Friday, April 06, 2007

Quiet contemplation.

With most of my Christian colleagues still silent because of Lent (which I don't observe literally), I've kept talking on this blog, but decided to go contemplative today. Why Good Friday?


I'm not a peer-focused Christian (I could care less what man says is the right thing to do) because I focus on following God. (And I love saying it again, because it freaks out some Christians I still know.) Also, Christianity/religion doesn't hold a monopoly on rigid, legalistic Bible-thumpers who only know how to say "no"; I know a ton of those same kind of people who don't celebrate any religion at all.

My point is that I celebrate Good Friday and Easter not because everyone else expects me to, but because I yearn to. My relationship is a personal one with God. I don't talk about it much with others and I don't even attend church on a regular basis (for reasons that are beyond this conversation). My life is still healing from some big betrayals by religion. I still get angry, I still cry, and I still don't want to see certain people ever again in my lifetime.

But all that must never get in the way of gratefulness to Jesus Christ for what happened in Israel a long time ago--the reason I observe these holy days.

Even if one doesn't believe, one can still admire Jesus for the things he did while on this earth. And I do. I'm in awe of him.

But I'm also so very grateful for what I believe he did to save my life. He showed by his actions on a cross and rising from the dead out of a dark tomb that I could have hope in this world that makes no sense at all, and that things like a child needing surgery before the age of one year because of a cephalohematoma incurred by a traumatic birth are just as important to him as peace in Iraq, help for Darfur, or the lives of 15 British sailors.

You don't have to look too closely today, but is there something you're grateful for? Is there something that is weighing on your heart that you are so afraid of?

Christians observe Good Friday and Easter because of the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ, by his action and example and self-sacrifice, took responsibility for exactly those things.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Everything Has a Purpose

After reviewing receipts for 2006 yesterday and discussing taxes with my CPA, I realized that I really am focused. I buy books, reference materials, and supplies to truly support my writing and editing habits.

That sounds straightforward enough. I'm sure you're thinking, "how hard is that?"

Let me explain.

A year ago, I attended a seminar about using the Internet to sell books effectively (self-publishing, infoproduct marketing, list building, blogging, etc.) and some of the stuff was pretty new. I mean a year ago, podcasting was new, blogging was relatively new, and self-publishing still had that tarnished "are you sure about that?" look. After Pete Bowerman's latest book, and twelve months later, self-pubbing and infoproduct launches are so common that entire neighborhoods on the Internet are devoted to them. And people are making fortunes.

But a year ago, when I first heard it all, it blew my mind. I had no idea Web 2.0 was going to be so . . . intriguing. But I was afraid. The dot-bombing of the late 1990s and early 2000s did leave me holding the bag, especially because as a writer, I provided content for many of those sites.

Thus, my brain was so not wired to keep up with these "info-preneurs," so I began buying reference materials and books and listening to tapes and cds and dvds to try and figure it out. I got so many emails launching this product or another that I spent one entire Saturday unsubscribing from all those email lists. It was like the waterfall above--masses of information continually streaming into my computer--and I got overwhelmed. I got pulled in multiple directions. I launched an infoproduct section of my corp (it's doing quite well, thanks), started blogging more regularly, and began to draw up plans for more Web 2.0 expansion. I was trying to stay one step ahead of all that information.

Then about last August, I got really tired. I was going in too many directions. I was confused. I left my office and went camping over Labor Day weekend (all those pictures of my beloved House Rock are more than just pretty views) and without Internet and phone, I read David Allen's Getting Things Done. It wasn't really Allen's book that got me back to reality, it was just the fact that I sat that week, in the sunshine, on vacation, smelling the late summer breezes wafting over me, and I was able to put things into perspective. I knew where I wanted to go and how I would end 2006 and begin 2007. I put together a plan.

The plan completely changed course a few more times (what's new) and I had to respond quickly and with decisiveness.

And when 2007 began, I found myself back again at pretty much the same spot an entire year later, wiser, slower to respond to the "infopreneurs," but with a greater understanding of my goals with this business.

And my receipts prove that I kept the course and only bought what I really needed. And I'm really glad. And grateful. There were a few opportunities that came up last year that would have been utter disasters, not because of anyone else involved, but because of me. I had to spend 2006 processing and figuring out what I wanted my business to be. And it paid off. True, 2006 doesn't look very impressive on paper and 2007 and 2008 will be spent expanding and making that year worthwhile, but it was worth it. It really was.

Sometimes to take risks, you have to walk the edge, and that's really scary. I know. But how else are we going to know what we're made of? We owe it to ourselves to step out and try.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Fighting Off Resistance

Yes, still here and still battling the Resistance.I even had to dig out my copy (well-worn by now) of War of Art to remind myself (for the thousandth time) that all this (making wide circle motions with my arms and hands) is normal. And probably just how it's supposed to be.

Get used to it.

Remember Laura Bennett of Project Runway Season 3 fame?

She started this intense fashion design contest only to find out in the first two weeks that she was expecting a baby. And not just her first baby, her SIXTH! Yup, she had a grown daughter at school and four boys at home with her husband and she was expected to compete against other designers and also get through her first trimester.

To me, that's Resistance. It happens, constantly, even when you think you've done everything under the sun to make sure it did NOT happen.

Get used to it.

Learn to write, create, design, and walk through it. Learn to be resilient no matter what is happening in your life at the time. Learn to fight it off and win anyway.

It all comes back to Tiger Woods and his 25-second decision to forget about the camera-wielding interruption (stupid, stupid golf fan) and to hit that ball straight down the line.

Get used to Resistance. It's here to stay.

So what are you going to do today?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Computer anxiety.

The computer (Word more specifically) decided to throw us for a loop.

It's all about the macros. If you haven't ever taken a look at Editorium, you're in for a treat. Jack Lyon has created a handful of excellent macros for editors, writers, and publishers to help conquer Word's exceptional ability to format everything in sight. (You know, when you try to create your own numbered list and Word automatically types the next number or you apply formatting, but whoever had the document before you chose to use another font and another color and another size somewhere in the middle of that paragraph and as soon as you click in to begin typing you see that your text is baby blue, Courier New, size ten, not Times New Roman, black, size 12.)

Jack's macros save my bacon and actually help me make a living. No longer am I doing things by hand, I'm pressing a few keyboard keys and voila, I can pull all formatting out of the file, or specific formatting out of the file.

Well, last night at about 9 pm, my stripper quit. LOL. (I've been dying to say that for YEARS! Trust me.)

Actually my macro called NoteStripper, (available at Editorium) just conked out. It started messing up my files, made my computer crash, crashed Word, you name it. I called my techie hubby in to check and we uninstalled and reinstalled the macro, then Word, then decided this morning to reformat my hard drive. (Which we are still doing, because it needs it anyway.) But I came downstairs and turned on the computer (and installed all the Office updates) and decided to disable a macro set (at hubby's recommendation) that also runs at Word startup. It's named differently than the Editorium macros and I think it's from another project. As soon as I did that, I ran NoteStripper on both the files that needed it and boom, it worked.

My Stripper quit because other macros were in its way! Just shows you can get too many tools and end up ruining your productivity in the process.

It's so similar with writing. New writers anxiously ask me all the time, "What kind of computer do I need to write? Who do I need to meet in order to get published? What kind of books are agents and editors buying? Is it double space or single space for fiction?"

My reply is frequently, who cares. Write by hand, on a typewriter, or your neighbor's rusty Apple Macintosh or PC. Don't meet anybody yet, just write. Write the kind of book you believe in and love with all your heart. Double space, please, from an editor's perspective.

If you don't believe my answer on the "what kind of books are agents and editors buying?" question, check Kristin Nelson's posts from last week. She covers it better than I ever could.

And in writing news: I'm making progress on my Curio project space for Let Them Eat Cake. Lenora is not the star of this book, but she impacts her daughter Cassie's life and goals very much. My goal is for my readers to yearn for Cassie to get free from her mother's sad shadow of a life without me overtly telling them to. We'll see if I can pull that off.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Off and running.

Happy Monday! I love the sun on the water in this picture. I am so wishing I could go camping (thus why the theme of the camping scenery pictures lately).

I want to draw everyone's attention to the addition of the First Offenders blog to my blog roll on the right. These four authors have a neat little blog where they dish about their writing, publishing, and day-to-day happenings. If you want an incredible few mystery series to read, check out their books. I have never been as freaked as the night I read Alison's Hide Your Eyes while hubby was out playing soccer. Really a great book. I've got J. Carson Black's Darkness on the Edge of Town to read next and after reading the back cover, I think I may be in for another scary thrill!

I hope everyone got rested and did something fun to recharge your creative juices. As for me, I shopped and laughed and talked with my sister, who came up to Seattle for a visit. It was really relaxing.

I'm tired today because of stress, but wanted to get everyone thinking about their Creative DNA. If you've read Twyla Tharp's book The Creative Habit, then you'll already be aware of this great quiz she gives her readers. I won't spoil the fun for those who need to buy the book, but a few questions got me thinking today.

What is the first creative moment you remember?
I was at House Rock (see picture above) camping during the summer break and I was probably 8 or 9 years old. The camp ground boasts considerable rocks the size of houses (thus the name!) and these were automatic creative prompts for me.

I'm inspired by rocks. I have jars of them that I've collected throughout my life and I inherited rocks and shells from my great-grandmother, because she collected them also. I have shells and rocks from around the world sent to her by missionaries in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, and North America.

So big rocks like those found at House Rock are really special!

What are your habits? What patterns do you repeat?

I have very specific habits. I read constantly or listen constantly. I write in between in little notebooks all over my house. I record what I read and hear and jot notes about how I interpret it. I still think I can't write if I'm not in the mood, although in truth, I write best during those times.

I am glass half full all the time. No matter how bad or dark life gets, there is always something good that will come out of it.

I tend to lessen the time I spend with friends that don't give energy. I limit my time with groups of people who just want to sit around and whine all the time. I increase my time with groups of people who spur me on, who are accomplishing huge things (which inspires me always), and who have dreams that will not be put aside. I tend to seek out like-minded people on a professional level and clear away from me colleagues who don't want to move forward in their careers or professional accomplishments.

I move very quickly through my to-do list. I have a huge to-do list and huge expectations for myself.

I batch the same kind of things together and do them all at once.

I slow down by habit on Fridays at about 2 pm. I speed up by habit on Sunday afternoons at about the same time.

So, what kind of creative DNA do you have?

And, what are you going to do today to further your creative habit?

I plan to finish up a few short assignments and then spend the day working in Curio.