It Won’t Work Unless You Work It: Living the Dream

The thing about success is that it is elusive to most of us. It is a risky thing to work at something for weeks, months or even years before seeing results. In the beginning everyone is your biggest supporter because we all like a hearty success story; more than that, people just like new, including me. That fresh, clean smell of a brand, spanking new project is like euphoria unleashed. The air feels cleaner, the sun seems brighter, your back’s a little straighter and you have a positive word for everyone who crosses your path.

Even if you haven’t quite done anything yet; you’ve thought it through, talked about it, prayed over it, read as much as you could take on it. You’ve inspired yourself into a type of: Tony Robbins/T.D Jakes/Joel Olsteen fit. The numbers have been run, and your parents and mentors and sisters, brothers and closet friends all agree that this is the perfect time to do it.

So there it is. Grinning like a guy in an ad for a Colgate commercial, you give your sleeves the proverbial roll-up, turn from the inspiration to the task it takes to get there and…sigh.

 It is then you remember the errand you have to run, that phone call to what’s-his-name that has to be made now because you haven’t spoken to him in forever. You find everything to do but work. I could call this procrastination, but this really wouldn’t be digging deep enough.

It is that fear of not enough that creeps in after the dust clears and all you can see is labor. Let’s face it inspiration doesn’t last forever. It’s like falling in love. At some point in the relationship, your stomach doesn’t do that, ‘thing’ when you see him, down the line you won’t think of him every hour or giggle to yourself when you do. Nope. It’s doesn’t mean that the love is gone. It simply means that you have settled into something more sustainable. The energy of love is still there but it has been redirected to the needful things; sharing the remote, washing his clothes, backing down from an argument because being right is always necessary.

Likewise, with projects the energy of shouting it to the mountaintop has to be redirected to actually developing the business plan, making the cold calls and perhaps hearing a 101 ‘nos’ before you hear a ‘yes’.

There is always the fear that you will invest time and money in this and your project will mock you and then keel over and die. A tiny dark voice will whisper that you are not enough; no one will ever buy, invest or believe in this thing and that they will all stare at you with glazed eyes in the middle of your presentation. There will be that sickly feeling inside that all those who are on board with you will be embarrassed and disappointed by this fantastic dream of yours. And you will have to tell yourself that this will work and it is meant to be. When you stop believing it, will you will have to say it again, and again until you believe it again. Eventually you will have to find that place inside that will sustain you through this task. It is this fine line that separates the winners from those that just like winners; we all do.

Your dream is not for any prize or accolades. No, it’s because something has weld up inside of you and won’t go away until it is realized. It is the God inside of you telling you this is His plan, His will, His way. But it won’t work itself. So…work it.    
When dreams die, they die young: Confessions of a Writer Part I

When dreams die, they die young: Confessions of a Writer Part I

I knew from the first moment I looped twist ties through a thick stack of notebook paper with the edges still frayed that I wanted to be a writer. There was this feverish excitement to watch written words come alive. And when you’re six years old and add a few pictures sketched and colored with Crayola crayons, well you might as well be a NYTBSA.

Yep, six years old with these characters that seemed to come from nowhere. They were my creation, my friends and once they were out on paper they were no longer imaginary, they were real people.amazing_silhouette_photograph_14

I started telling anyone who would listen that I was going to be an author when I grew up. I was going to write fiction. I don’t know where I got such a big, complex dreams but it seemed I knew and understood them intuitively.

After a few years I stopped this ridiculous confession because as I looked around no one in my circle of influence was talking about writing books and authors and such. Do those people even get paid? What would you even write?

By sixth grade grownups were always asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. By the looks on their faces I knew it had to be something that required college and a degree I could hang on the wall in my office.

When I grow up I want to be a psychologist.

When I said this people drew in long breaths and smiled with admiration. Psychologists were smart people. Educated folk, they said. This was a wise choice. With a clear head and a dedication to school I could become that or even an accountant. You see my Daddy said I should become an accountant and I could, once I learned how to be good with numbers. His brown eyes let up as if he could see it in his mind’s eyes.

Yes, I would be either a psychologist or an accountant as Daddy suggested.

My father worked at General Motors for 30 years. On the, weekends he wrote and read every day, for hours. About a year after he retired he died. After his death we found piles of notebooks filled with his writings. I wonder if anyone ever asked him what he wanted to be? I wonder when he sat in the big chair with his tall legs crossed looking over his bifocals writing in those notepads did he ever wish he could do that all day?

Well, I went to college and graduated with honors.  I got a Bachelor’s in Journalism so at least I would be sure to get paid if I just insisted on writing.

I don’t quite remember when my dream to become a fiction writer began to die. I suppose it was a slow process, like someone who is terminally ill and finally stops struggling against the inevitable. It’s almost a relief just to give in. There’s a feeling of satisfying indolence when you’re no longer struggling. I guess that must be what a physical death feels like.

When dreams die, they usually die young.

They die in the womb; at the point when they should be cared for the most, tended to to  make sure the roots are strong.  They don’t usually die brutally; but go the way of neglect. We stop speaking over them, we don’t feed them anymore. We smother them with the expectations from others, disappointments and fears we’ve learned from our environment and all the lies we tell ourselves.

Eventually, as a young woman, I discovered this little seed; hidden and long forgotten.  Stories played in my head, like when I was six. They needed to be recorded.

Whenever there is something still alive there is hope.

Not all dreams die young. Some dreams just refuse to die.

Writing Tip #1–How Much Detail Should Writers Use?

Wonderful words to the wise from the desk of Kristen Lamb!

Don’t Be Afraid to Use the N* Word

It has such negative connotations. People cringe when you say it and tend to view you differently when you use it regularly. But sometimes you just have to be bold and use it anyway; they will get it later and you may be better off for it. Yes, we all know what that dreaded n* word is. Yep, it’s exactly what you think, the word, no.

‘No’ seems to be an ugly word, especially among women because much of our self-worth is tied into doing for others. We tend to be interminable givers. To say that we can’t or won’t deems us less valuable or lacking in our ability to fulfill our duties as loving, giving human beings. Well, let’s squash that myth.

It seems we’re inundated with opportunities and someone is always after our time. Everyone has a seminar, a new group or an invention and apparently we would be absolutely foolish not to delve into it, right now. Today. They need our help planning an event or writing something up quickly. It’ll be a breeze for you. You’re a writer. It would take me far too long.

Sigh.

Understand that I love helping people. I love to give. I gain great pleasure from both. We all have causes close to our heart, we all want to give when and where we can. But when it is time to say ‘no’ or take a pass we must do it with the same confidence in which we say ‘yes’.

People tend to put no more value on your time than you do. It’s not a slam to others, it’s simply human nature. We are by nature selfish beings. We want our way.

Sometimes, simply saying ‘no, I don’t think I’ll be able to do it’ or ‘I’ll pass this time’ is sufficient. Those on the receiving end of this may take it as personal rejection. They probably won’t look at you with pride and admire you for being so upfront. Nope. But that’s O.K. as long as we are kind in the way we say it.

Now I know some of the goodwill police are ready to arrest me and I could readily defend myself, but I will simply say there have been many occasions where I have stayed up until daybreak working on other people’s projects because they needed me and how could I possibly turn them away? I’ve come home exhausted and frustrated after giving everything and feeling as though I’d lost my place. Kind of like when you digress while telling a story and then can’t seem to find your way back to where you left off. It was the hubby who told me to cut it out. The world would not (contrary to my imaginative thinking) end if I didn’t do it.

I said, “Well, I just can’t tell them no!”

Could I? Really? Well, dang, it seemed I could!

As a freelancer writer, wife and mother of three it is up to me to prioritize in order to effectively use the 24 hours I’ve been given. I know if I always make myself available to everyone and everything I will cease to be a good steward of my 24.

Saying ‘no’ sometimes is just as necessary as saying ‘yes’. It gives us time to concentrate on working effectively on projects we are skilled to do. It allows us to give to causes close to our hearts and provides gateways for others to step up and discover their gifts, talents and avenues of contribution, as we step aside.

So go ahead, say it…I dare you.

Take time to consider

It takes time to succeed, because success is merely the natural reward of taking time to do anything well.  Joseph Ross

My mother died in May of 2005. I would like to say that my Mom and I were always close but this is not so. We didn’t forge a bond until well into my adult years.  For years growing up it was as if we were polar opposites and the disparity between us developed early on. It wasn’t that we bickered and fought but there was a silent and apparent understanding that we viewed life very differently.

Mom was a slow mover; she took her time in most everything she did. She got it done, but was thorough and unhurried about it. She wasn’t moved or frustrated by my huffs and long sighs. I just had to wait until she was done. She was one to take the time to do it correctly.

But she was this way with people as well; patient and considerate and understanding to a fault she was. She didn’t jump to conclusions based on hearsay and gossip, headlines and speculations. She waited to hear the whole story; and even then she waited some more because she had to be sure.

I am on the other end of this scale. I generally make decisions quickly. Even as others are speaking I am already drawing conclusions as to what my reply will be. I am a, just-get-to-the-point kind of person. It has helped and hurt me equally; I have hastily made decisions on matters when I should have waited. I’ve said ‘yes’ to a project before I realized it was much more than I could handle. I’ve been impatient with projects and have shoved past them quickly because the results I needed didn’t come fast enough. I’ve been impatient with myself, especially with my growth as a writer. It has not been until recent years that I have slowed it down and have begun to take time. Unfortunately Mom didn’t get to see this change in me.

In a world where the just of our news can be crammed into a half an hour or where three minutes is too long to wait on a nuked full-course meal it seems ridiculous to tell someone to take time. Yet taking the time to do it at a reasonable pace can mean the difference between getting it right or completely botching it. Yet I am determined to make even more changes this year. I will take some time this year to:

  • Chew over information slowly so that I understand and can make complete and informed decisions.
  • Listen to people without constructing a response before they are even finished answering.
  • Hear and listen to my kids before making speculations about what they really want
  • Enjoy the people with whom I keep company without making excuses as to why I cannot stay a little longer
  • Listen to the world around me and allow it to be reflected in my writing; especially in the area of fiction writing.

Time is a precious commodity and arguably as valuable as money. Although it seems limitless, it is not. One day we will look back and wonder where it all went. Meantime, I’m determined to spend it wisely.