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 

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.

Making Time For The Romance

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That’s what someone said to me today.

Well Sam, you’re a writer. You have to just make time for the romance. It’s like a real relationship.” 

Oh, I hate when people say crap like that, especially when they’re right.

Writing is just that; it’s a romance. It’s an intimate relationship between you, the creative potential that’s just fighting to get out, and your ability to organize and prioritize your crazy planet in such a way that you CREATE moments to be romantic.

I wrote a blog a while back (way too long ago) about romancing the Muse. It is so crazy vital for a writer or any kind of artist to romance their Muse, but sometimes you have to go against emotion and personal will power. Sometimes you have to MAKE it happen.

Many of the poems, articles, and short stories I have written, were written while I was under the intimate intoxication of the sheer overwhelming Moment I was having with my Muse. It’s in those times that I can pour out 12,000 words in an evening without stopping once to think, and it is usually really freaking good.  Unfortunately this only last a while. Then you have to work for it.

It really is like a relationship.

Stage One: If your dating, it’s like that period of time where you are so head over heels in love that the whole world is flowers and beautiful things.  Or when you get married (Congrads to my friend Jordan and Kayla who just tied the knot) and there’s that insane honeymoon stage where both people are so drunk on each other, that nothing on the planet could ever seem to be too unpleasant again, because you have each other forever.  And you can’t forget that somehow you are the only two people on the planet that are perfect, and you found each other. 

Stage One is freaking amazing. It’s just a lot of romancing, dreaming big, believing in magic, and having tons of sex. (I’m still talking literarily)

Stage Two: The magic slowly starts to wear down. You start to realize that, although  it’d be awesome to travel the world, make-out 8 hours a day, and  bask in each others perfection, truth is: There are other responsibilities. There is work to be done, errands to run, messes to clean up, other people in the world you have obligations to. Not only that but you notice the not as perfect things about each other. To make a long story a little less long: reality started to show up in not so pleasant ways.

As a writer this this that funk you get into where you start to realize that your love, writing, has it’s not so romantic aspects to it. You start to see that sometimes the Muse is not going to show up, sometimes the characters won’t speak. Sometimes work happens. Some times you are just too tired or stressed to think creatively.

This is when you have to decide about your Stage Three.

For some writers, this is the place where they decide the commitment demands too much. Some writers find themselves passionate about other things. But for those truly committed, sold out, romantic artistic lovers, this is the time to re-evaluate priorities. 

This is the time where you decide to break out of the funk. To say “I am a writer, that’s what I am, so now, what am I going to do with it?”

This is where you decide to find a way to get your fingers on a computer, or a pen in your hand, and force it on the paper.  This is where you Make the Time for the Romance.

This is the same way relationships work out. They either work or they don’t, and it all comes down to deciding who you are, and what your going to do about it.

If you need to find a good book about creative ways to write. Do it.

If you need to talk long walks on the beach, or around your neighborhood to get the Muse Juice flowing. Do it.

Listen to music

Read some poetry

Go fishing

Because once you have stretched and struggled through Stage Two, and determined to keep plunging forward, you’ve grown so much that the future trials just don’t seem as hard because you know what to expect and know to fight for what you love so much.

And when you create the habit of Make Time for the Romance… the passion just gets better and better.

The struggles will come, they always do. Just don’t give up, because we are something amazing.

We are writers.

 

Write, write, write

SamTheWriter,

Signing off.

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

Summer Love: The Writer’s time to revitalize and refresh their writing life

The part of waking up

The best part of waking up

Coffee is first thing

it helps my pen write smoothly

sip and write: perfect

– a little fun haiku, from my haiku collection “Coffee & the Pen

What gets you going in the morning? Do you have to be out of bed at a certain time to get to work or get the kids to school? Or are you one of those amazing people who have in inner alarm clock that goes off every morning without fail?

Personally, I need an alarm clock. Actually I need three of them: One sets on my night sand, and it is really annoying. The second one is my cell phone alert, and the third, and my most effective, is my wife getting angry that I am letting the other two blare forever. Then, I hit the brew button on my coffee maker so when I am finished taking a shower, I have a hot pot ready to be sipped on, and a project laying on my desk calling me.

Summer is a really great time for writers. If you have kids: you do not have to wake them up early and go through the morning routine of hurrying them through their morning rituals of clothes, breakfast, teeth, hair, shoes, lunch box, backpack (do a quick check to make sure your son’s new friend frog he found at the park yesterday didn’t mysteriously end up in his back pack for show-and-tell, again), rush out the door.

They usually sleep longer.

I have also read studies on sleep, and discovered that in the summer, when it is hotter and more humid, our body feels that it needs less sleep. We wake more during the night, sleep lighter, and can wake up earlier without too much of a fight with our wills. “Yeah right”, I can hear you say now. I use this these months as a summer-cleaning time mentally.

Some people talk about spring-cleaning, being a time when they go through their house and clean like a crazy person. Not that our homes are horrible messes, trash centers, or hurricane epicenters, but it is a time to refocus, restore, revitalize.  That’s how I view summer. Since I have more time to spend on writing in the morning, I don’t let it go to waste. If the summer heat is going to help me sleep less and still feel good, so be it.

I use to turn the ac way up to make up for the heat, but now I open the windows and let the morning warmth and birds chirping out side (which is actually the chirping of gossiping neighbors sitting on the porch next door, smoking, drinking coffee mixed with vodka, and chattering about the latest desperate house wife on the block.) which is perfect motivation to get me out of bed and down stairs.

Summer is so full of inspiration for the writer. The beginning of summer is a perfect time to clean out old files, dust off and revisit that manuscript your hammered out last summer, pull out your poetry notebooks and get them all typed into organized files on your computer, and get ready to start submitting like crazy, while writing new, fresh pieces, which you may use now, or, set aside for next summer.

Where ever you are, and whatever your schedule is, try and use all the opportunities this season provides you to reset, revitalize, and restore the goals you have for your personal writing life.

I hope that your summer starts out with a bang. Have a blast.

And if there is something that you like to do in the summer to kick off your writing, I’d love to hear about it. Comment here and share it with other readers, or drop me a line at Sam@samthewriter.com

Write, Write, Write

SamTheWriter, taking advantage of sweet summer love.

The Poetry of Existance

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My boy Josiah, sitting in front of a sweet picture of of forest.


“For the first time  I noticed trees and flowers. I learned  names: Russian Olive, elm, oak, peony, geranium, petunia, marigold. Details  mattered. Cracks on the sidewalks, broken glass, worn stop signs, everything spoke to me. Rock, leaf, car. I rode rushes of thought with my cheap pen. I gripped a spiral notebook.

“Poetry, I whispered, poetry”

– Natalie Goldberg/ from essay ‘How Poetry Saved My Life

Life is poetic

I would not be wrong to say that life is poetry in motion.

This month has been a great month for me. I have been able to stare into the mirror and see myself through eyes challenged to see the motion of poetry being the fluid of moment by moment life. Although the personal challenge I made of myself was to read a poem and write a poem everyday (And the two poems could not be one in the

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same), the journey has been a journey into self-realization.

When you look at the world as a poet, you have no choice but to open your mind and thought process to the possibility that everything happens for a reason and, be it good reasons or bad reasons, there are a multitude of lessons, like parables, in every action and reaction, and each paints its own living artwork for display.

As a poet, you challenge yourself to listen to the world, to open your ears -those unseen story catchers – and get quiet enough to hear and catch the stories of humanity, and the mysteries of the ‘whys’ and ‘how-comes’ of mankind’s hardest issues.
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When you open up to the spirit of poetry, and step into the literary rivers of its motion, you can understand and see the beauty of life, and appreciate all its expressions of true art.

14600249Since this is National Poetry Month, I chose to celebrate with other poets, like Natalie Goldberg in her collection of poems, Top of My Lungs, Eugene Gloria, Drivers at the Short-Time Motel, Stephen Dunn’s, Different Hours(winner of the Pulitzer Prize), Billy Collins, Sailing Alone Around the Room, the young and amazing 51vjcgkdjrl_sl500_aa240_Eireann Corrigan, You Remind Me of You, and one of my personal favorite poets, the insanely wonderful Gregory Orr, Concerning The Book That Is The Body Of The Beloved, and How Beautiful the Beloved.

Sitting at my favorite coffee shop with book in one hand and Venti Americano (with a half inch cream and six 14596474splenda) in the other, I take my time and savor every poem. As I sit there finding pleasure in the the poems I’ve devoured and anticipating the joy of the next between my lips, pressed by my coffee stained teeth, turning page after page with my tongue I clear out of my mind anything that would hinder my ability to catch every word and letter breathed from the poets mouths and minds. 51hmfdqta8l_sl500_aa240_

It would be easy to swallow books whole, and then suffer from a bad stomach ache, like the 16 0z steak I put away Monday night with three bites, which eats at my guts now as I write. I do not remember what that meat tasted like, though my wife took hours to perfect it, to my own shame. So I force myself to take my time with the poem, careful not loose the meaning, so I do not forget the flavors, months from now.

The art of poetry, the poetry of art: life in action, poetry in motion, can add wonder, purpose, pleasure, and a sence of humanities creativity to each day, if we choose to take the time to allow it to change us. And it will change us, if we allow it to. I have answered the Muses’ call to put on the specitcals of the Artist, and see what it reveals.
Some poets write about the hard times they experienced growing up in a war torn country, some write about the beauty of nature, the pleasure of love and sex, or the wonder of innocents. I read a few poems yesterday from a book of poems that spoke out against the war. A few books over on the same shelf I read a poem about the freedom that comes with the blood of those who fight for it. Poetry speaks out through all humanity. It has no one special cause, but to promote life.

Poetry speaks in many languages, through all races; by both heroes and villains, the wealthy and poor, tyrants, terrorists, and freedom fighters. We are all brothers in humanity, and at times poetry and the spirit of creativity (the Muse, or God, or Passion) moves upon us and forces the best and worst of us to crack open, like the walls of a broken over filled dam, and create something beautiful.
There are still a few days in National Poetry Month left to challenge yourself to join the celebration of poets and artists. Challenge yourself this month to put on the same spectacles and see what the creative powers of art reveals.

Even if you miss it (National Poetry Month), the truth, the passion, the art, the love, the spirit, the poetry – never stops. The river never ceasing to flow. The artists never stop the celebration – hop in.

I’ll see you there.