Dancing outside my comfort zone

Posts tagged ‘believing’

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

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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

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