Tag Archives: perseverence

When Life Gives You Lemons, It’s Okay To Cry

Moving Dear Daughter into college last week was difficult at best. Watching parents hug their kids goodbye and climb into their vehicles with tears in their eyes was too common to count. It was the rare student who did a fist pump as his family rounded the corner and drove away. Mostly, it was a day filled with hastily wiped cheeks, glassy eyes and runny noses. Neither DD nor I were immune to the blues. Heck, we’d had coffee together every morning and shared lunch nearly every afternoon for her last two years of high school.

I know the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” but I firmly believe it’s okay to cry about those lemons first. Denying our emotions is just as bad as, if not worse than, ignoring everything that happens after someone hands you a bushel of lemons. Validating our pain and fear and frustration is helpful. It allows us to move on. It’s only when we suppress those feelings that we end up with a sour life in the long run.

Bad things happen. Sad things happen. That’s okay. In fact, those experiences are what give us a refreshing perspective on the rest of our lives. They allow us to appreciate the lemonade.

Dear writer friends, please remember this post when you pen the life journey of your MCs. Know that we must put them through a little pain and discomfort. Let them hurt. Let them cry. Then give them the strength to carry on and overcome.

Same to you, parents. We can’t protect our children from everything, and we shouldn’t even try. They must learn to live despite falling down.

What life lemons have been sent your way? How do you validate someone’s feelings when you would rather tell them to suck it up?

Curious minds want to know.


Life Is Pain, Highness!

There’s no better way to start the day than a quote from The Princess Bride. And no better way to live your life.

Typing after nearly decapitating my finger hasn’t been easy. A week later and still, the only feeling I have in my right pointer from the top knuckle up is a perpetual odd numbness like it’s sleeping.

That is until I bump the tip of it. Then fireworks explode. And while I don’t tend to think that I and K are as useful as M, S and A, they are used more often than you think. As is the comma. Additionally, I also use Pointer Finger to backspace, something I do more often than I probably should. (How I graduated from highschool without a typing class, I’ll never know.)

Yet despite the inconvenience of tapping a keyboard with a half-dead finger, I still managed to write about three thousand new words and edit a whole slew of other ones.

Life is full of bumps and bruises and aches and pains. Some emotional. Some physical. If we are to survive, we must persevere as Wesley did in my All-Time Favorite Movie, The Princess Bride.

He let neither pirates nor giants, expert swordsmen nor poison deter him from tracking down his loved one. He even survived the Pit of Despair to return to his fair maiden, Buttercup.

Thankfully my life isn’t quite so exciting as his, though I’ve learned my lesson well.

We must write, dance, sing, sew, swim or run through life lest we give up. For once we do, we are nothing more than the end of my finger: numb to everything that goes on around us.

Life is pain, but it only wins if we let it.

P.S. Any typos found within are strictly the fault of my defunct finger. Our regularly scheduled good grammar will resume shortly.




Reaching your Goals: in writing and life.

As the first week of the new year comes to a close, I want to share an observation about resolutions.

  1. The health club is packed.  Everyone and their grandma wants to get in shape this year.  However, not everyone and their grandma will.  By mid-February, Anytime Fitness will be half as busy.  By the beginning of summer, only a few diehards will remain.  Only a handful of resolutioners (yep, that’s my new word) will be bikini ready in twenty lifetimes, let alone by the end of 2012.

Why?  Because it takes more than a whim to reach a goal.  It takes proper goal-setting, perseverence, motivation, skill, ability, training, support (human and fabric) and time.  To name a few.

Guess what?  Becoming a writer is no different.  Minus the sports bra, of course.

To keep you on your resolutionary path, I’ve pieced together tidbits from past posts.

  1. Assessing Success.  Make sure your goals are specific, measurable and attainable.  You can’t succeed if you never define what success means.  Likewise, reaching a goal is impossible if you set your sights on attaining things completely outside your control.  In other words, failure is guaranteed when we dream of wearing size one pants on size six bones.
  2. What’s Your Writing Weight?  Understand the process. Take  time to learn the nuances involved in reaching your goal.  Weightloss does not occur overnight.  Neither does publication or good parenting or better organization.  Only by understanding the journey, can we prepare ourselves for what lies ahead.
  3.  Didn’t Feel Like It.    Don’t hit the snooze button–figuratively or literally.  Some days it’s nearly impossible to get up and get going, but don’t give into the temptation to take the day off or buy into the excuse that your muscles (brains or butts) are too tired, too sore or too stressed to work out.  They’re not.  It only seems that way when you’re nestled under the covers.  Once you get started, you’ll always be thankful you did.
  4. Getting Back Up.   And when it feels like you’ve done everything humanly possible to reach your goal and the only alternative you have left is to throw in the proverbial towel, don’t.  Success never comes out of quitting.  Instead, take a peak at your goals and seriously reflect on your reasons behind setting them in the first place.  Redefine them if you must, but don’t walk away from the challenge–and the dream–that prompted you to set your goals in the first place.

How do you prepare yourself for goal setting?  What tips do you have to help others reach and/or maintain their goals? 

Curious minds want to know.

Oh, Christmas Tree, Why Do I Like Thee?

We bought a Christmas tree this past weekend.  It was a family affair with three generations of tree-cutters slopping through wet grass to find the perfect pines for our respective houses.  Everyone, from one year old baby Liza up to Grandpa, had a different opinion on what makes a pretty tree.

Some wanted teeny-meeny saplings that barely reached their knees–and at four, seven and ten, those are some pretty short knees.  Still others wanted pines that soared so high the tops seemed to disappear into the clouds. 

Long needles, short needles, painted, pure, Charlie Brownishly skinny, trimmed to conical perfection or naturally full?

So many trees.  So many choices.

Tree hunting is a lot like book buying.

What tickles one person’s tweeter may totally turn off another reader.  That’s why there are so many different genres and sub genres.  It’s why one vampire book becomes a beloved read while another sits on the shelf untouched.  It’s why, in another home, the exact opposite is true.

One thing I did notice during our commune with nature: the trees didn’t care.  They didn’t care if someone walked by them and made a beeline for another pine.  Instead, they remained steadfast.  The soaked up the moisture and the sun’s rays oblivious to the hubbub around them.  In the end, they will be something.

Pinecones to repopulate a forest.  Shade for new seedlings.  A nesting ground for birds.  Food for squirrels.  Shelter for deer.  A Christmas tree to the right family at the right time or firewood or mulch as aging branches die and decompose.

There’s a lesson here for aspiring writers.  Well, maybe two.

  1. Write the story you need to tell.  Some people may love it.  Some may hate it.  It may be a bestseller or a favorite niche story that quietly gets passed around by a select few.  Regardless of what ultimately happens to it, it will serve a purpose.  Really and truly, because…
  2. …not every story will grace the great room…er, become the book of the season.  In fact, some may get self-pubbed or never get published at all.  Yet we learn from every story we pen.  These practice stories help us hone our skills and nurture the seeds of our creativity.

Nature does not waste.  Nor does she regret.  She simply perseveres.

And that, my writer friends, is what I wish for you this upcoming holiday season.  Be the tree!


Starts With P: writing advice

Our preschool letter of the week is P.  We talk about pickles and pinecones, pigs and peacocks, porcupines and pillows.  Not in that order, and certainly not in the same breath.  Yet, like all things, I could string them together into one cohesive theme if given enough time.  I’m just crazy that way.

While contemplating this today, it struck me that novels would never get completed without the all-powerful letter P. 

And so I present you: Writing Advice with the Letter P.

  • Premeditate: Every good story needs a bit of forethought before putting pen to paper.  While I’m a pantster (writing without an outline), a certain amount of premeditation can go a long way in understanding the nuances of a novel.  For instance, I researched multiple personality disorders for Whispering Minds.  I read four books, checked out numerous websites and tapped into my psych classes from college to pull together pertinent info to my story.
  • Plot: Next I plodded plotted my way through my story.  I wrote one word after another, stringing sentences into paragraphs and pages into chapters.  Soon, I had a viable story line with a workable plot–a conflict and a resolution.
  • Progress: Every day, I wrote a minimum of 1,667 words.  While that sounds impressive, it was a self-imposed timeline posed by NaNoWriMo and their annual novel-writing contest.  Regardless of the reason, however, I made progress toward my 50k words in thirty days goal.  Each and every day, I worked on my novel.  Forward motion is the only way progress is made.
  • Perseverance: Don’t get me wrong, there were days I wanted to quit.  Procrastination could have been my friend.  Instead, I persevered through the doldrums and worked despite my absent muse. 
  • Posterior: Eventually I reached THE END.  The backside of a novel writing endeavor is a much cherished success.  Whether our words ever get read by another human being or not, simply reaching the climax of a novel and wrapping up the loose ends is a success few wannabe writers ever reach.  If this is as far as you get in your career as a writer, congratulate yourself on a job well-done.  Only 17% of those starting NaNoWriMo each year complete their goals. 
  • Practice: After our final words find their way to the page, aspiring writers feel empowered with their success.  We want to rush our babies into the literary world.  Don’t.  Suppress this urge.  Quash it.  Kill it or hide it in a box in a dark closet.  Your rough draft is your practice piece.  Nothing more and nothing less.   
  • Polish: After a solid finish, your practice manuscript needs a good spit-shine.  It needs echoes beat out of it.  It needs plot holes filled and characters plumped.  It needs to be edited over and over again until you have clarity.  It needs beta eyes to pinpoint problem areas and help make your writing a work of art–precise, polished, perfect.
  • Perfection: Okay, maybe that’s too strong of a word.  But the gist of it is, if you ever want to go from wanna-be writer to aspiring writer to full-fledged author, you must learn the delicate balance between as-good-as-I-can-get-it and editing-the-magic-out.  When we reach that comfortable place in our rewrites, we must stop the urge to tinker and start pimping our babies to the professionals.

What other P words pave the way for good writing habits and stellar manuscripts? 

Inquiring minds want to know.

Bread Dogs and Killer Instincts

Two summers ago, our backdoor neighbors’ son lived with them.  His baby, a pit bull, also lived with them.  Now, I was not opposed to them opening their home to their adult child, but I was a wee bit disconcerted over the fact that my young children would share the same play space as his pit bull.

DH and I cautioned our children not to run and scream when the dog was in the back yard.  We explained that they shouldn’t approach the dog like they would the other dogs in the hood.  We talked extensively about the history of pitbulls and how they were bred as fighters.   

My youngest, four at the time, took this to mean the dog was made of bread.  And while we all got a chuckle out of it, the fact that the Bread Dog came with a killer instinct was never far from our minds.

The thing about pit bulls is that they never give up.  Even as their life blood flows from them with a mortal wound, they clench their jaws and refuse to let go.  And they always go for the jugular. 

A writer friend of mine is a pit bull.  Even in the face of disheartening news, she has refused to leave her keyboard and her next story.  She is smart, talented and hardwired to never give up.  Writing is her life. 

She is a pit bull, tenacious and strong.  Molded for one purpose.  Bread to write.

Today I would like to honor all my writer friends and their drive to succeed.  I would like to offer up some hope that hard work and perseverence do pay off.  For if a manuscript is never written, it cannot be edited.  And if an edited manuscript never makes it to an agent, it can’t be rejected or accepted.  And if it is never accepted, it cannot be published.

Hang on to your dreams.  Embrace your inner Bread Dog.

Didn’t Feel Like It

Yesterday, with my Taxi Hat firmly atop my head, I asked my DD how her friend’s solo audition had gone.  Friend wants to be a singer.  She takes lessons, plays guitar and has a beautiful voice.  Not to mention she’s cuter than a mushroom button and has a great personality.  If anyone has the whole package from this tiny, little blip on the map, she does.

DD responded, “Oh, yeah, she didn’t audition.”

The reason: she didn’t feel like singing yesterday.

My other Taxi Passenger, DD’s 13 year old friend, said, “Well, what’s she gonna do when she’s all famous and has a show scheduled?  Not perform because she doesn’t feel like singing that day?”

Anyone with a dream can learn a lot from my young Taxi Passenger. 

Dreams can be realized with hard work, practice, patience, perseverence and putting ourselves out there.  We have to make our passions a priority.  (Wow, talk about alliteration!)  Everyday.

Some writer’s get fiesty when they believe their fellow scribes are not willing to put in the time, yet insist on instant gratification without the work.  In a recent discussion, one asked in this paraphrased kind of way, “If I was a dentist could I just shrug and tell my patient, oops, guess I don’t feel like drilling today?” 

Of course not.  We expect everyone else around us to be professionals, yet in the back of our minds, we may still prescribe to the romantic notion of the mysterious writer in the smoking jacket, penning The Great American Novel on a scrap of toilet paper.  Those days are long gone, my friehnds. 

What separates the wanna-bes from the professionally aspiring writers is the ability to write, edit and submit–even if we don’t feel like it.

There is a huge, slushy mess of a problem when so many people want to be writers without putting in the time.  Slush piles can grow so large that editors and agents cannot possibly read every submission that comes their way.  For many agencies and houses, this has created a closed submission policy.  Some publishers only want agented work.  Agents only want referred clients.

Hmmmm.  Hard to break in.

Yet, I also feel a stirring of hope.  While the odds are something crazy (and yes I’m totally making it up based on something I read and kind of remember) like only 1-2% of all submissions actually get published, I firmly believe that professionally aspiring writers must somehow be in the top 5% of submissions.

Dreams can be realized for those who put in the time.  With hard work and practice, we hone our craft and become better writers.  With patience and perseverence, we can stay ahead of those who give up when they don’t quite feel like writing.  

And that leaves putting ourselves out there.  It means standing up to the microphone and letting the world know that we have what it takes to be an author.

The road is not smooth.  But that’s okay, very few people in life ever skate to greatness without making their passion a priority.  Funny how my young Taxi Passenger knew that when we adults struggle so hard to grasp it.

Do you believe she’s right?  Is it possible in this day and age of chaos, over-booking and multi-tasking to put our passions at the top of our lists?  What obstacles does this mindset create and how can we overcome them? 

warm fuzzies on a snowy, blowy morning~ cat

The Blocks

Mondays fill me with apprehension.  I’m excited to get back in the swing of writing, yet I inevitably come down with a bad case of The Blocks.

I know, it sounds bad.  And it could be if left untreated.  Without proper care and attention, The Blocks spread rapidly and affect a writer’s mental health.  Severe cases can damage the circulatory system and result in a total loss of heart.  If you, or someone you know, may be a victim of The Blocks, seek support immediately.

General Overview

The Blocks is a mental health infliction that causes writers to question the worthiness of their work.  Typically found in aspiring writers, the onset of The Blocks has two common causes. 

  1. Unresolved Writer’s Block: a milder form of The Blocks contained to a specific project. 
  2. Rejection Letter Overload: a mini-depression brought on by the lack of a book contract.

Signs and Symptoms

Typical symptoms include blankly staring at the computer screen.  The writer may sit up suddenly, smile and gently tap their fingers on the keyboard as if preparing to write.  Inevitably, this is followed by slumped shoulders and a long-winded sigh.  Occasionally, the writer will engage in sudden bursts of typing, followed by a compulsive use of the delete button. 

After a few hours of alternating between blank stares and typing outbursts, activities such as internet surfing and solitair may increase to an almost frenzied pace.  Surfing may completely replace typing.  As the days pass and mental health deteriorates, writers affected by The Blocks become Master Fibbers.  They quickly exit computer programs when Significant Others appear and their faces will transform from an I-just-swallowed-the-goldfish look to a ginormous I’m-working-my-tail-off grin.

A sense of paranoia sets in.  Grand conspiracy theories are hatched regarding the publishing industry.  No amount of discussion can persuade a writer affected by The Blocks that editors and agents do not rip writer wannabees to pieces, chew them up and spit them out for pure sport.

 Writers with The Blocks may become lethargic.  Those with severe cases refuse to boot up their computers, and some have been known to spontaneously throw their monitors across the room or burn half-finished manuscripts in fits of mental instability. 


To completely recover from The Blocks, a writer must follow these steps, repeating as necessary, until stability has returned.

  1. Find Support.  Writers groups abound.  Living in the boondocks is no longer an excuse for solitary confinement.  The internet brings like-minded writers to your desk top.  Agent Query is fantabulous.  The SCBWI is the bomb for juvenile lit writers.  Likewise, mystery guilds and romance associations can be found with relative ease.  I found my first group of support buddies through NaNoWriMo.
  2. Meet the Professionals.  A list of my favorite blogging editors and agents can be found on my sidebar.  Find ones you like and log on.  Subscribe to writer’s magazines and attend conferences.  As professionals in the publishing industry, they usually have something…professional…to say.
  3. Hone Your Craft.  Never does the old adage, “Practice makes perfect,” apply more than in the art of writing.  Writing is a mixture of talent, practice and perseverence.  You will not be an overnight success.  You will pay your dues through writing, editing and killing your darlings.  You will join the multitudes who have spent years penning words to find the right flow.  That’s okay.  It’s how we learn.
  4. Take Yourself Seriously.  If you won’t, nobody else will. 


Good.  However, if left untreated, the death of writing dreams may occur.

How do you shake off the writing doldrums?  If you have a tried and true method of getting back in the writing swing, please share it with others who may be suffering from this debilitating disease. 

If you are a current sufferer of The Blocks, take that first step and comment on a writer’s blog.  You may find a supportive friendship you never dreamed possible.

I hope this post finds you dreaming big and will give you the confidence to break through The Blocks and take control of your writing life.