Anatomy of Winning

It’s the last weekend in October, Halloween is just around the corner and then November One.  I’m not much of a Halloween person.  November One is what I’m really gearing up for.  It’s the start of National Novel Writing Month, affectionally nicknamed, NaNoWriMo.  I’m a WriMo.  

I entered the challenge last year and won, meaning I wrote fifty thousand words in thirty days.  Actually less then thirty because cutting a deadline too close, makes me queasy.  So I wrote more than the allotted sixteen hundred words a day.  

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Also, I had no excuse.  I didn’t work outside the home so a two thousand word count was doable.

2018 is a completely different story and my courage is faltering as the start of NaNoWriMo looms.  This year I’m employed outside the home part-time and I’m working with an editor on last year’s book.  This may not seem like much to those of you who work full-time and still manage to eek out the fifty-thousand word count.  Kudos to you!  For this writer, it’s going to take all my energy not to have a melt-down.  I know this about myself.

One big concern is creating a new story and editing and rewriting a different one.  It’s like jumping in and out of different realities.  This may cause some neurosis on my part.  Consider yourself warned.

The other challenge is the genre I chose to write.  A fractured fairy tale.  I’ve read many but haven’t written anything like it.  As I started to contemplate ideas I decided, why not?  Not because it’s going to be easy but precisely because it’s going to be the exact opposite.  I’m a masochist so by all means, why don’t I just jump right in?

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Why do we take on these ludicrous feats?  Why bother with a self-imposed torturous contest?  I’m asking myself that as I take my sanity temperature and run through all my doubts.  

Along with the impending deadline of November One, that bully, fear, is stalking me.  His hot breath searing my neck.  But the hideous creep has underestimated me.

This year, I’m so done with being beaten up by thugs.  So I’m digging in my heels and thrusting out my chin.  You think you’re going to make me cower in a corner?  

I refuse.  Not only am I going to write about a protagonist who overcomes, I’m going to be one in my own real life story.  Doubt and fear will not dictate what I do or don’t do.

Like any heroine worth her salt, I have a plan. Organization is key.  Pre-planning and prep is my weapon of choice.  Telling people you are setting off on this adventure or some other scheme is a good motivator to achieving that daily word count.  Or end up looking like a fool. I don’t want that.

Like any authentic heroine, I will have to battle my demons.  Nothing of value is learned if it’s handed to you on a silver platter.  There will be distress, crisis and chaos.  My brain knows this but the rest of me is blissfully ignorant of the upcoming battle.  The brutes of this particular tale are fatigue, fear and time.  

Who are yours?  

How do we overcome these sneaky, manipulative cads?  Stick to the plan. Oh, and bring along some cheerleaders who will help you grind through to victory.   

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I may be the one writing, but behind every writer, every hero of any story, is a group of people who help us reach our destination.  We might think we are alone or we might pride ourselves on being self-reliant but these are lies.  Remembering this is key to success.

It is naive to expect all wins and no losses.  There are going to be off days when my characters go on hiatus or the roof leaks at home.  Paralysis caused by fear is going to threaten to still my fingers on the keyboard.  Meals still need to be made even if it’s cereal and life goes on.  The only thing that counts on these days when the pressure of my enemy’s knee against my should blades feels like an anvil on my chest, is to shove the perp off and get back up.  It’s in the rising up and pressing on that we are victors.

 

These are the things I’m going to try and remember in the upcoming month.  What about you?  What challenge are you facing in the upcoming days, weeks or months?  What do you need to remember to help you win? If nothing else, I hope you remember you aren’t alone, and get back up when you get knocked down.

Being Called Out of the Cave

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After a fifteen year absence, I went back to a writing conference this past weekend.  People asked me what I’d been doing in those fifteen years.  Mmmm.  We moved three times.  Major moves.  Once across two provinces.  My children were born.  I was too tired when they were really little to write much more than the alphabet.  Ten years of severe sleep deprivation is not conducive to a writing career.  I usually didn’t even have to get past saying I had kids and the person was already nodding.  They understood.

These are the excuses I hid behind this past weekend.  It’s the truth just not full disclosure.  Fear held me back.  Fear of not being good enough.  I had already failed once attempting to be a writer, a journalist.  I let it define me as a failure.  I would never be a writer.

Ann Voskamp in her bible study, One Thousand Gifts, talks about how fear makes us live small lives.  Stops and makes you think, doesn’t it?  I have lived small for fifteen years.  What about you?  Is there any area where you live small?

In the past year, my fog cleared.  I’ve been running from a writing project for a long time.  It’s not that I wasn’t passionate about it or felt called to write it.  I just didn’t feel good enough to pen it.  I worked on it when it fit into my schedule.

Circumstances this past year, dictated I get it done.  Hemmed in, with only one option out, I sat down and clicked away on the computer keys.  A sense of purpose filled me and the final goal was attending Write Canada.

Don’t you love conferences?  It’s one of the best ways to learn because there are so few distractions!  It’s awesome when a theme becomes an echo for the entire weekend.  Totally unplanned by the speakers.  That’s when you know you’ve discovered something special.  Both Mark Buchanan and Ted Dekker, the keynote speakers, spoke about the pitfalls of success.  Publishing, the pinnacle of success in the writing world, means nothing, if you aren’t engaged in a relationship with God.  If that relationship is right then the rest falls into place.  Whether you’re a writer, accountant, teacher, whatever you do, this applies to all of us.  It’s a key to life.  All the money in the world, success as the world says it must be, is zero.  It will leave you empty if you do not have a relationship with the One who created you and gave you the desires to create, crunch numbers or whatever.

The conference was also a calling out for me.  A summons out of the cave, where I’ve hid for fifteen years.  Confirmation that the call to be a writer was not my imagination.  A gift, not to be hid, buried in the dirt like the talent in the parable of the Ten Talents, but used and multiplied. (Matthew 25)  It doesn’t just apply to writing.  I’ve been stomping down a number of things over the years.  Fear to be, to do.  Life in the small lane.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to become some mega extrovert overnight.  Say yes to every request.  Not at all.  It’s not a call to go be “busy for God.”  He doesn’t need that.  It’s an adjustment of attitude.  As Mark Buchanan reminded us this past weekend, are we available when God calls?  He’s looking for someone who is ready and willing to go.  I want to be able to raise my hand. “Here I am Lord, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)  Maybe I’m not the most talented but He’s more than able to fill in the gaps.

What about you?  Where have you been the last fifteen years?  Have you been hiding?  What’s your cave?  I’d encourage you to listen for God calling you out of that cave.  He needs workers who are willing and ready.  He knows you.  He’s calling you by name.  Won’t you join me as we ditch life in the small lane?