I’m reading more during these days of isolation. I’ve discovered that what makes some stories stay in my head is the heroes.
Stories with heroes who persevered, who vanquished evil, who faced natural and supernatural challenges, who made sacrifices to a greater good. Those stories stick in my head like all the fairy tales of my childhood.
I’m learning courage comes in a variety of forms. Then I look around and realize we’re seeing a lot of courage in real time.
Think about the courageous people out there:
~The parent trying to figure out how to feed their kids when unemployment insurance gives out or never arrives. The ones juggling work from home with family under foot. Or, struggling to make the best decision for their kid’s schooling this year.
~The adult child dealing with an aging parent, who may or may not have COVID-19, in a nursing home or not, impossible to touch or hug.
~The teenager caring for sick parents or waiting on test results themselves.
Then there are the medical professionals worldwide who go to work every day with a lack of medical equipment or PPE while trying to treat too many patients so ill with a disease they don’t know how to cure.
The relief workers, the ambulance workers, the shelter volunteers, the food bank workers, the list goes and on and on.
All of them showing everyday courage to go forward when the world seems to be falling apart around them. Sure, they get mad sometimes or break down completely, sobbing uncontrollably. But the key is they pick themselves up and dust themselves off and go back into the fray.
That’s real-time courage, friends.
Courage is not something you think about or read about. It’s something you do. It’s people who risk their own health and their family’s health to stock shelves or deliver packages every day since this nightmare began. It’s frontline workers risking their lives to save others.
This COVID-10 pandemic demands courage from all of us. And, after this is over (whatever after looks like) these everyday heroes are going to linger in our minds. Same as fiction heroes and superheroes.
We’re not born with courage. If we ask any of these people about their courage, they’ll deny being courageous at all. “I did what I had to do.” or “I didn’t do enough.”
Courage is stepping up to the moment and moving forward, even when forward is uncertain or alarming and just plain scary sometimes.
Look at these people and be inspired. Find your courage. We will get through this. Together.
Today we honor Martin Luther King, the symbol for non-violent protest since the sixties Civil Rights Movement. His leadership in a trying time inspired change. He stirred, and still stirs, our conscience with his words.
Here are some of my favorites:
“Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
“The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.”
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
Are we forwarding the vision he set forth in these quotes today? Why not make this MLK Day the start of a year in which we purpose to move forward.
It’s a time to move closer to fulfilling dreams and achieving goals. An opportunity to bring new focus.
Many pick a guide word for each New Year to help them focus. Words like Achieve, Joy, Balance, Learn. You can find ideas here.
In the past, I’ve chosenHope fuels the creativity engine. That year I published two books and ultimately creativity has led to seven published books.
Last year I chose PROGRESSIt’s from the Elsie Joy Get to Workbook, a fantastic planner for projects. In spite of 2018’s many interruptions (some good, some not so good) I did make progress last year. Not as much as I planned, but forward movement is forward. I’m just saying.
This year my 2019 focus will be CONSISTENCY.2018 was full of spurts and fizzle outs. I’m determined to be more focused on my writing. My 2019 SMART goals are set to accomplished that focus.
In case you’re not familiar, SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, and results-focused – guidelines to achievement. Schoolteachers will recognize the idea from lesson planning. Setting SMART goals help me clarify ideas, focus efforts, and use time and resources productively. More about SMART goals in next week’s blog.
Have you picked a focus word for your new year? What did you choose? If you haven’t, what would it be?
Looking at this graphic you can clearly see what a world of difference attitude and action can make in success. The I wish I could circlegives you only a 30% opportunity for succeeding while the I am circle gives you a 90% chance of success. Thanks to The UnNovelist.com for the motivation.
Which circle describes where you are with your latest project?
Me, I’m at 90% and determined to get this story finished and to the editor before the holidays.
WHEN LOVE RETURNS took months! But, there were legitimate reasons Becca and Ethan’s story took so long to finish.
My normal writing schedule blew up when I fell playing Pickleball and broke my right wrist last November. The nasty break required surgery to put it back together. Operating with my left hand for months was hard. Trying to type one-handed was next to impossible, so I quit writing.
When I was finally able to use both hands on the keyboard, Ethan and Becca quit talking to me. No matter what I did, the pair refused to cooperate. (We writers call this writer’s block.)
To overcome the problem, I abandoned my usually seat-of-the-pants writing style where the story evolves and constructed an outline and forced out page after page. My strategy worked. I finished a first draft.
Unfortunately, Becca and Ethan came out of hiding and started yelling in my head, “that’s not the way it happened.”
I started over. Only this time, the words flowed and THE END came quickly.
WHEN LOVE RETURNS will be released soon and today I’m revealing the cover.You can be the first to know the exact release date when you sign up for my newsletter here. Don’t worry. I won’t spam your inbox or sell your email address. I promise…
• You’ll only receive a newsletter when there’s something worth hearing—like release dates or book cover reveals. There are even giveaways and contests for subscribers only.
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It’s been a long haul to THE END for this novella. I’m off to start the next Fitzpatrick sibling’s story and, hopefully, there will no roadblocks, accidents, or uncooperative characters for their love story.
I can see your cringe and your wrinkled brow on the other side of the computer screen when you read today’s blog title. I hear the muttered protest, “I’ll read, but please don’t ask me to write a book review.” I guessing you have one or more of the concerns I read in a recent post by Joan Reeves about why readers don’t write reviews. • Readers may not know exactly what to say or how to say it • Readers are wary of attacks from other readers with different opinions • Readers don’t want to hurt the author’s feelings or invoke the wrath of a popular author’s loyal readers • Readers are concerned that they don’t have the writing skills necessary to write a review. All are legitimate reasons, but also reasons easily overcome if you truly want to support your favorite authors. You can write a book review. Really. A book review is simply a conversation about a book you’ve read. A good book review talks about the story and tells others why you did or didn’t like the book. There are only two no-no’s when you write and post a review: • Never include “spoilers” (elements of the book that should surprise) • Don’t allow personal prejudices or attitudes about the author or anything not related to the writing to intrude into your review. Now, consider the benefits of writing a book review. • A good book review helps readers decide if a book is for them. • A good book review helps authors improve their writing. Authors recognize not all readers will love their “baby” as much as they do. Even bad reviews are valuable, if they are constructive. Most important, when you write (and post) a book review to sites like Amazon and GoodReads, you help increase an author’s visibility. The more reviews a book has, the more likely the author and their book will be noticed in the great sea of available books. Now, go finish reading your book and then write a review. You can do it. I know you can.
A writing career is different from other occupations. A writer has to make up their route to success. There’s no policy and procedure manual, no checklist for success. What to do and how to do it is solely up to the individual author.
Each day brings unchartered waters especially in the current, ever-changing face of publishing. There are good days and bad. Success and rejections. The emotional wave is like a roller coaster ride. Up one day. Downhill fast the next.
More than any other job, at least as far as jobs I’ve ever had go, writers control their destiny. At the same time writers can become their own worst enemy.
By that, I mean we tend to sabotage our success.
Or, in the immortal words of POGO, “We meet the enemy and it is us!”
The poster pictured on the left was created by Mr. Kelly for the first Earth Day in 1971. To read the more about POGO and Walt Kelly, click here.
Why do I believe POGO writers can be their own worst enemy? I see signs, and I’ve seen writers exhibiting these characteristics fail.
You’re a POGO writer if…
1.You spend too much time and energy focused on mimicking the writing and style of some other author.
We’re spinning our wheels and wasting our words when we do this. The publishing world already has Janet Evanovich, J.K. Rowling, Steven King, and Nora Roberts. Their success is their success. You can’t copy and get there! Every writer has his own path to carve.
2. You obsess with following THE RULES.
Don’t get me wrong. THE RULES are important.
Once you understand the basics—things like POV, dialogue, setting, character, plot, theme, etc., you have to trust your instincts and what works for your story.
Rules are very important guidelines. Writing, on the other hand, is an art form that entails experimentation, innovation, and expansion. Don’t be so hung up on THE RULES you lose your own sense of story.
3. You buy into every new way to write or plot that a writing expert suggests.
Learning craft, studying writing experts is important. I’m not arguing it’s not necessary to study the craft of writing.
Heaven knows I’ve spent a fortune learning from some of the top teachers in writing craft, and I improved my writing skills by leaps and bounds.
I’ve also learned that all the classes and workshops in the world are wasted if I’m not producing.
More importantly, I realize that writing experts don’t always know what’s right for me or my writing process. Once you find the process that works best with your personality and lifestyle, you need to stick with it.
Btw, if you’re interested, I’d be delighted to share the names of those experts I highly recommend, just email me.
4. You’re unable to take criticism or believe everything anyone says about your story.
Either of these positions can be fatal. Critiques and reviews are an essential part of every writer’s life.
No denying bad critiques or reviews hurt. Surviving a brutal criticism or review of your work definitely isn’t for the fainthearted.
You have to develop an elephant hide and learn to weigh the opinions expressed for exactly what they’re worth then make up your own mind.
It is YOUR story, after all.
Strong writers survive…and often produce better stories from hard critiques or bad reviews.
5. You’re not writing.
This sign is the most telling of all.
Who doesn’t struggle with the procrastination parasite from time to time?
But a successful writing career requires disciple and focus. Whether moved by the muse or not, a professional goes to the keyboard or grabs a pencil every day.
I know what you’re thinking. Authors have to promote and develop reader relationships, which cuts into writing time.
Very true, but I would argue that the key to gaining recognition and readership (aka success) is writing the next story.
Do you recognize POGO writer signs in yourself? If so, now that you know, you can defeat the enemy.
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