Letting Go

There’s an important difference between giving up and letting go.” ~Jessica Hatchigan~

Have you ever asked yourself,  when is a good time to give up?  At what point do I call it a day? When do I walk away and just let go?

 I asked myself these questions about a novel I wrote a few years back. I’d submitted it to a few places but ultimately it was rejected. At the time I was disappointed, not crushed –I’ve had my share of rejections in the past– but disappointed nonetheless. Using one editor’s suggestions I decided to revise the story which took many, many hours. I felt the story idea was good and it was a story I wanted to tell. I soon found out that good ideas don’t always turn into good stories. I resubmitted it only to have it rejected again with the suggestion that I allow to the story to set for a time or else abandon it permanently since it seemed that the best part of the manuscript was the idea behind it. Ouch!  I’m being honest here. That one stung.

Writers learn to make rejection a part of our lives. We send things out, they come back, we send them out again, and again. We try and take suggestions from editors if they make sense to us. We resubmit if the editor asks us to.

So I let the story set for a time. I wrote another novel in between. No doubt I learned a bit more about writing. Having one novel under my belt certainly didn’t prove I knew everything there was to know about writing. But that other novel kept niggling away at me, staying in my thoughts.

Maybe I simply like beating a dead horse to death. Maybe I’m as stubborn as the day is long. Maybe, just maybe, I knew I had more in me to give.

Fast forward a few years. I’m hard at work rewriting that same novel I started out with several years back. I stripped it down to the bare bones and began again. Is it working this time around? I’ll let you know as soon as I can. I’ll give you a hint, don’t hold your breath. It may take some time for me to flesh it all out. What I can tell you is, that although the story has the same basic elements, it’s totally different this time around.

Now you might think I just don’t know when to give in, but I can assure you that I’ve left a trail of unfinished stories behind me, stories that I knew were just never going to make it. Sometimes the story we’re writing is just practice for the next one. I’ve had plenty of practice over the years, but I’ve also had plenty of success.

There are times, and situations in life, when the best thing to do is to simply let go, especially if we want some peace in our lives. I’m a believer in letting go, but only if letting go is the right thing to do. Other times we know deep down that giving up is not the answer no matter what others might tell us. Ultimately we know ourselves and what we are capable of. I knew I would never be happy if I let this particular story go. The editor who said that the idea is good was right. It is a good idea. So I’m back at it, giving it one more shot, one final go round before I finally willing to let it go.

At what point do you decide to let something go? Do you believe in sticking with something and seeing it through to the end? Perhaps you have a personal story to share where you were told to let something go but you then went on to succeed.

Creepy Messages From Blogland

Every so often I get an email that says, “Someone is now following, Laura Best, author.”

Sounds a bit creepy, right? Someone is following you..

I mean, should I be checking over my shoulder? You know, just in case some weird little guy with big eyes, stringy hair, and bad oral health is after me?

Na, afraid not,there’s nothing sinister or vile about these emails. In fact, it’s all good. WordPress so kindly lets their bloggers know who out there in blogland is following their blog. But what if the person following your blog isn’t a blogger themselves or a wordpress blogger for that matter? Since WordPress doesn’t know you, the email sent simply states— “someone.” So take heart, if you’re not a wordpress blogger you’re still someone. If you’re someone following my blog, then I happen to think you’re an extra special someone. So take a bow or maybe even do a little dance to celebrate your specialness.

I’ve got to give credit to all my non-blogging friends who drop in to read my posts. You’re all pretty special and I appreciate your visits. Although I don’t publish every post I write to Facebook, I can pretty much count on the fact that if I do, many of you come on by to read what I’ve got to say. Just so ya know this writer/blogger appreciates those visits.

I’m always astounded when my non-blogging buddies get up the courage to leave a comment, especially that first time. I try and put myself in your place, wondering if I would be so brave. Of course to do so, I’d have to get in my time machine, and go back in time before I ever had a blog of my own, back when a blog was this mysterious and scary thing that I would never dream of commenting on.

Maybe that doesn’t sound like such a big deal to all the bloggers out there, but I know it takes courage to post a comment, at least for the first time. It can be just as scary as hitting “publish” on your very first blog post.

Quite a few of my non-blogging friends have subscribed to my blog, which simply means they receive an email every time I update. Since I added that little feature to the sidebar of my blog a decent number of you have signed up, and I just want to say thanks. I really do appreciate the support. I sometimes think that those of us in the blogging community forget about all the non-bloggers out there who stop by our blogs. Don’t worry, we all appreciate the support we receive. To us you’re all “someone,” regardless of those creepy little emails informing us that we’re being followed.

* Oh, and by the way, that creepy little picture of Gollum was sketched by my son, Matt, back when he was in high school. I wanted to add a caption below the picture but wordpress kept saying no. Anyway, I think it was the first sketch he ever drew. Pretty darn good I’d say. Wouldn’t you?

Enchanted

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” Albert Einstein

 

In a wooded area not far from home is an enchanted forest.

 

It is the place where fairies and pixies live and play.

Sceptical? I don’t really blame you. We’ve been conditioned to think that such things as enchanted forests exist only in fairy tales or tucked away in our imagination for no one else to see. As kids we were taught that imagination had a time and place, usually an hour or so set aside during creative writing class. Imagination was encouraged, but only if it didn’t interfere in our “real” work, which had nothing to do with using one’s imagination.

I love the above quote by Einstein, one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century. Now if someone with Einstein’s intelligence acknowledges the importance of imagination, deeming it more important than knowledge then, who is this writer to argue?

So humour me as I allow my imagination to tread upon the moss-covered rocks.

I can’t help thinking/imagining that this small wooded area has the potential to make it into a work of fiction one day.

These rock formations are indeed unique to this area, and whenever I come across these photos I can’t help but let my imagination soar.

Do you agree with Einstein that imagination is more important than knowledge?

Dinner at Eight, Dead by Nine

This year marks the 95th anniversary of Vimy Ridge. I’m betting, like me, you didn’t know that little bit of information. 95 years… Wow!

Some of the students from New Germany Rural High school will be going on a class trip this year to Vimy Ridge, and in an effort to raise funds for the trip they put on a dinner theatre at the Legion hall last evening.

The play, Dinner at Eight, Dead by Nine, was written and performed by the students, and I have to say they did an excellent job. You’ve got to love the ingenuity of a group of teenagers who want to go across the Atlantic to visit the graves of fallen soldiers. For many of them, I’m sure, this will be the trip of a lifetime.

While it seems that East Dalhousie loves a good dinner theatre (I swear at least half the community took in the event) most proved to be a little camera shy.

See what I mean? Maybe it was the threat of ending up on my blog that caused these reactions. People, don’t you know you look sillier this way then if you just let me take your photo? Ah well. This is more entertaining.

Here I am having my photo taken to prove that I won’t dissolve into oblivion when the flash goes off.See that E. Dalhousie. Yeah I look weird, but do you really care? It’s hard to look natural with a mouth full of roast beef.

Now, I’ve got to mention the meal roast beef, which was delicious. My compliments to the chef or is that chefs?

Let’s not forget dessert, goodness gracious we can’t forget to mention the dessert. While a chocolate brownie with ice cream and chocolate sauce isn’t a substitute for a Mars, it does come in a close second.

Sorry, no photos of the actors, there were just too many heads in the way, and what with me being vertically challenged and all. You do understand don’t’ you? You’ll have to take my word on it that the show was entertainingly amusing. An excellent job.

So there you have the highlights of Dinner at Eight, Dead by Nine. Sometimes it’s nice for a writer to just sit back and be entertained by someone else’s words for a change..

All Aboard the Bandwagon

Ah the bandwagon, that gloriously wonderful place to be. Toot your horns and play your trombones ‘cause the circus is coming to town. Add some razzmatazz (God, I love that word) to the mix, some decorations and away we go!

Back in the day, the bandwagon paraded through the streets when the circus came to town. The purpose was to attract the public, peak their interest, and drum up a little business. I mean, it was the circus, how often did it come to town? Of course there were never any circus’ coming through good old E. Dalhousie, and certainly no bandwagons, at least in that sense of the word.

In the late 19th century, politicians picked up on this form of attracting a crowd and began using bandwagons when campaigning for office. (I googled all this because I really wasn’t sure where the term bandwagon originated.)

Today, we speak about someone jumping on the bandwagon we generally mean they want in on what’s trendy, because let’s face it, trendy means popular and who doesn’t enjoy popularity?

We hear about trends in book publishing, and what’s hot at the moment. Hot means books sales, and books sales means well:

Book sales  + Popularity = Every author’s dream.

Back when I was a fledgling writer with no real direction, no clear idea of style or voice, just an urge to express myself with words, back when I was furiously trying to figure it out, figure me out, figure the world out, while figuring my kids out, I thought the bandwagon was the place to be. It was fun, it was popular, there was razzmatazz. Not only that, if I wanted to catch a publisher’s eye I had to give them what they wanted and sure as heck they wanted trendy.

I tried writing what I thought would get me published. The problem was, what I thought would get me published had nothing to do with being true to who I was as a writer and as a person.  Now, don’t get me wrong, if trendy is who you are through and through, and is not simply coming from your need to write what will sell, then you’re on the right path.

I wasn’t. Not in the beginning. I couldn’t even see the path because I wasn’t even looking in the right place.

So I was a baby taking baby steps along with my two year old at the time. I was trying to find my way in the dark, with no guidance and no helping hand. I made wild stabs in the dark, first this way, then that. It’s called life, and we all make our share of wild, uncontrolled stabs in the dark while trying to find our way.

My first steps were wobbly. Not only that,  I was as clumsy as elephant. I saw where I wanted to be and I headed straight for it, crushing everything in my path. I thought I was going to get the peanut that way, and boy, was I mistaken.

But don’t cry for me and don’t feel sorry. We all travel the path that is meant for us. Some of us tread lightly, others stomp our way through.

I’ve always been stubborn and independent, always figured I had to discover these things for myself. It’s not that I didn’t want the help of others, there just were no “others” out there to offer it. The path looked mighty deserted. Not to mention that, in the beginning, I was on a secret mission. But secret mission or not, in the very beginning, I climbed up on that bandwagon for a spell. Trendy look pretty good from where I was standing. In fact it looked about right. It was going to get me published.

I would never advise anyone starting out to follow my footsteps. Our footsteps are unique, the path we choose is the one we need to travel. We need to make our own mistakes and find our own way.

The moment I read that we should write what we know, an idea came to me. I knew what I could write about. I was a bit nervous. Up until then I’d been writing what I didn’t know because I just didn’t know any different. And then my first story was published and I felt immediate joy. I had found the path that was right for me.

Would the path lead me to popularity? Would publishers immediately snap up every morsel I wrote, eager to get my words in print?

What do you think?

But I had learned a valuable lesson.

I learned to stop looking over my shoulder. I learned to write the story that was uniquely mine. I found the path that was meant for my footprints. And this is where I want to be, this is where I have found publication.

So have you ever climbed up on the bandwagon? If you have was it the right place to be?

I’m a SCAIPER

What, you’ve never heard of a SCAIPER?

That’s SCAIPER as in CANSCAIPER.

If you’re from Canada and you write for kids you have likely heard of this organization.

Let’s keep this simple.

CANSCAIP is a National Arts Service Organization dedicated to the celebration and promotion of Canadian children’s authors, illustrators and performers and their work.

You don’t have to be a published author to join. You can become a “friend” and still keep up with all the news. It’s also a great way to find out more about your favourite Canadian children’s author, illustrator or performer.

Here’s the link to the CANSCAIP site. If you click into members you can find my page. And if you don’t, well then, you won’t find it. Told you it was simple.

Today, I received word that the CANSCAIP site had added a list of the member’s book trailers. Many of you have already seen the trailer for Bitter, Sweet. My daughter and I put it together, about a year and a half ago on one of my visits, shortly after Miss Charlotte was born.

If you’re familiar with Dalhousie, the pictures we used  in the trailer are all from the area. Kind of “cool and neat” as Miss Charlotte likes to say. And yes, that’s an actual shot of the Dalhousie Road where the story is set. Now, I personally don’t live on the section of road that is unpaved, but yes, part of the road today is still dirt just like back in the 1940’s. Unfortunately, the deserted house featured in the video was torn down last summer. It had been empty for some years and I suppose there was no one to keep up repairs. Oh, and the little guy holding up the trout is my husband at about seven or eight. The joke in our family is that hubby loves to see videos of himself so it only seemed fitting that he’d make an appearance.

 If you’re interested in checking out some of the other trailers slip on over and have a gander. You’ll find mine there as well. This link will take you directly to page. Here. In the next while, I’m going to check these trailers out to get some “cool and neat” ideas for my next book trailer.

*Keep in mind if you’re on dial-up, as I know many of my friends from the area are, it’ll take awhile for these YouTube videos to upload. Be patient.

Oh and while you’re here, might I say, Happy Valentine’s Day to you all. May your day be filled with sunshine, roses and chocolate. If you’re one of those folks who doesn’t buy into the whole notion of Valentine’s Day have some chocolate anyway. Even the most mundane day can be improved with chocolate. Oh here, I’ll give you the chocolate myself.  Enjoy.

Miss Popularity–That’s me!!

I’ve been holding out on you all for awhile now, keeping things kind of quiet for some time now, but then it happened again just the other day over at Diane Lynn Tibert’s blog. Diane nominated me for the Versatile Blogger award, which then reminded me that hey, Pauline over at Brightest Blue had also nominated me for this award, which then reminded me that Darlene Foster had nominated me for the Liebster Award.. I mean, all this nominating how did I get to be so popular? Little ole me…

So, thanks ladies, you all have terrific blogs and you make me feel more than welcome each time I visit.

Okay, so with every blog award that goes around in blogland there are rules in place, but what to do when there are several awards on the line?  Too many rules, too many blogs to nominate. What’s a tired blogger to do?

Why, make things up of course!!! I’m a fiction writer for goodness sake.

So I’ve decided to invent some of my own rules, taking a little here and a little there. Kind of like coming up with a new recipe of sorts, try what you like, leave out what you don’t.

I like the rule where you tell seven things about yourself. That one I’ll do.  So I’m going to tell you some totally useless things about myself, because well, I’m just not that exciting. If you know me in real life, you’re nodding your head about now.

Are you ready? Here goes.

  1. I’ve been harbouring a secret from most of you these past two and a half years, but I’m ready to come clean. I know it’s not evident from viewing my gravatar photos, but I’m vertically challenged. Yes, I know it’s a shock, right? Those of you who have met me in real life have no doubt figured this out on your own, ‘cause nothing gets past you. This news is more for the blogging community although even a few of you are in on that highly guarded secret. It is only a matter of time before Miss Charlotte joins the ranks of all the other children in my extended family who touches their hand to their heads and then over to mine to see how much further they have to grow to pass me. This usually begins at around the age of five. I have three years to wait. Oh joy, oh joy.

  1. I like Mars bars. If you’re on my facebook friends list you’re reading this and saying, “No kidding, mama!” The mighty Mars often takes up space on my status updates. Admit it. You’ve seen it. You even “liked” it.  Oh lovely, lovely Mars, you were worth hiding in the bathroom to savour when my kids wee small and driving me up the wall. But how many of you know that for a few months last year I had a Mars Bar Fairy who showered me with gifts of Mars Bars left in my mailbox?  Tis true. Tis real. I kid you not.

  1. My ring size is 4 ½. Yeah I know, you’re thinking, so what shorty. Someone mentioned ring size the other day so this tidbit seemed reverent while writing this post. I’m not a “ring” person. I like them, even admire them for their beauty. I sometimes walk into the jewelry store for a gander. I wear my wedding ring (unless my knuckle is swollen.) That’s it most of the time. I do have a family ring, and engagement ring and a birthstone ring given to me by my significant other when we were dating. That’s it. I don’t go for bling bling. I love it, but it’s not me.

  1. On separate occasions it was thought that my daughters and I were sisters. Wow, does that sound like an awkward sentence, and me a writer. Now some of you might think that’s quite a compliment. But truly, they only say this when they see me at a distance. Have you ever gone out into a Christmas tree lot and you saw that perfect tree, only to get closer and see all the big holes and flaws? Well here’s the truth people, women my age, like Christmas trees always look better when viewed from afar. True story. Listen to me on this. I live a whisker away from the Christmas tree capital of the world. I know my trees, and my wrinkles. Not to mention when you’re short people think you must be young.

  1. I once found a wallet when I was a kid with three two dollar bills in it. A group of us combed the cottage area looking to find the owner, because to us, if we didn’t know who you were you had to be a cottage owner. An entire Saturday afternoon was taken up. We just had to find the owner. But good old resourceful Dad found the owner’s phone number in the wallet that evening after we’d wasted an entire Saturday afternoon. Turned out he was from a neighbouring town and had been in the area driving his dune buggy with a friend. I thought I was rich when he gave me the six bucks for returning his wallet. Do you know how many Mars Bars that would have bought back in the day? I mean what? 10 cents a piece and no taxes back then either. I could have had sixty of those lovelies. And just think, the energy to burn off all those extra calories.

  1. On Valentine’s Day 1965 a small green lunch pail was found out the roadside in our little community by a passerby. Upon further investigation a handful of Valentines were discovered signed by one, Laura Legge. And for a small amount of time it was thought, by some of the neighbours, that I had been possibly kidnapped. Oh yeah, the minds of many spin mighty fast in small communities. It makes me wonder what the good folks thought my sisters were doing whilst I was being kidnapped, drawing straws to see who was going to break the news to Mum and Dad once they got home from school at the end of the day?  Turns out that at five years old, I’d tied the handles of my lunch pail to the end of my scarf. When the knot came out I hadn’t been aware of it. Mystery solved. So ended Dalhousie Road’s first near- kidnapping case.

  1. When I was a kid, my sisters and I used to spend our summers picking strawberries for money. Since we lived a long way from the berry field, often times farmers would bring in pickers from outside the area and change them a bit for room and board. The very first time I went off to make my fortune in strawberries, I got homesick and seen called Dad to come get me. Turns out my instincts weren’t all that bad. We later heard that the building the farmer had put us up in had once been the home of pigs. Yup, that’s right, I quite literally slept in a pigpen.

So there’s a whole bunch of useless information that I’m sure you’ll tuck away at the back of your mind never to think about again but, quite frankly, I enjoyed rehashing some of these memories.

Now I couldn’t possible pass these awards on to as many people as I’m supposed to, and since I know that many of the beloved bloggers I follow have already had awards bestowed upon them, how about we skip that part?

Instead, I thought I’d mention a few blogs that many of you might not have discovered, and thought I’d give a shout out to.

Pam Chamberlain-— Writer’s, there’s knowledge to be gained here, tidbits of info that you might not be aware of. Look into the mind of an editor. I worked with Pam in the past and she’s a real smart cookie.

Half Awake and Dreaming—If Lissa’s art work doesn’t blow you away then I don’t know what would. She’s wonderful. It’s always a thrill to go visit, to see her newest creation. Head on over, poke around, tell me you’re not impressed.

Lavenderlines-–Colleen is a writer/blogger/ book reviewer from good old Prince Edward Island. Check out her review policy. She also has book giveaways from time to time.

Life according to Loup—Dog lovers head on over.  Loup Graham is about as lovable as any dog out there. He’d likely argue and say he’s THE most lovable. One thing I know for sure is he’s the most articulate pooch I’ve ever met, and a real tease.

Miss Julie’s Hodgepodge—Julie’s a local gal who dishes up a steaming helping of hodgepodge with every post. Her posts are filled with wit and charm. She tells it like it is on the beautiful South Shore of Nova Scotia

So there you go folks, some useless information along with some great blogs to check out. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Hello Blogging Blahs

I’ll admit this past while I’ve been feeling a bit blah when it comes to blogging. Maybe I’ve simply been busy with other things and finding ideas to blog about has been taking a back seat. But today, I read a post over at Author Jody Hedlund’s that seemed to resonate with me. 6 Ways to Beat the Blogging Blahs. How the devil did she know what was on my mind?  I felt a wee bit happy to know that others go through this as well. Truth is I didn’t even have a name for it before.  Blogging Blahs….Who would have thunk it? Thanks, Jody.  :)

Now, I’ve also found myself a tad bit bored with facebook lately as well. Oh dear, am I seeing a pattern here? And Twitter? Well, Twitter just doesn’t seem to speak my language. I’m just not a Twitter kind of gal.

Could be that I’ve just been spending more time reading and writing and the urge for social media just hasn’t been striking me all that often. It’s difficult to do everything, be everywhere. Yet I know some of you seem to be able to juggle it all and then some. By the amount of new posts I see each time I log into google reader I’d say most of you are doing a pretty good job of it. You amaze me. Not only that, you remind me of how far behind I am at visiting your blogs.

I’m not going to say that winter has had any effect on my mood because I really don’t think that’s the case. I’ve got plenty of energy for other things. I’m just feeling a little content to spend time away from the internet. But I’m going to try and get back into the swing of things. Hopefully I’ll be able to take some of Jody’s suggestions and come back even stronger. Hmmm. Time will tell.

If, like me, you’re finding yourself in the midst of the blogging blahs, I suggest you check out Jody’s post. Hopefully, you’ll find some helpful advice.

Have any of you experienced the blogging blahs and if so how did you get yourself back into the groove?

Making it Shine

Hard at work on a manuscript, I was suddenly reminded of those Pledge commercials that used to air during the soap operas back when I was a kid. You know the ones where a fine mist covers an already spotless piano and is wiped up quickly without a smudge or a streak. Pure magic right before our eyes! And don’t forget when lemon Pledge came on the scene. Not only did it clean like a charm, but it had that great lemony smell. Ah lemon–what more could any good housewife want?  I’m not sure how many of us owned pianos back then but seeing that wood shine is a memory that sits pretty in my mind. If we’d have owned one of the darn things I’d have surely spent my days polishing away.

I’ve been working on a manuscript that requires a little more buffing, just a little more shine, thus the trip down memory lane with the lemon Pledge. (Our minds have a great way of connecting unrelated things, don’t you think?)

So I’m at the place where I need to make this story as shiny as that piano on the lemon pledge commercial. The truth is I like this part of writing, maybe even more than setting the story down. I like reading what’s already there, moving those sentences around if need be, even adding scenes that previously weren’t there because a sudden burst of writing genius has made me see something that I was previously unable to see. This is the part of the writing process where I get to shine, and it’s a good feeling. It’s the place where we can take a good story and make it even better. Others might not see it, certainly not the readers who sees only the finished product, but a writer knows. Oh yes, we certainly do. Sometimes all it takes is the smallest bit of change.

Once I have a clear idea of what idea of just how I’m going to make a story shine, I like to jump right in and get to work. A phone call from my editor a week ago gave me just what I needed to start me off. I now have all the supplies I need to give this next story a shiny new coat. I don’t expect the process to take all that long, but I do expect to enjoy every glorious moment. I’ll let you now how I make out.

And who knows maybe if I pick up a can of furniture polish I’ll become that “good housewife” after all. Now back to work I go.

What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most?

Third Generation.

This week  I’ve been a bit busy working on some rewrites . I expect to be blogging more about this in the next while. Not to be mysterious but for now let’s just say I’ve been busy. Also, we are having a nice visit from a certain little miss this week. Sorry I haven’t been around to visit any blogs but this is simply one of those times when life just doesn’t allow for it. There will be plenty of time for that next week. Just know I haven’t forgotten about any of you. Okay, I’ve been peeking in a  little during the wee hours but haven’t had time to leave any comments.

Today just happened to be bookmobile day and I had a book on hold. I don’t live far from where the bookmobile stops. In fact it’s rather convenient.

Here’s the third generation experiencing the joy of choosing a book from the stacks. I was a bit older the first time the bookmobile came through forty years ago, but it’s nice to know that this service is still in place and able to bring reading material to people living in rural Nova Scotia. Kind of a proud moment for this writer.

I discovered some great finds today. I’ll be adding them to my goodreads list. Now it’s time to do a little reading..

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 151 other followers

  • Follow Laura Best on WordPress.com
  • my novels

  • Laura Best

  • Blog Stats

    • 59,138 hits
  • Add me

    Facebook Buttons By ButtonsHut.com