Write. Relax. Walk Away. Respond. Rewrite. Rejoice.

I realize this is not a proper sentence, nor a set of directions just anyone would fully grasp the deeper meaning of. Yet I do believe a writer – beginner or experienced will completely understand what I’m trying to say.

Now I am not in any way going to pretend I know enough to teach or guide or even imply I can help you write. But I can share what I’ve experienced and if it can help you on your journey to become a better writer, well then I am glad.

These past two months have been full of emotion. Changing editors was nerve racking. Am I doing the right thing? Dare I jump off the cliff alone? How much money do I invest in myself? Doubt. Doubt. Jump. Joy! Yes, joy, acknowledging the feeling that I must do something, but what is the right thing to do? Once you make the decision and you do jump, or just take one step – you are moving forward and I think that is very important in the writing process. Keep moving even if your moving away from what you’ve just written.

Wait, what did she say?  Yes. Step away from the page – the screen – the pen – the whatever you use to put thoughts down upon.

Okay, allow me to take a step backwards for a minute. I have learned SO much from having an editor who makes me dive into myself – she questions, challenges, points out, highlights, and pulls from me better stuff than I gave myself credit for being able to write.  She also will be the first to say, no, wait, what? Did you mean to say this? Cause it comes across as that.  She’s not just smart and knows the craft – but she’s honest with me.  She tells me when it isn’t right and gives me tools so I can then see for myself what I need to work on.

She held my hand for the first thirty pages of critiques – now she insists I work and cultivate and really see what it is I’m writing.  To do that meant, for me, I had to walk away.

For example. I reworked a chapter – took all her notes into consideration and trusted her.  The chapter became ten times better. It flowed, it caught me, it made sense, it became something more than what it was.  Now I will rewrite three, four, five chapters at a time, and again, walk away.  I’ll do something else I enjoy, which may be a walk, watching a movie under my dogs (I have dogs who do not know, they are not lap dogs and I do not have the heart to tell them, so when I sit down to select a program, they assume I need them snuggle with . And I do.) Or recently, I’ve taken out my paints and canvas and dove into the colors, the shapes and patterns of an art I did not nurture or give time to in my life – which I regret, but you know what, I may not have even picked up the brush if I had not walked away from the key board – and that would have been an even bigger regret.

After a week or two I returned to the words, the chapters, the story and reread what I wrote. It was amazing, I could see what she had spoken about. I could feel the current and see where I needed to place rocks to change the direction of the stream or speed up the action, or add narrative instead of describe for the reader what I wanted them to see. It was a reframing to the picture I am painting in my novel – and it was better, richer and much more opulent than my first or second draft. It had matured, grown and evolved into what I know the work can be.

Breathe Deep, Think Peace

Patty

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Writing Out of My Comfort Zone – With a Harley Davidson

The summer of 2016 has been one hell of a season for me.  I’ve had many different experiences, none of which had anything to do with summertime.  No vacations, camping trips or amusement parks – no my experiences have presented themselves as challenges, decision making, choices and risks.  All revolved around writing.

An opportunity appeared, not with bright lights and publishing contracts, but with workshops, new faces, new ideas and old standbys.  Culminating in knowing yes, I’m still on the right road, but need to get off at the next exit and have a look around.  Take time to see and enjoy the area, and that’s just what I did.

Since then the most amazing things have happened.  I’ve had more chances to write, explore the craft, take it apart and understand how it works.  Oh I am by no means saying I am now any kind of expert – but I feel so much stronger and better about what I’m doing and how to do it.

Taking a chance – maybe with a job, a move, a decision that is out of your comfort zone is important.  Yes it is a risk, but no matter what – you will learn and if you are open minded – you will grow from it.

The most recent risk for me was saying yes to writing an article for a magazine about an event.  Not a wedding, or park opening, not a dedication or local government ribbon cutting. No this event came up unexpectedly and allowed me to surround myself with machines and the people who ride these machines.  What machines?  Harley Davidson motorcycles.

Yeah I know!  Crazy right?  I’m writing a blog about a writers journey, I’m in the beginning of  the rewrite for my first novel, yet here I am surrounded by some of the most incredibly engineered motorcycles in the world, and I’ve been asked to write about them at the 2017 Launch Party in New York to introduce the new models.

So what’s my point?  Take writing risks!  As much as the thought intimidated me, I stepped out of my comfort zone way of writing, and said yes, and then I figured out how to do it – then I did it.  YOU are the first to read my article below.  YOU are also the only one who can decide what you are and are not comfortable writing – but – keep your eyes open.  You might be surprised by what you can write, or are willing to try writing and just how fulfilling that can be.  I’d love to hear about the risk you took and how successfully you handled the curves, that this life seems to enjoy putting in front of us.

Breathe Deep, Think Peace

Patty

Hudson Valley Harley Davidson 33 Route 304  Nanuet, NY 10954

2017 Launch Party!

The unveiling of the new 2017 Harley Davidson motorcycles did not roll into Hudson Valley Harley Davidson – they roared.  As smooth as Cool Hand Luke.  (For those of you who may not be familiar with Luke, in a nutshell, he refused to submit to the system.) In Harley Davidson’s case – they are not only creating, they are constantly perfecting and advancing the technology of their systems.

There has never been a failure in communication between Harley Davidson and its customers.  The 2017’s are the perfect example of listening and hearing what riders have asked for– you can ride hot but your engine will run noticeably cooler.  I invite you to check out www.hdhudsonvalley.com for yourself and explore the new models like The Ultra Limited Low, “Settle into the low seat for high miles” Or the very popular Iron 883. “A great leap forward in the dark arts.”

Yet the HVHD Launch was not just about the bikes, it was about the people.  The party began in the parking lot.  Beautiful bikes stood on either side of the entrance to the new sleek industrial design in the Hudson Valley location.  An arch of colorful balloons, music and laughter filled the inside of this huge space. Only a handful of miles from the new bling of Westchester’s much anticipated Tappan Zee Bridge.  HVHD stretches across the Hudson Valley as a dealership who has had the bar set higher than ape hangers.  With not just a fully stocked New and Preowned motorcycle selection, but with exemplary Customer Service. As I watched the final preparations being made, it was obvious, everyone on the HVHD team was excited.

I spoke with several guests who sipped cool drinks as they waited to view the next years sizzling new bikes. What surprised me was the praise of the type of dealership Hudson Valley Harley Davidson is, and the reputation they are creating after just three months since the grand opening.  Two words – No Pressure.  The goal is not just to sell you a bike, but to sell you a bike that is the best fit for YOU.  It has nothing to do with the most expensive one, or the one with the most bells and whistles, it comes by way of simply having a conversation.

What kind of riding do you do?  Long rides?  Short rides? How tall are you?  What feels right when you sit down, sit low, sit back?  How much experience do you have? They want you to be comfortable and able to do what you want to do with what you choose to ride, safely.  It’s not about the deal – it is about the rider.

It’s not a party without food right?  Hot fresh Free pizza and beverages were available,which allowed groups of visitors to sit, eat and talk without feeling rushed or compelled to make a purchase.  It was to enjoy the event and the day with each other.  Which was evident since people stayed all day and some well past closing!

HVHD wants to develop relationships, not one night stands.  It has a friendly, warm atmosphere with a knowledgeable staff, an impressive selection, fab clothes, parts and accessories in a great location.

You might have heard the saying, “Home is where your story begins.” But it is on a motorcycle, on the road, where you fill-in the chapters and continue writing. So, Happy New Year – a little early.  Where will your ride take you?

 

 

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Changes in Direction

As many of you know, his blog was created, because author Laura Munson said it would help build my platform.  It was a major step for me in this journey as a writer.  The idea of beginning a blog, much less having the commitment to maintaining something I hoped people would enjoy reading each month, seemed mind-boggling.  But, I trusted Laura and Googled ‘How to start a Blog’ I found WordPress.

You read; you chat, you sign up, take their free courses, look at other blogs, talk with other writers, photographers, dreamers and slowly but surely you carve a niche for yourself.

Has it been easy?  Nope.  Have I goofed?  Oh yeah – I’ve goofed a lot, learned, kept going, then turned around tripped and goofed again.  I knew if I really wanted to walk this path, I had to keep going in this direction, no matter how many goofs.

Once you have your blog up and running – now what?  You give yourself a schedule of some sort, and post, for who?  Yourself?  Your family, friends, co-workers?  Well yeah.  So when you goof, you are forgiven.  That’s where you can share your thoughts and whatever else you wish, that become the mortar to your platform.  All the little things you post/publish, while you’re working on your novel, your memoir, your dream.  Believe me, I’m grateful to everyone, who started me on this path, reads about my goofs as well as celebrates my successes.

But recently, my journey brought me to a cliff.  I had to make a major decision and have faith in myself that it was the right one.  That last part was the hardest.  It required I change directions, but I couldn’t see past the cliff, it was dark, and change is scary.

Here’s what happened…

Last month I shared with you, that I attended a workshop called “You Wrote a Book, Now What?”  Hosted by Unicorn For Writers, and if you haven’t heard about them, go check out their website, created by Jan L Kardys who is brilliant and delightful.  You will find answers to your questions, and then you will find more questions.  Yes, more questions – because you will walk into a world of writing and you will see there is much more to learn than you thought.  But, know this, they are going to be honest with you.  They will point you in directions you may not feel comfortable traveling alone, but its part of the process.  They will offer affordable professional guidance, more than affordable workshops and a once a year a writers conference at Manhattanville College in New York that rivals all others.  Don’t take my word for it, go explore for yourself.  I share this with you, because I saw the cliff when I went to the workshop.  I went to the workshop, because I was beginning to lose myself, writing wasn’t fun, I began to doubt because I let the words of another affect me.  I don’t have to tell you, that if you stop working on your passion, – because of the criticism of others – walk away.  Walk towards the critiques.

After the seminar I had the chance to work with Bob Zaslow (if you go to unicornforwriters.com you’ll meet him.).  At a writing circle, he had a page of comments about part of my novel, but he was not smiling or reassuring.  He avoided eye contact, he told me that people can get upset with his comments, sometimes even angry. I smiled at him and asked a question, “Are you going to criticize me or critique me?  I know this isn’t personal, this is business.”  Bob’s eyes twinkled, he laughed, and we got right to work.  It was great, he helped make my writing better.  I felt rejuvenated working with someone who was as excited about writing as much I am.

One decision became clear.  I’ve been working with the same editor for quite a while now, but my heart told me I needed to move on.  It was taking a chance, but I had stay true to myself first so, no matter how scary, I jumped off the cliff.

I’m excited about my novel again.  I felt like I was lost in the woods, now I have a new editor who I am thrilled to say is also my mentor.  A talented, vibrant author who told me after 63 query letter rejections, her 64th made her dream come true and her first novel published.  She’s now working on her fifth.  Talk about perseverance, having a goal and following your passion.  Her critique makes me work hard, but it also guides me, indeed she lights the way.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”  I can’t wait to see where else this journey leads me.

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Doing What is Necessary to Improve My Writing – While meeting some really great writers in the process!

Dear Reader,  Last month I shared with you what I did to improve my writing.  I was at a cross road – I was being coached one way, but being pulled in another.  If you read what I did, you know the cost was nominal but the results were incredible.   Now it makes me giggle, because a friend said it was like forcing yourself to eat plain yogurt but then watching five pounds instantly disappear from the scale!  Yea!

Sometimes those small changes make dramatic results if you just keep doing them.  Easier said than done?  No – actually it’s simply, as long as you’re mindful and do not get in your own way.  Believe me, I am very good at getting in my own way! I’ve done that on and off for the past year, I’ve done what I thought was the right way of doing things – walking on this writers path.  I’ve learned a lot and see a vast improvement in my writing, which when I share my work with a writing circle, beta group and pretty much anyone who will stop and listen – has proved, I know I’m doing something right.  Then doubt whispers in my ear.

And there is a pearl of wisdom – go put yourself out there, even if you are uncomfortable doing it.  Now I say that to those of you who are writing for a purpose and not just pleasure, and please know, I do not use the word ‘just’ to marginalize the pleasure of writing.  I do it every day because it makes me happy.  I’ve written hundreds and hundreds of pages no one will ever see – but I know each and every one of them is helping me navigate this path.

What I’m saying is if you have a purpose, a goal, wanting to share your thoughts, ideas and story.  Eventually you will need to give your work to others to read, and that can be scary, but isn’t it scarier not to?

Recently I attended a wonderful day long workshop titled, “You Wrote a Book, Now What?”  It was incredible.  It was broken down into four parts:  Part 1:  The Craft of Writing,  Part 2:  How to Get Published,  Part 3:  The Craft of Design and Part 4:  Three published authors spoke and allowed  Q&A time.  Now get this – it was only $45, free parking AND they provided lunch and beverages throughout the day.  It was one of the best run, highly informative, honest about the process events I’ve ever been to.  It truly was a great way to meet other writers and those in the publishing industry without breaking the bank.

Now I’m not one of those people who ‘storm the stage’ when an event is over.  I would have loved to have spoken to each author, bought a signed copy of their book etc.  But I didn’t.  Instead I came home and poured over all the materials I was given and began writing thank you notes to the event planners.  Then I looked at the websites of the authors, learned a little more about them, what their currently writing, have written and posted a comment of how much I enjoyed their discussion.  To some folks that might sound corny, but for ‘me’ it was the right thing to do.  Thanking them for their time and effort and to let them know how much I appreciated it.

Today I saw a statement that resonated with me, it said, “Work to create the life that feels right to you, not one that looks right to everyone else.”  And I realize that is just what I have done. I have a ‘job’ that helps pay the bills, but also allows me to write.  I am walking this writer’s journey one step at a time, but not neglecting my responsibilities, all the while being true to myself -which is what author Susan Strecker told me is most important to her.  No matter what, be yourself.  I am not trying to be someone else, or write like someone else (although I would love to write like Susan, I can soak up her style and enjoy her books!) , at the end of the day I have only myself to answer to.

So, after a tumultuous May, I am finding June to be a fulfilling promise of what the months to come can be.  By the end of July, I am walking confidently out of my comfort zone and will have read the beginning of my book aloud to a group of strangers who have all been published.  Who will be brutally honest and point me in one direction or another.  I’m finding that this journey of a writer is like the Appalachian or PCT, the path I am taking has many different terrains of learning.  Some of the paths climb straight up, some are rocky and hard to maneuver, others sandy and soft.  Every single step brings me closer to what can be.  I wish you a safe journey too- perhaps we’ll meet at the next crossroad.

Breathe Deep, Think Peace

Patty

Note:  Are you looking for a summer novel or two?  Check this out!  Kirkus Review said Susan Strecker is, “Compulsively Readable”Heros and Heartbreakers Chose Nowhere Girl as the March 2016 “Best Bets in Woman’s Fiction”UrbanMoms.ca calls Nowhere Girl “Girl on the Train meets Gone Girl”

I invite you to explore Susan Strecker’s novels:  Nowhere Girl and Night Blindness.

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Learning from Unexpected if not Unlikely Places

Well I have eaten a slice of humble pie, more than one serving to be honest.  I’ve looked deeply within myself and had a heart to heart discussion:  Am I really willing to do what is necessary to not just write this novel, but write it to the best of my ability?

Am I actually going to do the work required?  To choose to do it – not expect someone else to do it and just tell me the important parts.

The answer is yes.

Yes I am.  I am going to do what is necessary to improve my writing, which will ultimately improve my novel.  Or why bother doing it at all?

At first I thought going to a writing retreat, taking workshops and reading books from a variety of authors would do this.  Well, yes in some respects it does, it’s a good start, but it’s not the end all.  I was given a pearl of wisdom, I encourage you to find your own pearls of wisdom in books and teachers.  You should explore as many avenues as you can.  But ultimately it came down to me.  I had to prove it to myself, just like you have to prove it to yourself before you prove it to anyone else, including an editor, agent or publisher.

I explored different possibilities of learning to write.  One was a writer’s forum online in which a colorful character actually told me I would be wasting my time and money and hurt his feelings (?) if I considered taking a writing workshops offered at Columbia University in NYC instead of listening to what he had to say – outside the forum -for a price of course – really?  No thank you.  I’m not stupid.  I know you can learn from everyone, but you also have to be mindful and decide what you’re going to spend your hard earned money on and for what.  What is your budget?  How much time do you have to devote to this project and the process?  Be careful what you spend your time doing because we both know, you can earn more money, but you cannot earn more time.  Time is precious, don’t give it away carelessly.

After I finished my pie, and stopped wasting my time.  I started looking for help, real help.  There is a wide world of courses you can take out there, without having to enroll in an undergrad program and taking out a loan.

I found a remarkable opportunity for learning from of all places, my mailbox.  Between Home & Garden and the electric bill, I found a catalog from The Great Courses.  Stop:  No, I am not receiving any compensation from them.  I am simply sharing what “I” choose to order and complete and how it affected me personally.

If you are not familiar with The Great Courses go on their website and take a peek.  In the past, I remember seeing their information for exploring Theology,  Shakespeare, and even a collection of courses from the CIA (the Culinary Institute of America not the other one, which now that I think about it, would not surprise me if a course on their history is also available!).

I sat on our front porch and glanced at all the different courses offered.  Then I saw Writing Great Sentences and Writing Great Fiction.  On sale no less!  The cost for both programs was well within my budget and would be delivered in three days – score!

Backstory:  Recently I have been beyond frustrated with my rewrites.  My Editor had been even more frustrated with me.  I felt I was losing ground rapidly and my dream of finishing this novel was slipping through my fingers, if I could not move forward productively.  I have a great story.  I have the bones all in place and now was building the muscle.  But my tools were dull.

Was I a fool to think I could take two courses, four DVDs – twenty four lectures each and really become better at this craft?  I had to try.  I didn’t have enough money to take courses at Columbia, Sarah Lawrence, the Omega Institute or anywhere else right now.  My budget was focused on the cost of my Editor.  Yet I could afford this, I had to give it a try.  So when the package arrived, I created a schedule and stuck to it.  I listened to all the lectures, taking notes as if I was sitting in class.  I filled two notebooks and took additional notes directed at my actual story.  At the end of three solid weeks of working through both programs I was exhausted but felt great!  My head ached, but my heart nearly burst with excitement to try and execute what I’d learned.  So I began.  Chapter One.  Page One.  Bam!

It was like lightening striking for a second time!  I started and the lessons, the rules, the words flowed and ignited the next line, the next paragraph and each subsequent chapter.  Things I was unsure of, all of a sudden made sense and built on the next thought and the next.  I could see the improvement, hear it when I read it out loud, it was a personal victory that I owed no explanation or reason for anything to anyone else.  No matter what happened from this point on – I did it for me, no one else, but for me.  It was a private goal, a self-test, an exploration of ‘Could I?’ and confirmation of ‘Absolutely!’!

But where was the tangible proof?  “I” could say hooray for me, but unless my Editor saw the improvement, it was not going to get me to the next level and closer to completion of a polished novel.

Preparing to send her the first three chapters made me queasy.  What if she wasn’t pleased?  What if this still wasn’t what she was trying to get out of me? What if my ‘hooray for me’ was great, but still not enough?  I pressed send and waited.

Three days later, my proof arrived.  The accolades from my Editor were incredible.  She wanted to know what happened, what did I do? When I told her she was surprised but thrilled with the achievement.  For the first time in thirteen months of working together – no additional rewrites or critiques were required.  The sense of pride and accomplishment has kept me on a high now as I work on my book.  Oh I am sure there will be more bumps in the road, ditches, ravines and caverns to work through – but this has proved to me and I hope now shared with you, that you must rely on YOU first.  Prove it to yourself, because that is what it really matters most.  No matter the outcome, I did the best I could, I did the work and continue to work, explore and learn from sometimes the most unlikely of places.  A mailbox, someone you met in the library, a song you hear, a book, or even a blog and you too will be Touched By Words!

Breathe Deep, Think Peace

Patty

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Learning One Step at a Time – Becoming the Best Writer I (and You) Can Be

 

Piggy-backing on my March blog re: big britches, patience, being humbled and remembering what I’m doing on this path in the first place – I’d like to share what I’ve been working on since then.

Homework.

Yep.  This brought up a vivid memory for me.  Like many others, I hated that word.  We worked all day in school – and now we get to go home and what?  Work some more.  Ugh.

Unless – it was an assignment, a project, an activity that I was interested in.  Then watch out!  I’ve got more time at home to pour myself into something I WANT to learn.  Whoo hoo!

There was an assignment in an Art class I had in high school.  I adored my teacher Miss D.  Who gave us, in my opinion, the best homework ever, because it required we draw, create and design.  This particular assignment was apparel for men and women – any way we wanted – for any environment we wanted.  I couldn’t wait to get started, my mother was an incredibly gifted artist with fabric and thread.  She had a ton of Butterick and McCalls patterns I could use for inspiration, and study the poses of the models.

Once I gathered all the colored pencils, markers and paper I would need, I spent the time until bed working on my ideas.  The environment would be underwater, materials would be functional and high tech.  I did a collection of sorts for the four seasons I assumed would also be under the waves.  From the warm waters off Fiji to the frigid temperatures off Alaska.

I gave careful thought to footwear, as well as head and hand coverings that matched the outfits.  Afterwards, I carefully cut each design out and placed them on coordinating construction paper colors.  I had a great time and was so proud of the finished results.

I was never a popular kid in high school, I found a place in the art room to find myself and for the most part to be left alone from the bullies.  Little did I know, when I submitted, I would see the wrath from some people who looked at my work as something threatening to them personally.  Isn’t that how bullies operate?  The faults are within them, yet they see fit to bite and claw at others.

Miss D praised my work.  She pointed out the details, the use of color, capturing functionality with fashion, the originality of the work.  She gave me full credit for taking an assignment to a higher level.  I sat beaming with pride.  No one had ever publicly commended me for anything.  Here was something I could do well, here was my niche, it wasn’t on a court or the sidelines cheering.  It was here in a room filled with light that smelled of paint and turpentine.  Naively I misread the quiet of the room thinking others were looking at my work with approval and dare I say – respect.

Unfortunately that was furthest from the truth.  I was so lost in this sublime feeling that I did not hear the hissing sounds.  The snakes had coiled up tight, ready to strike.  They had been embarrassed.  There were only a few other submissions, nothing more than scribbles, some didn’t bother with the assignment at all.  They sat in silence seething.  Somehow it was my fault they didn’t do their homework.  But something changed that day.  Something changed inside me.  Oh of course there was poison spewed from under their breath  as they shoved past at the bell.  Yet not one of them looked me in the eye and said it.  Why?  They knew they were wrong and now I knew it too.  From that day on I honestly didn’t give a damn about them.  It was freeing.

Fast forward to now – writing is freeing!

I view homework differently.  It is something I choose to learn, something I want to learn, and something I know I need to do to get me to the next level.  So this memory has actually helped me focus on what I know is important to make me a better writer, no matter how loud the hissing gets.

Since March I completed a course on sentence structure and now I’m currently working through a 24 course series of tips and techniques when writing fiction.  I’m learning.  I’m learning ways of structuring and understanding the reasons behind those structures in sentences – it is empowering.  Finding one “Ah-Ha” moment after another is fulfilling.  And yes, I’m still just scratching the surface of the page, because I must now learn to put all I’m learning into practice and that takes time and more patience.

If there was one thing to share if you are on your own path to becoming the best writing you can be.  Is to do your homework – Learn – and love it while you do the work!  Learn as much as you can about writing from a variety of people and places.  NO ONE PERSON has all the answers, and if they tell you they do, they are lying to you.  Find out for yourself.  Choose a lecture series you can work on at home, or take a course you’ve always wanted to, just for the fun of it, or put your ego aside – maybe you need it!  Explore retreats and don’t be surprised some may be closer than you think – some have writing components, others offer ways to explore yourself. Times for retreats vary too – from a few hours in an afternoon to a month!   Perhaps weave it with journey into yoga, meditation, art, hiking, cooking, whatever, you’ll find your niche.

Learn from wherever you go and whoever you meet!  Learn and absorb and be proud and happy of what you can accomplish.  Give homework another chance!  You might just be surprised how much you enjoy it.

Breathe Deep, Think Peace

Patty

Just a sample to explore for yourself:

http://www.lauramunsonauthor.com/retreats/

http://www.abbyroseyoga.com/retreats

A fun read by Edgar H. Schuster: “Breaking the Rules:  Liberating Writers Through Innovative Grammar Instruction”

 

 

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Getting Too Big For My Britches

Wow, that’s an old saying isn’t it?

“You’re getting too big for your britches young lady!”  I can remember hearing those words from my mom, and boy did it have the result she wanted.Everything came to a stop.  You needed to be still and think about what you were doing and that what you just said, might be taken as rude or egotistical.

Now being proud of yourself was one thing.  That was encouraged, you should be proud of your accomplishments, or if you worked hard on a task or project, painted a picture or got a good grade on a test.  But arrogance was not tolerated.

Getting too big for my britches in later years became literal.  It literally meant weight gain.  I could hear the words in my head as I tried to force my thighs into denim that did not appreciate my efforts.  I had the seams from those jeans embedded on the sides of my legs until the extra weight was lost, or perhaps it was simply pushed behind my knees.

This week the term changed again.  Getting too big for my britches was whispered in my ear, this time the focus was on my own writing.  I became my own worst enemy.

Since I began this journey, I cannot tell you the number of people who have approached me, written me notes and sent emails praising my writing.  I made them feel good, laugh, cry or connect.  I’ve corresponded with people inside and outside of the United States.  The conversations, stories, sorrows and joys have been extraordinary.  It has been wonderful.  So wonderful in fact that I began to think, “Hey, I got this!”  When in fact I was just peeking below the surface.  I wasn’t looking any deeper and that’s when it got dangerous.

I can only compare this with a student studying a martial art.  In the beginning as a white belt, you do not know anything and everyone knows that, so no one really pushes you, punches or kicks you.  What’s the point?  They’d just be a bully – “Hey, I can beat the snot out of this person who knows nothing!”  Big deal.  Now as the colors of the belts begin to darken, perhaps to green, purple and then to a brown belt – that is the color I always worried about the most.  They had been training for a while, they knew the rules, practice the routines, stretches, workouts.  They have begun to understand the gravity of what a punch and kick can do to the human body.  They know just enough to get their faces beaten in.  And I say that with all respect.  It’s knowing enough to get you in trouble.

That is where I have found myself this month in my writing.  I am re-rewriting three chapters that my editor feels need more work.  And here I thought – ta-da!  Done – Look at me!  Whoo hoo!  I’m getting ready to start researching agents and publisher’s right?!  Taking the next steps towards submissions!  Wow!  Yeah – No.  Such is not the case.  I have forty four chapters in my novel.  I’ve just written nine more scenes that I think will pack that punch, create a giggle, and make the reader gasp because they didn’t see it coming!  I can’t wait to have this book done!  And there lies the lesson.

Patience.

I have to practice patience.  I can only learn so much at a time, then to implement it, practice it, now make it mine takes time.  I can talk flow – but can I write it?  I get the concept – now prove it by using it.  How about rhythm and syntax?  Don’t know what that is?  Look it up!  It’s important and expected!  There are rules in writing and if you’re going to write – you must learn the rules.  The agent is not going to take your hand and teach you.  The publishing house will just laugh, because they have stacks of other stories that are already polished and ready to go.

So, this month, I got too big for my britches.  It’s time to take a step back.  Again. And listen to my editor, again– learn from her – practice what she bestows and put pen to paper.  Again.

I have a good story.  In fact.  I’ve got a damn good story.  But I’m not going to put it out there until it is ready.  Until it is complete.  Polished and shiny.  Something I can be proud of.  But first, I learn patience and humbly remember what Laura  (www.lauramunson.com) told me at the beginning of this journey.  Do The Work!  Not just a piece of it, or what I want to work on, all of it.  There are no shortcuts.

If I may offer one last piece of advice.  Surround yourself with people you can learn from.  Not just those who pat your back and tell you how wonderful you are.  Those are important people too no doubt.  But in this writing life, you need to learn from a variety of people.  I have been so blessed, fortunate, lucky – call it what you will – to have met and know so many writers and authors since returning from Montana.  I have met some extraordinary writers who have no desire to get published.  I have the honor of knowing people who finished their first book (www.kristinmeekhof.com) their second, third (www.lorraineash.com) fifth and thirtieth book (yeah I know – how crazy is that?!).  If I can walk this path – so can you.  But it means you must put yourself out there, meet people, stumble and fall, then get back up and keep walking.  Do not be afraid to make  mistakes.  What you write after those mistakes, will be even better, stronger, more solid.  You’ll start to ‘see’ where your own issues lie and have the tools to correct them.  Do not be afraid to pull on those jeans and realize, you know, I have to go take a walk and put that ice cream back in the fridge!  Do not be afraid to toot your own horn either, when appropriate, but not at the expense of someone else.  Least of all yourself.

Now if you’ll excuse me.  I need to take my dogs for a walk.

Breathe Deep, Think Peace

Patty

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