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.

Let me Streeeeeeeetch Your Imagination a Little:

As a writer, I like to stretch my imagination. For me, this sometimes means looking at life from both sides of the coin. I like to analyze people’s behavior, determine what motivates them. I like to step inside their shoes, try them on for size, and be that person for a brief moment in time. I like to forget my opinions on subjects and think about how someone else might view the exact scenario. We all see life though a different set of eyes. Writers often speak about wiggling inside the skin of their characters, becoming them, breathing and laughing, feeling their emotions, understanding what their reactions to life’s circumstances are. One of the most important qualities a writer can posses is the ability to become that other person, to view them as people( take them or leave them) without passing judgment. Our characters can not always be the people we’d like them to be. Not if we want to write stories that keep our readers turning the page. Characters who are too good, too perfect are good for little more than putting the reader to sleep. We all have faults, some of them big, some little, but they are there nonetheless. And these faults that we seem to despise in other people, we love to read about. It’s interesting, what can I say?

Remember when you were a child and played make-believe?  Perhaps you took on a specific role to play. Were you a character who was looked up to? A villain perhaps? Did you act out scenes? Did you become angry and upset over some of the perils your character faced? Did you feel those emotions for yourself? Were they real?

I can vividly recall those feelings of anger, frustration, hurt, happiness as the character I was portraying in my games went through a series of life altering events. Who knew imagination could be so strong or evoke such emotions?  But our characters can not always chime out our own preferences or opinions, they can not view the world the same way that we do, or else we’re simply creating characters that mimic ourselves. Little mini-mes, if you will. I tend to think that would get a bit boring after awhile. I’ve got news for you all; I’m just not that interesting, seriously. So quite often I like to take a reverse role and try to imagine life through the eyes of someone totally opposite from myself.

This was partly the reason why I asked the questions I did in last week’s post, Cast Out the Writing Sob. I was hoping to have you reverse roles and view this subject from someone else’s point of view. Just because I don’t believe myself to be a writing snob, I was curious as to whether or not someone else might see me as one. Is it possible, I wondered? I have a awful lot of non-writing friends who maybe don’t understand why I have a blog or why self-promotion is pretty much a given once you’re a published writer. Maybe they see all these things as simply bragging on my part. Hey, you never know! Then again, I was also thinking (I  tend to do a lot of that sometimes) that perhaps the non-writing community can relate to what we writers go through just a bit more than we writers give them credit for. I received some great replies. Thanks! You’re all awesome and so very articulate. I love throwing out tough questions to you all, challenging you and asking you to stretch your imaginations.

So, I hope you don’t mind if I ask you to stretch your imaginations a bit by asking some tricky questions from time to time. I really like what you all have to say.  While I won’t admit to being nosey, I’m always curious as to what your thoughts are, not just my own.

Do you enjoy a good challenge and the chance to streeeeeetch your imagination? Or do you just enjoy life the way it is?

Is Every Child An Artist?

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.~~~ Pablo Picasso


So I thought I’d give you all a chuckle. This was my school photo from way back in the sixties. My mum gave my sisters and I a home perm that year right before school started.

My first year in school I went to a one roomed schoolhouse, but even back then I can remember my love for drawing.

So when I thought about this quote by Picasso it really seemed to hit home. What young child doesn’t like to draw? It seems a nature thing the moment they can hold a pencil in their hands for them to produce something on that paper. They don’t worry about what it looks like, they simply produce what is in them to create. Kind of cool when you stop to think of it. No inner critic telling them their work sucks. All they want to do is to have fun.  🙂

Once kids discover the written word they start creating sentences  that turn into stories. They just write. It doesn’t even matter if the story makes a whole lot of sense. That hardly seems the important part.

We all remember the first stories our kids brought home in Primary. We marvelled in these little stories, took delight in each misspelled word, every grammar mistake, as we read the words they had strung together to form a beginning, middle and end. (Hey even without those three elements we loved their stories. Didn’t we?)

But then along the way some kids decide they don’t like to write or draw or paint, for whatever reason, while others go on to express themselves in more complex ways. They are the ones who went on to become artists and writers. And thankfully so. I’m almost certain that these kids were the ones who believed their work was wonderful, and who possessed that need to keep expressing themselves, to improve that natural talent they started out with the first time they were able to hold that pencil in their tiny fingers.

Do you agree with Picasso when he said that every child is an artist? Or do you think that artistry comes later in life?

Friendship

To anyone else we might have looked like two old friends drinking coffee and catching up on the latest gossip. Our conversation was intense. We settled right into the purpose of our meeting, to talk about writing and publishing, and everything in between. We swapped stories, shared a few laughs, spoke of our personal triumphant and the many disappointments we’ve encountered along the way. The time flew by. We parted, promising we’d get together again.

I often imagine that I’d soon bore my non-writing friends to tears if I spent too much time talking about publishing and writing, and for good reason. For many of them they love the fact that I’ve been published, in fact they couldn’t be more supportive, but to them it’s a whole other world and a strange one at that. It’s probably difficult for those who don’t write to understand why writers put themselves through the long torturous wait times, the countless hours spent in solitude working at their craft, and the numerous rejections that come along the way. In what other area of our lives would be take such a beating, such outright rejection, and keep on going?

If I went off to work each day to be told repeatedly by my boss that I wasn’t doing my job quite right, or that I was actually doing everything right but it wasn’t going to make an ounce of difference at the end of the day, I would probably go off in search of another job. And yet we writers swallow it all and keep on going, the serious ones that is. Our need to be published, to feel some validation for our work, is a strong one. And it needs to be strong or else we’d fall at the wayside and turn our backs on our dreams. Not everyone who writes is seeking publication. Some people write for their own enjoyment and have no desire to have others read their words and this in no way demeans what they do. But for the rest of us hopefuls we wait and wait for those glorious letters of acceptance that sends our spirits soaring to the cosmos. Someone thinks our work is worthy of publication. Oh happy day!

Yesterday I spent the afternoon deep in conversation with a fellow author. It was great to share stories with someone who is taking the same journey. Were it not for the fact that we are both writers, I’m sure our paths might never have crossed. Our backgrounds are totally different in almost every way imaginable, our writing styles just as different.

I walked away with the knowing that it’s not necessary to have many things in common with someone to enjoy their company, and bonds can be formed between those who share the same passion no matter what that passion might be.

Most of my friendships have been formed through the years with people who do not share my passion for writing. Many of my friends are not even avid readers, and I’m totally fine with that. These friendships are equally important to me. Yes I am a writer but I am so much more. As we go though life we encounter many different people all with a wide variety of interests. Thankfully, we are multidimensional beings and we all help make the world an interesting place to be. We all bring to the planet our individual gifts that originate from the place where creativity and passion are born.

Today is a day for reflection as I take time to be thankful for the many different friendships in my life—- old and new, “real life” and online. You know who you are!

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  • Publication date April 30, 2020. Available for pre-order NOW.

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