Unpacking Your Creative Life Series

I’m so excited that my month long series on creativity has begun on The Gift of Writing! It’s called, Unpacking Your Creative Life, and part 1 is all about reconnecting to your love of writing and starting again after a long (or short!) hiatus.

When Claire asked me to write a series, I was flattered, grateful, and nervous. I’ve written guest posts before, but never anything that had to sustain interest over a period of time. But what I discovered is that creating a series is similar to writing a story. There’s an introduction, an arc, a climax, and a conclusion. Once I chose a theme, one I’m quite familiar with, I’ve had a lot of fun working on it.

I was inspired by my own writing hiatus (ahem, new motherhood) and some of my favorite craft books, including Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés and Still Writing by Dani Shapiro.

My goal is that this four-part series will offer help and solace to writers who feel stuck or frozen, as I did after the birth of my first child, though new motherhood is just one of many reasons why writers stray from the page.

I remember questioning my life-long dream of being a writer. I seriously considered giving up. This crisis shook my core, and it took a lot of soul searching, some sessions with a wonderfully intuitive life coach, and of course writing, to find my way back.

I’d love to hear what you think, so if the topic interests you, pop over to Claire’s site and leave me a comment.

In the meantime, I’ll be a little quieter over here while I dig into the revision process of my novel. Spending two magical days at Highlights helped me finish my draft, but that was only the first step.

My goal is to complete this first content heavy revision by summer’s end. A lofty goal, perhaps, but I did some math (I know, crazy) and if I can edit about 45 pages a week, I’ll make it happen.

My daughter is helping me keep track with revisions. Who needs an app when you have an artist?

My daughter is helping me track my revisions. Who needs an app when you have an artist?

Then comes round 2 and 3, but each one brings me closer to the moment when I can pass this albatross, I mean novel, over to my beta readers.

Being a writer means never giving up, even when you’re at your lowest point, but I honestly couldn’t do that without your help. Readers of this blog and all the wonderful friends and fellow writers I’ve met along the way. Thank you for keeping me company on this journey! I’m rooting for you, too, because we’re in this together.

Enjoy your summer!

summer kids

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Leaving Home

In a few days, I’m going on a trip. Alone.

Two days and nights of solitude at the incredible Highlights Foundation (yes, the children’s magazine has a dreamy getaway for writers of all genres). Me, my laptop, and a stack of books.

Some of the lodging at Highlights. Oh bliss.

Some of the lodging at Highlights. Oh, bliss.

It doesn’t feel real. I’m in denial that it’s happening at all because – brace yourselves – I’ve never been away from my kids. Ever. Not for ONE night since my daughter was born seven years ago.

After giving birth to my son, I came home the same day. (Hey, I was high on hormones, what can I say?)

There’s plenty I could write about why it’s taken me so long to leave my kids, but that’s not the point of this post.

The point is, it’s happening now. I’m anxious and giddy in equal parts. I know my family will be fine (right, dad, right?!), and I think we’ll all be better for this small yet significant break, but I can’t help feel the weight of it.

My goal is to, finally, finish this novel draft. Maybe even work on a short story that has been brewing. I just hope I can live up to my own expectations. What if, upon arrival, with the days stretched before me, long and unencumbered, I freeze? What if I screw up this golden opportunity?

Of course, this is self-doubt creeping in, stealthy and sly as always. I’ve been doing this long enough to recognize the signs. Years of experience has given me the tools to shut it down. When I get stuck, I’ll get out of my little cabin and go for a walk or jog on the gorgeous woodsy grounds.

highlights grounds

I’ll grab a cup of coffee in the lodge and gain some strength from shared smiles and kind words.

One of my favorite writers, Dani Shapiro (please consider reading Still Writing if you haven’t already) recently posted some gorgeous photographs on Instagram of her recent writing retreat, along with these simple goals:

Writing

Reading

Walking

Thinking 

Connecting

That’s exactly what I’ll be doing the moment I leave June 22, the day after Father’s Day, summer solstice, and the eighth anniversary of my mother’s death.

This trip is a gift, a literal one, for my upcoming 40th birthday. My husband will take his own later this summer. We got the idea from some friends who celebrated their milestone this way. A few months ago when we decided to make our plans, I immediately knew what I wanted to do.

My husband was surprised. “Don’t you want to go to a spa? Get massages? Relax and unwind?”

“Nope,” I said without hesitation. “I want to write. That’s all.”

I’m lucky that way. I’ve always known what I wanted to do with my life, what I wanted to be. For years I wasted my time, or maybe I just didn’t have enough life experience, maybe it wasn’t the right time.

But it is now. I’m ready.