Moments of Realization

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Before we begin today’s post… I would like to acknowledge the tragic events in Belgium this week. My heart goes out to the victims, but that’s about all I’m going to say about that. I see no value in giving those who caused the events any more attention on this blog. People whose idea of ‘bravery’ is bombing the elderly and unarmed women and children aren’t worthy of the space and time. So on to other things…

Yesterday morning I came to a realization. It’s one that I’ve talked about here.It’s something that I’ve wanted to believe, but part of me, somewhere, never quite believed…

A while back I made a change. I started acknowledging myself as a professional freelance writer. My job was now “Writer” (see some of my earlier thoughts on that here…). But was it a real job? Was I really doing this professional writing thing or was I just doing?

Earlier this week I ran into a blogger who boldly proclaimed that people who sit in a restaurant with their writing gear and peer off with a ‘pondering expression’ aren’t really writers, they are posers…

The thing is, I consider myself a real writer. Some times I write at a restaurant. Sometimes I sit and ponder while I’m working out what to say, what new words to put down, or how to modify the words I’ve written.

Then Thursday morning it hit me. No, this is a real job. I am a real writer. I do writer things like putting words on pages and editing and pitching and research and all those other ‘writer’ things. But I’m also doing the ‘real job’ things: I set (and keep) deadlines; I set and achieve goals;  I manage; I communicate with business contacts (not just Facebook friends…). I have an actual bank account set aside for business stuff and that’s what the writing stuff (in and out) is linked to.

This is a real job. The difference between being a writer and most ‘real’ jobs is that I don’t have a boss to report to. I also really don’t have employees (thankfully, I don’t have pay employment taxes for my fictional characters (yet) )

From all of this week’s experiences I find the following to be true…

  1. Writing can be (and for me is) a real job.
  2. Writing is as much a real job as you choose to make it.
  3. If you are going to make it a real job. You have to put the time in on all the parts, the ‘writing stuff’ and the ‘job stuff’.
  4. All of that can look different depending on who you are and what you write.

As long as you are treating it as a job, and actually doing the job stuff, writing can be a real job. There may not be a literal time clock to punch (unless you make one for yourself!) but as your own boss, when you’re honest with yourself, you know how much time you spend on writing and marketing and all those other things you need to do. (And don’t forget education, especially if you don’t know what you need to do!)

That’s it for this one dear reader. Until next time…

It’s your life, make it your best.

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The story goes on (and on the road)

There are times when you have to ask yourself “What do I do now?” There are times you have to ask yourself “How did I get into this?” At the moment I’m asking myself both these questions.

I’m asking myself those questions, but not necessarily answering them…

I am answering a question today though…

I’m answering…

What the heck is going on?

The catch is I’m not actually answering that for my self! Parts of that answer readers of this blog already know. I’m dealing with life and trying to get two books out by the end of the year. The rest of it I can’t satisfactorily answer for you now because I’m in the middle of answering it for myself.

Instead I will answer what’s going on for the central character of my NANOWRIMO novel Johnson Farm. This is something that I’ve mentioned by name here for months. I’ve been working on it for months: writing, editing, dreaming, scheming and pulling my hair out; but it isn’t until now that I’m really working up the courage to share it with any one.

So…

The story of Johnson Farm…

It all starts when his great uncle dies… Johnathan Johnson is dragged out of his ‘normal’ life to go to the funeral of a man he’s never met, in a place he’s never been. That’s where the mysteries begin…
At first, John is fairly sure about his life. He knows what he wants and wants to do. He knows how his parents will disappoint him, and why. Then, on a farm in ‘darkest’ Idaho, John discovers that people aren’t always what they seem, that their motivations are more complex than he thinks.
Dad starts acting more like a sulky classmate than a father. His uncle Harley, who Dad refuses to talk about, is leaving hints and causing mayhem. And Uncle Theo, who everyone agrees is near perfect, seems a lot less than perfect to John.
Out of anger and then curiosity John sets out to explore and find answers. In the process he’s introduced to the grandparents he never met; the friends he’s always looked for; the girl that’s always looked for him; the fight that he has to win; and the accident…
Near the house sits ‘the coop’ which his father and uncles almost worship but will never speak of. By the pond is a stone that has no business there. In a bed lies the girl and her dream. Each is a clue and a door, but once John walks in can he get back out?

That’s it for today dear reader. Until next time…

Don’t be afraid of questions. Don’t be afraid of answers. It’s the not knowing that gets you.

Three Rules From Gardening

Now that the snow is going away (for real this time!) another task has returned to my life, working on my yard. I work on writing while I’m working on the yard. I really do. I think about what I’m working on. I may be physically cutting grass, raking, watering, or a number of other chores, but mentally I’m telling stories and figuring out how they work.

I learn things about stories while I’m working on the yard. I learn things about life while I’m working on my yard. Today I’d like to share three things my roses and peach tree taught me.

1) Life (and lifelike stories) are not big fans of the straight line…

They’re just not. Sure, you can find some straight lines in nature. But, most of those show up in crystalline structures, things that aren’t alive. Actually many people from psychology to religion to anthropology and beyond feel that the fact that straight lines are so rare in nature and so common in crystals is part of what leads to the mystical, magical things that are attributed to crystals (and some of the real ones that the physicists and chemists tell us about).

When we’re talking about actual natural living things straight lines, really straight lines, are fairly rare and almost always mean something. That’s all OK. It is life that isn’t a straight line, usually. So, your life and your lifelike story don’t have to be straight lines to be valid as life (or a lifelike story).

Those straight lines in nature mean something. A lot of straight, or nearly straight, lines are forced.

2) We can’t completely force life (or story) to go where we want it to.

It just doesn’t work. You can force life (or story) to go where you want some of the time. But, sooner or later life breaks out of the form you’ve tried to give it. Sooner or later your story just won’t go where you want it to go. That’s OK.

Life usually has a reason for going the way it wants to go. A lifelike story responds to the forces of plot, setting, and character. Life responds to the needs and desires that exist in life (and the life-form)  and the outside world. Simple lifeforms don’t do the straight line thing so well, and their forces, needs, and desires are simple. How can we expect something as complex as a human life to go in one single straight line; especially when it’s stacked among other human lives in a community.

A living thing (even a simple one) that is really existing in a straight line seems odd. A human story that’s a perfectly straight line seems unnatural, even scary. Sure, we want it to be a straight line, when we’re lazy. That’s what our outline says, so that’s what should happen…

It’s never that simple, not if your story (or your life) is going to be healthy, natural, and believable.

3) We can choose which path life and story will follow.

We humans are rare. We are intelligent beings that can think and plan. We can observe and make guesses about what will happen. We can choose (and even make good choices occasionally).

What this means is that we are no more constrained to wander than we are locked into a single straight line course. We can choose. My roses send out new canes and branches all over the place; so do my peach trees; so do our lives  (and our stories). The difference is a rose or peach tree can’t choose which branch will  grow and where. I the gardener do that.

I as a gardener have the ability to choose which branch or cane to keep and which to cut away. It is my job to choose the best possible one from the choices before me, the one that will get the best light; the one that’s healthy; the one that will keep thieves (and boyfriends) out of my daughter’s window.

We as humans can choose which branch we will follow. We make these choices for our lives and our stories. This is even more powerful as a storyteller/writer. We can shape the forces and pressures on our character more than we can in real life sometimes.

Even in real life we can make choices between branches (even if we have less control than we do in our stories). We don’t have to do this blindly or alone. We can think and learn. And, as persons of faith we can call upon the greatest gardener/storyteller of all to help with the choices we make. If not… well, that’s a choice you can make too (and one you can come back to later if you want to).

Life takes turns and twists. It does not typically make straight lines, they stand out and seem unnatural.

We have some control over life and story. We can’t completely force either to go where we want it to. But, we do have the ability to shape which of the possible choices we will follow.

This is what my yard taught me this week dear reader. I have chosen to share it with you. I hope you find something here that will help you. I ask you to share it with someone else that it can help.

That’s it for this one dear reader. Until next time…

Life… Let’s grow!

The Baloon Is Going Up…

There’s an old joke in the aviation community “Don’t drop the airplane to fly the radio.” They never told me what to do if I’m trying to fly more than one airplane…

As of this writing I am less than a month out from the publishing my first chainmail project book; in the middle of a short story collection; and I just finished the paperwork to hand off my NANOWRIMO novel Johnson Farm to the people who will hopefully be creating beautiful cover art for the book which I intend to have out in the fall. This is good stuff. I’m learning a lot. Unfortunately I’m learning different things with each book, that makes things complicated.

Tracking multiple projects and keeping moving on multiple projects is a challenge. Keeping track of multiple projects with new stuff going on is even harder. It would be really easy to turn back to the parts I already know and do well. I could do that and keep spinning my wheels on stuff. I would be working on a book, but would I really be progressing.

Among the things I want people to take from this blog is to keep moving forward and keep growing. This week I need to take that advice myself. So, I tell you dear reader the same thing I’m telling my self. I know it’s hard. I know it’s scary. I know it’s painful some times. But, if you’re going to make it to a goal you have to find a way to go forward.

It does get better dear reader. We get better and grow stronger. We can grow to do more than we’ve ever done.

That’s it for this one dear reader. Until next time…

Remind me…

Why did I think it was a good idea to release a book on April Fools Day???