Friday, July 3, 2015

Highly Recommended

I just finished reading Steven Pressfield's THE WAR OF ART.

So, SO good for anyone fighting against the grain: writer, artist, entrepreneur, etc. 

I love how he develops the idea of (captital R) Resistance, and all its many forms. 

"Resistance's goal is not to wound or disable," he says. 
"Resistance aims to kill. Its target is the epicenter of our being: 
our genius, our soul, the unique and priceless gift we were put on earth 
to give and that no one else has but us."

It was a quick read, with A LOT of highlighting going on. 

For all you creative types waiting for your call to action (to write that novel, to snap that photograph, to paint that masterpiece)--this one's for you


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer So Far . . .

Summer so far looks like. . . . 

Am Reading
Am Editing
Am Researching
Am Movie-Watching
Am Editing
Am Reading
Am Museum-Visiting
Am Movie-Watching
Am Reading
Am Editing
Am Reading
Am Reading
Am Reading

Am loving it. :D


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

More on Failure

I talked about failure not too long ago, but stumbled across this great quote the other day, which really puts things in perspective for me:

"Everything looks like failure in the middle."

(Rosabeth Moss Canter)

It's so easy for someone standing on the outside to judge us. Our actions. Where we are. What we're doing. 

I liken this to someone walking into the room as I'm working on a 10,000 piece puzzle. I have some of the borders, some of the middle--maybe I'm about three thousand pieces in. With pieces scattered all over the table--no rhyme or reason--it's easy for someone else to see a mess. To think: "Wow. She's getting nowhere."

But I'm making progress. Bit by bit. Slow and steady.

And, when the puzzle is complete, everything will have come together and it will all make sense.

Life is that puzzle.

We pick up pieces, try to connect them to something else. Maybe they fit. Maybe they don't.

To the outsider, we are failing all over the place. Or maybe we can't even see the bigger picture. We feel like we're not making connections, everything is falling through, nothing has worked according to plan, and we wrap ourselves in the idea that we're failures.

Not finishing that book on time.
Losing a book deal.
Going out of print.
Low sales rankings. 
Not getting into the college of our choice.
Closing the doors of that family business.
Career changes.
Canceling the trip.
Wayward kids.
Having to push back retirement.

EVERYTHING looks like failure in the middle.

Keep pushing forward. Push with the end in mind--that tomorrow can be better than today, no matter the circumstances. 

That incomplete puzzle tells only half the story. 

Because everything looks like failure in the middle.

Now go Be Brilliant.


Friday, June 5, 2015

Friday . . . One?

So I'm really enjoying THIS gem lately:

It may or may not have anything to do with my work in progress. ;)

Happy Friday!


Friday, May 29, 2015

On Failure

On Thursday I woke up craving cupcakes (don't worry, it's not that kind of craving).

I tweeted this:

By 10:30, the daughter and I were in the kitchen, trying out a new recipe for cupcakes.

We didn't have eggs, so I decided to use applesauce as an alternative (which can be done, yo, and is a legit option when there's an egg allergy in the family).

(No egg allergy here, though--just no eggs, period.)

You saw the title of this post, right? Do you get where I'm going with this?

So we mix our ingredients, pop the pan in the oven and wait. And wait. And wait. And when the timer dings our cupcakes are still flat. 

Like . . . pancakes.

Round 1: 

I keep my cool, grab the cookbook, and reread the instructions.

SELF-RISING flour. Not All-Purpose.

Crap. It. All.

At this point, I had a choice. Freak out and moan and groan, or take the high road. It was my mistake, after all.

So I smiled. And I said: "Well, that happened. Let's try again."

The daughter and I washed all of our pans and measuring spoons and started over. This time, we used the right kind of flour.

Still no egg.

Turns out, substitute or not, that egg was pretty freaking important. 

Round 2:


So here's what I know about failure:

Failing is an important part of life and living.

If you aren't failing, you aren't trying 
(or you're not trying hard enough, 
or you're not trying the right things).

Every failure contains its own lesson. 
You will learn more from your failures than your successes.

Yeah, I could've gotten angry, tossed it all in the trash and spent the rest of the day sulking because things didn't go like I planned. (Because that's what "perfectionist" me wants to do.)

But I embraced the failure. Called it what it was.

Then I buttercream iced my failure and ate it.

The lesson I want my daughter to learn from this day: Mom didn't give up. Even when things didn't go the way she expected, she kept trying. And she kept her good attitude while she did it.

So when Mr. Klein came home and asked "What the $%&* happened?," I turned to him and smiled and said:

I taught our daughter how to fail today.

Now it's your turn. Go find failure. 

And Be Brilliant while doing it.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

On the Duggars. Yep. I'm Going There.

I've been so torn about posting this, because I'm not really a fan of jumping on the hot topic bandwagon or dipping my toes into the controversy of the week--but over the past few days I have seen ALL THE PERSPECTIVES floating around the internet, from the "Crucify Him!" to the "God forgives and will make whole," and I just want to say a few things.

(Yeah, I'm talking Josh Duggar. Sorry)


You know the story, so I'm not going to link. If not, Google it. Read a few articles--there are a million different opinions on what happened and what should (or shouldn't) be done about it.

I just want to get my thoughts out into the world, and the most important is this:

I want the girls Josh assaulted to Be. Okay.
I want them to have a fighting chance to overcome this.

Because the Duggars, as a family, put "purity" on an impossibly high pedestal, preaching boys and girls who engage in pre-marital sexual behaviors of any sort are unholy and defiled. They are a family that equates these behaviors with a roomful of people spitting into a glass and then asking the last to drink from it. 

[Not kidding--apparently it's in one of their books. Personally? I only know the "chewed gum" analogy-- that no "good" boy wants a piece of pre-chewed gum on his wedding night. (The girls are the chewed gum, in case you didn't catch that.)]

Because it's not the boys who bear the brunt of this attitude, it's the GIRLS. The girls must dress modestly so that boys don't look at them or want them in "that way." Because girls who dress inappropriately or flirt or find themselves alone with boys are "asking for it." They're Jezebels and Bathshebas. Temptresses.

So . . . if you dress appropriately and behave and stay away from boys then everything will be okay.

Unless it's not.

Or unless you're a Duggar, and your older brother wants to molest you while you sleep.

I know the "modesty" and "purity" lingo. I grew up in this world. Thankfully, my world wasn't as strict as the Duggars, but I heard the preaching and the comparisons and the anecdotes. I was pulled aside one night with a friend by a "preacher-wife type," who took it upon herself to tell us that what we were wearing at the time was a "danger" to the men around us. We were stumbling blocks. We (with our harlot-wear--which, I'm pretty sure did not exist, because I know our parents at the time, and it wouldn't have been allowed) were capable of single-handedly destroying the male population--setting eyes on fire with lust and want. And, if they succumbed, it would be All. Our. Fault.

This is the world of the Duggar girls.

They are taught to believe their worth is tied to how "pure" they are. They are a shiny present wrapped in white satin--a gift to their future husbands.

And now some have been "defiled"--repeatedly, apparently--by someone they thought they could trust.

And my heart aches for them.

Because the family picked Josh. Everything I've read from the family focuses on Josh. Josh's forgiveness. His repentance. The horrible "path" he was on. The "counseling" he received (which I also question, but that's another post entirely). How grateful he is for everyone's "support."

And all the while I'm screaming: What about the GIRLS?

I don't watch the show. I don't pretend to know everything about them or all the details. But I'm familiar with them, and their beliefs and culture, and, while we absolutely do NOT need to know the girls' names, nor should we try to speculate who was affected by this, I'm not a fan of the way this situation was handled. The "cover-up." I don't think anyone benefited from the "counseling" and the "hush hush."

And I don't think the girls were provided the therapy they need to come to terms and move past this--and there are multiple layers which need to be addressed, with the "purity" stigma so deeply attached to it all. And I don't think they will, because the psychology behind it goes against everything this family "values."

And it's sad. Because, if not dealt with, there's no way to know how this experience will manifest itself in the future.

Josh's behavior was NOT NORMAL. It's deviant. It's inexcusable. And if it's not addressed professionally--by people who are trained to deal with this behavior--it could happen again.

I'm not saying that I don't believe in repentance and will-power and the power of forgiveness--if the Duggars want "God forgives and makes whole" to be part of the recovery process, that is absolutely okay with me. But it CAN'T BE THE ONLY PROCESS. Do not leave these girls to founder.

As a parent, I can't even imagine what a dark time this must have been (and still be) for them. But I know I would do everything in my power to get each child the help he or she needed--to whatever degree necessary--even if it meant stepping outside of my personal comfort zone, religious or otherwise.

Because "image" and "saving face" should never trump humanity, especially where our daughters are concerned.  

That is all.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

The "Why"

I'm super-excited to be working with a Cross My Heart fan right now who wants to be a writer, because her story is a lot like mine.

I first began to take writing seriously--as something I could do forever--in college. (I blame Dreamland by Sarah Dessen--a book I needed SO MUCH in high school but didn't have access to at the time.) But . . . I didn't think I had it in me to sit down and write an entire novel. Because, when you think about everything that goes into creating a full-length work, it can be paralyzing. Character development. Plot. Dialogue. Scene development. Story arcs.

What. The. Heck.

I did the reading and I did the outlining, and I realized NONE of it mattered if I couldn't get 50,000 words onto paper. It seemed like such a huge task. I didn't believe I had what it takes, because every time I sat down to write, I just couldn't get to "the end."

I feel like our story is similar to a lot of other writers' stories. Maybe it's your story.

But then, just before my last semester of college, I realized I had to scrap the details. Characters and scenes and description could be fixed later. I needed words. I had to prove to myself that I could do this.

That summer, I wrote my very first book. It was pretty bad. I'm sure it will never see the light of day. But I wrote it, and it was all mine, and I realized that I could tell a story in 50,000 coherent words. It was possible. After that, I never had trouble with word count again (characters, arcs, description--those still frustrate the hell out of me), but never word count. I've got that covered. I beat that block as soon as I wrote that first "the end."

But what I've learned along the way is this:

If you want to do this--if you REALLY want to be a writer--you have to find the "why."

Why do you want to do this? Why is this important? Why do you feel this pull? Why do you think it matters?

You're going to need to know the answer, because it's not going to be easy. You're going to start all determined, and then you're going to hit the "messy middle" and you're not going to know where to go. You're going to want to give up. 

If you don't want this to happen, it's going to come down to the "why." 

Why do you need to tell this story? Why do you need to write it right now?

Why do I write?

I write because I have stories in my head that need to get out. I write because I want to make a difference. I want to create characters that speak to readers--characters they can relate to. I want to take readers away from the world for a little while. Make them squeal with joy. Make them cry.

I write because I don't see the world in black and white. This annoys some of the people around me, but I see gray--things that aren't so easily defined. No one, simple answer. I like playing devil's advocate. I can find the humanity in anyone--remember that we ALL have stories, no matter who we are or what we've done. I believe anyone can change. I believe anyone can make a difference.

I write to offer a new perspective--to try to make sense of the world we live in and who we are as people.

The "why" is one of the most important parts of my writing.

If you want to be a writer, if you're already a writer and struggling--if you're not a writer but there's something else you feel compelled to do--sit down with a sheet of paper or a new computer document and spend some time working on the "why."

You'll need this.

Your "why" is your motivation.  

And knowing this is just as important as getting that story out of your head and onto paper.

I'm so excited for this new writer I'm working with, because now we know the "why," and we're going to get her to "the end," too. :D 

Be Brilliant! Always.