Proving My Worth So Others Will Believe It

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”—     Theodore Roosevelt

When I started this blog, I didn’t know where I was going with it. I just knew that I had things to share. I simply decided that I was going to allow my words in this blog take me wherever they would. I have taken these words of Theodore Roosevelt to heart. I am doing what I can, with what I have, where I am. I am not stressing about it, I am not worried about my next post, I am simply writing what I have to say when I have it to say. I am writing what I know.

All my life I have had it thrown into my face all the reasons that I couldn’t do something. In some ways it made it easy. I couldn’t do something because. . . whatever, and that was that. Life went on mediocre as ever. It was always, someday, maybe, but not now. Those excuses kept me in my place. What I wanted was somewhere out in the future because the excuses were there to protect me from danger. Oh, I have had my moments when I would step out of my shell. Like the time when I was twenty. I quit my boring job and went to California on a bus and arrived in LA at 3 am and didn’t know a soul there. That was an adventure. I stayed there two days and those two days changed my life, for a while, anyway. For the next six months I focused on what I hoped would be a writing career, but my parents said that I needed to get real and get a job. After a few months of hearing that, I got the job. I allowed myself to be pushed back down into that box. I’m certain you know what box I am talking about,  the box was labeled “The Right Thing to Do”. The problem was, I had been outside that box and had a glimpse of what life could be if I allowed myself to do what I could with what I have where I am. I have never liked that box. I’ve never really fit into it.  I do however like what happens to me when I decide to step out of the box to discover what I am capable of doing. Perhaps I should take a page out of the book of our founding fathers and recognize that before others will see who we are, we have to defend where we see ourselves.

Today in History As It Relates to the American Revolution

This day in history in 1783, Spain recognized United States Independence from Great Britain. Although the United States officially declared its independence from Great Britain, other countries didn’t recognize the country until years later. France was the first to recognize it. France officially recognized US Independence on February 6, 1778 and sent ammunition and supplies to the new country in order to help the US secure its right to call itself a free and independent country. Spain recognized the United States when they recognized that the war was over and the United States had won its right to freedom.

Declaration-of-Independence

The official date that the US declared independence from Great Britain was July 4, 1776. Other countries did not officially recognize it until years later.

Two days after Spain recognized the United States as an independent country, Sweden also recognized the US. Great Britain, of course, officially recognized the United States as an independent country on September 3, 1783 when both Great Britain and the United States signed the Treaty of Paris.

Other countries did not recognize the US until the Americans had decided for several years that they were separate from Great Britain. Perhaps this is a lesson that I also must learn. I must declare my independence and see myself outside of the box that keeps me from being the best that I can be.

Focusing on Finishing What I Start

Now that I am pretty back to health, I have been focusing on catching up with those things that I got behind on last week. Surprisingly, in most activities, I have not only caught up, but I also was able to proactively get ahead in some areas. Last Friday I wrote this week’s This day in History as It Relates to the American Revolution which made this week’s blogs easy to finish. After the success that I had because they were done Friday, I intend to continue to write them on Friday. All this helps me stick to my resolution to focus on finishing what I have started.

I have been making it a point to keep up with household chores by doing a few things every day. Making my bed, picking up any laundry, washing, drying, folding, and putting away a load or two of clothes every day is a lot easier for me than trying to catch up on numerous loads on Saturday morning. Rather than putting off the dishes until this morning, last night I rinsed them and put them in the dishwasher. This morning I did up the breakfast dishes. Because I didn’t need to catch up with last night’s supper dishes, I had the time to clean out the refrigerator. All this before noon. So far so good.

As far as writing goes, last night I worked on a school project that is due today and write several pages in my novel A Coward’s Solace and the articles for this week are done as well. Over the weekend I worked on two nonfiction booklets that I intend to have done by the middle of next month so that I can post them in kindle as well as in print. I haven’t done anything with Dad’s poem book in a few weeks, I put out some requests for other family members to respond to what I have written, but I haven’t heard anything back. Things seem to be moving along according to schedule, though.

This Day in History As It Relates to the American Revolution

On this day in January 29, 1777, Major General William Heath and his army of 6,000 men abandon their siege on Fort Independence, in Bronx County, New York because bitter cold and a surprise counter assault by the British and an approaching snow storm made it impossible for the poor clad colonials to continue the siege.

George Washington had given Heath orders to assault Fort Independence eleven days earlier on January 18. Washington was under attack in nearby New Jersey and believed that if Heath could defeat the British at Fort Independence, the British would be forced to divert troops from New Jersey to defend the outpost located just outside British-controlled Manhattan.Fort Independence Park Marker

The Patriots had first built Fort Independence in 1776 then burned it when they were forced to evaluate New York. The British partly rebuilt it when they took control later in the year.

A cloudburst on January 25 flooded the Bronx River making it nearly impossible for Patriot troop movement. Teh counter assault and the pending snowstorm forced retreat on January 29, 1777. The fort survived the Patriot’s attack in 1777, but when the British left the fort in 1779, they destroyed the fort.. The British partially rebuilt the fort when they took control later in the year. The fort endured the Patriots’ attack in 1777, but was destroyed again as the British left in 1779 . The city park that now exists on the site memorializes the fort on its front gates, as well as in its name.

Today the location of Fort Independence is a park in Bronx, New York.

Today the location of Fort Independence is a park in Bronx, New York.

Springfield Writers Guild, Aux Arcs, and Benjamin Franklin in Paris

I Attended my First Springfield Writer’s Guild meeting on

Saturday, January 25,2014

This past week I joined the Springfield Writer’s Guild at the Heritage Cafeteria here in Springfield, MO. I probably should have gone to the mentor hour that they had, but instead I just went to listen to this month’s speaker and to get a feel for the organization. I met one woman who doesn’t live very far from where I do. I hope to see her again next month. This month’s speaker was Joyce Ragland, Ed.D., her latest book Dread the FRED. She talked about how she used creative nonfiction to write this book and how she gathered the information that she needed to write the book.

After the speaker, they conducted the business meeting and then there was a drawing where various authors gave books as door prizes. I was one of the winners and I received a book Aux Arc Black and White of Photography of the Ozarks by Carl James. Beautiful photo book that I will cherish for many years to come. Though the photos are black and white, I can see how I will be able to use many of the pictures as writing prompts.

I was surprised how organized the guild is and how many people attended the meeting. I look forward to coming back next month and continuing to network with others who have like passions. I look forward to next month’s meeting.

This Day In History as it Relates to the American Revolution

While George Washington and his men were held up at Valley Forge, it is possible that 70-year-old Benjamin Franklin attended the premiere of Piccinni’s opera “Roland” in Paris on this date in 1778.

piccinni roland operaBut Franklin had not gone to Paris as a social outing. He had gone on a life or death mission. His own life and the life of the other patriots hinged on convincing the French to side with the Americans against the British. The French greeted him, the American celebrity with open arms and wondered what had brought this world famous scientist to their shores. What had brought him was the fact that the newly declared citizens of America had little ammunition, no money, no credit, and no common cause and that he knew that because the French were enemies with Great Britain, perhaps they would be happy to recognize and become friends with the newly self-proclaimed independent county.

Fortunately for Franklin, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been waiting for such an opportunity. They had been poised for an American revolt longer than the colonies had even considered one. If the American could convince them that the Americans were worthy English foes, they were willing to give the fledgling country a chance.

Franklin danced around the facts as well as with  French debutantes. He was able to convince the French that the British would need a 200 thousand man army to subdue the Americans. He made it sound as though the American Continental Army was not the rag tag army that it was. That it had repositioned itself to fight on indefinitely and by spring would become a strong force of 89 thousand expertly trained men. He alluded that as the British pushed into the continent, the more the countryside would push back.

The truth was, gunpowder had to be severely rationed and Washington commanded only 14 thousand barely clad, poorly fed men. If Franklin did not succeed on his mission, British would have won and the Patriot cause would have been dead along with its leadership. The diplomatic expertise that Franklin demonstrated went beyond the desperation of the circumstances, it was sheer brilliance.

Psychological Writing Strategies To Avoid Writer’s Blocks

I hate to brag, but, would you believe that I have never had a writer’s block? I have always been able to sit down and write whatever I felt that I needed to write. The problems I have had with writing is that I have had too much to write and too little time to do it. Getting started writing has never been my problem, my main problem is starting projects and not finishing them, but that is an issue for another blog. I thought about why I never have to worry about having a blank page. I have intuitively developed psychological writing strategies which help me avoid getting writer’s blocks all together.

me_on_the_laptopThe philosophy that I use involves a psychological apparatus created by Sigmund Freud. According to Freud, our psyche has three parts. One is the id, the second is the ego, and the third is the super-ego. Eric Berne took this concept one step further into a practice he called transactional analysis (TA) which makes understanding the id, ego, and super ego a lot simpler. The id is your inner child, your ego is your adult, and the super-ego is your parent.

Your adult is your mature self. Your adult is the side of you that most people see. It is the part of you that makes the goals and makes the decisions on getting things done, it is the part of you that normally interacts with the world. Your id is your inner-child. It is your playful side. It is your creative side. Another word commonly used for your inner child is your muse. Its the part of you that get the idea about what you are going to write and then writes about it. Your inner child makes no judgements, it just plays and creates.

Your inner-parent is the side of you that is the side of you that includes your inner critic. Your inner-parent is the part of you that is critical of your inner child. It dictates that there is a right and a wrong way of doing things. That is often the way that we present our inner-parent to our inner child. What we need to realize is that our inner-parent isn’t the bad guy that we make our inner-parent out to be. Our inner parent is there to protect our inner child from harm from the outside world. Our inner-parent has a nurturing side too. The problem is, we don’t know how to use our inner-parent to do this side of parenting our inner child.

To understand how we can use this to our writing advantage, we need to understand that all emotions are based on the feeling of love, and/or the feeling of fear. Think about it, when we feel happy, we are feeling love. When we anxious, we are feeling fear. When we feel sad, we are feeling love and some fear. When we are feeling angry, we can be feeling love, but usually, that feeling is based in fear as well. Therefore, our inner-parent deals with the inner child either using love or fear. Our inner parent can be critical and intimidate the inner child with fear, or the inner-parent can be protective and deal with the inner child with love.

Let me use an example from being a parent to show you how your inner parent works as a nurturer. Let’s say that a child is afraid of the dark and is afraid to go up the stairs to bed. The parent could stand there and bully the child into going up the stairs and into the bedroom. If the child is more afraid of the parent than she is of the dark, the child may go to bed, but the child will be very resistant to the idea and will not want to do that.

However, if the parent decides instead to show the child that he or she is there is nothing to be afraid of and that the parent is there to lovingly protect the child, the child will be more willing to go up the stairs and go to bed. A nurturing parent will go up the stairs with the child and show the child that there is nothing on the stairs that will hurt the child. The parent will then turn on the bedroom light and show the child that there is nothing harmful in the closet an nothing harmful under the bed. The parent will lovingly help the child into bed, kiss the child good night and remind the child that he or she will protect the child if anything happens. Its the same with your inner parent. The inner parent can either be a bully or a protector.

Well, that’s all fine and well, you say, but how can all this prevent writer’s block?

First recognize that writer’s block is based in fear of some sort. Often it is the inner-child’s fear that he or she will not live up to the inner-parent’s expectations because the inner parent (editor) is trying to correct the child all the time.  If you see your inner parent (editor) doing this, imagine your inner parent taking a different role in your writing experience. Imagine your inner parent taking  your inner-child through the writing experience and showing the child that the environment is safe. Picture your inner-parent agreeing not to be critical, and telling the child that he or she wants the child to play. The parent then reminds the child that the child is safe and that later, after the child is done playing, the parent agrees to clean up the mess (that means edit) but for now, the child is simply allowed to be the child. If you’re going to imagine the parent standing by watching, imagine that parent standing in the background watching the child. Imagine the child looking up at the parent for reassurance and seeing the parent smile and nod reassuringly at the child. The child turns back and returns to play knowing that she is safe to continue in her play.

Now get down to the business of playing with your writing experience. It doesn’t matter what you write, it doesn’t have to be good. You are just playing. Determine what you want to do next in your writing project. Do you want more information? Go to google, type in a phrase, look at the information on different sites. What can you use? Start “playing” with information. Do you have a scene that you want to flesh out? Get a writing prompt related to that scene and begin “playing” with that prompt. Photos make great prompts, so do passages from other books or from online articles. Write what you see, then make it your own. Bang it, mold it, and play with it. Morph it into your own work. Morph it enough so that it is no longer the original and has become a part of you and your work. (You don’t want to plagiarize.)

Use your inner-parent to help protect your inner-child and her play time. Your inner-parent likes rules, so set some rules concerning your writing time that allows your inner-child space and time to play. For instance, my inner-parent likes these rules:  I will write first thing in the morning. I will write every day. I will add 560 words to my novel every day so that I am able to get this draft of my novel done by May 1st. I will stand by and make certain that my inner-child has the time and the space to play so that this “play” can occur. If you will learn to use your inner-parent to protect your inner-child rather than criticize her, you will never have writer’s block again.

My Search for my Voice

 On Kathryn Craft’s blog post, 5 Things Readers Want from Novelists on Social Media on the Writers in the Storm blog, she relays five ways that novelists can engage readers with their online media. She (1) wants to be entertained, (2) be challenged to think for herself (3) be exposed to the new and different (4) receive news updates related to new books and career milestones, and finally (5) she wants the writer to give her hope. She does not want to hear the negativity of the book world, she wants to be lifted out of the rabbit holes that life often gives us.

Searching to perfect my  my writing voice.

Searching to perfect my my writing voice.

Instead of writing about writing, I want to write about things that people other than writers can identify with. I want to write about the ideas that my husband and I discuss on a daily basis. For instance, this idea comes in our conversations quite often. I read somewhere that everything that we “feel” comes from either “love” or “fear”. Those basic feelings mix with the random thoughts in our minds to create the myriad of emotions that we feel in our hearts. What if we started looking at every feeling that we have as based in either love or fear? For instance, I love writing, it is my passion, but there are aspects of writing that I’m afraid of. For instance, I am afraid to step out and do many of the things that I know I need to do to make my writing business successful. I tend to want to play it safe and that doesn’t lead to success in the writing arena, does it? What I need to do is to learn to love myself enough to recognize that I have what it takes to make it in the writing world, and to love the writing enough to allow it to bravely step out into the world and show its abilities.

I think that that is the artistic side of me that has difficulty presenting my precious babies to the world. I believe that what I am doing is great, that it is worthy of notoriety. My problem is: What if not everyone agrees with me. What if someone tells me that this work, that I have invested my whole life into is not good enough?  I feel that as a writer, I am a type of artist, and as an artist, my work is personal. When someone criticizes the art, that person is criticizing me.

That is why it is difficult for a writer to toot his or her own horn in marketing. The problem is, in today’s writing market, the writer has to be his or her own sales person as well and that goes against the nature of the artist. What an author needs is a manager similar to the manager of an actor or musician. We need to think outside of the traditional set ups that worked in the past. I am a writer. I don’t want to be a salesperson. I want to entertain as a story teller.  The question for me is how to I make that happen? How do I create a structure in my life that allows me to be able to use my writing to tell stories, to allow the creative juices flow? How do I keep from being mired down into the cesspool of begging people to buy my books? Who is the advocate for the Indie writer who wants to sit behind her computer and tell the stories that she wants to tell?

I

I’d rather be writing than trying to figure out how to meet a quota of books sold, or trying to find the next sales venue or trying to figure out how to get people on social media back to my website to buy what I have written. I hope the reader of this blog forgives me as I try to get away from the writer blog and allow me to evolve as a writer.

During this past week, I have published three hubs on Hubpages two of which have been awarded as Editors Choice hubs. The editor’s choice hubs were:

An Author’s Human Resource Department 

What is the difference between GMO, Hybrid, and Heirloom seeds?

The last hub that I wrote this week was:

Where to Get Canning Jars

Does the cold weather have you trapped indoors  this weekend? How about curling up with a good novel historical novel. My novels When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry are now available for Kindle download.

The Muse and the Critic

One of the biggest reasons that a writer gets writer’s block is because what he or she is doing seems more like work than it does like play. Playing brings out the creativeness that we have within us. The mental critic that each of us has needs to be made to realize that during the creative process, he or she (mine is a he) doesn’t have a say. However, there does come a time when he can come out and work, throwing away the mess that the muse has created and sanding and painting and detailing the work that the muse had started.

Entertaining my muse is just going with the flow. What happen, happens.

Entertaining my muse is just going with the flow. What happen, happens.

This picture that I have of this interplay between the muse and the critic would make a good hub. The muse is a child who is playing. A muse can be male or female. My muse is female. She likes to make messes. She likes to play and create problems. She plays with abandon. She throws things together and mixed things together that have never been mixed before. She likes to cut with scissors and ball up paper and splash on paint willy-nilly.  She likes to look at something that seems ordinary and makes it look special. She takes the block of wood and turns it into a work of art. She likes to take thread and create tapestry. She likes to slap on the paint and calls it art.

My internal critic cleans up what the muse's play has messed up. Without the muse however, there's nothing there for the critic to clean up and detail

My internal critic cleans up what the muse’s play has messed up. Without the muse however, there’s nothing there for the critic to clean up and detail

When the muse is done making the mess, it is up to the critic to clean it up. The critic is an adult, but he does best if he does not try to appear to be a parent. Parents can be dictatorial, and our muse does not need someone standing over her shoulder, but she does need the critic to turn his or her rough creation into a work of art. The critic cleans up the mess that the muse has created. My critic is male. The critic reshapes the muses work. He smooths the rough edges and perfects the haphazard painting that the muse has playfully created. He then works on the detailing, crafting the art, perfecting it until the masterpiece is complete.