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

Posts tagged ‘critique’

March 6, 2015 One woman’s lazy is another’s productive

Today felt like a really lazy day

I got up this morning, a bit earlier than normal and felt like I was moving so slowly. I fed the cats, got my yogurt and coffee and sat down to check my blog, email and Facebook page. Pretty much a normal day. And yet… I managed to evade the promise I’d made to myself to go to the gym today.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen.

Wednesday, I took the four quarts of turkey stock left over from Thanksgiving out of the freezer to defrost. By yesterday morning, they were nearly liquid again so I moved them to the refrigerator. However, as the Queen of Baking is here again, this time to make a Hobbit hole wedding cake (gluten free, of course!), I had to give up a large portion of my refrigerator to her project, thus forcing me to dive into my own whether I was ready or not.

You might recall that I set out to refill my freezer last week as it had begun to like like a barren frozen wasteland. This is a bad thing on two levels. First, the cupboard is bare, but more importantly, it results in my grabbing a bite to eat from Subway or Baja Fresh instead of eating my own healthy, portion controlled meals. Though the realistic side of me knows that no matter how good I am, I will not be fitting into the size 12 black taffeta skirt by April 17th that does not mean I can’t follow healthy habits so I have more energy and simply feel better. So, today was turkey stewp day, and I had to fit it in between Heather’s work on the cake, though at one point, we actually managed to share the kitchen, she to carve and me to chop. Turkey Stewp 3-6-15

At the end of the day, she had created yet another masterpiece and I had turned four quarts of turkey stock, six pounds of turkey and a plethora of vegetables (I just love the word “plethora”. It’s right up there with “cornucopia”!) into about twenty servings of soup.

From frozen wasteland to an exercise in Tetrissing

When added to last Full Freezer 3-6-15week’s batches of chili, stir fry and spaghetti squash, and this week’s spaghetti sauce, I now have the freezer of my dreams…and about a month’s worth of no cooking unless I really want to! I’ve also gone completely through my stock of single serving containers and a good way into the larger ones. I guess I’ll have to stop for a couple of weeks until those stacks go down!

Did the laziness end there?

You might think that several hours of chopping, cooking, storing and cleaning would be enough for one day, but I’m afraid there was more to be done. I needed Heather’s help to put up the white board I bought a couple of weeks ago, and tomorrow, we’ll be heading in different directions. By the time I get home from my critique group, she’ll probably be headed home so she can prepare for another of her insanely busy days on Sunday, so the white board had to go up today or wait until the next time she visits, which is about a month away. That simply would not do!

In all fairness, I was the fetcher and she did most of the work, but the end result is exactly like I envisioned, with the bookshelf below serving as a place to collect the appropriate supplies. (of course, Dylan has already been up there to check things out. Yet the file racks which previously occupied this space, rather messily, I might add, would have been far more interesting with papers and such hanging out. But no human living has ever truly been able to figure out a cat!)

Somewhere in the midst of it all, I had two pieces to critique for tomorrow (thankfully, I submitted one this time so my work load was reduced by a third). Though I received them Wednesday night, I had equal parts procrastination and spending time with my daughter to blame for waiting until what I felt was the last minute. Thankfully, our group leader sent critique forms for this week’s work which made the job a whole lot easier. I was able to just read the pieces, spend some time letting them meander through my brain, then fill in my thoughts in the appropriate places. All in all, I think it will make for a much better forum tomorrow.

With any luck, tomorrow’s post will feature a picture of the amazing Hobbit hole cake (or maybe even two if I can get Heather to send me a couple of different angles!)

For now, I will leave you with a shorter than average post and my gratitudes.
1. I am grateful for a full freezer.
2. I am grateful for some kitchen time with my daughter, reliving some very silly, happy memories.
3. I am grateful for my critique groups which are helping me to be a better writer.
4. I am grateful for how my office is slowly cleaning up and turning into a true writer’s den. (all accounting related accoutrements are safely stashed in drawers and cabinets when not in use, the better to keep me focused on writing related activities.)
5. I am grateful for abundance, love, support, lessons, discoveries, evolution, joy, inspiration, challenges, health, harmony, peace and prosperity. Spread it all around!

Blessed Be!

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!

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February 11, 2015 Uncertain and insecure

Uncertainty blossoms like an atom bomb in my gut, restraining creativity and confidence

I’ve given little actual attention to my writing for the past few days, aside from reading “50 Shades of Grey” and trying to learn something from the writing. I’ve chased it around in my mind, feeling discouraged by my characters’ lack of depth. Today, I did my usual Tarot card draw and now I’m even more disturbed and uncertain.

My Romani deck gave me Death, the grim reaper standing watch above a burning gypsy wagon, his enormous scythe at the ready should anyone try to save the wagon. Death-RomaniI took this to mean that I need to face facts, do some clearing of my house, my plate and whatever else needs clearing, and maybe accept the fact that I need to change paths. The cut card was Temperance which soothed me a little as it refers to the process of tempering metals, combining them with other things like heat and other elements to make it stronger.

My Spiral deck gave me the Queen of Swords,Queen of Swords-Spiral calm in a storm but very direct. She cuts through the crap to what really matters. She was aided by the King of Pentacles, a wise, financially savvy man who might be worth listening to.

All in all, I realized that discouragement with my writing is directly tied to my lack of financial security. I’ve given myself more than a year to produce something publication worthy and I’m a long way off right now. Yes, I finally launched my website, but it, too, needs a great deal of work and I’m not really sure where to start. I have over 60,000 words of a second novel but feel like I’m not really going anywhere with it. Although I haven’t re-read it since I started the re-write in January, I have convinced myself that it is complete crap, as is “Sasha’s Journey”. I feel like my characters are just not reaching that “love them or hate them” level of depth.

As I see it, I have two choices right now

As I see it, I can do one of two things: I can chuck the whole thing, tell my creative voice to stuff it and try to go back to doing accounting for a living…for someone else who will own part of my time. OR I can give myself some more time, work harder on developing the characters, just write to the end of my latest novel and start revising the first one with the help of independent critiques. I’d like to think there’s a happy medium between the two, but I look at my dwindling bank balances and a big bolt of fear paralyzes me. Was I nuts to quit my job when I did? Do I lack the self-discipline to make this work? Should I have tried harder to get into the copywriting so I’d have at least enough income to cover my living expenses?

In truth, I am not only succumbing to the insecurity many, if not most writers experience, I’m also succumbing to the fear of homelessness, despite the fact that my resources will carry me for several years, if used wisely. My inner child screams “Won’t someone just reassure me that everything is going to be all right?” But nobody answers.

Self doubt is an insidious animal, gnawing away at your gut, your hopes and dreams dripping from its toothy maw

Some days, I feel full of hope and confidence that the path upon which I’ve embarked is exactly right for me, and that I have what it takes to make it work. But the next, I’m wallowing in my own pit of self pity, accomplishing nothing and of no use to anyone. (It occurs to me that this post would have been perfect for the first Wednesday of the month IWSG insecurity post).

By tomorrow, I will probably be 200 pages into another book on technique and may have spent some time getting to know my characters better. But today is for wallowing and for considering, if only for a moment, going back to what I know pays the bills (assuming, of course, that a company will be willing to hire someone with as short a shelf-life as I have now). To be honest, that option sends chills right up my spine. I can’t even conceive of working in an office, at someone else’s beck and call again. I’d almost rather be boiled in oil…almost.

I know there’s nothing unique in what I’m feeling. IWSG was formed because most writers are insecure (it stands for Insecure Writers Support Group). But most of the people I talk to had the good sense to keep their day jobs.

Considering the positive changes I’ve made in the last fourteen months

To be fair, I have accomplished a lot of things since I left my job. I exercise more, laugh more, keep my house cleaner and have eliminated a ton of clutter. I see my daughter often, despite her move. I’ve written nearly 200,000 words worth of creative, novelly stuff and significantly more bloggy stuff. I hug more and listen more. But best of all, I’m ill far less often than I was when I worked at a job I was beginning to dislike intensely, not because of anything in particular, just because it no longer felt like where I needed to be.

I’m where I want to be, but am I where I need to be?

In a nutshell, that is the real burning question. I am, for the most part, happy. I love setting my own hours and working into the wee hours if I so choose without worrying about my alarm shrieking long before I’m ready to awaken. I love going to the gym when most people are at work or school. But I don’t love the debt that just won’t go down or the bank and investment balances that just won’t go up.

I also know that I will find a solution. It may not be a perfect one, but it will balance my fears and my desires into something which I can live with. Until then, I will keep reading and try to keep writing. I will work on that inner voice which is bound and determined to discourage me and try to bury it for awhile longer. Why? I write not because I want to, but because I have to. It’s as simple as that. I can still do accounting work, but I don’t see myself as an accountant any more. The knowledge and skills are there, but my heart is just no longer in it, at least not on a full time basis in a place that isn’t mine.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the people who understand where I am.
2. I am grateful for my library of resources to help me get past this mountain of self-doubt.
3. I am grateful for tasks which require my attention but not my mind.
4. I am grateful for this outlet; a place to vent my spleen, no matter what might be causing me distress or joy.
5. I am grateful for abundance; love, happiness, even fear as getting past it makes me stronger, support, connections, dreams, challenges, opportunities and ultimately, answers. Also for harmony, peace, health and prosperity.

Blessed be

January 23, 2015 And the beat goes on

The last few days have brought a new dynamic, not only to my writing but to my life as well

As those who follow me regularly know, I officially became an Accelerated Copywriting dropout this month. I hoped it would shake things loose and it has, but not in quite the manner I’d expected. However, if I learned one thing from my A.R.T teacher, it was to set my intentions with broad strokes and allow the Universe to fill in the details

In the meantime, I got back to work on my second NaNoWriMo effort tentatively titled “A Dubious Gift”.   But this was only the beginning of how the Universe began to lead me, step by step, to start living like a Writer.

An opportunity to join a local critique group showed up on my list of Meetups, so of course, I joined.  I also ran across a Facebook group called Insecure Writers Support Group or IWSG for short.  I signed up for that too, little knowing that I would then be matched up with three other writers to help  each other reach that Writer’s Holy Grail, publication.  I was fortunate enough to be matched with three amazing ladies who all seem to be on the same page.  We created our own group and plan to do brainstorming and share both struggles and triumphs along the way.  But the best part is, I shook the mothballs off of my 2013 NaNoWriMo effort for their reading and critiquing enjoyment ( though I expect that my ‘child’ will be taken apart quite drastically before this is over.  But at least it will become more than a box of pages for Scrappy Doo to rest his scrawny self on when the hard, unforgiving wood of the shelf beneath my office window ceases to meet his exacting standards for feline comfort.

Meanwhile, in other news, my daughter who has been the driving force, not only behind the original inception of my blog but also my first NaNoWriMo has finally agreed to start her own blog which we’ve agreed to associate with this one.  So stay tuned to this location for the launch of Heather’s Culinary Adventure, a blog filled with recipes and lessons learned as she travels the road to a degree in Culinary Arts.

All in all, through communications glitches (I lost about 75% of this post and had to start over), travel, business requirements and just the day to day stuff we all have to do as part of being human adults, the process of reinventing myself from that initial leap of faith continues.  In fact, that one significant step has led to more steps outside of that once familiar place called my comfort zone until, lo and behold, that place has expanded beyond anything I could have imagined, much less recognized a year or so ago.  I would venture to say that it was one small step for my Human self and one giant leap for my Spiritual, Divine self.

My gratitudes tonight are:

1. I am grrateful for the people who encouraged me to take that initial step.

2. I am grateful for the opportunities the Universe keeps placing in my path.

3. I am grateful for the people I’m meeting along the way on my new journey.

4. I am grateful for my daughter who has been so very supportive and uncritical as I find out who I need to be on this new journey.  She thinks I don’t appreciate it, but I do, more than she realizes.

5. I am grateful for abundance: love, sharing, worig, writing, people, places, things, ideas, new adventures, health, harmony, peace, happingess and prosperity.

 

Blessed Be

 

January 20, 2015 Illusion, premonition or insanity?

Olfactory illusions: Real or imagined?

Let me preface this by saying I have been known to have a premonition of a future event, but they have, up to this point, always been visual. This morning, however, I experienced something new, or at least, new to me. I’ve heard of people being able to smell certain things from which they deduce something or other, but have never experienced such a thing myself. Usually, if I smell something, it’s source can be easily identified. Today, however, is a completely different kettle of fish.

Around 10:00AM, I started smelling a pleasant scent which seemed remotely familiar. I couldn’t place it, and there was no reason for it to be in my house, so I sat very still trying, first, to identify the scent, and second, where it might be coming from. As I continued to worry this scent like a dog would a tasty bone, my heart started to pound as if the scent elicited an emotional response from me. Yet, still, I can neither identify scent nor source.

I posed the question to my Facebook friends and got some interesting responses. Here are a couple of them:

Yes. I have. There are times when I can smell the spaghetti and green beans we had in Kindergarten. I can smell the pineapples from the box the man across the street would bring home from Dole when we lived in Hawaii….YES….many, many times.

Yes. Scents are often closely linked with memory. A certain scent can trigger memory, and memory can trigger the impression of the scent. Occasionally a scent/memory connection can cause other types of hallucinations. The memory of a train triggered by scent of coal can trigger your brain to create the illusion of a train whistle as an example.

Have you noticed that when you notice something particularly interesting, it starts coming up in various parts of your life?

I was watching an episode of “Scorpion” last night in which they were trying to trigger someone’s memory. Toby, the behaviorist, had the guy smell something applicable to the memory they were seeking. He stated that scent is a very powerful memory trigger. In my case, however, not only could I not place the scent, but it didn’t trigger any memories, at least on a conscious level. I can’t even tell for sure if I was feeling anxious or excited!

Fortunately, I’ve convinced myself to let it go for now. If it’s something I really need to know, it will come to me in some other way, or the Universe will just keep slapping me until I pay attention. Either way, I’ll have it when I need it.

For now, I have a book to critique and more to come. Just another step in my quest to become a published author. I love how the community of writers really is a community. Many really do want to help each other (though, like anything else, there are some who simply want to promote their own work while offering nothing in return. Different strokes for different folks). I prefer to be in the group which helps first, though it doesn’t always work out that way. I certainly wouldn’t feel right about asking someone to critique my 98,000 word novel if I wasn’t willing and able to do the same for them. I also worry about a writer who claims that they don’t read any more. Their vision is going to be extremely limited, but then, that might be exactly what they want.

Stay tuned as I begin my new journey into the world of critiques and critiquing.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for new visions and expanding opportunities.
2. I am grateful for other authors. They give me something to strive for and someone to learn from.
3. I am grateful for my writing. If something frustrates or confuses me, I simply need to write about it and eventually, it will all sort out.
4. I am grateful for two ladies who are taking on my first serious effort.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, happiness, joy, writing, inspiration, assistance, cooperation, appreciation, health, peace, harmony and prosperity.

Blessed Be

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!

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