I often find my inspiration for writing in unexpected places. For example, here are two photos from yesterday’s walk down the beach boardwalk:
First, a luxury yacht moored in the marina next to the place we had coffee.
Second, a more modest fishing boat, flanked by a great blue heron with stiletto-thin legs.
I’m not a professional photographer, so the pictures aren’t perfect. But I’m thinking that the imagery might be useful for a segment of my book.
Well-heeled? Hmm…I’m ready to write.
Cyber-sleuths, fellow writers, and information junkies take note! There’s a new site for us in the web neighborhood: Zillow.com. While Google’s great (some say the gold standard) for Internet snooping, Zillow zooms much closer, literally speaking, to the streets where we live.
Enter Zillow.com into your browser, then type in the address of a person you’re profiling. Voilà! – instant and voyeuristic access to satellite images, financial histories, and physical features of that home. If you’re curious, you can Zillow your home and those of your neighbors, or you can zoom in on the home specs of your business partners and celebrity crush. It’s a no-fee entry into people’s private quarters, yours included.
But all this access comes with a caution, let the browser beware. (For example, the description for my home omits some cool features, which ultimately brings down its price. Doesn’t matter to me, but inquiring minds, ahem, may want to know.) So if you choose to use Zillow, make note of their disclaimer — in lawyerly language and laid out in all caps: “ZILLOW.COM PROVIDES THE SERVICES ‘AS IS,’ ‘WITH ALL FAULTS’ AND ‘AS AVAILABLE,’ AND THE ENTIRE RISK AS TO SATISFACTORY QUALITY, PERFORMANCE, ACCURACY, AND EFFORT IS WITH YOU.”
Happy house hunting!
Fast Fact: Rhinoceroses have the thickest skin of any terrestrial mammal, and the thickest skin in relation to their size, of any animal. The skin on their backs and flanks can be 1 inch thick.
Some days, in order to get my ideas out of my head and down onto a page, I have to silence my inner critic and ignore, for a time, my imaginary audience. I have to concentrate on my writing, without worrying about reactions.
Today is one of those days. In order to gain forward momentum on a sensitive subject, I’ve covered myself with a proverbial thick skin. I think I’m going to call this Rhino Writing.
Photo credit: http://7art-screensavers.com
Tonight and over the next couple of weeks, many of us will turn our attentions from our computers to our televisions, to tune in the XX Winter Olympic games. We’ll cheer on the world’s top-notch athletes as they skate, ski, and glide their way to glory.
Much will be said about the physical stamina and endurance that these competitions require. But the performances we watch will be as much about the mental conditioning the athletes undergo, as part of their training for Turin. In fact, say the experts, all other things being equal, the victor’s laurels often go to the athlete with the superior emotional skills.
Sports psychologists say these emotional skills are transferable, that they’re equally helpful to others – like writers – who must work at peak performance in high-stress situations. Jim Bauman, sports psychologist for the US Olympic Committee, suggests that you can coach yourself to go into “the zone,” that emotional place where you prepare yourself for personal victory.
Here’s what I learned from sports psychologists about setting the stage for my success as a writer:
Self-talk is important (keep it positive). Studies show that giving yourself positive messages influences your perceptions of your job – and improves the quality of the work you’re doing. So I’m going to concentrate on giving myself verbal pats on the back for each page that I write, each outline I complete, and each turn of a phrase that makes me smile.
Imagine the best, if you want to be the best. Research shows that this axiom’s true: “If your mind can believe it, you can achieve it.” So I’m going to visualize myself turning in a top-quality performance every time I sit down to write.
It’s important to learn how to recover from errors. All of us make mistakes, but champions know how to recover from those errors. So I’m going to practice writing enough that I experience failure of all types – and learn how to revise my approach and outlook accordingly.
Be here now. While some people keep their eyes on the scoreboard, real winners focus on the game itself. So I’m going to stay in the present with my writing and researching, enjoying and getting the most out of each moment.
I’m back at the keyboard this morning, these new strategies in mind. Let the games begin!
Which beautiful blonde breathlessly revealed she is rushing back from a fab vacation to walk the red carpet at the Grammys? Whose spa treatments does this Southern belle count on, for help in recalibrating her chi? And what impeccably dressed diva called to postpone an interview, having forgotten a previous engagement involving a luncheon and designer couture?
Next week, my agent (Nadia Cornier of Firebrand Literary) is submitting my nonfiction proposal, providing selected editors a backstage pass into the lives of these and other spectacular women I’ve met. I can’t wait for the introductions!
Next week hails Hallmark’s highest of holy days, Valentine’s Day. In advance of that day, you’ll want to clear your heart, head, and household of all things that might interfere with your achieving the love and emotional happiness you deserve.
Or so says California author Marcus P. Meleton Jr, inventor of a relatively new holiday: Dump Your Significant Jerk Day. Mark your calendars and get out your cleaning supplies, ’cause tomorrow’s that day.
Yeah, I know that “significant jerk” is an oxymoron. But perhaps that’s the point…in seeking clarity in our lives and relationships, it’s best if we rid ourselves of conflicting and counterproductive elements. So in that sense, this holiday does make some sense.
If you’re looking for help with bouncing that bum (outside of personal courage and the strength of your convictions), you can do a Google search of the holiday’s name. You’ll easily find quite a few virtual florists and e-greeting card websites to assist you in your efforts.
As for me, today I’m grateful for a heart that’s clutter-free, filled with treasures, not trash.
This Thursday, YA author and Firebrand Literary Associate Agent is doing an online chat for the Institute of Children’s Literature. It’s a don’t-miss event for which you can find details at http://www.institutechildrenslit.com/rx/index.shtml.
An aside: I’m totally impressed by the innovative and overlapping marketing, promotion, and public relations techniques employed in this instance. Author and audience, each is recognized and rewarded. Brilliant buzz!
Giant, the self-described “ultimate entertainment magazine,” placed The Graduate at the top of its list of the “50 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time.”
Executive editor Alison Prato justifies that soundtrack’s selection by asserting that it “resonates with every generation.” But Michael Kane of the NY Post calls this choice “a copout,” suggesting that “the music chosen for a movie soundtrack should be a diverse selection that reflects the multiple facets of its characters…every bit as varied as the range of emotions shown by the protagonist on screen.”
So today I’m wondering which movie soundtrack best represents my own life, and which ones match up with the women I’m writing about. Stay tuned and I’ll give you the songlists when I’ve compiled them.
If The Graduate doesn’t strike a chord, what movie soundtrack would you choose as the perfect representation of who you (or your book’s characters) are?
Sometimes it’s very, very, very hard to wait
Especially when the waiting’s for something very nice
Sometimes it’s very, very, very hard to wait.
–Mr. Fred Rogers
In his inimitable, folksy way, Mr. Rogers acknowledges a simple truth: We must sometimes wait patiently for the things that matter most to us.
Writing for publication is often a waiting game, at once exhilarating and anxiety-producing. As writers, we must learn to wait:
– For inspiration, divine or desperate
– For validation, from loved ones and, more often, complete strangers
– For compensation, in whatever form we’re willing to accept
– For connections, with others willing to wait with us or wait for us.
From an outsider’s perspective, this waiting may sometimes look like procrastination or lack of progress. But as with the chrysalis that eventually becomes a butterfly, much of the waiting that we do involves internal transformations not immediately visible to the naked eye.
Witness us sitting motionless at our computer, staring into space at Starbucks, or drifting out of a conversation and into a daydream…chances are good that in that moment, an idea’s taking shape, a concept’s maturing, and our self-confidence is growing. We’re waiting, but we’re not idling.
I believe that all this waiting is worth it –- that I’m waiting (and working) for something very nice. So this journal will record my writing experiences: the wait, the worries, the work, the rewards, and the wonder of it all.
Please stop here now and again to say hello. And if you’d like, please tell me: what are YOU waiting for?