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Mary Beth Lee
I'm an opinionated wife, mother, teacher, high school media team adviser who likes to talk about life, books, movies, music, teaching, the world in general, cooking failures and successes, and, of course, the ups and downs of writing.
Angel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3
An Angel Earns Her Wings: The Guardian Book 2
Dead Girl Walking: The Guardian Book 1
Honor and Lies
Grace is Enough
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Once Upon a Time, I Said This…
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Tag Archives: motivation
Happy New Year! Usually I resolve not to make resolutions, but I’m mixing things up this year. 🙂
Back when I made resolutions I always topped mine with 1. to lose weight.
I’m changing that this year. Instead I resolve to get healthy. I was well on my way to that goal this summer, but I let school get in the way. School’s my job, and I love it, but I can’t let it hurt my life. So this year I resolve to go to the Y five times a week, to do card 3 of those times and weights twice.
2. I resolve to make time for my family.
I went to see my brother for the first time this year. Usually he comes to see us. I resolve to make it out to Georgia at least once a year. AND several of my uncles live in Dallas. I resolve to touch base with them more often. Grandma and Grandpa died this year. If we’re going to be close at all, it’s going to take effort. I resolve to work on that.
I started three books last year and finished none. It was a weird writing year for me. I didn’t really commit and I even pushed the writing aside throughout the year. I love writing. It’s part of who I am. I let myself get caught up in “what I want to write” and spent a lot of time thinking and rethinking that. This year, I’m just writing, and I’m finishing what I start.
It’s all fine and good to write. You’ve got to get that writing out to the people that can buy the work. I’ve targeted Harlequin/Silhouette for year without really trying any other markets. I’m going to change that this year. If something comes back rejected, it’s going back out into the big bad world.
It’s easy to get into a rut at school because I’m doing pretty much what I’ve done for 15 yers. I’m going to wrok on planning more and developing new lessons.
I’m a yearbook teacher. I’m going to take photos this year!
7. Finally, Positive.
I let myself get way down this year. It was so bad I couldn’t talk about work without coming close to crying. I love my job. I love my life. But I let the hormones and a few outside forces drag me down this year. I did it consciously. Some people don’t have to wrooy about that. I’m not one of them. So this year, I’m going to keep The Secret and The Success Principles nearby. A friend told me this and it’s true you don’t have to let anyone put their mad, sad, bad on you.
I’m excited about 2011. Happy New Year!
•If I don’t do it, who will?
•If I put it off until tomorrow, is there a chance my tomorrow might become a week, a month, a year?
•If I struggle through the low points, will I be rewarded with high points?
•If I give up, will I wonder what might have been?
•If I believe in me, will others believe also OR if I believe in me, will it even matter what others believe?
•If I quit, will it matter? That’s an interesting question. One to really think about. How many people have wondered that very same thing and then somehow found the fortitude to keep on going, even through the low times?
Or how many have quit and just said enough is enough.
And aren’t both answers the right answer depending on who you are and your circumstances?
For me, quitting is not an option. I might be 90 and still collecting rejections, but I’ll be trying. At least I think I will. But there are no guarantees. I once read a multi-published author’s take on the road to publication. She said it’s not like school where you try and try and learn and learn and eventually make the A. With publication, you try and try again and you might make As all over the place but bomb with the editor you’ve sent to. So you send it again and again and you just keep writing and sending and sending and working your craft and hoping and praying that this is the one.
But still, there are no guarantees.
So without guarantees, what keeps me going?
I’m not sure.
I don’t believe storytellers are made. I think they’re born. Like the sages of old and the mythical storytellers of ancient times, my mind spits out stories the way a scientist’s mind spits out hypotheses.
Once I said I didn’t think I could quit, and I still believe that to be true. However, it would be easy to quit submitting. It’s expensive and aggravating. And rejections are no fun.
But if I were to give up submitting, I would be giving up the dream. And giving up the dream just isn’t something I can do.
So I’ll keep on writing and submitting and waiting for calls, requests, rejections.
Day 3 back on counting my Points. YAY! I already feel better.
MB’s Great Agent Search: Nothing good to report. The third rejection came in today. But amazingly enough, it still doesn’t hurt. I don’t know why. I guess because this whole SingleTitle idea is so new to me. I love the book. And the next one is going to be awesome too. Hopefully I’ll find an agent because Idon’t think I can sell Women’s Fiction without one. I’m going to start entering it in contests soon. One of CPs said this book reminds her of LaVyrle Spencer. That kind of freaked me out. In a good way. A very good way. But WOW.
I think of the story as Sisters (that awesome TV show that was on NBC) meets the Prodigal story meets the story of Mary Magdalene meets Hope Floats. The romance is more Hope Floats. The base story is Prodigal. The sisters’ relationship is Sisters. And one of the main characters is very much Mary Magdalene.
It’s been a challenge to write, but it’s touched me in ways I never expected. I love that about this story. I’ve grown. I know I’ve got to go back and really beef up the emotional angles in the middle because I wimped out after five days of writing and crying, but it’s there and I know where it’s going. I’ll be done by this weekend and then I’m going back through to make it better. And when I’m done it will be the best book I’ve ever written. I think it already is. 🙂
I’m reading two books right now. Jill Shalvis’s Seeing Red is great so far. The beginning grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.I can’t wait to see what happens.
And while I work out I’ve got Reading Lolita in Tehran. It’s an amazing read. Definitely something that will be on my bookshelf at school. I like that I can read it a little at a time instead of all at once. Usually I’m obsessive about finishing a book, but not this one. Don’t know why. It’s something I’ll talk about with the students who show up for the before school writing lab I’m going to offer next school year. At least I hope I can offer it. I don’t think my principal will say no. 🙂
Yet again I’ve proven my theory that the way to break through a block is to write.
Okay, so it’s not all that originbal, but man, it feels good to know it’s the truth.
I’ve written a ton the last couple days. Will I keep it all? Probably not. But I will keep the scenes and the secrets and the emotional outline. I really like my plot. I think it’s fun and unique. I really like my characters. They’re so real.
I’d forgotten that because I wasn’t writing enough.
It’s easy to let that happen when there’s no contract to keep you going. But I’m going to take Suzanne McMinn’s advice and write this baby as if there were a contract. Because, let me just say, there’s no reason for this book not to sell. It’s GREAT! And when it’s done, I’m going to send it out there. And someone’s going to pick it up. And if I don’t believe that I have no business sitting here at 11:30 at night writing. I could be sleeping!
I am super writer, hear me roar.
It’s Monday, so I better update my weight loss journey. Down 1/2 pound. I thought it would be more. And if I hadn’t made the best manicotti in the world yesterday, it might have been. (Everyday Italian. YUM! It’s on the food tv website.)
But weight’s only one part of this journey. And diets aren’t allowed. So 1/2 pound is a good thing.
Okay. I admit it. I’m guilty. I haven’t been back since Monday. Why?
Neglect, pure and simple. And not just neglect of my journal. I’ve neglected my story-telling too. And my family. And my friends.
The only thing I haven’t neglected is my day job. Not exactly the way I try to keep my priorities.
I’ve learned a lot over the last eleven years teaching and eight years writing. The biggest thing I’ve learned (other than teenagers will be teenagers) is life works a lot better if I live my life God first, family second and my job third. God first: He’s in control if I want Him to be. Family second: Sure quality is better than quantity, but that doesn’t cut it if the qualtity is one hour and a quick kiss good morning and good night. Job third: Okay, that’s the hard part. My day job is awesome. It was my dream job and I had no idea how fulfilling it would be. I love it and I love my students. We’re on major deadlines right now, so I spend a lot of my life in the newsroom. And that’s a good thing because my kids understand their paper is the voice of their campus. They understand that they have a responsibility to their peers to show what’s going on around the campus. A couple of them are even working on a first amendment piece after a study showed 1/3 of high school students think the 1st amendment is dangerous. Both the reporters lean to the conservative side and both believe the first amendment is essential to democracy. I’ve definitely done my job! My yearbook kids understand the importance of documenting the year as they see it and talking to people other than their “friends” or the “popular” kids.
then there’s my other job. Right now that job is a dream. The closest it is to reality is the handful of contest finals I’ve collected to take off the sting of the file full of rejection. Unpublished, multi-rejected writer is DEFINITELY a job. It’s a hard job. It’s a heart-wrenching job. It’s a totally crazy job because it’s unexplainable to people who don’t write. My extended family sees me at family reunion and asks “So you get a book published yet?” and I just sigh and say, “Nope. But I’ve got something in New York right now.” Or like right now, I can say I’ve got two somethings up there right now. And that’s not even the job part of it. That’s just the sigh-inducing annoying part that keeps me going because the family means well, they just don’t understand.
The job part is making myself sit at the computer and let the story flow. Let it flow in spite of the nagging doubts of rejection. Let it flow in spite of the way the cat gets upset and flops across the laptop keys. Let it flow even when the work week’s long and crazy.
Because the only way I’m ever going to sell a book and then another and then another is to find a way to ignore nagging doubts and write the stories I love, even when rejections come along. Even when the day job is busy. Even when the cat, or dh or dd get upset because I haven’t given them enough of my time.
And that leads me right back to the beginning.
God first. Family second. Job third.
It almost sounds like I’m going to say I have to realize there’s just no way I can fit in the job of unpubbed multi-rejected author along with the rest of my life.
And you know what? Sometimes that thought’s almost tempting.
But it’s not right.
Because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt there’s a reason these stories burn to be told by ME. God gave me my talent and He wants me to write stories that end in HEA, that provide a little fun for people in the midst of their busy lives possibly an escape from desperate times and emotional upheaval.
So getting back to the beginning instead leads to the only conclusion possible. getting my priorities back in order is the one way I can guarantee I’ll find a way to work it all in.
No more neglect. Not for God. Not for my family. Not for my job. And definitely not for my dream.
PS: H/S bought THREE new authors this week! If they can do it, so can I! Woo Hoo!
So what DO you do while you’re waiting to hear back on requested work? Sometimes I feel like I really should have all the answers. I mean I’ve certainly studied all the books, talked to lots of authors, been to tons of classes.
And you know what? I don’t have the answer.
I do know the one thing I control is the writing. So the answer probably is simply that. Write.
Because every day I write, I develop a little more voice. Every day I write, I find a new secret my characters want me to know. Every day I write, I get closer to the Girls in the Basement. (I LOVE that term)
Since I can’t write full time, I have to write when I can. It takes longer to hook into that creative part of me that sometimes helps the words come to life. I do what I can to help: the scents, the music, the schedule, BUT none of that takes the place of opening the document and letting the words flow.
I can write or I can wait and let time go by without working that part of my creativity.
So what happens when I can’t write? When I look at the keyboard and nothing happens. When I can’t connect with the characters. I wish I could say that never happens. But you know what, it does. Used to it really freaked me out. (Used to was just a few months ago!) But then I realized it’s just a part of my process. When that happens I need to take a break, read some, write a letter to my grandma or e-mails to my CPs, maybe let my characters write love letters to each other. I can’t do like a lot of people suggest and “write through it.” I thought I could, but when I do that, the story STINKS! So I give myself permission to take a break. I think part of the problem when that happens is the doubt caused by ghosts of multiple rejections. But that’s not all. Whatever the reason, those moments of blankness happen and when they do, that’s okay. The key is to not let the break go on forever. 🙂
And that’s the simple truth. What works for someone else might not work for me. What works for me might not work for others. Writing is solitary. We all have the way we do things. The key is to find what works and do it!
How can one piece of pizza and a salad turn into three pieces of pizza, a salad and a cupcake?
I don’t know. But in just a few minutes I discovered pizza has the power to motivate me. I ate it. I loved it. And then I went and worked my butt off at the Y.
Now I need t figure out how I can use that same motivational technique in my writing.
It would have been easy to skip the Y tonight. It’s Friday. My friend wasn’t going. DD and DH were whining. But that pizza kept laughing at me and I knew it was go to the Y or let the pizza defeat me. So I laced up the tennis shoes and off I went.
It’s easy to skip writing too. It’s Friday. I’m tired. (hel-lo, I just cardiod 90 minutes!). DD and DH are whiny.
So I sit here writing my journal, knowing I have the very same decision to make. Only when it was the Y, it was about how my jeans fit, how my lungs feel so good when I hit that groove, how I want to lose more weight and look good in a bathing suit for the first time in my life. (Seriously! I’m even fat in my baby swim suit pictures!)
When it’s about writing, it’s about a lot more than how my clothes fit. It’s about how my soul fits.
I know. Weird.
But it’s true.
If I take tonight and write, it might not make a difference. I might write this entire book and it might go on to the next big rejection in the sky, under the bed, in the closet, wherever the heck it goes when an editor passes.
it might be THE ONE. The story that connects with an editor and has them calling me saying the magic words we want to buy YOUR BOOK!
I think that’s the key.
With the Y, I know that even if the scale doesn’t move, my jeans are going to fit better because I defeated the monster otherwise known as over-eating Chuck E. Cheese pizza.
But with my book, currently known as Identity Crisis, I can pour all my time in it, live with the whiny dh and dd, and still end up with a “no thanks, better luck elsewhere.”
That’s where “how my soul fits” comes in.
Writers understand this. I think actors probably do too. When we pour ourselves onto the page, when we send the manuscript off to New York or Canada or where ever, it’s not just a bunch of black blobs on paper otherwise known as letters put together to form sentence that form paragraphs that somehow tell a story. When we close that envelope and drop that package in the mail, a piece of our soul goes along with it.
And no matter how many times we hear “don’t take it personally” about rejection, that’s just not very realistic.
Just like Getting THE CALL and not taking it personally isn’t very realistic. 🙂
But then sitting down to write on a Friday night with dh calling my name every five seconds and allowing myself to think the story I’m pouring my soul into is quite possibly going to be rejected along with the others isn’t all that soul nurturing. It’s not all that smart either. I mean if that’s the case, why bother?
It’s Friday night. I have a decision to make.
I already defeated the pizza. I better go defeat the doubt monster too. And maybe dh will quit calling my name. He’s just watching South Park anyway!
Listened to two classes on my iPod while I exercised. They were prefect. First I listened to an amazing Dare to Dream workshop. I don’t remember who gave the class, but she was incredible. She wrote for years, had lots of rejections and finally started getting a lot of interest when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. At times, I wanted to cry, but her message was so inspiring. Basically it’s the same thing I’ve heard a million times before. DOn’t Quit. Write big, dream big, goal set. It was great. Biggest thing she said: If you have a dream, and it’s really a dream, ask yourself what have I done to get there today. If the answer’s nothing, it’s not much of a dream. HOW TRUE! Obvious, sure. But overlooked often.
I have a dream of being a published author. I want to write romances for the masses. 🙂 That dream is possible. I just have to keep writing. She said Suzanne Brockmann set out to write ten books in one year. That she basically earned ten years of experience in that one year. WOW. I hadn’t thought of that at all. She also got me interested in entering contests again. I go back and forth on that, but contests are good for cold reads, and they get your work infront of an editor.
THEN I listened to a class on setting. I have some ideas now on how to work it into my story a little better than I have it now….which is a good thing since I’m logging off now and going to write. I have a dream and I’m going to do something about it.
Or…I’m not even sure.
I guess I’m going to do this steam of conscious thing. No real headings or chapters or breaks. Just write whatever. No rules. That’ll be a nice change. 🙂
I decided a long time ago I wanted to be a writer. Or maybe writing claimed me. I’m not sure. Even though I was a late reader, I wanted to write. I made up stories like no other. Just ask my mom! 🙂
I decided a couple years ago that writers don’t really have a choice in the matter. Sure, we don’t have to write the stories down, but they’re going to come anyway. They’re a part of ancient tradition. In the olden days people sat around fires and listened to the story tellers. My ancestors from Norway, Finland and Sweden definitely had a story-teller or two in the bunch. Today, it’s the paperback writer that keeps the tradition alive. Not that I’m dissing literary fiction. My MA’s in English. I love literature. But the stories that live on are the ones about people, heroes and villains so wonderful or evil they transcend time. Some of those stories exist in “literati”, but most exist elsewhere.
My goal when I sit down to write a story isn’t so grand as that of my ancestor story-teller. I don’t want my story to grow over time until it’s known by one word, one name. I simply want to create real people. Heroes we can love. Heroines we can all wish to be.
I’m going to forget all the “rules” and just write.
That’s how I started eight years ago. Then I started “learning” and guess what? My level of success is still exactly the same. I get requests. I get requests for revisions. I get rejections. The rules haven’t changed that. So I’m going back to writing my stories my way. We’ll see what happens.