Goals for 2010 – The First Nine Months

It’s amazing how much can be learned in just nine months if you’re a willing student and possess the ability to perform an honest self-evaluation.

Last week’s post, Failure Is Not an Option; It’s a Necessity, discussed commitment to forward motion no matter how many check marks accumulate under the “Fail” column on my list of goals for 2010. The comments – both on the blog and via e-mail – were fabulous.

And very much appreciated!

However, I found myself wondering why so many readers responded with “Don’t give up!” or “Never quit” – as if my confessed failures would dissuade me. It was then I realized some people were under the impression sharing my failures meant I would consider quitting or giving up. Continue reading Goals for 2010 – The First Nine Months

Top 5 Songs to Fuel Emotional Scenes

I’m not sure if all writers rely on music for added inspiration before, during, or after specific types of scenes, but I do. When I’m going to write a dark scene with graphic violence or heated dialogue, I’ll listen to bands like KoЯn, Seether or Disturbed. On the flip side, when I’m writing an emotional scene, one filled with inner turmoil, self-reflection, or no-turning-back decisions, the most played artists in my iTunes account include Linkin Park, Band of Horses, Blue Foundation, Ray Lamontagne, and Damien Rice, to name just a handful.

I’ve handpicked the top five songs to inspire writing in heavy emotional scenes and/or scenes primarily centered around a character, his thoughts and actions, and how his world and others will be affected by them. These songs evoke specific emotions from me that filter down through my muse into my words. Sometimes the lyrics are the key; sometimes it’s a mixture of the singer’s voice, the melody, and the mood.
Click here to read the list

Pesky Perfectionism Prevents Progress

Person Falling Off BlocksUh, don’t ask me about the alliteration. It’s the first headline that came to mind, so I’m using it. Plus, if you say that headline out loud, you’re bound to get a little tongue-tied, which is fun. But alas, the battle with perfectionism is nothing to laugh at. And the war rages on.

When I completed Holly Lisle’s How to Think Sideways course, I had a firm grip on my tendency to want to be perfect. For a while, over a year, I thought I had won the war. Apparently, my win was only in the battle column. I guess 30 years of being one way isn’t going to be remedied in a little more than 12 months. Oh well, lesson learned. Click to continue reading >>

Update: Goals For 2010 – The First Two Weeks

Alrighty, I’ve found accountability helps me stay on track, so this post is an update about how well I’ve done thus far on my plan for 2010. Overall, I’m not disappointed, but, upon closer examination, there’s definitely room for improvement.

The one thing I am most proud of is the fact that I haven’t procrastinated one time in 13 days.

“Hello, my name is Leah, and I’m a recovering procrastinator.”

If something popped into my head – something important – and I heard that little voice whisper, you can do it tomorrow, then I completed the task straight away. And let me tell you, it felt freaking awesome!

For example, I woke up early today, around 5:30 AM EST, with a nudge from my muse to write this post. Really I think she was just desperate for me to write anything other than CSS . But I continued laying there, all snuggie under my fluffy comforter, contemplating whether to get up to write before work or wait until after work.

Then it hit me — if I wait until after work, my eyes will be ready to pop out of their sockets and my enthusiasm about publicly humiliating myself will surely fade. So I hopped outta bed and started writing this post.

Okay, the self-congratulation is over.

Next up, the public humiliation and self-flagellation.

Goal #1 – Write at least 1,000 words a day for Buzzards. …continue reading

WIP Update: Buzzards – Too Much of a Twist?

I told y’all how great Buzzards is coming along, right? Yeah, so, I have a concern and I don’t know if it should be a concern. Or if it’s just my inner critic attempting to censor my muse. Or if it’s a concern best handled during revision. Here’s the situation:

For the past few months I didn’t know, not on a conscious level anyway, what the big twist would be in Buzzards. I had a couple of small ones worked out that I knew would relate to the big one but the details of the major twist eluded me until yesterday. Well it revealed itself, in a huge way, and while I love it, I’m worried it’s too much for most readers to stomach.

There are two concerns: First, I don’t want the twist to undo the bond between the reader and the female lead. Second, I don’t want the reader to be so turned off by the twist’s denotation, they put the book down and give up on the story. …continue reading

Happy 2010!

Yeah, yeah; I’m a day late but they say better late than never for a reason, right?

I wanted to do two things with this post: First, I wanted to find out what you have planned for 2010. Second, I wanted to make a quick note of what I plan to do, writing wise, this year.

  1. Finish Buzzards. March 1st is the deadline.
  2. Blog about a book I read and a movie I watched. This has a weekly deadline.
  3. Blog about the progress on my WIP each week. Or more often if I hit a block, have a breakthrough, or just need to vent.
  4. Write a short story under 5,000 words based on one of the ideas in my writing journal. Chances are it’ll be “Garbage Day” because, as of right now, it’s the one I’m most excited to start next. There’s a close runner-up so this could change depending on who my muse likes more when I sit down to write. I plan to start on January 8th and finish no later than January 30th.
  5. Revise and submit one of my short stories; preferably “Garbage Day” to a zombie anthology. March 31st is the deadline.
  6. Finish Wolf. August 1st is the deadline.
  7. Revise and submit Buzzards. I’ll work on #6 and #7 at the same time per a suggestion I read this week; hence, August 1st is the deadline. However, I really want to have it revised by April 30th.
  8. Start Heartless. August 23rd (or before) is the deadline.
  9. Revise and submit Wolf. I’ll work on #8, #9 and #10 at the same time so December 31st is the deadline.
  10. Finish Heartless. December 31st is the deadline.

Are these goals too ambitious? …continue reading

Quote of the Month – Topic: Writing

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” (Robert Frost)

This is one of the main reasons I’ve always been scared of planning in my writing. I was so sure that any sort of pre-planning would kill any and all hope of potential twists and turns in my story. Plus, I’d read numerous articles, by very famous authors, who proclaimed they did no planning whatsoever. They just sat down at their typewriters or computers and, from start to finish, wrote the story I’d read. So I thought this was how all good writers wrote.

Well, let me tell you, I’ve never had a better grasp of my stories than after I began using Holly Lisle‘s techniques. I get pings of inspiration, potential twists, and new directions all the time, especially during the planning phases, but even after I’m finished planning, which is when I most feared losing my spark. And Holly’s Sentence Lite is the ultimate way to plan while not stifling my muse’s need to create and explore.

I’ve also learned some great ways to cultivate surprises and goosebumps and shivers down the spine–only time will tell if I’ve successfully implemented them though ;P

Not Wasting Enough Time? LibraryThing Can Help

If you’re in the minority, who feel like they need to waste just a little bit more time each day, then I invite to check out LibraryThing. It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s addictive.

For years, I’ve cataloged and inventoried my CD and DVD collections, but I’ve never gotten around to doing my books. The wait is over. I began using LibraryThing on July 23, 2009 and I’ve already added 200 books to my library. Free memberships are only allowed to add up to 200 books. Paid memberships are allowed an unlimited number of books. The paid memberships are very affordable and they even offer a $25 lifetime membership, which for a book lover, possibly bordering on hoarder, that’s right up my alley.

My favorite part of LibraryThing is the ability to tag all of the books in your collection. This means you can search your library for books sharing the same tag or you can search other users’ tags. While browsing my library’s author tag cloud, I realized that I don’t diversify in my personal reading as much as I want to–I saw a lot of the same authors and  I’m not reading nearly enough non-fiction.

Plus, you can search through the entire LibraryThing author tag cloud. It’s like digging for buried treasure. The great thing about their author tag cloud is you can discover thousands of authors you’ve never heard of or re-discover authors you might’ve forgotten about. For example, by simply scrolling down the page, I was able to see that Neil Gaiman is super popular as are William Shakespeare and Terry Pratchett, and I found an author I’d never heard of, Orson Scott Card, simply by scrolling down the page and seeing his tag was huge, meaning a lot of users had added books by him.

Now, if only WordPress would allow scripts, then I could embed the LibraryThing widget directly in my blog.

Check it out! Let me know what you think about LibraryThing or similar services.

WARNING: If you decide to visit the LibraryThing website, please consider that once you start, you won’t be able to stop. I’ve spent probably a total of 8 hours on the site so far, which is great for my growing list of “to read” books, but not so good for my [selectively ignored] daily “to do” list. Please realize the site might possibly be one of the biggest time sucks I’ve run across. But it’s fun and informational. Just consider yourself warned 🙂

“Alone” by Edgar Allan Poe

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were–I have not seen
As others saw–I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I lov’d, I lov’d alone.
Then–in my childhood–in the dawn
Of a most stormy life–was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold–
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by–
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.

I think I connect with this poem because so many of us blame our childhoods for who we are or why we turned out this way. Personally, I think we choose to be the people we are. Yes, our environment can shape our views of the world, but we can choose to re-shape those views into different ones.

On an emotional level, this poem resonates with me because I feel utterly alone when I read it. For me, it takes me to those darks moments, in childhood and adulthood, when I felt as if no one would ever get me. Those lonely times when I felt like I was weird and dark and scary for the visions I’d see, for the words I’d write, for the thoughts I’d think.

That’s the gift of a great writer–having the ability to transport the reader to the exact place you were at when you wrote your piece. I aspire to that sort of greatness.

If you’d like to read the poem online, follow this link.

If you’d like to watch a visual interpretation of the poem, click the “play” button below. If you have troubles with the You Tube player, simply click here.

Misery Loves Company – I Won’t Be Yours

Misery loves company, I will not be yours.
You built your prison and filled it with stories instead of memories.
You wag that judgmental finger in my face.
It’s sad, watching you, clinging to your blame.
I am responsible for me, not you.
Take off the victim glasses.
See the world through the clear eyes of choice.
You don’t have to tear down my home to escape your prison.
Just let go. Stop holding onto all of those stories.
Start making memories. Grow up. Live!

A poet, I am not. I wrote this today whilst trying not to react to the desperate jabs of my ex-boyfriend’s broken heart. I’m beginning to think he will never learn how to truly let go of something and move on. He holds onto his hurts like a collection of knick knacks–he arranges them all neatly on shelves, he can recall when and how he acquired each one, he dusts them off so they stay clean and like new, and each one defines who he is. It’s really one of the saddest things I’ve ever witnessed.

He has so much potential, but he allows all of his baggage to define and direct his life rather than taking active control of where his path leads. He’s constantly looking at what’s happened (the past) or what he’s lost. How depressing is that? I prefer to look at what could happen (the future) and what I still have, and this strategy has gotten me through painful experiences by shifting the focus away from the negative and toward all the positives in my life.

He says this latest jab was an effort to show me what is wrong with me so I can decide whether I want to change or fix those things. Yeah, I’m going to take advice from someone who couldn’t see themselves if they were standing in front of a mirror. I will not be torn apart by the observations of someone who, for the majority of his 29 years, only experienced life through books and film. Yes, reading Sex for Dummies will teach you about dating, relationships and sex. But knowledge isn’t the same thing as experience.

He wrote that he had some very serious things to tell me but he couldn’t take it if I replied. He went on to write that a response to his e-mails wasn’t even necessary. Yep, that’s someone in touch with the dynamics of a relationship. Once you’ve experienced a wide range of what life has to offer, then I’ll listen to your observations on how I can improve as a person. Until you’re operating as an active person in society, I’m deaf to your words.

I see me. All of me. I know what I love about myself and I know what I detest. I will never change for anyone but me. No one will ever make me happy. No one will ever ruin my life. I think it actually disappointed him that I could live happily without him in my life. He never understood, and probably never will, that everyone should be able to live happily ever after by themselves. If you can’t, well, I’ve learned there’s something deep inside you that won’t ever allow you to be happy with someone else or love and be loved in the way you deserve. I’ve done a lot of personal growth throughout my 31 years. And I plan to continue that growth, hopefully on a daily basis.

I do not hate him. I do not feel much for him at all after the e-mails he sent this week. Not because of what he said, but for the fact that he refused to respect the boundaries we put in place when our relationship ended. He’s probably still checking my MySpace account and this blog on a daily basis. I asked him repeatedly not to write, yet he continued. All that shows me is he has a total lack of respect for boundaries and he is totally ignorant in how to handle his emotions when he’s hurt–neither of which is appealing or reassuring.

I hope he’ll find himself sooner than later, and I hope he achieves all of the potential I see in him. But I will not play along with the story he’s writing for himself on the topic of our relationship. Negativity is contagious and I’m putting him in quarantine. Misery loves company too much to let someone who’s happy, just be.

That’s why he and I, as lovers and as friends, are finished. I’ve known him for about five years so writing those words is a little sad. However, I know this is the right decision for both of us. If he could just see and accept that this could be one of the best things for him…