You Are Here

Last weekend I attended a writers conference. My favorite class was not about the writing craft, or marketing, or platforms, or press releases, etc. It was called,

“I’ve achieved my dreams, so why am I so miserable?”

It was very opportune for me, and kind of changed my way of thinking. The reason is because I sat in this class where so many people on many different levels in the writing and publishing journey, had many of the same feelings as I.

I’ve decided that the finish line of being an author, or artist, or musician is not actually a finish line, but a horizon that we chase.

The instructor gave each one of us a balloon and a marker. (By the way, my anticipation of balloons popping, made me sit on the edge of my seat. I used to work at a flower shop and would cringe whenever I had to blow up balloons. The inevitable popped balloon would scare the crap outta me!) Anyway, she made each one of us write expectations that were never met or failed perceptions.

Here were some of the shared answers from mostly published authors:

No awards, no recognition, hard to get reviews, bad reviews, no support from family, people telling them to stop and get a real job, marketing, dismal book sales, poor contracts, over-saturated market, not another book contract after their book sold with a big publisher, etc. Oh, the list went on and on and the balloons became graffitied with words and I sunk in my chair, not caring if all the balloons popped at once.

We spent half the class discussing each of these so called notions. The authors opened up and there was no pride, no competition — only people.

The instructor compared the creative journey to a roller coaster. But because I am a mountain climber, I want to compare it to peaks and valleys.

We don’t strap our butts into a cart with wheels and go for a loopty-loop ride — we work, we climb, we hike.

It’s always an uphill battle. Sometimes through mud, forging rivers, and bouldering on hands and knees. But we keep moving against the voice that says it’s too hard. When we finally fight through and reach the summit, the clouds part and the view opens before us.

Now, here… here you are faced with a decision. Before you stands endless more mountains. Some, from this vista, seem small. But some summits are taller than the one that just about did you in.

YOU ARE HERE

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(Photo found on theultralinx.com)

What do you do?

Do you sink to your knees in defeat? Or do you enjoy the view?

I can honestly say that while climbing actual physical mountains, rain or shine, I have smiled throughout the entire journey and when I reach the summit, I want to continue to the next.

Why is it that my metaphor is so hard when it comes to writing?

I feel like I have summited a mountain by getting my debut novel published and a novella coming out within the next couple weeks. Now, the view before me seems daunting and it changed. I didn’t want it to change. I seriously thought the years of revising, the editing, and the critique was the hard part. But for me and many other authors, it is all the issues that were written upon the balloons that I listed above.

The thing is, the journey of writing is worth it to me. I am learning to enjoy this next process and I had to let so many things go.

Here are a few things that I’ve realized and have helped me.

** Get rid of the illusion of perfection and failure. Listening to all of the other authors made me realize that we all have these same thoughts no matter what summit or valley you are standing on.

** Tell your muse to come at a better time. I used to write whenever the muse attacked me, even if it meant time away from family. Now, I am more strict when I will listen to it. I ask myself if I am doing something or with people that are more important than my itchy fingers. Because in reality, nothing is more important than relationships with those that I love.

** Get rid of crisis management and stick to a schedule. I have to relearn this over and over again. I promise, a schedule works for a writer, and depending on how much time you can and want to give it, it can morph with your responsibilities and demands of everyday life.

** Balance. This changes all of the time. For example, last month I was knee deep in soccer practices, football practices, book deadlines, jobs, music lessons, etc. It was almost hard to breath. This month sports are over, deadlines are past, and now I have more time to spend on writing. It is the give and take, the moving things around, while still maintaining control.

** Don’t compare. That was what I learned most from sitting in the room with the other authors. I think comparing makes us depressed and frustrated at our own horizons and views that we should be enjoying. The thing we need to realize is that everyone is standing someplace different than you on their climb to the summit or their descent to the valley.

At the end of the class the instructor had us all pop our balloons. Everything we wrote on those balloons are illusions. The reality is YOU ARE HERE, in this ever changing journey, so enjoy it.

Have a good day,

Tara

Writing Fact… Mingled With Fiction

Blood-Moon-Tetrad-2014-2015_by-Helena-Lehman

I’m sitting here writing this post on my front porch while the moon turns to blood. October 8th at 5:00 am and my imagination is crawling with ideas looking at the lunar eclipse of the

Blood Moon.

I’ve incorporated the Blood Moon into my YA fantasy novel, Vagabond, which I started years ago. Now I might have to change it up because I worry that it might turn cliche because of the popularity. Anyway, I have done extensive research about the strange celestial phenomenon taking place within this year. Four blood moons have correlated with Jewish holidays. This October moon I’m looking at now, is also the hunter’s moon and I can’t help but think of the movie Predator as my gaze darts into the shifting shadows. 

What is a blood moon and tetrad? 

On April 15, 2014, there was a total lunar eclipse. It was the first of four consecutive eclipses in a series, known as a tetrad. Today, October 8, 2014, was the second one. April 4, and September 28, 2015 are the third and fourth. The red color is caused by Rayleigh scattering of light or electromagnetic radiation through the Earth’s atmosphere, the same effect that causes sunsets to appear red.

Signs of the times, maybe?

The idea of a “blood moon” as an omen to the ushering of the apocalypse, comes from the Book of Joel, where it is written “the sun will turn into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.” Some believe that something huge is afoot in Israel. I have loved finding heated sermons of gyrating pastors who have flailed their arms, asking for repentance during this ushering in of the end of days.

The four blood moons of 2014 and 2015 have and will appear on Passover and Sukkot, also known as Feast of Tabernacles (Passover celebrates the Jews’ liberation from Egyptian slavery and Sukkot commemorates the Jews’ 40-year wandering in the desert). A strange coincidence, but Jewish holy days are based upon a lunar calendar anyway. Passover is during the first full moon after the spring equinox and the Feast of Tabernacles is usually during the first full moon (harvest moon) after the autumnal equinox. You decide if it is only a coincidence or an omen. I have my opinion, but that is not what this post is about.

I want to talk about writing fact into fiction…

I wrote the Blood Moon into my novel before I even knew about any of these strange occurrences happening this year. I have written on a blog post before that research is one of my favorite parts about writing. My advise is to dig deep. Don’t only focus on one linear thought or what you find in Wikipedia. Find the mythology, the fables, the altered stories.

By digging deep, we unearth all sorts of creepy and interesting things. That is the fun part of being an author. We take those truths and distort them to our will. I love playing God, and so when I wanted a blood moon in my novel, I made up a lunar eclipse called a Lunar Caulum that happens every thousand years and ushers in a new reign of shadow.

Know the truth, so you can write the fiction.

Know the speculation, so you can build upon it.

Know that there will be people who said you got it wrong.

Know that you can smile at those critics, because you created your own history.

Here is a glimpse into my novel Vagabond at a part where I talk about the blood moon:

*****

“The moon is red—blood red,” he said glancing up at me. “The weird this is, this photo was taken two hundred years before the actual Lunar Caulum happened. It’s like they were prophesying that this blood moon was going to be different.”

“Or warning us,” I said with doubt, but then an unpleasant feeling grew inside me, making the hairs on my arms stand up. I looked down at the black and white photo to where the swatch of scarlet in the sky stained the antique page.

“If NASA actually existed anymore, lets just say they’d be geeking out about all of this,” he said.

“Since when did you become our resident astronomer?” I asked, teasing him as I sat up.

He stared at me intently. “Living up here has turned me into one. Don’t you think that the remaining survivors have used the knowledge of land and stars, and that’s the only reason why we are alive and most everyone else is dead?”

*****

Now go create some fiction based off of some fact! Thanks for stopping by and I’d love to hear if you have similar ways you’ve written fact into fiction. 🙂

Tara