Chasing Inspiration

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Soundtrack Friday

Jason is having a conflict of faith. Oh wait, you don't know who Jason is, do you. Let me back up.

In my current story there is a character who is a priest. Episcopal or Anglican. Maybe Catholic. He hasn't told me yet and like a good little writer I'm leaving that ambiguous in this first draft. Anyway, Jason is a man of the cloth. He became a priest because the good people of the town that took him in as a child expected it of him. It was also a way to channel his emotions regarding Mallory into something he felt was valuable and autruistic. I think he also did as atonement. From what, I'm not yet sure. I'm not even sure he knows this was part of his motivation.

So, Jason has been a priest for about 8 years. Long enough to know the collar doesn't fit him but too long for him to easily turn his back on his vows and his people. He doesn't question that God exists. With all he has experienced in his life that there is a higher power is a given. His conflict stems from a growing unrest. An unrest that has increased since Mallory quietly returned to town.

The first time I got into Jason's point of view this song was playing on the radio. It doesn't quite have the same depth of anguish Jason was feeling at the time but it is almost his anthem. Jason is quite frankly a character who is questioning where he belongs and if he will ever find that love and acceptance he's been searching for all his life.

When I think of Jason in the beginning of his journey, I think of Collective Soul and their chart topper Shine. I especially like the remastered version on their website (see the link to the website) and can't wait until it's available on iTunes. The beat, the lyrics, everything about the song helps me to get deeper into Jason's head.

For this week's Soundtrack Friday, I bring you Shine. Enjoy!

Collective Soul - Shine [Video] by AtlanticRecords

Collective Soul Hits by collectivesoul

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Socially Inept

Social media. It's supposed to be an author's best friend. Even an author like me who hasn't sold a single thing and is still feeling her way through the writing and publishing world. Some days it feels easy. I send out a few tweets, respond to a few Facebook entries, write something for the blog and I'm set.

Then I remember I don't blog, tweet or facebook under the same name. I haven't even determined what name I'm going to try to publish under. I don't have any consistency with what I do. I blog several times a week and then I don't blog for weeks. I use Twitter every day for weeks and then I disappear. Facebook isn't even a tool I use with my writing or to gain an audience. It's my personal account that isn't searchable or easily accessible.

So what's a girl to do when she feels socially inept when it comes to social media? She finds experts like Kristen Lamb and reads said experts' blogs to learn the tricks of the trade. Just today Kristen had a lovely post about blogging and how blogging isn't necessarily easy for writers. It takes work to build a platform that is conducive to building community. And if I got the gist of her blog post - Rock Stars and Writers: Yes,  We Really Do Work - correct, blogging and other acts of social media can be about building community.

If I treat blogging as community, what would that change with what I post? I haven't the foggiest yet. I'm still spinning in that whole "I am social media challenged" phase of the game.  But I do know I'm going to consider what community means to me and what type of community I want to have here in the world of social media. I also know I have some learning to do. Right, just when I thought the only research I would have to do is within my books, here I go needing to research on how to blog.

You would think having blogged sporadically for five years I would have all the working knowledge I need. I've come to the conclusion that if this is ever going to be for more than anyone but myself I need to admit my lack of knowledge and do what I tell my coaching clients to do  - gird myself with knowledge and understanding so I can make and achieve attainable goals.

Kristen Lamb has two books that have recieved soem good reviews from several of my peers so I think I'm going to take some of that research book budget I have and save toward buying these two books:
I'll let you know what I think once I get them and start reading them. The old research book budget isn't as big as it used to be, but I don't have a lot of fiction books I'm purchasing this summer so maybe I can squeeze them in with my fiction purchases. *grin*

What are your favorite ways to use social media to build community? What type of community are you attempting to build? I would love to know!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Acknowledge, Apologize, Amends, Repeat

Sometimes I can be an idiot.  And sometimes by being an idiot I can do such stupid little things that can really impact relationships.
Take this weekend for example. I was coordinating an event and had asked a friend to help out. She has an expertise I do not, so being the smart, intelligent woman I think I am, I asked her to provide her expertise for a portion of this event. I had every intention of paying her. Every intention of asking her ahead of time what I should set aside for payment. Instead of following through on my intention, I let it slip in between the other details of getting things ready.

Then Saturday came, again with the intention of making sure my friend was paid for her expertise, and excellent work. And still my brain let go of this very critical item. It occurred to me after the fact, too little too late.

I hate it when I feel someone has taken advantage of me. It rubs me completely the wrong way and can get in the way of relationships. I try to not be that person and it shamed me to know I had been that person this weekend. If I felt that way, how much worse did my friend feel?

What do we do when we realize we hurt someone and put our relationship on the line?

I don't know about you, but I worry about it and often let it fester, forgetting that the quickest way to initiating resolution is to acknowledge, apologize and make amends where amends can be made.  I don't know if it's human nature to dwell in that space where I know I've done something wrong and hurt someone to the point where all I can see is the worst case - she will hate me; there's no way to make it right; how can he ever see past this - but this is what I do. Have done it ever since I can remember. Maybe it's the writer in me, telling myself stories about what's happened instead of seeking the truth of the situation. Maybe it's my lack of confidence that whispers to me that once trust is broken it can never come back. Maybe it's my own past experiences raising their ugly heads. Regardless, it's not all about me and by staying in that negative space, the worry and actions become just that - all about me.

So last night, as I thought about my friend and surrounded myself with my issues, I stopped myself and what I needed to do became clear as crystal. I got over myself and decided to do what I needed to do - acknowledge, apologize and make amends. I have to trust now that when my friend says everything is okay, that everything truly is okay. And I need to take this life lesson and remember that when working with anyone, make sure expectations are discussed up front so everyone is on the same page. I know this. I live this in other areas of my life. I let myself forget this in the busyness that became my life as I was coordinating this event.

I would like to say I'll never forget again. I can't make that promise, even to myself. I can say with absolute conviction that I will be more intentional, especially when engaging the services and expertise of people I care about.

Acknowledge. Apologize. Make amends.  It doesn't always resolve issues and sometimes trust does need to be rebuilt. Or our picture of a person needs to be refocused so we can see past the hurt.  Owning up, being sincere and attempting to right the wrongs is definite movement toward reconciliation.  So are those two simple words - I'm sorry.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Why I Write

I gave up writing for a while.  Or I thought I did.

I've been writing fiction since elementary school. I didn't seriously consider writing for fun and profit until about 10 years ago, at which time I joined a writer's group and started hanging out with writerly types and stalking  spending time with published authors.  I produced about 5 manuscripts and countless partial novels that are stuffed inside a virtual drawer on my computer. I queried and sent out my stories and was both ignored and rejected. This didn't phase me - I've heard often enough that rejection is a part of the writing game and any author who has not been rejected by a publishing house hasn't been trying hard enough.

I gave up writing about three years ago. It was a conscious decision because my muse and my mind weren't speaking to each other any more and I couldn't write. I would stare at a blank page on the computer screen or in my notebook and not have anything to say.  So I set it aside and went on with life.

Except I didn't really stop writing. As soon as I put the need to be published aside and tucked my self imposed deadlines into the black abyss that is my home office, I started seeing stories again.

Not long stories. Short quips and scenes. I amused myself to no end with them, just living them out in my head. Until one day, the character who is the bane of my existence and the reason for my self imposed writing embargo whispered a scene in my ear that had me sitting up abruptly in bed (she never did have good timing) and craving a pen and paper so I could write this gem down.  For years I had been struggling with this character, trying to understand who she was and what story she was trying to tell. I have three drafts of the first third of her book on my computer and each one is different except for a few things - her name, the location of the story, and the fact that there is something "other" about her. Oh, and a priest who is in love with her and not in love with being a priest, but that's another story for another day.

I've been writing, albeit slowly, ever since. And through this process I've discovered why I write. I don't write because I want to make a career out of it (though that would be nice). I don't write because writing is soothing and relaxing (it isn't, at least not all the time). I don't write because I'm a good writer (I have a lot to learn...I'm an okay writer).

I write because there is a story burning deep inside me and it won't let go until it has been told. The way it wants to be told. I would love to get to the place where I write because it is fun and I get paid to live in my head and lie for a living. I would love to write because I'm disciplined and because storytelling has become effortless. I don't know if I'll ever reach those places. In the meantime, I write because if I don't I'll have Mallory harping on my shoulder for the rest of my life and trust me, no one wants that.