Rejection Wednesday #4

So I got another rejection today. A highly unexpected one that came a full year after I had submitted my manuscript.

But don’t weep for me just yet, because actually, I think this was the kick in the pants I so desperately needed, and it gave me a new glimmer of hope.

Ultimately, the agent decided to pass on my novel because the first third was “a little slow for [their] taste”. But here’s the good news. They read.the.whole.thing. Front to back, and provided comments on what they liked all the way through. Not only that, I have an open invitation to send over more work in the future. I’ll say, rejection aside, this is more positive than not.

Wait a second, what’s that noise? That distinct choo-choo sound? Well ladies and gents, I believe that’s the train leaving Writer’s Block Station on its way to Revision Town! All aboard the Author Express!

Only, in fairness, this train is far from an express one. In fact, I’m quite certain it’s a singular loop with frequent stops along the way to Idea Land, Submission Valley, and Headache Mountain. But one day, dear readers, that time will come when the train finally takes that detour to Publication City, and what a glorious day that will be.

Happy Writing to you all! May today be the day you find your own inspiration.

Until Next Time,


JB

Excerpt Thursday #2

New job. Family health crisis. More family drama. Two international trips. Three business trips. Visits to 8 cities I’d never been. Countless experiences I’d never experienced. Meeting new people. Making new friends. Losing other friends who it turns out were never friends at all. Coming to grips with betrayal. Learning to appreciate the ones who are actually there for me. Learning to love my circumstances just the way they are. Taking many stumbles (both literally and metaphorically) along my journey.

This has been my 2017, in a crude nutshell.

It’s paved the way for a lot of personal growth. Unfortunately, it didn’t lend the time for me to practice as much writing as I’d have hoped. I’ve already surpassed the deadline I’d long ago set for myself, that I’d have a book published by the time I was 30. I am now sitting just about two months shy of 32, with no book deal anywhere on the horizon.

But you know what?

That’s ok.

Life isn’t about setting arbitrary deadlines and allowing ourselves to be devastated when we don’t meet them exactly when we thought we would.

Life is, and always has been, about learning to enjoy the ride. A ride that may be bumpy, that may turn in ways meant to give us whiplash, but a ride nonetheless. Goals can be a great thing, yes. There is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to better ourselves. But if we allow our sense of self-worth to become wholly entangled up in them, then all they become is simply another source of stress.

Who needs more stress? Certainly not me. And I’m betting likely not you, either.

So, if our goals don’t dictate our happiness, what should?

For me, 2017 has been a year of learning to live mindfully.

“One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about human beings was their habit of continually stating and repeating the very very obvious, as in It’s a nice day, or You’re very tall, or Oh dear you seem to have fallen down a thirty-foot well, are you all right? At first Ford had formed a theory to account for this strange behaviour. If human beings don’t keep exercising their lips, he thought, their mouths probably seize up. After a few months’ consideration and observation he abandoned this theory in favour of a new one. If they don’t keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working.”

Above, an excerpt from one of my favorite novels of all time, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by the brilliant/late Douglass Adams. His propensity for fine science fiction writing laced with a mix of knee-slapping humor and face-smacking truths is the stuff of envy.

The above quote is ever truer today, isn’t it? As human beings, we have a tendency to speak without thinking. To say pointless things in order to fill a noise deficit instead of, you know, actually learning something. Perhaps, as Ford Prefect surmises, small talk is simply a distraction. A means to build a bridge across a dreaded silence in lieu of taking a moment to allow our minds to actually postulate something more profound.

Allow for more moments of quiet contemplation.

Stranger-Things-Coffee-and-Contemplation-08262016

Experience things rather than simply allowing them to occur while barely blinking an eye at our surroundings. By living our lives on the surface, we’re not really allowing ourselves to live, we’re simply existing, and flitting about from one meaningless encounter to another.

Mindfulness is, in a nutshell, stopping to smell the roses.

Pausing from our self-critiques, our self-imposed deadlines, our surface talk, our Pinterest boards.

Just taking a moment to truly absorb our surroundings. To find beauty in the mundane. Because there is beauty there, if you look hard enough.

It’s still a work in progress. But, like the novel that’s collecting dust in the archives, it’ll get there eventually. Doesn’t have to be today. Or tomorrow.

It’s the journey that counts.

Until next time, I want to wish all my readers the best of Holidays with friends and family, a mindful and Merry Christmas, and an exciting and Happy New Year. Enjoy, and I will see you in 2018!

JB

Focus Friday #4

Hello Readers!

I promised a few more updates in July, and I didn’t want to disappoint!

Although, I have some disappointing news.

No, I did not win the writing contest I’d entered. However, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t proud of my story (The Evolution ), nor does it mean I hold any ill will toward the winners, who had some truly deserving entries. Truth is, there were hundreds of very solid, well-written pieces, and the judges had a very difficult choice. As always, when faced with rejection, all we can do is keep on learning, and keep marching forward. On to the next!

To kick off the new (hopefully) onslaught of posts that are to come, I thought I’d provide a continuation of my story, Claret. The link to the first part is here: CLARET PART ONE

I apologize for another continuation, but I just can’t seem to put this bad boy to rest. As is often the case in the realm of writing, sometimes stories take on a life of their own. Like an incessant toddler, they scream for attention. We can appease them for a bit, but ultimately they’re going to cry out again until their demands are met. This story, it seems, is still in the throes of a protracted tantrum.

Without further ado, here’s Claret Part Two. Note that this is a far different spin on traditional notions of heaven, for those that might object to such things. I hope you enjoy this latest installment. It feels good to get back to writing again!

CLARET – PART TWO

Continue reading “Focus Friday #4”

She’s Back!

Hello Readers!

Once again, I give to you another incredibly delayed update.

I had so many plans. Novel reviews, a travelogue detailing my recent trip, inspirations, my thoroughly-halted (non)progress with seeking publication, sharing more about the recent events in the life of… well, ME. (Spoiler alert?) But alas, I did none of those things, and I know I owe my readers more. The rollercoaster that is 2017 is already halfway over, and I have but a very small handful of blog updates to show for it.

So, to get myself back in the writing mindset, I did do one thing. A writing contest thing. A 1,000 word-limit prompt-based short story thing that a dear friend talked me into doing, to be exact. Glad I did! I think it was just the nudge I needed to once again start putting pen to paper… er, fingers to keyboard? Either way, those writer gears have started turning once more.

The judges have not picked any winners as of yet (of which there will be a standard first, second, and third place). However, while I wait for the results, I figured I would continue riding the current writing wave by sharing an update with all of you. (Note to self – there will be a post about “Riding Writing Waves” versus “Miserably Drowning in Writer’s Block” in the future. Perhaps “Writer’s Block” isn’t even the right phrase. “2017-Madness-Induced Writer’s Fatigue” – that’s more like it).

If you feel so inclined to read my entry, it’s titled, “The Evolution.” (Link below). Feel free to vote it in for Reader’s Choice. Or feel free to vote for another story you deem more worthy, as many talented writers also shared their work.

http://shortfictionbreak.com/summer-17/

I hope 2017 has been treating all of you well. Look for more frequent blog updates in the coming month. I appreciate all of you, and your saint-level patience with me!

All Best,

JB

 

[Insert Update Here]

Hello, readers! She lives!

Yes, 2017 hasn’t managed to do me in just yet. But it has thrown me completely off-kilter, and my craft has taken a hit as a result. Here I thought adjusting to a new job would be the biggest hurdle this year. Boy was I wrong.

Cancer decided to pay my family a visit and let me tell you, it was not welcome.  Like that crazy, distant cousin who shows up completely unannounced, brings his whole family (including the dog), settles into your favorite chair, eats all your food, hogs your television, and essentially marks his territory all over your house while you’re forced to clean up after his mess, all the while you’re hoping he’ll take the hint and move along. But then a one day visit turns into a weekend. A weekend turns into a week. A week into a month. Still he refuses to leave and continues to drain your supplies and wreck your house. Now, let’s say this crazy cousin of yours is also a burly ex-con named Bubba who you’re afraid might shank you in your sleep.

Yup, that’s cancer. The most unwelcome visitor of them all. It set up shop in my mom. But thankfully my mom, being the amazingly strong person that she is, successfully kicked it out. We can only hope and pray it won’t decide to make a return trip, but so far things are looking good.

Since it’s been nearly two months since my last post, I figured I’d let you guys in on some of what’s been going on with me. I apologize for the brevity of this update, but rest assured that more will be coming.

Thanks to all for staying tuned.

All Best,

JB

Focus Friday #3 / Giveaway Winner Announced!

Hey Guys,

I apologize for the sparseness of my posts these days, but life has been throwing me for a loop, as it tends to do. First and foremost, I’m preparing to start a brand new job after 4+ years at the same place. Change is always a little scary, but exciting too, and it seems 2017 is going to be my year of change.

Bring it on.

That being said, I did not forget about the Writer’s Gift Basket Giveaway! The details of the contest were posted here: https://thedailyrejectionblog.com/2017/01/07/new-year-giveaway/

I have to say that I received a lot of really good entries, and that I wish I could give something to everyone. But unfortunately there can only be one winner, and there was one prompt in particular that instantly got me excited to get writing.

The winner is Ellie P, owner of http://crossedeyesanddottedtees.wordpress.com
Her prompt is as follows:

When the angel rang Claret's doorbell, she was immediately annoyed. He's early, Claret thought.

Congratulations, Ellie P! And thank you once again to all my readers, followers, re-bloggers, and contest entrants. You are all very much appreciated, and I look forward to sharing more with you in the future.

My take on her prompt is below the cut (Part One of Two)

CLARET: PART ONE

Continue reading “Focus Friday #3 / Giveaway Winner Announced!”

Inspiration Monday #4

There are two things in the world that are perhaps the most inspiring and fulfilling of all, and those things are volunteer work and travel. Both are good for the soul. Both help shape our world views. Both may toss us in situations that are slightly beyond our comfort zone, but in the best way possible – in the way that enacts change within ourselves. Both provide a channel for finding common ground with people who may not share the same culture or background. They may be in a different class bracket, be years removed from our own age, or of a different religion or orientation, and simple interaction opens our eyes in ways we couldn’t have dreamed possible.

Volunteering at a homeless shelter, for example, is the quickest way to realize that the majority of homeless are not lazy, as is often the perception. Some suffer from disabilities which prevent them from finding quality work. Others are single mothers who are taking college courses to better their chances of establishing a career that can support their children.

Volunteering in a nursing home is the quickest way to realize that the elderly aren’t cranky and boring. On the contrary, most are delighted to have visitors, and many have incredible stories to tell. They just want someone to listen, and it doesn’t take long to realize that the only thing you need to do to make their day is to simply lend an ear.

Whereas volunteer work is more about bringing happiness to others, travel is often the tool that brings the most joy to self. At least this is true in my case. And in life, it’s pretty darn important to make ourselves happy, too. After all, I’m stuck with me for the rest of my life, and being stuck with someone miserable wouldn’t be any fun.

I recently read an article called “Why You Should Spend Your Money on Experiences, Not Things”, and it spoke to me on a profound level. The sentiment of the article is that material objects quickly lose their shine and appeal, whereas your experiences – through avenues such as travel and volunteerism, for starters – provide longer-lasting happiness, because they help shape your identity. They make you who you are. A car doesn’t define you. What you’ve done with your life for the last 30 years, does.

The people you’ve met, the places you’ve seen, the events you witnessed – these are all what make you, you. And the more experiences you collect along the way, the more of a well-rounded person you become. The type of person who can whip out a story to relate to just about anything. A situational jack-of-all-trades, who likely possesses a much more thorough understanding of this crazy world we live in. An understanding which bleeds into all aspects of our lives. Whether it’s through our relationships with others, our view of ourselves, or even through our writing.

My wish for my readers is that this post prompts you to go out and get inspired. Talk to someone you wouldn’t normally interact with, listen to their story. Go somewhere you haven’t been, even if it’s just a new restaurant. Reach beyond your comfort zone. You’ll be surprised at what you find.

Happy Inspiration Monday!

Until Next Time,

JB