Sunday, August 29, 2010

Facing Your Fears (Part 1)

Everyone is afraid of something. You can be the biggest, baddest, most outrageously muscle-bound guy or gal the world has ever seen, and there will still be something out there that scares your shorts off.

For me, it's cockroaches. Can't stand the things. I used to work in an office that where they jumped out in broad daylight and literally looked you in the eye. No matter what our pest control guys sprayed at them, they would not die. Ugh. Just thinking about it makes me queasy.

Anyway... Moving on.

My point is, fear is instinctive; it's built into the fibers of who we are as living creatures. Heck, animals have that whole fight-or-flight response down to a science. Just try sneaking up on a grizzly bear in the forest and see how Mr. Friendly reacts to being startled. (Okay, don't actually try that. I don't want to get sued.)

In the right context, fear is a perfectly healthy---and at times even life-saving---emotion. Fear is what prompts us to teach our children about "Stranger Danger," for example. However, if we give it too much control, it cripples us. It holds us hostage and crushes our dreams before they even have the chance to take flight. And that's what makes it so dangerous. Fear doesn't allow us the opportunity for failure or success. It only keeps us stuck where we are.

As a writer, fear is your greatest enemy. It can turn your Inner Editor from a soft and helpful whisper into a whiny, nagging scream, one that tells you every sentence, indeed, every single word you put down on paper is wrong, wrong, WRONG. It can keep you revising the same WIP for 15 years, yet at the same time convince you that it should never see the light of day. And if you let it, fear will ensure that you always remain an aspiring writer, never a published one.

You deserve better. Don't let your fears do that to you. Starting today, let's face them together.

It's sharing time now, boys and girls: What fears do you have about your writing?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Value of Write Ins

I love write ins. They are absolute life-savers. Seriously, they're super-duper awesome, and if you're a writer and haven't been to one before (or even heard of them), you don't know what you're missing.

I was first introduced to the idea through the famous and fabulous event known as National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, as its participants fondly call it). During this month-long extravaganza, writers meet up in libraries, coffee shops and other casual hangout spots to crank out as many words as they can. There is usually no or very little talking involved, except for the occasional question if a writer gets stuck and needs some quick feedback. The point is simple: to eliminate all distractions---pets, screaming kids, spouses, the real housewives of whatever city---and do that writing thing we're supposed to do.

I know on the surface, sitting in the same room with a bunch of other writers doesn't seem that extraordinary. After all, I can do that at home too, right? Well...yes. And no. Here's the thing: No matter how incredible our writing may be, no matter how well our characters resonate with our readers and our prose stirs the soul, we're not superheroes. We're simple, flawed, limited human beings who need support. We need folks to bounce ideas off of, folks to drag us down from the pedestals we build for ourselves, folks that can, if necessary, look us in the eye and tell us we've gone stark raving mad.

Writing groups exist to fulfill that need, either in a physical sense or increasingly, in a virtual one. Blogs like this one are a perfect example. We may not all be in the same city, state or even country, but we're still connected across time and space, encouraging and uplifting each other, pushing one another to succeed. The brilliant Mark Twain once said, "Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great."

And sometimes that greatness just comes from being in the same room with a like-minded soul. Sometimes it's just knowing that someone is nearby who's doing the exact same thing you are, experiencing the same sense of elation at their accomplishments and struggling with the same kinds of challenges. Sometimes just knowing you aren't alone is enough.

Today, it was more than enough for me.

P.S.: If you're not part of a local writer's group and you're looking for one, check out a funky little site called It allows you to search locally for just about any kind of club or organization your heart desires, all from the comfort of your own home. Ain't modern technology grand?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Where I've Been (a.k.a. Now You Know Where This Blog's Title Came From)

Hmm. Where to begin...

First of all, has it been over a year already? I keep looking at the date of my last post and shaking my head, as if there are missing ones lying around somewhere that I just haven't gotten around to publishing yet. Sadly, this is not the case. I really did just fall off the face of the blogging world.
No need to state that this post has been an awful long time in coming. I've spent about the past month or so mentally beating myself up for not posting sooner, not commenting on anyone else's blogs, not even reading any other blogs until recently. And don't even get me started on my equally-neglected Twitter account. Oy vey.

Well, no more. Life is too short for self-deprecating thoughts. It's time I came back to the realm of the living and explained what I've doing for the past year. So here goes nothing (taking a deep breath)...

The short version is that my family moved cross-country, and in the process I started a new job and became a working mom. So yeah, I guess you could say I've been busy. Add the stress of moving to the fact that I kind of suck at the whole work-life balance thing, and you have one sadly neglected blog. That's pretty much the story of my whole writing life; it's been that way ever since I was nine years old. Green light, red light. I write like mad for a few weeks, months, years, whatever, and then stop writing altogether for just as long, if not longer.

Here's hoping we can change all of that---for real this time. Fingers crossed, taking another deep breath, saying a prayer...

Green light.