Tag Archives: New Year

Confession Time

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Okay, peeps. 2016 is both at the top of the calendar and on the clock. Let’s face it. Last year, for many of us, was both a challenge and a disappointment. It’s time to switch things up and make things better.

director-chair-business-cartoons-vectors_GyG7my_OThat’s why I’ve decided to do something totally different this year. Firstly, I’m going to start putting out a monthly newsletter in February. For any who don’t wish to get it you’ll have the option to opt out once it’s up and running.

Next on the docket is a weekly post with an excerpt from one of the stories I’m working on

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

at the moment. Right now, that could be from any of four different novel-length manuscripts. I might even ask for suggestions or criticisms on the excerpt of the day. I haven’t decided yet.

Lastly, I’m going to write one confession piece each month. It won’t be salacious, but it will reveal something about me that few know. It’s not about exhibitionism. It’s about connection between me and my readers. As human beings, we all share common experiences occasionally. I, for one, like to know that I’m not the only one treading deep waters or falling down and skinning my knees.

And since I haven’t got the newsletter ready yet, and I’m hip deep in revision mode and wish a break from it, I’ve chosen the confession for this week’s post. Here goes.

Errant Thoughts and Where They Take Us

Somewhere between sleeping and waking, a twilight period exists for all of us. Whether at night or in the morning, our minds fall down the tunnel of free thought, without direction or intent.

 The experience is different from daydreaming, for the thoughts scatter to the mental winds, never pausing longer than it takes for a butterfly to drink the nectar of a flower blossom.

Once in a while I have one of these stray shooting-star thoughts bring me into full wakefulness, ready for action. The driver of that action is curiosity—not just about where such a thought or image came from, but also to ask myself if I’ve ever encountered it before.

View over the stone desert of Hudson Bay, Canada, during low tide with rocks and stones in the tidal pools

View over the stone desert of Hudson Bay, Canada, during low tide with rocks and stones in the tidal pools

Take the other morning as an example. I woke, slightly dazed, from a sound sleep. Two words and an image greeted the inside of my eyelids, in bold type and a strong sense of imperiousness: OWL RIVER

I knew I’d never heard of an Owl River, which presaged the question as to why it would wake me.  I couldn’t resist the compulsion to find out what it meant. I got up and flicked on the computer. Google is a wonderful tool.

Owl River exists at the top of the world, emptying into the Hudson Bay at the far northern edge of Manitoba, Canada, near Churchill.  Okay, so now I had its location. But the question remains as to why the place would pop up and wake me.

Churchill Polar Bear Survey

Churchill Polar Bear Survey

Question: did I have any connection to the river? Answer: no. Did I have any connection to someone else with a connection? Answer: Yes, actually. About twenty years ago, I worked with and learned from a man who went to Churchill to film an annual polar bear study. My friend was a nature documentary filmmaker.

Question: had I heard anything about Churchill lately to trigger the reference? Answer: I’d heard

Western Hudson Bay, Manitoba, Canada

Western Hudson Bay, Manitoba, Canada

only that the town had had more trouble than ever with polar bears because of melting sea ice and shortened freeze time in the Artic. The bears weren’t leaving after the autumn snows began.

Question: did I have any connection with Manitoba in general? Answer: only that I’d had a friend in the late ‘80’s who lived in Dauphin, five hours north-northwest of Winnipeg. I’d not heard from her in years.

So, where does that leave me? Well, if I take the paranormal route of thought, there are possible answers. Either there’s something happening with Frank or with my Canadian friend, Danika. Or, there might be something newsworthy up on Hudson Bay around the mouth of the Owl River.

On the other hand, it could be a simpler answer. A fragment of dream, unremembered, triggered memory associations I’m unaware of and the reference simply popped out to startle me at waking.

Take your pick, as to which is more plausible. Personally, I like the paranormal answer, but then, I’m weird that way.

Regardless of the true reason, I believe that many people have experiences similar to my early morning wake up call. I also believe that sometimes, we get messages from an unknown place. Whether we recognize them or not, these messages find us and ring a bell for attention.

If you’ve had something similar happen, drop a comment below and share it with the rest of us. Until next week; take notes, write often, and save a place in your world for wonder.

At Home with a New Year

stock-photo-13Yep, it’s finally come to this—2015, a new year. Have you had a terrific holiday season and a fantastic New Year’s Eve? Did you have champagne and watch fireworks? Do you have a hearty cup of hot chocolate in your hand calming those after party nerves? If not, grab one. It does wonders for others.

Everything begins anew today; new goals, new aspirations, and definitely new life plans. What do you mean you haven’t made life plans? You made resolutions, didn’t you? Well, those are considered life plans.

Puts a whole different perspective on things, doesn’t it?

Now, you might ask what new plans I have. I’ll tell you. While I have goals that contain writing and other creative arts, resolutions aren’t in the mix. I stuck them in my goals list. It’s easier to deal with them there.

Take health, for instance. Many of us resolve to do better in our health department over the next year, but how many actually follow through and for how long? If it’s a goal, you can create changes in smaller increments without having to leap off the cliff at the outset and expect to fly on the way down.

My health goal is simple. Each day I’ll get on that exercise bike for 5-10 minutes for the first week. The second week I’ll increase each day for another five minutes, and so on until I reach half an hour. I’ll stay at that time but increase speed. On a recumbent bike, different rules apply. Along with that change, I will decrease my sugar intake. Most of those treats will have to go. Between those two things and my current breathing exercises, I’ll be content until around May when I’ll add something else to the regimen.

That goal, taken in smaller increments will get me what I need—more endurance, loss of weight, healthier eating, and better lifestyle. Simple, huh.

Creative work isn’t the same. I can resolve to write the great American novel this year, or I can make a goal of finishing those projects that are already sitting on my storyboard. Those, too, can be done in smaller increments for completion. I can work for an hour a day on each of three projects and get something accomplished more slowly, or dig in and slog through a vast project and go down the burnout road again. Not a good choice there.

I’ve had enough people tell me in the past few months to progress more slowly that I’ve chosen that route. The one specific goal of mine that deserves to be fulfilled each and every week is the submission of at least one project to a publisher. It doesn’t matter whether it’s poetry, flash fiction, a Kindle ebook, a short story, or a non-fiction piece. I’ve practiced fiddling long enough. It’s time to play for the audience.

Those are my strategies for this coming year. I’ve make only a few goals, all doable with determination and perseverance. Lifestyle changes will evolve as a result. Now, I have to go to work on a poem for today. I have the prompt. All I need is the spark.

Raise your cocoa cups in a toast to all of us: May the New Year brings each of us what we need for an inspiring life and a changing scene.

See you all next week, if not sooner. Happy New Year, all.

At Home with the New Year

Blank Mind Map

 

 

 

 

Snuggled beneath whitened sheet,
Within winter’s cold embrace,
Lies tomorrow’s lifetime,
Waiting for birth into today’s
Beginning overture

Isn’t that how it feels this morning? Thanksgiving and Christmas are past. A New Year beckons us to celebrate a new beginning by ignoring the cold reality of winter for the glitter of promised possibilities.

Taking stock

These last two weeks have been ones of re-evaluation for me—not so much about the projects I want or plan to do, but about methods, imperatives, and benefits.

We all go through this process, some more easily than others. Our culture has come to demand it of us, whether we like it or not. It’s goal-setting time. Our futures gleam and sparkle with dreams and schemes.

Writers, like everyone else, set goals. Editorial calendars are mulled over like fine spiced wine. Plans for new expansive projects that have percolated in the back of our brains for weeks or months find purchase on clean pages that echo snow-laden fallow fields. New endeavors wink at us as we pencil them into naked calendar squares.

But here’s a question for you. What criteria do we use to choose those lucky projects that simply can’t wait until another year to work on?

Deciding on Priorities

Any creative person has projects that require completion before another can begin. The type of project doesn’t change that need.

A choice is made, sometimes a quick one, about the importance of the project to the creator. If I’m thoroughly bored or frustrated with something, the likelihood of completion drops exponentially by length of projected time to completion. Usually, though not always, these involve physical crafts like crocheting or needlework.

Unfinished writing projects get priority over all new work; the short story I’ve expanded to a novella, the cookbook that requires formatting and submission, and the second in my “How-To Slay a Writer’s Dragon” series are all the first on my new year’s agenda. Sitting squarely behind those three is my women’s cozy novel.

These projects are definite priorities for the beginning of the New Year. I can hear the next question in your mind. What will you do when these works-in-progress are finished?

Adding Tidbits

I have too many designs floating around in my head to worry about getting bored with writing. I enjoy interviewing other writers, poets, and creative types, and I haven’t done any interviews for a few years. Lining up an interview for each month seems like a good way to liven my writing time.

Likewise, I’ve been neglecting my poetry for a few months and need to return to verse on a regular basis. A short poem or two once a week would be good for me to do and post on my websites.

I don’t have time to read as many books as I’d like, but I’ve chosen to put the pleasure of reading at least one book per month on my agenda and to write a review of that book.

Taking time for self

One of the things that’s been lacking in my daily schedules for months is pleasure. Now, pleasure comes in many forms, depending on who you are. Reading for the fun of it hasn’t been something I’ve done much this past year, but I’m making it a priority on my calendar for the coming one.

And since I’ve chosen that route, I can also do a review of whatever book I’ve read. I’m fairly eclectic in my choices, so don’t be surprised if I wonder from fiction to non-fiction, poetry to children’s literature, or something totally off the wall. I’m a wanderer of words, so all things are fair game for me.

I’ve also decided to dedicate a few hours a day to continued study of the writing craft and self-exploration. If knowledge of self improves the quality of the characters I write, so much the better. Benefits can come on many sides of an exercise.

There you have it—the overview of my coming year’s design. Goals still need to be fleshed out in specifics. I’ll work on those in the next several days. I wanted to design the package before I began filling it with goodies. Short projects, long projects, and fillers that bring enjoyment will have their spots on the calendar before long.

Your possible achievements

Have you decided what you want to achieve in the coming year? Have you chosen specifics or designed the framework that you’ll use to create the life you want for yourself? Please share what you have planned as your possible future achievements. Leave a comment below and tell us all of your dreams, plans, and expectations.

We all have them. Sharing allows others to help in bringing those dreams to fruition.

Have a terrific New Year celebration, everyone. Take special care of yourselves and come back to work refreshed and ready to make things happen. Stay safe. I’ll see you again on the other side of midnight.