Thursday, December 14, 2017

Have You Looked At What's In Your 'Ideas' File Recently?

My (writing) life was in danger of becoming an unfinished symphony.
I’m an Aries, and we love to start things. Unfortunately, finishing isn’t a strong point. I have sweaters, quilts, paintings, gardening projects….well, you get the picture. All unfinished.
Perhaps more importantly, I have a huge file on my computer of novel ideas and, even more alarming, about seven novel manuscripts in various stages of completion.
And then I signed up, as I do every year, for Nanowrimo. You know what I mean, that challenge where you try to sweat out 50,000 words, or an entire novel, in a month. Self-inflicted torture.
And I went through my ideas file to try to figure out what I’d like to work on. And found two mss that had been done to first draft in previous Nanos. And then abandoned like unwanted children.
Oh, dear, my poor babies.
Because they were actually good children, interesting plot lines, characters who sobbed on my shoulder when I told them they’d have to wait to tell their stories.
I felt like a monster.
So, I quit Nano and dusted off a couple of these unfinished stores and got to work.
And it’s going well. The poor things are so happy to see me, they just blossom with words.
My unfinished symphony of a (writing) life was highlighted by talking to a friend who was clearing out all sorts of things. “If anything happened to me, I know my kids and grandkids would just dump this stuff,” she said philosophically.
Uhmm, I started wondering what my kids would do – or think – about a series of unfinished murder mysteries with a couple of hot sex scenes thrown in.
Much better solution is to finish them (the books, not my kids) and get them out to take their chances in the big world.
As for the unfinished craft projects, well, who knows what fate awaits them?
So, have you checked what novel ideas are lurking in your 'ideas' or 'strays' file? You might find almost finished gold, right there!


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Too Busy Chasing Success To Have A Life?

Is your writing becoming more like a word mill, churning out stories just to keep up with a publisher's requirements – or your own eagerness for success? Nowadays it's not unusual for writers – particularly those writing romance, series, and cozy mystery series – to turn out four books a year. Or more. Yes, that was FOUR a YEAR or MORE.
Maybe if all your writing is fiction, you could do that. But if fiction and non-fiction, articles and blogs and promo content all meld into that mixture, then burn-out may be lurking on the horizon.
Sure, it's flattering when publishers accept one book, insist on edits, and offer a three-book contract with killer deadlines. Wow! They love me! My readers can't get enough!
But pause for a moment. Think about your life. Think about the lives of those intertwined with yours.
Do you have time to spend with them? To be there for them as they are for you? Time to smell the roses, see the change of season, relax? Hug a child, grandchild, friend, or stranger in need?

And, of course, for many writers there's always the day job. The one you've sworn to give up as soon as writing pays enough to pay the bills. But when is 'enough' actually enough?
In other words, are you so busy rushing pell-mell after what looks like success, only to miss out on your Real Life?

Remember, when you get to the top of one mountain, there's always another waiting to be climbed.
No matter how busy you are, take time to celebrate the successes, big and small. Reached the top of a mountain? Yippee! Happy dance! And include others in your joy.

That joy and zest will spill over into your work, making you a better writer, more engaging to your readers, than yet another book churned out that may actually seem an awful lot like the previous one that was still percolating in your head when you moved on.
And take time in your writing to write the book of your heart. The book you're writing for yourself, without peering over your shoulder at what the competition is doing, at what the publishers are looking for. The book which may never see the light of day – or may prove to be your biggest success yet.
Because, at the end of the day, success in life is a robust thing, a many-sided thing, rather than a one-horse race with no-one there to applaud.
Glenys O'Connell is a former journalist, mental health counsellor, and now a multi-published fiction author. She is also the author of non-fiction including Depression: The Essential Guide and PTSD: The Essential Guide.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday Inspiration: What Inspires You? My First Blog After a Long, Dry Spell! #glenysoconnell #inspiration

Mostly when we talk about 'inspiration', we're talking about the sudden insights that grab a writer, artist, dancer, musician, and lead (hopefully!) to some beautiful piece of art.
Well, as a writer I do value those insightful moments very much! But to be honest, I think there is a kind of inspiration that affects everyone, although sometimes we have to open our hearts and minds and look for it.
These little joys are the simple, precious moments that keep us going through a humdrum day, and sometimes through the dark days and nights when worry assails us and sleep eludes us. Here are some of my favorites.
I'm talking about the things that bring us sudden joy. Often these are small things with a big impact, times that make you smile both when they happen and in memory.
For me that includes the tiny chickadee that perched on my hand as I filled the birdfeeder this morning. Something so tiny, so alive, so confident and full of joy itself brought a smile to my face and yes, that little jolt of joy that is inspiration.
An unexpected card from a friend I'd lost touch with. A neighbour dropping by just to say hello. A texted funny forwarded by a friend who'd taken the time to let me know he or she was thinking of me.
I still remember with joy the first time I held our newborn children, and now our newborn grandchild. It's a feeling that still swells with emotion so rich that it can take my breath away. Especially now they're all grown into good people and the grandbaby is a strong and healthy toddler with a great line in kisses and hugs!
Some of those moments of joy come when you'd least expect them. My husband reaching to take my hand to anchor me as I went through medical tests; when he reaches over on an ordinary day to hug me as if I'm precious.
The first flowers that poke their heads up to herald the end of our long Northern winter. Stepping outside our country home on a bitterly cold winter's night to see a clear night sky crowded with a billion bright stars and a huge yellow moon.
I could go on and on. But we all have our moments of inspiration, moments that make the ordinary extraordinary and keep is going
even on the dullest of days. Sure there are the big events, like when you got the job, when your book was accepted for publishing, when you finally got to make that life-changing trip you'd been planning for so long.
But to me it's the little moments of joy, ordinary moments in an ordinary day, that inspire me to get through the day. Whatever yours are, seek them out and hold onto them. They're very precious.