Surprise Yourself

IMG_4679.PNG  Lester Burnham – American Beauty 

If one of the main questions we ask ourselves in this life is: “Who Am I?”, then one of the next important questions should be, “And who else do I want to be?” 

I find the answer to “Who Am I?”, a fairly involved one. I wear a lot of hats. I work a challenging full time job where I am still always learning and always busy. I am a mother to three young children who keep me *very* busy. I am lucky to also be a happy wife to a great husband. I’m a daughter, a sister, a friend.  All of these roles help define much of my life and keep my life very full, but I realized in the last few years that I needed a creative outlet to be fully myself.  I have long had a call to write, so I am also a blogger, a tweeter (is that a word?😃), a novice poet, novelist and writer of short stories. 

Yet, despite having written a great deal, I haven’t published yet or submitted much of anything for publication.  So, if I ask myself what else I would like to be, one big answer for me right now is – to be published! 

For this reason, amid all the existing craziness in my life, I’ve recently become a part of a group of writers making plans to launch a new blog. (Details coming soon! 😀) We are also putting some plans in place for some intriguing future projects which I will also happily share later as things develop. 

The goal of all our plans is essentially to help light a fire under all our behinds to get our work out there.  Then the goal is also to promote each other’s and our own work.  Just the initial meetings alone have helped prompt me to tackle a few things I haven’t pushed myself to do before.

While committing to this team makes my list of things to be done quite a bit longer, it is a surprising and exciting new piece of who I am and hopefully will help get me closer to where I want to be! 

What challenges are you setting for yourself?  

When was the last time you surprised yourself? 

What else do you want your life to be?  

Let me know in the comments and have a great week! 

~CJS



Off to a great start!

My last blog post asked for some advice or thoughts on what I should do next (following my first 365 day challenge). Some of you replied on this blog, some on Twitter and some IRL (in real life – over the phone or in person). I appreciated all feedback. 🙂

Everyone seemed to agree that committing to write every day again was a good idea. I wholeheartedly agree. I definitely have grown as a writer as a result of the initial challenge. Therefore, I am declaring today Day 1 of my new 365 challenge. Cheers to getting back on track! Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

Consensus also seems to be that I shouldn’t rule out the opportunity to try new things and write as I feel called to write. New poetry, new short stories, some flash fiction – all were supported suggestions. I will definitely allow myself to explore.

Building the blog also seems a key part of my writer development and challenge. I will continue with a once a week commitment on Mondays, but I may add more days (like tonight’s) randomly or expand my schedule later. I would also like to plug a future blog project you should see coming soon, with a group of local writers where we each will have a blog day during the week. I’ll let you know once that is up and running. 🙂

I also have a few upcoming blog events I’d like to mention as well: 1000 Speak in February and April’s A to Z Challenge.

1000 Speak blog for compassion on Feb 20th was suggested to me by Jessica Scott and I am very excited to be a part of the project. Essentially the idea is to have many blogs dedicated to the idea of compassion the same day- on February 20th, the day of compassion. You can follow the blog, Facebook page or on Twitter (#1000Speak) if you would like to participate.

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I am also looking forward to participating in the April A to Z Challenge again. I did my first challenge last year & it was both great fun and a great way to find new blogs/meet other bloggers. I believe that Monday will be the first day to join the list and getting on early does help get more traffic to your blog, so go check it out! 🙂

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I am excited for this new daily writing challenge and for continuing to build a blog voice here and on the new blog project. I am also excited about making some big steps forward on my writing projects, and will share with you in my next post what is helping get me there.

Talk to you soon, and in the meantime, I am writing. 🙂

CJ

What do I do now?

I finished my first 365 day challenge at the end of 2014. We are now well into the first month of 2015 and I am floundering a bit.

Do I do another year of writing every day? I thought I would but haven’t been doing so consistently since ending the first 365 days. I want to tweak the challenge a bit before starting again. Unfortunately I have been rather indecisive as to what the new guidelines will be.

Committing to write everyday was a tremendously helpful goal to set. I wrote far more than I would have without the commitment, even if perhaps not so much in the direction I need to be going. The first year commitment was simply to write every day. I made no restrictions on what I would write. Free writing, character sketch, poetry, work on short story or novel or even a blog post, all counted as my writing for the day.

Now I am at a place where I need to pick a new challenge. So, I thought I would ask your advice! 🙂

What should the new challenge be?

-Same exact challenge? Just write. Every day.

-Build my blog? Increase the number of days I blog? Throw in some challenges like Flash Fiction Fridays?

-Write Every Day exclusively on current WIP? And then into next book in the series. No blog posts or poems or side projects count for daily writing requirement?

-Combination of both? Blogging more & differently and write every day?

-Something different? Suggestions welcome!

I know that the saying is true, without a plan, a goal is just a wish. I am working out my plan now. I need to make a decision soon and move forward with a new challenge because I have already been missing the habit I had established with the previous challenge.

Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions. 🙂

Have a great week!

CJ

Versatile Blogger

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First I have to say I am sorry for missing my regularly scheduled post day last Sunday. I was able to have a date night with my husband at the last minute whilst writing my blog post and I just dropped my blog and went out for a kid free night. It was fantastic, but I was sorry I missed and will do my best not to skip for so long again.

This post however is to first thank the person who nominated me for this blogger award and then to share the love and nominate fellow bloggers who are all really awesome and well worth checking out!

Big thanks to the Reckless Romantic for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger award. To accept this award ( which I am late in accepting – apologies again ) I agree to:

1) Link to the person who nominated me
2) list 10 other bloggers to receive the award
3) link to their sites
4) let them know they were nominated
5) tell 7 things about myself

7 Things to Know About Me

1) I am working on my first book in a planned series. It’s Paranormal Romance and the first draft is almost finished!

2) I have a great love for reading – all genres and recently have even added poetry into the mix. Read my A to Z Challenge posts about my love of reading and recent love for poetry.

3) Music and movies are also great loves and help keep me sane. See my 30 Seconds to Mars, Outro or Mumford and Sons posts for music.  Though all of these fit into the A to Z, 30 Seconds to Mars is a new favorite band – top 5 all time I think for me! For movies check out my Playing by Heart or Zoolander posts.

4) I love to travel, though I don’t get to do nearly enough now as a happily married full-time working mother of 3 crazy & wonderful young boys (ages 8, 6 & 6 – yes, you read that right, I am a mom of identical twin boys. All 3 of my sons are fantastic fun). Read my post on Scotland travel for an example of travel love.

5) I am a hopeless Fangirl. Check out my ode to Fangirling. My primary Fangirl love is for Tom Hiddleston & can be found throughout my posts, but you can read also about my Fangirl love for Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Sherlock and Game of Thrones.

6) I challenged myself to write everyday for a year back in the end of December 2013. Read my first post about getting started or what I learned early on writing every day. I am at over 150 days now and the challenge has been fantastic!

7) I love to hear from you! Please leave me a comment and tell me something about you! Go check out the other bloggers and Reckless Romantic who referred me and comment on their blogs. Bloggers supporting bloggers is a beautiful thing.

Bloggers I recommend:

1). Lunatic Lover and Poet

2.) Tea and Knee Socks

3.) Wordsplash

4.) Celine JeanJean

5.) Larry Atchley Jr.

6.) Robyn LaRue

7.) Gwynn Rogers

8) Tina DC Hayes

9) A Writer Inspired

10) Cheryl Wright

2014 Blogging from A-Z Challenge

I am excited to be a participant in this year’s Blogging From A to Z Challenge which will start this Tuesday April 1st and will last all month.

As a part of this challenge, I will be blogging every day in April with most days following the format detailed below. This challenge, though, allows for Sundays to be off as a rest day, but Sundays are my set blog days, so those days will not be in the A-Z Challenge, they will be my regular DYSB style.

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For all the Monday through Saturday posts I’ll be following the challenge style, which has participants following an A-Z guided schedule using a letter a day in our blog post title. Some will use the letters without a theme, but I have chosen to have a theme to my A-Z.

A recent tweet from a friend (check out Jessica’s blog here) got me thinking about inspiration and how we find it all around us. So, in my A to Z Challenge blog posts, each letter will be something that inspires me.

Maybe it will be something that inspires me as a writer.

Maybe it will be something that inspires me as a mom.

Maybe it will be something that inspires me to be a better person.

Maybe it will be something that just inspires me to make it through another busy day.

But, you get the point, it’s all about inspiration, baby! 🙂

Posts will be shorter than normal for the most part, as I am still keeping my commitment to write every day, and usually, I don’t count writing my blog as my meeting my writing commitment for the day.

Another cool part of the challenge will be committing to visit other participants’ blogs. I am really looking forward to seeing what everyone else is doing for this challenge. Hopefully you will, too. And who knows, maybe one of them will show up in a post about what inspires me.

If you want more information on the A to Z Challenge, please go check out how to join in!

Also you can use (or look for those of us participating, with) the hashtag #AtoZChallenge on Twitter.

Have a great week and hopefully I’ll see you (and your comments) as I tackle this challenge starting on Tuesday.

Day 60 of 365 Writing Challenge

Today marks the 60th day of my Write Every Day for 365 Days personal challenge. Several have asked how it has been going, so here it is – my status report. 🙂

I am very happy to report I have not missed a single day!

I have had a few days where I wrote very little and more than a few days where I wrote very poorly.

The great thing is though, I have written.

My book is coming together quite a bit more than it was in the beginning and not just because I’ve added to the word count.

It is true that I’ve had days where I’ve sat and looked at the page with no clear idea what to write. But I have to tell you, I have been so surprised with where I ended up after just putting in some time. Having made the commitment to write, I have gotten back into this book far more than I had before, adding scenes and filling in holes. That alone has been great!

Another really wonderful and very unexpected benefit of the challenge has been this blog and joining the writing ‘Twitterverse’. I never would have imagined I’d enjoy both so thoroughly. I’ve gotten words of encouragement and some really good hints both here and on Twitter. I’ve also found great blogs to follow as a result of having my own. Shout out to Mad Genius Club blog which mixes industry insight and commentary with the occasional snarky bent. All in all, a really great blog to check out.

I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating, this challenge has gotten me back into a writer’s group, too. I have found I always get so much out of surrounding myself with other writers. One great new friend through my writers group has been Jessica Scott whose The Lover, Lunatic and Poet blog is also worth a follow. Having positive writer friends to encourage me in the whole process is such a gift.

Perhaps the best result of the first 60 days of this challenge is simply to see what can happen when I challenge myself to be better. I’ve set an expectation for myself and now I must rise to that expectation. Without having a goal to work toward, will we ever truly progress?

I remember in high school feeling a high level of frustration with a teacher who seemed to expect not the best from his students, but the worst. His comments always indicated he predicted most would fail, or for us to cause problems or for any of a number of negative outcomes. I remember writing a long letter, since writing has always helped me sort things out, detailing how our teachers should have higher expectations for us to strive towards. I remember resolving I would never do that to my students. I never actually went into teaching but I still remember the frustration and disappointment I felt over his setting the bar so low.

My hope for myself, and for you also, is to set expectations high – perhaps even higher than we truly believe we may achieve. Maybe that will help us keep reaching.

I know it has helped me.

Day 60 of 365 – a beautiful day. Much love to all.

The Art and the Artist

“The only true currency in this bankrupt world

is what we share with someone else

when we’re uncool.”

Phillips Seymour Hoffman’s Lester Bangs

in Almost Famous

My Entertainment Weekly this week had Philip Seymour Hoffman on the cover, and the article, written by Owen Gleiberman, began with the line, “This one hurts.”  Oddly, this seemed to sum up perfectly for me my feeling about the loss of this actor, though admittedly I am no film expert and have certainly not seen all of his movies.  I have, however seen some of them, and have enjoyed what work of his I’ve seen.  Even with my inexpert eye, I would call him a great actor.

So I had to ask myself, why did this death of a famous actor hurt?  Initially I would say it was just that it is such a tragic loss of someone far too young.  But really it didn’t stop there.  That he died so needlessly perhaps was another part of why.

As I watched the aftermath though, and followed some of the comments online or in the news or in listening to friends and co-workers, I found that it seemed impossible to just mention his death and admire his work.  No, then we had to talk about needles, about a wrecked home life, and about addiction.  But most comments were not about addiction in a sense that we need to address finding a way to help those fighting similar battles.  Many of the comments seemed to dismiss the greatness of the art because of the flaws of the artist.

As someone just now beginning to explore her own art, I wonder if it is possible to separate the work of the artist from the life of the artist.  And further, should there be a separation?

I have recently joined the blogging community, and the Twitter community of writers.  I see that there seems to be an increasing demand on artists to promote themselves and not just their work.  Sure you can be one who just shills your latest release, but you don’t get the number of followers with a “Go read my new book” tweet that you do with something a bit more involved.   Throw in some tips or some humor and you get more of a response.  What is too little or too much?  It seems many are still sorting that out.

So I ask myself, as someone just now working to acknowledge and develop the artist within, what should I expect from myself as an artist and as someone working to promote that work?  Surely I want to produce work that I can be proud of and live a life that hopefully does not detract from the work but strengthens it.  But how best to do that seems to be the biggest question.

All I can come up with is that I have to be as truthful as I know how to be.  I need to write as much as I can and as honestly as I can and represent myself as best I can.  As I continue this challenge to write every day, I’ll be looking for ways that I can grow, not just as a writer, but personally as well.  Then, I’ll work harder to share that here in this blog.

In the meantime, this “Moment of Zen” from a recent Daily Show spotlights beautifully the artist, not the addict, Philip Seymour Hoffman.  I’ll do my best to write with all my heart so that when people read what I’ve written, like having seen someone act with all their heart, they’ll remember.