Category Archives: Gary Gauthier

Surprisification

A Milestone was coming, a Life List Milestone Party, A Life List Club Celebration.

WOOT!

I’m new to this club we call Life List, so I asked a question of my Life List Mates:

“What goal on your Life List surprised you most or brought about the most unforeseen changes?”

With any luck, those surprises or changes would be of the WOO HOO persuasion.

‘Who’d have thought from an online class would come a perfect circle of  friends?’ Self-proclaimed ‘procrastinator of major proportions’, our Marcia Richards has been knocking the goals off her Life List at a satisfying rate, but it is Goal # 6, finding a critique group, that is the winner of major proportion.

Last summer Marcia joined an online class, subject: blogging. Real friendships were formed, a tight-knit group who support and encourage, discuss and share writing, publishing and marketing tips and brand development.

But books and writing and promotion aren’t the only subjects the group tackles. Personal issues, fears, proud moments and bouts with the flu–anything is up for discussion. Writes Marcia, ‘This band of men and women are the most generous and supportive group of people I could ever hope to have found. I was certain I would never find a group that was a good fit… We are each other’s inspiration, motivation and lifeline in so many ways every single day.’

Lara’s goals are on target!

No one particular goal has made a huge impact for Lara Schiffbauer. Rather, Lara has learned to identify how many excuses she mastered when not achieving past goals. Better, ‘I have learned I am capable of much more than I ever thought.‘  Lara also learned ‘that it’s all right to let some goals slide while I work like a fiend to achieve a goal that has gained importance. Now I know I have no excuses!’

When Sonia Medeiros started with LLC, she assumed that it would be a fairly straight path to the end of her fantasy novel.

For those of us who have taken a ride on the revision train more times than we can count, that there is a big ole Ka-snort!

Says Sonia, “I was well into it and I (mostly) knew where I wanted to go. I thought it was just a matter of committing to the goal and seeing it through. As it turned out, I wasn’t ready to complete that story yet. I put it on the back burner to focus on expanding another work, Postcards from Hell.”

When she started out, Sonia thought she had to complete the goal she set, but has since learned that, “sometimes, life takes us in another direction. I learned that it’s okay to follow those twists and turns. In fact, sometimes the most interesting places are only found if we go with the flow.” 

Jess Witkins claimed the title Perseverance Expert not long after she began blogging.  But those words were put to the test when she took on the goal that was giving her most trouble square in the face!  After a grueling 2 weeks that caused relationship problems, friendship concerns, family phone calls, a terrible diet, and less sleep than anyone should be operating vehicles under, Jess Witkins completed Fast Draft.

“My Life List Goal to write everyday was never stronger.  Week 1 of Fast Draft was fabulous!  I averaged about 10 pages a day on my book and I’d prepared well both in plotting and blogging ahead the week before.  When week 2 came crashing forward, there were troubles in Coupledom, a friend’s wedding plans to attend to, my sister was recovering from cancer, the shelves in the fridge were empty, and I was having more than one night of only 3 hours of sleep.” 

You know what, gang?  “I’m grateful for all of it!”  She may not have kept up with the impressive page count during that tough time, but she still kept writing and she learned about what’s truly important to her and how to balance it in her crazy busy life.  “That’s priceless.”

Gary GauthierGary Gauthier says he was “aiming for the stars” and we shouldn’t be disappointed if he doesn’t accomplish all his goals.

“Two of my Life List goals were a little lofty because I wanted to motivate myself and see how far it would get me. The plan worked. What I didn’t foresee was how much I would learn along the way. The good news is, I’m still on track.”

And now, the time has come to answer the question myself.  Compiling my Life List was easier than I thought, and helped me streamline and compartmentalize my goals. Not sure if that’s a surprise or a relief! Having the list helped me see where I was, where I wanted to be, how to prioritize, and most notable of all, identify the goals on my list that weren’t taking me where I wanted to go. As a result, I exercised an Executive Prerogative, and dropped 3 items from my list, an entire category, within a month of becoming a Life Lister.

You may not be an official member of The Life List Club, but if you follow this blog, even if you read the odd post, then you likely have a list of your own, in your head, if not on paper or in cyberspace. If any goals have surprised you, inspired you, changed how you do things, we hope you’ll share with us in a comment.

And you’ll want to leave a comment, trust me. One random reader who leaves a Life List comment on any of our posts between June 29, 2012 (Holy Calendar, Batman! That’s today!) and July 6, 2012, will receive a $50 gift card. Amazon or Barnes & Noble: Winner’s Choice!

Be sure to visit us for the announcement on July 6. The Surprisification may belong to you!

For more Milestone festivities, please visit our individual blogs. You can find each and every one of us on the blogroll to your right. Party on!

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The Value of the Little Things in Life


Remembrance of Things Past

Sometimes, an old photograph, a familiar scent or a tune you hear can trigger a flood of memories and associations. This past weekend, I read an article titled The Morning Routines of Successful People and it set in motion a train of memories.

Frank Desch (1873 – 1934)

Meaningful Coincidences and Lasting Memories

The article reminded me of a friend I knew in college and the perfume she wore. She wore Halston; back then it was all the rage. It reminded me of the book she recommended to me, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.

In an opening scene, a visitor, enjoying the warmth of a fireplace, is captivated by a story told by the housekeeper, Nelly Dean. At one point Nelly stops and draws attention to the lateness of the hour and suggests that the story could be wrapped up in “half a dozen words.” Lockwood, the visitor says he’d prefer it if she continues at a leisurely pace because he intends to sleep until ten the next day. Nelly Dean’s memorable reply is:

You shouldn’t lie till ten. There’s the very prime of the morning gone long before that time. A person who has not done one-half his day’s work by ten o’clock runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.

I don’t know why, but the last sentence stayed with me and I never forgot it. I picked up the book during a college semester on a lark, as it wasn’t part of my coursework. It was assigned to my then-ex-girlfriend for her English class and I read it based on her recommendation. I’m sure there are lots of other things I learned that semester, but I couldn’t tell you what they were and it’s as though I’ve forgotten them all.

As an aside, we were both pre-med students at the time. I never made it to medical school. My friend went on to become the head of radiation oncology at a hospital.

Morning Routines – On a mundane level, a ritual is a routine that we follow or a set of actions we perform out of habit. A ritual allows you to lose yourself in a process, thus freeing your mind. It can facilitate a type of free-form meditation that promotes silence and clear thinking. It can put you in a zone that is conducive to productivity and peak performance.

The choices for creating a ritual that suits your lifestyle and temperament are almost boundless. Your ritual can be as effortless as sitting alone and relishing the aroma and flavors of a steaming cup of your favorite blend. Depending on the mood of the present moment and what circumstances may require, you can collect scattered thoughts, savor the moment or consider your plans for the day ahead.

The most interesting point I drew from the article is that willpower is like a muscle. It can get tired and its store of energy can be depleted during the course of a day. After a good night’s rest, you have as much willpower as you are going to have at any other time. There was no word on whether the more you use it, the stronger it gets.

See: The Morning Routines of Successful People

Are you a morning person? Do you have a morning routine?

REMINDER:
Please visit us as we celebrate The Life List Club’s First Anniversary on this coming Friday. You can be the lucky visitor who wins a $50 gift certificate.

Gary Gauthier

Gary Gauthier is working on his first novel, a crime thriller set in New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina’s landfall. In real life, he works for a small publishing company no one’s ever heard of and that publishes books no one reads.

His blog, Literary Snippets, gives him an opportunity to express and share his appreciation for art and literature. He occasionally posts articles as well. Some of his favorite writers are Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe. But this changes from time to time. Stay tuned! Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Creativity Is Not Always Child’s Play

All you need for an excellent exercise that stimulates a young child’s imagination is a blank sheet of paper and a few crayons of different colors. A creative spirit and busy little hands will do the rest. It’s not so easy for us adults! While creativity can be as easy as child’s play, for an artist or a craftsman, creativity can mean painstaking work.

Creativity is also an integral part of any work environment, and it’s not surprising that creativity in business drives profitability.

Johannes Vermeer, The Milkmaid

The Magic and Wonder of Creativity
Small clumps of different-colored clay can make a bigger clump of multicolored clay. It’s one thing to mix ingredients and come up with something interesting. It’s quite another to conceive a totally new way of looking at things that leads to an unexpected result.

The work of a creative artist can make us pause in awe and wonder. Creativity can transform the mundane into the useful or the sublime. A talented artist only needs a handful of colors. His ability to create an appealing or emotional effect by combining a few available elements can translate into a magical outcome or the perfect result.

Creativity at Work

Quantum Leaps of Creativity
Some riddles are so difficult to decipher that we have to make quantum leaps of creativity to arrive at their solution. We intuitively understand that if you apply force to an object it will move. We quickly grasp why we need more force to move a heavier object. It takes a substantial leap of creativity to figure out that if you’re moving fast enough, time literally slows down.

Water emerges from two invisible gases, hydrogen and oxygen. Nothing about those two gases would predict what water is like. Quantum leaps dominate in creation everywhere we look but especially in the startling, beautiful novelty of life-forms on Earth.
–Deepak Chopra

Rules and Creativity: Putting Theory Into Practice
Fortunately for us, most creative endeavors have rules. If you want to write a convincing and emotionally satisfying plot, there are rules you can follow. The theory behind the rules was proposed in 335 BC by Aristotle and they haven’t changed much since. A painter’s knowledge of the theories of light, perspective and color enables him to create a stunning three-dimensional portrait on a canvas of two dimensions.

The Tedium in Creativity: Getting the Facts Straight
It’s a fallacy to think that creative work means you don’t have to deal with facts. Most novels contain narrative passages that require research. The writer has to gather and organize bits of general information, historical events and geographical details. A vivid setting with accurate details can help bring a plot to life and make the story realistic. Even a make-believe world has to be consistent and should be subject to some rules of cause and effect.

Where Creative Insights Come From
If you immerse yourself in the theory of your work and the facts of your project, creative insights will come to you like bolts from the blue when you least expect it. Creative people are those who are most receptive to their own intuitions. They know that insights come from their interpretation and understanding of basic knowledge and available information.

They have faith that a new insight will come to save the day. Every time they get “stuck,” they go back to doing something called for by the basics until they get another insight. They master the basics and stay in tune with their work.

Creativity Requires Commitment
All work requires planning and focus. Creative work is no different. You can’t carry out a plan and you won’t be able to focus if you don’t have time. It’s a valuable asset—and like all valuable assets—you shouldn’t squander time because it’s scarce. There’s never enough.

This is why making priorities and setting goals are so important. Setting priorities will help you manage your time. Having a goal will keep you focused.

What works for you when you need to be creative?

Gary GauthierGary Gauthier is working on his first novel, a crime thriller set in New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina’s landfall. In real life, he works for a small publishing company no one’s ever heard of and that publishes books no one reads.

His blog, Literary Snippets, gives him an opportunity to express and share his appreciation for art and literature. He occasionally posts articles as well. Some of his favorite writers are Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe. But this changes from time to time. Stay tuned! Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Your Natural Voice as a Writer


Clues From How the Caged Bird Sings

A long time ago, I met a young woman and in our first conversation, it came out that she sang with a choir. I told her I couldn’t sing, and I confided that I would love to be able to do it. I never forgot her reply.

—Chances are you can sing, first you have to find your range.

John James Audubon

Every Writer Has a Voice. Your voice, as a writer, is the style that makes your writing unique. It is the language you use and how you make your point. It’s what your readers hear and how it makes them feel.

Discover Your Voice. Just as you have a natural speaking voice, you have a writing voice that belongs only to you. It is shaped by your personality, beliefs and interests.

What you read has a great influence on your writing voice. The genres and authors you enjoy the most are a good indication of the direction where your voice lies. Use your reading to discover, explore and develop your voice.

Become familiar with your voice to put yourself in the best position for training.

Train Your Voice. Writers train by writing. Consider each piece of writing you create as a training exercise. The more you write, the more adept you will become at controlling your voice and the more comfortable you will become using it.

Aim to master your writing voice like a musician masters an instrument.

Your Voice Has a Range. At times, you will have to modify your writing style to suit a particular task. A romance novel, an article for Seventeen Magazine and a query letter each requires a different tone of voice.

Certain types of writing will be outside your range. Your comfort zone and your range are closely aligned. You can expand your range with training and passion.

Outside Influences Can Play a Role. A writer’s voice can also be shaped by his social environment and life experiences. Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy both wrote in Victorian-era England and their writings show it.

Mark Twain wrote about life in the United States and it’s no wonder that his voice is very different from that of Charles Dickens even though both use humor and satire in their writings.

Embrace Your Voice. Your voice is an asset. Once you have an idea of where your voice lies, embrace it. Celebrate it. Run with it. Write with style. Your voice is your style.

We are all blessed with a distinctive voice. Even if you model your writing after another’s, it will come out in your own voice.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Audience.

Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.

John Steinbeck

Be Yourself. It’s a lot easier to be who you are if you’re comfortable in your own skin. Allow your writing to give voice to your inspirations. Be authentic.

Put Your Heart Into It. Give every piece you create your best effort. You’d notice if your favorite author, or favorite poet, made a halfhearted effort. The wellspring of great writing is an authentic voice that speaks with passion.

See also: Frea Shipley,  Finding Your Writing Voice: The Secret to Success.

Have you found your voice? Who influenced you?

Gary GauthierGary Gauthier is working on his first novel, a crime thriller set in New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina’s landfall. In real life, he works for a small publishing company no one’s ever heard of and that publishes books no one reads.

His blog, Literary Snippets, gives him an opportunity to express and share his appreciation for art and literature. He occasionally posts articles as well. Some of his favorite writers are Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe. But this changes from time to time. Stay tuned! Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Writing for the Love of Writing by Gary Gauthier

 
Thoughts on Feeding Quality Material to a Voracious Muse

I have many friends who are artists, painters for the most part. For them, art seems to be a way of life. They sketch, draw and paint because it is second nature and they love what they do. It seems as though there is nothing else they would rather be doing.

Painting Woman Reading

Ivan Olinsky (1878 - 1962)

Many writers also love what they do. No one is paying us for all the blog posts we write. For many of us, the reward is the opportunity to share our ideas and talents and to simply belong to our wonderful community of fellow writers. As an added benefit, we also build a following and hope folks remember us.

Reading Is Part of the Job Description
One of the ways that writers develop their voice, prod their imagination and become more agile with language is to read, read again, and then read some more. One of my recent Life List commitments is to read two contemporary novels a month. So far, I’ve been keeping up and right now, I’m ahead of schedule.

My ongoing search to find worthwhile books to read inspired this blog post.

Choice Is a Luxury
I am mostly interested in mysteries and thrillers and my Ipad is filling up with them. Just recently, I stocked my electronic library with an additional ten new titles that warrant a second look. Many of them, I will end up reading sooner or later.

The Value of a Good Read
An important point is the cost of these books and how I find them. I use a very simple method and pay nothing for the books. I find new titles by searching twitter approximately three times a week for “free mystery” and “free thriller.” Among a handful of twitter results, I choose books on Amazon with four and five-star ratings that have well-written and convincing reviews.

During the past two months, I read two novels that are of very high literary quality and two others that were excellent and enjoyable reads. If this experience is any indication, I’ll be able to keep reading quality novels indefinitely and at no charge.

What This Means for Novelists
What does a proliferation of high-quality, free ebooks mean for authors who aspire to write fiction for a living? In my opinion it means you have to be talented and prolific.

Most of the recently-minted, “famous” authors we read about published at least ten books before they achieved their fame. If you are serious about writing for a living, at some point in your career, you may have to publish one or more books a year. You can also get lucky. The book you are working on can become a best-seller that lands you a movie deal. While this is great if it happens, this is not a plan you can take to the bank.

I Don’t Run Into Low-Quality Ebooks
Another observation of mine over this test period is that I didn’t encounter the “lots-of-bad-ebooks-out-there” experience that I keep reading about. Don’t get me wrong, I know they’re out there. The point is: I don’t run into them.

Here is a thought exercise. Do you constantly run into websites and blogs in which you have little or no interest, sites that feature low quality content filled with grammatical errors? Chances are, you solved that problem a long time ago. You’d probably have to pause for a moment if you had to find such a site on short notice.

If you find yourself investing too much time reading bad-quality ebooks, consider modifying how you decide which ones to read.

What’s your reading regimen like? How do you choose which books to read?

Gary GauthierGary Gauthier is working on his first novel, a crime thriller set in New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina’s landfall. In real life, he works for a small publishing company no one’s ever heard of and that publishes books no one reads.

His blog, Literary Snippets, gives him an opportunity to express and share his appreciation for art and literature. He occasionally posts articles as well. Some of his favorite writers are Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe. But this changes from time to time. Stay tuned! Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.