The Loudest Story

I am most comfortable when I write. I express myself better in writing. It feels like a second skin. I have been asked, “how do you know what to write?” or told, “I would like to write but I don’t know what to write or how to start.” There is no right answer; just start. However, there is a process I go through when selecting the next story to be written. I have several notes on possible future novels. These notes do not follow any particular order. I write these ideas down when they appear. These ideas may come to me at any time, day or night, and even when I’m writing the current story. Quickly, I make a note of it and save it. When I finish the novel I’m working on I experience a new flow of ideas. Many times, one particular idea will cross my mind on several occasions and will stick around more than the rest. Although I review my notes to select the next story, there is always one story that becomes “loud” in my head. It grabs my attention and I start thinking about it with a measure of obsession. It is the story that screams at me, and I end up choosing the idea as the topic of my next novel. After I commit myself to it, the developing process starts, and I give it my undivided attention and total focus. The rest is set aside; even an idea that I might prefer. I found the process of writing a trilogy a bit forced for the reason of having to continue a story, although an idea developed into three books. I found that I prefer to write a single story – beginning to end, whether that story turns out to be a short story or a novel.

This is how I decide what to write next. On a personal note, I always start writing a new story by saying a prayer about the work I am about to start; call it a superstition, or rite of passage, if you may, but it is something I do. This is my process as far as selecting what story to write next. It may be a fresh idea or one stored for future use, but it is always the story that screams the loudest, the one that wants to be written now. I don’t take writing for granted, nor inspiration; for it I am grateful. Immensely.

 

What’s Next?

What’s next? It seems to be the perpetual question. It is our human nature to want to keep on going, do better, achieve, evolve … . It seems that as soon as something is achieved, another goal appears in the mind, as if there was no time to enjoy the prize and celebrate the achievement. Whether you are an overachiever or not, the desire presents itself, sometimes as a burning fire to the next level, or as discontent with the present. We forget about the sweetness of the now, and about enjoying the fruits of our hard labor.

As a writer, I focus on the story at hand; however, other stories are brewing or are waiting to be written. It is tempting to hear the plea and to attempt to start writing them, although I have found that I can only write one story at a time, unlike other authors. Instead, I dismiss it and concentrate on the current story, blocking everything else. If a new idea crosses my mind, I jot it down for later consideration, when the timing is right. I don’t succumb to the urge of developing it further.

To each story I pledge my undivided attention, until it is written, edited, and published. Not until then, do I consider my next story. That is another process, which I will write about on a future post – how to select which story to write next. At the moment my focus is in editing The Five-dollar Miracle, and hopefully publish it by the end of this year.

I would like to hear about your writing process and experience – do you write one story at a time or do you split your effort into several?

Finding Peace in Who I Am

Peace – The absence of war or other hostilities. An agreement or treaty to end hostilities. (American Heritage Dictionary)

Peace. We like the word. We hope for peace on earth. We dream of peace. We pray for peace. However, we see peace as something outside ourselves. Something that happens in the outside. Seldom do we relate to peace within, or when we do, we attach it to spirituality.

According to the above definition of peace, the absence of war and hostilities is necessary to achieve peace. There must be an agreement, a treaty, for peace to be possible. To achieve peace within, the same agreement with oneself must happen, not out of spirituality, religious beliefs, or a third-party (although those could be a door/a catalyst for some people) but out of acceptance and understanding. How can I find peace in who I am? And without involving third parties?

It is a question I’ve asked myself many times. It is an evolving question. As individuals, we grow and evolve. We fight outside wars and inner battles. We deal with feelings, emotions, and facts. We dream, we imagine, we hope, we love, we hate … . We embrace complexity, many times in the quest for simplicity, in the search for truth. I’ve come to the realization that for truth to be found there must be inner peace, and for inner peace to be present, there must be acceptance and understanding of my self, of the one who I am, the one who grows and evolves.

How do I find peace in who I am? By not fighting the process. By not being at war or resisting the inevitability of evolution. By agreeing to take every step in the journey in acceptance and understanding. Whether the battle originates internally, or is a result of focusing on the fire being directed from outside sources, the only way to achieve peace is by looking at my truth objectively, and understand, accept, that I am in the moment. The past I am is no more, and the future I am is an illusion. I am now, and as long as I understand and accept that, then I am at peace.

The Novella – New Attention Span Trend?

It has been said that the new generation of readers prefer to consume stories fast, and many favor stories that are not too long, as an example the novella. As new readers devour stories at a fast pace thanks to e-reading, authors may feel the pressure of writing more, faster, and put out more works. Whether you have a huge readership or not, the thought of catering to readers is a legitimate one. Even if you set out to write a novella, there is no guarantee that you will end up achieving so.

As far as my experience, when I write a story, I don’t know how long it will be. It is a living process, one of the mind, the heart, the soul, and one of spirit. Currently, I am editing my next story – The Five-dollar Miracle – and it took a life of its own, not quite as I had planned, so I let the process be and the story flowed taking me where it wanted. As an author I have control of the story, but its birth and development sometimes challenges preconceived ideas, and for me, letting it unfold by putting aside those ideas works.

As I have said before I don’t outline, other than a few scribbles of a basic idea for a story, in no particular order, and pretty much all over the place. Later on, the story develops and things fall into place adequately. In Moonlit Valley the ending came as a single sentence on my mind. At that moment, I wrote it down and I knew it was the ending, however, I was at the beginning of the story, and didn’t know how I was going to get to that point. I may have an idea for a story (whether it starts with a line, a word, or a paragraph scribbled down when it hits my mind) but its development is a living process that takes me along with it until its completion, in which length is unimaginable. It may turn out to be a short story, a novella, or an epic. I am done when the story has been told.

Please feel free to comment on your writing process. I would love to hear about your experience.

Book Reviews Revisited

When I started this blog, I included many book reviews of what I had read and enjoyed. Somehow, I stopped along the way and I think it is time to bring back book reviews on this blog. I think of myself as an eclectic reader – I read many genres and various topics; my reading is all over the place. Over the past year I read many books, mostly for education and my own benefit. I read books that were piled up over time as well, including authors such as Suze Orman, Tony Robbins, Donald Trump, Robert Kiyosaki, and many other non-fiction authors. I read fiction as well, one of which was The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk. I immensely enjoyed that one, and loved her writing style. Her use of description in that story is just perfect. Other fiction books included authors such as Paulo Coelho, Richard Bach, and many others. Various topics included real estate, finances, religion, inspirational, writing, and more. I read a lot. I needed it.

Once I read a book, I keep it, donate it, or give it away to family or friends. I donated a large box full of books to the local Goodwill and gave some away. I keep some for future reference, although very few. If a story touches my heart in a special way, I keep the book, revisit it, and eventually will give it to someone special in my life. Kate DiCamillo’s The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is such a book. I love it, read it a couple of times, and kept it until it is time to pass it on to someone. I recommend this one. Another one I loved was Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. I enjoyed this one so much. This one I gave to my niece. I keep few fiction books unless I want to read them again, or the story made such and impression on me that it becomes a keeper. I also keep the classics such as the works of Shakespeare, The Iliad of Homer, Aesop’s Fables, Huckleberry Finn, a few Ernest Hemingway works, and various more.

Although I read some books on electronic format, I prefer hardcopy. If I read an e-book that I want to keep, I will order the print. For the most part, I have remained a page flipper. Of the many books I read this past year, I decided to post a very short review of Becoming a Millionaire God’s Way by Dr. C. Thomas Anderson. This is not your ordinary money/finances book. Besides being written by a pastor, it takes on a different approach to money according to scripture; however, an almost opposed view to what traditional religious beliefs have taught (and still teach) about money (money as the root of all evil …). It is a very well-thought, smart-written, well-researched, and enlightening book, as well as inspirational. It challenges many traditional religious beliefs that share the point of view that the bible teaches poverty or that Jesus was poor. It will change a religious-poor mentality. It is a very interesting book. A must read in my opinion.

This concludes today’s post. I will continue to share more reviews of books that cross my path and hold my attention.

Thoreauvian Living – Is it for you? On less is more.

Henry David Thoreau – His philosophy is best described as a praise to simplicity, nature, and in more common terms, “less is more.” To live in truth and authenticity.

It is in our nature to search for truth, our truth, and it varies from person to person. When we find it (or think we do) we hold on to it despite social trends or what people may think. I see a movement of many souls wanting to return to simplicity and to nature. Whether they go back to farming, move to the country, embrace tiny-house living, or sell everything and make RV traveling/living their new surroundings and lifestyle, they are all yearning for the same – the sweetness of a simple life.

Many times, a catalyst in people’s lives causes the longing, followed by action and change. The person who has not gone through this process might not comprehend, or think of it as crazy, but only one who knows finds meaning in his/her new truth. It takes simplicity of heart and freedom of mind to embrace your truth, whether you find it in a cabin in the woods or in a penthouse on Fifth Avenue, Manhattan.

To each its own, and to all, truth in being.

Crescent Moon, Rising Sun – On little by little, one step at a time.

This post is a reflection on my experience. At one point, I had become fully engaged in multiple goals, personal and professional – maybe too many. I had always been a dreamer, and the type of person who felt guilty if there was a slot of time not filled with something productive. Multitasking sounded more than acceptable, and I engaged in it as well. It was right of my alley. I put a lot of pressure on myself over the past 10 years to accomplish everything that I thought “was due.” Some things I did not accomplish, some I started and decided to stop because the time was not right for them to be fruitful, and others, I decided to put aside for good. At times, it felt as if I was swimming at high-speed not to miss the boat that was already gone, or so I thought. I tried to catch up with my dreams and with time. It was a matter of time before the crash.

I had to learn to slow down and live one day at a time. I discarded the word multitasking and adopted a new philosophy of living – one thing at a time, one day at a time. I stopped blaming “others and the situation” and accepted the truth – that I am the only one in control, and the one who sets the pace. I had to go back and retrain myself in various areas. I also learned to depend more on God and less on my vision of things, although I don’t consider myself a religious person in the popular meaning of the word. This process strengthened my faith and patience. I saw that I could express more little by little, step by step. I enjoy the task at hand more, and am able to widen my vision; I see more now. I trust God’s process more.

I was a heavy planner and I thrived on multiple lists both short-term and long-term, many times as far as a 10-year plan. I am not suggesting that planning is bad, on the contrary, it is healthy; obsessive or too much structured planning is not the best choice. I had to understand that life’s plans can change in a split of a second – it is called life. Life doesn’t get in the way, it just is. It is called living. I plan now for living, not for the sake of achieving. Some of you might argue that part of living is achieving, and I agree. I say that achieving without living is pointless.

Now, I look at a crescent moon slowly gaining its fullness. I look at the rising sun after the darkness, and I know that all happens one day at a time. All.