You hear it all the time, but it really is true. Writing is a lonely business! Unless, of course, your computer talks to you and takes you out to happy hour. Until Siri becomes a better conversationalist and starts taking you out to happy hour, writers need to stick together. Or, turn into a psycho cat-hoarding recluse – your call! Weigh out the options.
When I was working on publishing my book, I connected with author Lacy Camey. Lacy has two novels out that are oh-so-lovely and entertaining, The Last Page and The Last Name Banks. Check ‘em out! They are great, especially for all you chick-lit lovers out there, which, I am finding I am becoming more and more. NO SHAME PEOPLE. NO SHAME.
I am not sure what brought Lacy and I together, (I think a random email on my part) but I am glad that we did. It was awesome being able to reach out to someone who had gone down the publishing road before me. She was always quick to answer questions or sympathise with my frustrations. And she connected me with my editor, Samantha Robey, which was also amazing.
Besides Lacy just being an all around lovely human, I admire her fierce passion for making her dreams a reality. Since we could all use a little encouragement in that area, I decided to ask her a few questions about writing, publishing, and reaching those goals for you, my beloved reader, to enjoy. Here goes…
- When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?
I knew I wanted to be a writer ever since I was little. (Of course, there was always the flirting with “Oh, I want to be a movie star! I want to be a singer!”) I was always thinking of stories and when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, I would write skits with my neighbor—like kid versions of SNL—and would want to perform them and put on a show. (We never go to the show part, ha). When I was in 5th grade, I penned my first story about two sisters who escape their mean stepmother and have to survive in the Australian outback. My 3rd grade teacher let me come back to the class and read my story to her students. That always left an impression. I received my BA in English Literature. I was always one track minded with this career!
- Did you ever face any doubts or fears when deciding to go after your writing goals? If so – how did you get past them?
Yes. As humans with a beating heart on the inside, most of us desire to be liked and have others’ approval. It’s a natural need we have as children. But as we grow and mature and realize how to be healthy, confident adults, we have to let go of other’s thoughts, opinions, and approvals in order to really be free. I’ve learned this lesson early on in my twenties. I’ve also learned this lesson greatly in publishing. Not everyone will love your book. And hey, that’s okay. That’s why it’s great to have different tastes and opinions. And some people may be rude or mean in the reviews. But that’s their problem. Not mine. If it’s not constructive criticism, I’m not going to “own” what they are saying. I stay very “tunnel vision”, focused and positive. But every so often, I have to revisit that fear that can try to come knocking on my door. I just don’t answer it. :-).
So many people let fear keep them from jumping out there and pursuing what’s on the inside.
The saying, “If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat”. So, maybe you step out of the boat, and you sink at first. So what. Try again. So many successful people have to go through many trial and errors. We can’t forget that when it comes to the creative arts. My thought is, “Hey, we only have one life to live. Live with no regrets. Don’t let people dictate what you do. People will always ALWAYS have an opinion. Even if you’re the princess of England! (Kate Middleton).” So, that’s how I move past my fears. I also journal every day and focus on successful quotes. I read more non fiction books the fiction. Most of my books I read are on personal growth (goals, “You can do it!” books, and positivity.) Haha.
- How do you stay so committed to your craft, especially in the face of uncertainty?
It’s like this fire that burns non-stop in me. I think about writing ALL the time. Right before I go to sleep. Right when I wake up. It’s in my blood. Uncertainty will always be there.
But there is a saying that says, “People make their own luck.” So, I try to live my life by that motto.
Of course my life is in God’s hands, but I believe we are co-creators with Him. We can help create our lives. We aren’t robots sitting around waiting to be pushed into doing things. We have action on our part. I think that’s how I stay so committed because I want to be like 80 one day and still be writing and have written over 100 books.
- Why did you decide to self-publish?
Many reasons. First, there is a huge entrepreneur side to me. That’s the way my dad is. That’s the way my mom is. Moving that aside, let’s talk about money. Money talks! When I found out through my many hours of research that most books only get a $5,000 advance, and most books do not earn out their first printing (meaning, no royalties), I was downright discouraged. I thought, “How in the world can someone be a full time fiction writer making $5,000 a year?” Then, on top of that, there are huge hurdles to be crossed…getting a publishing house to sign you. Querying. Waiting almost 2 years for your book to be sold. Yada.Yada. The process seemed so overwhelming and almost impossible. So, long story short, I read early in 2011 of Amanda Hocking and John Locke and the light bulb went off. I realized, I could do everything a publisher does, (hire an editor, designer, formatter) and pocket 70% of the royalties (versus 8%) AND get paid every month. It was a “no brainer” for me. In fact, knowing this, really lit the fire on the inside ! I can happily say, my first book has earned over thrice the amount a publisher would have paid me. (And it hasn’t even been published a year). That’s exciting. Now, I am not opposed to working with a publisher. I think it would be a great experience!
- What advice would you give to people who want to start writing?
Try to write every day! Let others inspire you, but don’t try to be like anyone else. Don’t feel pressured to write a certain way.
- What advice would you give to people who are thinking of self-publishing?
I think it is a great option! Make sure you try your best and put out an excellent product. Make sure everything is as best as it can be. Covers are extremely important, too!
- Tell us about your books!
Okay! Well, I have a chicklit trilogy—”Living, Loving, and Laughing Again.” These books are light reads and you won’t find any language or sex in them. Each book can be read as a stand alone, as well, because each book features a different character. Because of their clean content, even though the ladies are in their 20′s, teens should be safe to read them. They are also inspirational reads with themes of hope.
1. “The Last Page“ is Norah’s story. She’s 23. Her story deals with the theme of living life after a break up and learning how to heal your heart.
Norah Johnson is at a crossroads and is in desperate need to heal after a highly publicized breakup from her major league baseball player boyfriend. To escape, she moves to her summer home at the beach with her sister and best friend where she journals, attends therapy and works on her pending clothing line. When a gorgeous stranger finds her lost journal, he seeks to find the author and make her fall in love with him. But is Norah ready to love again?
2. “The Last Name Banks” you have Chloe’s story. She’s 23. Her story revolves around learning to be free from what others think of her so she can live her life free.
Chloe Banks has always been known for her political, powerful billionaire last name and of course, naturally, for her money. Now she’s ready to show to the world there is more to her than what meets the eye. She’s more than the prim debutante from a privileged background. Yes, her father may be running for President and her mother may be the socialite of the year, never lifting a finger unless it’s to sip a flute of champagne, but Chloe is just like any other normal twenty-three year old, wanting to love and be loved, wanting to make her own mark in this world.
So Chloe moves temporarily with her two friends to Venezuela to serve in an orphanage as a nurse. But it is there she faces the same prejudices she is running away from, including the judgment from the incredibly good-looking orphanage facilitator and a few grumpy doctors. Chloe has to learn to let go of others’ assumptions of who she is so she can finally live her life free. But will she?
3. “The Last Pretense” (being released soon!) is Maycee’s story. She’s 27 and she is Norah’s sister. (I am currently writing her story.)
I also write YA and will have a book or two out before Christmas. My husband and I also co-write classic love stories together. Our first release will release late fall. “The Grape Picker”. Picture the movie “A Walk in the Clouds” meets “The Notebook.” So excited about that one!
Next year, I’m writing a supernatural thriller series with him, and will continue to write chicklit, as well. :-)
- I Love that you give a portion of your proceeds to an orphanage! What prompted you to do that?
Thanks so much! Well, I read Richard Paul Evans book, “The Sunflower”, many years back. I saw at the end of the book that he does that with his books. I knew that whenever I started publishing, that is something I would want to do. Right now, I have a savings fund for building an orphanage. I want to be very hands on with this. This is ongoing work that I will do for the rest of my life and whenever my husband and I have children, we will raise them coming with us and visiting these orphanages.
- Anything else you want the great internet world to know about you?
I love turquoise! I also am an advocate for organic eating and fresh pure water! :-)
So, I went to college at Palm Beach Atlantic University. I swear it is a real school. It sits a mile from the ocean and just a few hours from the Florida Keys. Studying fit somewhere in between those two. It was paradise, in more ways than one.
There was a guy who worked in the cafeteria there named Christian Sampson. Everyday, Christian would walk up to you and ask you how you were doing. You would say good, how about you? And everyday, without fail, he would say “I am blessed by the best,” and then share with you his Bible verse of the day.
If I am going to be honest, it kinda freaked me out, even though I love myself a Bible verse and also believe I am “blessed by the best.” Don’t judge! It was just so …unusual…for someone to day after day walk up to people he didn’t even know and so, so unabashedly share his faith, beliefs and blessings.
Christian, on Dec. 26 posted on Facebook “I will walk in victory with Jesus in 2013.” That next Sunday, on his way to church, he died. He just died.
Now, looking back at him and his faith and his boldness and his sweet, kind heart, I don’t feel uncomfortable. I feel amazed. Amazed at this man who day after day was persistent, fearless and bold about his beliefs, faith and hope. Who really, really loved Jesus, and wanted others to feel the same. It made me sad that I don’t live my life with that same boldness and fearlessness.
What is it in your life you want to be more bold about? Whether it be proclaiming your faith or claiming your dreams, what can you do this year to be bold, fearless and passionate? You may even change a few lives in the process – an amazing added bonus!
Be bold humans, be bold.
So, the e-version of my book has been on sale for about a month now. I have been feeling like I should write an epic post about how excited I am my work is out in the universe, what I have learned in the process and, of course, add in a few subtle humble brags about my success. But the reality is – publishing is a weird, somewhat overwhelming process, one that I am still sifting through. As of now, I have no words. (BAH! The irony.) Putting something out there for everyone to read and critique that you have been working on for so long is pretty … terrifying. But, despite all the anxious, nervous and uncomfortable feelings, there is not one regret in my body. There are no regrets, because life is so short, precious, fragile and beautiful to do anything less than work hard, embrace fear, and chase those dreams.
My husband and I have been talking a lot about art and money and jobs and fear and life and art and creativity lately, with my book just coming out and him about to kiss grad school goodbye. Earlier this week I came across this video on good ‘ole Fbook, and it was probably one out about 100 times spent procrastinating that I actually don’t regret. The video spoke to a lot of the thoughts and conversations that I have been having, and I wanted to share it with y’all. (If Texas has given me nothing else, it has given me a love for the word y’all.)
Anyway, make this full screen. Turn it up loud. Watch this and think about what it is that makes you itch… besides your gluten allergy. What kind of world you want your kids to grow up in? One that promotes practicality over passion? Safety over fulfilment? GROSS.
Watch and think, you little human being you! Then, if the spirit moves you – get hustlin’ after that thing you have been putting off for too long. :)
The more creative people I meet and books on creativity I read, the more I realize that artists all have one thing in common – fear. At some point or another, we have all battled thoughts of self-doubt. Succesful creatives are not immune to these obnoxious feelings, they have just learned how to push past them.
This past week I went to my monthly “creative ladies happy hour,” where a bunch of amazing weirdos like me get together, sip wine, eat cheese and talk about the best parts of life. This meeting was held in the cute, vintage home of interior designer Claire Zinnecker. Tucked away in historic Hype Park, this 1940′s gem of an abode provided the perfect backdrop for relaxing, laughing, and sharing dreams … that sounds kinda dorky but I promise it is great.
Anyway – this time around I decided to get all my blog readers in on the action. So, between bites of snacks and sips of Pamplemousse La Croix, (which, for the record is the best word of all time. Pamplemousse! Amazing! I can’t get over it.), I asked the girls to share one piece of advice for those of you out there who may be thinking about pursuing your creative dreams, but are held by *gasp* – fear, or some other crappy emotion that does nothing more but muck life up. Then, amazing photographer and artist Kate Stafford snapped some pics to supplement. Click on each picture for a better look, and then scroll down to see what these amazing ladies had to share. Enjoy!
”For me, it all started with a specific vision and a purpose. I didn’t know logistically what my career would look like, but I knew I loved people and creativity, and I wanted to bring those two things together. I had a dream, and I knew in the end how I wanted things to look, and I knew eventually it would manifest. I always refocus on that – my original vision. And even if that vision changes – that is ok.”
Photographer at Peacock Photography, Artist
“Write down all your ideas. I write down everything.”
Aspiring Meat Smoker (aka opening a BBQ restaurant)
“Every morning I have to wake up, get dressed and make a specific space to work in. When working from home, you need to have determination to get things done.”
Freelance Photographer/Graphic designer/Tina Fey body double
“Do what it takes to get to where you want to be. Not by stepping on toes or anything like that. But if you have to take a barista job and hate it – do it anyway until get there. Just remember it isn’t what you will be doing forever.”
Freelance Wedding Planner
“A good spray tan is the key to success.”
Young Mind Molder, Rockstar Storyteller, Funniest Person in Texas. If you can’t detect the sarcasm in this quote, than you haven’t met Tiffany. But, you should. She is amazing.
“Do anything and everything you can to be in a creative world, even if you are not doing something creative while there. Put yourself out there, and don’t be afraid to ask. Nobody started out being great, we all came from somewhere. And be sure to support everyone around you, because you never know where it will lead.”
“Just stop making excuses, and go for it. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes – just try it. You never know what will happen.”
Amazing Jewelry Designer and creative extraordinaire.
What advice do you have for people who are going after unconventional, maybe a little scary yet oh so fulfilling dreams? My advice is – never, ever let fear be the only thing that stops you from doing what you want to do. I mean, in a creative way. If you are considering scaling up a skyscraper because you have a strong love for Spiderman – listen to your fear, and take up drawing comic books instead.
Leave me a comment – I would love to hear from you!
My life is not my own and I write to give it away.
I was perusing through awesome writer Jennie Allen‘s blog the other day and came across this tiny, gem of a sentence. She put into words how I have felt about writing for awhile, but had not really been able to express. Being able to write, or do any other form of art in even a remotely good way, is such a gift. And whether you think it comes from God or not, how awesome it is that we can use those gifts to simply better the lives of others…if only for a short while. When people email me and tell me how one of my
pathetic blog posts made them laugh, or made them feel like they were not the only crazy person out in the universe, it makes my soul bubble like a hoppy, delicious beer. (That was a random analogy. I think I may just be craving a beer. Don’t judge me!) The point is -it feels awesome when people are affected by my writing.
Maybe you are a photographer, and are able to capture the beauty of a young family or bride on her wedding day. Or a songwriter and you craft a tune that makes people dance like dorks at weddings or cry like sappy losers as they drive down the highway alone. Or an actor, who can make people laugh, hope, and forget about mundane life, if only until intermission.
I have come to realize that the reason we create is not just to satisfy our creative itch, or to live out some cool, artsy persona – but it is to serve others. If what we do makes people happy, reminds them of the beautiful, juicy parts of life, or just flat out makes people laugh – who are we to keep that to ourselves? I think about this now when I don’t feel like writing, when I feel stupid for writing, or I would flat out just rather to sit on the couch and watch Netflix with my husband. Writing for me, and whatever it is that you create, is an awesome way to give back to the world – so get ‘er done!
I would like to begin this post with an extra special shout out to my fierce band of 11 followers – you are the 11 best people I have ever met, whoever you may be…because I can’t figure out how to get WordPress to tell me who follows my blog.
With that, if you are not one of the Fierce 11, then you should consider following me! Just enter in your email address in the top right corner underneath the giant mustache. (blog tip of the day: all good blogs have giant displays of men’s facial hair) Then, whenever I post, you will get a beautiful, gift-wrapped email in your inbox. The wrapping paper will be bio-degradable, of course. Go green or go home!
Anyway, I would like to seriously begin today’s post with a quote that my super awesome, super gorgeous, super smart, super funny sister shared with me the other day:
Just do what you’d do if you DID have the confidence
(author unknown, because she heard it at the gym, and obviously you don’t carry a pen and paper while you are working out, unless you are thinking about crafting a murder mystery revolving around a steroid pumping trainer. Then you should carry a pen and paper incase inspiration strikes mid-treadmill)
That quote is great! It reminds me of one of my mantras of the past year – Fake it ’till ya make it! Perfect for all of us 20-somethings who don’t have 15 years of professional experience to weigh down our sense of self-worth. So you there, sitting at this computer screen when you should perhaps be doing something more productive (although I deeply thank you for taking the time to read this) – whatever it is that you want to do, but can’t muster up the courage, just go for it anyway. Pretend like you have as much confidence as Snookie post-spray tan, and eventually, you probably will realize that whatever you were afraid of wasn’t all that bad. So you look like a dork for five minutes, or get a couple rejections – it sure is a lot more exciting than nothing at all, right?
With that, I would like to share with you a tid-bit about my super amazing husband, Kyle. Yesterday I was waiting for a friend in a coffee shop, and began flipping through a copy of The Austin Chronicle that someone had left on the table. It is their annual “Top Ten” of the year list issue. I know that Kyle got a great review for his performance of Jekyll and Hyde by them a few months back, so I flipped to the art section to see if the play was mentioned. It was!
So proud of him – he is such an amazing artist, taking his work so seriously and professionally. It has been so amazing to see him grow in his love and skill of acting over the past decade. I always think back to when he graduated High School – he was in a few shows, sang a few songs, but who would have thought that he would have the drive, work ethic, and
balls courage to persue such an unconventional career to this degree. He has always been so encouraging of me and my feeble attempts at writing and creating. I could not have asked for a more exciting man to be married to, and know that God has nothing but awesome plans for him in the next few years. I mean, check out this amazing picture:
Anyway – don’t not be an actor.writer.painter.singer.cupcake maker. because it is too scary. I would say sitting at a crusty cubicle miserable at age 49 sounds a lot worse!
Go for it young chipmunk, go for it with fury and reckless abandon.
2012 seems so fresh and exciting to me – 300-some blank days filled with opportunity.laughter.new friends.vacations.writing. 2011, God bless it for trying, was a complete B and a half. For example, at one point I took a stress test online (probably procrastinating from doing something of value, like writing or working) – turns out, I could check about 90% of the boxes that indicate that you, indeed, are too stressed to function as a normal human being. Everything from major move to change in income.social structure.marriage, to death in the family – awesome. Thanks 2011 for being such a royal pain in the ass! Of course there were many wonderful blessings and I thanked God daily for them (when I wasn’t begging for grace, that is), but I am breathing a happy sigh of relief that we have added another number to the calendar.
This past year I was often a shriveled dusty raisin of a creative – avoiding all such things that bring me joy, (like writing), because I was mostly too occupied with flat our surviving. Sorry, but wondering about how I was going to pay the rent or worrying if I could get someone to cover my stupid waitressing shifts so I could attend a funeral, did not really invoke inspiration. However, with 2012 and all its brand new, shiny beauty, I have gotten a good start on purposely reinvigorating my soul, shining light back into the places that were covered in a think, crusty layer of angst. I have discovered new music that makes every morning seem sunny. I have been writing. I have 15 new canvases that are itching for me to cover them in bright acrylics. I have come to terms with the rocky fate of the publishing world, and taken the pressure off myself to go ‘the traditional route’. (screw you, conformity!) I have taken a road trip with my husband, an old habit that we had been ignoring. I have read books.books.books. that have again ignited my passion for art, writing, life. I have decided to sign up for a creative writing class. I have painted my nails embarrassingly bright colors. I have eaten far too much cheese, and enjoyed every bubble of a good beer. I have felt like myself again. Happy sigh.
Today, in another purposeful attempt at kicking my soul into high gear, I sat down and listened to an online audio call by an SARK, an author who is all about coloring your world brightly and listening to that itch inside of you that keeps telling you to create. I dorkily tweeted some of my takeaways from the session, but wanted to share them again here, so they are permanently etched into the vast internet landscape, and can be enjoyed by all who may pass by. Was that a dramatic statement? Yes. Deal with it.
Here are some nuggets for you to enjoy: (And by nugget, I mean that of the gold nature, NOT chicken nature, as we all know that McDonalds chicken nuggets are actually bite sized portions of DEATH. Dramatic again? Not sorry.)
In the spirit of SARK, who hand draws all of her books in wild colors, I will go all “7th grade email” style on you, and make my text resemble a rainbow:
- The new year is a great time for transformation and change
- Commit to brining stories to the world, and changing worlds for the better.
- Feeling all of our feelings helps us to be the writers we are
- Writing words changes the world
- What is the one value you want to share with others with your writing?
- Love your messy, dark places as well as the pretty polished ones
- You don’t have to let terrible things bury you and your creativity
- “I have such a stirring to get my story out in the world”
- We are all hungry for connections, and we can get those connections through writing and stories
- Trust the process – as long as you keep making progress and doing the work, you will get to where you want to go. Progress, not perfection
- Empower your inner wise self, whether it be the holy spirit, etc.
- Write what delights you, what comes from your soul. Delight yourself first, then others will be delighted.
- Dare to pour yourself onto the paper.
- Vow to write what delights you, and what comes from your soul
- Serendipity: the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident
- We are meant to live our lives with out the inner critics guiding everything. It is amazing when you live in a way where the critics are not speaking louder than you and your inner wise self.
- It is actually easier to write than to not write. I love how I feel when I am writing regularly.
- Every time you write, something valuable will occur.
- You are NOT behind – everything that has ever happened to you has nourished the writer you are today.
- We evolve at the rate of the tribe we are plugged into.
So there you have it folks – a brightly colored, semi-cheesy yet profound break from the drudgery of the mundane. In 2012 – remember to take time out to nourish and really enjoy the activities that bring you joy, whether that be writing, painting, designing, or playing disc golf. Life is juicy! Lets take big gulps and remember to refill our cups.
In the last six months I have attended two writing conferences. While they were extremly different in their styles and content, (and so awesome) there was one similar theme throughout both – the publishing world is cray-cray, and good luck to you, oh writer, trying to break into the business. Perhaps try joining the circus instead – you may have a better chance at becoming a leotard clad lion tamer then getting a publishing deal that will actually pay your bills. At least, the message was something to that effect.
So how are we, as writers, supposed to stay sane as we attempt to break into an industry that is completly overridden with cynicism? (cynical but realistic. sigh.)
We keep writing. We ignore the statistics. We do our absolute best. We do what we love. We keep reminding ourselves why we do so in the first place -because we love it.
If you are meant to be an author, and continue to ignore your inner (and sometimes outer) critics, continue to refine yourself, learn, attend harrowing conferences, ask for opinions, find your voice, and then write write write, then you will probably *one day* have your book on a shelf with a real live ISBN on the back cover.
But until then, lets just keep writing. Keep fueling the fire in our guts, keep sipping steamy coffee while blasting Pandora and clicking away at the keys. Keep creating, keep editing, and keep dreaming – because going in a forward direction, even if you don’t know where exactly it will take you, is a lot more fun then going nowhere. And lets be honest – lions are terrifying and leotards can be uncomfortable.
I met with some beautiful friends for a ‘Creative Ladies Happy Hour’ the other night, although ladies makes us sound ancient, we were all in our 20′s. All of us have a passion for creating – from writing to photography, interior design to crafting. In between bites of queso and guacamole we talked about our successes, our failures, our dreams, and our fears. It was refreshing to be around a group of people who know what it feels like to hang up your artwork for the first time, or to get rejected, or to have to go to a coffee shop to work so you don’t end up turning into a depressed couch zombie all day and get nothing accomplished.
After that night I went home and finished up Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist that I wrote about in my last post. There was just one more passage that made me gasp and then let out a huge dramatic noise and wave my arms around as I sometimes do when words pierce my soul. (See- I am dramatic! Pierce my soul? A little extreme…but still necessary)
This passage is for all you creators out there who are hiding behind fear. I hope and pray you can overcome it and have the courage to use the unique gifts God has given you- because that is where the good life lives.
I know that life is busy and hard, and that there’s crushing pressure to just settle down and get a real job and kahki pants and a haircut. But don’t. Please don’t. Please keep believing that life can be better,broader, because of the art you make. Please keep demonstrating the courage that it takes to swim upstream in a world that prefers putting away for retirement to putting pen on paper, that chooses practicality over poetry, that values you more for going to the gym than going to the deepest places of your soul. Please keep making art for people like me, people who need the magic and imagination and honesty of great art to make the day-to-day world a little more bearable. And if, for whatever reason, you’ve stopped – stopped believing in your voice, stopped fighting to find the time – start today.
Because everyone, every person was made by God, in the image of God. If he is a creator, and in fact he is, than we are creators, and no one, not a bad seventh-grade English teacher or a harsh critic or jealous competitor, can take that away from you.
-Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines, p. 228 – 229
Isn’t that awesome? Don’t you see the need for making a big, grand, dramatic gesture after you read it?
Don’t keep quiet- don’t hide behind a wall of fear – don’t keep your paintings under your bed – share what God has given you with the world, if not just for yourself than for others. You never know who you will impact, whose day you may improve, and who you just may inspire.
If you are a book nerd like me, these little bound clusters of pages can be much more than a way to pass time waiting at a corner coffee shop or while commuting on the subway. (just let me pretend I live in NYC for a minute, thanks.) Books sometimes shape my soul, give me direction, give me clarity, help me discover something about myself, and remind me of the good stuff in life. (I am not sure if the Goosebumps or Boxcar children series I devoured as a child has that dramatic of an impact, but I do still enjoy scary stories and mysteries so…)
Anyway, over the past few years there have been a few books that have made me want to sing an opera and paint my walls with glitter in joy. It began with Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont, then Juicy Pens Thirsty Paper and Make Your Creative Dreams Real by SARK (who knew other people loved color and markers as much as I did?!) and then On Writing by the super amazing and perfect and terrifying Stephen King then BAM. This weekend I have added another to my life-changing repertoire: Cold Tangerines By Shauna Niequist.
I want to just type the words OMG over and over again in a speechless attempt to express my love for her words, but I will refrain myself from such pathetic blog conduct. (omgomgomg ok I couldn’t resist, much like I can’t resist eating an entire bowl of queso)
Cold Tangerines has helped revive the inspiration fed part of my soul, which after a year of *stress*stress*stress* I was beginning to thing was permanently damaged. (yikes!) IT IS NOT. It has made me realize that yes, yet again I can sparkle inside as bright as Richard Simmons best leotard. (FYI this is my favorite analogy and have used it in 3 different pieces of writing and I don’t care if you judge me for it because it brings me sheer joy) Cold Tangerines has helped wake up parts in me that had a permanent ’closed until the weather improves’ sign nailed to the front door. Shauna wrote in one chapter about a group of high school girls she started mentoring, that
“They uncovered something good in me that started to get crusted over by grown up life and dress pants and mortgage payments”
I feel that adult life can have that effect on us if we don’t fight against it. Our creativity and excitement can be squelched by the need to buy toilet paper and cook dinners and clean and find a job and pay bills. Don’t let a part of you die as you get older! Remember those times when you felt inspired, when you had joy, when you freely created and keep fighting to get back to that place.
P.S. Reading Cold Tangerines just might help get you there! DO IT.