Covid-19 and the Creative Mind – a PSA

Just a friendly reminder that it is absolutely okay if you’re not spending this extra time at home plotting, writing, or polishing your novel or finessing your latest creative project. Some may still be risking their necks commuting to essential jobs, some may have a gaggle of unruly children to homeschool or other dependents to play the caregiver for, and to those people I say, “BRAVO and GOD BLESS YA.” I consider myself one of the fortunate ones: childless, no dependents, and able to work exclusively from home with a stable income. Believe me, I do not take that for granted by any means.

However, due to so many global societal shifts and social changes on a scale never before seen – including the inability to leave our homes for any non-essential reasons – many of us might be experiencing far more time alone with our spiraling thoughts. It seems logical to attempt to make the most of those rampant thoughts by churning out our next masterpiece, written or otherwise. If that’s what you’re currently doing, then good for you! Envision me sending all the gold stars your way. I’ll toss in a few cookies, too. Lord knows I’ve eaten too many of those during quarantine, anyway.

However, if you haven’t really put a solid creative pen to paper since 2020 virtually imploded, then guess what my friend… we’re in the same boat! Hop on in and grab a paddle – from a safe six feet away, of course. We are in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic, and our thoughts may be running wild in ways that are certainly not stoking the flames of creativity. In fact, our thoughts may be more along the lines of, “OMGTHEWORLDISONFIRE, RED ALERT, RED ALERT!” Perfectly normal reaction, to be honest.

If you’re anxious, sad, scared, and unable to produce a single plot point or coherent sentence, THAT IS PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE, and there is no shame necessary. No need to pile undue pressure on top of an already stressful situation. Do whatever you need to in order to survive these next few (days/weeks/months/who knows what) of social distancing. Don’t feel guilty about your perceived lack of productivity. If you want to cook, cook. If you want to video chat, video chat. If you want to color, color. If you want to write, write. If you just want to sit on the couch binge-watching a show about all the narcissistic, backwoods, big cat owning crazies of America while crying into a tub of rocky road… well, you get the idea. Do what you must to keep yourself sane during these times. If creativity has to take a back seat until normalcy returns, then it is what it is, and there’s no need to beat yourself up.

Be smart about social distancing, but above all, be kind to yourself. We’ll get through this.

Until next (and a hopefully pandemic-free) time,

J.B.

Back to Work in 2020

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Well, boys and girls, we’ve made it to another year. 20-freaking-20, and let me tell you, time really flies when you’re a single thirty-something-year-old trying to realize her dreams.

I have to admit, my traditional publication dreams took a real back seat in 2019. I didn’t put a creative pen to paper for the vast majority of the year, aside from one joint project with potential. But no short stories, no harrowing YA tales or heroes journeys, and no excuses other than to say, inspiration simply wasn’t striking me. All my muses seemed to be avoiding me like the plague – maybe they were all on vacation, in Greece, drinking wine with the other muses and having a good laugh.

Continue reading “Back to Work in 2020”

Focus Friday: Writer’s Block Edition

Hi Gang!
For this Focus Friday, I’d like to talk about something appropriate: writer’s block. More importantly, tips that I’ve discovered to help overcome the blasted thing. I have dubbed them REGAL.

R E A D
E N V Y
G O F O R I T
A C C O U N T A B I L I T Y
L O V E Y O U R T A L E N T

Continue reading “Focus Friday: Writer’s Block Edition”

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.

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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