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WordPress = Best

So, I can’t stand it any longer. I like wordpress so much better than blogger. I thought this would be a great opportunity to keep up with my blogger/”public” blog, but I hate that it doesn’t have a like feature, so I can’t tell if people are actually reading it. So, even though it involves publishing the exact same thing on two different sites, I am going to post my 15 minute writing updates on here too. After all, I only have a couple friends who go to both blogs, so I think they will understand the double posts.

That being said, my “Day 1” post on blogger was essentially the same post as I put here a few days ago, so I’m not going to bother repeating that. But you may expect a couple additional posts in quick succession catching you up on my challenge progress with Days 2 and 3.

 

 

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I read it over and over again. 15 minutes a day. Write at least 15 minutes a day. To the extent that I half roll my eyes when I read it now. I know, I know. Okay? It’s not my fault that I had to . . . [insert whatever I am busy with that day]. Then there is the plaguing thought that maybe I’m not a real writer. Maybe I don’t care as much as I should. Maybe I am just a failure all around. Maybe if I truly cared enough I would make the time. That’s what everyone says. If you really care about something you make the time for it. But I do care about it, I know that in my heart. I just – shy away from it sometimes. I consider it extraneous and feel like I am neglecting other duties when I spend too much time on it. I am trying to refocus that – yes, again. This will be a constant subject, I’m telling you!

So, anyway – yesterday I went to the Library of Congress. ALL DAY. It was epic. I had a day off because I put in so many work hours last week, and decided to take advantage of my living situation and go do research for my book. I was thinking that I would spend a few hours there at the most. Nope. I spent over an hour in the geography and maps room, looking over maps of the Oregon trail from the 1800s, about as long in the newspaper room looking at newspapers from the 1800s to get a good idea of what the general news/headlines were back then, and then a few hours in the reading room looking at fashion from the 1800s and at a Writer’s Digest Publishing book to get tips. I got home around 5:00, feeling like I’d gotten a full days work in and surprisingly content, satisfied, and thinking about quitting my day job (jokingly, of course). And ready to move forward in the book, whereas I’d felt rather stuck the last few months editing-wise.

This morning I woke up surprisingly early for how little sleep I’ve gotten over the last week – early as in 9:30 – and in a reading/researching/writing mood again. So, I grabbed a writer’s digest and started reading it. And I ran across an article talking again about the whole “write 15 minutes a day” thing. Whereupon I immediately felt my normal guilt that I didn’t make a point to do that, and a little resentful. But there was a follow-up comment that really resonated with me. It was “You have to stay in the story.” Or something along those lines. The basic idea is, if you force yourself to work on a story for 15 minutes a day, you will continue to know what it is you were in the middle of, how the characters were feeling, what you were trying to figure out, and all that. And I was like – hmm. That is a good point. It isn’t just about the discipline. It is about staying with your story. And I do have that trouble when I go back to a story after awhile, getting back in the heads of the characters and what I was trying to do with that particular section that makes no sense.

So. I have decided to make a goal. I am going to aim to write for 15 minutes a day for a week solid. And to blog every day about how it went on my attempt-to-become-a-social-media-writer-guru-blog-that-isn’t-going-well-at-all blog Once Upon a Story, if you care to check in. Starting tomorrow. 😛

Rejected

So, I officially got my first rejection letter this summer. As well as my first rejection “damned with faint praise”, which was made slightly less painful by my association of that with Emily of New Moon. Slightly. You can read all the magazines and books in the world “prepping” you for rejections by the hundreds, but there is still nothing like casting your eyes over those words, trying to gently tell you that your work sucks via a – well, what would have been a typewritten slip at one point and is now a generalized email.

This means I have officially reached a new status, though, right? That I have submitted to “official” enough places to actually get a rejection? Anyway. I have had more than one person tell me this story is good, so I am going to try again. . . only, I realized I am probably not trying for the right audience. I was pitching it as a literary piece, but it has definite Christian undertones (being, after all, a Christian) and, further to its condemnation in the eyes of the world right now, it ends happily. You know that everyone likes the dark pieces right now that give you shivers and make you feel kind of ugly inside and like you can never look at humans the same way again. I don’t get that trend at all. I like to feel uplifted after reading, even bittersweet if it is a sad ending. But I digress. So I realized I should be submitting it to Christian short story magazines.

Want to know something I didn’t know until this week? THERE ARE NO CHRISTIAN FICTION SHORT STORY MAGAZINES! At least, none that I can find. There are tons of Christian or spiritual blogs and magazines in general – but they all want inspirational articles of true stories, devotionals, or whatnot. Fiction? Psh. Apparently they think it is  a waste of time. So I am a little at a loss and mildly considering starting my own Christian fiction magazine.

If any of you all can help me find a place to submit my short stories, I would be quite grateful.

Nothing but Travel

We’ve been traveling a lot. As in, about a month out of the last two. Between three weddings and 2 work trips, I cannot even tell you how many hours I have spent in an airport. Fun, but exhausting.

The first week of this month was a wedding in Aspen, Colorado, the day before mine and Daniel’s fourth anniversary. As excited as I was to go to my dear friend’s wedding, I wasn’t sure how I felt about being gone for our anniversary again. Things always seem to happen around our anniversary. 😛 But it ended up being wonderful. Aspen, CO was so incredibly gorgeous. Maroon Bells, in particular. And at what other time would we have ever flown to the mountains of Colorado for our anniversary? Not only did we get to stay in a beautiful condo, watch a lovely ceremony and see incredible scenery, but we stayed a couple days afterwards and stopped in the Silver Dollar Saloon in Leadville, CO, saw the ghost town of Independence, Independence Pass, and went to Estes Park the next day. Daniel had never been, and enjoyed it just as much as I hoped.

2017-08-03 13.50.19

Ghost town of Independence

All in all, it was such a great time. The following week was my brother’s wedding and that, too, was very busy but a great time! Then an additional week in Colorado, this time for business. I came home Friday, completely exhausted, but my husband had flowers and wine waiting for me, and we had a relaxing weekend in which we made it a point not to do anything we didn’t feel like doing.

Not saying I’m necessarily ready to go back to work tomorrow, but at least I have a good job, right?

The Secret to Joy

I feel like I write these type of posts a lot, so if you still read them, either I am not alone in the world of figuring oneself out or you are really bored.

All of you who have been around awhile or read previous posts know that I am the type to constantly push myself. I always have a goal I am reaching for and always trying to arrange my life around those goals, working towards it. I think I’ve talked a few times before about discouragement and trying to figure out precisely what I want and all that. Well, one thing I don’t think I’ve really mentioned is my constant struggle for joy. Not to say I have been unhappy – I am quite happy- but you know that settled feeling in your soul that just says you are at peace, even if you are striving toward something? I haven’t had that except once in a great while in a very long time, and I’ve been trying to figure out why.

I have, relatively speaking, a perfect life. It hasn’t always been this way, as anyone who knows my past can attest to – and some people see my life now and tell me that I deserve it after all I’ve been through – I know better than that. I deserve nothing and am therefore grateful that for some reason God has seen fit to give me such a good life right now. I am also under no misconceptions that it will last forever. Why, then, do I have such difficulty settling and enjoying this current life instead of constantly looking and striving forward as though I’m waiting for something more before I can really enjoy the life I’ve been given?

I worked between 10 and 14 hours every day Sunday – Tuesday this week on an exercise down in Florida. Consequently, I was able to take most of Wednesday to relax on the beach before working another 12 hour day on Thursday. I found myself looking out over the ocean in a contemplative mood on the very subject I mentioned above. So, I decided to go for a walk and talk it out with God. This time, however, I decided not to just concentrate on the writing aspect or the job aspect or whatever other aspect – I decided it was time to go through my life in detail with God to ferret out the reason for my inability to be joyful instead of impatient in my current status of life.

As tempting as it is, I won’t bore you with all the ins and outs of the conversation – it was very minutia oriented, which, after all, turned out to be what I needed. God and I discussed what I thought I wanted out of life vs. what God wants out of my life, and then we talked through my writing life and whether I had the right point of view on it, my current job, why I wanted to go into Counterintelligence, and if I actually wanted to go into it, or if I just wanted the glory of saying I was a CI analyst, and where I was right now in life vs. where I thought I wanted to be.

Below are what I feel the conclusions of the conversation were:

  1. God may have a different plan for my life than I think He does and my being stuck on a certain career path could inhibit what He wants to do in my life. Though it is good to have goals in life, the issue comes in when you insist on those goals remaining the same.
  2. My thinking I cannot have a writing career unless I concentrate on it full-time is a product of fear and procrastination and assumes God cannot give me the capacity for more than one task at a time.
  3. It is possible – not for sure, but possible – that God gave me the desire to go into CI precisely to get me where I am today. I love my job, my company, my coworkers, and my job location – why am I so eager to move on? What happens if I concentrate on doing the best I can with where God currently has me instead of not giving it my all because I think it won’t get me where I think I want to go? God can use me in this current capacity and if I assume this isn’t where I need to be, I may miss what else He has planned for me.

Ultimately, and it can be difficult to put into words, but ultimately: Instead of striving forward constantly, I am making a goal to be happy where I am. I still have goals, but realize that God may have different goals for me. I am going to enjoy my current life and not feel guilty every time I am spending time with my husband instead of writing or feeling guilty for not working on writing an article because I don’t feel like it or not working on something CI related because I don’t want to. I am going to strive to be the best in my current capacity (which is, after all, a Senior Analyst, which is a huge part of what I wanted out of my career) and assume that, as He always does, God will clearly open a door when it is time for me to move on to something else He has planned for me. I am going to continue writing on a regular basis, but not feel guilty when I don’t have time for it because I am taking joy in the life God has currently granted me. I am going to assume that God will allow me to be published in His perfect timing, not mine.

Implementing the pattern of thought that it is not a sin for me to not constantly be doing something educational or working toward one of my goals has already done an incredible part in putting my heart at peace. Despite being sick, I enjoyed a very relaxing weekend at home with my husband, and read two books, without any guilty thoughts on needing to write or needing to practice Russian. I healed significantly faster than usual from my cold and did not wake up today with the thought that I didn’t want to go to work.

I want to be clear that I still think it is good and healthy to have goals you strive toward. The secret I am learning, with God’s help, is being at peace and joyful where you are while you work toward them, and being flexible enough to realize that God may direct those goals elsewhere and, for God, there is no time limit. He’ll bring you there when He knows you are ready.

We so often concentrate on the trials aspect of Philippians 4 and being content. For some of us, it is in times of plenty that we get lost.

Philippians 4:6-7, 12-13

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. . .  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

So, almost needless to say, I did not reach my goal of editing the entire book by the end of April. However, I did get done with the first part of it. Sent it off to my friend to read, as promised. And .  . . haven’t touched the book since. It is just SO MUCH WORK to edit a historical novel. I mean, how can one even possibly get that much information into one’s head to make sure it is accurate? It is super overwhelming.

I have worked on short stories a little. I even edited one and sent it to three magazines for publication. I know – the chances of it actually being published are like – nil. But – it is the first time I have ever sent anything to a REAL magazine, so it is a big step for me.

I am now trying to get over my fear of failure (as per usual) and start editing again. But part of me just wants to work on Ethrill instead because that is still being created. Do all writers struggle this much with actually finishing a product?

Cruises and books

 

So, I am not going to use the excuse “busy” for not having written in awhile. Frankly, I simply kept forgetting and then, when I did remember, other things took priority. Which is how it should be, right? Life takes priority over internet?

We went on our (almost) annual cruise end of March and this time we took my parents with us. My parents have not been on a vacation together since their honeymoon, 32 years ago. They certainly have never been on a cruise. It was so much fun to watch their faces as we brought them around the ship and showed them all the different things they could do, see, and, especially, eat. It took my mom awhile to really realize she could order anything she wanted on the menu without paying for it. And after that, she drove the wait staff crazy. I was a little embarrassed, not going to lie, but totally worth it for her to have a dream vacation. My dad couldn’t leave the stateroom that much, due to his disability, but still said he had the best time of his life. My younger sister and her husband were with us as well, which was fun. All in all, however, it resulted in not much down time, cruise ship or not.  So I did not get nearly as much on my book done as I wished.

I have, however, gone on two work trips since, and worked steadily on editing PoP during those airplane rides. I would have gotten much further had I not decided to re-write most of the first part, which resulted in my currently only being on page 40 of about 120. The important thing, however, is that I am steadily working on it. I promised one of my friends, I would send her the edited portion on the 30th to review – I was supposed to send her the entire edited boo, but that is not going to happen. However, the promise did its job, which was to get me going on editing and now whenever I am at work, I find myself just contemplating how much I could be working on my book instead . . .

Speaking of work, I actually do have projects to get done, so will leave this update at that.