Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Things I Tell Myself when I'm not feeling productive

I've been looking at my very marked up computer monitor and thinking about when and why I wrote all these encouraging little slogans on it. While writing the book, there were times when I was bogged down, didn't know if it was really any good, or just sick/tired and felt unable to force myself to sit up and write. In fact, there were times when I fell asleep while writing and woke up with keyboard imprints all over my face and a file full of one or two letters. haha.

So I started writing little notes to myself in the monitor itself. The first one was
"Be more courageous. Fearless, like Wendy! Powerful!"
Wendy seems to me to be absolutely fearless in just wading into the fray and doing whatever her heart desires without the usual "gee do you really think it'll work? Can I really do it?" kinds of self talk. If she wants to sell her art, she just does. Record an album? She just does it. Start a new business? Goes for it and succeeds beyond anyones' wildest dreams. Over and over and over again. In fact, everything she touches turns to gold. She rolls out of bed in the morning and thinks to herself, "hmm, what do I feel like doing today?" and she generally does just EXACTLY what she FEELS LIKE DOING. And you know what? no matter what she does, it turns to pure gold.
If she plays w/ her kittens, she's socializing them for when she places them in homes. Yes, she gets up to $2,000.00 for one of her kittens so playing w/ her kittens is just good business sense. If she wants to horse around w/ her herd of horses, GREAT! She is becoming even more in tune w/ her champion stallion and the herd dynamics and is becoming an even more amazing horse whisperer. The stallion considers her to be the lead mare and the horses consider her to be part of the herd, because she has learned the body language of horses and is able to communicate w/ them in the most amazing way I've ever seen. She'll tell me how she taught a horse something and then "he chewed at me!", meaning he is saying he gets it. Sheesh!

But what if she just wants to lie around and play with bits of wool? No problem! She drags out some wool and starts messing around w/ it, gets a barbed pin and starts poking the wool, and an hour later she has the most exquisite miniature animal made of felted wool that you've ever seen.

I collect dollhouses and miniatures and I can tell you that there is no other artisan out there making such realistic miniature animals! Then she puts it on ebay and watches people bid like mad for it. Some of her animals sell for around 400 or 500 bucks. Great!

Or her photography. Maybe she'll mess around w/ that today. Or her many websites. Or the 3 amazing and varied books she's writing, all of which are hot hot hot.....

So, yeah. She's fearless and everything she does ends up being the right thing and ends up helping her to make a living. I don't know anyone else quite like her.

Another time, I was feeling fearful about whether or not I was making the right decisions about the book - what to keep in, what to throw out, how I was editing it. So I wrote:

"It's just behavioral - if you act like a writer, you are a writer. Wesley, not fear, is my motivator!"

Another time I was thinking "how can I do this w/ the limited energy I have?" I had a rule while I was writing this book, which was: If I'm awake, I should be writing. Of course one has to eat and things like that, but no other energy draining activities were allowed. I didn't even read while I was in the process of writing, other than books ABOUT writing and the publishing world. After all, I had to learn a whole new industry if I was going to have a new career as a writer! So I wrote:
"Work with what you've got. It has to be enough."

For bottom line procrastinating I wrote: "DO IT FOR WESLEY!"
After all, Wesley was worth telling the world about, don't you think? I sure do!

It's not as if I needed all these little slogans very often. Most of the time I was passionate about working on the book. But there were times when I wasn't feeling well, or was discouraged, or didn't believe in myself. After all, when you haven't tested your writing out there in the world, how do you really know if people are going to enjoy the way you write or not? I went to a great writers' group that was honest and professional, which helped a lot. And I had some wonderful people in my life who knew what they were doing, who said they really liked it. But still, doubts sometimes clouded my mind.

And then, one of the most wonderful pieces of music ever written, The Messiah by Handel (did you know he wrote the entire thing in 30 days? He didn't come out of his room for meals, even. He had the meals brought to the door. He barely slept. The whole thing came to him almost at once and he couldn't write fast enough to keep up so he didn't dare stop), has some great lines in it. I was listening to it one day while writing and these words popped out, so I wrote them on the computer monitor as well:

"Every valley shall be exalted, and the rough places made plain. Every mountain shall be made low and the crooked, straight."

Man, if that doesn't define our lives, I don't know what does. ESPECIALLY if you're a writer. All the rough times in your life are great fodder for your writing! Cait jokes that if you're a writer, you'll be saying, as you die, "Wait! This is great material! Get me a pen!" haha. It's true though.

And finally, I taped the following fortune cookie fortune to the monitor:
"Take no risks with your reputation."

To me, honesty and integrity in my writing is foremost. I don't make up things to enhance the "scene". This is nonfiction! Besides, who could make this stuff up? I've had such an amazing run with the animals I've known and the people I've known that I'll probably never have to make anything up! I might write fiction one day, but even that will probably be based on real situations and people. I suspect that a lot of "fiction" is stuff that the writer didn't dare write as nonfiction because of the people involved, so they made the people into "characters" and told the story in a way that wasn't recognizable by the people they were talking about. Haha. I KNOW for a FACT that writers have done that, actually. Hee hee hee!

When I'm upset about a situation, it's fun to imagine writing it as a fictionalized scene. I have written some small stories based on real people that are sort of farcical, just to get it off my chest. I'm sure a lot of people do that...

So those are the inane ramblings of one writer when she needs encouragement. Maybe not very profound, but they are good reminders at 3am when I'm trying to push through the blahs.

Do any of you have little sayings that motivate you and get you going? I'd love to hear about them in the comments section!


TheloniusMick said...

You are such a wonderful writer, Stacey. Your honesty and humility are refreshing and inspiring. And I like that you are comfortable with science and spirituality. They are SO NOT incompatible!

I use some little virtual "post-it notes" program on my Mac which allows me to leave little sayings up on the screen. I also post paper notes in places I have to go often, like the refrigerator and bathroom mirror - even the front door. The key is to change them often, so you don't become habituated to them.

My favorite post-it is the first line from Stephen Mitchell's beautiful translation of the Dhammapada: "You are what you think. All that you are arises with your thoughts. With your thoughts you create the world." Buddha was an early cognitive therapist! This line of thought is pursued vigorously in a movie called, "What The Bleep Do We Know?", which I'd bet my knickers you've seen :)

Be well, and thank you for teaching us The Way of The Owl.

TheloniusMick said...

Sorry, Mitchell wrote my favorite translation of the Tao, which is also fantastic fodder for post-its. Thomas Byrom did my favorite translation of the Dhammapada.

GFK said...

My 26-year-old son is an aspiring writer and has provided me with a quote from Samuel Beckett that I've remembered frequently: "I can't go on; I will go on; I can't go on; I will go on."

nomad said...

I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.

David Herbert Lawrence