Some Days I Just Want to Quit

Some days I want to know what it would feel like to abandon the page for more than a day, a week, or a month, or a year. I want to know if the longing to produce words would consume me or if I’d move onward without ever looking back. Would I choose a different way of expressing myself or would the need to express myself dissolve into the Universe never to be thought of again. Would anyone look back one day and say, “Hmm, Laura Best,  she used to be a writer, didn’t she? I wonder whatever happened to her?” Would it matter if they didn’t?

Some days I want to just quit and spend my time not thinking of that next sentence or the story that’s waiting to be written— perhaps the story that will never be written— because I’ve run out of time.

Some days I want to know what it feels like to not think about my books and whether or not anyone is reading or even caring about my work because in all honesty I know most of them don’t.

Some days I want to go in a totally different direction and forget the fact that I’m a writer. I want to play with my grandchildren, see the world through their eyes with only acceptance and love. I want to feel that love, be that love, unconditionally.

Some days I don’t want to face the fact that my writing is mediocre and not even second, or third, or fourth best. I want to throw away the numbers and simply see my writing as a gift, something to be shared with no strings attached to anyone. Sales figures won’t matter.

Some days I want to know what it would feel like to wake without that first thought being a new character, a new plot line, a new word that titillates the tongue when spoken. I want to drift off into dreamland without a story churning in my mind and just sleep. I wouldn’t be faced with the burden of getting the story right and the knowledge that no one else could tell my story. If someone else could take that same story, and mold it in their hands, would anyone even notice the difference? Of course they wouldn’t.

Some days I just want to quit, sit on that pity pot and show the world that I’m ready to give up. But the Universe doesn’t feel pity. I’ve known that since I was a child, and ended up picking myself up again and again because I finally realized that no one else would do it for me.

Some days I don’t want to be a writer at all. I just want to quit. Who cares? What difference does it make?

The answer to that is simple. It wouldn’t make any difference if I quit writing. The world would continue to spin. People would live and die. Day and night would come and go. Because you can’t miss what you’ve never known and there would be no one to grieve those unwritten stories. BUT ME.

Some days I just want to quit writing. But something won’t let me.

I won’t let me.

Tomorrow I will write. Again.

 

Are You a Perfect Writer?

Have you ever noticed the thing we want often shows up at just the right time?

 

While I was thinking about writing a blog post I literally stumbled across the quote by John Updike—Perfection is the enemy of creation. And there I had it, an idea to blog about. Thanks Universe, you’re one cool dude!

 

Many of us admit to being perfectionists in some area of our lives if not all. While I hardly consider myself a perfectionist, I can be quite nitpicky when it comes to writing. I often spend outrageous amounts of time writing and rewriting paragraphs, waltzing around with an armful of words without ever making it off the dance floor. Sometimes the changes I make are so slight it probably makes no difference to anyone but me. I like to fiddle with words, and move sentences around. It’s fun. It’s challenging. It’s a delight!

 

I really don’t know if that means I’m a perfectionist or that I’m a little on the anal side when it comes to writing. So sue me. What I do know is, there’s no better way to stifle creative endeavours, no better way to stop a story in mid scene, than constantly striving for that perfect flow of words the first time through. In fact, that’s kind of where I am with one of my stories at the moment, and I’ve got to stop it. Okay, so I am anal—there I’ve admitted it. Are you happy now?

 

While it would be easy to become envious of those writers who can simply let their creativity take over as they write that first draft, I stand back in awe with hopes that one day my creativity will lead me to write a first draft without the need for me to look over my shoulder even once. I truly think that writers who are able to write, write, write are far more productive than those of us who write, revise, edit, write, and inch our way to the end. Getting that first draft down and THEN diving into revisions just seems to make more sense. Unfortunately, the things we do in life don’t always make sense.

 

To top all that off we have the word perfection to contend with. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble but this perfectionism some of us strive for is only a figment of our imaginations. For some reason we think that we should be the judge of what is perfect and what is not, when we all have our own standards as to what we judge as perfect. Why do we assume that our opinion is the only one that counts? Will we ever find that perfect we’re looking for? Maybe, if perfect was something we could pick up and hold in our arms, maybe cuddle close to, something that any dang idiot could look at and recognize like a tree or a flower or a rock. But perfect isn’t any of these things. Perfect is a notion that we carry around in our heads. And unlike a rock or tree, my perfect is going to look a lot different from yours. So who gets to decide whose perfect is the right one? Danged if I know.

 

What I do know is this; eventually, we have to let go of our work if we ever plan to see it published. No matter how we want to polish our words, making them bright and shiny, eventually we’ll be left with nothing but a dull shine as we rub, rub, rub away that original brilliance. Will it ever be perfect? I guess we’re the only ones who can judge that.

 

Are you a perfectionist? Do you agree with John Updike that Perfection is the enemy of creation?

Serendipitious Moments

I’ve been known to make declarations to the Universe at least a few times in my life. Now don’t go picturing me, head drawn toward the heavens shaking a clenched fist, crying out with passion, a hot tear trickling down my cheek. Come on now folks, it’s never anything that dramatic.

Last year I made such a declaration when I completed my current novel perhaps believing it would stop me from tinkering with it once and for all. One of the hardest things for any writer is to stop fixing every little flaw in their manuscript and move onto something completely new. We go over our manuscripts with a fine toothcomb so many times we can drown ourselves with the sound of our own words. Honestly, are a few rearranged words really going to keep us from being published? I hardly believe that to be the case. Of course, writers go on the assumption that if our baby is ever accepted for publication we’ll be working with an editor to try and make it the very best book possible, so when we reach the point where we declare our novel complete it really isn’t. But that’s another post altogether.

So, to continue my story…

Most of you know I have another blog where I post photos from around the area “..way out here in Dalhousie.”  You’ll see the link over on the right side. The posts are fairly simply– a picture and a quote and little more. I don’t consider myself to have any great skills when it comes to photography, but the blog is really just me playing around.

The evening I declared to the Universe that my novel was compete the very next thing I went on to do was post a picture of a chickadee I’d taken earlier in the day at a bird feeder on my Dalhousie blog. I needed a quote and randomly typed in bird quotes to see what sites Google would bring up. I found one and clicked the link. The very first quote on the list was this:  Hold fast to your dreams because without them life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.—Langston Hughes.  I stopped cold. I knew I’d found my quote and I knew my book would be published. How? The title of my book, the one I had moments ago declared complete is — To Fly With a Broken Wing.  Pretty cool I thought. Now with this very same novel about to be published I’m reminded of this moment even more.

Now it’s difficult for me to ignore these serendipitous moments although I know many people pass them off with hardly a thought. (Coincidence, they mean nothing!) Well maybe so, but I like to think of them a signs that I’m kind of on the right track. If nothing else, they warm my heart for a time and make me smile. There absolutely nothing wrong with a heart-warming moment, nothing wrong in taking a few moments to say a simply thank you to God or the Universe (however you want to say it) for sending these serendipitous moments our way.

Do you believe these serendipitous moments come to us for a reason or they are simply nice coincidences but mean nothing else? Have you experienced any serendipitous moments lately that you’d like to share?

One’s on the Way!

I never thought at age 51 I’d be announcing this but here ya go. There’s going to be an addition to the Best household in the not so distant future and I’m SO excited!!

I know, I know, you probably all think I’m nuts, but what can I say? I’ve been hoping for this for quite some time now, but doesn’t it always seem as though the stars have to align just so?

Many years ago I probably wouldn’t have expected this to happen so late in my life. You  know how it is. You start out young and full of ambition, with certain expectations and hopes, thinking that it’ll all unfold according to your plan. Most always you expect these things to happen when you’re much younger and better equipped to cope with all the stress involved. I guess this goes to show we never know what the Universe has in store for us, and surprises are good much of the time, even blessings in disguise.

 Not a whole lot of people know about this yet as it’s taking me awhile to get used to the idea myself, but I’m expecting the news to spread quickly. In a small community secrets are not so easy to keep. I’ve discussed it with my husband and my kids, and Miss Charlotte, she’s a bit too young to even know what’s going on. A few close friends are also in the loop. I mean what’s the sense in good news if you can’t share it with someone. And my mum, it only seemed fair that she be let in on the news first thing.

My mind has already begun to think of names for this new bundle of joy. We all know that names can be changed at the last moment when we suddenly decide that the name we thought would be perfect simply doesn’t fit, but I’m hoping this name will feel so right that the thoughts of making a change will be next to impossible.

It’s been awhile, and I’m sure there’s plenty I’ve forgotten since the last time around. But I will have a much better handle on what to expect during the entire process. Experience is a great teacher. We learn through our mistakes.

My head is a bit in the clouds these days. I keep thinking of the euphoric feeling that came over me when my first bundle of joy arrived, how precious a feeling it was to hold in my hands that first time.

But here I am, my 51-year-old, self writing about this stupendous news at the same time experiencing some self-doubt if I’m being truly honest here. Am I ready for the excitement and those sleepless nights? Am I ready to meet and greet all the visitors who’ll show up to help me celebrate when the big day comes?

Now if I add a Happy April Fool’s Day to you here, you’re going to think I made all this up aren’t you? But what can I say, it being April Fool’s Day and all? But here’s the real scoop.

My editor from Nimbus called and said she’d like to publish my next novel!!! That’s right my baby is going to be published. There have been times when I doubted this would ever happen again, but as I said earlier we never know when and how things will unfold in life. I haven’t been given an exact publication date but the possibility of 2013 has come up.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed. You can bet when I know more I’ll pass it along.

So there you have it. I’m proud and happy and even a tad bit giddy, just like any expecting mama would be. Now it’s back to the real world. There are many novel ideas floating about my head, now to settle down and start writing.

Self-Sabotage—Three Ways to Make Sure You’ll Never be Published

Self-Sabotage anyone? For your convenience, I’ve put together a list of three things you’ll need to get started on your journey to non-publication.

Right about now I can hear a collective, “What the heck is she talking about—-self-sabotage?” Pffff!

I know, I know, you’d all give up your first born to be published, right? Well maybe not THAT extreme, but I’m willing to bet that at least once or twice you turned your head toward the stars, shook a clenched fist and vowed to do whatever it takes to see your words in print.  I’m also willing to bet you meant it, too.  So why aren’t you published then? I mean if you were willing to do whatever, it should be in the bag by now shouldn’t it?

You’re positive you’ve got talent. Our almost sure. Your fifth grade teacher even wrote it on your report card. You’ve read every best seller ever written and determined that you could do a better job. Heck, your grocery list is more interesting than last year’s Giller Prize winner. You’ve got creativity oozing out of your ears. Your mind is brimming with thoughts so unique and spectacular that your head can scarcely contain it all. Not only that, you bought every writing book known to humankind.  In fact, if you laid those books out end to end you could go around the earth two time with some to spare. You stalk every agent blog in the blogosphere. You’re doing everything just right.

So what’s really holding you back?  Why hasn’t your dream come true?

Poor, poor dreams. We use you, abuse you and toss you to the wayside. And then to add insult to injury we tell everyone within earshot that dreams make us who we are. We even look up inspirational quotes about dreams to prove we mean business and post them in our facebook status or on our blogs.

Now I know that for every dream that we leave in our wake there could be any number of reasons why we abandon them. No doubt if I wanted to, I could make this post go on and on. But I’ll spare you the torture and I’ll name three ways to ensure you’ll never be published. Now listen up. This could come in handy.

1. Practise the art of procrastination. Make it your business to learn all the ins and outs of procrastinating. Milk it for all it’s worth. Procrastination doesn’t tax the body or brain, and much like meditation you’ll find it relaxing, a breath of fresh air. There’s plenty out there to keep you from starting that best seller that’s been bugging the heck out of you since you were in high school. You know that story, the one that just doesn’t want to go away. It’ll get you a million dollar publishing contract as soon as you write, “the end.” Remember while you’re lolling away knee deep in procrastination not to forget that special promise you made to yourself one night after you had one too many beers because in your heart of hearts you just know that everything happens in divine order. A sign will arrive and you’ll know it when you see it. The morning you wake up and your horoscope tells you it’s time to start writing your novel you’ll be the first one out of the gate. But not until the time is right, right? We all have to stick to what we believe in even the staunchest procrastinator among us. The Universe will speak to us in its good old time. No need to worry or hurry. Relax and enjoy the ride. The Universe will provide.

2. Spend a wicked sweet amount of time blogging, surfing the net, tweeting, commenting on other blogs, facebooking and checking email not to mention blogging, surfing the net, tweeting, commenting on other blogs, facebooking and checking email. I did write that twice because you all know the truth when you read it. There’s nothing like good old social media to keep a good writer from becoming published. Write? Who’s got time to write? The next best thing to being published is reading about it on someone else’s blog. You never know, their success might just rub off on you if you hang around enough. There’s plenty more uses for a computer other than writing so you should be safe. And if all this isn’t enough to keep you from plotting your novel just let me say…Pinterest. Find out what’s cool and popular on Pinterest. After all, it could be something you pinned. If that photo you posted of a blade of Kentucky Bluegrass gets repined 52,643 times you need to know immediately. What better way to ensure you never get published then never starting that book you’re writing?

3. Embrace your inner critic. Take her to lunch, throw her a special party. Bring balloons. Not only that become best buddies. The moment you’re sure that the crap you’re writing is never going to be publishable, your inner critic will be right there to agree. Nothing like a good inner critic to knock some sense into you, I say. After all, in every friendship someone needs to be the strong voice of reason.  Not sure if your writing stinks? Your new best buddy will confirm this beyond a shadow of a doubt cause that’s just the way she rolls. You’ve all heard about “kicking yourself when you’re down.” Well, who better to give you an extra little boot than your inner critic? Why waste the effort on yourself? Just stand back and let your inner critic take aim. She’s your BFF. She’s known you most of your life. Admit it, she’s sure better at kicking then you are at writing.

So there you have it three, count them three, ways to ensure you never get published. Follow them to the letter and I’m almost positive that you can kiss that long held dream of publication goodbye.  I mean who need dreams? Don’t thank me now you can do that twenty years down the road when you’re waiting for the planets to align, while listening to your BFF tell you one more time that your writing truly sucks big time. Not to worry though, you can always turn to the internet to whine and complain about those dreams that slipped through your fingers during your youth. It’s never too late to finally give up on your dream.

So here are three things that have worked for me in the past. You might not want to try them all out at once. Maybe you should just ease your way into it and before you know it, you can be playing an active role on your journey to non-publication.

Have you discovered any special ways to ensure you’ll never be published? If you’d like to tell, I’d like to know.

When The Universe Speaks Take Photos.

What’s with all these bird nests I’ve been finding lately? Is it just me or is the Universe trying to tell me something? Who knows, maybe my next book should have a bird theme?

In an earlier post I published some photos of a tiny bird nest with five eggs inside. Although I’d seen momma bird I hadn’t been able to identify her in any of my bird books. I’ve noticed that is often a problem with illustrations, they do not resemble the bird in question or sometimes the illustration is only of a male and you happened to have seen the female. They look similar but not quite and so you’re a bit unsure. This is why it’s important to read the description that is included with the illustration as well as information as to where they nest—trees, bushes, ground, grass.

I snapped these shots of Momma and Papa today. They were the same type of bird I found last May. They were not happy campers when I wandered into their territory. They flew toward me and even played the broken wing game, which of course I didn’t fall for.

With a little patience we discovered the nest between two branches of ground juniper. To think I might have stepped on the nest makes me cringe. I was quite close. Momma and Papa had their nest very well hidden.

As a note of caution, when you’re out walking in the woods and birds suddenly begins flitting around, sounding distressed, it’s a good chance that a nest is handy. Tread carefully.

I find it interesting that the one egg that did not hatch is still in the nest, unharmed. I think there are four babies in there, but I’m not positive.

So what kind of bird is this? I feel quite confident in saying it’s a palm warbler. If you have any other thoughts on this please share them. I’m a writer, after all, not a bird watcher. And I promise no more bird photos for a while. The Universe will have to speak to me in other ways.

Notes From The Universe

Every weekday I receive a little note from the Universe in my inbox. Often it relates to something that is going on in my life. Sometimes the little notes make me laugh. Always they inspire.

Just thought I’d share the note I received this morning.

Shaping, shifting, molding, making… what people do when they discover their imagination.

Spinning, curling, dipping, twirling… what people do when they discover their wings.

Beaming, marveling, basking, sparkling… what people do when they discover love.

Here’s hoping you have all discovered your imagination, your wings and love….

All Those Rejections

Rejection is something that we all must learn to live with, and it’s not always a bad thing. It’s all in how we choose to think about it. I’m sure about now you’re wondering— who the heck is she trying to kid?

We’ve all felt the sting of rejection, at one time or another, regardless of who we are. It’s just the way life is.  But, the way I see it, if it wasn’t for the rejections in life the acceptances would be meaningless.

Think about it for a moment.

Try and imagine a world were we succeeded at everything we did. Where would the challenge be? I’d venture to say we might even find ourselves bored to tears. Would you even bother to try anything new if you knew there was absolutely no challenge, that you’d succeed on your very first try?

For most writers rejections are a dime a dozen and I’m no different. Though all my years of writing I have received a very impressive supply of rejection slips. And being the pack rat that I am I’ve saved each and every one. At the time it seemed to make good sense. It was proof of all my hard work on those days when I used to wonder if it was all worth it.

I’m called to remember a certain day, years ago, when I was tickled pink to have received three acceptances in one day for various short stories I had submitted. Just imagine…Three acceptances all in one day!!! I was on top of the world. I soon came back down when, shortly thereafter, I received four rejections in one day. Sounds quite impossible but it’s the truth. My, but the Universe does have a way of keeping us humble.

Most of my rejection slips are simple form letters. One is addressed to “Laurie.” (Have I mentioned I despise being called Laurie? Not that Laurie is a bad name…In fact, it’s a perfectly fine name…It’s just not my name) One editor thanked me for sending my poems…Um ….Poems?.. Hello….I sent a short story. One rejection letter even sent me back material that was meant for another writer. And no, in case you’re wondering, her name wasn’t Laurie.

On the flip side of that, I’ve also received some very lovely rejection letters with valuable bits of advice and words of encouragement that spurred me onward. Had it not been for some of those rejection letters I might have given up writing long before I ever received my first acceptance. That’s why I say that rejection is not always a bad thing.

But now I’m ready to say so long to all those saved rejection slips. It’s a brand new year not to mention a brand new decade. I no longer have room for those letters in my life. They’ve outlived their usefulness. I’m tired of them taking up space in my life. I’ve worked hard over the years. My acceptances are proof of that. No need to cling to that negative stuff anymore.

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