Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world your beautiful self!

Archive for the ‘editing’ Category

Who Defines “Dress Up”?

“Get Up, Dress Up and Show Up”: Who Sets the Rules?

I see it all the time. People saying that in order to succeed you must “get up, dress up and show up”. It wasn’t until today as I got ready to do some writing that it occurred to me, the whole thing is open to interpretation. I realize the person who wrote it was likely a corporate type and meant at least business casual, but what if that doesn’t work for me or others who live outside the societal middle ground?

After running errands today, I came home, ate lunch, did my meditations and listened to a short webinar as part of my daily commitment to studying something daily. As I got ready to honor another commitment, writing something every day, I looked at what I was wearing, red cotton shorts with a zipper and button closure and a nicer cotton shirt when it hit me: it wasn’t what I was comfortable writing in.

A Unique Concept: Comfort Over Style

The reality is, while writing, comfort is the key for me and that means a pair of loose-fitting, elastic waist workout shorts and an even looser fitting (especially since my recent fat release) sleeveless men’s t-shirt sans bra. Maybe some folks are more productive when they’re dressed to the nines, makeup on and every hair in place, but my creativity flows more freely when the clothes I’m wearing are unobtrusive and my hair is tucked up on top of my head in either a scrunchy or a loose bun held by one of my million and three hair clips.

It must be true, as, before I knew it, I’d written nearly 300 words just on the topic of comfortable work attire. Granted, it’s not the project I intended to be writing, but it does get my creative juices flowing and satisfies my requirement to write something daily. And as I’m now comfy, it will allow me to finish the project I started yesterday, but got too bogged down in details to finish. Note to self: write first, research after and fill in the details.

Turning to Face the Sun Again With Words Inscribed vs. Typed

Now it’s a day later, the article I needed to write is done and launched into cyberspace. While I still have a couple more to go, the change of attire did, indeed have the desired effect. The blocks lifted, the words flowed and I got the job done leaving today free for the more mundane aspects of life.

I’ve also found, as I live this writer’s life for what it’s worth, that I have to set aside time to just do laundry, pay bills and do the bigger household chores. On those days, or during those times, I don’t seem to get much writing done, though as part of my steps to my goals, I’m hoping to change that. The funny thing is, since I committed that particular step to paper using a pen instead of a keyboard, it seems to be manifesting more easily. I don’t know why and I don’t know how, but I can say that I’ve done some form of writing every day since I wrote the words “write every day” on a yellow legal pad.

I’d put those same words on a list in a Word document more than once, with limited success. This time, it seems to be worming it’s way into my brain like the ink blot that forms when you leave a Flair pen open on a piece of paper. It seeps into my brain’s nooks and crannies like nothing created on a flat screen every could. The words are flowing and yes, the need to put them down is, for me, like a junkie’s need for a fix. I have to let the words out of my head and onto a page else they’ll engulf my entire being.

My Other Self Feeds on Vocabulary

It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog post of random thoughts like this, a more defined project like an article for one of the events I attended, or further edits to one of my existing books, as long as I’m writing. I know, too, that just this post won’t quell the stream. I’ll open at least one more document before my head touches linen tonight. I’ll pen or edit more words until this demon inside me is satisfied that I’ve, indeed, written something today. It’s as if each day brings an increasing need, an increasing quantity required to satisfy the being which has been dwelling silently, seething, waiting for the tiniest crack to allow it to work its way to the surface and take over control of this body, this mind, these fingers.

This other self who’s been thrust deep down inside, building up momentum for the opportunity it’s finally seeing to take over, to write, to spill all of the dreams that have occupied my slumber. They come into my waking self full-blown, ready to morph into a story, a bit of prose… maybe even a novel. The time has come and the reasonable, responsible person who pays bills, does laundry and even, at some point, earns a living is being thrust aside.

An Awkward Kind of Balance

My two sides have been fighting for longer than I realized, resulting in a push-me-pull-you kind of existence which changes frequently, but has made little progress. It’s clear now that one or the other has to take the lead, but up to now neither was strong enough to force the issue and neither was willing to relinquish control.

The dreamer, the creative issues an evil laugh as she shoves the practical into a wooden chest, slams down the lid and turns the key in the lock. It’s my turn now! Stay put for awhile! I’ll let you out when it’s time to edit or when I run out of underwear, whichever comes first!

How do others find middle ground between the practical and the creative? How do they bridge the gap allowing both sides to live together harmoniously. How do they find a way to balance both sides, taking the best each has to offer and minimizing the flaws? My sides (and I’m only assuming there are but two) do not know how to compromise. They are all or nothing kind of people. Always fighting for control, always keeping me off-balance. Yet somehow, it works.

Perhaps that’s why so many turn to alcohol, drugs or some other kind of addiction. Which leaves me to wonder: what’s my addiction?

Still, There’s Always Gratitude

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful that my writing has begun to flow again.
2. I am grateful for goals and steps. Now I just need to figure out how to incorporate a timeline to complete the circle.
3. I am grateful for serendipity which brings me together with people I might never connect with to create a beautiful synergy.
4. I am grateful for a curious mind which takes me on many journeys. I may start and stop when I lose interest, but somehow, I always return to the ones which are important.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, joy, inspiration, motivation, support, friendship, acquaintanceship, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

September 22, 2014. The more things change…

Must we super-size everything?

Twenty years ago, I had a phone in my car which I fondly referred to as “the brick”. It was large and cumbersome and only worked in the car. As time went by, technology improved and companies worked diligently to make phones both smaller and more portable. Tonight while half listening to the television I caught part of an Apple commercial touting its “huge” new phone.  I realize the phone manufacturers are trying to meld the qualities of both phone and tablet, but I see a certain irony in how things have come full circle. With the aging of our society, our weakening eyesight will require larger screens so, while slimmer and more compact, we will soon find ourselves, at the current rate of development, with cell phones as large or larger than that fondly remembered brick!

Will we now have to super-size our pockets?

I have a preference for carrying my phone in the pocket of my pants. If they keep growing our phones, will the fashion industry have to make pockets to accommodate them? I would be particularly amused to see what they do with the daisy dukes currently in fashion with the younger set. Those things are barely as big as a dinner napkin as it is and I see a phone in a lot of those hip pockets! I suspect that when the girls get dressed to go out they have a check list that goes something like this:

Makeup? Check
Earrings? Check
Necklace? Check
Cell phone? Check
Keys? Check
Credit card? Check

The cell phone is clearly a fashion accessory nowadays. I see a larger phone in about the same light as the giant dollar sign shaped pendants favored by the rappers. Either way, I don’t find it attractive, much less, particularly useful! We seem to be switching back and forth between bigger and smaller faster than Alice and her potions and cakes instructing the observer to “eat me” or “drink me”! I may find myself with an iPhone 4 when everyone else has version 20, but at least I won’t be carrying around another brick!

Since posting on only one topic is usually outside my comfort zone, I’ll yield to temptation again tonight. The next topic is the writing and revising process and the things I’m learning. First of all, while working hard to overcome taking any criticism personally, I’m also learning that it’s very important to line it all up, read it carefully several times, and be very selective about what you do and do not incorporate into those revisions. Yes, I knew this on a cognitive level, but putting it into practice is an entirely different animal.

I’ve received a lot of suggestions, and many of them have been spot on, including recommendations for areas of further study. But as I reach out to other writers, I’m also finding that it’s like anything else. You need to shop around until you find the right fit. By right fit, I don’t mean the one where everyone tells me it’s wonderful and moves on. I want honest input. If it’s crap, tell me, nicely of course, but tell me. If I’m wandering down a path which will have readers running the other way, please let me know. If I bore you in the first page or two, don’t you think I need to know that? And I certainly need to know if I’m using archaic punctuation. If I wanted someone to rubber stamp my work, I’d just give it to my cat!

Granted, I might take some suggestions personally at first, but I am already learning to take what I’m told, go home and give it a day or two to just bounce around in my head. By then, I’ve taken the personal out and found myself with just the suggestions as they relate to the words I’ve written. During that time, I might also pick up a couple of other books to see if what was suggested holds true in work that’s been published and actually sold to people. If so, I’m that much more likely to take the suggestions seriously and do what I can to make my writing better.

None of us are born knowing it all, and putting our efforts out there for someone who (hopefully) knows more to review is how we improve. I’ve written in a void for far too many years. I’m coming out of the closet now, so to speak, and in so doing, want, need, even crave that input that will help make me a better writer.

I seem to have misplaced my comfort zone

Putting my work out there for criticism means leaving that warm, safe little hovel of mine further and further behind. As I bid it good-bye, my feelings are somewhat mixed, but the stronger one is relief. I no longer need to do things as I used to. The road is clear to find my own way, without restrictions. Yes, I’ll encounter new sets of rules, but it will be another opportunity to learn them well enough to break them. That, in and of itself, is an adventure!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for new adventures.
2. I am grateful for things that make me go hmmmm.
3. I am grateful for good friends who listen and help me find my way when I’m feeling lost and confused.
4. I am grateful each and every day for the leap of faith I took late last year. It may not be a financial success as yet, but the intrinsic rewards are infinite.
5. I am grateful for abundance: friendship, love, motivation, energy, life, joy, health and prosperity.

Namaste

September 21, 2014 Autumn Equinox-change is in the air

Getting back to what works.

Sometimes we move steadily forward, and sometimes, we need to take a few steps back and rediscover that what worked before is still the better way. Such has been my discovery over the last couple of weeks. Not only have I started pre-making my healthy lunches again to prevent impulse eating, but I’m getting the writing down to a routine again. In the last couple of days, I’ve re-re-re written the first chapter of my book, run it by someone who is giving me editorial advice, mulled over the advice, re-written some and held on to some, and expanded what I’ve discovered is my limited knowledge of my craft. Some rules have changed while others simply had yet to be mastered. Either way, as I write, re-write, get feedback and ponder, I’m moving up the learning curve. It’s a little like dancing where it takes a bit longer to unlearn bad habits before forming good ones.

For example, I’m finding that once I receive some feedback, I need to read it, then step away from it until my natural tendency to be defensive wanes, and I can look at the criticism from a purely objective point of view, seeing the wisdom in some, recognizing that the point I was trying t make didn’t quite come through in others. Only then do I sit back down in front of the computer and strive for improvement. There’s a fine line between taking someone’s advice and letting them write the story for you, and that is the line I am currently treading. I’m also having a bit of a struggle with punctuation around dialogue, but that, too, will come in time.

I also find it interesting that I’m getting a complicated message wherein the text should be lean and mean, yet show the reader a picture, instead of telling them something which could be conveyed in a word or two, though eliciting no visceral response.

After several days of writing the same thing over and over, reading it back, changing things, living, breathing and even eating my words, I find that my flow has slowed to a trickle. The thousand plus blog posts I pounded out for most of the week won’t continue this evening. I have just used up far too many words to find that many tonight.

Writing is definitely hard work, at least the part that comes after the initial writing via stream of consciousness. Trying to massage the words into something that more than five people will actually pick up and enjoy is a great deal more difficult than I’d imagined. Will I throw in the towel, concluding that I was mistaken in my ability to tell a compelling story? Not hardly! I just need to spend a lot of time returning to the proverbial drawing board, and studying up on how to make my work better. Giving up is not even an option, here! I saw a few recommendations for books awhile back and will invest in a couple and work my way through them, coming out better informed and better able to produce a memorable, well-written tale in the process.

I’m wounded, perhaps, but hardly broken.

For tomorrow, I’ll get the mundane tasks out of the way early in the day, allowing my brain to breathe. I have errands to run and shopping to do for my son-in-law who is deployed. There are groceries to acquire both for me and my furry children, and by the time I’ve finished, my brain should be relaxed enough to give the chapter one last pass before tomorrow night’s read and critique.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the opportunity to see what I lack, and to correct those lacks.
2. I am grateful for setbacks as they only serve to make me more determined.
3. I am grateful for routines. Some of them actually work better than organized chaos.
4. I am grateful that I’m feeling better now that I’m eating a more healthy diet once again. (Taco Bell quesadilla notwithstanding).
5. I am grateful fro abundance: criticism, guidance, motivation, routines, inspiration, determination, love, health, harmony and prosperity.

Namaste

September 20, 2014 In the waning hours before the dark dawn of a new day.

Tonight’s title sounds a bit ominous, doesn’t it? But all I really mean is that I began tonight’s post at 11:57, just before my computer and WordPress will tell me that it is now tomorrow, despite the fact that it is dark as pitch outside, hardly what I would consider the dawn of a new day! As often happens, I sat down to write tonight’s post, my mind a blank as to what the topic would be or what might come from my fingers. But today has been a good day for writing and idea flow, so why should my blog be exempt from such fortuitous energy?

I finally sat myself down in front of the computer, a picture in my mind of the scene I wished to set, and lo and behold, the words flowed! (That was accidental poetry, I assure you. My poetic talents are the stuff of which literary nightmares are made which is why I stick with prose.) Suddenly, I found that ideas where coming so hard and fast, it was all I could do to keep up, much less put them in an order which resembled sensible. Even while I meditated, drove to my Saturday night dance spot, and sat chatting with friends, the ideas still flowed. Thank goodness for the notes function in my phone, else some of those ideas would now be lost in the ether. I’ve learned that if I want to save something that just pops into my head, I’d best jot it down somewhere before it is overtaken by 27 more random thoughts and ideas. Though for some reason, the ones which came when I was trying to meditate managed to stick with me until I once again sat before the computer and got them down. Persistent little devils they were!

At any rate, I believe I resolved my editorial issues with obsolescence, but will know more over the next couple of days. That isn’t to say that I won’t override opposition to my solution, if I feel strongly enough about it. Clearly, the things I’ve re-done, when met with criticism/opposition were not strong enough to justify my full and complete support of their continued existence. Such is the writer’s life. Constantly having to justify our logic in including this detail or that.

I’m also learning that the reader’s perspective, especially when that reader is critiquing my work, is definitely relevant. A reader who read very little as a child will have a very different perspective on things than I, who read as voraciously then as I do now, would. They may have little experience with the type of story I’m choosing to write, so I must take that into consideration when sifting through their critique and suggestions. Regardless of their perspective, I am sure to glean a few gems from what they have to say, and as such, am working hard to keep my mind and eyes open to be sure I don’t overlook anything which might be useful now or somewhere down the line.

To be sure, in just the last week, I have learned a great deal, including the realization that the seeming compliment about my editorial abilities was probably not a compliment at all, but the speaker’s attempt at humor because he was unimpressed with my contribution to the read and critique. Even when I’ve had several books published, there will always be those who are unimpressed with my work, and that is very much their right. It is also my right to refrain from taking what they say to heart, so we both leave happy.

For now, the biggest lesson I’m learning is to listen a lot, take a few notes and walk away a little wiser. Then, take what I’ve learned and try to implement what will make my own work better. At this point in my process, I do not expect rave reviews over what is clearly still a rough draft of the final product. What I do expect is honesty. If I let my feelings be hurt by someone who is notably unimpressed by my first serious efforts, I am not only following the wrong path, but I’m taking their words personally. The topic under discussion is the words I’ve put on paper, not me as a human being. And while I’m on the subject, what others think of me as a human being is really none of my business. They are entitled to their thoughts, no matter how unflattering they might be to me. I only have a problem if I start believing those unflattering thoughts!

One lesson I have learned very well is to look myself in the mirror several times a day and remind me how special and wonderful I am. I might, at times, also accompany my words with a “You’re looking especially good today!” despite the fact that I know full well that appearances are merely illusions. But as I immerse myself in the mindset of “Author”, why not also immerse myself in the mindset of “You look Mah-velous, Dahlink!”

There was a song in the play “The King and I” which has taken on new meaning for me lately. In the song, she sings “Whenever I feel afraid, I hold myself erect, and whistle a happy tune so no one will suspect I’m afraid.” It goes on to say “…the happiness in my tune convinces me that I’m not afraid.” That pretty much sums up my current attitude. I convince myself that I am an author or I’m worthy or any number of things, and before I know it, I have risen to the occasion. Not only that, as I, like a butterfly, emerge from the cocoon of disbelieving, I find that my energy is better, my posture improves and I just feel taller, lighter, stronger…all of the things which go along with the self-portrait I allowed myself to grow into.

Confidence is a funny thing. In order to have it, you have to be confident, but to be confident, you must have confidence in yourself. Rather a Catch-22 if you ask me. What is happening in your life at a particular moment might not be the best confidence booster, but the key, I believe, is not to focus on what is going on in the moment, but on what you expect to be going on in another moment or two. In other words, you create a reason to be confident and the confidence itself will follow.

Thus, I am confident in my ability to be a successful writer/author, and abracadabra, it is done! Try it yourself! You’ll be amazed at the results. All you really have to do is believe!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful that I have learned to believe.
2. I am grateful for criticism as it teaches me about what I’m doing as well as more about myself as a person. It’s all in how we respond to suggestions for improvement, regardless of how they might be wrapped.
3. I am grateful for a wonderful night of dancing with my friends.
4. I am grateful that the words have begun to flow more readily, and that I realized I needed to take a couple of steps back to allow the blocks to clear.
5. I am grateful for abundance: inspiration, creativity, friendship, love, support, imagination, confidence, harmony, peace, health and prosperity.

Namaste

September 18, 2014 How we handle adversity as we evolve.

Crushing blow, or golden opportunity?

As we move through our lives, learning lessons, filling our virtual tool box, experiencing the gamut of emotional ups and downs, we are also, as I’ve mentioned before, evolving. As I ponder the last few days when it became apparent that the rewrite of my book was going to be a far larger task than I’d envisioned (ignorance is, indeed, bliss!), I recognized a few changes in myself which, without this little setback, might never have caught my attention. These changes have a lot to do with how and why I was able to walk away from a job that paid well though it was killing me slowly inside, to take a wild chance on the unknown. I realized that I had to reach the point where I could handle rejection and even complete and brutal critical opinions of my work without taking the criticism as if my entire being were in question. A point where seemingly stupid things like the number of spaces after a period were even worth doing anything more than correcting the problem and moving on. A point where I could weed through the criticisms and understand that we all have are our own perspectives, and I do NOT have to completely adhere to that of someone else, but can still find great value in what they’re willing to share. Until I had evolved enough to get to that enlightened state, I would let my emotional attachment to the words on a page prevent me from learning and growing.

In short, I realized that it wasn’t until I learned, not only how to find the lesson in adversity, but also, how to turn it into an asset, that I was ready, on an emotional level, to take the plunge into the creative world for which my heart truly yearned. Not only am I now able to absorb the lessons, I’m also able to recognize when it’s time for me to take a couple of steps back, assimilate what I’ve learned and disconnect it from anything personal, whether it be from me or someone else and their perspective. I have my friend, Judy to thank for helping me connect the dots today. While one person might see a word or phrase from their own perspective and experience as wrong, that doesn’t make it so. But I also have to take the time to gain at least a rudimentary understanding of that person’s perspective and how it developed. Ultimately, I reach the same conclusion, no matter what the situation: neither of us is wrong, we’re just different, and isn’t diversity what makes the world so interesting?

A new perspective is simply an opportunity for us to change our own perspective and bring in the Laws of Attraction.

So, this latest little hitch in my giddy-up gave me pause for a moment before I had to ask myself: “Just what is it you want? Where do you want to go and who do you want to be?” and the answer came back loud and clear: “I want to be a writer, a published author. I want to be a teller of tales which will entertain, a sharer of experiences that will inform, and perhaps help someone better handle what I had to learn on my own.” The first step towards realizing that goal (aside from revising my first novel, of course) is to believe in myself; more, to believe that I already have my heart’s desire. So I set up my Author page on Facebook, something I’d been putting off until I truly believed it was so. I created a signature for my email, announcing to myself and to the world that I am, indeed, an Author/Blogger. As Judy so aptly put it, I am embracing my goals as if they already exist. I am already grateful for those who have helped me achieve those goals, and for the lessons I learned along the way. I love what I’m doing, the life I’m living, the lives I’m touching.

Here is where the Universe puts its two cents in.

As I am loving and embracing and expressing gratitude, the Universe comes along to add its own little touch to the mix. Suddenly, my accounting workload is increasing, slowly, at first, but noticeably. As I look more closely, I realize that it is just the cushion I need while I take the time to get this first book into shape so that it can truly be successful, rather than a rush job that falls flat. The extra accounting work will give me more time to write. I know that sounds contradictory, but if I don’t have to depend on the writing to pay the bills for now, I can actually devote more time and energy to doing it well and doing it right.

Returning to the original topic of this post (assuming I ever stay on topic anyway!), as we learn and grow, as we become less influenced by what other people say and think, as we learn to take the guidance without taking it personally, we open ourselves up to opportunities we couldn’t even imagine earlier in our learning cycle. Above all, we learn that dreams really do come true, but they will, only when we truly believe that they already have!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for my heart’s desire, my career as a writer.
2. I am grateful for the people in my life who challenge, support, encourage, constructively criticize and ultimately, just believe in me.
3. I am grateful for having emerged from my shell to expand my social connections.
4. I am grateful for the time and the space to write what I need to, and revise until it is worth reading by the masses.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, encouragement, motivation, ambition, confidence, guidance, opportunities, fortuitous events, harmony, peace, health and prosperity.

Namaste

September 17, 2014 Harsh Reality

I put my baby out into the world and she’s already learning that she needs to step up her game.

I write well, or so I’ve been told. I knew there would be a lot of changes once others saw my work. I just didn’t realize the magnitude. So now, I step back, take a deep breath and do my best to do right by her.

A lot of what I’m hearing sounds a great deal like the copywriting course I started and have yet to finish. Show, don’t tell. Grab the reader’s attention right away. Know your audience. Sadly, I didn’t get this kind of information in the creative writing courses I took. Yet, as it is presented to me, I understand the value in all of these suggestions. Those who’ve already made the Best Seller list can be a little sloppier. But those of us who are just trying to get noticed, and sell a few hundred books have to follow the rules. It’s no different than any other undertaking. You have to prove your value before you get to make a few rules of your own.

Every learning experience has value and builds on those which came before.

The first thing I’m learning is that the birth of a first novel is a long process which is often frustrating and tedious, but it is also a huge series of life lessons. I am being called upon to not only take my writing to a whole new level, but to learn new skills and be extremely cautious about accepting information without running it past several other sources first. I’ve gotten conflicting information on everything from word count to small house publishers to writing style to selection of genre. A year ago, it would never even have occurred to me to know my audience before I even started writing. Now, I’m learning that it’s just as important as it is when writing ad copy or sales letters. Either way, you’re trying to sell something, and to do that, you have to tailor it to the people who would be likely to buy it. It doesn’t mean that your target audience will be the only ones you ultimately entertain, it just means that you have to start somewhere. It makes total sense now. But then, my hindsight was always perfect!

Thinking about how my daughter keeps telling me how much she loves it, could it be that my target audience is really people like her? If so, I’m going to have a devil of a time defining that target audience as my daughter is not typical of anyone or anything. I don’t think I could fit her into a particular group if I had to, unless it was the nonconforming, marching to her own drummer, late bloomer kind of place. Her tastes are eclectic to say the least. As well as I know her, she still surprises me often. She loves Harry Potter and hates Twilight (both of which my initial pages were compared to, and not in a good way!). She’s a Whovian and loves animated movies. She reads Michener and Poe, Rowling and McCaffery and everything in, around and in between. She’s studying Culinary Arts and Marine Biology and makes friends with people from eight to eighty. How in the hell do you quantify that???

What I’m taking out of my initial feedback, though, is this: I need to identify my target audience so I can tailor my writing to their tastes. I need to show, not tell. In other words, what I deem descriptive is not even in the same galaxy as where I need to be. “The house was painted a sunny yellow with white trim and boasted a wrap-around porch.” is clearly a real yawner. Instead, I need something like “Standing on the corner like a cornflower abandoned in a fallow field, the brightly painted walls were framed by posts as straight as soldiers in snowy uniforms which marched all the way around the structure, creating both a cozy place to wile away an afternoon and a look of refined elegance.” Is this my excuse to use 100 words when 10 would do? I don’t know, but I will be learning!!

At any rate, I have to give my brain a rest before tackling this again in the morning. All I can say right now is that I have a lot to learn, and my book won’t be hitting the stands any time soon! But I will persevere.

I forgot to mention that I’ve created an Author page on Facebook. You can find it at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor . Feel free to drop by, like it and leave a comment. If you have a page, let me know where to find it so I can return the favor.

My Gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for guidance, even when it means I don’t know nearly as much as I thought I did.
2. I am grateful for a good night’s sleep to put things back into perspective.
3. I am grateful for a thick skin which I’m going to be needing more and more if I want to succeed with my writing.
4. I am grateful for patience. Also a valuable commodity with a career which is creative.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, guidance, patience, harmony, peace, creativity, flexibility, prosperity and persistence.

Namaste

September 15, 2014 I wrote, I edited…now what?

There was a time when I would write and write, keeping my precious babe safe within my own arms, and perhaps, those of a select few. That moment has passed.

So I wrote the first 50,000 words of the novel in less than 30 days. I wrote the next 18,000 words in the next couple of months, then spent about 6 months editing, fleshing out, and reworking the rough draft into about 98,000 words. Now what?

In truth, I took a few weeks off, visited my daughter a couple of times, read a number of books by some of my favorite authors, and just took time to breathe. But one can only sit and breathe for so long before it’s time to get back onto that superhighway we call life and make something amazing happen!

Movin’ on with a little help from my friends.

Very gently, I began soliciting readers who might give me constructive criticism, not so much on grammatical issues, but on content, flow and whether I have something going for me, or need to return to the drawing board. Slowly; possibly due to my own hesitancy about baring my baby’s soul; I found people who were willing to read and critique my work. But I think the real turning point has come in the last few days. First, I found a friend of my daughter’s who has been doing some editing and was willing to take on my “child”. But the real opportunity to get the heck out of my comfortable, safe, rejection-free mausoleum came tonight when I finally bit the bullet and attended a Read and Critique with a local writer’s group. They had some great advice while refraining from ripping the whole first chapter to shreds. I also got a taste of what each of them was working on, and definitely felt like the new kid on the block! But as I tell new dancers, we were all beginners once! One lady offered to read the first three chapters and be brutal, if need be, which, right now, I really do need!

As I know that this is the right direction for me to take at this point, I’ve already RSVP’d for next week’s session, and am going to block it out on my calendar for awhile. This is a group of people who were once where I am, and who are encouraging not only the experienced, published writers, but those like me who are just starting out. Not that I haven’t written for most of my life, but until my blog, the bulk of it was for my eyes only.

Fledglings must learn to fly, and the first step is usually pretty frightening!

I know that if I’m really going to make a go of this massive career change, I have to leave the nest, the comfort zone behind, gather my courage, leave my ego, and just take those first stumbling steps which will ultimately send me airborne! Surprisingly, it wasn’t as nerve-wracking as I’d suspected, sharing even a small piece of my “baby” with strangers. I realized that they’re not out to smother her or my desire to write, but to help me make her stronger, better and above all, more marketable. I’m sure they’ve all certainly made their share of false starts, and are willing to share what they’ve learned with others. Heck, I may even learn that I’ve categorized it incorrectly, and that will also be helpful. I will be the first to admit that there’s far more about the publishing industry that I don’t know than that I do. (Although I did get a very nice complement about my editing skills). Now, I have the opportunity to learn what works, what doesn’t, how to find a publisher for my particular type of work, and who knows what else?

If it sounds like I’m very excited about this next phase, I admit, I am. But I’ll also have to admit that I’m very pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t sure what to expect tonight, but it was an excellent beginning to a new learning experience. Even better, at least three of the people who where there have published, and I will be able to read what they’ve written and sold! How great is that?

Even more amazing than my experience tonight is that I managed to stay on topic for quite a long spell before the ADHD kicked in. It does happen occasionally, when I’m really excited about something. The hyperactive energy is channeled into my excitement, I guess.

As one thing led to another, I mentioned that I was an Empath, because it was an explanation as to why a particular piece resonated with me. Speaking with the author of the piece afterwards, she revealed that she, too, is an Empath, and asked me what I’m doing with it. I had to admit that my one foray into healing wasn’t entirely successful (though it did give me the courage to quit doing work that was sucking me dry in favor of work I loved, even if it wasn’t fiscally responsible in the short term). I realize that the place, the time and the question were put before me intentionally, and will end up devoting considerable to finding a better answer to the question, even if it means leaving my comfort zone in yet another direction.

Both information from my daily Tarot readings and just gut feelings lately have indicated rapid and massive changes. I think what I’m seeing right now is just the tip of the iceberg as to what those changes will be and more, where they’ll be taking me. If only my memory and my fingers can keep up with my imagination. In fact, I’ve already decided to do the NaNoWriMo challenge again in November!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for opportunities which turn out even better than I would have imagined.
2. I am grateful for successful people who are willing to help others find that success.
3. I am grateful for new learning experiences.
4. I am grateful to have found people to edit my first work.
5. I am grateful for abundance: health, happiness, love, motivation, imagination, guidance, hope, health, harmony, peace, meaningful work and prosperity.

Namaste

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