Sunday, 28 August 2011

Fallow blog

I've been pretty poor at tending my blog this summer.  Even after all the excitement over the new title, I just deflated. I used to be incredibly consistent, staying up late to post at least once per week. I knew that consistency is key and I knew that I needed to be building my platform if I ever want to get published. I knew that sometimes you have to work through a lack of inspiration and get 'er done.

But in this season, despite all these things about blogging that I know, it's felt right to let it go a bit.

At first I thought I was simply being unmotivated, but recently a word came to me for how I feel: fallow. 

Fallow means left unsown for a season in order to restore fertility.

My e-creativity needs that, no matter how many rules of blogging this fallowness breaks. I'm such a rebel.

I'm not sure how long this fallow thing will last, I just thought I'd put it out there so you'd know that I'm not being lazy, just seasonal. See you whenever the sowing season starts up next!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

10 on 10 Photo Project:: August

A staff picnic at Lake Wilderness Park in Maple Valley meant that my day started out like this...

Fortunately, the first aid kit was unnecessary, but it was good to know the park's health and safety standards were up to scratch. Leslie Knope would be proud.

Not bad for a Wednesday morning, really.

Food was consumed.

Newborn babies were corralled around.

The view of Seattle coming from the south on 99 can sometimes be stunning. You'll have to just trust me on this. 


The first of the dahlias has bloomed. In a few weeks we'll have these bad boys coming out of our ears, and I cannot wait.

The first tomato of 2011. Woo hoo. A real week of firsts in the garden.

I have been on an absolute tahini rampage recently. This is the dressing I've been using from Mayumi's Kitchen (Mayumi was Madonna's personal chef for years) and it's been treating me well so far. If you have any good tahini tips or recipes, do share!

Ten on ten is a monthly photo project started by Rebekah at a bit of sunshine. If you want to play next time, just take ten photos on the 10th of the month and post them on your blog. Check out other people's days here

Monday, 8 August 2011

Don't Think, Just Jump

Well, I'm back from my first Writer's Conference, which was equal parts amazing, stimulating and exhausting! My goal was to learn as much as possible about the craft of writing and the industry of publishing and to pitch my project to  agents and editors. This pitching business, as you may imagine, is kind of nerve-wracking. Cold-selling is never fun, but it's even harder when you are so intimately involved in the product. When pitching memoir you are not only pitching your voice and storytelling skills, but also, as the main character, your life. No pressure or anything.

My philosophy on doing frightening tasks is to jump right in without thinking too much. Which is how I ended up in an Albanian refugee camp when I was 19 or in central England with no job, money, friends or family (barring my new husband) when I was 25. These are two decisions I'm very glad I made, though if I would have thought too hard about what I was getting myself into I may not have made those jumps. Thinking -- though not without its merits -- can be an incredibly dangerous procrastination tool.

One tidbit I took away this weekend was that, over his typewriter, Ray Bradbury posted the words "Don't think." From Bob Mayer's excellent talk, I was also encouraged to lean into fear, because action is the only way to grow courage.

So, this weekend I leaned right in and approached as many people as possible to tell them about my book. I submitted my synopsis to a synopsis boot camp to be torn apart, America's Got Talent-style. I put myself out there. Though it was scary at first, it certainly became much easier by the end. And I was really encouraged by response, the crazy reality that my book just may be interesting to other people.

The pro-activity also introduced me to some new writer friends, such as the lovely Alexis, a Young Adult paranormal fiction writer also living in Seattle, and Heidi, an inspirational girl from B.C. who is writing a memoir about a car accident that killed her best friend, burned 52% of her body and required the amputation of both her legs below the knee. But you'd never know it from Heidi's bubbly personality that she'd gone through all this. I just watched a video that tells her story and definitely encourage you to do the same.

Sometimes jumping right in without thinking isn't always the best tact, but this weekend it was well worth it.

What about you? When it comes to approaching something outside your comfort (something you know you need to do), do you generally think first or just jump right in?

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The importance of having purpose

One of my favorite book genres is memoir. I love knowing that a story is based on real life and that I can go on wikipedia and google images and stalk the author after I finish reading the book, gathering as much behind-the-scenes information as possible. Another reason I read memoir is that I'm writing a memoir, and it's important to read in the genre you work in.

A perk of writing memoir is the wealth of primary material from which to draw on. I've got so many stories from my four years in the UK that I'll never be able to use them all. Like the time I was walking home one summer evening from a friend's house in Fulham and totally slipped on what I quickly realized was human vomit. It was quite unpleasant, seeing as I was wearing flip flops and a skirt and had to ride the bus home with the remnant barf caked to my shin. When writing a book about your life you get to relive your stories again and again as you brainstorm, write and rewrite and rewrite some more.

Until there comes a point after you've spent a year and a half rehashing your stories ad nauseum when you get so sick of reliving the same four years and want to just move on with your life and not have to think about England every single day.

It's easy, when you are the topic of your writing project, to become jaded and dismissive -- who would want to read about little old me slipping on human vomit in West London? It's times like these when I need an author statement to bring me back to the purpose behind why I write.

I was inspired about this the other month while reading the memoir This is Not The Story You Think It Is. The author, Laura Munson, was certainly correct about the title -- even though I'd read the synopsis there was still way more too this my-husband-is-leaving-me-but-I-don't-buy-it play-by-play than I expected. Ms. Munson had 14 novels rejected by publishers before getting this memoir about the intense summer of marital strife published and she has a lot to say about contentment, intentionality, success and living the creative life.

She must have gone back to her author statement many times throughout the years of writing and rejection, trying to see in the dark what the point of writing more words even was.

I've written statements like an author statement in the past, but after I read hers I decided to whip one up again. Here's what I came up with: "I write to bring truth, encouragement, clarification, simplicity and life where it's needed. To bring order out of chaos and wholeness out of confusion. To help people, rich and poor, live to their full potential and to thrive."

It may not mean much to someone else, but for me it's important to come back to my purpose as often as necessary. I've been loving the following quote recently, which pretty much sums up the importance of vigilant purpose-honing:  

"People don't leave because things are hard. They leave because it's no longer worth it."

Creating something from scratch is exhausting work, but when you have purpose, it's completely worth it. It reminds me that my story is about much more than slipping on vomit (that anecdote's probably not going to make it in the book, sadly), it's about sharing a journey and encouraging people on similar journey's along the way.

Do you have a purpose statement? I won't ask you to share it but encourage you to think about what it would look like.

OK, now back to writing that book of mine... :)
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