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Posts Tagged ‘Inspiration’

Funny how 1,667 words seems like so much more when it is adding up to 10,000+ words instead of 5,000 something. It took forever to get my words out today. Somehow, it almost seemed easier when i was handwriting it. Maybe I was paying less attention to the word count and more to the story. I might try to do that again at work tomorrow. But here it is, for better or for worse:

Disclaimer: This is being posted as written, without review or edit, purely for enjoyment and accountability and may contain inconsistencies and ridiculousness. This year’s novel is for fun and is being purposefully written full of cliches and sappy romance, so no high expectations!

Theresa sighed. “I knew I should not have said that to you! I do not know what I was thinking, putting such an idea into your head. You do not really think you could be moved to design, do you, Josie? The design teams has years of experience, not to mention . . .”

“A degree?” Josie supplied when she stopped.

“Well, yes. It is normal, you know.”

Josie’s hand stole up to twist a piece of loose hair. “So you do not think I have a chance?”

“Look, Josie, I am going to be honest with you. Even if I did, I would not help you. You haven’t earned it, okay? You have only been here a couple months – and design is a good position. Besides, do you know how hard it is to find and keep assistants for – Mr. Peters, how are you, sir?” Theresa smiled brightly at that venerable man as he came in.

“Cancel my 5:00 and move my 4:00 to – whenever you can fit it in earlier. The wife wants to have dinner tonight. Something about our anniversary.” Mr. Peters grunted as he went into his office and shut the door.

Theresa turned and gave Josie a look that clearly said See? and turned to her desk.

 

It took only until noon for Theresa to concede. She came over to Josie’s desk and sat on the edge of it with a giant sigh as though the girl had been begging her all morning instead of simply keeping to herself. “Okay, fine! I will help you! But I am not promising anything. It would take nothing short of a miracle to get you moved with your lack of experience!”

“Oh, Theresa! Thank – “

“None of that. First things first. If you want to be promoted, you have to look the part. Haven’t you ever heard the old saying, dress for the job you want, not the job you have? I know you do not think it is necessary, but you must do something with your hair. Really, anything. And these clothes you wear! Where did you get them? A secondhand store?”

Josie said nothing, since that was exactly where she had gotten them.

“And makeup. You definitely need makeup.”

“I do not see how – “

“Do you want my help or not? If you want Mr. Peters to take you seriously, you have to start looking your age instead of like a high school nerd who never leaves the darkest corner of the library. You also have to look representable enough to speak to clients. And no, Mr. Richardson-who-almost-ran-you-over does not count.”

Josie couldn’t help a little smile at Theresa preempting her only argument. She had nothing to do but concede. “Okay. If you think it will help. I do not know what you think I can do with myself, though. Nothing seems to help. I’ve always been thin and – and sallow. Mom told me I took after her great-aunt. Personally, I always imagined myself as Pat in Pat of Silver Bush before her new hair grew in.”

”Who?”

“Never mind.” Josie was not about to add to that image of the nerd in the corner of the school library. No matter how accurate.

“Okay, well, why don’t I come over to your place tomorrow morning before work and we’ll see what we can do?”

“Really?” Josie brightened. Then faltered again. “Oh – well – my place isn’t really that big. Perhaps we could meet someplace else?”

“Someplace where I can see all your clothes? I am assuming you do not feel like bringing your whole wardrobe with you and I do not trust you to pick anything appropriate out. What you need, Josie Grant, is some training in fashion.”

*                                             *                                             *

There was no hiding the disgust in Theresa’s face when she stepped into Josie’s little apartment. She looked about as if in fear a cockroach would emerge specifically to torture her.

“It is not much, I know.” Josie tried to brush some imaginary crumbs off the counter she had already scrubbed three times.

“I understand now why you want a promotion. I didn’t think the salary was that bad.” Theresa seemed to note the look of shame on Josie’s face and decided to be tactful and move on.

“I like your quilt!” she motioned to the bedspread.

“Thanks! My grandmother made it as a wedding gift for my mother, and she sent it with me when I moved here.” Josie walked the few steps it took to reach the bed and smoothed a wrinkle out of it lovingly. Theresa followed her and her glance landed on the collection of sketches that had taken over the wall above the bed.

“You drew all these?” her tone contained a slightly awed tone that Josie would never have believed it possessed.

“I did.” Josie said with a bit of modest pride. “I call it my garden of dreams. The collection, that is. I draw things that make me happy.”

“I have to admit – they are really good. Degree or not, you would make a great designer.” She seemed to realize the inordinate number of compliments she was paying Josie and turned briskly.

“All right, let’s have a look at your clothes.” She examined the small collection in the closet and drawers next to the bed for what seemed forever while Josie  sat on the edge of the bed and watched curiously, trying to figure out what she was thinking. Finally, Theresa settled on the shapeless brown dress, pulling it out with a long orange cardigan.

“Well, there isn’t much to work with, I have to admit, but we will see what we can do. Put these on.”

Theresa surveyed the result dissatisfiedly. “The cardigan helps, but it still looks a bit like sackcloth.” She hurried around the room, rummaging in corners and dresser drawers without bothering to ask permission before finally bringing back a small, brown belt, pair of heels, and beaded necklace, which she proceeded to arrange on Josie herself. Then she stepped back and admired her work. “Now! You actually look like you have a figure! Go look!”

Josie was stunned to find that, indeed, her rather rectangular body did have a shape hidden in it. The belt brought the outfit in neatly at the waist, the cardigan gave color, and the necklace added depth. “Wow. I – I –“

“You look good. Well, almost. You still need some work. Don’t forget the heels.”

“I don’t know – I only have them for special events. I do not think that I can work in them.”

“As a woman and a professional, you will have to learn to. Now come on, let’s do your hair and makeup.”

*                                             *                                             *

When Jocelyn entered the office later that morning, she felt incredibly shy and not at all like herself. She felt like she might actually be pretty. She automatically went to pull a strand of hair out to twist nervously as she felt eyes land on her, but there was none to grab. Her hair, a strange mix of curls and straight, was carefully pinned up, with just a few strands floating down here and there, and she wasn’t about to mess up those immaculately curled strands.

“Stand up straight if you don’t want to trip over those heels.” Theresa whispered.

Josie quickly stood up straight, forcing herself to meet the eyes that landed on her, most of which looked more puzzled than surprised.

“Theresa – you are late.” Mr. Peters came out of his office as they reached it.

“No, sir. It is 8:00 precisely.” Theresa was one of the only people who would contradict Mr. Peters, albeit with respect. Mr. Peters glanced at his watch again. “Hmm. I suppose that is technically your starting time. Where is Miss Grant? Why is she late again?”

Josie stared at him with wide eyes and then back at Theresa, who was busy smothering a laugh.

“I-I’m right here, Mr. Peters.”

It was the first time she had ever seen him surprised outside of the episode with Keith Richardson. And the first time she had seen him legitimately with no words. His eyes opened wide and he took a step back, looking her up and down without disguise, but without inappropriate intentions.

“Miss – Miss Grant?” He finally uttered, definitely more of a question than a statement.

“Yes, sir.” Josie self-consciously smoothed a hand over the cardigan, making sure it was still straight.

“What – what happened? Er, I mean – of course. My apologies. You just – did your hair differently. I am used to things a certain way.” His customary curt tone was returning. “Ah, please have yesterday’s summary to me as soon as possible.”

“Yes, sir.”

As he disappeared into his office again, Theresa gave Josie a knowing smile. Josie looked at her, still surprised, and then the two girls broke into a heartfelt laugh.

“I told you you were hot.” Theresa winked as they scurried to their individual tasks.

But the true test came later in the day when Caroline came by to obtain a packet for a new client. She stopped at Josie’s desk and looked at her with some puzzlement for a moment. “Excuse me, but I am looking for –“ She paused as Josie looked up. “Jocelyn Grant?”

“May I help you, Miss Hynes?” Josie suddenly reveled in her change in appearance, and tilted her head with a glint in her eye.

Caroline swallowed and recovered herself with a slightly flustered, sweet smile. “Why, Miss Grant. I see you finally learned what eyeliner is. And a brush. How delightful that must have been for you. You really look almost pretty.”

“How kind of you to say so.” Josie bit back a much more smarting rejoinder, reminding herself that she was not on Caroline’s level. “Were you looking for something?”

“Well, if you have managed to finish it in between your primping, I was hoping for that packet for the Graysons.”

“You already have it.”

“I do not – are you –“

Jocelyn nodded toward the delicate, white hand resting on her desk and Caroline pursed her lips a bit as she picked up the manila envelope lying beneath it. As she walked away, she apparently could not resist one last quip.

“If you are doing this for Keith, you needn’t bother. He looks upon you as a child, nothing more.”

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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.”

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One more day to NaNoWriMo!!! Am I scared, you ask? Why yes, yes I am. Terrified that I am going to sit in front of my keyboard and have absolutely  nothing to say. But I’ve won NaNo twice in a row now, and I am determined to make it a third! And if there is anyone more determined than me – it is my husband. Yup. He insists (as you will also see if you visit Once Upon a Story) that I am going to do it, and that I am going to actually keep up on my wordcount this year so I am not trying to cram 5,000 words a day in the last week of the month. He has grand plans for how to accomplish this too – apparently, he is going to play video games every evening after dinner until I finish my word count so that I can’t be distracted by him. And he knows how much I hate to feel ignored when he plays video games for an extended amount of time. So it will probably work. Oooh, and I came up with a great way to get ideas for short stories, since I’m kind of drawing a blank right now, but you’ll have to visit Once Upon a Story to see it, because I don’t feel like typing it all out again. 😛

Daniel and I did a photo shoot yesterday! A mutual friend (someone from college) has decided to go into photography (is there anyone left who hasn’t?) and asked us to model for her to help build her portfolio. In exchange we will get a few free pictures and have the option to purchase the rest at a flat fee. Even if we just stick with the few free pictures, I think it will be nice. We had fun shooting pictures, too – at least until a sudden storm sent us scurrying into the underground mall, cutting it short.

Oh, and you should be proud of me – I already ordered our Christmas cards for the year! I know. So ahead of schedule. Let’s hope I get them out on time now that I worked so hard to order them in time.

And in case anyone is still reading this and curious about my progress on Ethrill. . .I am unfortunately not going to make it to 100,000 words before tomorrow. I gave it a good go, though, and am at 88,000. My hope is to make it to at least 90,000 and then I will feel like I actually wrote a decent amount and will probably have to split it into two books anyway – so it counts as finishing, right? As nervous as I am to start the short story series for NaNo, I am that excited to start editing Picture of the Past- I know – who would have imagined excitement to EDIT your book? But I am so eager to have a finished book – and I know it will be way more work than I think it will be right now – but I think it will be worth it. Plus, I do like having an excuse to research historical fashion and events – and this not only gives me the opportunity, but further ingrains it into my memory because I’ll have to implement it into the book. The main thing I need to do, I know, is to integrate one or two other story lines into it so the book isn’t so completely focused on Elizabeth. I need more depth. I’m kind of nervous to figure out how to do that, but I’ll give it a good try.

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NaNoWriMo Woes

Okay, am I the only one who begins a novel, with only the vaguest of ideas as to what I want to do? I know that I want to place this guy in the fantasy world. I know I want him to go through a bunch of fairytale-like adventures. A castle, a dragon, a troll, etc. I know that I want him to realize that, as fun as it is to read about fairytales, living in a world where you constantly have to deal with another dimension (magic), nothing is as it appears, and creatures have powers you don’t have to understand, is really not fun, and we are fortunate to live in the world the Creator made for us instead. The problem is, i have no idea how I want to accomplish any of this – how he is going to go through any of these adventures or what is going to come out of it – and I am moving forward in writing completely blindly. I feel like a fool and I think that the full plot should have come to me by now. Why can’t writing be as easy as so many people seem to think it is? How do I accomplish what I want to do when I have no idea what I want to do???

 

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Quotes Addict

So, I discovered this site just last week called “The Daily Quotes” and have already used them multiple times in my posts – and – yes, spammed a friend’s Facebook page with them. Don’t you just love how, no matter how you are feeling, you can almost always find a quote to match? I think I like it so much because it lets me know I am not alone in that confused inner world they call a brain. Plus I am pretty sure God uses them a lot to propel me forward when I get stuck. I find I draw inspiration from random quotes almost as much as I do beautiful sights.

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Do you mind if I ramble a bit? Well, if so, go ahead and leave now, because I am going to do it anyway. In fact, I am going to intersperse my WHOLE workday with rambling on this post. Or, at least until I am tired of it or feel I have said everything on my mind and heart. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. (for those who don’t know it, when someone says everything on their heart, it is bound to be filled with nonsensical emotion.)

As I have mentioned multiple times, so I am sure everyone is sick of hearing it, I am struggling to find the inspiration I once had for my stories. I go about this the way I go about pretty much all my goals in life. I try one thing, then, after I don’t get immediate results, I try another the next week (or day, depending on how patient I am feeling). I tried buying a whiteboard (like the one Castle uses?) to plot my books. After writing an initial outline of a story, realizing I didn’t feel passionate about the story at all, and leaving it on there for weeks, I wiped it and the huge whiteboard sits empty. Then I tried forcing myself to write 15 minutes a day, no matter what. That worked for almost a week. I forced myself to sit and write for 15 minutes, hated everything my pen put out, and then, one day, I was just too busy. Can you guess how often I have done that since? I tried researching subjects I wanted to write about. I read about writing books. I started an outline for yet another story. Finally, last weekend, I picked up an old favorite book I haven’t touched in years. Emily of New Moon. As I read, I felt my soul thrilling as it hadn’t done in years. As this girl wrote about her stories, or “flashes”, the Wind Woman, I felt drawn back to my childhood, back when everything was new and exciting and I, too, thought everything I wrote was beautiful. But, most importantly, I was drawn back to when I could pick up a piece of paper and write. About anything, about a sunset, about a sunrise, about a song, anything that gave me that thrill from head to foot, I would write about. Yes, I thought, this is it! I just need to read my favorite books and remember why I love writing! And then, as I read further, suddenly the effect the book was having on me . . . reversed. Oh, I still loved reading over the old, beloved words, and feeling thrills along with Emily, but, I realized how – old I was. Back when I used to read the books, I used to be Emily’s age. Whether it was the first, second, or third book, at some point, I was still her age, with similar dreams and ambitions. Now – I am significantly older than she was in any of her books. And I have this dreadful feeling that it means it is too late for me. I know I wrote about this in an earlier post not long ago, but though my brain knows it isn’t too late, my heart hasn’t caught up yet, and I have been struggling to fight off a singularly depressed feeling.

The thing is, I have this feeling that I want to go back to my childhood and recapture the innocent dream that all I have to do is love what I do and I will succeed – and my complete lack of doubt in my ability to write and that if I just kept going, it would all turn out. But maybe that is part of the trouble. One, part of me knows I can never go back to my childhood and I need to move forward from where I am right now – but I am terribly resistant. I want to go back to the stories I was writing at 13 and still write them, instead of finding new stories. And two, I didn’t keep going. Whether I want to admit it or not, I essentially stopped writing in college for four years. Well, I was writing essays and presentations, but, that hardly counts. Which brings me to this scary thought: What if I was wrong? What if writing isn’t really my passion and I just superimposed it on myself because of all the books I read nonstop? I mean, there has to be something wrong if I can just stop writing for four years, doesn’t there? And then I got all confused. I was so sure that God designed me to write.

As far back as I can remember, all I have wanted to do when I grew up was be a writer. Heck, I remember being 8 years old and reading the beginnings of my first novel to my older sister. Wanting nothing more than to write for like 15 years has to mean something, right?

Well, I am still trying to figure it all out. But, I have decided on yet another method to get my confidence and inspiration back. This time, I AM going to go back to my childhood. I have stacks and stacks of stories or portions of stories from before I went to college. So, my newest idea is to pull out one page from those stacks at a time, and rewrite it. I have this hope that if I can just get my creative juices flowing again, I will be able to look at everything around me as a story the way I used to. Or maybe God will use it to show me what it is He wants me to do – where He wants me to go from here. Or maybe pulling out the old pages from my younger years will remind me of why I started writing in the first place and help open my brain to new paths – new stories that fit where I am emotionally now, instead of the dramatic, tragic stories I used to write.

I have this horrible fear that I have wasted too many years and now I will die before I accomplish all my dreams. And my brain knows that the longer i am paralyzed by this fear, the more time I will waste, but my heart hasn’t caught up to that yet, and I have this hopeless feeling that it doesn’t matter anymore. I know, I know – that isn’t true. But since when does that help soulfulness?

If anyone has ever gone through this type of identity crisis, I would appreciate advice or scriptures on getting through it and how to move forward instead of looking backwards.

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