cosmic chaos

cultivating calm & creativity in my corner of the world

Archive for the month “March, 2013”

It Takes a Community …

I’ve written for years.  In high school, I submitted poems and short stories to the literary journal.  My best friend and I were always thinking up stories and critiquing each other’s work.

When I went to college, I put my writing to the side to concentrate on my studies.  Every now and then I would write a poem or jot down a story idea, but I didn’t put a lot of work into it.

After I finished graduate school, I needed a break before I went into the workforce.  I spent a couple of months reading every type of fiction and non-fiction books and writing.  From that point on, I kept dabbling with writing.  That’s when I started working on my first novel.  I thought out story lines and plot twists.  I developed characters.  Even after I got a job, I kept plugging away on writing.  Through ups and downs in my work and personal life, I held on tightly to my writing.  But I did it alone.

It took me about fourteen years to realize I was missing something.  I sought out a local writing group.  It was there that I met my first local resident who had a book in the process of being published.  That connection led to introductions to other published authors.  Over time more people joined the group.  People who were putting their work into the public in various ways.

When I kept my writing (and my other artistic endeavors) to myself, it was easy to become distracted.  There is always something else that needs my attention – like that pile of clean clothes that has grown the size of Mount Kilimanjaro.  Also, there’s the voice in my head telling me my writing isn’t good enough.

Being around other writers helps keep me focused.  I see the challenges other writers face and they are still able to submit their work to publishers, to self-publish and to put their work into the public.  If they can do it, I can do it too.

Over the last few years I’ve expanded my circle to include local artists, yoga instructors, and knitters.  Each of them has taught me about writing, art, crafting, spirituality and embracing life.  The bottom line is creativity sparks creativity.

Click here to see the website of Amy Alley, one of the people who inspires me to be creative.

Two steps back and one step forward

Last week the results of round two of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award were announced.   Unfortunately, I did not make it to the third round.  I was disappointed but not surprised.  After all, the contestants were narrowed down from 2000  to 500.  That’s a significant decrease so I was prepared.  And I have a backup plan.

For about a year now, I have been toying with the idea of putting my book out as an e-book for Kindle.   For years I have done research on the publishing process.  I purchased Writer’s Digest Magazine and made notes about how to get your book published.  I flipped though Writer’s Market searching for agents who might be interested in my manuscript.  I have queried over sixty literary agents, some of whom requested to see multiple chapters of my book, without anyone offering to represent me.  There’s a file in my desk full of rejection letters.  I even have an e-mail folder of rejections.  I’ve learned you have to develop thick skin and tenacity to be a writer.

In the last few years, the publishing market place has experienced a shift as more and more authors decide to self publish.  Right now, the costs of self publishing a book are out of my reach.  But I can put my book out as an e-book myself.  Now.

Well, maybe not now.  I have to reformat my book to be Kindle compatible.  That will take me a little while, especially since my time is stretched thin with work and other commitments I’ve made.  But my newest goal is to get my book out and available this year.

There — I’ve put my newest goal in writing.  Now to make it happen.

Success

Last week was rough, full of more that needed to be done than I could possible complete.  It was also one run by Murphy—Murphy’s Law, that is – where practically everything that could go wrong did.   I didn’t expect much more from Saturday.  I was up against a deadline for company to come over.  I get really stressed over guests.

But something happened.  We cleaned what I wanted to clean and then there was a change in plans.  My son decided that it was such a pretty day that he and his guest were going to the park for a while.  I took advantage of the extra time.  I felt the bug to declutter and attacked my study.

The first thing I tackled was a bucket full of stuff.  As I started to sort through it, I found it was filled with trash – empty cardboard boxes, broken tools, and plastic wrappers.  It was just the easy job I needed to start the process.

Next I picked a box.  I created three piles:  trash, items to shred and items to sort through later.  Most of the box was old bills that could be disposed of.  Soon I grabbed another box with the same results.

I ended up with two large bags of trash and a lot more space in my study.  Enough space for my husband to notice when he came home from work.   And the big bonus – I found my notebook of tax information I had been searching the house for (see last week’s blog).

This weekend provided all the elements I need to feel peace:  the ability to sleep in, getting goals completed, successful decluttering, spending time with family and friends, and relaxing.

Now to take my sense of accomplishment into the rest of the week.

 

If at first …..

 

I’ve always struggled with being disorganized.  As a kid, my room stayed messy.   In college, I had piles of papers on my desk and clothes thrown in the bottom of the closet.  Things got better during the first few years of marriage.  Maybe it was just easier because my husband and I were still in that honeymoon phase so we were making the extra effort.  When the kids came along, it just seemed impossible to keep up with everything.  But I keep trying.

I had a great idea last May.   I had just gotten past one tax season with all the hunting for receipts, cancelled checks, and other documentation.  So I started a notebook with all the monthly expenses I’d need for our taxes.  I even put the documentation in pocket inserts.

I had a plan.  I implemented the new system.  I made a great start.

I have no idea where the notebook is.

Yep, my great organization plan was sabotaged by me.

The notebook is a good idea.  Just because my first attempt at organizing my tax information failed doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try again.  It’s a lesson to remember.  Changing habits doesn’t happen overnight.  Intentional efforts and learning from mistakes are essential.  So I’m about to try again.  Here’s to success in 2013.

Hanging On …..

My house is full. Cluttered. Overflowing to the point that it’s affecting me.  I’ve lost several items in plain sight.  So I’m trying to purge.

It’s a slow process.  I get overwhelmed and freeze.  I’m taking it step by step.

The problem is that some stuff is more than just stuff.  They’re attached to memories or emotions.  Even though I know rationally that I don’t need them, I hold on anyway.

I have two pairs of shoes that are worn out. I’ve looked at them numerous times, gone so far as to put them into bags, but haven’t been able to throw them away yet.

The first pair of shoes belonged to my grandmother.  She and I shared the distinction of being the shortest in our family—both coming in at 5’4” (although I think she shrank in her later years).  We also shared the same shoe size.  When she died, I inherited several pair of bedroom slippers and one pair of slip on white Keds.  I’d never had Keds before though I had wanted a pair.  I’ve worn the Keds until they are permanently discolored and have holes in them.  The plastic backing of the heels are chipping off.  But every time I see the Keds, I think of my grandmother.

The second pair are ankle length, high heel Aigner boots.  I bought the boots several years ago when my mother and I went on a day trip.  I found them on clearance for $10 – I’m a bargain shopper and these boots were definitely a bargain.  I love these boots.  When I wear them, I feel good about myself.  If the outfit I’m wearing is ok, adding these boots makes it better.  I’ve worn the boots so much that the outer material is split and peeling, especially the toes which only have a thin layer left. Any day now it will give way leaving holes.  Soon there will not be much of the boots left but part of me fears that I’ll throw away those good feelings when I throw away the shoes.

Silly, but I’ve imputed parts of myself onto these simple items.  A link to my deceased grandmother.  My own self confidence.  These are misplaced.   My grandmother stays connected through family gathers where her presence is felt.  I can feel good in clothes I like, but my confidence comes from within.  Holding on to items that are worn out and past their usefulness does not help.  It just creates more clutter in my life.   Knowing this is the first step to letting go.

** Post Note — I’ve managed to throw away the Keds.  The boots will go in a few more weeks as spring makes its presence known. I’m applying this lesson to other things in my house.  I’m looking at boxes of stuff with clearer eyes.  Baby steps moving toward a calmer, less cluttered household, for sure, but steps in the right direction!

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