Monday, July 30, 2012

When You've Lost Your Mojo

Since this blog is dedicated to both the ups AND the downs of becoming a writer, I thought this would be an appropriate post for the site. Because Life happens. 

                                  What do you do when you lose your mojo?

This is my grandma. Don't worry, she is much older than she looks.
Her maiden name is Donsbach, which I am sure is very German for tough as nails. =) 
It's too bad this picture is black and white, because you can't really see that the red of her hair is only second to the fire in her eyes. We are a feisty bunch, us Donsbach girls. =) You should meet her sister Helen!

Due to a stroke, this last week, we began chasing her from hospital to hospital and began an intense game of musical hotels. I have lost any desire to write. Heartbreak and worry is Exhausting with a capital E. You know your world has been shaken when your heart and mind feel like they have been rocked like a battery operated maraca.

Life. It's a beautiful thing. But when it's bad, it's awful. The pits. Blech. Sometimes, so much so, we don't feel like doing anything. Nada. Zilch.

We all have a different tolerance for pain. Some of us function beautifully while suffering, the rest of so much.

Let us use this high-tech hospital chart I have been staring at all week to explore this idea.

For me personally, I don't think I can function, meaning to create or to be alert to my surroundings, at anything above a five. From level six to ten, fugetaboudit.

I am sure some people feel comfortable being creative while in the depths of despair. They might produce their best work like Sylvia Plath or Fill in the blank.

All I know is I am a happy creative. I do best when things are lookin' good. When the birds are singing and I have a cupboard stocked with coffee and peanut butter. To me that is comfort and comfort is key.

I have made a list of things I have tried this last week to boost my spirits, to try to ease the pain of almost losing a loved one...

1. Wine

2. Hugs

3. Burpees

4. Wine to help recover from the pain of burpees

5. Will Ferrell movie marathon

6. Mexican food

7. Reading

8. Sleeping

9. Blogging about it.

So what do you do when you have lost your mojo?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Critiques for Control Enthusiasts Like Me: A Guest Post

I am so eggcited! Today, I am the featured guest on Miranda Paul's genius site, Rate Your Story. Although they are closed to submissions until August 8th, you can learn all about critiques each Wednesday. Today is my day to share how critiques can be similar to eggs. Huh? A stretch, I know. Would love to see you there!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Imagine That!

Howdy partners!

I'm writin' from the mountains of Yosemite Valley and am feelin' especially yee-hawish. The place we're restin' our chapped hides is decked out in wagon wheels and bronzed horse heads. We're surrounded by the whispers of pine trees and my conpsiring children who sit and wait for the perfect moment to launch surprise attacks of unflattering mouth sounds and potty talk.

I haven't had the ability to focus on writing and revising, but I am not worried. Why, may you ask?

Well, I am currently reading, Jonah Lehrer's ever popular, Imagine: How Creativity Works. The author mentions how the most creative and intelligent people are typically are not able to focus with multiple distractions in the background. (Enter whispers of pines and conspiring children.) Creatives are constantly attmepting to make connections with the world around them. What does this mean? I can only deduce that I must be extremely creative AND intelligent. So, that's why I'm not too worried. =)

Another excerpt from the book that I have found wildly validating and perhaps more plausible in terms of my own reality, is that creativity is rooted in problems, in times when you feel stuck...writer's block. EUREKA!

Here is what the author had to say:

Every creative journey begins with a problem. It starts wtth a feeling of frustration, the dull ache of not being able to find the answer. We have worked hard, but we've hit the wall. We have no idea what to do next.

When we tell one another stories about creativity, we tend to leave out this phase of the creative process. We neglect to mention those days when we wanted to quit, when we believed that our problems were impossible to solve. Because such failures contradict the romantic version of events...we forget all about them...Instead, we skip straight to the breakthroughs. We tell the happy endings first.

...The act of being stumped is an essential part of the creative process. Before we can find the answer - before we can probably even know the question-we must be immersed in disappointment, convinced that a solution is beyond our reach. We need to have wrestled with the problem and lost. And so we give up and move to Woodstock because we will never create what we want to create.

It is often only at this point, after we've stopped searching for the answer, that the answer arrives...And when a solution does appear, it doesn't come in dribs; the puzzle isn't solved in one piece at a time. Rather, the solution is shocking in its completeness. All of a sudden, the answer to the problem that seemed so daunting becomes incredibly obvious. We curse ourselves for not seeing it sooner.

Don't you just feel better knowing this? Knowing that each time you are stumped and question whether or not you have a creative bone in your body, your geniusness is just right around the corner, waiting to shout, "Howdy partner! I've been waitin' for your yella belly to give up! What took ya so long?"

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hope Is in the Air

I’m back. But my belly is sore. You see my friends, I am recovering from what is known as EBFS. Otherwise known as Extreme Belly Flop Syndrome, EBFS, occurs when you suffer public embarrassment. This can occur at obvious places, such as the public pool, coming out of a restroom, or in my case, online!  Others may refer to this as a banana peel moment.
I have a whole blog series dedicated to humbling moments.  I am anything but immune to them. But that doesn’t mean I am open to disclosing each and every horrific detail. Ohhhh noooo. No, no, no. 
Oh wait. Yes I am.
Learning about the online pitch contest for EMLA agent, Tricia Lawrence, was like learning Ben and Jerry’s was having its annual free -scoop giveaway!  Normally closed to submissions unless by referral, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to pitch my quirky picture book to Tricia, since I had recently read she would soon be opening her doors to picture books. I also read that she really liked a particularly quirky book, I WANT MY HAT BACK and I thought, hey, I have a quirky picture book where characters have frizzy chest hair! I mean they are basically THE SAME! =) I put two and two together and  went for it! Well, it turns out, I think I need to brush up on my math skills a little bit. Two and two did not equal five in this case.
As a participant in Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12, I let my online writer family know about the contest. We got our query letters together , the first 250 words of a polished manuscript, and posted just under the wire. It was exciting. Hope was in the air.
And then the results were announced.
It was AMAZINGLY AWESOME! I am almost positive that each of my 12 x 12 friends made the cut.   My heart leapt for each of these people.  I am proud to know them and they each deserve this recognition.
But my name wasn’t on the list.   

Gulp. Enter the onset of EBFS.  I sulked  all the way  to where my children were sleeping, squeezed between them , curled up in fetal position and let it out! Well, it was more like I tried to keep it in but the tears came out it spurts and gurgles. It was very attractive.  
It looked like this only I have a little more hair and a tad more wrinkles.

Belly flops hurt.
My work was out there for the world to see, to point and laugh at. Exposed to cringes...

and intimate conversations between hypothetical readers and their Great Aunt Velma that probably sounded something like, “Hey, come ova to the computa and git a load of this gal.  And she wants to write fa kids? Oy.”

But now, a few days later, my achy brakey heart has healed. I realize that it was one manuscript and it is only the beginning of my writing career. While more belly flops are guaranteed, so are manuscripts that will knock the knickers off some agent, if they are the kind of agent that chooses to wear knickers. (I do not discriminate.)
P.S. I have also convinced myself that there still may be an agent out there that has a thing for silly, macho men with frizzy chest hair. Hope is in the air.