Tag Archives: Life List Club

Of Weeds and Roses

Life has a strange way of burying you when you least expect it and, maybe not so strangely, this often follows on the heels of your commitment to a big new goal. Sometimes this a bad thing, snowing you under with one disaster after the other until you’re sure you’re on some dark sitcom and the audience is laughing their patooties off at your misfortune. Sometimes this is a good thing and the ideas and opportunities roll in at blinding speed. And sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference because any change can be a challenge and all failure/misfortune is an opportunity.

Here’s a post I wrote in my early days of the Life List Club. It’s truer now than it was then. These days, changes are flying at me almost faster than I can keep up but I’m learning to be thankful for every minute.

The Wild Green Yonder
originally posted at Diana Ligaya’s blog 8/13/12 

This may sound somewhat familiar to you.

You commit to a big change in your life such as losing weight or becoming a published author. And, as soon as you set the goal and begin laying out your plan, the interruptions start rolling in. Likely, before the goal is even made public, your friends, family and strangers on the street are offering you goodies and distractions. A thousand ways to keep your goals postponed, the weight on or the words off the page.

It’s like the universe is conspiring against you and you have no idea how to stop it.

But it’s not really the universe conspiring against you. You’ve simply become an open patch of earth, waiting to be filled with wild green life.

Close Up of Raised Beds

You’re like a garden of freshly turned earth. Perhaps your goals are tomato plants or zucchini or a young apple tree. The moment you clear space for the new plants, you open a place for all the other wild green things to grow. They will fill in the garden if you let them, choking out the seedlings and saplings you’ve so carefully planted.

So, you have to tear the weeds out the moment they begin to invade. Right?

Not exactly.

Sometimes the dreaded weeds have their uses. My mother-in-law gets very excited about some of the weeds that pop up. She insists on harvesting them to make Korean delicacies before those weeds end up in the compost pile. For me, it’s the dandelions that thrill. The children and I love to blow the dandelion fluff off the spent flowers. One of these days, I mean to make something out of the dandelions. Tea and wine and salad.

 Dandelion clock

And, sometimes, there are treasures among the weeds. Nearly every year, we have a volunteer plant surprise in our garden. One year it was two sunflowers. They grew tall and nodded at the sun, delighting the children who pretended to be tiny fairies beneath the giant flowers. Another year we had a volunteer tomato, a lovely stripey green tomato. This year we have volunteer potatoes and I cannot even begin to guess how a potato ended up in the garden (perhaps it was one of those swallows that likes to carry coconuts around). If I’d have pulled every unsanctioned green thing out of the garden, I would have missed those volunteers.

If we tear out every tiny weed that rears its leafy head, we’ll miss the unexpected delights that come along with them. But, if we let them go, the wild growth will strangle those plants we put into the ground on purpose.

Just so with our goals. We must nurture those goals, watering them, clearing space around them and mulching them to protect from encroaching weeds. But we must also leave room for all the unexpected things, on guard against the weedy deluge but ready to see those things that enrich our gardens and protect them too.

For me, the wild green things are all the household surprises like clogged toilets and clutter that piles up, arguments between the children, phone calls and emails, and a thousand minor excitements and crises. But among those things are opportunities to play with my children, time out with my husband, calls from friends and family, and tidbits of knowledge that further my goals. The trick is knowing when to pull the wild green things and when to let them grow.

  Seedling

What are your wild green things and how do balance it so that your goals don’t get lost under the leafy tide?

Image Attribution (In Order of Appearance):
Close Up of Raised Beds by BrotherMagneto, on Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0
Dandelion clock by rachelandrew, on Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0
Seedling by _sjg_, on Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

What Are the Fun Goals on Your To Do List?

(dipity.com)

It’s a holiday week, so that means it’s time to break away from the rules, bend the structure, and wear that naughty underwear no one knows you’re wearing but you!  😉

I’ve been thinking about my to do list a lot lately.  With Fast Draft over I couldn’t wait to have some peace and quiet for a few days, but now I feel like I’m moving too slow.  I went from hyper drive surviving off of cheese and crackers and caffeine, and now I feel like my goals are moving slowly but summer is flying by!

You know how when summer begins, and you have all these great plans about trips to the beach, lazing away in a hammock, vacations to tropical places, cookouts full of junk food, and a margarita in each hand!

Well, this morning I took Julie Glover’s quiz, What Kind of Summer Person Are You?  And you know what, I was a Summer Scrooge!  Me???  I’m not a summer scrooge am I?

Ok, so I’m still working 50+ hours/week, coming home and putting in a movie that came out several years ago and falling asleep on the couch.  It’s hot out!  Wisconsin is in the middle of an unholy heat wave!  100+°s and humid!  And the mayflies and mosquitos are at their worst.  Every time I’m out for more than 10 minutes I have 8 new bites on my legs and the vision of a lone mosquito pickin’ his teeth with the remaining bones of his last victim!

But I still made that summer to do list!  And I want to fulfill it.  Here are some of the things I wanted to do this summer, and I’ve got just under 2 months to make it happen.

  1. Take a road trip vacation with Joe out west to Yellowstone National Park.  – This one is happening, we’ve booked our campsite!
  2. Make it to the beach at least 3x.
  3. Watch a live baseball game.
  4. Visit Niagara Cave in Harmony, MN
  5. Tour La Crosse’s Historic Points
  6. Complete the Library’s Adult Summer Reading Program
  7. Have a Party in our Backyard- And you’re all invited!!!
  8. Lay in the Hammock as much as possible!
  9. Eat lunch at the Guadalupe Shrine.
  10. Maybe Get Another Tattoo.

So what are the fun things on your to do list?  Don’t forget to take time for the fun parts of life just as much as the serious ones! 

We Have a Winner!

Happy July 6th!

Today’s the day we promised to announce the winner of a $50 Amazon or Barnes and noble gift card just for being an awesome supporter of the Life List Club and a fellow life lister!

Our winner is ….

Emma Burcart

Congratulations, Emma!

Please contact Marcia Richards at:

Marcia dot A dot Richards at gmail dot com

Send me your email address with your choice of eGiftCards and I’ll send your prize along right away!

A big THANK YOU goes out to all of our commenters. we hope to see you see regularly here at the Life List Club!

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!

Albert Einstein’s Secret To a Creative Life

Do you think of Albert Einstein as a creative? He was.Albert Einstein during a lecture in Vienna in 1921

His left brain was hard at work in the fields of physics and mathematics. His right brain assisted the left in developing his theories.

He was exposed to music early in life and learned to play the violin. He fell in love with Mozart’s Sonatas and is quoted as saying, “Love is a better teacher than a sense of duty.”

A love of art in any form allows creativity to flow in the interpretation of the medium.

Einstein, himself, can explain his secret better via this  summary of a story I read about him.

In 1955, Jerome Weidman, a novelist, screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who died in 1998, met Albert Einstein at a dinner party hosted by a New York philanthropist.

After dinner,  the guests were led to a room lined with gilded chairs and a setup for musicians. Jerome was immediately uncomfortable realizing he was about to be entertained with chamber music.

It wasn’t that Jerome didn’t want to enjoy music; he just couldn’t. He closed his ears from the inside as the music played and turned his thoughts to anything but music.

After a while he realized people were clapping. He decided it was safe to unplug his ears and he joined them in their applause. A voice next to him said, “Are you fond of Bach?”

Jerome turned to his neighbor and looked into this man’s extraordinary eyes.  He knew he couldn’t lie to this man…Albert Einstein. Jerome explained that he had never heard Bach’s music and didn’t know anything about him. Besides, all music sounded like just a lot of arranged noise.

“It isn’t that I don’t want to like Bach, it’s just that I’m tone deaf and I’ve never really heard anybody’s music.”

At that, Einstein’s face took on a look of serious concern. He took Jerome by the arm, led him upstairs to a book-lined study and closed the door.

Einstein began to question Jerome about his feelings toward music.  “Tell me, please, is there any kind of music that you do like?”

“Well, I like songs with words and the kind of music where I can follow the tune. I like almost anything by Bing Crosby”

Einstein smiled and nodded, “Good!”
Einstein went to the phonograph and put on a record of Bing Crosby. After a few phrases, he lifted the needle and said, “Now, will you tell me, please, what you just heard?”

For Jerome the simplest answer was to sing the words back to Einstein. He sang it the best he could and the look on Einstein’s face ‘was like the sunrise’. “You see? You do have an ear!”

Jerome thought that was nonsense. Einstein used an analogy to explain it for Jerome. “Do you remember your first arithmetic lesson in school? Suppose at your very first contact with numbers, your teacher had ordered you to work out a problem in, say, long division or fractions. Could you have done so?”

Jerome answered, “No, of course not.”

“Precisely!” Einstein made a triumphant wave with his arm. “It would have been impossible and you would have reacted in panic. You would have closed your mind to long division and fractions. As a result, your whole life would be devoid of the beauty of long division.”

Einstein continued to explain that a teacher would normally begin with something more elementary and increase the difficulty as the boy gained skills.
He likened the Bing Crosby music to simple addition and told Jerome they would go on to something more complicated.

With each more difficult set of musical phrases, Jerome sang them all back to Einstein. Einstein was thrilled with Jerome’s progress. “Now you are ready for Bach!”

Back in the music room with the other guests, Einstein whispered to Jerome,

“Just allow yourself to listen. That is all.”

When the concert was over, Jerome was genuinely applauding his praise. The hostess came over to chastise Einstein for missing so much of the performance.

Einstein and Jerome jumped to the feet to apologize. Einstein said, “I am sorry. My young friend here and I were engaged in the greatest activity of which man is capable.” Einstein put arm around Jerome’s shoulders and said,

“Opening up yet another fragment of the frontier of beauty.

I guess a far shorter way to say this would have been something my 4th grade Nun used to tell us. “Stop walking around with your eyes and ears closed!” In other words, be open to everything beautiful around you. Don’t be afraid to experience or try new things. Creativity will come.

But I like Albert Einstein’s story better.

Creativity

As writers, painters, singers, quilters, woodworkers, cooks or any other creative you can think of, we often told ourselves untruths when we were novices.

Our inner critics would say, “You’ll never be any good at this. Why keep trying? Look at So-and-so over there and how well she’s doing. You should just give up.”

Some take those lies to heart and do give up. Others press on toward success.

The most important advice I read as I was learning the craft of writing a book was this (I’d love to credit the person who said, but I can’t remember who it was):

“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”

When just finishing my 1st draft, comparing myself to the likes of James Rollins, Stephen King or Christina Dodd is self-defeating.

My most important goals are to be the best I can be, never stop learning, and always be open to discovering new ideas, noticing the beauty of nature and cheering on others who do the same.

What will you do to open up yet another fragment of the frontier of beauty?

What are your most important goals? What lies have you told yourself?

Come back on Friday when Sonia Medeiros will be here!

And don’t forget that June 29th is the One – Year Anniversary of The Life List Club AND it’s Milestone Party time!! Woohoo! 

We Life Listers would like our readers to answer the same question all of us writers will answer: What goal on your Life List has held the most surprise or invoked the most unforeseen benefits/changes?

Post your answer in the comment section of our Milestone Friday post between June 29th and July 6th. The BIG WINNER will be announced on July 6th.

What sort of prize would mean the most to all of you?

#FastDraft: How to Do It Successfully and What You Learn Along the Way

(scarlettopia.com)

Hi Life Listers!  You may have noticed I haven’t been pestering you all as much lately on your blogs or on twitter.  And Facebook, well, I’ve barely logged in.  Don’t fret!  I still like you!

You see, I’ve been busy writing.  After attending the DFW Writers Conference, I met and am in awe of romance writer, Candace Havens.  Candace is amazing at getting things done.  She’s a film critic, romance writer, workshop leader, wife, mom and incredibly funny woman!

Candace Havens (examiner.com)

One of the key workshops Candace leads is a writing class called Fast Draft.  In today’s day and age, it’s not enough for writers to just write one book a year.  Not if you expect to make money at it.  The fact is our readers now expect the next book right away, and if they have to wait too long, they (and your publishers) might forget about you.  I wrote more on this topic in Celebrating My Writing Slump and Guerrilla Tactics For Writers.

So Candace champions writing FAST!  Fast Draft is a commitment to write 20 pages a day for 2 weeks.  In that 2 weeks, you would have a completed first draft.  Sound frightening?  Here’s how Candace gets you going!

How to Successfully Begin Fast Draft:

  • Prepare! Make it work for you!  Write your blog posts for the weeks ahead, put some meals in the freezer or save a take out fund.  Gift yourself with the time to write for two weeks!
  • Permission – Give yourself permission to write a crappy first draft.  Do at least some plotting work to keep you moving.
  • Get Rid of Your Internal Editor!  You are not allowed to read what you’ve previously written the day before, just make yourself some notes and keep going!
  • Tell Your Friends and Family To Leave You Alone!  Promise a romantic weekend away, a trip to a Water Park with the kids, whatever it takes to get them to agree to give you 2 weeks to write.
  • Set aside a specific time to write and stick to it.  If you have to break it up into chunks throughout the day, do it!
  • Do your research after you’ve written the draft.  If your book is set in the Himalayas, then put some brackets down and write: {Insert geographical key points of the Himalayas here}.
  • Write When You’re Tired!  Be Positive!  Believe in the Magic of Writing!
  • Clear away the clutter in your writing space.  Make sure your writing space is a clean and open one.

If Snoopy can do it, so can you! (christinemareebell.files.wordpress.com)

Hopefully, many of you are reading this and thinking “Yes, I can do this!”  But if you’re still struggling to get going, here are the other helpful tips Candace recommends.

  • Vomit your words on the page.  It’s easier to fix a page with words on it than a blank one.
  • Get a Team!  You need people to report to daily and hold yourself accountable.  Never allow 0 pages!  Candace says the only excuses for writing 0 pages are DEATH and a COMA!
  • Whining is not allowed.
  • Keep a journal with you at all times. You never know when inspiration may hit.
  • Experiencing technical difficulties?  Use a pen and paper!
  • Know that everyone hits a stumbling block.  Keep yourself moving forward.  🙂
  • Stuck?  Try one of these:  Journal, write a scene for a character and keep going, write your end, move to another chapter, use writeordie.com, email your partners and ask them to brainstorm with you, move around and stretch, leave yourself notes with ideas, if you make your goal, give yourself a treat, if you think of a previous scene, just make a note in your journal.

(word.pghfree.net)

It is possible!  And I can tell you this because I’m doing it!  I had the extreme pleasure of chatting with Candace while waiting in the LONG lunch line at the DFW Conference.  I told her she was the first person who really hit home in regards to having a similar schedule to me.  She has to drive to and from out of town movie venues, she writes her 20 pages a day, and she does have a family to take care of.  She puts in around 80 hours a week!

I work a 60 hour day job, keep up with my blog, and can now say I write for my book each day.  You know what, I don’t always get to 20 pages.  It’s rare that I do.  But I usually get to 10!  And that’s between 3 and 4,000 words!

Candace Havens may have saved my writing career.  You guys, I’m a terrible editor!  If you read my previous post about celebrating my writing slump, I shared how many false starts and re-starts and cut and paste starts I’ve tried!  I never made it much further than a few chapters because I thought it had to be perfect!  Now that I’m not re-reading my own work everyday, allowing my inner editor to tell me what a screw up I am, I am writing more and moving forward in my story!  That alone is worth everything to me.

Give it a try!  You never know what you might learn along the way!

Hungry for more? 

Kristen Lamb just posted 5 Ways to Get Out of the Comfort Zone and Become a Stronger Writer.

James Scott Bell blogged 7 Things That Will Doom Your Novel (And How to Avoid Them).

Or just hang out with the good (and tired) peeps participating in Fast Draft right now over at Twitter under the hashtag #FastDraft.

See you all there!  And don’t forget to share what Boot Camp or Baby Steps experiences changed your life and ambitions! 

Spam and Eggs: Gems from the Spam Filter

Spam & EggsIf you’ve blogged (or twittered) for a while, you’ve probably harvested at least a crop or two of spam.

Ah, the spammers are in bloom again…isn’t it lovely *inhales*

In fact, they may have even been your very first comments. But, as time passed and the spam filter grew fat with bizarrely worded pseudo-comments, you probably began to resent them…especially when the spam far outweighed the legitimate comments.

But maybe we’re not giving spam its due. Sure, most of the time, the “comments” are only fit for the compost bin. But, sometimes, you harvest a few gems, stuff that makes you laugh and/or makes good fodder for a blog post when you’re running a little low on ideas. Maybe it even has something to teach us, as author Jami Gold points out.

Recently, I had a bumper crop, mostly in response to Thus Spake the Dragon and Got Apocalypse. Here are a few prize specimen:

“Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it’s really informative. I’m going to watch out for brussels. I will be grateful if you continue this in future”

Indeed, you are wise to watch out for brussels. They are tricky beasts. Relax your vigilance for just a moment and they’ll sneak up behind you and stick a spit-moistened finger in your ear, then you’ll be a brussel too…don’t say I didn’t warn you.

“Certainly there are millions of more pleasurable times up front for people who browse through your blog.”

Oh yes, millions of pleasurable times up front…but it’s the pay off over time that’s the real joy. We’re talking gazillions here. Gazillions of pleasurable times. Plus…the hardcore facts that will save you from the apocalypse.

“My husband and i have been absolutely relieved that Michael could do his inquiry with the precious recommendations he discovered through your blog. “

This was from Got Apocalypse. You see, their son Michael was inquiring into the process of become a Certified Apocalypse Survival Instructor and the movies I shared were critical to his education. So, study up, folks. The apocalypse is nigh.

“You completed a number of good points there. I did a search on the theme and found mainly people will go along with your blog.”

Mainly, they do…but there is a dissenting faction. We’re planning to take care of them by sending in the dreaded brussels.

“Thank you a lot for providing individuals with remarkably terrific opportunity to read in detail from here. It really is very sweet and also jam-packed with a lot of fun for me personally and my office peers to search your website at least thrice every week to learn the latest guides you have got. Not to mention, I’m so certainly happy with the staggering inspiring ideas served by you.”

You hear that folks? Thrice weekly. Not just once or twice, but thrice. I’m that good.

“I want to express my thanks to you just for bailing me out of this situation. Because of browsing throughout the the net and meeting suggestions that were not beneficial, I was thinking my entire life was gone. Living minus the answers to the problems you have fixed as a result of your good article content is a critical case, and the ones that might have badly affected my entire career if I had not come across your blog post. “

Again, when the apocalypse rolls around and the brussels are attacking in hordes, you’ll be glad you read my blog.

“I was suggested this blog by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my problem. You’re incredible! Thanks!”

It’s true. Your cousin did write this. He didn’t want to but I made him. I threatened to lock him in a room with a brussel.  In the end, though, he saw that writing the post was the right thing to do. For you and the the world.

“I loved as much as you’ll receive carried out right here. “

And this one is just sheer philosophical brilliance. Think about it. The love we receive must be carried out to others. *tears up*

Of course, a ripe crop of spam isn’t the only collateral benefit of blogging. You may find also find tasty search term bits here and there. author Chuck Wendig is famous for  the wild search terms that roam his blog. Check out some of his search term bingos: Search Term Bingo and the Revenge of the Hamster Skin Codpiece, Search Term Bingopocalypse, and Search Term Bingo Stole My Dingo.

Incidentally, spam is very good with eggs. And fried rice. And ramen. And…

Spam and Eggs

Have you harvested any delicious spam or caught any wild search terms? What are your favorites?

***

Image Attribution (In Order of Appearance):
Spam & Eggs by toddsmithdesign, on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Spam and Eggs by iconsam, on Flickr  CC BY-NC 2.0

If you missed Marcia’s post on creating passion in our lives, be sure to check it out! And stay tuned for David Walker’s post on Wednesday.

Executive Prerogative

Switching gears, changing lanes, executive decisions.

A woman’s prerogative.

There is a lot of work for a writer to do that isn’t writing. Building a platform before novel publication seems an impossible task.

WRITER: I’m a writer. Come read my blog!

READER: A  writer with a blog? How totally bizarre, unusual, and original. What do you write?

WRITER: My novels feature strong heroines with suspenseful, romantic and sometimes paranormal elements.

READER: Wow, that’s exactly the kind of books I like to read. How many books have you written?

WRITER: Three.

READER: Three? Oh, goody. Where can I get them?

(Insert sound of air deflating from balloon. P-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-t.)

WRITER: I’ll let you know as soon as I’m published.

Marketing takes time, and though one may be a writer, they may not be a natural marketer. Harder still, a writer may enjoy marketing their book, but marketing oneself is a little different, and can make some authors cringe. Me? I cry in a corner, then put my author hat on and come out smiling. The knee-knocking isn’t nearly so noticeable when I’m sitting down.

Yet we must have a platform. Agents want to know we have a network. Get on Facebook, Tweet until your thumbs fall off, join a writing association, build a readership.

The same stuff every other writer is doing.

What else, what else… Think-think-think.

Present a workshop. Neato! Except, teaching fellow emerging writers means you know something they don’t yet know. You want them to listen to you, you want them to lick the sharpened tip of their lead pencil and set it to paper, taking note of every ounce of wisdom that drips from your tongue. You want them to absorb each nugget of information on every slide in your presentation.

You have to be credible.

Credibility comes with sales. Credibility comes with publication.

Hark! I have a published book. Storyteller, my collection of short stories. SQUEE!

And one of my shorts won an award. An award named for an author synonymous with short stories: Alice Munro.

Yippee and yahoo! Now that’s impressive!

And so I drafted a presentation on short story structure, using my shortest short, Sweet Dreams, as the basis. Item # 3 on my Life List reads:

Workshop presentations

  • Short Story Structure, spit & polish
  • Platform before Publication, write
  • Seek out venues to present
And now, end of May, I look at this item and realize, this is not going to happen. At least not this year.
Sunny day, shade of an umbrella, glass of wine with a long-time, non-writing friend. Friend shares this innocent observation:
“I see your Facebook updates, but they’re about blogs and other writers. When do you write?”
The question stings, as valid questions do.
I work on my writing career a minimum of five days per week. I write an impressive word count everyday. And yet, I am four months behind my writing schedule.
Why?
I’m not working on my work-in-progress. I am not editing, I am not producing new words, I am not revising nor am I drafting an outline for the next book in the queue.  And y’all know I haven’t been exercising. Snort.

Image uploaded from Wikipedia

I’m writing blog posts. Necessary. I’m networking. Necessary. But let’s face it,
Something’s Got to Give.

Interesting that this phrase is also the title of Monroe’s unfinished film.

And so, the time has come to make decisions. Weeding out my Life List closet, I hold the hanger beneath my chin, press the fabric to my waistline, and twirl before the mirror.

The goal’s a little snug, but it still fits. If I pair it with a funky pair of sandals, I can get some use out of it this summer. A BBQ, perhaps? A day at the races?

Ah, but what shall I miss at home when I’m out exercising this workshop presentation goal? Progress on my work-in-progress?

Damn straight.

I have a decision to make, and so I make it. For the good of all else on my list, I shall sacrifice presentations. At least for this year.

First, I paraphrase Bobby Brown: I made this list, you didn’t. Right, Gloria? And then, I quote Bobby Brown, It’s My Prerogative.