Thousands of words

As I didn’t have my girls today and I’m leaving tomorrow evening after I’m done watching them for my ex, I knew I had to use today to get as much writing done as possible. I had several freelance articles to write of varying word counts and I also had college writing assignments that are due tomorrow night and that I know I’ll be too tired to deal with once I arrive at my hotel for the night.

I wanted to get the bulk of the writing done today so I can spend tomorrow enjoying time with my girls amid packing (I’ve barely started), baking goodies for this weekend’s Pow-wow and finishing up pre-trip odds and ends. I knew if I left any writing until I had the girls at my house, I’d feel conflicted and stressed and I don’t need that added onto trying to get everything else done before my road trip.

I’m not kidding when I say I wrote thousands of words today. Most of them were for freelance work and the rest were college work and well, this blog post. I haven’t written quite this much in a rather long time, but I’m proud of myself for getting almost everything written that I wanted to. I even managed to squeeze in washing Jazzmin during one of my necessary mental breaks.

Although I wrote a lot, I certainly didn’t talk a lot because it’s just me and my animals when I don’t have the girls. The two younger cats and Jazz have been sticking close to me though, listening to me type away and eagerly awaiting a return to silence. The remaining words I have to write can wait until I wake up tomorrow morning before my ex drops off my girls because tonight, I am officially worded out.

Powerful pages

Arched ceiling of Boston Public Library Bates Hall

As a writer and artist, I’m on a constant quest for knowledge. While there’s a seemingly endless supply of information on the internet, sometimes I have to take a break from the digital world and lose myself in the physical, tangible pages of printed books. For years, there have been claims that all forms of print media will soon be relics, but I choose to believe that they’ll always have a place in this world.

When I can’t seem to find the inspiration and ideas online that I need for my work or personal writing, a trip to the library is exactly what I need. My oldest daughter and I went to the local library the past two afternoons after I picked her up from school because I didn’t want to return home and risk getting stuck in my driveway (for the umpteenth time this winter) before we had to pick up my youngest from school.Β The local library in the town where I live isn’t very big and would probably fit neatly in one section of Boston Public Library (pictured above), but it provides enough print media to serve as a viable start for my research.

Yesterday at the library, I found a handful of ideas for my work writing from flipping through the glossy magazine pages of National Geographic and Smithsonian. The text I read from both magazines was only a couple paragraphs long, but it gained more than enough knowledge from that print media to start the wheels turning in my head. I knew I could find more information on the web and from SNHU’s college library to create quality blogs posts and more importantly, I knew those posts would be truly unique. Being unique on the internet is becoming a greater challenge every day, but I’m not one to back down from a challenge.

This afternoon at the library, I found information from magazines and books that inspired me for future personal blog posts. Even more than that, the mere act of reading information from print media reawakened areas of my mind that grow sleepy in the barrage of information from the internet and TV. Awakening forgotten corners of my brain always leads to positive developments that amaze even me and I know that this week’s trips to the library are just the beginning of a new path on my writing and artistic journey.

Balancing the writer within

left handed writer

Life is about balance. Family and work, work and play, play and productivity. It’s not always easy keeping everything in balance, but I do the best I can. However, I’ve come to realize that my balance between creative writing and structured writing is rather off.

I employ my abilities as a creative writer every day in my work. I don’t use it to the same degree as when I wrote fantasy, but it is my creativity that gives my writing character, uniqueness, and personality. I always try to approach my work assignments from various angles and gather enough information to write from an angle no one has used before. This is vital for making blog posts, landing pages, and product descriptions stand out in such a saturated business. I don’t think I’d be nearly as good at my freelance writing work if not for my background as a fantasy fiction writer.

Nonetheless, that fantasy fiction writer has become lost as I pursue a successful writing career. Rather ironic considering that I expected my successful writing career to come from publishing my novels. Further proof that life is about balance and life is also about change. Being able to adapt to and utilize that change is one of my strengths and I’ve learned to always stay on my toes.

Last week I started my latest term at SNHU online with Intro to Creative Writing. I’d been looking forward to the class since I started at SNHU last August and I felt it would be a welcome change after getting the two required Composition classes out of the way. Much to my surprise, I was better at the composition classes than I’d expected and though I found the structured format of essays a challenge at first, I quickly realized that it fit right in with my job as a freelance writer. I honestly believe that my skills as a freelance writer have greatly improved thanks to those first two classes and I have great hope that the Intro to Creative Writing class will help me rediscover the more creative and “freer” side of my writing.

There are three required books for my current class and they all focus on learning to become a creative writer and/or building on the creative writing skills a person already possesses. Out of curiosity, I flipped through the books and what I saw about poetry, short stories, and other expressive writing mediums filled me with self-doubt.

Thankfully, when I opened the book entitled “Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within” by Natalie Goldberg, it flipped to the spot where the publisher’s catalogue card had been randomly stuck. It was right on the section called “Go Further” and from the first few lines, I found great motivation. It reads, “Push yourself beyond when you think you are done with what you have to say. Go a little further. Sometimes when you think you are done, it is just the edge of beginning.”

Those words hold true for so much more than writing! There have been so many times in my life when I almost thought I was done, when I couldn’t go any further, when I didn’t think I could handle one more awful thing the world threw at me. Yet I kept going. A little further turned into a lot further and that turned into continuing on the journey of life and discovering the amazing things that were waiting around the corner, once hidden from my view. I never would have experienced so many wondrous things if I’d given up when things became challenging.

I won’t give up now either. I will discover the keys to balancing the writer within and I will learn how my freelance writer self and my fantasy writer self can coexist within the indomitable creature that is me.

winter sky

Winter wonderland

snow covered road

The view on our walk this morning.

 

Thanks to one of those peculiar weather systems that’s spinning the wrong direction and moving east to west, it’s been snowing all day where I live. In New England, this precipitation was freezing rain and rain but when it moved west to where I live, it transitioned to snow and cold. It isn’t a blizzard or anything near the amount of snow dumped on Buffalo recently, but it’s the most snow we’ve had yet. As it’s still the holiday season, I don’t mind the snow and I’m enjoying the sight of it gently falling as it creates a winter wonderland.

kitten snowball

Daisy playing with the little snowball I brought inside. Jazz ate is shortly after this.

birdwatching kittens

The kittens were exhausted from birdwatching.

A little snow and cold wasn’t going to keep me from my vow to walk Jazzmin every day so we headed out this morning when there were only a few inches on the ground. Jazzmin is always happy to walk but she’d be happier if it wouldn’t snow on her head. Even with the cold and the snow pelting my face as we walked, I was happy because I know how lucky I am. I have a strong dislike for driving in snow and thanks to working at home, I don’t have to worry about driving into an office every day, no matter the weather. I’d much rather be out walking Jazzmin as I’m bundled up to my eyeballs than working for someone else helping them achieve their dreams. Nowadays, I get to chase and achieve my own dreams.

dog pawprints

Our footprints in the snow.

Despite a few unexpected interruptions, I was able to finish my work for the day before dinnertime. One of those unexpected interruptions was actually a welcome one as they cancelled afterschool activities and I had to pick Jordan up from school. She usually rides the late bus with her sister to their father’s house on Wednesday afternoon, but the canceled activities meant she needed somewhere to go. That’s yet another reason I feel blessed to be able to work from home, I’m there for my girls when they need me. Living only three minutes from the school comes in handy on days like today and thankfully, the roads weren’t too bad. Jordan and I enjoyed a quiet afternoon together before her father picked her up and I resumed my tasks for the day.

lights on the walkway

Glow of my walkway lights in the snow.

I’ve already had to shovel five inches of snow off my deck and I’m sure I’ll have to do tomorrow since it’s still coming down, but I’ll manage like I always do. I know that the cold is only temporary and that even when I don’t have my girls, I have my felines and my pup to keep me warm and remind me that I’m loved.

kittens and dog

Snuggling on the couch tonight.

So far, so good!

icy pond

Nearby farmer’s pond starting to freeze at the edges

It’s the second day of my December quest to write, walk, and wing it every day and so far, so good! I walked Jazzmin this morning when it was sunny thinking the sun would combat the cold temperatures and frigid wind. It did to a certain point, but it was the kind of biting cold that made my hands so frozen they hurt halfway through the walk. Even so, Jazzmin and I persevered and even though it was a relatively short walk, it was still a walk!

Completing this blog post will continue my blog streak into another day and keep the momentum going! I’m finally feeling the right kind of inspiration to write in Unbroken Flames, but alas, I haven’t found the time yet. I have a new client on my freelance writing site and they’re giving me steady work. Steady work is always a good thing for a self-employed writer so I’m not going to complain, but my fantasy writing will have to wait for a bit.

As far as winging it, I’m letting my imagination fly on free wings in positive directions. I’m often afraid to think certain thoughts in the fear that if I get my hopes up, I’ll end up crashing painfully to reality. It has happened more than once in my past, but if I keep expecting it to happen again, I may very well doom myself to a self-fulfilling prophecy. So I’m allowing my positive thoughts to go wherever they want and I’m not censoring my dreams to protect myself from disappointment. I always manage to pick myself up when I stumble and staying “safe” from certain feelings isn’t truly living a full life. No one knows what tomorrow brings so it’s best to live today and let the future happen as it happens.

 

Winter writing, walking, and winging it!

winter field

December has arrived with cloudy skies and temperatures dropping into the teens by tonight. One would expect such frigid temperatures this time of year in Upstate NY, but considering that yesterday it was 50 degrees with occasional sun, I’m thinking it wise to expect the unexpected this month.

Along that thought, I’ve already decided something unexpected this month and that is to post a new blog entry every day in December. I was slacking a bit in November with the holidays and having to write my college research paper, but now that the paper is done and I know exactly what I’m getting for gifts for my girls, I can focus on writing for pleasure again! I don’t want my pursuit of a writing career and writing-based college degree to kill my love of writing so it’s best that I continue to express myself with the usual rambling Julie here.

Writing rambling or writing serious work are both easier when it’s cold outside. What isn’t easy when it’s cold outside is working up the motivation to walk Jazzmin. Nonetheless, she and I both benefit from our walks so I vow to walk every day in December! If there are days when it’s -20 with a wind chill we might not make it out, but I’ll do my best to make up for it with more than one walk a day if necessary! Jazzmin could walk forever so I’m certainly not worried about tiring her out and considering how much I love Chex Mix and sweets during this time of year, I could use the beneficial tiring out. πŸ˜‰

Another thing that tires me out is overthinking. I don’t know if overthinking is just part of being a writer or if it’s just an unrelated malady I have, but it’s an exhausting quirk. I’m constantly thinking of the “what ifs” and “shoulda coulda wouldas” of life and all it does is make me overly anxious and waste my energy. Therefore, for my third W of winter (or at least for December) I’ve decided to wing it. As in go where the wind blows me and not worry so dang much about things I can’t control.

I know two very potent remedies for my overthinking and they’re beading and writing in fantasy books. When I use my overly active mind in my handmade creations, I’m amazed with my own capabilities. Focusing my highly excitable imagination into my writing has helped me come up with plots lines and character developments that astound me. I believe that if I just let go of my worries and allow hope, inspiration, and faith flow freely, I’ll finally be able to break through my writer’s block and create stories the world will love to read. πŸ™‚