Do more of what makes you happy

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The weekend had arrived and I had my to-do list all mapped out.  Friday would be the day of chores since Saturday was going to be our first big check-in and the start of family season at the lodge.

As luck would have it, Friday turned into a spectacular day of weather.  In the cooler hours of the morning, I took my garbage to the dump and ran my errands in town.   I arrived home knowing that my list of chores had not been completed but when I saw the sun shining on my deck, my list of chores suddenly changed, as did my outfit.  I opened all my windows, donned some shorts and a t-shirt and went outside to bask in the sun for as long as I could.  As fate would have it, my neighbors chose to embrace the day as well and burn everything they wanted to dispose of and the smoke penetrated every ounce of air I was trying to breathe.  My dog and I quickly made our way indoors and wistfully closed the windows.

I stood inside, my head going back and forth from my vacuum to my laptop and I surreptitiously neglected my remaining chores.  I opened my laptop and sat down to write what would end up being over three thousand words for my new book.  My dog was still shedding even though I had her shaved, my carpet looked like my dog had exploded, more dust had settled on every surface in my home and my dishes were still waiting to be put away but I didn’t care.  I deferred the menial tasks to concentrate more on the things that truly make me happy.

My vacuum will still be in the same place on Sunday.  My dog will still be shedding and the dust particles will still be dancing in the light that filters through my windows.  But, just maybe, those words that flowed through me on Friday would not have waited for another day.

Do more of what makes you happy and do it often.  Life is much too short to spend it doing things that don’t truly inspire you and make you feel like you are living your best life.  I spent a great deal of my past living for others and now it is time to put aside the things that can wait and focus on the things that consume my thoughts and make me the happiest version of myself.

I just got “Litt up”

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The title of this post directly relates to the TV show Suits that I have been obsessively watching on Netflix and I am ashamed to admit that I have been neglecting my duty as a writer. I should be actively pounding the virtual pavement to find an agent but I have shelved my book for the last couple of weeks because my spare time is waning and my creativity is in hibernation. Watching Suits gives me the chance to escape into some brilliant writing, but it’s not my writing. I still have a few queries out there and certainly still have some chapters to go through with a fine-tooth comb but the spark of my enthusiasm had almost been extinguished.

The other day, however, I had the chance to speak to one of the people who read my book and my fire was fueled once again. Her rhetoric about my story made me giddy and the child-like excitement I had when I finished writing the book bubbled up inside me and lit a fire within me. She said the story was fantastic and she could definitely see it being made into a movie.

So once again, I am cutting out blocks of time throughout my day to edit what needs to be edited and query like there is no tomorrow. Somewhere out there, an agent is looking for MY book and somehow, when the timing is just right, our paths will cross. I may have been slightly discouraged with the lengthy nature of this process but I also know I am willing to continue the journey and follow it to its happy ending.

 

Looking for a job

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Do you remember when you were fresh out of college or university and wanting to find that perfect job in the field you just spent four years studying?  You got money from your parents to buy the perfect “power outfit”, perhaps an attaché case to look more professional, and then you set off in search of gainful employment.  You arrived on time for each interview and got told the same thing from each prospective employer – come back when you’ve got some experience.  As you left the interviews, the thought in the back of your mind got stuck on a crazy loop in your head and played incessantly – if nobody will give me a job, how can I gain the experience I need?

Looking for a literary agent is much the same for a debut author.  It took more than four years, from conception to finished product, for me to write my first novel.  I put more focus and emotion into creating the story than I ever expended in college and I am truly proud of the finished product.  The people who have taken the time to read it have loved it.

But convincing an agent to give the whole story a chance is like applying for a job with no real world experience.  Those first five or ten pages you submit are like your first two minutes in a job interview, they are introductory and don’t really give the person reading you enough time to see what you are really about.  They can only judge you based on a succinct appraisal that doesn’t give your story time to prove itself and, in the end, they prefer an author who has been previously published.  In other words, they don’t want to give the job to people who don’t have experience.

This post is not an attack on literary agents, by any means.  I get it.  They receive a plethora of emails from thousands of people who think they could be the next Dean Koontz, Nicholas Sparks or J.K. Rowling.  Their email inboxes must feel like a revolving door, having multiple queries thrown at them every time the door makes a new revolution.

My intent with this post is not to blame literary agents for being so busy.  My intent with this post is to merely put a wish into the universe that, one day, that revolving door will find a giant foot wedged into it allowing my query to fall into the right inbox at the right time.  Just maybe, I can impress someone enough to have them read the whole manuscript and to get the job without having previous experience.

 

 

 

 

Je ne parle pas le francais…..

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When it comes to making decisions, I like to take my time to weigh all my options.  I am not a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of person so I choose to give a great deal of thought to the choices I make.  Last year, choosing to suspend my satellite subscription was the best choice I have made in a long time because it resulted in me being able to focus on my writing and finish my first novel.

This year, I wanted that ‘lightning in a bottle’ experience again so I contacted my satellite provider and arranged to have my service disrupted on the 9th of February.  I counted on that move to encourage my creativity and focus my attention on my new book.  I hadn’t counted on the Olympics beginning just as my TV programming was ending.

There are a handful of free channels still available on my Bell network and one of those channels is covering the Olympics.  Sadly that channel is a French station and, although I excelled in my Grade 10 French class, there is no mention of the little dog Pitou or finding a sweater because it is cold.  If, at some point, either of the phrases, “Il fait froid aujourd’hui, ou est mon chandail” or “Ou est Pitou?” should ever be uttered, those words will be some of the very few I shall have understood during the entire 2018 Winter Olympics.

Thankfully, emotion is a universal language.  While I cannot understand most of what the commentators are saying during the games, I can comprehend what the athletes are feeling after they have crossed their finish lines or completed their programs.  Exhilaration and anguish do not need words to be conveyed.  On Monday night, I watched Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir perform their Free Skate in the Ice Dance Competition.  Once their program was completed, I muted my TV and simply watched their body language and their smiles.  I didn’t need anyone telling me how they felt because I could feel it just watching them.

Sometimes taking the rhetoric out of a situation allows us to truly perceive the emotion as it is meant to be conveyed – naturally, organically and wordlessly.  Je pense, ne pas etre capable d’entendre les mots m’a fait comprende encore plus.


 

 

Can you describe yourself in one sentence?

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I have learned a great deal about the writing world as I have begun to emerge myself in my quest to find a literary agent.  Each agent has unique specifications for sending a query and a fledgling author is bound to follow those guidelines or run the risk of having their submission thrown into the slush pile.

Many agents follow a similar model for submissions so it becomes a less daunting task as time goes on, but then you get the agent who asks you to sum up your manuscript in one sentence.  For me, that is a very arduous task.  There are so many twists and turns to my story that it is extremely difficult to craft one sentence that can convey every nuance of the story.

Imagine that you are in a job interview and you are asked to describe yourself in one sentence.  Can you do it?  Or are there so many different facets to you that coming up with one line to describe all of those things is impossible?

While I gave my all to put together a sentence that did its best to describe my novel, I know I did not do my story justice.  My book requires much more than just one sentence to fully illustrate its depth.  After I wrote that sentence, I felt like a test car that had crashed into the wall before reaching its maximum speed.

I have been more careful in selecting agents who are willing to allow me to give much more insight into my novel than just one sentence.  Even sending the first three chapters does not truly allow the people who hold my future in their hands enough material to see what the story truly has in store for them.  I can only  hope that they see enough bait to make them swim closer to the hook and take a full bite.  I can promise, they will be reeled in if they take the chance!

When the voices wake you

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I’m hearing the voices again, the voices that rouse me from sleep so I can tell their story.  Those voices have been quelled since I finished writing my first book but, now that I am forging my way into my second book, a new ensemble of characters is alive and well and they are feeling extremely vocal.

I woke up at 3:30 in the morning with a simple line that seemed to be rooted in my brain.  That line wanted so desperately to be recorded so, before I was able to drift into my slumber once again, I had to blindly feel around in the dark for my cell phone and find the voice memo app that has been my late night savior.  In a voice that sounded more like Morgan Freeman narrating a television commercial, I spoke a few words into the microphone and fell back into a deep sleep.

When I woke up again at 7:30, I knew I had recorded something but couldn’t remember what the words were.  I played them back and was overwhelmed with the urge to write.  I was almost late for work yesterday because the flow of words was substantial enough to warrant an apology to my bosses for my tardiness.  Thankfully, they understand my insatiable urge to listen to those voices and they accept my erratic behavior when it comes to my creativity.

The words that I recited in the wee hours of morning could possibly help shape the antagonist in my newest creation.  Karl is slowly becoming a character I want to embrace but a character I have become slightly afraid to welcome into my reality.  I can only hope, for both our sakes, that I can tell his story and give it the entertainment value he is seeking without becoming afraid of him in the process.

 

 

Handling rejection like a boss!

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I am a people pleaser.  I’m pretty sure I came out of the womb asking the medical staff if there was anything I could do for them.  I invariably want to go out of my way to make sure everyone is happy, but my ambitious goal is not necessarily always an attainable goal.  In the words of John Lydgate, later adapted by President Lincoln, ‘you can’t please all of the people all of the time’.

As a young writer, back in my grade school days, I was afraid to let people read my poetry for fear they would not like it.  That same phobia applied to my poems and short stories through high school and college.  Writing, for me, is the biggest part of myself and I used to feel that if people didn’t like my writing, they were somehow rejecting ME.  It wasn’t until I began the process of seeking an agent or a publisher that I began to truly understand how rejection makes us stronger.

I received my most recent rejection last night.  It was a curt line that simply said, “Thanks for submitting, but I’m afraid this one isn’t for us. ”  Instead of feeling unsettled by such a quick and negative response, the thought in my head was more of understanding that my book was not a true fit for their collection.  I wasn’t sad.  I was merely determined to continue the quest to find an agent that would best be suited for ME and not the other way around.

Writing a book is not for the faint of heart.  Hemingway said it best when he quipped, “There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”  My blood is now the ink on the pages that I crafted.  My skin is much thicker now than it was and I am more than prepared to deal with my overwhelming share of the writing world’s brush-off.  Those abrupt dismissals are the constant in the ‘writer seeking publishing’ equation and I am prepared to rework the problem until I come up with an acceptable answer.

To bastardize Sally Field’s 1985 Oscar acceptance speech, “They don’t like me. Right now, they don’t like me.”   And I’m okay with that because, someday, that will change.