I’m Still Around

Hi-SmileyEmoticonHi friends!

Yes, I’m still alive, and with a little over a week until we check out of Los Angeles, I still have plenty to do.  Especially since the house we were going to rent fell through, so we currently don’t have a place to live.  Stress levels are sort of high at the moment.  And we’re still looking for new jobs, but that has taken a back burner as we need living accommodations first.  It’s sort of a catch-22; need the job to obtain the rental, need the rental to obtain the job.  Blah, blah, blah.  I’m not going to ramble much on this topic, because well, what’s the point…and really, what else needs to be said?  Except that nobody ever really warns you about the chaos of adulthood.

While we’ve been packing up we’ve been watching lots of movies and television via Netflix and the Redbox, so I’ll have some reviews for you shortly that include Only Lovers Left Alive (oh, Hiddles), 300: Rise of an Empire, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (both characters are the newest additions to my list of favorite things ever) among others.

As for writing, that’s just not happening.  I can’t.  And I really miss it.  The split focus leaves little access to the imagination, so other than just letting stories percolate, nothing else is going on upstairs.  I haven’t even read anything, well nothing beyond rental adverts and such.  Again, I apologize for being so absent.  I promise I will start reading your posts and liking and commenting again soon!

This sounds a little redundant to one of my last posts, but truly nothing is any different because I haven’t been able to change anything (yet), and as you all know, I like to be in control.  And I like my routine.  I suppose this is more of a journal entry, a reminder for later.

I’m going to attend my writer’s group tomorrow night to say farewell and maybe release the pressure cooker of creativity that’s currently taken residence, and then I have a concert of one of my favorite bands, Within Temptation, on Friday night – a good way to bookend our time here.

I hope you are all well, continuing on your paths, working with passion, and doing great things!

Give me a couple more weeks, then I’ll be back with a vengeance! ;)

Take care everyone!

There’s Nothing Like a Move to Make You Reevaluate Your Life

DesertI’ve been meaning to post something, anything, for days, but every time I sit at the computer I’m compelled to do other things that a relocation requires, i.e. new home search, job hunt, moving company comparisons, purging and packing.  My thoughts cannot turn themselves toward anything creative, and hence, I’ve written very little over the last week or so.  The only thing I have been able to write is a little fan fiction while at my writer’s group last Monday night.  I know, I know.  Pathetic.

What I’ve discovered is that because it’s not really “mine”, I can slip into this particular story anytime and escape.  There’s no pressure.  As writers, we’re so compelled to put the exact right words on the page for every word, sentence, paragraph, etc. that we sometimes stumble around writing very little in the end because it is ours.  We want it to go out in the world and do great things.  It has to be perfect.  This is one reason I’ve been willing to stick with the fan fiction.  Besides really enjoy the story, which is why I was inclined to write it in the first place, I have found pleasure in the writing because of its freedom.

As you all know, I love my routine, so this is really wearing on me.  I don’t care for not having enough brain capacity to be able to split my focus and concentrate for a few hours every day on the thing I love, my writing.  So, I decided that today, on a lovely Sunday afternoon, I would sit for a little while and chat with my friends for a bit…

SmilingEmoticonHi friends!  I hope I find you all well.

…and maybe do a little writing.  We’ll see if I can muster up some focus.

On a side note, as this current Los Angeles chapter draws to a close, I’m thinking of doing a few reflection-type posts; a reminder for myself and maybe a cautionary tale for others, with some helpful tips (and not just about writing).

So as I continue down memory lane with each packed up box, and the desire, albeit a small one, to just chuck everything into the trash…

I wish you all the best, and hope you’re working towards your goals!

Writing Prompt #39 & An Apology

Hello, my friends!

As the pressures of moving and all things associated set in, I find myself a little scattered.  So I will apologize in advance for the sprinkling of posts over the next few weeks.  Of course this all occurs after celebrating blogging for a year, when I’d like to keep up the momentum, but you know how life can be funny like that sometimes…

To tide you over in the interim, here’s this week’s Writing Prompt.  This image inspires a few different ideas for me, so hopefully I’ll be able to find some time to write.  Wanna join me?

IniciaticWell, Portugal

Happy Writing!

Quotes of the Week & A Little Something Extra

Sometimes knowing a decision has to be made does not make the action occur any quicker.  Nor make it any easier.  Sometimes you need an external persuasive element, and sometimes you don’t want it or need it at all, but it happens nonetheless.  In the face of such challenges, we, not only as writers, but just as people, need to maintain our perseverance.

Yes, this is relevant to what is happening in my own life, as a decision was made for me and The Sis, one we had been kind of trying to avoid for as long as possible.

It is necessary to remind ourselves that bumps in the road, detours, and change are just part of the journey.

TryFallChangeRise       PerseveranceIsStubbornnessW:Purpose    Persevere1

And the “little something extra” is a freebie!  Gotta love that!

I met with an entertainment career coach at the beginning of the year, Shawn Tolleson, here in LA.  She helped to put some things into perspective, something I needed at the time.  Something I may need again. ;)  She is offering a free online class.  Here is the link to sign up.

Happy Wednesday!

Has It Really Been A Year?!

I received a notice from WordPress this afternoon -

Happy-Anniversary

I can’t believe I’ve been writing here for a year already…and you know how I like to celebrate milestones. :)  As writers we need to enjoy the crossing of thresholds, the overcoming of obstacles, both big and small, and the one year anniversary of my blog is definitely a milestone.  I feel I should honor it and all of you by doing something special, but I’m not sure what would be appropriate.

First off, I suppose a big

Thank-You

 

is in order!  When I chose to start this blog, I was looking to create a platform for Rachael the writer – it’s grown into much more than that.

I love this space!  The encouragement I receive here makes me want to be more, to do more.  I’ve grown as a writer.  I’ve made friends here.  Found support here.  This blog makes me write when I don’t feel like writing anything at all.

I can share my passions aside from writing.  I can geek out.  I can reflect.

And through this space I continue to learn, be inspired, and find new interests.  So thank you to all of you for your continued hard work and passion!

So as I reflect on the passing of this last year, I turn a hopeful eye to the future and the changes that are coming.  Thank you for joining me on this journey and I look forward to continuing to share it with all of you!

Best wishes to you, my friends!

xx, Rach

Writing Prompt Challenge Accepted #8

CanyonLake, ThailandWhen I shared this image, redgypsophila of Adventures in Writing decided to do something different and challenge herself by writing multiple pieces from the one image, conveying a different mood in each; 1. Contentment, 2. Isolation, 3. Betrayal, 4. Terror, and 5. Wonder.  For her final piece, entitled Mood #6: Editing, she joined them altogether, and recently shared it.  I’ve been following along and enjoying each one, and am pleased to share it.  I really liked this concept and how she chose to portray it, by showing the newly added sentences in red that would help join the moods more seamlessly and crossing out the now defunct text – a fun read!

Congratulations on completing your challenge and thank you for joining me!

As for me, I don’t have any new flash fictions to share, but I thought I’d share a little of the new chapter in the Dragon Age fan fiction I’ve been working on.  It’s sort of a continuation in the forest, where the previous chapter took place, because I was trying to figure out a way of joining the two together, and this is what came out of that…

*For those of you new to what I’m doing, I shared a Writing Prompt image of concept art from the video game Dragon Age (one of my fixations) and found that I really enjoy writing fan fiction.  You can read Chapter 1 under Excerpts.  This is the start of Chapter 2 (or perhaps the actual end of Ch. 1) -

Our time in The Brecilian Forest had had this strange side effect of separating us from the rest of the world; sheltered under the imposing canopy, removed from the impending threats, distanced from other people, and fighting trees, werewolves, and every other thing the forest housed had left us disjointed. A few weeks trekking through that unforgiving forest, discovering the source of the curse and its repercussions, had left us reeling in the aftermath. The first sight of the bright red sails of the Dalish’s landships were a welcome sight and the first sense of relief we had felt since we had last seen them.

Since the incident in the cave, I had steeled myself a bit in regards to my emotions, especially those toward Alistair. I had allowed my feelings to blind me to the task at hand, well not completely, but it had definitely been a distraction, and that was something none of us could afford. A mage with a lack of focus was not a companion anyone would wish for; my magic would be stunted and ineffectual, my aim would be off, and I could inflict harm to anyone nearby, even if unintentionally. I could be dangerous all the same, or more so. I had to do my best to reclaim some modicum of my level-headedness if not for anything but the safety of my friends.

It had been difficult to distance myself from Alistair, but our circumstances were such that we had to stay together as a group at almost all times, which left little time for private side conversations. It was only when we were spread out as we made our way carefully through the forest that we sometimes paired off, but even then, I would stay near either Morrigan or Leliana while Alistair and Keiko led and Sten took up the rear.

At times I had heard Alistair talking to Keiko and Keiko barking a response. The mabari were an extremely smart breed, and made for wonderful companions in part because of their understanding. They were also intuitive, resourceful, and lethal. So when I would hear the two of them having a sort of conversation, I had to swallow back the emotions that would inevitably surface at such a show of affection. It was clear they liked one another, and such devotion from a mabari was a testament to a person’s character. Keiko liked everyone in our party, which only led me to believe further in each of them. I had known on some level that I could trust them, and if Keiko did too, then they must be worthy, but he had taken a special liking to Alistair.

One night as we all huddled together around a small fire we had built in the alcove of the remains of a structure, Keiko had stood guard for a short while. Occasionally, he would make a round to make sure we were all well, then return to his post, alert and ready. I didn’t sleep while he was on duty, but I soon discovered none of us had. It was not that we didn’t trust that he would alert us to trouble, or protect us if necessary, but there was something about keeping him company that we all silently agreed to. When he would make a round, he would sort of nudge each of us, and we would all smile in return and give him a pat or an encouraging word. At one point, Alistair finally agreed to keep him company and the two of them bounded off into the darkness.

I felt my heart constrict in that moment. I watched Keiko walk proudly beside Alistair, whose chainmail glistened in the light of the fire, with one hand sitting casually on the hilt of his sword, the other patting Keiko as they discussed their strategy.

“There is no need to fight so hard against it.” Leliana whispered. Her insinuation was coupled with a slight of her head in Alistair’s direction.

“There is every reason.” I countered, barely keeping the edge of my emotions from my voice. I could feel them bubbling to the surface, along with the hundreds of thoughts I had had since that episode in the cave. There were too many unknowns, and we were surrounded by danger and death at every turn. It was unlikely either of us would survive until the end, whatever that actually meant.

I swallowed hard and pushed all those emotions and thoughts down. This was neither the time nor place, if such could even exist. We were duty bound, and every thing else was a foolish notion, a daydream. It didn’t seem a bad idea to have something to hope for, but the threat of loss was too great, and the subsequent pain might be too much to bear, depending on how long things carried on before they came to an abrupt halt.

Morrigan interjected. “When at war, certain…relationships occur, for the sole purpose of their necessity to maintain a sense of stability in a violent world. Perhaps you could look at Alistair in that regard. You need not look beyond the need for comfort, although I would recommend someone, well, less him.” There was the faintest hint of amusement teasing her lips.

We were all taken aback when Sten joined in, “He would most likely take instructions well”, to which we all laughed. Our giggles prompted even the gruff Qunari to break a smile, or what could be considered a smile, as none of us had ever seen one on him before.

And now…on to Redcliffe.  RedcliffeVillage

Be A One-Hit Wonder

TypewriterFontWriterThe other night when I was talking with my fellow writers at group, one of them mentioned the “10,000 Hours Rule” by Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers.  The idea behind this is that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in any field.  I would love to be able to figure out where I am on that scale.  How many hours have I put into my writing and when do those hours start?  Did they start when I was a kid telling stories, or when I was a teen trying my hand at my first novel, or when I finally made the decision to go back to school and found screenwriting?  If we start from the moment I started calling myself a writer, I probably have a few thousand hours still to go.

I have seen how my writing has changed over the years, and even in the short time I’ve been blogging.  It has helped to hone my voice.  So a big THANK YOU for helping me do that!  Clearly, I still have a little ways to go.

As writers, we have to continue to learn and grow through practice, reading, and just being a part of the world – where we probably get most of our material.  I have binders full of notes, and every once in a while, I’ll flip through them and stumble across some useful tidbit like the one I’m going to share today: the “Be a One-Hit Wonder” theory.

Yes, it sounds like a negative, but it’s really not.  The idea is that we prioritize our work.  Something I need to learn to do.

The theory is two-fold.  1) Evaluate which pieces are time sensitive; have deadlines (actual or self-imposed), or need lead time.  And 2) Finish shorter pieces first as that boosts confidence and gives us closure.

The idea is to make consistent, manageable progress on those things we can control.

I think this concept is one of the reasons I’ve been escaping into flash fiction and fan fiction, the sense of accomplishment.  And I even called one of my blogs “An Odd Sense of Accomplishment” when I talked about finishing my fanfic piece.  There is a sense of relief at seeing a final product after long stretches without one.

Screenwriting is my passion, but sometimes it is a struggle to get the words on the page.  I think it has to do with the awareness that I am passionate about it, I want it to be the very best it can be, and that every word matters so the value of its importance is heightened and therefore a harder end to find.

And this directly relates to last night’s late post.  I have a third act to finish.  That’s it.  Completely manageable.  Once I find that closure on this particular piece that I have long (long) sought after, I will evaluate all the other pieces in my portfolio and create my One-Hit Wonder list.  Which projects will offer me that sense of accomplishment in a shorter amount of time and lead me further along my journey towards professional writer?  I look forward to finding out.

What do you think of this idea?  Is it something you might implement?

Best wishes!

When Your Words Come Back To You…

Last night I returned to my writer’s group (I’ve been a little absent recently), and after sharing the news that my sister and I might be leaving LA, I was pulled aside by a few of the friends I’ve made there so they could get more details.  One in particular, and sort of an unlikely source, only because although we support each other’s work we haven’t really talked beyond the confines of the group, offered me some of the best advice.  Advice I, myself, have offered here.

IfYouWantSomethingYou'veNeverHad

He offered encouragement, inspiration, and a voice of reason, a few things I needed to hear.  If we’re not surrounded by people who understand what it is we do as writers or any creative endeavor, I think we forget sometimes, well I have, at how good (and how necessary) it is to hear encouraging “don’t give up” type pep talks.  We all need those from time to time, and it’s been a long time since I’ve heard one.  This is absolutely not a slight towards my sister who is always in my corner, but as she’s too close to the situation we’re currently dealing with, the outside voice was indeed a welcome one.

He suggested that I make every effort in the little time I have left here to make my mark and in turn maybe not have to leave, and therefore achieving the whole purpose of why I came out here in the first place.  He gave me a challenge – to finish my rewrite in 48 hrs.  After all the stress I’ve had over this rewrite, trying to finish the third act in such a short time gives me heart palpitations.  But…I have to stop making excuses.  I need to rise to the challenge.  I do need to take advantage of the time I have given to me.  I need to break out of my routine and try something else in order to achieve my goals.  He’s a published author with some connections, and he made me no promises, except the offer of a helping hand.  And who knows?!  Unfortunately, a few drinks on an empty stomach have lost me the whole day today in the “I’m too old for this” sort of way.

In writing this, I received a phone call from an old friend who I talk to only a few times a year.  She ended up being my cheerleader and offering me more encouragement.  Huh…maybe the universe is trying to tell me something…

So on that note, maybe I should go work on that rewrite.

I wish you all the best in your writing endeavors and hope you have some one in your corner cheering you on!  If you ever need an encouraging word or a listening ear, you know where to find me. ;)

Quotes of the Week

I’ve been internalizing too much as of late.  This most likely has to do with the fact that I’ve been home alone too much recently.  It would probably do me some good to get out around people.  A little separation from the overwhelming amount of steps that need to be taken as we head off in a new direction would also be good.  So to start off this new week, here are a few quotes about focus and action.

NothingHappens     FocusDeterminesReality    What'sReallyImportant     WhereFocusGoes

I wish you all well!  Have a wonderful week everyone!