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

Archive for the ‘novel’ Category

May 4, 2015 A Well-Deserved Break

Basking in the Afterglow

I’m giving myself a well-deserved blog post free night while I enjoy the immense though brief satisfaction of having finally completed the first draft of A Dubious Gift which I began during the 2014 NaNoWriMo last November.

This brief but well-deserved respite will be followed by a frantic and lengthy embarkation into what I think of fondly as “rewrite hell”. Two books await my gentle ministrations and the less gentle ones of my critique groups. A Dubious Gift will go hide in the closet for a while, fearful of losing its very soul on the cutting room floor.

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and my website, http://www.shericonaway.com. 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!

I will leave you with tonight’s gratitudes:
1. I am grateful that I finally finished the first draft of my second novel. (does that sound amazing or what???) Typing the words “The End” has never felt so good!
2. I am grateful for the family and friends who have supported my endeavors to this point and tolerated the associated lunacy.
3. I am grateful that after almost a year and a half of being a full-time writer, I actually have something tangible to show for it (between the two novels alone, there are close to 200,000 words!). I’m not even going to try to count the words I’ve blogged. What I do know is that almost exactly 2 years ago, there were already close to 400,000 words, and I’ve been far more prolific since then.
4. I am grateful that my muse seems to show up whenever I kick the procrastination fairy out and actually sit down at my computer with a Word document open and the cursor blinking at me with malicious intent.
5. I am grateful for abundance; words, ideas, stories, friends, family, love, joy, opportunities, blessings, health, peace, harmony, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

December 12, 2014 Today’s quandary #shericonaway #copywrite

To copywrite or not to copywrite, that is the question.

Today, I find myself on the horns of a dilemma. But before I proceed, let me provide a little back story: As my loyal readers know, I quit my job a year ago to focus solely on writing. In that time I have completed the first draft and first revision on one novel and the first 50,000 words on a second one. I’ve also learned that getting a novel from inception to publication is not a quick process.

In July, I purchased a copywriting course from AWAI, believing that this might be the solution to my cash flow until I started publishing novels. Well into the third chapter of the course, I found myself floundering, struggling to even get myself motivated to do the work, in part because bald faced sales pitches have never been of interest to me, and, in fact, I skim through one or two that I receive just for the amusement value. Do people really get sucked in by this stuff? Of course they do, or it wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar industry. But could I look myself in the mirror after doing that kind of writing? Hard to say.

So, what’s the dilema, you say? Seems pretty simple, right?

On the one hand, finishing the course and following the guidelines would likely bring me a source of revenue while the novel writing/editing/revising/promoting process continues. It might also give me a platform with which to do said promoting. On the other hand, I find myself resisting every attempt to continue the course and, in fact, have already decided to skip over one part which has me completely blocked. On the other hand, why am I really pursuing it? If it’s true that doing what you love with passion and devotion will attract whatever you need, then using my writing with the sole intent of making money is surely sending the wrong message and might well stifle my truly creative endeavors.

Yet, a girl has to eat, the mortgage must be paid, the cats must be fed and vet bills met. I do have the other option of trying to drum up more accounting business, but frankly, that makes me break out in a cold sweat, even more than finishing the copywriting course and marketing myself that way.

Writing has always been my passion, my resource and my refuge.

I’m not really looking for someone to give me an answer here. The fact is, whenever I’ve been faced with a serious decision, a major turning point, a struggle or a frustration, I’ve always turned to my very best friend in the world: the written word. I have innumerable brain dumps in which I poured out my thoughts, feelings, concerns and woes to either a piece of paper or a computer screen, knowing that I’d get a completely non-judgmental ear. Sure, I wouldn’t get any sage advice or sympathy either, but maybe that’s not what I was looking for. I truly believe that every answer we need is inside ourselves, either via our connection to the Universe as a whole, or through the experiences our spirit has had in the many human lifetimes it has already passed.

Sometimes, just the act of getting the words out into the world is enough to stir those mental juices into finding a solution or making a decision. My hope is that this time won’t be the exception to my lifelong rule. Often, just saying or writing the words opens a door to allow just the right piece of information in.

I ask you this: What do you do when you’re on the horns of a dilemma, unable to move forward until you’ve given yourself an answer?

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned making lists, though in this case, I don’t see a list developing, other than a list of questions. I’ve found, though, that some problems and questions lend themselves better to lists and others to just a free flow of thoughts. In this case, I’m going to go with the free flow. What about you? How might you approach something like this?

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for an avenue which helps me pull my thoughts together.
2. I am grateful for the creativity with which I have been blessed.
3. I am grateful for quiet, rainy days which lend themselves to deep thoughts and staying in my pajamas all day.
4. I am grateful for the cleansing rain which has bathed my home this week. I pray that those adversely affected can soon make a full recovery.
5. I am grateful for abundance: inspiration, cogitation, laughter, love, friendship, joy, health, harmony, peace and prosperity.

Namaste

December 11, 2014 Neglecting my blog, but for good reason. #shericonaway

As my first year as a Writer quickly draws to a close, I find myself neglecting things in favor of others.

Three days ago, I hit the anniversary date of my career and life change and what do I have to show for it? One novel in edit and review status, one novel in progress, a children’s book yet to be edited and a self-help/memoir which is currently being rethought. And leave us not forget a rather prolific blog which, sadly, has, for the moment, a rather limited readership. (I’m still trying to figure out how to get the numbers up, and have dozens of emails from sites a joined which, if I were to actually read them, might help me!)

The problem is both time and prioritizing. This week, I’ve been to the gym exactly once, spent Monday between the vet and the bank and Tuesday running errands, and since then, have buried myself in a book which nearly bonked me on the head in the Universe’s insistence that I needed to re-read it NOW!

Aside from the fact that, as usual, the Universe was dead on, my poor blog and my exercise routine are suffering badly, and, were it not for my freezer full of healthy meals, my diet would be suffering more than it has been, which, sad to say, is pretty bad!

Letting things slide isn’t always a bad thing.

I’ve spent the last couple of days revisiting “Seth Speaks” which I originally read as a myopic, self-involved and confused teenager. I don’t know how much of it actually ‘took’ at the time, though I’m sure some of it colored my life whether I realized it or not. But reading it now, after I’ve made a huge life change, participated in a very intense Ascension Resonance Therapy class and, to no small degree, had life experiences of my own is nothing short of mind blowing.

This time, ideas like parallel lives in any number of time periods, past, present and future, and on different time lines makes perfect sense to me. The idea that time is not linear? Also completely logical. That the spirit or soul or entity or whatever you want to call it doesn’t die, but moves through time, space and everything else to just be in all of the places it is? Not hard for me to grasp at all.

What really prompted me to go here right now?

As always, things in my life happen for a reason, and that reason can usually be clearly pinpointed. I’d actually been discussing the book, on different occasions, with my friend and massage therapist. I’d also been getting increasingly interested in the concept of channeling, and feel that, somehow, some way, I’m meant to do so myself. Jane Roberts was certainly meant to do so, but Seth waited until she had some life experiences behind her before actually starting the ball rolling, so to speak. However, as I continue to read “Seth Speaks”, I wonder if my lack of a partner in crime is what is holding me back now? Both Jane Roberts and Esther Hicks (who, admittedly, has come under a lot of criticism for both her claims and the money she’s made from her books, seminars and what have you) had someone there to record their sessions and even, when warranted, ask questions.

I’m sure by now you’re asking “How in the heck did she get there from here?” Sure I set out to talk about how I’m neglecting, not only my blog, but my workout routine and about half of my daily chores, but you know how my ADHD tends to take control of my writing here. It’s not like when I’m writing a novel and actually have to get to a point and try to make everything leading up to it make sense, at least indirectly. Most times when I sit down to write my blog, I have a thought in mind, but somewhere along the way, my train derails and takes off in a whole new direction, sometimes across the frozen tundra or an uncharted desert. The good news is, eventually, I do return to the point.

And speaking of ADHD, aside from the fact that the people I know and love best all have at least a touch of it, I am truly confused as to why medical science still insists on calling it an illness, despite the fact that a rather large number of creative geniuses are also “sufferers”. Maybe that’s exactly why I find it so easy to wrap my head around the idea of non-linear time. My thinking is anything but linear in nature, so accepting the fact that something that people have been taught to believe is linear when it isn’t is no more of a leap than putting one foot in front of the other.

Making the big decision for the day.

So here I sit, dressed, once again, in my workout clothes asking that pressing question: “So, what will it be today? Gym or Seth?”. The brain kicks in, left side or right side, it doesn’t really matter, saying:

“Tonight is a dance night, you know, so you will be getting some exercise, and since it’s leg day, you really shouldn’t do legs before dancing, right?”
Of course, the devil on my other shoulder has to put in her two cents, too.
“You’ve been eating like crap the past two days. Do you know how many blue corn tortilla chips have passed your lips? I don’t have to remind you that they will be landing right on your already ample hips! What happened to talking yourself into going to the gym four days a week? Huh? Where’d that go???”. Cranky little twit!

In my defense, the benefit of reading “Seth” is two-fold. Part of it is definitely self-serving, but part really is research so I can move forward on the novel I began in November. It may seem like a stretch to think a book like that would have anything helpful to offer a novel about a woman who inherits a mansion inhabited by the spirits of a couple of centuries of relatives, but you’ll have to trust me on this one.

As I sit here coughing up the detritus from last week’s cold which seems to find it’s way into my lungs as I sleep (maybe there really is something to be said for Seth’s idea that we sleep for much too long at a stretch?) I realize that I will be spending the day reading and drinking Tea for Colds liberally laced with (not what you’re thinking!) honey and lemon so I’ll be hack free for dancing tonight. I sacrifice much for my craft.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for Universal head slaps.
2. I am grateful for the life experiences which allow me to learn from something which was only a blip on my life’s radar the first time around.
3. I am grateful for the cooperation of my four boys with their daily doses of refrigerator cold ear drops. (of course, wet food in the morning and treats at night are a strong motivator for their cooperation!)
4. I am grateful for the rain we’re supposed to be getting after several very dry years. My grass is loving the added moisture (or more accurately, my weeds!)
5. I am grateful for abundance: Inspiration, motivation, like-minded souls, opportunities, love, joy, happiness, laughter, dancing, health, harmony, peace and prosperity.

Namaste

October 31, 2014 Dancin’ and drivin’ the night away #shericonaway

<h2><em><strong><span style=” font-family: lucida sans; font-size:large;”> And a good time was had by all</span></strong></em></h2>

<span style=”font-family: lucida sans; font-size: small;”>A few of the “older crowd” put on our Halloween party duds and added another night of dancing to our schedule tonight. While the festivities started a bit later, there were no lessons to interrupt the fun, so I’d guess we got almost as much dancing in as on a regular night, and with far fewer bodies on the dance floor to get in our way.  All in all, the two couples, two single ladies and one single man made the very most of our dance time, and came away quite satisfied with this deviation from both ours and the club’s norm.

<span style=”font-family: lucida sans; font-size: small;”>Unwinding from dancing by driving to my daughter’s is becoming less novel these days.  I’m slowly starting to recognize land marks and points which mean x number of minutes left before I arrive.  Regardless of whether I leave from home or the dance hall, I’ve pared the trip, pretty consistenly, down to 2 1/2 hours.  Time goes even faster in the late evenng when traffic has thinned and the music from my CD’s (yes, some of us still use those!) keeps me occupied as I belt out the songs along with Terry and Jennifer and all of their friends.

<span style=”font-family: lucida sans; font-size: small;”>I find it interesting how the same amount of time can pass at different speeds, depending on what you’re doing.  For example, 10 minutes on any cardio machine (stairmaster, eliptical, treadmill, etc,) seems like a lifetime to me, but 3 hours of dancing or 2 1/2 hours of driving to see my daughter and grand furries passes like nothing.  The visits themselves, blow by even faster!

<span style=”font-family: lucida sans; font-size: small;”>Now, why is that?  Time is time, right?  In our reality, it doesn’t fold over on itself…or does it?  Could there be some weird time shifting phenomenon which causes time to pass more quickly when we are doing something enjoyable and more slowly when we’re doing something we consider a chore or tedious?  This is completely different from an earlier discussion aboiut time being stolen from us, a fraction of a second at a time.  I could easily be convinced that on the weekends I visit with my daughter, the days are really some fraction of the normal twenty-four hours.  There’s simply no way it seems to be over before it’s begun unless the time bandits are at work in their nefarious ways.

<span style=”font-family: lucida sans; font-size: small;”>I’ll bet this could be explained by those guys who’ve mastered quantum physics.  They’re likely to have the answers ready, just waiting for someone like me to ask.  If you ask me, it’s high time someone asked them to share what they know.  If they’re waiting until we’re ready for such world shaking revelations, I say, the time is now!  We need to know so we can figure out how to prolong those wonderful, joyous times and get past the chores, the sad times, the tedious stuff…much faster and  with less time dragging.

<h2><em><strong><span style=” font-family: lucida sans; font-size:large;”> Let’s hear it for more Disneyland time and less work time.</span></strong></em></h2>

<span style=”font-family: lucida sans; font-size: small;”>Although, I really should qualify that a little.  If you’re one of the lucky few who really love the work they do, then by all means, keep it in the “Disneyland” column.  And to be fair, for those who find Disneyland tedious, you can put that in your “work and drudgery” column.  Aren’t we lucky we can choose what to like and what to suffer through?

<span style=”font-family: lucida sans; font-size: small;”>I’m using the iPad with keyboard tonight, both because I’m on the road and because my daughter is between internet carriers at the moment.  As a result, I’m going to keep this post a little shorter as typing on this thing is just not optimum.  I brought my laptop along for the serious, NaNoWriMo writing which can just be checked into the website either when I find a Starbuck’s or when I get home.  Thinking back, I started last year’s effort a couple of days into it anyway, so though I <em>will</em> be writng this weekend (If I don’t, my brain will surely explode as it’s been ready for over a week!), the NaNoWriMNo site might not see ny progress for a couple of days.  Then it will appear that I went on a veritable writing binge in order to catch up!

<span style=”font-family: lucida sans; font-size: small;”>My gratitudes tonight are:

1. I am grateful that NaNoWriMo is finally here.

2. I am grateful for a truly delightful evening with a few of my dance friends.

3.I am grateful for a weekend of fun and froliic with my daughter as well as snuggles from my grand furries.

4. I am grateful for the over 13,000 steps I did, without even realizing I was moving that much!

5. I am grateful that moving a lot is getting so much easier

6. I am grateful for abundance: time, love,movement, inspiration, dancing, friendship, health, harmony, peace, forgiveness and prosperity.

<span style=”font-family: lucida sans; font-size: small;”>Namaste

And now for some shameless self-promotion: I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel. I’ve created this page as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” it or leave a comment! Thank you!

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 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 16, 2014 How much structure?

Though a simple, unstructured lifestyle may seem ideal, there is something to be said for a little definition to help make things happen.

Once upon a time, my life had a very specific structure. Five days a week, I got up at the same time, showered, dressed, did the usual morning things and went to work for eight hours. On Sunday nights, I made my breakfasts and lunches for three days, and on Wednesday nights, I made meals for the other two days. Laundry was done on the same day every week as was grocery shopping and other errands and chores. When November came along, I took the NaNoWriMo challenge, and sat down to write at the same time every night, until the task was complete.

In the months since I left my job as a Corporate Controller (fancy name for Manager of Accounting and Finance), I’ve seen that structure weaken until, in the last three or four months, it has really been non-existent. All of the day-driven tasks I’d settled into in the first few months had fallen by the wayside. Unless I had an appointment or it was a dance night, my days were one, big, loose, barren wasteland of laziness and sloth; but worse, little to show that I’d spent my day in worthwhile pursuits. It became what so many people teased me about; a full-time vacation.

Taking frequent trips to my daughter’s house didn’t help matters, though I did keep up with my daily writing tasks while there. It took me far longer than it should have to complete the first revision of my novel because I allowed myself to slip when I just didn’t feel motivated.

There comes a time when you have to take a good hard look at what you’re doing and realize that it just ain’t working!

I think my turning point was when I actually finished that revision and had copies made so other people could read it and give me their thoughts on what worked and what didn’t. Though delayed by a couple of weeks due to my visit to my daughter, and hers to me, I finally took stock and made some changes. The first was to revamp my To Do list so I can track my progress in completing weekly tasks. (Old bean counter tricks can actually be handy!)  The second was to commit to a Read and Critique with a local writer’s group. Though initially I only committed to one meeting, I felt so good about it afterwards that I made it a permanent addition to my calendar.

Though I’m refraining from working on the novel for now, I made the decision today to pull out the children’s story I wrote <gasp!> over twenty-two years ago, and start reviewing and revising it in preparation for next week’s meeting.

It hasn’t hurt my recent attack of motivation to re-acquire an accounting client and have the possibility of acquiring another. I now have tasks which need to be completed on a tighter schedule than I’ve enjoyed thus far, further necessitating a more definitized structure for my days. I have some reading I need to do, which I’m told will give me ideas on how to grab the reader’s attention. I have people I need to respond to with regard to improving my novel. And in order to facilitate the increased claims on my time, I’m reinstating my pre-made lunch program. Dinners will continue to be managed by making a large batch of something to be consumed throughout the week. This actually solves two problems for me: what to eat and how to eat more healthy meals. Grab and go, if I’m dependent on whatever is easy right now means a sandwich or something frozen, and I don’t really need either.

So what have I learned by going from one extreme to the other?

Always one to find the lesson in the ups and downs life brings me, I realize that, even if life becomes less structured, there are some things we do when we’re busy to make life easier that are just as useful when the structure in our life is self-created and self-motivated. Although I have the freedom to sleep a little later and do my chores and errands when I decide to do them, things still need to be done every week, every day, every month. I still need to follow a healthy lifestyle including diet and exercise. (My knees are happiest when I move around frequently in some fashion, be it choreographed or freestyle). I still need to move forward on the things which will help me become a published author, sooner rather than later. There’s a website to create, a copywriting course to complete, a Facebook page to maintain, and a plethora of other tasks I don’t even know about yet, which will ensure that the world is ready for me to join the literary world with a reasonable amount of success.

If it means I have to start setting my alarm and pre-making lunches, so be it. It is all just a means to the same end.

And so ends the days of wine and roses (or coffee and long naps).

Nobody ever said that being self-employed meant shorter hours and an easier lifestyle. As a writer, I find that I am a whole lot more than just the chief cook and bottle washer. I’m the “talent” and the personal assistant and any other job title which comes along in my quest for that golden ring; my name on the cover of a book that people actually buy and read! It took awhile, but I think I’m finally on the right track towards balancing my desire for a life which is lived on my terms and actually achieving the lofty goals I set over nine months ago. Tally ho and away we go!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for extremes as they help to find that middle ground which is what works best in the long run.
2. I am grateful for new lessons as they keep me growing and moving forward.
3. I am grateful for other people with fresh viewpoints who can help me clear the clouds away and get a clearer picture of what I need to do to achieve my goals.
4. I am grateful for days when I get a lot accomplished and feel proud of myself once more.
5. I am grateful for abundance: assistance, guidance, friendship, hope, love, beauty, happiness, health, motivation, inspiration, and prosperity.

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

September 14, 2014 Catching up

Living in a vortex

Have you ever heard the term “spiraling out of control”? Have you ever lived it? Or, the better question is, have you ever not lived it? I just watched a video about how the solar system isn’t really just a bunch of planets circling the sun, but rather, a sun which is moving through space, dragging the planets behind it. Thus, the orbits are really spirals as the planets circle the sun while chasing it across the sky.

Life is rather like that. We rarely stand in one place and just go around and around. We move, ever forward, our orbit, if you will, following that forward progression, stretching out, from birth do death, in an ever evolving spiral. Even though we may repeat certain lessons endlessly, the actual delivery of that lesson changes over time, partly because we might actually assimilate part of the lesson after a few dozen iterations, but also because the format of the lesson must be appropriate to where we are in life if we’re even expected to recognize it, much less, learn the darn thing! (I am reminded, at this point, of the lessons in both patience and kindness which haunt me like a specter as I continue to be gifted the opportunity to finally nail those suckers…yet, still the lessons come.) I won’t call the yet-to-be-learned lessons failures as there truly are no failures, just lessons in what doesn’t work!

Getting back to my original point: catching up.

As the ADHD once again redirected my thoughts, I left my original point before I’d even started to type tonight. That point? Catching up. The week got away from me as the celebration of my daughter’s birth was uppermost in my mind. She arrived here Thursday night, and if you were watching, posts for the last couple of days were noticeably absent. But overdancing on an already sore foot (if you can show me a dance addict who hasn’t done that a time or two, I’ll kiss their shoes!) gave me an unexpected day of little activity as I paid the price by needing to stay off of it entirely for awhile. I even had to decline the opportunity to start learning a new kind of dancing, much to my disgust! But I promised myself and my friend, Dezi that I will soon accept the challenge of learning Casino Rueda while taking another step out of my cozy little comfort zone.

However, the day was not a total bust. I finally got my computer checked out and was assured that most of my problem was the accumulation of dust inside the case. I am also relieved to learn that my hard drive is healthy and not facing imminent demise. The best news is that my printer and all of its functions are now fully–functional again. This is especially helpful as I prepare to take Chapter 1 of “Sasha’s Journey” to my very first read and critique. The activity requires hard copies of the material I’m presenting, so having a working relationship between printer and computer is somewhat important to the cause. I just need to get some sort of heat goo which my technical person assures me he will apply for me. (I admit, I don’t exactly know what the stuff is, much less where on the computer it should be applied! The little knowledge I have carries the very real risk of putting my electronics in jeopardy; a risk I’m not willing to take as my work load is starting to increase, and my schedule of tasks requiring my computer grows exponentially.

So a day spent reading, snuggling with the cats and completing tasks which were temporarily abandoned (like daily blog posts) leaves me feeling rather pleased and accomplished. The week ahead, filled with doctor visits, meeting with another editor for my book, working with a new client and of course, dancing, will give me a great start towards getting back on task with all of the things I’ve set aside lately. There is a lot of truth to the saying “If you want something done, ask a busy person”. The busier I am, the more efficient I become, and the more tasks I’m able to accomplish. Lately, my accomplishment rate has settled into one of the lowest places ever, and I can no longer tolerate such sloth. A temporary hiatus on either traveling or having a house guest will be helpful as well.

My goal for the next few weeks is to get some of the longer term tasks off of my to-do list and to revise the format a bit so that I can generate graphical data from the weekly progress. If I were writing a spell to ensure success, I would, at this point add: “As I will, so mote it be.”

In fact, let me take a stab at it!

Completion of the tasks at hand
Be they exciting or rather bland
Motivation is what I seek
Triggered by the words I speak
To trim my list by one, two or three
As I will, so mote it be!

Inspiration is definitely flowing more freely this week, and tasks I’ve left hanging are seeming less daunting now. I’m getting encouragement from many directions, and stepping out into opportunities which have recently begun appearing (or more likely, I’ve finally just opened my eyes to see what was already there, awaiting my notice). So may things swirling in this vortex of my life, that make it impossible to avoid feeling and joining the pace as it speeds up once again. It’s been awhile since my life was a wild roller coaster ride, and it feels as if that wheel is about to turn and the wonder and excitement is being turned up a few notches. Stay tuned as the ride will be interesting, exciting and sometimes frustrating, but never, ever boring!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for new insights.
2. I am grateful for encouragement from new and old directions.
3. I am grateful for synchronicity which brought me another editor.
4. I am grateful for the fun, busy weeks which have come to an end for awhile so I can really get down to business.
5. I am grateful for abundance: projects, prosperity, enthusiasm, motivation, creativity, tenacity, love, friendship,harmony, peace, kindness, patience and love.

Namaste

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