The incessant meow! meow! meow! and head-butts finally force her out from underneath her comfort zone, snuggled with her bedspread. She plops on the couch and flips through hours of mindless TV. During commercials, she sneaks to the kitchen for just one more cup of coffee. The warm, hazelnut vice feeds her addiction. Sunlight sneaks through the bent blinds, casting a spotlight for the dancing dust.
She thinks about all the ways she could spend her Saturday. Shop for a new outfit; try that new Indian restaurant on the corner; walk around the neighborhood; go to yoga class; check out the free movies at the film festival. But that would mean getting up, showered and dressed. Too much effort.
What's a few more hours of lazy rest? She can always take action tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.
how do you write [or insert other passionate activity here]?
do you schedule a block of a time every day, once a week? sneak in some time during your lunch hour or put off sleep to indulge in some creative time? or do you wait for inspiration to hit and then dig in? i found out the hard way that if you wait to be inspired, you may be waiting and waiting and waiting, and nothing ever shows up.
now that i've moved to part-time with accounting (yet still paying job) to focus more time on my writing, my expectation was that with two extra days I'll be able to get SO much done. hell, i'll be done with that YA manuscript in no time! well, my nine-to-five routine does not work for me when writing or pretty much any creative outlet. and it was quite a frustrating lesson to learn. did i make a huge mistake taking that leap to follow my passion?
then i remembered what my fab intuitive mentor said to me (more than a few times). don't treat writing like a job. writing is fun. it's my "play-time". i finally got it!
everybody has their own way of operating. i enjoy noise in the background (music, TV, city living); i'm more on my game later in the day...late afternoon and way late into the night. i'm also more into editing and massaging a piece to life than just getting that first word on the page. there's no right or wrong to creating art, whether that art is cooking an amazing Indian dish or designing a funky Betsey Johnson knock-off. just do what works for you, and have fun with it.
but most importantly, i learned that instead of waiting for inspiration to come to me, i would go to it. i'd flip through one of my favorite graphic novels, The Runaways or something by Lynda Barry; watch an episode of Project Runway or Top Chef; play shuffle on my iPod; go outside and spend time in nature, especially near trees or water; doodle, paint, dance...whatever I choose, i realize that it accomplishes the same goal. i get out of my head - no judging, no expectations, no conditions, no perfectionism - and i get into my body, heart and soul.
so play that video at the beginning of this post, get inspired, and get busy with your passion!
When asked if I'd rather be blind or deaf, without hesitation, I replied, "Blind."
Hell, I practically already am; I've worn glasses since '83, contacts since '88 when disposables didn't even exist. Imagine, wearing the same contacts for 365 days straight. Gross...no wonder my eyesight sucks. But I digress...
I could NEVER imagine not being able to listen to music. TV or i Pod? iPod hands down. No matter what mood I'm in; I could be having the absolute WORST day ever, if someone were to crank, "I'm bringing sexy back" -- don't ask why, but it was the first lyrical line that popped in my head--, I'd instantly break into dance. Music moves me. Literally and figuratively.
Music saved my life. Somewhere during middle school and throughout my high school and college life, I struggled with depression. And until I faced it --- named it, medicated it and worked thru it --- what kept me alive was music. I survived on The Cure, Nitzer Ebb, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Faith No More, RHCP, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Korn, Radiohead and the beat goes on. They screamed, ranted, punched, kicked and fought for me when I didn't have a voice of my own. They spoke, not only to me, but for me.
Music inspires me...to dance, to write, to create, to play, to connect with others. Music refuels my energy so I can experience my passions.
I've entered the first 150 words of my YA novel, In Search of Joy, to the contest, Project Writeway. The winner will receive a 10 page critique from a well known New York agent. This first voting is to narrow down the 60 entries to the favorite 12.
What is possible?
Any thought my mind focuses on,
whatever I choose to believe.
In my gut I know
I can be, do, create anything.
And even when fear and doubt
sneak their way in,
tomorrow I can choose to resume
any possibility again.
What would you save from your home if faced with a fire?
Foster Huntington's photographic project documents the answer. It's incredibly interesting to see some of the contributors' cherished items (click here to view). The saying, "one person's trash, is another person's treasure" definitely rings true. Love is subjective, whether for a person, place or thing.
As I perused thru the photos, I got to thinking, what would I grab on my way out?
My 12 yr old cat, Whiskey. Despite his constant whining for food and need for attention, he's the one man in my life that loves me unconditionally.
Laptop: I'd die without my manuscripts, pictures, and music.
Scrapbooks. Filled with ticket stubs, pics and personal reviews of all the concerts, plays, musicals and sporting events I've attended over the years. The most important, of course, of when I met my favorite band, Faith No More.
As many framed photos as possible; most of these were before the digital age.
Dr. Martens. Just found these used boots, completely painted in swirls of color. They help remind me of my inner child, PlayWrite.
Journals. It would be impossible to grab all of them, but at least the most recent and one of my art journals filled with doodles, paintings, poems and scribbles.
Magic wand that my lovely friend, Fo, gave me before leaving for the Peace Corps.
The gorgeous tanzanite ring my mom bought me on our cruise vacation; my owl ring; and my blue topaz earrings.
Pez collection. Yes, you read right, Pez candy dispensers.
What about you? What's your most valuable, irreplaceable treasures?
Several years ago at a national LA writing conference, the presenter stated that there is "no such thing as writer's block...that's just an excuse to procrastinate". Words I remind myself as yet another day goes by and my page remains blank.
And as we all know, the first rule to being a writer is, well, to write. Sounds so obvious and simple, yet sometimes feels so daunting, especially when that bug of inspiration is refusing to bite.
For those of us that need a little coaxing or a prize for our effort, check out written? kitten!. Not only does it display your word count, but every time you reach 100 words, randomly selected adorable kitten pics from Flickr are displayed. Of course, you may be so overwhelmed by cuteness that you may forget to keep typing.
If that doesn't motivate ya, there's always more dire consequences to force those fingers to move, like Write or Die by Dr Wicked. This "web application encourages writing by punishing the tendency to avoid writing...once you stop typing, you have a grace period of a certain number of seconds and then" the pain begins.
In the free web version, you designate the word goal, time goal, type of consequence (gentle, normal, kamikaze, or electric shock) and the type of grace period (forgiving, strict or evil). Once you click "write", the timer begins and the program tracks the # of words and if you're actually typing or not. I just tried it out under the normal consequence mode, and after a short time of no activity, a very loud, disturbing sound reminded me that I'm not doing what I came to do. And the noise doesn't stop until you start typing again. Very effective. Why we respond better to fear, who knows? All that matters is that it works! There's also a PC and iPad version that can be purchased.
Okay, stop reading & procrastinating, and get back to writing!
Are you working on a YA or middle-grade novel? Do you love Project Runway? In honor of Project Runway Allstars, the ladies of the Throwing Up Words blog have created the Project Writeway contest.
To enter, submit the first 150 words of a middle grade or YA novel to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 20, 2011. The contest will continue over the next few weeks until the competition is eliminated down to one winner, who will receive a 10 page critique from a well known New York agent and the bragging rights for years to come.
I submitted my picture manuscript, I Wish, to the Rare Children's Storybook Contest. Read my manuscript, along with the other nine submissions, at http://myrarestory.com/storybook-gallery.php. Hopefully the Advisory Committee will complete their review over the next three weeks. And two of the ten submissions will move forward to publication consideration.
All ten entries will receive video cameras to submit videos leading up to Rare Disease Day on February 29. Participants are being asked to submit a short video further sharing our story/experience/inspiration and a simple visual component bringing our submission to life.
Regardless if the sun is shining or there's money in the bank account; even if I have a vacation planned or a finished manuscript; none of these moments matter if I don't have loved ones to share it with.
I would definitely describe myself as an introvert. Most days I'm more than content to lay in bed with a good book or on the couch watching TV; of course, with my baby [cat], Whiskey, on my lap. But the one must in life to keep me balanced, sane, and smiling is coffee...just kidding...are my friends and family.
I have been blessed with so many wonderful friends throughout my life. Some last a lifetime and beyond, while others are for just a moment in time. I am so grateful, not only because of these people, but the depth of these relationships. I know many that have hundreds of connections on Facebook, but they don't come close to the number of friends I have that know me intimately and still love me anyway. They have listened to me whine, traveled around the world with me, celebrated my accomplishments, and lifted me up during my darkest hours.
My friends join me in cheering on the Nationals despite their loser status. We spend Thanksgiving watching the Shining at AFI. We Amtrak from DC to NYC for the night to see Wicked on Broadway. We raise money for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society while training for the Marine Corps Marathon. We fly stand-by to California (and still talk to me when I'm seated in first class and you're stuck in coach). We gamble in Atlantic City and live large in Vegas. We meet our favorite band, Faith No More, and have the lead singer's signature, Mike Patton, memorialized on plastic boobs. We escape work for a lunch hour to express our frustrations and fears. We help one another discover our passions and learn to follow our intuition and thus start a doggie daycare, join the Peace Corps, pursue writing and audition in LA.
I would not be who or where I am today without my loved ones. I am a Portland resident, fiercely pursing my passion for writing and having fun while doing it. I am a reflection of my friends: confident, beautiful, passionate, intuitive, and happy. And I hope that I give to them what they give to me...energy, laughter, inspiration and love.
Red Tails, opening January 20th, is about the Tuskegee Airmen, America's first black military pilots and crew, who fought during World War II. George Lucas spent 23 years and millions of his own money to bring this film to the masses because Hollywood doesn't see "green" with a black cast. In other words, "a black movie ain't gonna make any real money".
Per Lucas on the Jon Stewart Show, this is the first action/adventure movie that features a black cast. Stars include Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard and Ne-Yo, along with a black director, Anthony Hemingway, and screenwriter, John Ridley.
Go out and support this film. Prove the industry big wigs wrong. Regardless if the cast is black, yellow, red, mocha, white, whatever, as long as it's good entertainment, we will pay to watch. But even more important, share this movie with your kids...American History comes in many colors, religions, and classes.
I had a dark moment. I'm working on a picture book manuscript for a contest called the Rare Children's Storybook Project. My friend and ex-coworker, Howard, started the nonprofit MarbleRoad, whose mission is to connect people who have complex illnesses with the resources they need to help them improve their lives. And the Storybook Project is "a unique way to bring awareness to rare disease; to support and entertain children receiving care; and to do broad community outreach and education." It's such an amazing opportunity to do some good with my words.
I have an idea in mind on how to approach this topic and submit something within the tight deadline. But the more I researched and read up on children and their families struggling with rare terminal conditions, it really began to eat away at my heart. I felt myself flood with so much emotion - sadness, pity, anger, guilt, disgust, despair - that I feared I would drown. And then memories of my father and his losing battle against the rare blood cancer, multiple myeloma, added fuel to the fire.
Now that I've had a day or two to leave the project alone, I'm able to look at it again with not so bloodshot eyes. We can all question why God would allow such pain and suffering. Especially for the young and innocent. The only answer I have is that situations like these really help us to realize what is most important in life. Sometimes we get so caught up in material things or focus on what we "should" be doing rather than on what we want to be doing, like spending time with the people we love. Technically, we are all dying. But when someone tells you your expiration date, there's definitely a motivation to spend every minute loving life.
So, get involved...donate time, money, whatever you can to something you care about. But most importantly, this is yet another reminder to live, love, and laugh...right now in this moment.
Twist n Shout; Lean back; no matter how you move, Shake, Shake, Shake, Shake that Booty!
Know when you get into one of those "blah" moods? The kind where nothing's really wrong in life, just feels kinda slow-moving', uninteresting...blah. So, I've decided that every Moanday I'm going to write a post dedicated to something that I love. Hence, the title, "For the love of..." Anything that gets me excited, energetic, passionate, full of life. And since Monday is that day of the week that every 9 to 5er dreads, I figured that's the best time to change my focus on to something that makes me smile.
I LOVE to dance. Doesn't matter what kind of music, as long as it has a good beat to get my hips shaking. Give me funk, salsa, hip hop, alternative, pop...doesn't matter. Although I've loved to dance since birth -- (I've been told many times at the age of 3 I was a huge fan of the seventies classic "Shake, Shake, Shake...Shake Your Booty") -- I've never been good at dance classes. The teacher calls left, I go right. Until I took my first belly dance class. It was the first time that every movement felt natural and flowed; you are hyper aware of your body and appreciate all it can do and how every body type, age and shape is beautiful.
Then my good friend, kiki, introduced me to Nia dance and I've never looked back. Absolutely pure total fun. Nia draws from disciplines of the martial arts, dance arts and healing arts. Movements range from karate kicks and punches, to belly dance shimmies, to salsa steps and even has free form. What I really love about Nia is how it combines the physical, mental and spiritual. When you enter the class, you leave all your daily "problems" at the door and truly live in the moment.
So, if you're having a crappy day and want to make the world disappear, then blast your favorite song and just dance the blues away.