cosmic chaos

cultivating calm & creativity in my corner of the world

Archive for the month “January, 2016”

Lessons Learned – Part 1

“It’s Not as Easy as You Think”

Twenty years ago, snippets of a story started swirling in my head.  I jotted them down and kept asking myself what happens next.  On and off, I worked on my little story until I knew the characters intimately.  I thought about these characters all the time.  About five years after I had started, I had a complete story.  My first novel was done.  I set it aside to rest.  I needed a break from my story.

A few months later I read my novel. My excitement melted away as I realized that it was horrible.  There were holes in the plot, cliche scenes and bad transitions.  It didn’t work. But I loved my characters. I knew they had a story worthy of telling and was not willing to give up on them.  A couple of months later, I decided to started all over.  I tore my novel apart and re-wrote everything.  This too took a number of years to complete.  But finally, I finished.

I began the query process, convinced that it would only be a short time  before I landed an agent and soon after that my book would be in bookstores all over the country.  Except, it didn’t happen.  I started getting rejection letters.  In fact, all the queries I sent were rejected.  There is an old adage that if you continue to have the same issue with people over and over, maybe you are the problem.  Once again, I re-read my novel with a critic’s eye … and I found it lacking.  Back to the drawing board.

I took some time and re-wrote my entire novel. I studied writing magazines and updated my query letter.  Then I started the query process again.  This time I actually got some interest.  Several agents asked for partials (the opening chapters of the book) to read. Alas, those too ended up being rejected.  But I felt really good about my novel. Several people who liked the paranormal genre test read my novel and the feedback was very positive.

I decided that if I truly believed in my book, I needed to self publish.  So I released Blood Adversaries as an e-book through Amazon Kindle.  E-books are great.  They are easy to obtain and convenient.  Storage is not a problem.  But book signings are a little difficult with e-books.  When I went to my writer’s guild meetings, I couldn’t help being a little envious of my fellow authors who had print versions of their books they could actually hold in their hands.  At a book festival I attended, I learned about Create Space.  It wasn’t long before I had a print version of Blood Adversaries available.

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My takeaways from this process?

  1.  Writing a novel is both art and skill.  You can be a gifted writer but you still need to take time to learn the writing process.
  2. You have to be critical of your own work.  You can love your story but to make it publishable you have to be willing to make changes to improve your novel –changes that sometimes alters your original characters and story lines.
  3. Rejection is not terminal.  If you put your work out to the public, some people will love it, some people will be ambiguous and some will hate it.  You have to be confident in your own work (and yourself) to face rejection and keep on going.
  4. Where there is a will, there is a way.  Today more than ever you can get your work published.  Research the options and know what you are paying for.  At Create Space, I was able to use their templates to upload my manuscript.  I edited my own work and designed my own cover.  The only costs I had were the printed proofs I purchased.

10 for the Win

I have always struggled with clutter.  As a girl, I remember going to friends’ houses and their rooms were neat and orderly.  I never seemed to be able to accomplish that.  I just didn’t know what to do with my stuff.  I also hung on to every little item that reminded me of someone or someplace.

As an adult, I’ve had “junk rooms” in the places I’ve lived.  As my children got older, the “junk room” became “junk areas”in main rooms of the house.  At some point, things got out of control.  When there was going to be company coming over, items got swept into boxes that were hidden in closets.  At some point, there just wasn’t a place to put stuff and it got left wherever.

Last year, I got to the point where I decided that enough was enough.  The things I was holding onto were stressing me out, not making me happy.  I decided it really was time for a change.

I’ve subscribed to different blogs and Facebook pages for tips on becoming organized and decluttering.  Then I realized that my life didn’t always fit into someone else’s schedule or plan of how to get organized.  Often I would become overwhelmed and avoid doing anything at all.

The thing is, nothing changes without effort.  And with some effort, I found a method that is working for me.

Everyday I commit at least 30 minutes to an hour for cleaning my house.  First, I maintain the areas that are already straightened.  I very quickly go through the house picking up stray items and putting them away.  I sweep or vacuum the rooms that need it.  I make sure dirty clothes go into the utility room. Then I go through 10 items in each room and decide if the item is trash, recycle or keep.  If it is keep, I put it away in it’s permanent home.  Ten items don’t take long to deal with.  Because I know it is a limited amount, I can tackle it and move onto the next room.  I am not doing anything in my sons’ bedrooms at this point.  Eventually, I will but my attention is on areas that other people may see.

I’ve been using this system for a couple of months.  There are days I get off track, especially if there are school, sports or Boy Scout events going on.   But I have seen great progress.  I have thrown away a lot of items that where clearly trash, but just kept getting moved from one place to another.  I have recycled a huge amount of paper, especially junk mail that never got sorted.  I have gone through clothing and donated bags of things that I realized I didn’t want or need anymore.  Some days, I have extra time and I am so happy with my progress that I do multiple rounds of sorting 10 items the rooms.

I don’t think I will ever be a minimalist.  There are things with sentimental value like cards signed from loved ones now deceased that I choose to keep.  But I’m being more selective in what I keep and with what I choose to bring into my home.  I’m constantly asking myself “Do I really need this ?”  Quite often, the answer is no.

 

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