Archive for August, 2006

My Muse, Is Not Amused

August 31, 2006 | Tennis

Nora Roberts in an August 2006, Romance Writers Report, was asked if she believed in the writing muse. Her response was classic and words to live by. “If you need to believe in the muse, let’s say, fine and dandy. Whatever works for you. But don’t tell me you can’t work today because the muse has left you. Go track down that fickle slut, drag her back, chain her to your keyboard, and GET TO WORK.”

I believe her words, but my muse right now is having a difficult time concentrating and I’m making allowances for it. It’s time for the US Open, and it’s Andre Agassi’s last tournament. He’s retiring afterward, regardless of how deep he goes in the draw. Monday night was fantastic and I had to watch. Andre and his opponent, another Andre Pavel, split the first two sets and when I got home from my critique group meeting, Agassi was down four, love. In other words, his opponent had four games, Agassi had none. It looked like he was done, but he dug deep, the New York crowd cheered him on and he won the next five games, won the tie break and then won the fourth set. Awesome! It’s always been awesome when Agassi played. When he had the long ponytail and black painted nails, now he’s bald, a father of two, thirty five years old and still hot. I want him to teach JMan. I’m also watching Thursday evening. I want him to win, but I want him to lose with the dignity he possesses. Andre said you don’t win Grand Slams, you take Grand Slams. When Agassi was falling in the rankings, he played the unglamorous men’s Challengers. He worked his way back into playing shape, by running up and down a mountain near his Las Vegas home. He never gave up and that’s why JMan and I watch him together. Inspiration for both us.


JGIRL: One BIG Leap!

August 25, 2006 | Family & Life

JGirl has moved on with her life. She graduated from college in May, of this year and was determined to begin her adult life somewhere other than Chicago. I’ve got to give credit and respect to my daughter, when she sets her mind to do something, good or bad, she does it. She sought employment here, but concentrated her efforts south. Did it work? Yes, indeed. JGirl, is now employed in her major public relations and she obtained the job she wanted. Although, she was a nervous wreck after her interview. I listened her to whine all the way from the airport home. I thought I was drunk by the time we reached our driveway.
“Oh, they’re not going to hire me. No one’s going to hire me. I’ll never get a job. My interview went bad.”
My motherly advice was simple.
“Shut up. You probably got the job. How’d you like to be in my shoes? I’m trying to write, find an agent and get published. Why did I ever think I could be a writer at my age. You’re young, you’ve got your life ahead of you, me, mine is downhill from here. I’ve got, what, maybe another twenty, thirty years to live? You’ll just be hitting your stride?”

Well that shut her up, she went to sleep in the car. Of course, the following Monday, she received an email offering her the job of her dreams. Spoiled, intelligent, beautiful brat! I’m so very proud of her.

We drove to Atlanta last weekend and the trip was uneventful, except she didn’t like the way I drove her car. Operating on just one cup of Starbucks, she’s very lucky I didn’t crash. We looked for apartments and after viewing one gated complex with lighted tennis courts, a large swimming pool, a great fitness center, I was convinced this was the place she needed to live. JGirl reminded me, she would be paying the rent and we’d only be providing financial support for a couple of months. Stop laughing, yeah like that’s gonna happen. And Atlanta will have ten inches of snow this winter. We did find an apartment complex, within her budget, ten minutes from work, the neighborhood she wanted to live in, and one I was very pleased with.

Now, it’s Popi, her father’s turn. There’s furniture to be bought, first month’s rent to be paid, a computer and television to be shipped, along with at least sixty pairs of shoes. Okay, not sixty, more like seventy-five.

I left Atlanta, numb, expericing all sorts of mixed emotions and unable to pin down just one. I recalled when I graduated from Howard and moved into my first apartment. My parents bought my furniture and sent me on my way with love, admiration and pride. Mommy and Daddy are dead now, but the generation trend continues and I know I’ve done right by JGirl and their legacy. Neither of my parents had beyond a six grade education, but together they raised me, paid for my Catholic education, college, graduate school and two cars, one used and one new. Don’t get any ideas, JGirl, I was an only child, we’ve got JMan, your brother. I feel their pride and I see my pride in my daughter. Our relationship is changing and I love it. She’s more like me than she realizes, but that’s okay, I turned out pretty good.

I salute you JGirl and all the other JGirls who are experiencing life on their own. Much luck, prayer and success.


My Boss Just Gave a Verbal Warning

August 17, 2006 | Writing

My last blog was about the commitment to writing, published and unpublished writers need to make to become successful. Toward my goal of becoming a better writer and being published, I set up a work writing schedule. Since I’m my husband’s and son’s personal assistants, I mapped out my work hours. Returning from RWA’s Atlanta conference, I was focused. I even found a way to include tennis in my work day. My boss doesn’t have a problem with my exercising, she also plays tennis and is on my women’s team.

My work-writing schedule worked well for a week and a half. I even got a committment from Molly, my change coach partner from a class we took together, to do the same. I think she’s upset with me, because not only do we email each other with what we’re working on for the week, I made her give me specific times for her writing. Misery and success love company, Molly.

Anyway, back to the work schedule, which ends at 3pm, CST. I made one error, I forgot my schedule when I made appointments for things like, dentist, school registration, errands for my husband, JMan, my son ,and JGirl, my daughter. Not good. When I scheduled my dentist appointment, I forgot to ask for a late afternoon one. I did this several times and guess what happened? Yep, I got thrown off schedule, and I’m not a very pleasant person when my schedule is disrrupted. So, one day last week, I had an appointment and blew off the rest of the day. My boss was not pleased. Hey, it was a beautiful day, not too hot. My boss didn’t care. So I gave myself a verbal warning, made a note on my desk calendar to not make any appointments, unless absolutely necessary, during writing working hours.

See, this is the part I’ve been talking about, commitment and accountability. We have to make ourselves accountable to our set goals. When I tell my husband I can’t go to the cleaners until 4pm or 5pm, I add it’s because I’m working. Just because my writing space is the living room, doesn’t mean I’m not working when I’m in here. I no longer play Solitaire on the computer (I have a color version on my Blackberry). I’m working and when my boss sees me at the coffee pot, well she understands. I even take lunch at my desk. Sometimes, I even take a short walk around my block, with my dog. Except for the walk with my dog, this is the same routine I had when I worked at a large financial institution. It’s really no different, and I have a better view than that danged cubicle I worked in. AND, most important for me, I turn off the Internet, checking my email three times during work writing hours. After work, all bets are off.

There were times when I worked overtime and weekends at my city job. Well, that won’t change. Best part is I can get up, brush teeth and shower, and go straight into the office. No getting dressed, driving to the train or downtown, paying thirty dollars for parking, and then back home. Financially speaking, I’ve saved over three hundred dollars by working from home, if I was getting royalties.

This is a career choice, the color of my parachute and we as writers must treat our writing as a job. Plus, I don’t have twelve pairs of shoes in the bottom desk drawer, but we won’t talk about how many are in my closet.

Inspiration for the day: The trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more. Erica Jong


Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day

August 8, 2006 | Writing

I’ve been away for a little while. Summer can get very busy. I just returned from my second Romance Writers of America Annual Conference. This year it was held in Atlanta. I had a great time. Not only were the workshops I attended fantastic, but I met new and old friends. I belong to the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter of RWA and we have an online critique group. We met up in Atlanta and were finally able to put faces to names. There was so much information to absorb and many of my fellow writers have blogged about their experiences. I came away with renewed enthusiasm for writing and even reset my goals. I’m sure other authors, both published and unpublished did the same. I also came back with a reality gut check.

I thought I’d share one thought that keeps echoing in my head. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” We hear that saying over and over. What does it really mean? Listening to Nora Roberts, Christine Dodd, Meg Cabot and Susan Elizabeth Phillips speak, I can sum it all up in the saying. Rome wasn’t built in a day. The Roman Colosseum was built between AD 72 to AD 90.

First there was the grand design plan, then the grueling manual physical labor. It was built brick by brick, stone by stone, column by column. It exist today. Tourists flock to Rome to see it, walk through it, take pictures . Yes, it’s crumbling, but its decline only adds to its beauty. The movie, The Gladiator, with Russell Crowe, recreated thru computer magic the Colosseum in all its glory.

A book is not written in a day. Nora Roberts said it plainly. Writing is a career. It is the best career in the world. You can work from home. You don’t even have to get dressed and face freeway traffic, extreme cold or sweltering hot weather. But, you must develop your career. You must work on writing every day, if you want to be published. How many of us have the stamina, the determination to learn the craft and write every day, regardless of whether we feel like it or not. Roberts said in an interview in the August issue of RWR, the ‘muse is fickle and a wimp.’ She said if she waited to be inspired she’s be unemployed. If she’s got a blank page, she finds a way to fill it. It may be crap, POS she calls it, but she can fix it. You can’t fix a blank page, you can fix a crappy one.

Christine Dodd compared writing success to walking on a sidewalk, being knocked off by family issues, manuscripts being rejected, but you keep on walking. I wonder how many got the point of you keep on walking. Period. You may be tired, keep walking. You get rejected eight times. Keep walking. You finally get your first book published. Keep walking. A fellow author gets a three book deal, you don’t. Keep walking. You write a second book, it doesn’t do well and you think your publisher is going to drop you. Keep walking. A writer, unknown, writes her first book and it hits the NY best sellers list. Damn! Keep. Walking.
We dream of writing a book that captures a top agents’ attention, gets published, puts our name in the spotlight. Oops, just fell off the sidewalk. Why? Because we were dreaming and not looking where we were walking. We may even sit along side the sidewalk and watch others pass us by. Can you get up and keep walking? Or do you tell yourself, you can’t catch up so why bother, and the flowers where you’re sitting are very pretty. It’s too late for you. Only if you don’t get back on the sidewalk and …. Well, you know.

I’m always inspired by listening to successful authors speak. It motivates me. But now I see past the inspiration and see the dedication, determination and the passion for writing. Do Phillips and Roberts have personal emergencies that crop up? Of course they do, they’re human and that’s life. We’re human. Does it stop them from writing? No. They handle the problems and they keep walking.


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