Learning to fly

Kites rise highest against the wind.

Right now, in this moment, what is one thing you hope to accomplish? I don’t mean winning the lottery, or some other effortless, chance-laden fortune. Consider something that would make proud to have accomplished it.

  • Write a book? Create a movie? Start a business?
  • What do you think your chances are of succeeding?
  • Why?

Most people do not bring into reality their biggest dreams. Things like fear of what people would say or think can hold us back. Sometimes we don’t have time, don’t know where to start or who to ask. Often if we give voice to that dreams or idea, some people around are all too quick to fire upon our ideas. So we don’t make the effort.

It’s plenty difficult for us to believe that we have what it takes to accomplish a goal. The first time we hit a bump or it doesn’t go as we hoped, we may want to quit. In the back of our minds, we might think successful people have it easier than us.

But, can you imagine for a moment, what it would be like if you succeeded? What would it feel like to hold your first book in your hands? To smell the pages, see your name on the cover?

Imagine seeing people sitting before a screen watching a movie you developed.  Or, having started a new business, imagine how excited you will be with that first sale.

You can do it. Imagine it. Imagine the next step. Whatever that spark is that you’ve let languish in the shadows of your mind, maybe it’s time to pull out all the stops and see what happens. I picture new ideas like the kites of my youth. I put them together, tie the tail on and make sure to secure the string.  I go outside and I start running to see how high the kite will go. My dad took me to a park with a very high hill and the wind there took my kite. The kite went higher and higher until I was at the end of my string.

What I remembered was how much I wanted to fly a kite again after that. I took it to my aunt’s house one day. I ran all over her yard trying to work up enough wind to take my kite up. But the yard was peppered with trees and utility lines, a less than ideal environment. I wanted to go back to that high hill, with even more string, and see how high that kite would fly.

Dream big. Dream about what it would be like to accomplish that goal. There’s a reason why it’s in your heart. It might not yet be the perfect environment, but at least put the kite together, then maybe you’ll find that high hill, too.

 

What a dull knife taught me

An acquaintance of mine once found herself in a jam and needed to chop a bushel of tomatoes for a sandwich wagon she would run the next day at an art show. I wanted to help out and offered to chop the tomatoes.

“Show me your knife.”

I pulled it from a drawer. She seemed satisfied enough that it was separated from other implements of destruction. She produced a tomato and asked me to cut it. I pressed the blade to the tomato skin.

I drew it across the skin where it bunched, squashing through the locular cavity. Juice squirted out and seeds dislodged from their placenta. In short, I ripped it with a very dull knife. I’d had the knife a few years and it never occurred to me to sharpen it. With this knife, I’d have better luck making tomato sauce.

“I’ll be right back.” She left through the front door and in her absence I experienced intense tomato shame. What could I do with this poor tomato? Did she want it back? Should I throw it away? Should I keep it? Is a ruined tomato edible? (Yes it is, with salt & pepper, please.) She returned only moments later with a different kind of knife.“Try this.”

I had just started to lay the blade on the skin and it basically fell through the tomato, cutting it so cleanly that I gasped. She laughed and told me when she would be back for them. I couldn’t get over how little effort it took to chop those tomatoes. It didn’t occur to me that I’d been struggling until I wasn’t.

That became a life lesson not only about keeping blades sharp but taking care of “my tools” whatever they might be.  This same lesson informed my decision to get a better word program when my writing became more serious.

Are you trying to accomplish something right now using a dull tool? If you can’t find a way to sharpen it you might need to replace it. The time wasted trying to make it work will be better spent elsewhere.

Do you have a “Dull Knife” story? I’d love to hear from you. Thanks for coming by today. I hope to see you next time.

7:30 am Directional Epiphany

This morning in my quiet time, I felt like I was handed a new map, new orders. At first, I didn’t understand it but now I do. Writing about writing reaches a very limited number of my friends and followers.

I want to reach more people with my message but in recent months, that was called into question. What is my focus? What is my message? What is it that when I start, I don’t want to stop? And even more importantly, if the world really does have something I need, what the heck is it?

Many of you may not know that I have a long history of creating art–thirty years! Shocking, I know. And ten years ago, I laid it down to write. I’ve written my million words, now, give or take and it no longer seemed fitting for me to write about writing. It would be like Joyce Meyers talking about talking. Honey, she has a voice and she’s not afraid to use it, but if you know her, then you also know that is not the focus of her message. Her voice and words and ability to speak publicly are tools in her toolbox.

This morning it was like clicking a download button. It seemed I’d been asking a question and didn’t really know the answer to. A flood of information came rushing in like that wave of warm sunlight after the storm clouds finally pass.

And this is your heads up. You’ve been faithful on this bumpy road, but this is something that gets me all fired up again and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. It means I’ll be posting every week instead of the once or twice a month of before and increasing it to twice a week. Can you handle that? If not, I understand, no hard feelings. But if you can, if you’re made of more durable stuff, are infinitely curious or just want to see what’s up my sleeve, see you next week!

Catching Every Word

Columbus, Ohio Freelance Writer, Juli Ocean

One thing I do a lot of is interviewing. Working remotely, I attend a lot of webinars and online meetings. As one who is already guilty of word hoarding, the last thing I really want to do is miss a single comment. Are you like this? You’re listening to someone talking and then they use a phrase or a word and then you find yourself thinking about that. They haven’t stopped talking either, so you probably are missing all that followed. For how long?

Having never learned shorthand, it’s impossible for anyone but a court reporter to keep up with taking notes when the great ideas begin to fly. Add to that, I didn’t learn courtroom reporting, nor do I have such a reporter at my beck and call.
But I think I’ve found something even better.

Freelance Ghostwriter Juli Ocean uses DB9Pro and Jigmo voice recorders.
JiGMO a little voice activated voice recorder. This little beauty fits in a pocket or purse and the microphone is amazing. It picks up sounds and voices from up to 10 feet away. I have been at the back of a hotel conference room listening to a presentation and it caught every syllable.
What I especially like (after using a different brand that required a review of instructions far too often) is that it’s so easy to use. Just slide the switch to “on”. In three blinks of the light, you’re recording. The light doesn’t stay on which makes it even more unobtrusive. Because it looks like a jump drive, people don’t feel intimidated by it. They won’t even notice they’re being recorded.
It can records for up to 96 hours, (.wav files) on a single charge. To recharge it, make sure your switch is in the “off” position and plug it into your computer’s USB port. And you’re listening to the meeting. When it’s charging, the light is red, and when it’s full, it’s blue. When you’re downloading files, it flickers between the two. Make sure to close out through the computer before removing the device.

My other very pricey voice recorder had additional features, additional steps and the recordings from the microphone were always slightly fuzzy. These do not have playback features on the device, no headphone port. You can use it as a recorder and/or a jump drive.
So, if you’re like me, and you want to capture every word, I highly recommend this gem. They come in black, silver and gold with a wrist strap or string loop. Let me hear your thoughts!

 

Back on track

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwj-w9_WvPDRAhXGOSYKHV7eCuoQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pleinevie.fr%2Fgalerie%2Fj-ai-recu-une-contravention-injustifiee-comment-la-contester-910&psig=AFQjCNFNxD_WLvJZbJG1mChvi3B5ZPYuAg&ust=1486092646972745If you’re wondering how long it’s been since I was on here and posted, it’s been too long. 1 year, 5 months, and 1 day, to be exact, according to Date Difference calculator.
So what was that all about, you ask?

It’s amazing how little things can get a plan completely off-track. And it also speaks to my failure to properly steward my time.

A part-time job was supposed to give me time for writing (while keeping me fed!) and several things evolved making that really difficult. The first was getting up early to go to work. I am not pleasant to be around at 6 a.m. Or earlier depending on the weather. My smile doesn’t even wake up before 9 a.m. (Not good when working with the public.) My internal chronometer works best waking up on its own and I was seriously unable to get up on my own at such an early time.
Secondly, the powers that be kept trying to add more time to my schedule. Going from 20 to 28 hours played havoc with my desire to write when I got home. Then, it was another bump up to keep the insurance. The job turned negative and nightmarish.

Even though I had been diligently writing at night while holding down the part time job or PTJ, I slowly slid into a funk. I needed a radical shift in my life and quite honestly because it didn’t look like I was going where I wanted to go, as fast as I wanted to get there. Cocktails alleviated some of that stress. And then it added another set of problems. What was I supposed to do?

I needed a radical change of scenery. I took a leap of faith and was hired by a different company with later hours and a schedule that we agreed on. Four months later, I landed another part-time gig writing for a website developer. I was gaining traction again.
Over the last year, I took up ghostwriting in addition to my own writing. I managed to finish my first ghostwriting project and my third short story at the same time. With all that’s going on, I’m learning new things. Cocktails have disappeared off the menu. And I have new de-stress techniques that work even better.
And the truth is, I missed you guys. Life is exciting again and I can’t wait to share with you, all the new things I’ve discovered. So, if you forgive me, hop in the car and let’s see what lies ahead!

P.S. here’s the link for figuring out how much time is between dates click here.

Under Construction

Turn offI had embarked on a few “simple” updates for my website. Over the last week you may have been sent broken links, pages that looked promising only to find that they were not available. I want to take a moment to apologize for the confusion and probably annoying stream of emails for a lot of updates.

I confess that I like learning about technology and at times it leaves me baffle, and sometimes being a DIYer there is fallout. Some people around here didn’t get fed on time (sometimes not at all) and I was grouchy and not much fun to be around until I could get pages straightened out and the lost ones found.I would have liked a button like the one above so I could work without disturbing you. Will you forgive me? I think we have this all figured out now. If you get to the site and find that you hit a wall, please feel free to let me know. I value your feedback.

9 Writing Ideas for Summer

Lane_County_Farmers_Market,_Eugene_Oregon

It’s a little late in the season for spring cleaning but I find that I’m looking over how time gets spent and, like an editor poring over redundant sentences, I excise those things that were not bad, which brought pleasure, but were not really helping my writing career as a whole. Because it’s been a rainy summer this year, (and we got a new kayak) I’m really attempting to cherish our sunny days before leaves drop and the chill wind begins whistling winter songs.

Everyone who’s been writing for a while can tell you how solitary writing can be. My husband and I are both writers and it’s easy to fall into a habit of spending days in front of a computer screen, or writing while staring out a window, but not participating in life. I want to enjoy it outside with others.  I discovered more joy and creativity when the sun shines and I’m active. I have fantastic friends whose company I truly delight in and it’s easy to get busy writing and let far too much time slide between visits. Participating in life gives us material to write about. Combining the two can give you fantastic results.

It’s an opportunity to hear a new story or a storyline I can run wild with. You may see something along the way, like I did: A young teenage girl on a pink bicycle texting while she rode wobbling precariously on the edge of a busy street. I wanted to follow her to see what happened.

So, you may ask, how do I stay focused on my writing and still enjoy my summer?

  1. Keep your pen and notebook handy. Be on the lookout for little scenes and character sketches.
  2. Think through your day. What’s ahead? Family reunion? A day in the amusement park? A wedding? Jot down some of the vignettes you catch. Describe some of the people there, what they wore, how they behaved. Write down any great lines you hear.
  3. Going on vacation? Take lots of photos and write descriptions of your lodgings, people at the pool, people in restaurants. Did you get a quirky waiter or funny waitress?
  4. Going camping? What disastrous thing happened? (I’ve never been camping without some sort of disaster. I hope you fare better than I!)
  5. Going to a street fair? Farmer’s Market? Arts and Craft show? What sort of people do you see there? Find out about the vendors who are working the show. My husband once wrote a play about a woman selling bread he met at a Farmer’s Market. What sparks your imagination?
  6. Are you going to see a traveling Circus? Maybe you’ll get a chance to talk to some of the barkers, or performers. What philosophies do they have about life and traveling?
  7. Are you going to spend an evening watching outdoor theatre?
  8. Public fountains anyone? Not terribly far from where I live, there’s a shopping area built like a small town. It’s street after street of shops. Across from the book store is a pavilion with underground water jets. They’re timed and follow various patterns. The fountain is entertaining to watch on its own. When it’s extremely hot, parents dress their kids in bathing suits and let them run through it. Invariably one little kid will look down at where the water came from after it has gone and get a surprise squirt in the face.

It seems impossible to have too many character sketches, but you never can be sure where they might lead. I visited a friend who had recently moved to a new house. We had a lovely dinner, got the grand tour of the new digs and scoped out her new studio space. As we were about to leave, she discovered a tea light candle balloon had landed in her yard. It’s too good of an idea not to write about.