Poetry – To an American Soldier

American Soldiers .. US military: 2 US soldier...As the Holiday Season approaches, I find myself thinking about all the families that will not be able to spend this time with their loved ones who are serving their country or who have died doing so.  It bothers me that the holidays are more about commercialism, frenzy shopping, than about true recognition of all the good, valuable, and great things that our soldiers, veterans, and first responders have done throughout the years, and continue doing.  Yes, no one likes war, and maybe I am a silly dreamer thinking that one day, war will not exist anymore; however, the reality is that war has been fought since the beginning of times.  And yes, without commerce the economy of a country goes dead; however, there is a time under the sun for everything.  One line from an old holiday movie stuck with me – “We give them our sons, and they bring us back their stuff.” (A Christmas Visitor).  Powerful words, and that is how many families feel during this time.

I had written this poem sometime ago, and as I prepare myself to receive the Holiday Season and give thanks for all the blessings in my life – which are many, I want to honor all those who served our country and who serve today.  So here is this humble poem as my gift to you, but knowing that you deserve so much more from me and everyone else.

 

To an American Soldier

 

I have the sand for a bed

The night sky for a lullaby

Days become long

Night becomes day.

 

Heart loves the nation

Mind thinks of home

Body stays focus

Soul knows the most.

 

Of family and friends,

Of holidays home,

Of freedom and price

My dreams have become.

 

When everything quiets

Images go flying

The Patriot loves Country,

The man loves a family.

 

The heart aches for Country,

Family and friends,

The soul screams for Freedom,

A price here to pay.

Poetry

For today’s post I will share a few verses that celebrate the season.  The first one is a Haiku.  I like Haiku poetry because it is uncomplicated and packed with emotion and images.  Hope you like this one.

Fall Dance – Haiku

Cool crisp springs

Rolling hazy meadows

Dancing leaves in the breeze.

The next piece talks about that interlude, when the color of Autumn has left and the earth is waiting for Jack Frost.

Autumn Gray

Browns and grays covering the landscape

The fate of red and yellow hues,

Sounds of crisp under my feet

Grainy dust the leaves become.

Color gave way to gray

Peaceful silence of the season,

Lonely moments for the soul

To reflect in God, faith, reason.

The holidays are near,

To brighten us with cheer

A new slate, come clean, near

All thanks to Autumn Gray.

Hope you enjoyed my attempt at poetry.

Wishing you a beautiful Holiday Season and a joyful Thanksgiving Celebration,

Blessings,

Inkspeare

Success – When it is Not About Me

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This morning, I had a conversation with my sister about how successful some entrepreneurs become, and how financially rewarded they became.  Some examples seemed too simple to have landed in success.  When I looked at the simplicity of their plan and at the product/service, if  I had not known that their ventures were successful, I would have thought that there was no way that would work.  There was only one thing in common among these people – their venture met a need, filled a void, in a different way.  These people were helping other people with their product and they were making a difference with it.  One of the examples my sister talked about was of a woman who gave a pedicure/manicure to a pregnant friend who couldn’t go out to get it and certainly could not do it herself.  The result was that from helping that friend a lightbulb went on and she started her business, helping women in the same situation as her friend.

For many people, the first issue in mind when starting a venture is to make it financially, to make money at it and see results.  The more I look at other examples, the more I see a pattern – you have to want to help people first, and the success and the money will come as a result.  If you start thinking about getting money first, and helping people later, it just doesn’t seem to work.  This applies to any example, product or service.  It is understandable that people go into business to make money, but it seems that it is all in the approach, on how they approach the venture – the more worried about money, the farther from success.  On the contrary, the happier they are offering their services/product genuinely helping in that way the clients who need that product/service, the more successful they become.

By observing many of those examples, one has to conclude that success is not about me, on the contrary, it is about someone else.  And maybe, that is the only lesson we have to learn to become successful in our craft.  Once you have gone thru self-discovery, found your niche, heard your call … or whatever you want to call it, money should become second to helping your clients.  When you think about it, nobody wants to be seen as a dollar sign.  It seems to be more about being a genuine entrepreneur than being in business for yourself.

Ready to Self-Publish? Not so Fast

When I started writing my first novel, I was sure that I wanted to go through the traditional method of publishing; however, I decided to wait and contemplate the possibility of self-publishing.  Although I have not made a decision, I put aside my first novel and started on the second one – I am half way writing it.  Why do it this way?  Because it is a very important decision.

If you are contemplating self-publishing, that is great; however, make sure that you are ready for it.  Ready for the financial issues (even is you POD), the marketing efforts, but mostly, ready with your novel.  The novel (or other) must be as perfect and pristine as you can get it.  Why?  Because once it is out there for everyone to see, it speaks loud (and loads) about you as a writer and the quality of your work.

The internet and today’s technology has brought to light many people who want to write and publish their work for whatever reasons – fame, money, love of writing …  Each writer has his/her own agenda.  However, you see many people who convey that they are in a rush to publish their work; many, thinking that they will make a lot of money or will be known widely as best-selling authors.  The reality is that it is not always this way; on the contrary, it is unlikely that this will happen, although there have been exceptions.  It seems that the “hot market” has to do a lot with it.  Once you expose your talent (or non-talent) to the masses, there is no going back, and if you did not bother to polish your work and present it in the best light, this may haunt you for the rest of your writing days.

Before you decide to present your work to the world, whether self-publishing or not, see if you are truly ready (not to be confused with procrastination).

  • Learn about different ways of publishing your work
  • Make your manuscript as perfect as it can be (more than one revision, editing, or hiring the necessary experts …)
  • Evaluate your reasons for publishing and see what venue fits those reasons best.
  • Consider your finances and your time to dedicate to this full-time venture.
  • Read other authors who have self-publish or who have taken the traditional road.
  • If you have someone who can give you an honest and detached opinion about your work, ask for it. This person should be as neutral as possible.  More than one person is fine, as it will give you different points of view.
  • Trust your gut.  Many times your instinct is your best friend and agent.
  • Be sure deep down that this is what you want.

A note of caution – Rejections are a given in this journey.  Many people decide to self-publish after they have received tons of rejections.  Other people will keep trying because they know that the traditional way is what they want.  Be careful that you don’t get discouraged by all the rejections and the “not marketable enough” notes – it can kill your writing spirit.  If this is what you want to do, continue to pursue it but make sure that you are not self-publishing for the wrong reasons.  It must be true to whom you are as a writer.  If you are so fortunate to get a contract after just a few no’s, realize that these days, the publishing business is all about “hot markets,” and it moves at a fast pace.  Can you handle the many commitments and deadlines that the agent/editors/publisher puts on you?  Are you able to let go of your precious work (and writer’s ego) and be open to all the suggestions that these people will have for you?  Some people cannot and will not deal with many changes in their novel.  I have read/heard stories of changes as crazy (pure lunacy) as far as getting rid or highly modify a main character.  Most times, a writer feels and identifies with his/her characters and lives with them for long – they become a family.  Ponder that and what it does to a writer.

Finally, both paths take a lot of work, dedication, commitment and overtime hours – be sure that you can handle it and certainly, that your family knows what you are getting  yourself into, so it doesn’t take them (or you) by surprise.  Therefore, don’t think of self-publishing as a light issue, an easy cope-out, or a second choice, because it is non of that.  It is an option, a different way of doing things, and in many ways, of challenging yourself much more.  Give it the respect that it deserves (that your work deserves as well) and don’t join the waves of unprepared authors who have self-published in a rush.  Although I have not heard of anyone, it takes the most confident and self-assured, self-made, self-published author to turn down a book contract  to continue the path of the indie author.  That is why your reasons must be clear.

If you have gone through that experience, please feel free to share it here.  As  a writer that realizes the long journey ahead, your experiences are valuable to me and to other readers.

If you had your own restaurant, what would it be called?

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Usually, I don’t follow the WordPress prompts or topics to write about, but this one caught my eye and I decided to write a post about it.  Following the above question, I would name my restaurant “The Writer’s Cave.”  Immediately, that name came to mind and images of what the place would look like started to pour, giving me a sensory overload.  This is what the place looks like to me – The lighting is soft, giving it a cave and cozy feeling.  Since the place is set to cater to writers or wannabe writers, each table has comfy cushioned sitting with a small desk table that you can pull/slide from underneath the main eating table where you can place your laptop or notebook.  The main table has a lamp that you can flip open for reading or writing.  The atmosphere is light, the furniture and walls have an organic rock or paleolithic design.  A few ferns will be scattered around in vases that look like pencils or pens – a larger version of course.  Your napkins, plates and silverware will have engravings or printings of a 1940’s Royal typewriter and the walls will be adorned with the pictures of Hemingway and other famous writers of all times.  The main colors in the decor will be cream, browns, black, coffee and maize tones with silver motifs.  The fabrics will have books or best-sellers printed and the people who work there will have to dress as their favorite author.  Sorry, but if you don’t like writing, writers, books … you better not work there.  In fact, most likely you will not be hired.  Music will be played sporadically but it will be of songs featured in books or related to a story.  The ladies room will have a Red Ridinghood theme and the gentleman’s room theme will be Lord of the Rings (although “The Little Engine that Could” came to mind).   The menu will include foods that have been featured in some classics or best-sellers, or the favorite foods of best-selling authors.  The best part is the pricing, catering to starving artists and writers; although it would be hard to stay in business for long.

So, there you have it, if I had my restaurant that is what it would look and feel like.  However, I am no restaurateur or have dreams of becoming one; I will be happy to sit in it and mingle with other writers.  For any restaurateurs out there, feel free to create this place and don’t forget to send me a coupon for a free meal.

Microwrite Your Novel

I have set a goal to finish my novel before the end of this year, so that means I have seven weeks before December 31st.  I started working on the first draft on July and took a break from it (see post Wrestling with Your Characters 1-2) for the entire month of October.  Now, I am up to 19,500 words and my goal is to pass the 50,000 words by the set date.  I decided to break things down in numbers to see how manageable that was for me.

Taking 50,000 words as my base number minus the 19,500 words I have in, that equals 30,500 left for me to write.  I divided that number between seven weeks, giving me a total of 4,357 give or take words per week, or an equivalent of 622 words per day.  That is not bad at all, and certainly very doable for me.  It looks that I will have my first draft before the new year begins, cause for celebration.  In an equation it would look like this:

50,000 – 19,500 = 30,500 ÷ 7 = 4,357 ÷ 7 = 622

Usually, I write and don’t worry about word count or numbers (the reason I will never do Nanowrimo) but in this case, I needed to figure out the numbers to see if I would be able to meet my goal in the set timeframe.  That will take care of the first draft, and then the hard part starts, revisions 2 and 3, for me.  I stop at the third revision.

If you are trying to write a novel, novella, or novelette, try this.  Give yourself an amount of time, and then break down the correspondent amount of words (an approximate) per week/day and that will make the task easier.  It will help you get an idea of how many words to put in (if you miss a writing day).  Or follow best-selling author Claire Cook’s advice of writing two pages a day.

So go ahead and microwrite that novel a few words at a time.

7 Tips to Deal with Your Creative Anxiety

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People who are artistic and creative may tend to get anxious at times; I am one of those people.  We tend to over think, over analyze, many times about our art or endeavors, although that may seem as a contradiction.  Creative people are not as flaky as many times they have been misrepresented – if anything I would accuse my self of being silently overly dramatic.  There are many reasons why anxiety might try to creep into your day and ways in which you can deal with it.  Sometimes, it is just a matter of putting order in your day and in your mind.

  1. A creative or artistic person who stops creating ends filled up and ready to explode.  This will lead to a feeling of anxiety and uneasiness.  Keep creating; it may be your bread and butter but also an outlet.
  2. Artistic people love beauty and we see beauty in the oddest of places and objects.  Many creative people are shopaholics.  This may become a source of anxiety – even if you are overspending on work supplies.  We need to control spending because it creeps up in a feeling of guilt; that is a source for anxiety, since many artists and writers are in a controlled budget.
  3. Respect what you do; it is not a hobby (if applicable), it is your job.  When we don’t treat our day as a work day and give it the seriousness that it deserves we are inviting others to think of and view our art/work  as a hobby.  This will come back to haunt the artist/writer and be a source of anxiety as well.  And this takes us to number 4.
  4. Money is necessary but it is not all.  Many times, for the creative person, results are more valuable than money; however it starts with how you view what you do.
  5. Give some structure to your day.  Many creative people refuse to work with a tight schedule or agenda; however, working with none is dangerous as well.  Find a balance to what works for you.  Plan your workday but also leave room for changes and variety – nothing worst for creativity than falling into a rut, it can shut you down.
  6. Take a break during the day.  Do something unrelated; it keeps you sane and happy.
  7. Don’t forget to give thanks.  Start your day by being thankful for everything and you will see a difference in the way your day goes by.  You will approach your art/work with a positive vibe.

I wrote this post with the artists and writers on mind; however, this may apply to your passion, whatever that may be.

To Self Publish or Not – That is the Question

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I’ve been working on my novels, perfecting them as much as I can, and getting ready for publishing – maybe next year.  However, the issue of going the traditional route or self publishing has been on my thoughts especially because self publishing is not the taboo it used to be, and more reputable authors are self publishing.  At the same time, there is a lot of crap out and the stigma may hold true these days, so that is my dilemma.

I have read much on the various routes that I can take – publish on demand (POD), going with a small but long-time established publisher, taking the traditional route and pray for an agent … Although this will not happen now, I worry about the decision – simply, because this is not one to take lightly or to rush.  Once you self-publish your name is out there, therefore, you want to present to the readers your best work at the time.  In addition, English is not my mother tongue, so I have to make sure that there are no linguistic errors besides the usual grammatical, style, punctuation … and so on.  That is why I am not rushing and that is why I see it as a huge responsibility – as if I have been entrusted something to deliver to the world.

In preparation for the big day – the day I decide which route to take – I’ve been following author Cliff Burns’ blog – Beautiful Desolation (a pro at it) and I ‘ve been reading lots on the topic.  One interesting series is the How to Get Published Series that As the Pages Turn is doing.  A few authors get to tell their story on how they got published, some of the challenges they met, and other interesting issues.  I like to read Claire Cook’s blog, who is a best-selling author and have gone through the traditional method of publishing.  Her blog is full of insight and great topics of interest to aspiring writers.  Check out her section dedicated to Aspiring Writers and watch her videos.

Thanks to the development of the internet, there is a lot on the topic that I can research before deciding on which road to take; however, there are tons of scams out there and that is something to be mindful of to avoid making the mistakes that many people in the rush of publishing their books have made.

Wether it is self-publishing or traditional publishing, both require a lot of focus and work.  There are advantages and disadvantages for both, and many will be of a personal matter (financial, likes and dislikes, freedom …)  which is different for every person.  In addition, there is the move to another state, the restoration of a dilapidated farmhouse that will become my permanent home, and many other issues that are pushing the decision to publish further away.  It will be in due time.  I am a firm believer of the adage “things always work for the best.”

Wrestling with Your Characters 2

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On September 30, I wrote Part 1 of this post.  I had to take a break from my novel because I was having an issue with one of the characters – somehow, I was avoiding her.  It was my issue – of that I was certain; however, I had to discover why.  I stopped writing and I got back to the beginning of the story and read every sentence, trying to find the answer to my avoidance.  A month has passed and today I was able to write two chapters.  I have made peace with my main character.

This may sound as unusual but I think it is very common for new writers to confront some personal issues when they are writing the story.  After all, when you write, you are putting part of you into those pages.  Even when you don’t realize it and your story might be fictional – there is always a part of the writer that will leak into the page.  So there is a deep connection between writer and story, writer and characters, because after all, the characters make the story – you cannot have a story without characters.  That connection will deepen as you get further into the story.

In my case, I was being confronted by the issue that I feel that I am nothing like my character – or am I?  In my eyes, I am not; however subconsciously, maybe I was secretly wishing to be a bit more like her.  That caused a road block and made me avoid an encounter with myself.  Sounds complicated?  It probably is.  It wasn’t until I understood this issue that I was able to keep writing the story.

My point to all this is that when you start writing, you never know where the story might take you – on paper, and in your mind, as well as in your emotions.  It is hard sometimes to separate the writer from the story, but at one point, they are separate worlds.  Well seasoned writers know that and many are very prolific in their craft.  I am just a beginner with a long road ahead of me.