Category Archives: Possibilities

Time to Reflect

I have taken the summer off. I’ve biked, hiked, knitted, hassled, fretted, sweated, gardened and napped.

Now the harvest is coming in hot and heavy and soon I’ll be putting food aside for the winter (already have lots and lots of applesauce, raspberries and rhubarb in the freezer for morning oatmeal), and I’m eager to get back to writing.

I recently wrote about the value of lying fallow. This has been a good time for me. For certain, I still write, but what I’m writing has more to do with posts and blogs and copy for Wordcrafters’ variety of literary events. I now need to get back to my personal work.

So this morning, I tallied what I have that is incomplete, but still holds my heart. This exercise was both gratifying and horrifying.

  • Four novels – first drafts complete, awaiting rewrites.
  • Three novels – first drafts in process.
  • Two novels – outlined and ready to go.
  • Four nonfiction books in various states of completion.
  • I also deleted a few fits and starts that no longer interest me.

When I decided to take a few months off, I was convinced that I had exhausted my creativity, that I really didn’t have anything new to say. Today, I look at my list and I am excited to prioritize and get busy, mostly because I have a whole batch of new ideas popping up in my head every day. Clearly, however, I need to finish something before starting something new.

I participated in NaNoWriMo last year (National Novel Writing Month – Write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days), and that was not only great fun, but it helped move forward a project that had been languishing. I only wish I had come to it better prepared, as I ended up with a very messy first draft. My first drafts are usually untidy, but not this ugly. So this November, I will work on one that I have already outlined. Between now and then, I intend to complete one of the novels awaiting rewrites.

My self-imposed hiatus lasts until mid-September.

I wonder if I can wait that long to get started.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under My New Novel, National Novel Writing Month, Possibilities, Summer, Writing

2014: My Year of Good Cheer

2014 marks the sixth year I have named my years. It provides an interesting focus for me throughout the year as I remind myself (via a post it note on my desktop) my name for the year and gives me something to live up to. To strive for.

2009 was The Year of Hesed (lovingkindness)

2010: The Year of the Tao

2011: The Year of Living Simply

2012: The Year of Forgiveness

2013: The Year of Living Sustainably

2014: The Year of Good Cheer

Have I achieved any goals with these years? I don’t set out any goals, per se, it is just a reminder of ways in which I can adjust my thinking.

In The Urantia Book (a spiritual endeavor that I have studied since the early 1970s), whenever Jesus encountered one of his disciples, the first words out of his mouth were: “Be of good cheer!” This is in the Bible, too, John 16:33.

Words to live by, those. What good does it do us to be critical, to add negative thought-energy into the world, to hate, hold resentments, argue, and live our lives in cynicism?

Why not be happy? Happiness is a choice. Only we can choose whether or not to be happy. No one on earth can make us happy if we do not want to be. Conversely, nobody can make us feel bad if happiness is our chosen state of being.

Only we can choose to put cynicism aside. Only we can choose to focus on the right side, the light side, the good side of things instead of the ugly. Only we can choose to see the successes in apparent failures, to view the future with excitement instead of dread, to banish depression and decide to be of good cheer.

I was privileged to deliver a sermon last summer, the topic of which was how we can change the world with our thoughts.

It starts with a single decision to lighten the world with positive thoughts, thoughts of happiness and gratitude and love and light. There are enough people who add the darkness to fabric of planetary thought with their thoughts of greed and anger and me-first-ness.

It is a mighty challenge to change the balance from dark to light, but we can do it, one day at a time, one person at a time, just by being of good cheer.

1 Comment

Filed under Discipline, goals, Goodness, Joy, peace, Possibilities, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, The Urantia Book, Uncategorized, years

Resisting NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) takes place every November. The point is to write a novel in 30 days, which turns out to be approximately 1667 words per day. Hundreds of thousands of people participate in it, and every year I have said, “Maybe next year.” The truth is, I could never really see the point. I’m a professional writer with several published novels to my credit. It seemed as though NaNo was for people who had no discipline or needed something like that in order to get the job done. How many, after all, finished anything worthwhile?

Plenty, as it turns out.

Well, this year, when I said, “Maybe next year” to my friend Pam Herber, she said, “You say that every year.” The gauntlet had been thrown.

So I did it. Every day I wrote approximately 1500-1800 words, with an extra spurt at the end that had me finish a couple of days before the deadline, and this is what I discovered:

1. I now have 2/3 of a poorly-conceived, messy, ugly, unwieldy first draft of a potentially good novel that I would not have had had I not participated in NaNoWriMo. I wish I had taken a week to prepare for my project, both plot and character, before the start of the challenge.

2. I had fun doing it, meeting friends in coffee shops to write together with headphones and caffeine.

3. I complained a lot because I didn’t get a Saturday or Sunday off, not even Thanksgiving Day, but I didn’t complain too loudly, because by Thanksgiving, magic was happening in the twists and turns and character development in my book.

4. I watched as my online NaNo “buddies” struggled with and overcame difficulties to also complete the challenge. Not all of them made it.

5. The pep talks the NaNo folks send almost daily are funny and insightful. Though I didn’t attend any regional events, they were frequent and looked to be a lot of fun. I might pop in on the Thank God It’s Over party tomorrow to accept my winner’s pin.

6. NaNoWriMo has writing events all year long. Darfinkle, my regional liaison, is going to give a presentation at the Wordcrafters in Eugene conference next March about NaNo and its camps and youth programs.

7. I read Chris Baty’s funny book, “No Plot? No Problem.” Chris is the founder of NaNo, and he might be more surprised than anybody about how well it has taken off. He has a lot of tips to writing a novel in this book and I found it to be a good read.

Really now, what is the need in the world population that NaNo has filled? That is a question worth considering, because I think that over 600,000 people registered this year, from all over the globe.

8. My process of writing urgently, under deadline, was more than validated. For 23 years I held a series of weekend retreats where all participants were required to write a short story in 24 hours. Though many never believed they could do that, nobody ever failed. 50,000 words in 30 days is a little different, but the same idea prevails.

So now I have a first draft to finish, reorganize, and polish.

Will I do NaNo next year?

Likely. If you do, “buddy” me so we can encourage each other on this crazy journey. It is a writing experience like no other. Highly recommended, at least once. NaNo

2 Comments

Filed under Learning, Possibilities, Reading, Writing

How to Change the World

On Facebook every day I see little messages like “Be the change you want to see.” and “Save the Rainforests” and “Give Peace a Chance.” Well, yes. Of course.  But let’s get real. What can we actually do to change the world? It isn’t enough to write a check or post a clever saying or read a book or love the sea lion pups. We have to be pro-active, steady and consistent.

Imagine for a moment that there is actually a fabric of planetary consciousness that floats above our heads in the near atmosphere.  This fabric is invisible to our eyes, but perhaps not to the celestial helpers who oversee our planet. They can tell at a glance the sorry state of our planet.

This fabric holds and reflects the thoughts and attitudes and mind-action of every person on the planet. When you or I have a fearful, negative, angry or resentful thought, our thoughts stain this fabric, help to turn it dark. When we have a spiritual thought, a loving experience, commit a selfless act, we add a tiny portion of light to the fabric.

I believe in this fabric. And I believe that darkness begets darkness, and that the light banishes shadows.

What color do you suppose the fabric of planetary consciousness currently is?

If we want to change the world, we need to be in control of our thoughts. I believe our thoughts are far more powerful than we can imagine. And when we are cruisin’ in the zone of light, we’re spreading the benign virus of love, which is a powerful way to lighten the fabric of planetary consciousness.

2 Comments

Filed under Beauty, peace, Possibilities, Prayer, relationships, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, Sustainability

A Writing Conference in Eugene?

Yesterday, I had a preliminary meeting with Juanita Metzler of Travel Lane County, and Matt Lowes, writer, teacher, man of unlimited energy, and we hammered out some initial ideas and goals for a good writing conference for Eugene. The Register-Guard helped by posting a notice about the first public meeting on October 4, 3-5pm at the Travel Lane County offices at 754 Olive St., Eugene, Oregon.

We three came away extremely excited about the prospect of bringing world-class writers to our community to share that community and bounty of nature that we all love so much.  We don’t want to compete with other writing conferences that are established and do what they do so well, like the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland which is held every August. That is a big, stellar conference. No, we’re looking for something smaller and perhaps a little more specialized, without excluding the local writers upon whom we will depend to help with the organization. A conference runs on a battalion of volunteers.

After all, we’re all in it for the story, right? It all comes down to character, plot, motivation, setting and structure, whether you’re writing romance, science fiction, fantasy, thriller or mystery.

Anyway, we’re open to suggestions of all types. If you have a good idea for a name for this conference, or a theme, or a presenter you’d like to hear, or a type of class you’d like to teach or take, let me know. If you have ideas where we can acquire seed money to get this thing off the ground, we will be forever grateful. If you want to attend the meeting where I hope we will make some definitive decisions and begin to enlist volunteer captains, pop me an email, as the Travel Lane County conference room only holds so many souls.

Fun. Very fun.  A new adventure in writing.

Leave a comment

Filed under connections, Possibilities, Writing

2012: The Year of Forgiveness

I’ve been naming my years for a while now. 2009 was The Year of Hesed (lovingkindness).2010 was The Year of the Tao. 2011 was The Year of Living Simply, and for 2012, I’ve chosen The Year of Forgiveness.

I’ve heard that to forgive someone means to merely allow them their path. Very simple, and my experience says that what is simple is best.

Many years ago, I hurt a lot of people who got caught up in my tsunami of self-destruction. I am soul-sorry about that, and everyone that I’m aware of has forgiven me for my actions during those dark times, for which I will be eternally grateful. I needed those times; they were a part of my path to today. Surely I can allow someone else their path.

I find that it’s easier to forgive someone the big transgressions, but what about the guy who cuts me off in traffic? I am usually outwardly calm, but in my head, I’m screaming: “You idiot!” I really don’t want to do that any more, so I’m going to stop it in 2012. I’m going to let the little things flow over me, making “allow them their path” my mantra for the year.

And I’m going to forgive myself, too, on a daily basis, for being imperfect and doing all the stupid things I do. I say the wrong thing all the time, I eat the wrong things, I still am tempted to slide into old behavior patterns. I no longer burn with resentment, but I can chew on a good one for a while before letting it go. I don’t want to do that any more, either, and so I won’t in 2012. Forgiveness is sustainable; resentment is not.

Living consciously is a decision. Each of us is faced with a million tiny decisions every day as to how to react to a million tiny situations. So in 2012, I will react with love in my heart and the perspective that while we all might be on different paths, the goal is the same.

I have a good feeling about what 2012 has to bring.

Happy New Year!

2 Comments

Filed under Discipline, Learning, peace, Possibilities, relationships, Resentment, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, Sustainability, years

Dear Mr. President:

Dear Mr. President:

As the leader of the greatest nation in the world, I implore you to set politics aside and do the right thing on a variety of issues. Forget Congress. Introduce legislation and let the angels and other celestial planetary advisers do the heavy lifting with regards to encouraging congressional members to do the right thing. Take your case to the American people. They will recognize sustainable changes when they see them.

  1. No more war. Our Department of Defense is for the defense of the citizens. It is not a department of offense. Bring our soldiers home, close foreign bases and spend that money here. War is not sustainable. It is stupid, wasteful and against every spiritual principle there is. We can take a stand of non-engagement.
  2. No more casual, haphazard and wasteful use of finite resources such as fossil fuels. This is irresponsible for our future. Put a harsh progressive tax on these resources and let that inspire and provide incentive for the great minds of American entrepreneurs to come up with inventive ways to create nonpolluting energy sources.
  3. Pollution is ruining our planet and sickening our people. Be bold in legislative regulation of pollutants, regardless of what other countries are doing. We must lead in this regard.
  4. Outlaw cigarettes. It’s crazy that we spend so much money on health care for sick smokers while subsidizing the tobacco industry.
  5. Introduce legislation that allows for term limits in congress. Your office has a term limit; so should each seat in the House and the Senate. The gridlock we are currently experiencing would never happen if there were term limits in congress.

I know that you know that this list could go on and on. We need common sense leadership with an eye not for this term or the next term or for our grandchildren, but we need a visionary who can look 500 years into the future and make plans for our planet that are sustainable. We can’t just keep kicking these cans down the road because it is politically expedient.

Be bold, Mr. President. Be brave. Lead the world.

God Bless.

1 Comment

Filed under politics, Possibilities, Social Consciousness, Spirituality