Life’s a bitch, get over it!

Yeah, I know…I haven’t blogged for a while. Life gets in the way sometimes and whether we like it or not doesn’t deliver itself just the way we hope it will.

You make plans to go out with friends, live it up a little, reward yourself with a special shopping expedition…in the middle of the winter – a blizzard hits and you spend the rest of the day digging yourself out and connecting with your friends on Facebook instead. Okay, if you live in the Midwest, you asked for it when you made plans without consulting Mother Nature first. Talk about your Queen of the Bitches. In case you didn’t know it, let me spell it out for you…Mother Nature likes nothing better than to piss you off!

Then there’s the movie premier you were looking forward to. Just as you are finishing up on that last load of laundry so you can go out, guess what? The washing machine decides to quit on you.  And to top things off, THAT was the load of underwear you needed. Your plans just changed, now you have to sit around and wait for the repairman. Worse case scenario, you need to go out shopping for a new washer. DING! another unplanned hit to your already overtaxed credit card!

What about that once-in-a-lifetime family reunion you were planning to go out of town to catch? Saturday morning, the plan was to fill up the car and hit the road, the anticipation Friday night is driving you crazy, you can barely sleep that night. When you do finally fall to sleep, it’s only to be awakened at midnight…your mother has fallen and broken her hip. You leap out of bed and head for the hospital. Your plans have just been changed. In this case, your plans have been changed for several weeks. Not that you complain, you’d do anything for family. I’m just saying…stay flexible.

Life expects it of you. Message from a beast named, Karma…suck it up!

Unless you’ve been living in a cave somewhere, you’ve heard of the latest craze.

Positive thinking.

Think positive and the Universe will deliver to you all your desires. The experts like to call it the Law of Attraction.

Are you freaking kidding me?

Yeah, okay, so I’m the biggest sucker in the world. I went out and bought all the books I could find on the subject (I even read them), attended the Metaphysical Fair in town, bought my magic crystals, burned that incense, and I even gave the whole abundance-journal thing a shot. I watched The Secret. I did my grateful-awareness exercises.

I give to charities. I like to think I’m a friendly sort of person, I have no problem approaching or helping a stranger when needed.

Am I rubbing the crystals counter-clockwise when they are supposed to be rubbed clockwise?

Did I read the books from left to right instead of right to left? Was there a hidden message in there if played backwards?

What am I doing wrong?

Yes, I do appreciate when I’ve been handed something nice in life. Unfortunately, it’s the bad things that sneak up on you, sucker punch you between the eyes and leave the lasting impression.

The nice things in life don’t leave mental bruises, bruises that keep coming back to haunt you with “ouch! that hurt and I don’t want that to happen again” moments!

Nice things make you smile, be happy for a few seconds, then leave you vulnerable for that sucker punch between the eyes.

Deep down, I’m a believer that things happen for a reason. Call it Fate. Call it Karma…whatever. I have experience, and in my experience bad things happen to make you appreciate the good things…when they happen.

Unfortunately, you have to survive the bad things.

A fact of life.

A nice twist in the scheme of things? Anytime something bad happens – and everybody has their own definition of what is “bad” – tell yourself something really good is about to happen. It gives you something to look forward to.

And if you really want to give yourself a pep talk in bad times, think of it this way: the more awful the “bad” stuff, the better the “good” stuff on its way!

Right?

Now…I have a load of laundry to go handwash and then I’m going to visit my mother in the hospital, that broken hip is healing nicely.

Think positive thoughts!

Moods

I’ve been asking my fellow Saturday Writer friends to challenge me. They have taken up that challenge…to challenge. Me.

The idea was for each of us, once a month, to come up with a prompt – anything, a picture, a sentence, song, smell – and write a short story based on that prompt.

The first prompt was a picture of a little girl in a red dress sitting in a field of ivy. I studied it, tried to read the face of the girl and see what she was thinking – you know, deep profound writerly stuff – and came up dry. I decided to dream up my story by some other means. Keep in mind that anything I dream up is going to turn out a little twisted. That’s just how my brain works. The girl in the picture was sweet, angelic and innocent. My story was not.

The second prompt was a sentence, a quote. Alone, it didn’t seem significant, just an idle quote about relationships. Hmm. Again, twisted brain goes into action…out pops a story about a “black widow” woman collecting the bodies of her ex boyfriends in a web in her basement.

Third prompt was the theme song from Dark Shadows. Not everybody is familiar with the classic vampire soapie from many, many, many….many, many years ago but those who are can hear the song in their heads right about now. I didn’t want to do anything vampirish. That would be too cliche, but I couldn’t get the image of a creepy gothic mansion out of my head. The story ended up being about the mansion as the main character…a living, breathing character. That was fun to write.

So, at this month’s meeting I told my fellow writers to really challenge me this time. I’m beginning to think they don’t love me anymore. What they gave me this time is going to be hard. They had that evil gleam in their eyes when they gave it to me…yep, they want me to fail this time. I can’t let that happen. They will not beat me!

What is the prompt this time?

It’s two-fold.

Porcupine quills and a lilac bush.

Seriously.

What the heck am I going to do with that?

Oh, wait a minute…I think I’ve got something. Hmm, can you kill somebody with a porcupine quill? And if you buried their body under a lilac bush, will it hide the smell of decaying flesh?

Naw, I’ll keep thinking. I’ll come up with something.

Lilac bush…porcupine…do the two even live in the same region of the country together?

Who’s idea was this? I definitely think they don’t love me anymore.

Just write

I’m not a published author…yet.

I’m doing everything in my power to change that situation. I’ve belonged to writer’s groups to network and hang out with fellow writers – it’s good to know others who share my affliction. I belong to National organizations. I do the Facebook thing, love the Facebook thing. Groups are good. Networking is good.

I read all the how-to-write books I can get my hands on: how to write fiction, how to write description, how to sell your book, how to write winning query letters, how to find an agent, how to…how to…how to. These – I’m thinking – may not be so good. Sure, they give you information and if you’re a reasonably intelligent individual you find a way to weed through that information-overload for stuff you can actually use. Keep in mind that there are a LOT of so-called experts out there eager to tell you the right way to do everything imaginable. Maybe it worked for them. Might not work for you.

I’ve decided to try a different tactic. I just need to write! I need to park my butt in my chair and write….gosh darn it! I am a high stress person and don’t deal well with aggravation and missed goals. I’ve spent a lot of time lately reading all those how-to books, meanwhile stalling in my actual writing. I tell myself, “I’ll just finish reading this book, it will help me be a better writer…” but you know what? I’m still not published!

You know what else? I have fried a few valuable brain cells – brain cells I can’t afford to be without – just trying to do everything the how-to experts have been telling me to do!

One book tells me I need to show not tell, use more similes and metaphors to get your descriptions across. Another book tells me to NEVER use similes or metaphors…it is forbidden.

One source tells me I need to go completely dialogue…the wave of the future! You can get all the description you need in good, fast, smooth dialogue. While another source tells me to keep the dialogue at a minimum. Tighten it up.

Then there’s that “hook” you hear so much about. Gotta have it. But there are rules there, too. Always get goal-conflict-and-motivation in that first paragraph. Always introduce Hero AND Heroine in that first scene. Never start a book with a dead body in the first sentence…never start with a mundane scene of the main character waking up in the morning…never start with dialogue…always start with dialogue…never, always, never, always! SHEESH!

To throw further confusion into the mix, I read. I have many favorite authors – some older, some newer – and when I see the “never’s” in their storywriting it nearly sends me over the edge!  What is an aspiring writer supposed to believe?

Now my favorite authors are writing how-to-write books of their own! Just about every successful, high paid, bestselling author has one on the shelves. 

Have I included enough exclamation points in this blog to express just how stressed I’ve become at the abundance of “expert” information out there!!!

What is a wanna-be-published writer to do?

My answer? First, read…a lot. Not just the how-to books. Read stories you really enjoy reading. Do they read anything like how you want to write? How old are they? Have they been published recently? That will tell you what is acceptable in the publishing business right now, not what things were like thirty years ago. Times change, keep up with those changes.

Second, write…a lot. It doesn’t matter if it’s on a story you want to get published. Just write. It could be blogs, letters, articles, journaling, or short stories you write for your kids. Maybe just long emails during the day to family and friends. Just write.

Third, remember that what works for some people doesn’t work for others.

I’m not trying to sound like an expert on the subject. I’m not. I just know what I need to do, maybe it will work for other people who are trying to be better writers and get published.

Now, I need to get back to a book I’ve been reading…”How to Stop Reading How-to Books and Start Writing” by Dr. I. Noe Itall.

Why Put off What You Should have Done Last Year

Anyone who knows me should be aware that I’m more than a little bit superstitious. Anything can be interpreted as a “sign” of something telling me what to do. A cosmic message urging me in one direction or another. Fate. Everything happens for a reason. Karma. Well, you get the idea.

It’s not like I can’t make my own decisions. Sure, I read my horoscope… occasionally. But I don’t let it determine my activities for the day. Not much anyway. Sometimes. Okay, ever so often that darn horoscope is just too accurate to be ignored! The Cosmos has predetermined my destiny and I’m just along for the ride…I only wish I had a handbook to tell me the rules and regulations regarding that ride and what to expect on this journey. Oh well, I’ll just buckle my safety belt and try to enjoy the adventure.

Recently, Karma sent me a couple of little in-your-face messages. It was up to me to decide to ignore those messages or pay attention.

My first message came in the form of a nasty looking mole. Big, ugly, ominous. That mole told me my days in tanning beds had finally caught up to me. I was scared! I skipped over the first two stages of grief and landed squarely on stage #3 – bargaining. I started begging: if this ends up okay I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that, I’m going to be a better person, I’m going to make some changes… yada, yada, yada.

Doctor told me what has become a familiar horror story lately…”when you get older, your body changes and these are quite common, harmless” yada, yada, yada. Yuck!

Did I stick to the promises I made during that whole bargaining scenario?

Nope.

Second message came last week.

My mammogram showed a big nasty spot. They called. Wanted to run more tests. My heart started jack-hammering in my chest. The bargaining started again.

Test came back okay. I got the same speech, “when you get older, body changes, this is quite common, harmless”…you know the rest of the story.

Did I stick to the promises I made during that whole bargaining scenario?

I kinda think I did this time. I went out and bought a new car!

I made a change. Did something I’d been putting off, waiting for some other time to do, too scared to take the leap, afraid it would turn out bad.

That new car – I named her Maxine, by the way – has changed my life! I have self confidence I haven’t had in a long time. I feel powerful. The whole experience (and buying a car IS a wild roller coaster ride) made me look at other areas in my life where I needed to get busy. Things I’d been putting off for too long.

Then I got right back on a story – one of many – I’d been working on. I’d been discouraged because it wasn’t going anywhere and I didn’t know how to proceed so I’d almost given up on it.

You know what? Giving up on it wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I needed to keep going. Even if what I was writing turned out to be garbage later on, at least I was writing. And that is what second, third and even fourth revisions are for. You can’t revise something that isn’t there.

I entered a writing contest recently, spent the last three months waiting to hear back from the panel of judges. It was torture. I counted the days. Would they say my work was good? Would they trash it and tell me I should give it up? Did my whole future as a writer depend on what their comments were?

Luckily, I have just enough faith in myself to believe I have a future as a (published) writer. The judges had some constructive comments to make. I needed somebody – an impartial, experienced group of writers – to take a look at my work and boost my self confidence.  And that’s what I got. They were able to see where my weak parts were but at the same time tell me good things about my writing. They encouraged me to keep writing and told me I was good. 

So I’d been slacking off on my writing the past few months, waiting for these judges to tell me how to proceed. Now that I have a solid understanding where to start, I’m excited again. I can’t wait to get started and get my stories out there.

Look out world! Barnes and Noble better make some room on their Bestseller book shelves! There’s a new published author heading their way and they’re going to want to keep her bestsellers in stock!

When a good idea practically hits you over the head…

I’ve never considered myself much of a “spiritual” person, but I do have a certain form of faith running through my veins.

I have faith that my vacuum cleaner will quit on me on the day I need to clean the house for guests arriving the next day.

I have faith that my car will get a flat tire soon after quipping that I haven’t had a flat tire in a while.

I have faith that I’ll get a big zit on the tip of my nose on the day I need to have professional – expensive – photos taken of me.

All sarcasm aside, there are things in which I hold strong beliefs – or faith. I believe in Fate, that things happen for a reason. 

It is this faith that caused me to sit up and pay attention when something happened in my life this week.

I was getting ready for work one day when a loud, glass shattering crash echoed through my tiny home. Searching room-by-room, I located the cause of commotion in my bedroom. A large glass framed painting had fallen from a closet shelf, landing on my bed and shattering into tiny – but potentially deadly – pieces. The very bed where I had, only minutes previously, been sleeping peacefully.

After carefully cleaning up the sharp shards of glass, I thought long and hard about why this had happened.

Clearly – in my mind – someone was sending me a message. An extreme way of getting my attention, but effective. What was on that shelf  immediately beneath the picture that possibly could have caused it to slide off?

My Quija board.

One simply does not ignore a message from one’s Quija board!

I only wish the message were more clearly defined. Thus, I’m left to interpret the message on my own, and I have a theory. Strangely enough, it relates to a story idea I’d been tossing around in my head for a while now.

The story involves a teenaged girl with the ability to see ghosts,  who inadvertently brings back an evil spirit while playing with a Quija board…in the back room of a funeral home…with a group of friends. The spirit makes his appearance by shattering the glass in all the paintings hanging in the room.

Freaky enough coincidence for you? It got my attention!

And why did it fall on my bed? I take it as a message to “put the story to bed” or finish it.

The message doesn’t end there. My dead father came to me in a dream last night. The dream was strange, disturbing, and confusing – as dreams can often be – so I looked it up in my dream interpretation book…every home should have one of these books.

Without going into too much detail about my dream, my book’s interpretation goes like this: I have choices available to me that will help me control my life but I am feeling constrained by a job that I hate but have to keep so I can pay the bills. I have a lot of hard work ahead of me, am impatiently waiting for something to happen and fear losing control of the direction my choices will take me.

Translation: I want to quit my hateful job so I can concentrate on getting this story (and many others) finished and published, but am living with the fear of failure.

WHEW! Pretty good, huh?

No wonder life as a writer has enormous appeal to me! I have imagination to burn, can put a creative spin on any situation, and firmly believe you need to pay attention to the messages life sends you. If you’re not listening, life will smack you up side the head to get your attention…or drop a sheet of glass on you and visit you in a dream!

Now…I’ve got a story I need to get to work on…

What Exactly do I Write?

I get asked a lot – what do you write? And I hedge. Okay, so technically my genre is romance, but there are so many different categories of romance it’s hard to pigeon hole myself into any one specific area. So I don’t say romance. People look at you like you’re a freak if you say you write romance – and don’t even get me started on the list of stupid questions you get regarding  your subject matter and research materials.

I started out writing – what I called – contemporary. That is your normal every day story about boy meeting girl in modern days, struggling to get together through all the trials and tribulations of life, then living happily ever after.

I got bored with that real fast.

Then I decided I wanted to write romantic suspense. Boy meets girl, antagonist tries to kill girl, boy saves girl, they live happily ever after.

Okay, so there were only so many ways I could come up with a believable conflict in a contemporary setting to write romantic suspense. I kept writing about stalkers or old abusive relationships.

I got bored.

So what did I do next? I threw some ghosts into the mix. Hey, ghosts can be fun, right? You can’t pin down a ghost. Ghosts can be from the present or they can be from hundreds of years ago. A plethora of ghosts adds interest, depth and texture to the picture! Okay now this was getting exciting! And it can be funny if you have some ornery, bored ghosts in the story.

How fun! So then I told people I write paranormal romance. So I wrote one.

Okay, that was my ghost story. I can’t write about ghosts again. I’m bored.

What do I do now?

How about stick with paranormal but choose another avenue.

Now I’m writing about mystics. I’m not sure if it will be witches or psychics. That’s the beauty of revisions. I don’t have to decide right away, my story will evolve as I write it.  This has a lot of room to be creative,  as long as the details are believable – and it gives me the excuse to research! I love to research.

So for now, when asked, I will say I write paranormal…if I’m asked today…

What I’ll say tomorrow…who knows? I still need to explore a little before settling in to a niche. But for now, I’ll just enjoy the ride.

Tree Hugger Environmentalist

     At my day job I am known as the resident tree-hugger. I started the recycling program for our office – separating paper from etc. items – and preach at everybody when I walk by their cubicles and notice recyclable plastics thrown on their garbage cans. They see me coming and you see the fear in their eyes when they realize that pop can is in their garbage can and they’ve been busted. The wrath of Earth Momma is upon them!

     The environment is very important to me. Anyone who knows me is aware of that. I’ve tried every natural program I can – from eating organic, wearing organic, going vegetarian (but that’s a whole different story), or herbal supplements – and can finally say that I have settled into a compromise with the environment. I do what I can but no longer expect to save the world all by myself. Too much pressure.

     Another environment very important to me is my immediate one…the space I live in which supports my creative endeavors. That particular environment is currently in a state of chaotic flux and by direct proximity it has thrown my creative energies into chaotic flux right along with it. Where I stand in my writing projects right now is what I call creatively constipated. I’m stuck. No creative energy flowing. This, then, stresses me. I need to nurture my creative outlets! I need my environment back!

     I mentioned in my last blog that I am working on creating a designated studio / office / study / den…..whatever it might be called. I have dedicated every spare minute to measuring (hey, that high school and college math really is put to use!), cutting, sanding, priming, painting (3 coats, no less), and assembling floor to ceiling bookshelves in my spare bedroom to turn it into the office of my dreams! I toss and turn at night dreaming of my new space, I even find myself getting up in the middle of the night to walk myself in there and just assess my progress. Yes! It’s getting there. I am real close. I plan to assemble the final wall of shelving this Friday and plan to celebrate big!

     I have painted the walls a smoky gray, the 1920’s woodwork is painted bright white, and I stripped and refinished the original wood floors. The 3 walls of white-painted bookshelves are the final step to completion. I have goosebumps just thinking about the many hours I plan to spend writing in there. I have done all the work myself, suffered many aching joints and muscles over the past month working on it, and learned a lot about myself in the process. The main lesson being that if a person wants something bad enough, they can make it happen through lots of blood, sweat, and tears (and pain) but that effort will be worth it.

     No effort toward your goals is wasted, every effort is valuable. Just don’t lose sight of your goals or get half way there and run out of steam. Believe me! Quitting is not an option! If you keep your end goal in sight, the rewards are what dreams are made of!

The Pursuit of Perfect Happiness

     My latest project – outside the many writing projects I have going – is the pursuit of a true Study in my home, a place totally dedicated to writing. In this pursuit I understand a lot of work is ahead of me. I plan to have floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with my ever growing collection of books…I can picture it in my head and the picture launches me into my own nirvana.

     The first step in the project was to pick out the perfect color of paint. My woodwork is white, the floors are the original but refinished wood, and window coverings are still undecided. The wall color needs to be perfect. I needed a soothing but warm color that will nurture my creativity while working in there. I chose grey.

     What I didn’t know – and soon found out as I started the paint shopping process – was that there are literally hundreds of different variations of the color grey out there! Now remember, I am an artist, but also a has-been Interior Decorating Consultant (not as glamorous as it sounds), so you’d think I would know this.

     Paint me clueless!

     I had to call in a friend for help. She is not an artist or a writer – she’s much more level headed and normal – so I thought she would be perfect for the job of decision maker.

     I was correct.

     She didn’t see that one grey had a tint of blue in it, one had a tint of green, and one was too pink, etc. She just held the different swatches up to the wall and told me what looked best.

     As simple as that.

     At some point I had turned my life into something where nothing was perfect enough. Why can’t I just enjoy something without over analyzing it, picking it apart, and trying to make it perfect? Chill out!

     It’s the same with my writing.

     I have fallen into the bad habit of never being comfortable with it not being perfect. My writer friends attend critique groups where they offer up pieces of their writing for other writers to read and make suggestions on.

     Can I do that?

     EEK!

     Maybe after I’ve put a few years of rejections behind me. At this point, I am more comfortable having a complete stranger – like a potential agent or publisher – pick apart my manuscripts than my own friends.

     I wouldn’t be as embarassed about doing a bad job if a total stranger saw it as opposed to my writer friends. Right?

     How would I ever face them if they read some of my stuff and it wasn’t good enough? Yes, these thoughts do run through my mind. Humiliation on a local level is far worse that long-distance humiliation. I have to face my friends, where it’s much easier to hide in shame from an agent located in New York or California. Or I could always change my name…

     Twisted, huh?

     Nope, just the thoughts of an as-yet-unpublished writer working on building up her self confidence. I’ve got a long road ahead of me.

Committed to Writing

     If anyone were to ask me if I were a pantzer or a plotter, I wouldn’t have a definite answer. I fall somewhere in the middle. I’m not free-spirited enough to be a pantzer and not quite OCD enough to be a plotter, but I do have tendencies in both directions. I guess I could be called a spontaneous-anal-retentive predictably-unpredictable schedule-dependent-wild-girl.

     Yup, that’s me!

     Sure, I sit down and plot the basics out for each story before I get started. Otherwise I would be all over the place and nothing would make sense by the time my hero and heroine hooked up. Okay, so chaotic dating and unknown variables are how romance works in real life but not in romance books. What person’s life is plotted in real life and actually sticks to that plan and ends up happily-ever-after? Nobody that I know of.

     Well, maybe Princess Diana, but we all know how that ended.

     Anyway…

     In the beginning, I draw up an outline to plot the general skeleton of my story – that’s about all the plotting that is involved. The rest is by the seat-of-my-pants. Literally. I never know what direction things are going to take and by the middle of the book, things have usually strayed so far off the original plan that it becomes a different story. And to make things really interesting, I may reach the middle of one book and actually throw the guts of another story into the mix. Believe me, I have lots of other stories waiting on the shelf to be written so their material is fair game for use in current plots.

     I’m not so different from most of my other writer friends. We all have our personal styles of writing and study habits, but the bare bones of it is that we come up with an idea, we do a little – or a lot – of research, we have an idea of the direction we want the story to take, and then we start writing. Some of us map out the plot, some of us just store the idea in our heads and revise it as we go along. Whatever works.

     Okay, confession time.

     Maybe I am a little obsessive.

     I have to plan things in life. I’m not real good about activities that are spontaneous, which goes against my issues with commitment. I don’t like to be tied down with certain responsibilities and expectations, but I am a very responsible person. It just has to be my idea and on my schedule.

     Wacky, huh?

     If I were to look at other areas in my life, maybe I’d find some clues. When I go shopping I tend to park in the same general area – I always thought it was because it would be easier to find my car but maybe it’s some sort of a commitment. Have I plotted my actions ahead of time?

     Hmm.

     What about other areas of my life?

     On work days, I get up at the same time every morning, after hitting the snooze exactly six times. It takes me the same time to get ready for work, the exact routine every morning, and I’m out the door the same time every morning.

     Yikes! That sounds committed!

     I clock in at work the same time, tackle the same projects each day, and clock out at the same time each day. My lunch hour is exactly noon to one o’clock.

     Listed under the word “plot” in my thesaurus are such words as conspiracy, design, development, machination, plan, scheme, stratagem, diagram, graph, outline, and contrivance. In that same thesaurus under “spontaneous” (“pantzer” isn’t listed) are such words as automatic, casual, impulsive, instinctive, involuntary, unconscious, and unintentional.

     This makes plotters seem like soldiers and pessimists, rigid and controlled, dedicated – nothing wrong with that. Pantzers are more optimistic and free spirited, flexible and intuitive – nothing wrong with that either.

     I stick with my original assessment: plotting involves commitment, pantzing involves refusing to give in to commitment.

     Now, what have I decided to call myself?

     Where so I fall in the scheme of things?

     That’s easy, I am a writer who plots by the seat of my pants! How’s that for commitment!

Art in its Many Forms

     I am an artist.

     At least, I like to think I am. I have the Bachelor’s Degree with a fancy piece of paper describing me as Magna Cum Laude hinting that I’ve applied myself.

     My college art professor always told me I would never be taken seriously in the art world – he said I was too “puppies and kittens” because my artistic creations weren’t graphic manifestations of inner turmoil from the demons destroying my tumultuous ravaged soul…or something like that. My art didn’t – and doesn’t – contain parts of my own flesh and blood either. Evidently, my childhood was not dysfunctional enough. Real supportive, huh?

     He was wrong.

     I am an artist.

     I am also a writer.

     Both are true art forms.

     The fact that I hadn’t suffered for my art – in his eyes – made me a target of the professor’s disdain. My being female didn’t win me any awards in his mind either. But do you think that has stopped me from pursuing what defines me?

     A big fat “NO” on that one.

     By the way, I had a wonderful childhood. Tragic, huh? All sarcasm aside, we didn’t spend a lot of money on commercially manufactured toys and mass produced goods. To some people, that may sound as though I was deprived.

     Not true.

     I was rich. Maybe not in money, but in what really counts. I was raised to use my brain and skills to create what I needed.

     So I painted, sculpted, stitched and sewed. I played the violin, piano, and clarinet. I dabbled a little bit in drama. And I wrote stories.

     Oh, the stories I wrote as a child! “What an imagination!” my teachers would tell my parents. “What a delight she is to have in class,” they’d say. Well, I don’t know about that, but…whatever. I was probably a handful, never knowing when to shut up.

     Now, here I am. All grown up and still don’t know when to shut up.

     Am I happy when I get to write, paint, and create? Darn right!

     Never let anyone shut down your creative ablilites. Never let the critics tell you to give up. If you have a story to tell, tell it. You’ll be glad that you did.