Aurora tragedy, Earthquakes, Encouragement, Hope, Jeff Goins, Juan of Words, senseless violence

The Earthquake in Aurora, USA.

Rockford Register, OK

The senseless violence and tragedy this past Friday has left millions of people hurt, confused, and numb for words. I’ve been one of them. 

After a few hours of watching CNN and other news sources I marveled at the articulation of some of the  witnesses who were able to think through that horror, to move, to empathize with other victims, to apologize for not saving someone, and then for not stopping the gunman.

 I feel like we had a 6.0 earthquake in America.  

The foundations of life shaken, jolted and jarred-again. There have been shootings in all of the places we used to think were havens of safety: churches, schools, playgrounds, at funerals, our work place, the shopping malls, and the movie theater. 

Late last Friday afternoon I unplugged. T.V, radio, internet, newspaper-ignored. I needed to regroup, connect to my kids and myself,  feel the feelings before I went on. Three days later, the outpouring of pain resulting from the massacre and the lives changed forever still makes a large lump in my throat. 

After 24 hours I went back on to Facebook, saw the hundreds of tribute banners and clicked off. I began to read my blog roll and sure enough there were some on the subject of Aurora, Colorado’s tragedy.

But I found two posts, written on the day of the tragedy, that touched me. These writers were able to articulate much of what I felt and for that I’m appreciative, as it helped me to process the ‘un-process-able,’ at least for a while. 

“Embrace today, for tomorrow is not guaranteed,” wrote Juan of Words

“Every day is an opportunity to tell somebody we love them..To give and get the embraces we’ve been longing for…To make our children feel special.  To teach them love and compassion.  Above hatred and violence.” 

A similar message from Jeff Goins “When the Pain of the World is Too Much to Bear.”

“Years ago, I was in that town, playing a concert with my band. We were at a church, performing for a small audience of youth on a Friday night. I wonder if any of them were in that movie theater? Who knows.

When tragedy strikes, you can go around and around like this, driving yourself crazy with the “what if”s. It’s natural, but unhelpful, and it doesn’t soothe the pain of a broken world.

I’m not trying to be overly optimistic here; I’m not looking for the Pollyanna thread in all of this. I’m just trying to breathe…

In the darkest times, hope is all we have to cling to. It’s an unexpected grace in a time of uncertainty — when we’re not sure we can take another step. And for some, it’s just enough to go on. 

Hope, that’s what I needed to hear and remember. In the midst of tragedy, as in earthquakes, people do rebuild, as difficult and excruciating as that may be for the victim’s and their families. 

Hope is what drives us as we stumble forth and put one foot in front of the other, sometimes leaning back and sometimes leaning on, making our way in life by reaching out to others and reaching in to whatever it is that helps us move into another day.  

Courage to Create, Evernote, Jeff Goins, Kristen Lamb, Ollin Morales, Time Management for writers, Time to write, Writing

Three Tips to Find Time to Write

iStock #000015765730

                                                       How do you eat an elephant?

                                                   One bite at a time.~Anonymous

At this angle the pachyderm is going to get larger as he comes closer. So much so that you may give up your lifelong dream of riding the largest land mammal on earth. It’s too scary to deal with him all at once, but you really want to climb on board and take the ride of your life. It’s the romp you’ve envisioned for years, riding up high on that majestic African elephant. 

He seems tame enough, until he gets up close and personal. That’s when you see the enormity of the situation. It’s a huge undertaking to trust that beast and have faith that you’ll muster up your courage and take that ride. The closer he gets, the more you run various scenarios through your head. What if the animal balks, what if I fall, what if he doesn’t like me? 

It’s the same thing with writing. One hundred and one excuses run through our minds when we hit a hard spot in writing our novel. 

      “I don’t have time to write…my job…my kids…you don’t know my husband/wife…the dog…” 

You may have said or thought about all of these and have your own personal favorites. I  know I do. And with most excuses, there maybe a kernel of truth underneath the statements. Maybe many kernels-enough to pop yourself some popcorn. Been there, said that.

But before you go looking for a bowl I’d like you to take ten minutes (2 television commercials) to read some great posts on this very topic. 

At Courage to Create you’ll find wisdom from the Tao Te Ching: Live your life expecting that every new challenge will be difficult. Or as Ollin, a first time novelist, puts it:   

               I will stop asking that writing be easy. Instead I will simply ask that the writing get done.

Kristen Lamb’s post Stress Less, Write More talked about this very topic today. 

      Often we DO have time, we just lack focus. We don’t have a time management problem we have a values conflict.

In her characteristic style, her statement is a mouthful of writing wisdom in a couple of sentences.

Another favorite blogger of mine, Jeff Goins, tweeted an archived post today that lends itself well on the subject of finding time to write. Well, actually it’s about capturing ideas using the free application Evernote, an online note taking tool that Jeff refers to as his ‘external brain.’ To me, it’s like capturing time, putting it in a bottle and releasing it when necessary. 

Look, the Evernote’s logo is an elephant. Must be a sign. If you don’t know about this application, just follow Jeff’s simple directions. If you need more information, you can head over to the Evernote website to view and hear how diary farmers, students, small businesses, and memory impaired people (like me) are using the application

So, three tips on finding time to write the words we want to read.Promise yourself you’ll forego one sitcom or news program a day. Pledge an ‘unplug’ day. That’s right, no Tweets, FB, blogging, or pinning for 24 hours. Use that one to three hours to get your butt in the chair and write. 

You can do this. Your reading audience is waiting. It’s time to sit and deliver.

Okay, enough said. Remember, take it one bite at a time. Oh, and please pass the salsa. 

What writing pledge will you make for yourself?


Encouragement, Holly Lisle, Jeff Goins, Joe Konrath, Kristen Lamb, Rachelle Gardner, WANA, Writing

Open Your Medicine Cabinet to Write

I’m sure you’ve heard the often quoted  proverb by Lao-Tzu: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” But what you may not have heard so often is the translation that results from the original Chinese quote:
                                             “The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet.”  

Before the first step is the desire to move. All of that ‘would, could, should, if, want to, maybe,” ( insert a favorite stopper phrase) doesn’t do squat but leave our feet planted into the ground. Sure we make a little dust while we shuffle our feet to the litany of ‘if’s’ but when we look at our position, we’re are still in the same place. Sometimes we must find the desire to move and shake off the constant buzz of our family/work life.

The quote is analogous to writing. Oh, yes, how we want to write a novel, get an agent, get published, see our story enjoyed by thousands millions. But none of it will happen if we do the ‘woulda, coulda’ mambo instead of making ourselves sit in front of the blank page/screen and write. And do the same thing the next day, and the next, until we are finished with a first draft. And then guess what? We do it all again during rewriting/revision.
                                     “It is perfectly okay to write garbage-as long as you edit brilliantly.”~Molnair.
Writing is not for the faint of heart or for those who don’t want to fail. Writing until we get into print is for those who show up, fail, keep learning, rewrite, and move forward. I feel a ‘Hoo-Rah,” coming on.

But some days our cheering section of zero or one isn’t enough. There are times when we need some external encouragement, someone who has been there, to commiserate with us for one minute and then shove our behinds into the chair again. 

The problem is that we often don’t know when we’ll have one of those “I can’t do it anymore,” writing days. Something that works for me is preparation. I’ve assembled a personal medicine cabinet of writers and blogs filled with encouragement to face the stagnation and move forward. 
Some of my favorites are: 

When facing anxiety go to Writer’s First Aid for several posts on whatever ails you.

Some invigorating advice about persistently writing comes from JA Konrath’s post “Writing Matters,” and Holly Lisle’s blog on “Live to Write Another Day.” 

Someone who often says that writing is a lonely business and has built a community of writers is Kristen Lamb: We Are Not Alone. She introduced me to Twitter and the WANA concept. 

For optimism and insight there are few more encouraging blogs than Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner’s encouragement section. 

And to remind oneself of why we write is the ever inspirational Jeff Goins

Last but not least, just different, is visiting my Pinterest boards. I don’t have to read, just gaze  at the photos until I feel my fingers jumpstart.

There are more blogs I could mention, but you get the idea. 

What do you have in your own writer’s medicine cabinet? I’m looking for a humor pill (blog) to fill another spot. Suggestions are welcomed.