Fighting Goliath

On Saturday, my writing group came to my house.

Coming to my house is an adventure in itself. I’ve mentioned frequently that I live in the middle of nowhere, right? So, sometimes even Google Maps has a hard time leading people up my driveway.

Two of my imagination buddies got lost.

Then they called me.

Then their cellphones lost service, and I had to decide if I was going to mount an expedition to rescue them or trust that they would figure it out on their own.

Shockingly, considering the maze of dirt roads, back lanes, and dead ends leading to my house, they made it on their own.

I’m assuming they all made it home safely afterward, but as no one has confirmed this for me, I can’t actually be sure.

Besides living in the middle of nowhere, I also live in a very, very small house. So, Gloria, thank you for volunteering to sit on the floor and not complaining about the plants that were practically in your lap the whole time.

You’re a trooper.

Despite the cramped quarters and the long drive and my cat being super awkward and staring at people in a weird way, we had a marvelous time. We all got a chance to read everyone’s books, make comments, fangirl a little bit over our favorite characters, and offer a bit of constructive criticism. We met old friends, made new friends, and all got a bit of a better look at the stories we have.

I can’t speak for the rest of them, but I certainly broke through a block that’s been bugging me for weeks.

It was about time.

Besides doing critique work, we had plenty of time to just sit back and talk. About life, about jobs, about our writing. And about our fears in entering the publishing world. Sometimes wanting to be an author and trying to break into the world of agents, publishers, and critics feels impossibly hard. It’s a long, long slog, and it’s not something that is ever going to come easily. In the end, we decided it feels like fighting Goliath.

Which, for a group of mostly introverts that are definitely not the battling types, is very intimidating.

But, really, that’s the point of our writing group. Because who wants to fight Goliath alone? We come together to offer support, give encouragement, and keep the others fighting when it feels impossible. And the harder it gets, the more we have to hold each other up and remember that the goal is worth the fight.

Honestly, there is no one else in the world that I would rather face Goliath with than my imagination buddies.

Do you have an imagination buddy? Tell me about them in the comments, or simply introduce yourself if you’d like one! I’m always excited to befriend a new writer!

A Late Night Visitor

Have I ever mentioned that I live in the middle of nowhere?

Because I live in the middle of nowhere.

My little house is smack in the middle of the woods, and it takes me thirty minutes of driving to find Walmart, fill my car up with gas, or get to the library. And if I want to see a movie, sit in a coffee shop, or go to work, it’s more like forty-five minutes of driving. Without traffic.

I love it.

I live on a dirt road in a neighborhood that I’m fairly certain has more cows than people in it, surrounded by fields and red barns and pine trees. I wouldn’t leave it for the world.

But sometimes, just sometimes mind, living so far out is a little scary.

Like this last week. I was in my living room, it was dark outside, and I was finishing a few sprints with my writing gals.

I love writing sprints. They get me working.

Anyway, it was late and I had run out of creativity and energy and inspiration and all that other good stuff and was headed for bed when I heard my trash can get knocked over.

My trash can is right out my front door. My sliding glass front door.

So, naturally, I jumped up, whipped open the door, and yelled at whatever it was to get out of here. Because naturally, it would be a raccoon or the neighbor’s dogs, right?

Right?

Guess what? It wasn’t the neighbor’s dogs. Whatever ran away at the sound of my very heroic—and ill-planned—shout was big.

Very big.

It was at that moment that I remembered we had a bear that circles our valley. And bears can smell trash up to a mile off.

And my trash was very smelly.

Needless to say, I went back inside very quickly and called my parents. They live next door, and they have a gun. For which I am very thankful. In several minutes, we had a whole troop at my house. Two of my brothers came with our truck to haul away the trash that was tempting the bear, only to get trapped in the truck when the said bear appeared in my driveway, and my father followed them in his car with the gun.

No bears were shot that night. Just so you know.

We honked the horn and I screamed a bit—to scare him off obviously, I totally wasn’t freaking out—and that, combined with the headlights and a good number of loud human voices chased him away.

He still hasn’t come back.

I’m grateful for that.

Normally I love having wildlife in my yard. I get squirrels, deer, turkeys, and so many birds that my cat is constantly glued to the windows. But I draw the line at bears.

Mostly because, once, I had a bear inside my house.

I’ll have tell you about that story another time.

Have you ever had encounters with wildlife that just about scared the pants off you? Tell me about them in the comments!

Checking In With My Bookshelves

Last night, I dreamed that my house was on fire, and I had to evacuate.

It was very stressful.

Because I am me and this was a dream, I grabbed my computer first, so that I had all of my books, then headed for my bookshelf and tried to decide which ones I was going to save and which I was going to let burn and have to replace.

This is not, under any circumstances, a decision I ever want to have to make in real life.

Neither was it proper fire procedure. I am aware that you are supposed to get out of a burning house without scanning your bookshelf and bundling half of them out the door with you.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t totally do that, but I at least know that one is not supposed to do it.

Thankfully, I woke up this morning and my house is still standing and my books have not been burned. They are all lined up neatly on my bookshelf, arranged in order of awesomeness and with a complete disregard to any other system except a certain amount of respect to their authors.

You can imagine my relief.

As much as I love my bookshelves, I must admit that they’ve been a little neglected in my house since the year began. I’ve had so much less time for reading than I hoped, and a good deal of my reading list has been made up of audiobooks borrowed from my local library.

Since that isn’t likely to change in the near future, I will have to get used to the change and just be a little more intentional about having time for a physical book.

Still! Audiobooks are books too, and I have had the best time blazing through Agatha Christie’s collection of murder mysteries this year. Hercule Poirot is continually my favorite of her characters, and I’ve had several dozen of his books reserved online since I discovered that I can download audiobooks onto my phone with the right app and a bit of patience.

That was a good day.

With the advantages of a library card, I have read—and listened to—a total of 39 books this year, most of them new to me and a good chunk of them written by the Queen of Crime herself. Several other new reads have been Paradise Lost, Micro, and Girl, Wash Your Face, which I enjoyed hugely and would recommend to any woman needing a boost in her personal life.

So! There is my reading list for this year. Thankfully it did not burn up in last night’s dream fire, and I still have the rest of my books to continue reading. I think Little Women will be the next physical book I pick up, and, of course, I’m just in the middle of a Miss Marple I borrowed from the library.

I promise not to spoil the ending for you.

What have you been reading lately? Any recommendations for me? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Bullet Journaling

This week has been crazy.

Between job interviews, work, implementing information and ideas from the conference I went to last weekend, Easter, sending a foster child to his forever family, and writing, I feel like I got a little swamped this week.

In a good way.

You can get swamped in a good way, right? Like, a wave rushing over your head and sending you head-over-heels at the beach, but it’s all still cool because you’re at the beach and there is salt and sand and that weird crabgrass that somehow is uglier than no grass?

We’re getting off-topic. The point is, it was a good kind of swamped. Like at the beach. Not like in a swamp.

Anyway. One of the ways that I managed to keep myself partially sane and moving forward this week was by bullet journaling.

*Que intense backstory music*

See, I have a lot going on right now. Things are happening. Secret things that I’m not allowed to talk about yet. (I will tell you eventually, I promise.) And the trouble with secret things happening is that they take up a lot of time and force me to sit back and really rethink my priorities, both in my life and in my career.

They also force me to work really, really hard and get my butt moving instead of procrastinating. But that’s neither here nor there.

So, acting on the advice of the conference speaker, I bought a journal. And about 50 markers, because I am a child and I love to color. So, since then, I have been journaling. Some of it has been getting a picture of what I want my life to be and some of it . . . well, let’s just say that some of it has been more about discovering my artistic talent that digging into my soul.

There isn’t a whole lot of artistic talent there, in case you were wondering.

But it’s been fun! And personally, I happen to think the best part of it has been that I am not particularly amazing at it. There’s no pressure to have everything perfect, no pressure to be the best or come up with Pinterest worthy pages. This is just for me. Something that I enjoy, that I can play with, and something that I don’t have to constantly judge and correct and improve in.

And since most of my life revolves around the high expectations I have for my writing, it’s pretty nice to have a messy journal and do something that I’m not very good at—just for me.

Do you bullet journal, or any kind of journal? Is it a task for you, or something to play with and allow yourself to be imperfect in? Tell me about it in the comments!

A Gathering Of Souls

I went to a writing conference this weekend.

The Young Women’s Writing Workshop, if we’re going to be technical about it. I’m just going to call it a gathering of souls.

It was the best thing I’ve done for my writing and my soul all year.

I think. I’ve done a lot of things for my soul this year. But this one was particularly relaxing and inspiring, so we’re going to say it was the best thing.

Or one of the best.

I’m going to shut up now.

Seriously, though, this conference was the most invigorating, inspiring thing I’ve done for a long time. When writers gather together, especially in small, tightly knit groups, things happen, man. Things. Happen. Ideas flow, people cry, books are built, fears are overcome, and dreams are realized.

I am not exaggerating.

The conference is held every year in Glen Eyrie, Colorado. And every year, I tell myself that I can’t afford it this time. Then I book a last minute room because I can’t bear to be left out when all my friends are gathering together. Oh, and the venue is a castle.

Like, a real castle.

I think it’s the only castle in Colorado. Certainly, it’s the most beautiful castle in Colorado.

So who can resist that?

The conference lasted for three days, Friday to Sunday, and the weekend was a kaleidoscope of classes, conversations with some of the most interesting people you will ever meet, and ideas. Our mentor, Nancy Rue, is one of the most brilliant and beautiful women you’ll find out there, and her love for her craft and zest for life is catching. When she gets excited about something, it’s impossible not to get excited about it too. More than that, she is committed to speaking God’s heart and bringing his spirit into the room while she teaches. Which accounts for how powerful this weekend was for all of us.

So, Nancy, I thank you for being your own wonderful self. We all needed it this weekend.

If I had to detail out everything that happened this weekend, I could probably ramble on for a few hours and never get to the point of it all. Instead, let’s just say it was a weekend of good food, beautiful scenery, tears, ideas, play-dough, dreams, books, tea, and good people. So, the best kind of weekend.

I can’t wait to go back next year.

(And, yes, I did say play-dough. I’d explain, but . . . I think I’ll just let you wonder.)

Have you ever been to a writing conference? Would you like to? We’d love to see you next year and include you in our gathering!

 

 

The Real Mistress Of The House

I locked my cat outside last night.

Not on purpose, I promise. But it did happen. And she did spend the whole night outside.

Let me explain. My cat is a diva. She is the queen of the world. I can’t bring another animal home because it would deeply offend her. I’ve brought orphaned kittens home who were half-starved and pathetic in the extreme.

Turns out, she hates orphans. Every one of them.

We found another home for the kittens. Very, very quickly.

But sometimes—when it isn’t snowing or raining—Mrs. Hudson likes to take walks. So when I open the door, out she goes to explore. She is usually ready to be let back in after a few minutes and waits for me to open the door and stand to one side so that she can come in. Which I do.

Because I am the servant in this relationship.

But last night, I was out lying on my porch watching the stars. And Mrs. Hudson decided that it would probably be a good time for a midnight stroll herself.

And I forgot. Because I thought she’d slipped back inside when I came in. And since she’s black and slinky and likes to hide, I didn’t notice that she hadn’t come in.

So she slept outside last night. Probably under my woodpile where she was safe.

I feel guilty.

As soon as I woke up, she was at the door meowing to get back inside and resume her place as queen of all that she surveys. She might be the darkness beneath the trees and the deadly night embodied, but the deadly night still wants to sleep on the couch instead of under the woodpile.

I’m in a bit of trouble at the moment. She hasn’t spoken to me yet.

This might be why I spent half the night (no joke) dreaming about a cat that scratched and bit me because I was trying to keep it in a cage. The deadly night will always get her revenge, no matter how old and crotchety she herself is.

Do you have a pet that rules your household? Tell me about them in the comments!

In The Mess

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Okay, let’s see a show of hands here. Who else watched The Magic School Bus when they were growing up?

Anyone?

I know I can’t be the only one. That show was one of my favorites. I loved the adventure, the impossibility, the discovery of it all.

And I loved Miss Frizzle.

She had so much flair and such an awesome view of the world. I loved the way she always had the kids figure things out for themselves, and the way she encouraged them to try something new.

My favorite line in the entire show is when she tells them to, “Take chances, make mistakes, get MESSY!”

I love that.

I love it so much.

I love it because when you’re a child—or me—there’s a massive amount of pressure to ‘get things right’. I have never been particularly good at taking chances or getting messy, and when I do make mistakes, I am almost always embarrassed by them, even when they are mistakes that are fixable, understandable, and very much a part of the process of development.

I like to get things right on the first try. Every single time.

How silly is that?

This week—or month—has been about taking chances, making mistakes, and getting messy. I’ve been developing a logo, a new look for my blog, and business cards to take to a conference that I am attending in ten days. (YAY!) As with everything in the creative process, it took a few tries—and mistakes—to get something that I liked and felt comfortable using. (To be fair, we’re still in process, so things may change on a whim.) And, because I am a perfectionist and don’t like to make mistakes or admit I have made mistakes, it took me several days to confess to myself that the business cards and logo I’d slaved over, perfected, and ordered were just—wrong.

*Bangs head on desk many times*

Don’t laugh. It happens. And I am beginning to grow comfortable with the fact that, when it happens, it is much better to admit the mistake, accept that sometimes life is just a little messy, and fix it, rather than stubbornly sticking by the mistake and trying to force a liking for it.

It took a bit to get me there. I had to swallow some serious pride.

And just when I was tempted to be frustrated, I remembered Miss Frizzle and her wonderful, “Take chances, make mistakes, get MESSY!”

And I felt better.

What does your mess look like this week? Are you taking chances, making mistakes, and getting messy as you discover things in your process? Tell me about it in the comments!