Monday, October 29, 2012

Another Halloween Storm

Last year, around this time I wrote about the snow storm that hit New England over Halloween weekend. This year, the entire East Coast is facing a hurricane which is looking like it will be catastrophic. At this point, we're just waiting for the storm to hit, bracing for the impact. I anticipate that eventually my power will go out, but I'm hoping that things will work out for the best. I hope every one is taking the necessary precautions and preparing for the storm as best they can.

To all my East Coast readers - please stay safe in this storm. Stay inside and take care of your family.

To all my West Coast readers- Happy Halloween!

Just Do It

dmv waiting room
photo by Brian Holcomb at flickr

No, this is not a Nike commercial.

Sometimes there are things that we know we should get done, but they seem difficult or unpleasant, so we let them linger and hang over our heads until it gets to be too much. I'm here to push you over the edge today and tell you to get it done, whatever it is that you're putting off.

I'll give you an example from my life. I recently (I'm being liberal with my usage here) moved across state lines with a brand spanking new car. I waited a while to switch over my license and registration because 1) I didn't know there was a time limit on these things and 2) I didn't feel like going to the DMV.

Everybody has a bad story about going to the DMV, especially in this state that I'm now living in. So, I put it off and tried not to worry too much. Eventually I realized I had to suck it up and do it, so I journeyed to the DMV where everything was just as horribly unpleasant as I expected it to be. Fast forward a few months and I was still waiting to hear back about my registration and my plates. I was frustrated and I knew I would have to go back to the DMV.

I didn't want to go. I was expecting to have to fight with someone to get what I wanted. I was expecting to have all kinds of problems. Finally, I forced myself to get in the car and go so that the issue wouldn't linger any more and I could get on with my life.

Guess what happened?

There had been a paperwork mix up and I should have been able to get everything straightened out more than a month earlier. If I hadn't shown up, I might never have gotten my registration. Once I showed up at the DMV and explained my situation to them everything went smoothly.

Four hours later, I had new plates, an inspection sticker and a huge load off of my mind.

I felt hugely accomplished by the end of the day. Nothing would have changed if I hadn't made myself show up at the DMV and ask about my paperwork. Sometimes all it takes is a single action to get the ball rolling and from there, you might just find that the task was easier than you expected.

Is there a project weighing on your mind that you're reluctant to start? Why not just do that one thing that you've been putting off?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Food For Thought

Finnegans Wake: An Illustrated Panorama A simplified but entertaining illustration of an old favorite (@ The Paris Review)

My 6,128 Favorite Books An interesting take on a life spent reading books. (@ Wall Street Journal Online)

Younger Americans' Reading and Library Habits The results of a Pew Research study regarding young Americans. (@ Pew Internet Libraries)

Rumors of Random/Penguin Discussions Confirmed Big news in the publishing world. Can't wait to see how things turn out. (@ January Magazine)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Find Your Freedom

define avı - treasure hunt
photo by happy jumper on flickr

Do you mumble uncomfortably when someone asks you what you do?

Is it hard to admit to people you barely know that you like to tell stories and make things up?

I used to be like you. I used to be terrified to tell people about my writing. I worried that I would be judged, or people would think I had my head in the clouds. (To be fair, when I'm in writing mode, I often do have my head in the clouds, but that's a different story.)

Sometime between graduating from college and not being able to find a "real job" I started asking myself why I was so afraid to tell people what I wanted to do. I landed a day job and allowed myself to tell my coworkers about my writing. They didn't laugh.

Most of them are between college and where they want to be too, so funny thing is, they got it. They said okay, so you're a writer, let us read something. And suddenly I felt so free to create. I could write whatever I wanted because I was - I am - a writer.

Before, I was shy about it. Even when I went to critique groups, I'd only let others read my work after heavy revisions. I didn't want anyone to see first or even second drafts. That's (mostly) all over now.

The very act of admitting to people that I'm a writer has freed me to show my work, and to create many new and exciting things. Just because I haven't been published yet doesn't mean I have to say, "I'm going to be a writer someday." The act of writing is what makes you a writer, and being published is the icing on the cake.

Try it. Say it out loud, so someone, anyone can hear you. Say "I am a writer," then sit down and get to work. You'll be amazed at what you can produce.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Quiet Down, Monkey Mind!

photo by toolstop on flickr

I know things have been quiet here lately. If you're wondering where I've been, I'll tell you the truth -- I've been having a tough time creatively.

I've written in the past about the importance of focus for writers and artists, but sometimes the ideas come so fast it's hard to keep up with them.

I know what you're thinking, "How can you complain about having too many ideas?" I'm not trying to brag or make myself sound brilliant. This is seriously a problem. I sit down to write one thing and ideas for other things keep popping into my head and if I stop to write a note to myself so I can work on the other things later, I often have trouble going back to focusing on the first thing. The only way I can think to describe what I've been dealing with is monkey mind.

At times like this, I feel like I'll never get anything accomplished because I can't sit with one project long enough to finish it. You simply can't publish unfinished work. So, here I am, sitting at my keyboard, trying desperately to calm my thoughts and focus on one thing at a time.

I hope that you, dear readers, are having more luck.