Tag Archives: Goals

Dreams of Gold and Possibilities

The Summer Olympic Games 2012 have hijacked my life completely. No longer is my TV background noise providing a soundtrack of sorts for my various activities like writing, drawing and cooking. No, I am riveted to the television screen and cannot seem to get anything else accomplished while these games are on. I have mixed feelings about them ending in a week.

I have memories of previous games, going back to my childhood. But I have to say, I have never been as captivated by them as I am this year. Is it because the U S is so strong, and is garnering so many medals? Is it because my country is in trouble and needs a positive event to renew its sense of optimism and it needs an event to be patriotic in the face of adversity?  I am intensely proud of our accomplishments in London. It makes me feel good to be able to say we come from the same country, this Michael Phelps, Gabby Douglas, and this Ryan Lochte. We are countrymen with pride and patriotism unbounded.

A recurring thought I have as I watch the games is what is it like to be that good at something?  What must it be like to stand in the world’s eye and have your moment after years of preparation?

I am involved in several activities that are preparatory for the future. I am writing, and paying my dues on the road to publication. I am learning the art of drawing with colored pencil aspiring to be an artist. I am losing 150 pounds which will take years at 1 and 2 pounds of loss a week. So I am laying the ground work for accomplishments that while not as grand as Olympic competition are as important to me as that medal is to the athlete.  Someday in the future I will stand on my self-created podium and claim my prize, my own byline, a contest won, a new wardrobe, the sale of a drawing.

We all need to be pursuing goals and dreams. We need to work towards something greater than our present reality. It is what gives us a reason for waking in the morning. It provides us with goals to mark the passing of time and the rise in our accomplishments. We have a sense of purpose. We feel good when we hit a benchmark and we learn when we fall short; all of it to aspire to a better place in our life. Just like the athletes we are riveted to this summer.

These two weeks are like an intensive motivational retreat. We tune in, learn the athletes stories, watch them win, or not. We can extract life lessons from the experience, or we can choose to take it as an exercise in reality TV and not give it much thought. For those of us inspired, we are surrounded by challenges realized and the culmination of preparation with some luck thrown in, and we have something to aspire to. If we doubt ourselves following a dream, all we have to do is tune in and see that dreams can come true with work and perseverance.

For me, this love affair with dreams and goals came late in life. This year they are fueling a mid- life transformation. In four years, when the next summer games are played in Brazil, I will be enjoying a new body and a new life.

What about you, are the games making an impact on you? What do they mean to you? What fuels your goals and aspirations?

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To Speed or Not To Speed; The Journey to Publication From A Newbies Perspective

Example variable speed limit sign in the Unite...

Example variable speed limit sign in the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is becoming a writer like driving your car? Do you chart a path of safety, clocking in at a pre-determined speed, careful not to break rules written and unwritten? There is so much traffic, and everyone is jockeying to get to the same places. And everyone is going at their own speed. On this road, there are no police, just a lot of gate keepers and toll booths that will alter your destination time and time again. On this road, I am not bored, I am anxious to get to my destination, the hell with the traffic, the gatekeepers. I want to get to the destination, but I really don’t want to drive. But you say “Getting there is half the fun”. That may be, but I have waited a lifetime to be in the driver’s seat. I am tired of waiting, now that I’ve made the decision to drive, to write.

Don’t get me wrong, I know how hard writers have to work to get published, to make a life writing. I know you have to pay your dues and work your way up in the craft. I know it takes time and persistence. I guess I just want my break to come sooner rather than later. Is that so bad? Of course I know I have to do all the things writers do, indeed I have to write more. But this road is filled with dreams, and sometimes the dreams get in the way of the work. All my life, I did not believe that I could be a writer since I did not go to school for writing. I know, very limited thinking. I thought that is what it takes to be a writer. But I am finding that while it certainly helps to have the paper behind you for moral support, you really only have to do two things to be a writer and that give yourself permission and then you write.

Getting published is part of the highway I’m traveling on.  It requires diligence and patience and  humility and bravado, (Yes you can have both at the same time.)You have to want the public destination that has your name on it for all to see, and you have to be willing to listen to those who are already at their destination and who are directing you. Bravado and humility. So, I do desire the public destination. I aspire to having my name appear before readers. Yes, I want recognition for my efforts. And I want to be wise about it, so all these other writers who are willing to share what they know are important to me. I want to know what they know. They are guiding my ride and are making me adhere to the posted speed…steady as she goes.

Before being published, (dreams getting in the way again) I have to find my voice. Sometimes when I write, I am inspired and the words flow and the piece comes together and it’s a very a good thing. It makes me happy and the experience is much like being a conduit for the act of creativity, the inspiration takes over and you simply are along for the ride. I love it when that happens. More often than not, I am working to make the subject interesting, to make the words spill onto the page coherently. This is what being a writer is all about. Writing with the inspiration, and writing without it. But always writing.

To be known to others that I’m a writer means jumping in headfirst to social media. Now my ride is feeling a little out of control. The newness of it all. Finding out that I’ve made some mistakes branding myself. Coming to terms with the fact that I am promoting myself as a product. I used to be in sales, and I can sell ice to Eskimos, but that was with someone else’s product that I believed in, now it’s all about me and I have to believe in myself as much as I believed in other people’s products. So, I tweet a little, I blog, and I write a lot. I read even more, always seeking guidance and directions from others. I don’t know squat and I am learning. The ride is still scary.

I will leave my lawlessness for when I’m behind the wheel of my car. For my writing I’m choosing the speed-limit-adhering directional wisdom of others who are making a living writing. The highway has many curves and turns and potholes. I plan to arrive at my publishing destination wise and grateful, and none the worse for the wear. Just because there are potholes doesn’t mean I have to drive through them. Avoiding them is acceptable on the journey. But there doesn’t seem to be a police presence on this writing highway, no flashing blue lights to ruin your day. But then again, this journey is just beginning. I think I may change my view on police once I work with some editors.

 

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The Virgin and the IRS

International Money Pile in Cash and Coins

International Money Pile in Cash and Coins (Photo credit: epSos.de)

I’m about to pay my first quarterly tax on money I received from writing. That makes me a writer, doesn’t it? OK, many writers look down on the type of writing that paid me my first revenue, writing for content mills is not deemed worthy of mention in the writing community. I beg to differ. I am not making a lot of money, except for the Ebook chapter I wrote, but I am producing good work and meeting deadlines and client expectations. I am learning about research and SEO writing. I am paying my  dues. It is worthy work for a neophyte.

Paying taxes is such an adult thing to do. It is a form of validation in my eyes. I did work that was good enough to be paid for, and I did it doing something I love, playing with words. This is the beginning of a new chapter in my life, one where I am literally writing new rules to live by. My dreams, and goals are not grandiose and naïve. They are grounded and honed by someone experienced in life’s realities. I do not believe I will be on the NYT Bestseller’s list. I do not picture myself on the Today show. No, I seek simpler triumphs that are based in realistic attainability.

There are a great many sources of information for new writers to research. I am on overload with instructions on building my platform, querying, honing my craft, watching my punctuation (my Achilles heel). Sometimes I think I will explode from all the information I am ingesting. And what is the loudest message I am receiving? Write. Just Write.

It is easy to get side-tracked by social media, by reading the endless amount of relevant blogs. It is easy to get too absorbed in the technical manuals of writing and craft. The thing that matters most is the act of showing up at the blank page and creating magic with words. Practice, Practice, Practice, it’s how we learn anything new.

Writing for me is still a mysterious act. Where do the words come from? Why can I put them together and other people can’t? Why can’t I write creative non-fiction on demand? I am forced to wait for the inspiration and the mood to be “just right” before the words flow. I read that you are to write even when you aren’t inspired. Is writing like a muscle that needs development and constant training for it to perform well? I don’t do well with mysteries. I like answers to questions, and I fear my questions will go unanswered for the duration of my writing career because writing is a mysterious process.

The act of creation cannot be accurately defined. I remember trying to explain the creative process to a very analytical lawyer, and failing miserably after three hours of attempts.  I simply couldn’t give him the exact reason I had created a work of art. It simply had to come into this world by the actions of my hands didn’t cut it for him. He wanted to know what need the object fulfilled. There was no specific, tangible need. It was created from a stirring in me to express myself, but no other outward need. For him, the quilt had to be created because someone was cold and needed a blanket. I created it because the design was in me and needed to come out and be in the world. He never understood art; I never understood not understanding art.

What is in me now, stirring to get out? A book certainly, but the work the book will be chronicling is not done yet. It will be years before the weight-loss journey will be done. So in the interim I write essays and blog posts, and articles I ghost- write for others. The smaller pieces I am writing fulfill the need to create. Whether I am creating art or not is up for debate. What is important is that I am writing. Doing what the sage instructors and mentors of the craft recommend above all else; write, always write. I say, write and pay your taxes. You do the first to pay the second. But if you don’t do the second, you can’t do the first. Pay as you go, write at all costs, and tweet about everything, grounded lessons for a grounded neophyte. Now, where’s my checkbook?

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