day; or writing for two hours per day for the next fourteen days.

Combine the two revelations and each small, concrete goal is the next single step to focus on!

Suddenly, I find that I’ve written 4,ooo words in a week and my character’s life is unfolding on my computer screen! Editing a little each day has produced a book that is more than halfway finished. I think you get the picture. Small goals are the single stepping stones to our destination.

See you at the top!

What are some of the steps you’re taking? What goals have you set? What part of the big picture have you seen completed so far?

Chop, Chop, Chop


On Tuesday I finally finished my second full book. Hooray! Now the real work begins. Wednesday and Thursday my goal was to define the themes so I could begin editing and restructuring. When I started writing, the main idea revolved around online dating, and while that certainly remains a big part, the major theme speaks more about starting over in love and marriage after a messy, hurtful past. I discovered that I want to give readers hope that God can do the impossible things we only dream about.

In order to make the message clear, today I chopped up my precious “baby,” discarded parts, pieced some together and added bits to make it flow. It’s painful to read a section and like my writing, but know that I have to cut it out for the sake of the whole. I think I’ve become better at letting go. The wonderful folks at Mount Hermon’s Christian Writers Conference taught me how to chop out words and use better ones to say more. I’m grateful for all the instructors and my Head Start critique group with leader Karen O’Conner. Their suggestions gave me constructive ways to improve my book. I also appreciate the advice from Susanne Lakin’s posts at Live Write Thrive!

Today was only the beginning. Out of 354 pages, I made it through nine (well, I cut out three so technically twelve). I worked hard and long. Wow! Can’t imagine how long it will take to polish. Just as in writing it, one step at a time will get the job done.

I love to write. I can’t change the way words fight for a place on the page some days and hide from my probing mind on others; or sometimes during the same writing session. I’m also learning what hard work writing is if you take it seriously. Like any job, you get better at it as you work at it. It’s great to love what you do. Waking up excited to get to work thrills me. I pray you feel the same about your work whether it’s writing or some other profession. Here’s looking forward to Monday and growth as an amateur writer…chop, chop, chop.