In My Blanket Fort

Ever build a blanket fort? I bet it’s been a few years unless you have young kids or grandkids. There’s something that feels so safe about crawling beneath a canopy of blankets.

Feels like I’ve been hiding beneath a blanket fort this past week. I haven’t been visiting many blogs, or spending much time on facebook. I’ve just been too preoccupied.

No big secret I’ve just been quite busy working on revisions lately. It sometimes happens to writers.

The story I’m working on has been occupying my thought. I’ve been breathing it most of my waking hours, trying to fit all the tiny little details in. I’m not a whole lot of fun to be around seeing how I need to get to the bottom of the story I’m working on. Yes folks, I’m in the middle of make believe again.

Working on revisions is a bit like crawling inside a fort made of blankets. I’m aware of the outside world around me, and yet I want to stay inside my fort, protecting my thoughts, reaching inside to find all the right words. While I seem to love doing revisions I don’t like putting the rest of my life on hold. I have some books I want to get read from a few blogging friends of mine, not to mention we’ll be having some visitors over the 1st of July holiday. They may appreciate having clean sheets on the bed.

So bear with me while I’m in my blanket fort. I promise I’ll soon come out and see what everyone else is doing. For now there’s a sign on my fort that says: PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB, but hopefully that sign won’t be there for too long.

Have You Seen The Castle?

From where they stood, they could see the castle.
~~~Frank Yerby

Today, I saw the castle through the fog, through the mist, and couldn’t resist snapping this photo. Never thought there were any castles in Nova Scotia. Guess I was wrong.

I love it.

Both the castle and the fact that I was wrong.

Can’t imagine owning such a place except in my imagination, and yet imagination is what allows us to dream new dreams and rediscover old ones. Imagination allows us to build castles in the most unlikely places or, at the very least, dream them in our minds..

I’m holding this imagine in my mind as I venture forward in the coming weeks.

How about you, can you see the castle from where you stand?

Make Rejection Your Friend.

Make rejection, your friend?

Who said that?

Me?

I must have been joking, right?

Let me get this straight: Rejection, your friend?

Okay I said that already, but it’s true or can be.

That’s right; rejection can be your friend.

Okay, so not all rejection is friendly. If you’ve submitted any amount over the years you’ve pretty much discovered this. It doesn’t show up at the door with a bouquet of roses or even a friendly apologetic smile. It doesn’t offer you a tissue to wipe your eyes or a friendly shoulder to cry on. It doesn’t pat you on the back and tell you to keep going. Some rejection is miserable and cold, even frightening to some degree. It hides in the shadows and jumps out at you and shouts, Boo—along with come other choice words I might add.

You know what I mean, don’t you?

Sometimes we’re in denial. We simply can’t believe our eyes. What, my story? You don’t want to publish MY story? How can that be?

How was my beautiful story, my baby, that brilliant idea I followed from conception to birth, rejected? Perhaps there’s another note inside that envelope because surely the “your work” described in the rejection letter was not the same short story you titled, “The Red Geranium” before you sent it off “Your work,” in fact, could be anyone’s story. Right? Mistakes happen, right? And surely “your work” could be referring to anyone’s work, unless you actually titled the piece, “Your Work,” which I’m betting you didn’t. Must be some mistake, you say again. This time doubt is settling. You take another look inside the envelope, closer this time. You give it a shake. Maybe you missed something, another note, perhaps.

Empty air.

The very first rejection letter I received was a form letter addressed as such: Dear___________.

Over the years that blank space has been filled in with “Ms Best” “Laura” “Laurie” “author” and in some case, just left blank.

Let me say though, I do understand the need for form letters. With all the submissions out there it would be impossible to respond personally to each and every one. I get that. You should too. Don’t necessarily take it personally.

But then some editor takes a moment to scribble a note of encouragement at the bottom. “Yippee!” you hear yourself shouting. “I don’t totally suck at this,” and maybe, just maybe, you don’t.

And then, if that isn’t enough, one day you receive a letter with your first name on it. Yes, a letter or email, not just a scribbled sentence. At first glance you can see that some thought was put into it. You’re nervous, but brave enough to continue. No one has to tell you. Your heart makes a little skip. You’ve just received a good rejection letter.

Break open the Champagne!

Any writer will tell you that a good solid rejection letter from an editor is worth its weight in gold. And why shouldn’t it be. They have that objective eye. They are someone who is not emotionally invested in the story, someone who knows what they’re doing, and what you should be doing. They don’t know you personally and have no reason to send false praise. They are busy and don’t have time for such nonsense.

So what’s a good rejection?

If you’ve ever received one you know what I mean. A good solid rejection letter doesn’t send the author off to the corner licking her/his wounds, feeling as though their writing isn’t worth the ink to print it out. A good solid rejection points out the strengths and weaknesses in your manuscript, sandwiching in layers, making it look good enough to eat. Yes, there will be layers.

Most of all, a good rejection, sends you off eager to start revisions because you know you’ve got something good going. It just needs a little more fleshing out. A good rejection will make suggestions of how the story can be improved. A good rejection lets you know you are a person who counts, that your writing matters, and that there’s someone out there who gives a damn. Of yes, a good rejection will/can do all that. It can even make you smile with gratitude. I can be your friend.

We never know who we will meet on our journey. There will be those who will discourage us, even knock us to the ground if we let them, but there will also be those who will lift us up, help us out, and make our travelling time most enjoyable.

Have you ever received a good rejection, one that had you saying, “Thank you” rather than sending you into the pit of despair?

Happy Anniversary to Me

You never know what to expect in life. Sometimes things happen without a bit of notice. Other times we have to look a bit more closely to see the true picture.

There was a time when I never expected to be blogging. I started out feeling self-conscious and totally out of my element, but here I am celebrating the second year for this blog. I’ve *met* some pretty wonderful people these past two years and have had the opportunity to share a bit of my writing journey with you, as well as follow yours.

I love the comments you all leave and the chance to respond to them. It’s a great way to get to know you better. For me, that’s important. For those of you out there who read but do not comment you’re also important, and if you find anything of interest or value in my words then that makes me happy. :)

Yesterday on twitter, I mentioned needing some good vibes sent my way so if you could see your way into adding yours, as well, it would be greatly appreciated.

So Happy Anniversary to Laura Best, Author. This blog is officially entering the terrible twos. Who knows what will happen? Whatever it is let’s hope it’s great.

I Didn’t Get Angry, I Got Determined

It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.
Theodore Roosevelt

I like this quote because there is so much truth in it. Many of us stop ourselves from even trying simply because we allow fear to stop us from pursuing our dreams. Some of us were even taught that dreams were unnecessary, frivolous, even. We were told to stop daydreaming, or else told that such and such was just a pipedream, as if the very act of dreaming was something to be ashamed of.

How can we possibly walk this planet without dreaming of the future? Is it even possible to go though our days without wishing, hoping or dreaming of something, anything?

When I first started writing seriously, I was afraid to even tell others that my dream was to be published. Would they think it was simply a waste of my time? Was I working toward some unattainable goal? Did I have what it took to write something that someone else would even want to publish?


From early on, I had a clear image of the kind of person who wrote books.
In my mind, a writer was highly educated, someone who had experienced many things in their lives, and had probably travelled extensively. I was a stay at home mom with a high school education. I didn’t fall into any of those other categories. So how could I even whisper my dream aloud? A few family members knew I was “trying” to write, and they probably felt a bit sorry for me(not that they’d ever say.) More than likely they thought it was a passing fancy; something that I would grow tired of eventually, and come back to reality.

But I didn’t come back to reality. I wrote and submitted my work to literary magazines and collected an armful of rejections in secret. I suffered through frustration each time I opened the mailbox and saw another envelope staring me in the face. I felt self-conscious in the beginning, wishing those manila envelopes didn’t have to come through the postal service. What if someone who knew me saw them and figured out my secret? I live in a pretty small community.

Still, I didn’t let it stop me. Oh there were days when I’d declare I was giving up, convinced that my work would never see print, but again I’d pick myself up as each time something compelled me to keep going.

Maybe I’m just stubborn (I’ve always preferred the word determination, myself.) Maybe, more than anything else, a writer needs determination if they wish to see their work published.

Even with determination you probably won’t get things right in the very beginning because all the determination will not make some publisher want to publish your work if it isn’t ready. What determination will do, though, is keep you writing until your work is ready. And once it is ready, that same determination will keep you submitting again and again. Of course you’ll struggle to find your own unique voice. Of course you’ll beat yourself up inside when it seems as though failure is staring you in the face yet again. Of course, self doubt will look over your shoulder all the while you work.

But wouldn’t you rather have all that, wouldn’t you rather not accomplish what you set out to do, wouldn’t you rather change your dream, than to never even try?

Those Two Little Words: The End

I just wrote a book, but don’t go out and buy it yet, because I don’t think it’s finished yet. ~~Lawerence Welk

I’m pretty sure most writers can relate to this quote. Two tough words for me to write has always been “the end.” As soon as those words are down I begin to have doubts. Is the masterpiece I slaved over for months or years truly finished, or have I just talked myself in to believing that this is the best I can do? Maybe, instead of writing “the end” I should simply write, “The End, I hope.”

This winter, while I was hard at work on my WIP, I thought I had come to the end on several occasions. In fact, I stubbornly declared at one point that no matter what, I was calling it complete, and nothing, but nothing, was going to change my mind. I mean, after all, if we don’t stop writing at some point we could continue to write on the same piece for the rest of our days. Let’s face it, there’s always something that can be improved upon.

So right when I thought nothing was going to change, that I was to write no more ( I delared it, I truly meant it so it must be so) something made me have a change of heart.

After feeling pretty good about coming to the end, I woke up one morning with a thought in my head that I needed to change a part of the story–a substantial part. Did the thought come to me in a dream? I’m pretty sure.

Now, how can you ignore something like that? I figured I might just as well experiment and see what I came up with even though I had my doubts. How was I going to show certain scenes in the story if I changed the POV to first person? How?

Although I do like first person it is limiting to some degree. The person narrating the story is not privy to everything that is going on, and yet life goes on around them and their own lives are impacted by the actions of others.

Sometimes when I have a story all figured out I forget the fact that nothing is written in stone. So what if a few things have to be changed in the plot, no big deal. A writer has to be flexible and a story needs to bend and sway sometimes.

Keeping in mind that it was something I was going to try on for size, I knew if I didn’t like it there would be no harm done. Almost immediately, I felt it was the right choice. Even though this changed some of the scenes in the story, I came to realize it was a matter of figuring how to tell this same story in a slightly different way. Sometimes the challenge in writing is figuring out the best way to tell the story, and it’s not always the way I thought it was going to be. And you know what? I don’t always get it right the first time, and neither will you. Sometimes it will take many attempts before I write those two little words and mean it, really mean it.

The end..

Surprise

Look who showed up to surprise us on the weekend. It’s a long car drive for grown-ups and especially little girls, but I’m glad they made it.

Miss Charlotte arrived with a tote bag full of diapers and books. Looks like she might just stay awhile. It should be a fun week for all of us.

Maybe I’ll get some writing done this week and, then again, maybe I won’t.

Self-Motivation: a.k.a the Art of Sucking it up

Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.
~~Wayne Dyer

Yeah, I know, we’ve all been told to suck it up a time or two, either by ourselves or someone else. That’s where I am at the present moment– deep in the midst of sucking it up. Want to join me?

I sometimes lack the motivation to write every day I wish it weren’t so, but it’s the truth.This doesn’t mean I don’t think about writing those times when I’m not actually doing it, because I can honestly say that scarcely a day goes by when I don’t at least think about my current WIP a few times and try to settle things in my mind.

Someone once told me I think too much. Well, I’m a writer. Writers need to spend as much time thinking as they do writing. Or at least this writer does. The worlds we create are not just on the page, but they take up residence in our minds as well.Sometimes there’s not a lot of room to spare.

I get the impression that other people think I never have my dark times, that everything’s always great in my world, that everything’s simply sunshine and roses. While I’ll admit that, I like to keep a positive attitude and I like to encourage others to do the same, everything isn’t always the way I’d like it to be any more than it is for anyone else. Like everyone else, I have my share of disappointments. It’s part of being human. The only thing is, I don’t often share those disappointments with others. I hang onto them in silence. It’s not a pretty thing when I whine. Believe me.

Today was one of those days when a little bit of everything was getting me down, when I was questioning my abilities, when, for a brief time, I wondered what would happen if I never wrote another word. Would anyone care or even notice? We live in a rather fickle society. We might not like to admit it but it’s the truth. It’s easy for someone to simply disappear unnoticed, unless you’re rich and famous. And, let’s face it, most of us aren’t.

Oh, for a time I certainly did have my doubts today.I even questioned the importance of writing to me, knowing that along the way there have been sacrifices and missed opportunities in other areas of my life because I am a writer, and because sometimes writing has to come first. I realize not everyone understands this and, sadly, I’ve seen where it has changed some of the friendships I have. Out of sight, out of mind. I don’t blame anyone. Sometimes I’m probably not much fun to be around. People begin to forget that you’re more than just what you’ve written or what you are writing. Because of this other side of my life, I can’t be everything to everyone the way I once could.I can’t drop what I’m doing and go play. There’s just not enough of me to go around. Let’s not forget that most writers have to work at something other than writing in order to make a living. I’m no exception.

So what to do? I’m not exactly sure. I can only be sure that whatever I do there will be someone out there who doesn’t approve. For now I can only follow my heart and go where it leads me. And even if everything I write from now on turns out to be nothing but drivel I’ll at least know that I spent my time doing what was important to me. If we go through life, living up to someone else’s expectations of who they want us to be, then that voice inside that is woven into our soul’s fabric will eventually wither and die, leaving behind nothing but some tattered remnants.

Today, my choice was “miserable”, but tomorrow it will darn well be “motivate.” It’s what has to be done and it IS my choice. Sometimes you’ve just got to suck it up and keep going. Because even if there’s not one person out there who cares if I ever write another word I can say, in all honesty that, I do. Let’s hope it stays that way. :)

What I’ve Learned

Perhaps I’m on a quest for wisdom these days, although I think many of us are, even though we may not openly acknowledge it or even recognize it. Who knows, maybe this is something that comes with the aging process. Aging? Who the heck said aging?

Love this quote by Maya Angelou and wanted to share it. This woman truly know how to express herself. I hope you find a few nuggets here as well.

“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
— Maya Angelou

18 Rules for Living – by the Dalai Lama

Okay, so I borrowed this from my sister’s blog. Thanks, Kelly!

Tonight, it feels good to remind myself of these rules.

18 Rules for Living – by the Dalai Lama

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.

3. Follow the three Rs: 1. Respect for self 2. Respect for others 3. Responsibility for all your actions.

4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

11. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.

14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.

15. Be gentle with the earth.

16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.

17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

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