Why write?

7C6E77F7-When the words aren’t flowing and the manuscript gets rejected and your back hurts from too many hours at the computer, writing sucks. After fifteen completed novels, it doesn’t get any easier. The ideas have to be unique, the characters need arcs, the pace needs to move, and words somehow have to find their way from head to fingers.

This is the point non-writers ask why I would waste my time. They’d remind me that I’m not banking the amount of cash that Higgins, Grisham, and King are. I’m probably not even making the interest on their royalty checks.

Writers, however, understand. I have so many stories in my head I could sit and type for the rest of my life and never run out of plots and new characters. Creating conflicts, describing a scene, polishing up my first drafts. It’s all a labor of love. The worlds become so vivid I ignore my own family to stay with the interesting people populating my head.

Even with the pull of the words, I remain functional. I practice law, hang with my kids, chill with my husband, cook, sort of clean, and I even attempt gardening, but the words hum inside when I’m not writing and if I try to put it off, they shriek until they have my attention.

Today, I’m editing a book I love. The more I tinker with it, the better it gets. I can see the world moving from black and white to high definition color. I could take the day to work on the pile of files on my desk, go for a walk, clean my basement, or phone a friend, but despite the aching back and the need for far too much coffee than is good for me, I prefer writing.

 

I am Fifty

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It’s here. I’m beginning my fiftieth year.

Fifty.

It’s been a long road to get where I am through swamps, over mountains, across oceans, and under my covers. I spent the last year trying out fifty new resolutions to bring with me into the second half of my first century. I didn’t find fifty things to actually resolve, but along the way, I made some serious moves toward being the person I’ve always wanted to be.

Here’s a few discoveries I’ve made last year:

  • I’m resilient. A few things came at me like a tsunami in the past two years, and I survived them all. I might have been knocked down, but I was never knocked out. Experience makes a person stronger. I can survive some pretty good hits and that gives a confidence I didn’t have when I was younger.
  • My friends are my lifeline. A person doesn’t need a lot of friends, but the ones I have are priceless. They support me when I need it, and lately I’ve needed them more than ever. My hope is to make it up to them in the next half century.
  • Raising children is not a job for perfectionists. My kids, no matter how much I try to convince them, will not take the easy road to success that I’ve laid out for them. They push out in directions I would never go, and they face challenges that they wouldn’t be facing if they only listened to all of my advice since birth. Yet, they’re forging amazing paths that perhaps I would have been too fearful to pursue. So, as I stand back and allow them to fail when the road gets too bumpy, and watch them brush themselves off and head out into even more difficult challenges. I’m glad they didn’t listen to everything I said, because their lives are turning out perfect for them.
  • I’m privileged. I grew up in a middle class family with the most amazing parents. They supported me in all my efforts. Financially and emotionally. As a brand new lawyer, I married a medical student who worked hard and made something of himself. Our careers allowed me financial freedom many people don’t have. Today, his everyday efforts have allowed me to pursue careers in public service and writing while raising our children. Some of the hurdles I’ve had to jump over on my way to success were lower for me than for others following a similar path. I understand that and appreciate it, and my law practice hopefully will make the road a bit easier for others as well.
  • I’m a hard worker. I definitely have advantages in my life others don’t have, but I never squander opportunities. I take each task I do and commit to doing it the best I can. As I tell my kids often ( too often if you ask them), in most cases of success, it’s not about talent, luck, or genetics, it’s about showing up and putting in your best effort every step of the way. Hard workers who can overcome challenges and setbacks stand a better chance at success than someone who arrives at the top without any effort, because to stay at the top, effort will be necessary.
  • I can’t eat flour and sugar. Not even a little. I have no willpower when it comes to sweets. One bite of a cookie can become a plate full of cookies in less than fifteen minutes. I gave up eating the evil substances back in December and am surviving. In fact, I feel better than ever. My Youngest can even eat ice cream next to me on the couch and remain safe from me attacking her for the last bite.
  • Someone told me to write a bucket list for my next 50 years. It’s not necessary. I’ve achieved pretty much everything I’d wanted to achieve during the first fifty years of my life. I traveled all over the place, I met so many wonderful people, I was able to work in many fields, and I found my best friends and my home. For the next fifty years, I want to make it all matter.

Fifty Resolutions Before I’m Fifty: Pacing

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 11.14.32 AMMy newest resolution? Working at a solid, steady pace, not rushing myself into an unworkable frenzy.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been finishing a book. It’s done. In the process, I fell away from some important rituals that kept me sane. Meditation, diet, normal bedtime, exercise. I was all over the place in terms of pacing. Huge amounts of words in a crazy all-nighter, then nothing the next day as I survived on coffee to function. It did not benefit my writing.

I’m starting a new project today, but I made a promise to myself to pace myself. I have a set schedule and, God willing, should move a quick, but not insane pace. I’ll keep everyone updated on it. In the meantime, I have a ten minute appointment with Headspace.

Fifty Resolutions in Fifty Weeks Before I’m Fifty. Resolution 11

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Life isn’t always easy. Sometimes, goals remain out of reach even though you want them so bad and you try with all your might to grasp them in your hand. My habit for the past few weeks has been to focus on all that is wrong with my life in my journal. I complain and whine and declare how unfair life has been to me. Then I head out on my day and things become brighter. The sun is shining, my children are happy, and my circumstances are not nearly as bad as other people’s. In fact, it becomes almost embarrassing to have complained at all.

This week, I’m adding a twist to my journaling resolution. I have to start each journal page with a blessing, something in my life that provides me with joy. My goal is to leave the negative behind and find something positive in everything that affects me. If I can’t change something, I can lament that fact on the pages, but then I need to move on. If I can change something in my life to make it better, I can begin my plan right there. Ultimately, my happiness is my own to make and there are so many things around me that foster joy, I’ve just been overlooking them.

Until next week!

Resolutions so far.

  1. Journaling
  2. No television after 8pm
  3. Exercise everyday
  4. Eat better, at least one salad and one nutrition shake per day.
  5. Meditate everyday.
  6. No sugar.
  7. Finish the meditation, the exercise, the journal first thing in the morning.
  8. Look over my ToDo list before I go to bed.
  9. Write at least one blog post per week.
  10. Watch something in French once per week.
  11. Add gratitude into my journal.

 

50 Resolutions in 50 Days Before I’m 50: Resolution 7

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I’m at the 7 week mark and my resolutions have been swallowed up by my busy life. Excuses abound. I have to go to a meeting or be in court, I have to drop off or pick up the kids from school or another activity, I have to get a manuscript to my agent or write a synopsis. All a bunch of BS excuses.

It was Katy Regnery who kicked my ass into realizing that saying I’m going to follow my resolutions and actually following them are two different beasts. So I need a resolution that brings the first few weeks all together.

My resolution this week is to finish the meditation, the exercise, the journal first thing in the morning, before my day fills up with my ToDo list or my mind falls into my stories and I refuse to come up for air. I’ve got this!

Journaling

I have to do this first thing in the morning.

No television after 8pm

I’m really good with this one.

Exercise everyday

I have to do this first thing in the morning.

Eat better, at least one salad and one nutrition shake per day.

I am force feeding myself a salad a day. It makes me feel better after I eat it, but I’d prefer French fries.

Meditate everyday.

I have to do this first thing in the morning.

No sugar.

Surprisingly, I am handling the no sugar thing pretty well. Although if you offer me a brownie- I may have to kill you.

50 Resolutions in 50 Weeks Before I’m 50: Resolution 5

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It’s been a month on my quest to change my life. Overall, I love the idea of resolutions. They help me keep on track with things I want to accomplish, but tend to blot out of mind when life gets too hectic. For fifty weeks, I have to think about resolutions, all of them everyday.

How am I doing so far?

  1.  Journaling

I’m surprisingly not great with this. I’m too tired to write before I go to bed at night and so I write a few sentences in the morning. More a summary of my day than an overview of my feelings.

  1. No television after 8pm

My family time has become richer by shutting off the television at night. I work on my computer, but I’m available for everyone while they’re doing homework and as they wind down for the day.

  1. Exercise everyday

When I get my exercise done in the morning, I’m good. But if I try to fit it in later in the day, I miss exercise over 60% of the time.

  1. Eat better, at least one salad and one nutrition shake per day.

Forcing myself to eat has been a blessing. I eat salad everyday, and have a shake for breakfast. They are filling enough to me that I don’t snack as much. So this one so has been the best resolution yet.

As time goes by, my life is better with these tweaks, but nothing is perfect. I have good days and bad days, but doing nothing is not an option.

For my fifth resolution?

My brother wants me to try meditation. I hate meditation. The idea of trying to not think about anything for a writer who has thirty plots trolling the background of her mind daily makes the task impossible. If I’m stressing about whether I can get away with a pounding heart in a scene instead of something infinitely more unique, to I’m thinking about my grocery list or whether the kids brought their homework to school.

As a compromise, I’m going to try two minutes of mediation per day. I can do anything for two minutes, except planks. I even have a guided mediation program on my phone. I’ve got this.

 

Ready for 2016? It’s coming anyway.

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I accomplished many goals in 2015. First novel published, second novel published, made PAN (a professional author designation) for the Romance Writers of America, spoke at the Debut Author Breakfast at Thrillerfest, and finished my first legal/political thriller.

The pressure is on to make 2016 even better. I made a few resolutions to make sure I keep my sanity as I increase my writing goals and take on more cases with my law practice.

  1. Do one thing at a time. I do my best work when my focus is 100% on what I’m doing, so I need to make sure to stay on task to complete one goal and then move onto something else.
  2. Every complaint requires a solution. Complaining about something is never beneficial unless I am actively searching for a solution. No solution? Then I need to move on to things I can change.
  3. Meditate everyday. I’m doing this a bit differently. Instead of sitting and saying “Omm” and thinking about all the things I need to do, I’m going to walk at least a half hour after lunch. When I’ve done this in the past, my creativity and productivity have soared in the afternoon.
  4. Practice my French and Spanish. Every year I tell myself I will practice these languages. I never do. The result is that my daughters are much better than I am in French, and one of them is also taking Spanish, sure to surpass my limited ability by the end of the school year. I’m doomed if I don’t work on my linguistic skills.
  5. Realize that everyone has the right to think what they want, even if I disagree. Different politics? A bad review? Someone hates my new shoes? Let it go. I have to focus on my goals, my family, and the issues close to my heart.

I could list more resolutions about my diet, fitness, and sleep habits, but I’m a believer in keeping things simple. Have a wonderful New Year’s celebration and may next year be your best yet!