Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Next Up, Nutella?

I've firmly entered the "oh my gosh, what I'm writing totally sucks and I need to burn it" phase. I'm assuming the next step is sinking into a vat of Nutella, never to be seen again. 

The writing process is a funny thing. It starts so purely, with an idea. You know like how Oprah had her "Aha!" moments? Yeah that's it. Over the past few weeks I've learned a bit about the self-revealing process that is writing. Seeing as I haven't come close to finishing what I'm working on, I thought it would be fun to review the various phases I've had the pleasure of experiencing.

The "Inspired" Phase
This is a fun one. The ideas are so vast I mentally compared it to the universe. Each galaxy a novel, each star an idea. This is the phase when characters are born, their personalities jumping up and down, jockeying to get center stage to tell their stories. In my case, one lucky character was making so much noise that I couldn't ignore her any longer. And she convinced me she had one hell of a tale to tell. 

The "Pulitzer Prize" Phase
This is the phase that inflates your ego and makes you think your story is so grand, so perfect, so unique that the New York Times is waiting with bells on to review this budding masterpiece. Words pour out so effortlessly it's hard to believe that people complain about "the process." This is also the phase where I didn't sleep. But you're so wrapped up in the characters and the world you've created that you forget there's life outside the bubble. Once you poke your head back out, you realize that everyone who you've told that you're writing a book wants to read it. 

The "Oh-my-gosh-what-I'm-writing-totally-sucks-and-I-need-to-burn-it" Phase
Enter self doubt. Hi, how are you? At this point all the arrogant confidence gained in the Pulitzer Prize phase has dissipated. Or rather, packed its bags and high-tailed it out of town. I find myself reading and rereading and rereading everything. The end result is usually the same. This. Sucks. I even went to so far as to start rewriting the whole thing in the POV of the main character. Thankfully, my brain stopped humming to itself and convinced me to stay the course. I'm pretty sure at some point people move on from this phase. At least I hope so. 

Since I've been stuck in this phase I've found myself perusing Amazon.com and other bookseller websites. Just for the fun of it, I'll click on the little "LOOK INSIDE!" and see if my drivel is anywhere near as good as something that's published. Sometimes I think I can hang with the big kids. Sometimes I think I should stick to my day job. 

Whatever the outcome, the writing continues. Someday I'll let someone read it. Maybe. Depends on what the next phase is....or if I'll forever remain lost in a vat of Nutella.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Give Up? How About "Let Go"

A friend of mind posted a link to this today on her Facebook page. It's a list of things to "give up" to be happier. I scrolled down the list and immediately declared to myself that I could never give up #1 or #2. Me, be wrong? Are you nuts? And my favorite, control. Once a control freak, always a control freak. However, the further down the list I got, the more I realized that each one of these was worth considering. What do you think? 

There are so many of us who can’t stand the idea of being wrong – wanting to always be right – even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. It’s just not worth it. Whenever you feel the ‘urgent’ need to jump into a fight over who is right and who is wrong, ask yourself this question: “Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?” Wayne Dyer. What difference will that make? Is your ego really that big?

Be willing to give up your need to always control everything that happens to you and around you – situations, events, people, etc. Whether they are loved ones, coworkers, or just strangers you meet on the street – just allow them to be. Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are and you will see how much better will that make you feel.
“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning.” Lao Tzu

 Give up on your need to blame others for what you have or don’t have, for what you feel or don’t feel. Stop giving your powers away and start taking responsibility for your life.

 Oh my. How many people are hurting themselves because of their negative, polluted and repetitive self-defeating mindset? Don’t believe everything that your mind is telling you – especially if it’s negative and self-defeating. You are better than that.
“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive.” Eckhart Tolle

about what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible. From now on, you are no longer going to allow your limiting beliefs to keep you stuck in the wrong place. Spread your wings and fly!
“A belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind” Elly Roselle

 Give up your constant need to complain about those many, many, maaany things – people, situations, events that make you unhappy, sad and depressed. Nobody can make you unhappy, no situation can make you sad or miserable unless you allow it to. It’s not the situation that triggers those feelings in you, but how you choose to look at it. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.

Give up your need to criticize things, events or people that are different than you. We are all different, yet we are all the same. We all want to be happy, we all want to love and be loved and we all want to be understood. We all want something, and something is wished by us all.

Stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not just to make others like you. It doesn’t work this way. The moment you stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not, the moment you take off all your masks, the moment you accept and embrace the real you, you will find people will be drawn to you, effortlessly.

 Change is good. Change will help you move from A to B. Change will help you make improvements in your life and also the lives of those around you. Follow your bliss, embrace change – don’t resist it.
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls” Joseph Campbell

 Stop labeling those things, people or events that you don’t understand as being weird or different and try opening your mind, little by little. Minds only work when open. 
“The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” Wayne Dyer

Fear is just an illusion, it doesn’t exist – you created it. It’s all in your mind. Correct the inside and the outside will fall into place.
“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

Send them packing and tell them they’re fired. You no longer need them. A lot of times we limit ourselves because of the many excuses we use. Instead of growing and working on improving ourselves and our lives, we get stuck, lying to ourselves, using all kind of excuses – excuses that 99.9% of the time are not even real.

I know, I know. It’s hard. Especially when the past looks so much better than the present and the future looks so frightening, but you have to take into consideration the fact that the present moment is all you have and all you will ever have. The past you are now longing for – the past that you are now dreaming about – was ignored by you when it was present. Stop deluding yourself. Be present in everything you do and enjoy life. After all life is a journey not a destination. Have a clear vision for the future, prepare yourself, but always be present in the now.

This is a concept that, for most of us is so hard to grasp and I have to tell you that it was for me too, (it still is) but it’s not something impossible. You get better and better at with time and practice. The moment you detach yourself from all things, (and that doesn’t mean you give up your love for them – because love and attachment have nothing to do with one another,  attachment comes from a place of fear, while love… well, real love is pure, kind, and self less, where there is love there can’t be fear, and because of that, attachment and love cannot coexist) you become so peaceful, so tolerant, so kind, and so serene. You will get to a place where you will be able to understand all things without even trying. A state beyond words.

Way too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them, they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them, to what their friends, their enemies and their teachers, their government and the media think is best for them. They ignore their inner voice, that inner calling. They are so busy with pleasing everybody, with living up to other people’s expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need….and eventually they forget about themselves.  You have one life – this one right now – you must live it, own it, and especially don’t let other people’s opinions distract you from your path.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Keep Singing My Song

Now that I'm fully obsessed with writing, I've also become fully obsessed with rounding out this story as best I can with music. I love music. All kinds. OK, maybe not country and death metal, but I do enjoy pretty much every genre out there. My iTunes is overflowing. Music, to me, is an integral part of the soundtrack to life. Certain songs from my childhood still resonate with me today. There's something great that happens when you connect to a song, whether it be the lyrics, the melody or because that song was playing during a pivotal moment in life. 

As a side project, I put together a playlist that I think defines my characters and their story. The songs are in no particular order, but each one speaks to them.

Breathe (2AM)                                                        Anna Nalick
Money Can't Buy It                                                 Annie Lennox
Back At One Brian McKnight
Call Me Maybe Carly Rae Jepsen
Cruz Christina Aguilera
Get Mine, Get Yours Christina Aguilera
Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall Coldplay
Paradise Coldplay
Viva La Vida Coldplay
Strawberry Swing Coldplay
Without You (feat. Usher) David Guetta/Usher
Days Go By Dirty Vegas
Simple Things Part 2 Dirty Vegas
Hum Hallelujah Fall Out Boy
Chelsea Dagger The Fratellis
Look After You The Fray
Follow Through Gavin DeGraw
I'll Fly With You (L'Amour Toujours) Gigi d'Agostino
Something Kinda Ooooh Girls Aloud
I Like It Like That (feat. New Boyz) Hot Chelle Rae
Afterglow INXS
Wonderful World James Morrison
Trust A Try Janet Jackson
That's The Way Love Goes Janet Jackson
Run This Town (feat. Rihanna/Kanye West) Jay-Z
Stronger Kanye West
Paranoid Kanye West
Monster Kanye West/Jay-Z/Rick Ross/Nicki Minaj/Bon Iver
Sunshine Keane
Bedshaped Keane
Addicted Kelly Clarkson
Dark Side Kelly Clarkson
Other Side Of The World KT Tunstall
Heal Over KT Tunstall 
Breaking The Habit Linkin Park
Pts.Of.Athrty (Jay Gordon) Linkin Park
1stp Klosr (The Humble Brothers ft. Jonathan Davis) Linkin Park
Waiting for the End Linkin Park
Numb/Encore Linkin Park & Jay-Z
Izzo / In The End Linkin Park & Jay-Z
Points Of Authority / 99 Problems / One Step Closer Linkin Park & Jay-Z
Intoxicated Maria
I Am Free Mariah Carey
Work It Missy Elliott
Starlight Muse
Welcome To The Black Parade My Chemical Romance
Famous Last Words My Chemical Romance
Just a Dream Nelly
Starships Nicki Minaj
Acquiesce Oasis
All the Right Moves OneRepublic
Set Adrift on Memory Bliss P.M. Dawn
Taking Chances Platinum Weird
You're All I Have Snow Patrol
Chasing Cars Snow Patrol
Engines Snow Patrol
Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) The Temptations
Never Leave You [feat. Amelle] Tinchy Stryder & Amelle
Untouched The Veronicas
Bittersweet Symphony The Verve

That's the playlist that I've been listening to as I write. It really has helped add so much to the story. Out of curiosity, do any of you create playlists for your characters as you write? Or maybe just a playlist that sets the tone for the story? Thanks for playing! =)

Friday, May 4, 2012

#14. I've always wanted to write a book.

In the past 3 days, I've gotten a total of 12 hours sleep. Maybe. No joke. I don't require that much sleep as it is, so that's not a big shock. I wish I could say I was doing some really exotic activity, like spelunking. OK, not that, I'm slightly claustrophobic. And clearly I have no attention span as I'm now wondering WHY people would purposely crawl through small, dark, cold caves for fun. Back to the main topic...please.

I've been depriving myself of my much needed beauty sleep because I'm writing a book. Yes, a book. Hopefully a good one. I seem to be entertained by it so far. My characters have completely taken over my life, to the point where I'm dreaming about them. Awesome. I've also created a playlist in iTunes for the two main characters. I listen to it constantly as I'm writing about their highs, lows and all that good stuff in between. I've always wanted to write a book. Hence the title of this post. The #14 refers to the place on the list where this little wish of my mine was written. It's a random, fun little list. Please, take a look

I've had this idea for a book for awhile, but I never took the time to actually sit down and flesh it out. Then, I had an epiphany. I'm an avid reader and have always been inspired by the (good) books that I've read. Then, I read quite possibly the worst series of books ever produced. And I was SUPER inspired. I will most likely be flogged and whipped for saying this out loud, but man, did they suck. Over the summer, I was coerced into reading the Twilight series. I'd been able to keep my entire human existence free of that nonsense, because it held zero interest for me. ZERO. But, due to the fact that I was bored and essentially being bullied into reading it (by my MOM of all people), I borrowed the books and went home. I know, I know. If I hated the books so much why didn't I just put them down? Or burn them? Shred them up and use them for kitty litter? Simple. I'm a glutton for punishment and I just HAD to know what all the fuss was about. It was like watching a train derail. You know you shouldn't look, you should turn your head away. But whatever. Anyway. My epiphany. I figured I had nothing to lose by finally sucking it up and writing the story that I've been dying to write for years. 

So I started writing an outline. It was so much fun finally getting the skeleton to this story out of my system. I was all pumped and ready to write this thing! November came and I was Little Miss Writer Princess. For two weeks I did nothing but write. Then, I did nothing. Yeah, all that pontificating about how my cat could write a better book than Twilight, and I was fried. My brain refused to work. I got to the fourth chapter and stared blankly at the screen. Sad, isn't it?

I could do nothing more. I felt like an asshat, I was letting my characters down. They had a story to tell and I was at a loss. Needless to say, I stepped away from the writing process, but never really stepped away from my characters. They were always on my mind, subtly suggesting that they needed to speak. They needed to express themselves. I saw shades of them in everything I did. Last week, it finally became too much to bear. They were loud. They wanted out. And I had no choice but to oblige. Then, earlier this week on the Twitter, an author that I follow (Hi Ann Marie!) kept tweeting about a contest to win a critique from her agent. I died. It was the final jolt I needed to give my characters the love, respect and freedom they deserved. 

I started furiously rewriting everything I'd done so far. And it's pouring out of me so easily, I'm almost embarrassed that I wasn't able to do it sooner. I'm loving it. Even the no sleep. Oh, I didn't win the contest. But that doesn't matter, because I get to spend my days, nights and every other waking moment playing with my characters. And that is a priceless reward.