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Tag Archives: Happiness

Cha…cha…changes

One of the best things about being a creative person is that I’m all into learning new things. From reading different genres, to trying new recipes, to DIY home projects or DIY beauty stuff, to reading books about self-improvement or creativity or spirituality or how to be more creative. BUT, what I haven’t been very good at, at least not in some areas, is follow-through.

Take this blog, this website for instance. I spent money to have my own website, to have it hosted, and yet I haven’t been blogging regularly. I used to blog every day. THEN, I started posting videos on YT and the blog sort of took the back seat. Why is that? I wondered.

It felt a bit repetitive, redundant to say the same thing on the blog post that I was saying in the video. It is a lot of work to maintain both.  All of the above are truths but they are also excuses.

About me: My Truths...

About me: My Truths…

I don’t owe anyone an explanation, not really. The blog is more for me than anyone else, especially since I don’t have that many followers, not like I did on my old blog, but at the same time I feel like I should say something, which says a lot about my character. About who I am, how I am as a person. I often feel the need to defend myself. Like I’m not good enough. Not smart enough. Not talented enough. Not pretty enough. Not…you get the drift.

Back in April I decided to make some real changes. I called it “Taking back my life.” I did well with some things. I have lost 10 pounds since April 15th. I’ve been exercising more, trying to make better food choices, better life choices, like eating healthier, meditation, walking, and eating less (portion control).

From Designs by Planner Perfect, by Jenny Penton

From Designs by Planner Perfect, by Jenny Penton

I’ve also signed up for #projectme with Jenny Penton’s #plannerperfect, and I love it. Such a great group of supportive and inspiring ladies. I feel really good about it. But most of the work to “take back my life,” is about making real changes. It’s about letting go of negativity, letting go of false truths (as Jenny said), and being my authentic self, opening myself up to and using my talents, my gifts.

I’ve been thinking about what those talents are. I am a natural giver. A natural helper. I am also a creative person. My passions are reading (books) , writing, art (watercolor especially), journaling, life, love, family–my grandson is so amazing. Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you’re talented at it though. I’m a decent enough writer, but I’m no Shakespeare, Vonnegut, Poe, Stephen King, Jim Butcher, Nora Roberts, or Bradbury (and yes, I’m a fan of all of those–I told you read a variety of genres). I’m a halfway decent enough (amateur) artist, but I’m no Danny Gregory or Jane Davenport.

However, just because I’m not as talented as (say my idol) Stephen King, or Danny Gregory, doesn’t mean I don’t have any talent. I can hone my talents. Get better. I can find my “niche,” my gift and use it, utilize it, and perhaps one day get paid for it. I’ve seen people find their forte their niche, and before you know it they’ve got an Etsy shop, then a website instead, and they’re using their passion and their gift (talent) and instead of just “working” they’re getting paid to do something they love.

My inspiration page...

My inspiration page…

One of my truth’s, I’m writing my novel series for me. I’ve always wanted to tell the story of a (my) family’s curse. I grew up hearing about the “Burgess” curse and the idea has always been in the back of my head. So I’m writing a book about it. While the book is based on a truth, it’s a fictional book. It’s not like I could/should/would give my novel’s family the surname Burgess (which is my real name, well it was my surname is now my middle name), though I have seriously thought about it. Instead I’ve went with my father’s (my daddy) first name, which also happens to be a surname–Milton. It works and I like it.

I’ve also been thinking about drawing/painting the cover myself. Hey, I can watercolor halfway decent, and I love drawing and painting with watercolor. But more than that, I wouldn’t have seriously thought about creating the cover for my book myself until I started working on “taking my life back,” and on #projectme.  I might have entertained the idea briefly, but I would have second guessed my capability to do it, my talent…and I’d have talked myself right on out of doing it.

I’ve been slowly but surely working on becoming a morning person. I’ve also been working on being more confident, and less negative about myself. I won’t lie and say I don’t have self-doubts, I do. But each day, those self-doubts are less and less.

Now, its time to work on my novel.

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Perfectionism, Writing, and Life

Growing up I had one of those mom’s who hovered. She hovered over me when I was washing the dishes, cooking, cleaning, doing homework, etc., and without her ever uttering a word I felt criticized. I splashed too much water when I was washing dishes, I needed to turn the heat down–cooking it too fast, I missed a spot, I spelled something wrong or added or subtracted or multiplied or divided wrong…Some of that is normal parenting, some of it was my mother’s need to do things her way and to have everyone else do it her way because that was the only right way/correct way. (She’s not as bad now, age has mellowed my mother… )

With so much hovering, and backseat cooking, cleaning, etc I ended up feeling like I couldn’t do anything right, that I wasn’t good enough, and that you had to do things a certain way or it wasn’t the right way. As a parent we try to teach our kids right and wrong, how to do things, and even more importantly we are supposed to teach them to find their way in the world and learn how to be a responsible, independent, caring, moral, and successful adult. I figure my mom got most of those right with me, but what she also did was raise someone who was taught that perfectionism, even if it wasn’t called that, is the only way you get things done right, at least in a manner of speaking.

Unfortunately or fortunately–depending on how you look at it, now that I’m older, and my kids are grown, I find myself sounding more and more like my mother, most of the time it’s just in my head, but I often find myself saying, “Don’t splash so much water all over the sink,” or “If you do it this way it’ll save you time, effort, etc” or “If you do it that way it’s going to take twice as long,” or “Why are you doing it that way, you should…” It’s the strangest thing when I catch myself doing it or when one of my children, or my husband, points out that I sound like my mother. I’ve never wanted to be that way, not the hovering thing, which to me equates judgment and criticism.

Lately, I’ve noticed that I am doing it to myself when I write. That little voice in the back of my head that whispers, “You’re not doing it right, look at all of those words you splashed on the page, they’re not right, it’s not right, you’ve done it wrong… [or] you’re doing it all wrong, you should be…”

I know that part of it is a need for control. a part of it is perfectionism, and a small part of it is insecurity. When someone does dishes differently than you do as long as the outcome is the same what difference does it make how they do them–so long as the dishes are clean it really shouldn’t matter. And yet, every time someone helps me with the dishes or does the dishes I find myself looking at all of the splashed water around and on the sink and faucet, noticing whether they are using hot water (God forbid you should wash dishes in my Momma’s house with cold or lukewarm water), or if you use too much soap or not enough soap…and I cringe because there is the part of me that wants to jump in and do the dishes the “right” way, or to tell them “you’re not doing it right,” or “stop splashing the water all over the place” or something else equally critical. And it’s not just the dishes, it comes up with laundry, sweeping and mopping, vacuuming, dusting the furniture, cooking, or hell, even how you sit on the furniture, or how far or close you are to the television, or driving (don’t get me started on the driving thing, so glad that my dad taught me how to drive and not my mom).

Don’t get me wrong, my mother is a wonderful, caring, strong woman who had a hard childhood, went through the tragic loss of losing a husband when she was only 28 years old with a 7 year old and a 4 year old, and then later on met someone and fell in love, and who said when he was going to marry my mom that he wasn’t just marrying her, he was marrying all of us and he meant that–we were a package deal. But my mom is nitpicky. She’s funny about her home, her domain. She grew up without, and once she became an adult she treasured every single thing she worked for, was given, etc. She didn’t own her own pair of shoes or coat until she was 19 years old and bought them herself, she got hand me downs from older siblings or from the church or from a charitable organization–as one of the oldest of ten kids being raised by a single mother, with an alcoholic father who never paid a dime of child support, my mother became a caretaker and the second in command/woman of the house at an early age. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for her, but like all of us my mom has flaws and it seems I’ve either inherited them through nature or nurture.

I have to admit though, I’m harder on myself than on others. I am way too critical of myself. Had my mom not taught me that there are certain ways to do thing, some better some just your own way, and also been taught to think for myself, I wouldn’t have known later on as an adult that I could do things one way and as I got more experience doing it I’d eventually fine tune how I do it so that it was the right way for me, that I could do it the way I was taught but watch how others do it and learn from all of it and find my own way. In practice, remembering that there is more than one way to do things is not as easy as it is in theory though. I can remind myself over and over again that just because I don’t hardcore outline, or just because I don’t write by the seat of my pants, doesn’t mean I won’t be able to write a good, hopefully great, novel. I can remind myself that I might write faster or slower than someone else, or that I might need a story board, or I might need in depth character sketches, but what it all boils down to is finding a process that works for me and fine tuning it so that it works well.

Hearing my mother’s voice in my head sometimes keeps me aware of how important it is to strive to be the best you can be, to do things to the best of your own ability even if it means you have to splash some water all over the sink to get there. I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those people who has an immaculate house, I’m too creative and distracted, not to mention the fact that I function better with color, clutter, and a bit of creative chaos around me, but my kitchen and bathrooms are usually clean and would (most of the time, unless I fall asleep reading or get into the writing zone) pass even my mom’s inspection. However, even though I am creative, distracted, and chaotically clutter and chaos (I imagine a female Linus walking around with a pen and a notebook instead of a blanket) I am also my mother’s child and when it gets to be too much my OCD kicks in and the house gets clean from top to bottom and organized–it might not stay that way for long, because me or my laid back husband will inevitably leave a cup on the end table, or leave our jacket on the back of the chair, or our dirty clothes on the floor instead of putting them in the hamper, or I’ll leave a book  or a few books, or watercolor pencils, or my husband will leave his guitar propped against the couch… Our home is lived in and we’re happy.

I’m grateful for my mother and all that she taught me. That little voice that yells at me to get it right, to do it right, to keep trying until I’ve got it perfect or as perfect as it can get helps keep me striving to do better. I just have to remember that “being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect–it means that you’ve decided to look past the imperfections,” and for me it also means just being the best me I can be and forgiving myself and others when they splash water all over my sink.

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2015 in Family, Life, Writing

 

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Outlining with the Hero’s Journey and Tarot Cards

The Writer's Life

The Writer’s Life

In preparations for NaNoWriMo this year I knew I had to do something different. What I’d done previously hadn’t worked, and I’ve tried many things from pantsing to plotting (using all different kinds of methods from Save the Cat, the Marshall Plan, Mapping your Novel, Planning your Novel, and the list goes on), but I never got in the outlining zone. I got enthusiastic, and I got motivated, but I never hit that point where it felt like I wasn’t “WORKING,” where it was fun, like writing is for me. To me, writing, the actual writing is fun, the planning wasn’t. Not until now.

I figured out that I’m what is referred to as a loose outliner, which means I don’t outline every single scene, but I do outline the beginning, middle, and end, some of the main parts (which would be defined as those seven beats that are so important to your novel, or the moments like the inciting incident, the B-Story, All is Lost, and Showdown, or the moments that some refer to as conflict moments). I usually wrote something short and sweet for each chapter like: MC meets ___ & finds ___, or MC loses ___, Bad Guy shows up and MC freaks/confronts/plans, or Betrayal by the last person MC expects, or ___ helps/saves ___ and turns out not to be a bad guy afterall…. in the index card on the corkboard for each chapter so that I knew that those scenes needed to follow that path. However, I didn’t specify anything for each scene, or when I did it usually ended up changing.

However, now that I am outlining with the Hero’s Journey, and Tarot, using an eCourse from Arwen Lynch, I am literally having a blast, my outlining is going so well, and I’m being bombarded with real ideas, good ideas, and those ideas are detailed. My Muse is so happy she’s doing the Happy Dance. 😀  You don’t know how happy this makes me. I’ve found my outlining GROOVE.

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2015 in NaNoWriMo, Writing

 

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Finally something I can feel really good about

I finished April’s Camp with my required word count, but didn’t feel good about the novel at all. It was forced. Headed in a completely different direction, the characters were trite, the words weren’t meshing with the concept I had. I wasn’t happy with it, not at all. But I learned a great deal from the process. I learned that I’m truly a plotster. I need to plot the main ideas, and let the rest flow, otherwise I’m trying too hard and the words don’t flow. No matter which way I’ve tried, I’m mostly a panster who needs the basics to stay on track but plotting makes my skin crawl and my brain freeze.

pantser quote

Cut twenty-five. Take one hundred and seven. Just Kidding. I have no idea of how many starts and stops, beginnings I’ve trashed, or WIP’s I’ve put in the back of the computer closet in order to get to a place where I feel really good about what I’m working on. What feels like the ONE, Just call me NEO. Seriously though, I’ve got at least thirty folders pushed to the side on my computer that were the beginning of a novel, only to find it just didn’t feel right. Maybe it’s because I was trying to be the kind of writer I thought I should be instead of the kind of writer I am.

Current Work in Progress

Current Work in Progress

Now I am finally at a place where I feel really good about what I’m working on. The first idea that came to me over two years ago, when my then fiance was telling me I could do it, that he believe in me, and there was no reason why I couldn’t write a novel (he’s read my poetry, I’d told him about my short stories and how I used to write but put writing on the back burner because of …well various reasons, but mostly because I allowed what others said to influence me, to negate my own feelings of self-worth and my dreams). That idea stayed in the back of my mind, with each and every WIP I started and tossed it was right there poking and prodding its way to the surface of my conscience saying, “Excuse me! You’re on to something here…Go with it! Find your way!… Excuse me! It doesn’t matter what others think or do, it only matters what you can do and are willing to do…”

Writing on a bad day

I stopped second guessing myself halfway through April’s Camp and started writing so I could figure out what worked best for me. I’d found myself reading books like “The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing,” or “Save the Cat,” along with various other writing books, and I realized that I’d backed myself into a corner of starting but not finishing because I didn’t have the right kind of plan, because I was so focused on the outline or the plan or the process or the genre or the rules or the structure…that I’d lost my great idea. I lost my way because I was constantly second guessing myself as a writer.

Happiness

I’ve written about this before. I’ve written about the differences between plotting, pantsing, and somewhere in between. I’ve written about my ideas, my inspiration…I took a break from blogging, writing, etc after Camp. I needed a break. I needed to figure out where I was as a writer, what I really wanted to do, what kind of writer I wanted to be, and whether or not it was something that was a pipe dream, a hobby, or something I truly felt called to do.

untold story

I am a writer. Whether I ever publish a novel or not, I’m a writer. I’m not a plotter/planner/outliner, though I wish like hell I was. I’m not a full blown pantser either. I need some organization, some planning, or I’ll go off on tangents, which is par for the course with ADHD, and I’ll never finish or if I do it will need more than a shovel for editing, but a bulldozer.

After much thought, inspiration, and soul searching I’ve finally found that sweet spot in my writing. My happy place as a writer. At least, I’ve found what works for me. Maybe this time it will work, and I’ll manage to write my way through to the end with a novel that I don’t feel is forced, drivel, or not worth the ink and paper to print to edit.

 
 

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