Of Writers & Wroters: Pressing in to your Future or Settling Somewhere in your Past

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Where do you find the inspiration you need to make it to your writing desk faithfully? Is it your financial obligations pushing you forward? Is it your desire to prove everyone wrong who told you that you wouldn’t make a living as a writer; those family members and childhood friends who still crack little sarcastic jokes, asking when you’re going to get a ‘real job’? Are you in the fresh young love stage: you’ve recently discovered your passion for writing and have been caught in the honeymoon phase? Or, have you been writing long enough to realize that there’s nothing else able to bring real pleasure to your life than releasing the stories that are constantly being birthed inside you?

When I moved to Wichita Kansas from Northern California, I had a really hard time acclimating to the midwest culture. Over the next few years I became pretty impressed with Wichita’s music, art, and Independent film scene. Being excited about the art scene—and being the social butterfly that everyone says I am—I was invited to several Writers groups and I jumped at the offers.

Unfortunately, these groups didn’t bring any encouragement to me as a writer at all. In fact, after ‘hanging out’ at these so called ‘Writer’s Groups’ I ended up depressed with nothing to show for all the time I’d spent each week at these meetings. I wasn’t being encouraged to write. I wasn’t being encouraged to push myself; any encouragement I gave to the groups, to press on and believe that their best was yet to come, was shot down. I soon realized that:

(1) At these writing groups there wouldn’t actually be any writing happening

(2) There wouldn’t be any talk or challenging of each other to write

(3) Everyone was more than satisfied to live in the memories and stories of the few things they had written and had published somewhere in years long past.

The ones who had invited me to these groups, and those who filled the chairs in the quaint houses and local coffee shops where they met to tell their publishing stories from the ‘Good Old Days’—a time and place, within the stories of past moments. A place that I am not willing to live my future in—were all wonderful people. I love to sit and sip on a mug of hot coffee or tea and listen to their stories. I still do it today. I couldn’t, however, do it any longer as part of a ‘Writing Group.’ They were not writing groups; they were all reminiscing/talking groups—which were great for hanging out and reminiscing and talking. Not for writing or becoming better writers.

In a recent post, Gary Bizzo (www.garybizzo.com), shares an interesting quote from one of his friends. A quote that has been rolling around in my mind all morning:

“Some entrepreneurs are emotionally tied up in their smallness.”

Although Gary was using the quote to make a point about the potential that many small business owners miss out on because they’ve allowed themselves to find comfort in the ‘safety’ of what they are used to; the comfort zone of present success.

They’ve become satisfied living within the unsatisfying refuge of what they’ve already accomplished; giving themselves to the fact that thought that they’ve done their best, there’s nothing else to give, and they’ve accomplished all they are going to accomplish.

I don’t fit in with a group like that. You don’t fit in with a group like that. Those Writers (or I should say, Wroters) won’t be having cups of coffee or tea at 4 or5am—eyes barely open, still half dreaming—to continue working on their latest WIP; to edit pieces from the day before; to start their morning writing exercises; begin their routine submissions process, or—if like me or any number of literary Jedi out there—juggle the insanity of all-of-the-above.

Tenacity, Confidence, Addressing a Real Need.

These are what the patent specialists (www.2innovative.net) call “Key Concepts” when patenting business ideas. The same is true in the life of a writer.

  • TENACITY, to go against the flow; against the whispers and little cutting, sarcastic jokes; and against the temptation to find a home among the ‘Wroter’s Groups’ living in yesteryear. Tenacity to keep writing even when technical issues and computer crashes cause you to lose hundreds of thousands of words. Ouch, yes, I know and it’s happened to me too many times as well. That’s why God created Google Drive, iCloud Storage, BOX, Microsoft OneDrive, DropBox, and the Calitso it guys [ok maybe God didn’t create them but they can all be your literary salvation when your computer crashes.]
  • CONFIDENCE in your personal passion as a writer. The kind of confidence that propels you towards your computer, tablet, pen & paper, or typewriter every day to create the kind of literary magic that you do. It also takes confidence to respect your work enough to stay with it through edit and submission.
  • ADDRESSING A REAL NEED is at the heart of your talent. Humanity isn’t happy. Everyone is looking for happiness. Everyone is running after it as fast as they can; though no one is quite sure where to find it. Stories, books, novels, movies, comics, graphic novels, television shows and series, etc., ect., – these are the momentary escapes which, no matter how bad the economy is, continue to become more and more popular—and even more so when times are harder on people—because people want escape. People need their temporary escapes from reality to cope with a life that they’re not happy with. You and I are the writers, artists, filmmakers, who dream up and create those escapes.

Our creative talents and abilities create the alternate realities and escapes that fuel the mental vacations keeping the masses from becoming infected with the ‘crazies.’

For me, this is more than enough inspiration to meet my computer every morning over coffee. This is more than enough reason to keep romancing my Muse, to keep faithful with daily edits and rewrites; more than enough reason to keep submitting regardless of the rejections slips and resubmissions. With each published work we share another opportunity to offer hope and momentary relief to our fellow friends and family of humanity.

What inspires you to write?

What inspires you to keep meeting that computer each morning?

What inspires you to honor your heart, respect your purpose, fight for your freedom to be a creator?

I’d love to hear from you.

Cheers to you, Writers!

-Sam

@SamuelWConnelly

www.SamTheWriter.com 

Fresh Eyes: Stepping Away to Get Closer

Futuristic glasses image by Syda Productions via Shutterstock

Futuristic glasses image by Syda Productions via Shutterstock

Some of us have been writing so long that we find ourselves going through the motions and not really seeing or expecting as much as we’d like from it. But—and this is the few times you’ll ever hear me say this—sometimes the best thing you can do for your writing is to stop writing. Sometimes the best thing we can do is take out hand off of it, long enough to reclaim ourselves, renovate ourselves; look at our piece of work, our collection of works, and in some cases our goal or dreams again and examine them through new lenses.

While doing my normal weekly web surfing—for ideas about writing from unexpected places, for my other writing blog at SamTheWriter.com—I ran across a home renovation site, and these guys got me thinking about a simple yet essential practice that writer’s often forget about, or neglect. In neglecting or pushing it off, for ‘a better time,’ writers often end up suffering some very severe consequences that show up in quality of work, quantity of work, accessing creativity, and/or desire to continue their pursuit of a writing life.

The Lesson: Fresh Eyes, Fresh Mind

As writers, we suffer a creative form of literary bipolar disorder. It not only affects us writer’s but all Artists and Creatives. Some, like myself, see it as a frustrating rollercoaster-like relationship with our Muse. Other’s describe it as ‘being in’ or ‘falling out’ of touch with the Spirit of Creativity. However you define or describe it, you know what I’m talking about.

We love our WIPs (Work In Progress) one day and the next day we’re looking at it thinking, ‘What was I so freakin excited about when I wrote this?’ This is how many really great story and article ideas end up in the waste-basket-graveyard when they were good enough to be published—if only its creator had spent a little time away and had come back to it with fresh eyes it wouldn’t have died so premature. This is also the reason that many great story and article ideas get reject when the ideas were publish-worthy; the article or story’s creator, this time submitted it too early because they were so excited about the idea that they just couldn’t wait to send it off after the needed edits or rewrites.

A break, mini vacation…something—just get away from you work. I don’t care if you have to book a flight to Las Ventanas Del Mar [I’ve even highlighted the link for you], just get away from you work for a few days, even a week. When I finished my first 60,000-word novel, I literally hated it the day after I typed the last sentence. I was about to erase the whole thing when instead I decided to save it to a new flash drive I had been given, put it in my desk drawer. I didn’t look at it that week. One week lead to a month and that lead to forgetting about it for seven years!

About a year after I had written and saved the novel onto that flash, I moved to St. Louis to host a rock video show. Once I’d finally gotten around to setting up my office again I found the drive, popped it in and, after a few hours found myself, mouth gaping, in total shock and amazement at this work of fiction. Even more amazing to me was the fact that I had written it.

Yes, I took way too long of a vacation from it, but no I didn’t regret it being so long since I’d read it because it was like the manuscript has matured and evolved into something beautiful. IT hadn’t matured, of course, I had gained an important and essential writer’s resource. I was reading it through brand new specs: Fresh Eyes, a fresh mindset, and a fresh perception.

Everytime I write short fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, blog posts (like this), articles for news sources or magazines and, especially posts or content for clients — as soon as I finish writing the piece I set it aside for as long as it needs to be; usually the time I spend away from it depends on length of word count, my emotional connection to it, or deadline.

I know several professional photographers and, it’s crazy how many photos they shoot, of the same subject, and crazier the time they spend going through each picture to find the perfect one to represent their work. You can tell a great photographer by, not only the quality of their work but, the quantity of quality work they put on their website. One could look at The Wright House Photography website and say that it’s a nice, clean, simple site. But when I look at it I see a photographer who has spent countless hours mulling through mountains of photos to represent herself—and her skill—through many hours of personal sacrifice.

Artists don’t just create a work and throw it out for all to see; they know that what they put out is a presentation of who they are. It’s the same with every single piece of work we writers complete. They don’t say, “Writing the first draft is easy, it’s the 20 to almost infinite following that’ll drive you insane,” for no reason.

If you really want to put your best work forward — take a break from it. Read it through the filter of fresh eyes. Time away will show you many things—both great and not-so-great—about your work; things you need to see with fresh eyes to edit properly.

Try them on now…

Maybe you have some great pieces of literary work right under your nose that you’ve filed away in a cabinet or computer file because you didn’t give it a chance. Maybe you stopped a project right in the middle because you decided it wasn’t what you originally thought that it was; it wasn’t turning out as you hoped it would. Maybe you need to pull those things out and look at them with fresh eyes and fresh mind. You never know, you could have the next best seller on your hands; or at least some really great idea to use as the framework for some new idea. You may just shock yourself at what you wrote and walked away from.

Maybe you’ve been staring at your monitor for the last few days frustrated because you don’t know where to take the story. The best thing you could do for that work is get away from it for a few days or week.

Try it. Let me know if you find a hidden treasure. I won’t be shy about accepting a finder’s fee if you end up at the top of a New York Times Best Sellers list. Just kidding, but not really.

Cheers to you writers!

As always: Write, Write, Write as if burning on fire…then submit!

-SamTheWriter

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Start The New Year WRITE! & Don’t Forget What You’ve Written

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“You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.”

– Isaac Asimov

I usually just skip the whole ‘making a New Year Resolution’ thing, but I do usually have a few things in mind that I want to accomplish in the new year. One of those things is publishing more work. As writer’s I would hope that we all want to accomplish that.

I hear writer’s all the time tell me that that only write for themselves and that they don’t really care to be published. To that, I call ‘Shenanigans’! Yes you do! We all do. We all love the feeling of having our work accepted by an editor and then published for others to enjoy. It’s a great feeling. It’s a beautiful moment. Seeing your work in print gives a special validation to your craft; the hours of research you put in, the creative chats you had with yourself in the quite- in the bathroom mirror, and endless cuts and rewrites.

The picture above is a picture of a cup of coffee in front of my iPad. I keep this picture as the background on my iPad. For me, it’s a reminder that I’m a writer and I have a job to do, so I should go ahead and get the ideas percolating and the coffee brewing.

I love and hate the quote above by Isaac Asimov. I love it because it’s true, and it gives an encouragement of hope for writers. I hate it because it’s true, and it reminds me that ‘just writing‘ won’t pay the cell phone bill.

I heard it said: “Persistence breaks down resistance.”  This is a marking and evangelism encouragement quotes, but when it comes to submitting your work I’ve found that persistence also builds resistance. I’m talking about the feeling you get when you receive a rejection slip, or two, of 50. The more you persistently send out your work to editors, the more you learn, the more feedback you get on your work, and the more resistance you build against the emotional feeling of defeat or failure.

2014 is here, and I hope as a writer you’re ready to scribble out some new ideas, stories, poems, etc. I hope that you’re diving into market research to find the names of the editors who may be looking for your work.

Although you have new ideas to scribble out and fresh stories to tell, do forget the gold that you have already written; the stories, articles, manuscripts written last year and before. While you’re hopping on the again, getting ready to blaze a new trail, start submitting the work you’ve finished. If you’re gonna get rejections, then start sending what you’ve already written- get the ball rolling. The feedback you get in some of those rejections are going to be the seasoning you needed in this fresh batch to give them just what they’re craving.

Cheers to you and this new year. 

Connect with me, and share you stories. I’d love to hear them.

-Cheers!       SamTheWriter

Follow Me @SamuelWConnelly 

Don’t Miss The Magic!!!

Go ahead, make a wish. Do your best not to pass up this opportunity

Magic, for me, it’s the biggest and possibly most important part about the writing life. You create characters, events, towns, worlds, and moments. What is more magical than that. Recently one of my micro-fiction stories were published in an inspirational anthology. The story is called ‘The Mystery of the Artist‘, and I wrote it as part of a writing-prompt competition.

The short, is about the tree used to make the cross that Jesus was crucified on. The point of view was from the wood’s perspective of what was happening. The tree, wanting to be used for something great, now cut down and laying around, dried lumber. For me there was magic in the idea of this tree and it’s perspective of what was happening with this man, Jesus, and what made him so bad that everyone wanted him dead.

I never really thought much of the maybe 450-600 word short, but to my surprise I received a ton of feedback, and finally a request to publish it in the Best of FaithWriters collection, ‘Hidden In The Hymns’ by Winepress.

The story came from a seemingly insignificant moment. A moment when I was walking a bike path to think about all I had on my plate and how overwhelmed I was. A moment when I had so many writing deadlines that part of me really felt like just taking a huge break from writing.

As I sat there on an old wooden bench, thinking, and listening to the wind blow through the trees I put my head down and was going to just close me eyes when I noticed ‘J+C’ carved into the old bench. At first I wondered about who J and C were. Then I began to make up a story about them. In my mind I had created a story of young love and love lost, and how Jason Whitfield would come visit this path every year and sit on this bench and close his eyes and remember the magic lived and loved between him and his now passed on Love, Caroline.

After I wrote a few notes I thought about how amazing it is that an object, like the old wooden bench, being significantly insignificant in the scheme of life, can become a magical escape for someone like Jason, taking him back to earlier beautiful times.

Then I thought about the bench, and the wood, where it came from, and what life it may have had from sprout to tree. Even after its birth and death, it sits here with eternal purpose and meaning. That’s when I thought about the tree that would grow up, be cut down, and used to crucify a carpenter.

That magic gave birth to ‘The Mystery of the Artist’.

I hope that this little blurp is of some encouragement to you writers. Sometimes deadlines, or life, or other circumstances weigh on us and it can be easy to miss the magic that is quite literally all around us.

I want to encourage you to get out and walk around a bit, visit a park, walk a bike path, or sit in the back yard and give yourself the permission to dream a little. Find that magic around you, close your eyes and listen to it whisper in the wind, open you mouth and stick out your tongue and taste it, like falling snow flakes.

You are a writer, a person who creates moments for others. It’s important that you find the magical moments of life, and romance them, experience them, and then pour it out into your creative words so you can share them with the readers. That’s magic. That’s beautiful. That’s real. You did that!

Hope this Moment encourages you.

Write, write, write, and never quite. The world needs you.

-SamTheWriter,

signing off.

Gadgets and the Pen and the Dance

There are several amazing gadgets out there for getting all your notes and writing ideas quickly recorded on a cell phone (or some other on-the-go-gadget) and shot off into the electronic unknown universe, where mysterious invisible creatures magically synchronize all of our Blackberry’s, desktops, and laptops. It is amazing, I must admit.

I, personally found a few gadgets I use for everyday notes. My favorite (at the moment) is a free note tool called Evernote. It’s perfect for my Blackberry. I think the IPhone has a similar product called AwesomeNote.

Although these tools are amazing, and yes, even necessary for keeping my planets all organized, I find myself, at this very moment, standing in Office Depot, in front of a million different pens. With a bundle of four, thick 250 sheet, college ruled, spiral notebooks; it seems clear to me that I have already decided that I am going to buy one of these crazy expensive pens.

Why?

There is a power in the pen. There is magic, it seems, in the dance between the hand and the pen, as they grip, embrace, and move gracefully, as one, across the finely pressed paper dance floor.

To me, writing is both business and passion. Sometimes I get so caught up in the business and the stress of getting paid for my art, that I can forget the passion and the magic, that romanced me in the first place and caused me to fall in love with the art.

The gadgets are good for the business, but the gadgets do not bring the romance that the pen brings. The magic for my readers should be in the end product, but the magic for me (as the writer) is in the lovemaking process which comes in the dance. The dance happens after the bones have been laid down and before the editing happens, the dance happens when I grab a pad and pen and look over the bones (my ideas) and then let my passion set my mind, and paper ablaze as the hand and the pen romance the paper dance floor.

The business of writing is always calling. As writers, it is always nice to have the freedom to wake up, get some coffee, and produce a day’s worth of writing from home, or a hotel, in our underwear, but the truth is: The business never stops calling.You can write and romance the thought of being where you want, when you want, but for the real professional writer, it is a life of constant deadlines, mental breakdown in the creativity room, and the struggle to keep a healthy flow of story ideas.

This is where it is good to have the gadgets. Think, type onto your phone, press send, and you have it.

Yet remember the romance. Remember that the dance floor is always ready and wanting the dance. Remember that the pen, as our patient loving dance partner is always longing for her dance mate, and the Muse, our other-world creative lover, is constantly reaching her tender hand out to us, bidding us: Come.

I could have saved you the last minute of reading by summarizing this idea as a ‘Business of Writing How-To’, but I was in the mood to dance.

It is a business

It is a passion

We are the Writer’s

Write, Write, Write!

Signing off,

SamtheWriter

PS

Oddly enough, I was very passionate about this as I walked around at Office Depo, so this post was writing and submitted from my Blackberry Curve. 🙂 silly little gadget.

Romancing The Muse

 

As writer’s, we all go through those times where it seems as though creativity has completely dried up and that wonderful fairytale wilderness in the infinite realm of words which lives on the other side of our reality has shut its door and locked us out.

In those moments of desolation and desperation it can feel as though the Muse, herself, has rejected us as artists, as lovers – in the love-game of literary affection and  perpetual passion within the euphoria of the wordsmith.

But, and there is a but…

The Muse can be moved. She can be aroused. She can be taken by the hand, she can be kissed, and in doing so, she can be romanced.

Some say that the Muse is that feeling of passion an artist gets in a Perfect Moment, a moment so unrealistically real that the artist is forced to create art.  Some say that the act of creating art under such influence is a bi-product of some physical equivalence of metaphysical love making. Not that the art was the product of the Muse, but the product of the union between the artist and the spirit of creativity.

Regardless of what or who the Muse may be, she (or it) can be romanced. The Muse is possibly different for each of us.  To me the Muse is more like a lover; a warm hand, and passionate heart which brings the feeling of intoxication when around. No matter what you find your Muse to be, the key to unlocking the creative attributes that they, for some reason, release in you, is to romance them.

Romancing The Muse takes Work on the Artist’s Part –

It is not always easy to be romantic. In my life I am always trying to come up with ways to be romantic, but when it comes down to it: even someone who is as passionate as I am does not always feel like being passionate. It takes work sometimes for me to get into that ‘loving-feeling‘.  As for romancing the Muse, I have to keep myself moving. I have to take time to take walks along the river, or down town, or hide in that secret park down town that few people know is there. I have to keep my eyes open and write down things that I see that I know would be perfect in helping create that amazing moment later.

Work at doing what ever you can to keep the creative juices flowing.  Keep yourself alive by keeping yourself working at not falling asleep to the needs and desires of the Muse.

Romancing the Muse Means Knowing When to Just Give In –

Sometimes the Muse pursues you. Sometimes your Muse wants to get your creativity going. the Muse is creative life. She speaks to me in music, dreams, visions, songs, and other people. A touch from my Muse creates short stories. A kiss from her lips builds planets, cities, and civilizations in my mind. A walk with the Muse gives me the opportunity to understand everything and everyone around me.  When My Muse wants me, I must be ready to say “Here I am”. The Muse is passionate. The Muse is emotional, and full of potency. Unlocking the doors of limitless creative literary life is in her kiss.

When she wants me, I will be there. If she wants to dance, I will dance. If she wants to listen, I will listen. When she wants to kiss, I will be ready. When she just wants me, I’ll make sure I am not too busy with ‘stuff’. Artists many times get so stuck on what they want to Muse to do for them, that they neglect her needs. This causes creative death.

When she calls out…know when to just give in.

Romancing the Muse Is About Not Missing the Moment –

Finally, there are also times when everything seems to just come together. The seconds turn to an infinity, the atmosphere changes, the earth becomes a platform to a dance between you and your Muse. Everything, and the purpose of everything is all about the Moment that has pulled you into its reality. You find yourself in a parallel universe that is 100% more real than reality.  Your Muse and You have just stumbled into an alternate Right Now, and what happens there is all up to you.

Moments are unique to those who discover themselves in them. They are different for each person. They are caused by feeling, circumstances, passion, emotion, the physical surroundings, You and your Muse. They can be easily missed, if the artist not open, ready, willing, or not aware of it.  Don’t miss a moment. It can be at a park, a river walk, a grave yard,  a church, or your porch. The place is just as important to everything thing else in the specific moment. Don’t miss it.

Romance Her, and then write, write, write!

SamTheWriter,

signing off.

www.samthewriter.com

Writing Junk to Become the Artist You Were Meant to Be!

My mornings start with a pen, paper, and a cup of coffee!

My mornings start with a pen, paper, and a cup of coffee!

“When you write, don’t say, “I’m going write a poem.” that attitude will freeze you right away. Sit down with the least expectation of yourself; say “I am free to write the worst junk in the world.” You have to give yourself the space to write a lot without destination…If every time you sat down, you expected something great, writing would always be a great disappointment. Plus that expectation would also keep you from writing.”

Natalie Goldberg/ Writing Down the Bones



I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve shot myself in the foot, and probably been my own biggest source of writers block by my determination to write something amazing when ever I get sat front of my computer.

I, like many of you, write a lot. I am currently working on three novels, updating and re-editing my short stories (over 300) to start re submitting, working on two collections of poetry, writing three or four articles for the Examiner every week, devotionals and encouragement articles for The CypressTimes, and I send off 3 poems every four days to a card company, because they pay good for greeting card poems. Not to mention trying to keep up with my website, and blogs, and my social networks. I am also beginning a new international project called I AM POETRY: Poetry to Save the World. I am still collecting names of poets, pen and ink, pain, and sketch artists, as well as tattoo artists (so if you are one, send me an e-mail and I’ll send you some info, and you can decide if you want to get involved..sam@samthewriter.com) It’s sad but I do have a Twitter account, Facebook, MySpace, Digg, and I frequent FaithWriters, and other networks.

As a freelance writer it is my goal to sell enough articles, poems, and short stories to get me enough cash to buy some more time to finish one of my WOPs (Work In Progress), so every time I sit in front of my computer, I want what ever I am writing to be good (which means) salable. But that is not always going to happen, as we all know. I remember one night I submitted a poem to a editor, (who I had just sold three poems to, and got rave reviews) and he sent me an e-mail back saying, “Thank you Sam, for completely wasting my time. You wrote it fast, submitted it quick, and it is literary …”let’s use the word ‘poo’ here, it’s less colorful that the one he chose to use. I learned my lesson.

The key to writing great and producing real literary art more often, is by being consistent with our craft. Feel free to wake up in the morning, get your cup of coffee or tea, sit in front of your computer, and just write what ever is on your mind. It may turn out to be a poem, a great short story, the beginning of a novel, a blog entry, or a nasty piece of poo; and you know what: that is just fine.


Feel free to write stuff that stinks. Be ready and expect junk to pour out of you from time to time. It’s like literary detox. Pour yourself out on paper, over the key board. Because as you begin to do this, you’ll discover that you’re setting yourself free to the artist that you were born to be. In Natalie Goldberg’s book, Writing Down the Bones, she shares a story about how a young writer who lived in the same apartment complex came over to visit and Natalie let her take a bunch of her old note books. After a few days of reading the girl came back and told Natalie how reading some of her early ‘crap’ encouraged her. It made Natalie more real to the young writer. It also made the dream of someday becoming a great writer something to be grasped.


Everyone one has their junk. I have a lot of poo to put on paper, and so do you. Get to writing that nasty stuff. It will help shape you, make you, give you direction, hone your skills, discover the artist within, and most of all, by just letting go and letting it all out, it will help you set yourself free to be who you were meant to be.
Above all, have fun with the process and write, write, write.


SamTheWriter,
Signing off.
sam@samthewriter.com