Were you composing songs or poems in kindergarten or grade school? Scribing short stories in middle school? Outlining your first novel by high school? Me neither. Well, except for the songs, poems and short stories part. Writing and reading were the soul of my youth. At that time, there was a voice in me that was unique, with a narrow but colorful perspective, rich in my limited history and micro view of the world. I wrote ghost stories. Composed poems then set them to music on my ukulele. Entertained my adoring fans (family) and received pretty decent grades in my elementary English classes. (Okay, maybe not for the grammar part, but for the creative part!)
Wouldnâ€™t it be great if we could travel back to that time, when our minds were uncluttered with the many issues and experiences that mark our existence today? When most things were simple black and white? Somehow my writing seemed more â€¦pureâ€¦ at that time. Certainly it wasnâ€™t challenged by the need for someone else to read and like it!
Although today I can create much more complex characters, layered with the hues of the life of my past, I miss the sheer joy of writing for the fun of it. Maybe some of you still feel that. Fantastic! But for many of us who are struggling, perhaps itâ€™s time to get back in touch with that inner child who wanted to write in the first place.
How do we tap that voice (Short of seeing a therapist?J) Perhaps we can through quiet meditation or by taking a walk on the beach? Maybe through rediscovering something you had done as a child and truly enjoyed, like riding a horse, playing badminton or ping pong, or going ice skating? (Personally, I skate on my hind end) Maybe another way is to go to the childrenâ€™s section at the library and pick up a book that you loved when you were 10. Why was it special to you? Was it one of the tales that called you to write?
I know that I need to work on that side of me. Iâ€™ve lost some joy in recent years and some of the writing fun has gone with it. I want it back. I want to drag out those novels from under the bed and shape up those which should be returned to circulation (and quietly re-file those that shouldnâ€™t!) My own voice is special and unique, but Iâ€™m sure it could use a jolt of positive memory of where it was when I was 10. Iâ€™ll bet yours could too!
Letâ€™s drop $2 in the Write for the Money jar at the meeting and set a goal to do something childlike and fun. And a second one to write a paragraph or two soon afterwards! For those of you who canâ€™t attend the meetings, perhaps create your own Write for the Money jar, and reward yourself for having a little fun and the quality work that follows!
Not even published yet and I have to write a message to a bunch of editors? Iâ€™m in so much troubleâ€¦ (And the first one of you who sends this back to me red-linedâ€¦ well Iâ€™llâ€¦ Iâ€™ll justâ€¦ uhâ€¦ probably learn from it. J)
I think one of the most important things you should know is that I appreciate (needâ€¦ thrive onâ€¦ demandâ€¦) feedback. This isnâ€™t my organization. Itâ€™s yours. Iâ€™m a facilitator by profession so I encourage you to send me, and your board, ideas, thoughts and concerns. One caveat though. Relentless criticism will probably be blown off. We need to hear if something is wrong, but what we need more are ideas on how to fix things. We get enough criticism when we send our newborns off to the editor. Put those creative brains to work if you see something amiss. Iâ€™m also setting a goal of putting together a strategic plan this year that will help this organization thrive for the next several.
Second item? Volunteers. We have fresh faces this year and it is fabulous. But we need more. Time is precious to all of us; possibly the most precious commodity of all. And I revere mine. But I try to prioritize (not always successfully). I know there are those of you out there who really cannot add one more thing to your agenda. But volunteering runs the gamut of time consumption â€“ You could sit with Marilee at the membership check-in table occasionally. You could arrive early to help set up, or stay a few minutes to help take things down. You could put your graphic arts abilities to work and create a poster for us to take to National next year. You could coordinate shipping books to judges for a contest, or offer to bring the used books to the facility every other month, trading off with Peggy Mansur who has been doing this faithfully for years. If you have a few minutes we have the job to fit those few. And if you have a few more, we have some committee roles that desperately need to be filled.
Third item? Who the heck is this person? (I was going to say broad, but Jann would probably kill me. 🙂 ) I write Romantic Suspense and have achieved Pro status by receiving rejections on three completed novels. I was a finalist (yeah? Try to put that in active voice â€“ finaled isnâ€™t a word!) in the Orange Rose once, and just missed by a point on another occasion. Most recently I am dabbling in something that resembles a crossover of paranormal romance and womenâ€™s fiction.
In my other life, I work for the State of California, managing ten-plus staff in two offices (Cypress & Chatsworth) who inform and involve communities in toxic chemical clean up actions happening in their neighborhoods. I live in the shadow of the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, so commuting is a part of life (an expensive one lately!). I am owned by two dogs, two cats, and four fish â€“ who I forgot to feed this morning. Rats. Be right backâ€¦ next month, I meanâ€¦
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