Tag Archives: Motivation

New Year’s Revolutions

Every year I go there. I make a list-sometimes in my head, sometimes scratched in a journal. I make resolutions, resolve to change. Every year they are pretty much the same. Eat better, exercise more, write a book, improve my posture, learn another language, get a better handle on finances, stop hating myself.

This year I would prefer a revolution. I need things to happen more quickly. Let’s face it. I just need something to happen. For once I would really like to win a battle, if not the war.

So I pick writing.

It’s not that I don’t want the other things. I do. But I need focus. I need a more singular purpose. If along the way a few other things fall in place, well that’s icing on the cake. But this year, damn it, I’m writing.

So here’s what I want to do:

1) Keep track of what I’m reading. Make notes on things that inspire or teach me. Read books that will help me be a better writer. Keep it all in one notebook-what I read, what I want to read, what I think about what I’m reading-and review it from time to time.

2) Write 4 times a week no matter what. Blogging does not count. Try and blog twice a week but do not use blogging to keep me from writing. Use blogging to motivate, to learn from others, to confess or yearn or laugh.

3) Focus on the novel. Do not decide one day, I should really clean up these short stories and send them out because maybe I’ll get one published and that will motivate me. Sounds nice. You’ve tossed it around a bit. But the truth is, it takes just as much focus to work on the short stories and I want to finish a novel. I want to send out and get rejected for a novel. I want to publish a novel. I want a few people to read my novel.

4) Take at least one workshop and go to at least one conference. Jump into “the life” in whatever way you can. Go to readings, find good blogs, listen, learn. Treat this like you are studying to become a brain surgeon. Why would you skip the class on the occipital lobe?

5) Block out the novel. Start giving it more shape. Use index cards or files or whatever tricks there are to give it a beginning, middle and end. This will not appear to you in a dream. Work at it.

6) Stop being stingy with what you write. It’s ok if I write 30 pages about a character that never makes it into the book. It will help get me where I need to go.

7) Stop buying office supplies. You have enough cute folders and spiral notebooks and cool pens to write 3 novels.

8) Finish a complete draft of the novel by the end of this year so you can go back to the other resolutions. Pray that by then I don’t weigh a million pounds and look like a hunchback.

That’s my revolution. Did I leave anything critical out?

Do you have a New Year’s revolution? We all want to change the world.



Filed under Uncategorized

Objects in Mirror are Closer Than They Appear

The other day I had a hankering for a bagel with cream cheese. The thing is, I am trying very hard to go back to a dairy-free life. I managed it for about 8 months when I was told I had a food sensitivity to all dairy products that was causing inflammation and exacerbating my fibromyalgia. I felt 1,000 times better off dairy and was really getting the hang of it. Then a year ago I fell off the wagon and since then haven’t managed to get back to all that tofu and kale.

Now, if you are a full-fledged vegan please do not hate me for what I am about to say. But every fake cheese alternative I have tried, well there is no other way to put it, just sucks. I decided it was time, however, to try again and I picked up some vegan cream cheese spread.

You can imagine my shock and delight when I discovered it was amazingly good. I was besides myself! My whole life was about to change! It tasted just like the real thing.

Which, unfortunately, made sense because it was. I misread the label. It was good old-fashioned 100% from the cow organic cream cheese.

What the heck?

How could I have 1) mistaken this obvious tub of full-on fat dairy product for some unpleasant healthy soy alternative, and 2) continue to believe it was vegan even after slathering it on a bagel (or two) and joyously devouring it?

We are complicated creatures. We want things so much at times we just believe they are what they are not. And to make things more difficult, sometimes it really is hard to tell. Is it a healthy snack or will it give me cancer in 15 years? Are you smiling at me because you think I’m attractive or is there spinach in my teeth? Is white wheat bread white bread or wheat bread? Was that wild adoration and affection you showed me in the first 6 months really you or some planetary alignment or hormonal surge? Are you complimenting my writing because you really like it or are you trying to make me feel better? Are you trying to make me feel better because you like me or do you just want to seem like a good person? Are you a Democrat or Republican? Obi-Wan Kenobi or Darth Vader? Prince or The Artist Formally Known as Prince? Half-empty, half-full? And tell us Sigmund, how do you tell when a cigar is really just a cigar?

As my father often says, nothing’s easy.

Sitting here at the computer, staring at the blank screen–is it unlimited opportunity or am I shackled to a cold dungeon wall? And if we don’t quite know the truth, the answer, the absolute, how do we write about it?

With flair. With gusto. With utter abandon. Weaving truth, lies, perception, irony, duplicity, memory, delusion, candor, confusion into story.

Again and again.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Toil and Trouble

The message is loud and clear these days. No pain no gain. Just do it. Do what you love the money will come.  Feel the fear and do it anyway. Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. 80% of life is showing up.

Stay in the room. Do the work. Write your heart out. Ignore the critic inside you. Just write.

Do we like this message? No.

Are we stuck with it? Yes.

Is it really that simple? Yes

Is it really that simple? No.

Because if it were really that simple why wouldn’t we all just do it? Why wouldn’t we all just buy the healthy stuff and walk everyday and floss? Why wouldn’t we just sit at our desk or our kitchen table or at Starbucks or in the middle of Times Square and write stuff? Then rewrite stuff. Then send stuff out. Then get published.

Because it’s hard. It sucks. It takes a lot of concentration and work and a high tolerance for frustration. And on top of that you have to learn things. You can’t just write. You need to know when you screwed up point of view or tense. You need to read other books to see how they did it. You need to understand story structure and when to mess with it and when not to. You have to think really hard about your characters and why they do or don’t do things. You have to care about language and setting and plot. You have to conjure up people and places from dust and fragmented memories and darkness.

And then there are the god damn dragons you have to wrestle. Barehanded, no armor, without sleep or nourishment or backup. Just you and those friggin’ ghosts, critics, voices, or whatever form your self-loathing and doubt takes. And you have to cross the moat that gets dug between them and you. The booze or the food or the sex or the depression or the compulsions you manage to set off like landmines all around that dragon to keep it at bay. To avoid it. Because who the hell wants to battle a dragon every day?

But you have to. You have to use every trick in the book to get there. Whatever it takes. Writers groups, classes, conferences, websites, how-to-books, why-not-books, who-cares-books, therapy, meditation, yoga, dream journals, blogging, jogging, writing prompts, writing exercises, fountain pens, motivational tapes, more therapy, a gun to your head, a gun to someone else’s head.

Double, double, toil AND trouble. Right?



Filed under Uncategorized