Tag Archives: power words

TWIST and BOUNCE to Progress

5 Sep

Attention, OK-Mart shoppers: this month I’m offering a BOGO. Blog One power word, Get One free! Like that multi-tasking TWIST?

Once again this fall, I’ve undertaken a Writer’s Digest online class to force me at gunpoint inspire me to make progress on my historical novel. So August had me twisting to churn out 15,000 words. And by TWIST I mean writhing and squirming on the floor from the pain of an inescapable deadline.

To make it, I had to say ‘no’ to volunteering more at my daughter’s school, which was very hard for me to do. I also put my son in full-day preschool, which was even harder. I thought I would be overridden by guilt. Instead, I was energized and motivated by such a generous gift to myself, a gift that my inner artist deeply appreciates and is returning in kind.

LA InterchangeStill, I struggle with my internal antagonists: insecurity, indecision, imperfection. Once I get going in a scene or section of a scene, I’m happy in the process of actual, you know, writing. To me, crafting dialogue is the icing on the Brussels sprouts. But it takes a lot out of me to get there or decide the exact events within a given scene. I get stalled, even overwhelmed, by the infinite possibilities. It’s like Frost’s The Road Less Traveled but on the twisted East LA Interchange. It’s hard to see where each road will take me, if it will connect to my other roads, and even how to find the right on ramp.

All roads diverged at a point of plot,
And sorry I could not travel each
And be one writer, long I thought
And looked down one longer than I ought
To where it bent in the story line…

This is where the BOUNCE comes in. When I encounter an interchange or detour, my natural inclination is to pull off at the next exit for a Diet Coke and Snickers, maybe catch a movie, flip through my Facebook, alphabetize the cereal boxes in my pantry–anything to avoid driving.  However, I am retraining myself to bounce through it instead.

Taking on a buoyant attitude of BOUNCE propels me from a defeatist all-or-nothing something-is-wrong-with-me mentality to a resilient something-or-something-else whatever-gets-me-to-the-next-sentence outlook. Once through a stressful trouble spot, I can relax again. Even if I’m not exactly sure where I’m going, I took a road to keep traveling. And that has made all the difference.

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April Power Word: SPROUT!

1 Apr

Bean Sprout

The spring weather is gorgeous, you’ve done some digging, and now it’s time for the seeds of your creativity to sprout! This might represent the project that you’ve started that begins taking on a life of its own. It could mean that you’ve outlined your book and are now ready to jump in and start writing. It could also be a sign for you to start reaching out to form new relationships that will fertilize your creativity.

Whatever SPROUT means to you, just remember to keep the weeds out. You know who/what they are. 😉

I look forward to seeing what my Chicks…and you…are growing this month!

DIG! Gold in the Mountains

20 Mar

beachmound2I am greedy gold digger. And you can be, too. But first, a day trip.

Last Saturday we met up with my husband’s family in nearby Cocoa Beach. As I enjoyed chatting with my sister-in-law from a low lounge chair, I watched Michael help my son build a sandcastle.

“What is that?” I asked my husband when he returned.

“A castle,” he said. “With a mote, see?”

To be clear, this was not a castle. It was a hill of sand with a plastic shovel shoved on top. Slurping the last of my Diet Coke, I prepared to answer the call. I would mold this plain monolith into an architectural triumph truly worthy of its oceanfront real estate. Or so I thought.

beachmoundThat’s how it is at the outset of imagining our creative project. We envision a grand construction, replete with well-hewn walls, arcing steps and majestic spires. Digging around our idea is the easy part. But like my sandy heap, when we dig into itto form it into something more than a moundit can feel like an unmanageable mountain. Parts we thought we were solid start to crumble as we touch them.

That’s how it was with my would-be historical novel. My initial years of staggered research would have never ended either, if it hadn’t been for my Chicks pushing me past it. I’d still be digging myself into a hole, hoping to find new treasure to help my story take shape. I was hiding under the seemingly legitimate cover of research, convinced I needed more to put it all together.

“You have enough,” Eva told me one day as we floated around her pool. “Don’t be afraid to fill in the blanks.” Some time later she gave me a pirate reference book I didn’t have, in which she wrote further assurances:

“Tracey, you fought a good fight, did all the research possible and now is time to walk the plank. Don’t be scared and jump right in. The water will feel warm and calming, and all those ideas will come out flowing.”

While Florida gopher turtles like this one dig holes in my yard for shelter, I want to come out of my safe hole and do a different kind of digging.

While Florida gopher turtles like this one dig holes in my yard for shelter, I want to come out of my safe hole and do a different kind of digging.

Every time I start a new scene, which I’m happy to say I did again this week, I get scared anew. The urge is to dig down into the earth to search for more glittering gems, or worse yet, to simply avoid picking up a shovel altogether.

But in order to actually create something, I need to dig inside. Inside my settings.  Inside my characters’ heads. Inside my plot. Inside my imagination.

“I have enough,” I remind myself. “Fill in the blanks.”

That’s where I’m digging now, onward and upward. I’m proud to be the greedy climber I am today. Inside is where the gold is. And however long it takes, I’m determined to find it, up in these here mountains.

DIG! Digging into edits

16 Mar

I’m editing. Really. I almost want to end the post here because that’s pretty much my life right now. Knee-deep in the edit dirt, since I’m talking DIG here.

When I received the edit letter and marked-up manuscript of OLIVIA TWISTED back from my editor, Stacy Abrams, I kind of freaked out for a moment. A long moment. I think my first thought was “Does she not love me/the book anymore?” It’s silly, because of course she does, but there seemed to be so many areas of opportunity. And everything I thought could be swept under the table, she caught. There were also many places where she felt I could develop certain plot lines or characters more.

Thus began the digging. As I explored each character, I realized that I had missed many opportunities to develop motivation, personality, and relationships. Some things worked, some fell flat. So I started moving around, asking my characters a lot of questions about their motivations (yes, they talk back) and adding several scenes. And reading back through it, it seems to work so much better–like it pops! So yeah, Stacy is pretty genius in my book (along with genius Nicole, her intern).digging man

Of course, as I write this, I’m still editing and staring at my deadline like a deer in the headlights (I’m from Texas originally so I know this look). That’s probably why this post is short—my brain is a little fried.

Eventually, the edits will be finished and I’ll send it back with the hopes that Stacy will like the changes. And from what everyone says, the first edits are the toughest. After that it’s like cake. Well, anytime you reference something like cake, I’m happy!

Anyone else in edit world these days? How’s it going?

March Power Word: DIG!

28 Feb

It’s almost Spring.  Can you dig it?

I love every season. What I most love about Spring are the buds that begin peeking out, bringing color back to nature’s palette.  Before that can happen, though, seeds must be sown. It’s no different with creativity. As a creative gardener, I dig deep into the soil, or rather, the soul.  There, I bury seeds and trust that my Chicks, and all of you, will water them, give them light, clear the weeds away and usher them into the world.

One of these seeds is already blossoming and will be revealed tomorrow across the web, including on this blog.  I’m soooo excited about it, but that’s all I can say at this point, other than check back here tomorrow!

In the meantime, the power word for March is: DIG!   How will you use it?

TANGO! Review February Power Word

28 Feb

TANGO! Dance around the bullies and be your creative self!

22 Feb

This is an odd way to relate to this month’s power word, TANGO, but it’s something I feel pretty strongly about.

Recently, someone close to me experienced bullying at his middle school. Remember middle school? I do. I hated it. Well, that’s probably being a little harsh, since there were many things I enjoyed. But most of my friends weren’t in my “block,” and I had scoliosis, which means I had to wear a brace for a year and a half of the junior high hell (the brace wasn’t visible, but I felt like it was).

To show him he wasn’t alone, I asked the Twitterverse to share stories of bullying experiences in middle school. And WOW was I surprised when my Twitter feed blew up and I received over a hundred responses to my request. From editors to authors to even a rocket scientist, many had felt the sting of being the “odd one out.” And a common theme—many times the bully was getting bullied herself.

Then a friend sent me an email about how her previously trusted group of peers had been talking about her behind her back and treating her poorly (since she’s one of the sweetest people I know and considering her situation, I’m thinking it could be a jealousy thing). She decided to break with the group, but it wasn’t easy. They had been together for years. It made her question her own self worth, and that, to me, is unacceptable.two young girls laughing behind another girls back

When bullying rears its ugly head beyond the primary school years, how do you handle it?Maybe it happens when an artist perceives himself as blocked, as if blocking others leads to revelation or success for himself. As in middle school, sometimes it’s the bully who is getting bullied. As adults, though, it surprises me still that this happens. Why hinder when we should be supporting each other? I can’t think of anything more detrimental to the creative self than being dragged down by naysayers.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve learned to keep circles of trust around myself. No one gets into the circle unless invited—no one tangoes with me (no one puts Baby in a corner?) unless I really, REALLY trust them.  They’re the only ones who can actually affect my perception of myself. I don’t have energy for the rest.

So tango around those who aim to hurt you. Create your circles and block the bullies. The dance will be much more enjoyable for it!

February Power Word: TANGO!

1 Feb
Turn the heat up on a project close to your heart this month and TANGO!

Turn the heat up on a project close to your heart.

Do you remember when you first fell in love with your project? The butterflies. The intense longing to be together with it. Having trouble thinking about anything else when you were apart.

Have you lost the height of pleasure you once found in your relationship with your project, your art, or even your artistic self? Then join my 4 Chicks this month in falling back in love. It’s time to TANGO!

The tango is not a tepid dance but rather a hungry expression of passion. It is not for the half-focused or half-committed. While you tango every fiber of your being is engaged. The energy between you and your partner-project is electric. With small controlled steps, your deep inner yearnings resurface, intensify, and turn to sweet satisfaction.

Woo your artistic self with lots of love this month, too, and see if your project doesn't return in kind.

Woo your artistic self with lots of love this month, and see if your project doesn’t respond, too.

What project do you want to get closer to in February? Get ready to turn up the heat and move with it. Put on your red-hot dancing shoes and think: TANGO!

Video

ZOOM! Review January Power Word

31 Jan

ZOOM! The Sound of Progress

16 Jan
I can ZOOM! Really I can. I'm just driving a smaller car, so it takes me longer to get there.

I can ZOOM! Really I can. Maybe I’m just driving a smaller car, so it may take me a while to get where I want to go.

ZOOM: How can one word mean two seemingly opposite things? I wondered. Etymology has become one of my passions since embarking on writing a story that takes place 300 years ago. I love how learning the origin of a word gives precise, seductively nuanced clues as to its evolved meaning.

ZOOM is what’s called of echoic origin. It was first derived from the onomatopoetic sound it makes, starting in the late 19th century as industrial machines–and the very world itself–were getting faster. The word became more commonly used during the Golden Age of Aviation in reference to the sound pilots heard as they made an accelerated turn or ascent.

Change and speed remain the essential elements. A ZOOM climb requires full throttle. Anything less, and you might stall or even fall.

The invention of the ZOOM lens in the late thirties began the word’s alternative connotation, seemingly contradictory yet actually congruent upon closer inspection. When we–our vehicle, our lens, our minds–move quickly, we get closer to destinations once far away. That then allows us to focus in with microscopic clarity.

DSCN0019There’s a time and place for both ZOOMs. For example, planning and rough draft phases require a powerful rapidity of movement. Heavy throttle.

This is a challenge for me. I tend to search for shapes in the clouds while I’m trying to fly. Editing and playing with words is what I love best. ZOOMing in. But I’ve found that I simply can’t do that and make the progress I want at the same time. When I try, I just don’t reach enough speed to ever lift off the ground.

Throughout this month’s power word challenge from the Muse so far, I’ve been chanting ZOOM! to help me focus on one important task at hand before jumping to others. It seems simple, but it really has helped me check daily things off my to-do list in priority order. Yet even more, ZOOM! has been and will remain my 2013 mantra to counter my obsessive detail binges with complementary doses of accelerated ascents, blissfully blurry and unfettered by the stalling impediments of perfectionism.

Which is the greater challenge for you? To go fast or to focus? When we balance both in our projects, our lives, we can truly move. And to this slow-moving Muse-seeker, more progress with my novel in 2013 would be music to my ears. Or to paraphrase King Solomon and The Byrds:

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to ZOOM up, a time to ZOOM in 
A time to go fast, a time to look close
A time to fly, a time to land
A time to progress, I swear it’s not too late

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