Faith, Passion, Honesty and Unemployment: We All Lose Direction, Including Writers

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Image: Jack Moreh (Freerangestock.com)

I know it has been two weeks since my last post, and I apologize for that sudden disappearance and hiatus. One part was embarrassment and self-doubt because of the current situations in my personal life, a lack of inspiration and feeling, once again, hopeless and I wasn’t impacting people with my words and thoughts and…as I’ve begun to realize, a sense of loss.

Everyone who has read this blog is aware I have been struggling with a difficult job search since graduating from college in 2016. You are all also aware of my faith in God. I try my very best not to preach or share too much because I don’t wish to alienate readers who may be of a different religion, or none at all, than I am.

The past few weeks I put my reading of A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley on hold so I could focus on career reference books. Some anecdotes the books had were useful, others a refresher and a few sections that didn’t fit my current situation and were skipped. I also found certain exercises helped me better understand myself and interests such as the Wandering Map exercise from You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career by Katharine Brooks, ED.D.

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Image: Amazon.com

But one section caught my eye this morning from the 2016 edition of What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles. The section was near the end in the Blue Pages or Appendix: “A Guide to Deal with Your Feelings While Out of Work.”

That jumped out at me immediately even though I skimmed some of what was said, until I reached the area about religion. How many of us have discovered a section dedicated to religion in a book about job searching? Probably not a lot.

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Image: Stuart Miles (Freerangestock.com)

With many things, I have felt my faith has been waning for many months now, my love for writing was one of the things I was losing heart with as well. The section in the Blue Pages talked about rethinking your faith opposed to abandoning it. As I read the paragraphs, I paused here: “A faith that thinks God is responsible for our unemployment, and He could have and should have prevented it, needs to grow up. It is too small a faith. It has too small a God” (296).

I have joked to friends I am “o ye of little faith” because I doubt and give up so easily when things go wrong in my life. That passage hit close to home for me. The following page contained a chart comparing a healthy religion and an unhealthy religion through gratitude and guilt, viewing the world as us or us v. them and the desire for God’s forgiveness and vengeance.

My energy has been spent, my faith feeling, frankly, small. I think if you take out unemployment, anyone can apply that passage to an unanswered prayer in their life, including writing. Feeling God is responsible for our story being rejected, a book not selling well, a writing habit falling apart. Writer’s Block too.

I have lost direction for many months and it’s been hard, hurting my heart and soul and my passion. Please know you are not alone if you are going through the same emotions right now.

I hope things will change soon, and my faith will become stronger once all is set and done. Opportunities are coming my way. I just have to take it a day at a time.

Please forgive me if I do not get to my Book of the Month pick for June. I’ll make up for it as I’ve done before.

Be kind to yourself and take time to breathe, because that’s how you find clarity, and hope, in your dreams and life again.

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Have You Taken a Long Break from Your Book? You’re Not Alone

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Titled “Clean modern desk with laptop” by StartUpStock Photos; Credit: freerangestock.com

I got an email today from writing website, The Write Practice, with this encouraging article that I felt like sharing today. The article was written by Monica M. Clark, titled “How to Start Your Book Again After a Long Break.” Apologies for no post last week; the job search and other personal matters had my attention.

Last November, I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for the very first time. I shared my experience in a prior post, which you can find here. There are lot of things I could have done differently, and frankly? I felt it stopped my love and desire to write a novel. Not because it was hard, that’s to be expected. But what I wrote…just didn’t come out as I had hoped. Plus, other ideas were bouncing around in my head which made it a lot more overwhelming for me.

So after NaNoWriMo, I took a break. Unfortunately, for four months I wasn’t writing. No short stories, no novel ideas, no poetry and no ideas for a play or monologue. The only writings happening really were for this blog!

It’s been hard. Even though I am writing 500 words a day 3 or 4 times a week…I guess it doesn’t feel right yet. Plus, I’ve been delving into fanfiction which is how writing, for me, started.

So when I read this article today, it felt like the answer I needed. What I love about articles from The Write Practice is how they break down the sections so it’s easier to find what you’re looking for and review what you already know. As you’ll see from Monica’s article, it’s broken down into 3 sections with a bonus anecdote about picking up your old writing projects being tough, but worth it.

My writing project ended up close to 20,000 words, maybe a little less. So basically a third of the way to the 50,000 minimum for a novel. Can I make my way back? Yes, I can. Will it be hard? Certainly!

But if it leads to an even better draft, then it’s worth it.

Also, if you’re unsure about word counts for your writing, this article from The Write Life is also a good read. It breaks the categories down by genre, age for Children’s Books and forms of fiction and nonfiction. Just remember, though, the numbers are the average range so if your word count is lower or higher than these numbers, that’s totally okay! For me though, aiming for slightly over the average might be a good rule of thumb. Keep an open mind!

Finding Your Voice: Thoughts on Chapter 4 of Writing with Quiet Hands

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Credit: Image from Amazon.com

Earlier this week, I sat down to read a chapter of Paula Munier’s Writing with Quiet Hands. I last mentioned this book in a post reflecting on writing books and the teachers I learned from.

I wanted to take a moment to share my thoughts on chapter 4, “a voice of your own,” because it spoke to me and I feel it’s something we all can learn a thing or two more.

How many times have you found yourself putting off something you know you should be doing? That was me in this case because out of all the topics of interest in writing, voice has always been a more sensitive subject.  I’m sure I’m not the only one. As writers, we put our ideas, dreams and ultimately ourselves out there. Sometimes there is praise, other times ridicule and criticism.

But, there’s another thing to consider, and that’s our truths. This quote from the book jumped out at me: “Readers recognize truth when they see it–and they seek it out (59). Have you ever found a book that spoke to you? If so, then the author’s truth must have touched your heart. I’ve always told people writing was where I could be myself.

Authentic. Real, Honest.

I’m sure you too have shared the same thoughts. Writing is hard sometimes, and depending on what you’re writing about, can become more daunting because certain emotions hit too close to home.

Two things in this chapter also resonated with me: exploring first paragraphs from the classics and 4 lessons for growing and finding the writer voice. The books we enjoy like Stephen King’s It and Toni Morrison’s Beloved stay with us because of their voices, their engagement and stirring up emotions that frighten and make us think. The 4 lessons gave us real-life examples of writers trying to find their voice whether by revealing it more, remembering who we are, listening to the sound of one’s voice and how not to confuse voice with the plot of your story.

This chapter had a lot of good stuff, frankly. I also enjoyed the part exploring creative imitation where you think about the writers you love, the voices that speak to you and what about their works appeal to you. This helps you figure out what drew you to these writers and how you can apply them to your writing prowess.

This book has been excellent so far and like A Writer’s Guide to Persistence, I’m learning a lot: about myself, writing strategies and other parts of being a writer that I may have missed or ignored.

Don’t ever be afraid to learn something new or gain a new perspective on something you’ve always known. You never know what you’ll discover!

 

Reflecting on Last Night’s Events in Manchester, England

“Bokeh – Candles on dark background” by Jack Moreh  Credit: freerangestock.com

I have always been a firm believer in writing being an outlet for people to express themselves when words, sometimes, cannot be spoken. I hope, and pray, that I do God and everyone who reads this well. I also want to mention another blog post from someone I know on Twitter named Chelsy, who also responded to last night’s tragedy. You can check out her thoughts here.

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Image credit: Chels on the Shelf

As many of you know, a terrorist attack happened in Manchester last night after Ariana Grande’s concert. 22 people dead, scores more wounded. There are people still missing as families try to reunite with their loved ones. Some answers are still unclear. As I write this…I still find it hard to articulate how I’m feeling. I am angry, gutted, heartbroken, sad…and shaken. I thought about the fans and their families. I thought about Ariana Grande. I thought about fellow concertgoers around the world. Young people–my age!–, teenagers, their parents just at a concert having fun. Music is a universal language that no matter who you are or where you come from, you are loved, you matter and are heard.

That peace was shattered last night.

NO ONE should ever have to worry about their child when they go to a concert with friends and family. NO ONE should ever have to worry about what might happen when they see their favorite artist.

…we all deserve to be, and feel, safe.

As I went to bed, I struggled to pray. I couldn’t play music to fall asleep. I wasn’t even in the mood to watch Jimmy Fallon and laugh to escape the troubles of life for a while.

Even today…it just doesn’t feel real.

As some of you may know, David Archuleta is my favorite artist. He is also my role model. His EP, Orion, was released just a couple days ago. His upcoming tour begins next week. I am worried and anxious: for him, his team, his band, and my fellow fans. I can imagine they are as well.

This morning, my phone went off as he shared his thoughts on what happened in a series of tweets.

I cried.

What David wrote…comforted me. A lot. Especially when he talked about the desire for revenge and wanting to strike back. That hit me right in the gut. I was especially touched to see him also take the time to respond to a fan who felt like she didn’t have anyone to talk to sometimes:

I wanted to share his response for the reason that there is still good in this world, but also the relationship between an artist and their fans…is a powerful, meaningful thing. I cannot imagine what Ariana Grande must be going through after what happened to her fans last night. There are no words frankly.

Fan of Ariana or not, you can relate because you are a fan of an artist you truly love and care for and go to their concerts. As I said earlier in this post, music is universal.

It is where we all connect.

I want to close my thoughts with a prayer, if that is okay.

Dear God, please be with the victims and survivors of last night’s bombing in Manchester. Be with the families who are grieving, still searching for a missing loved one and trying to comprehend this horrendous event. Enfold them in your arms and give them peace; bring them comfort and people to help them move forward as best they can

Please be with the staff at Manchester Arena as they try to make sense of this tragedy. Help them express whatever emotions they may be feeling whether it’d be anger or sorrow. Send their loved ones to be with them during this difficult time.

Please be with Ariana Grande, her team and fanbase. This is heartbreaking to them as well, what has happened. Hold them tight. Assure Ariana that she is not at fault in any way for what happened. Be with her fans as they mourn fellow fans and friends who passed way too soon and comfort those who are still injured in hospital and in shock and grief themselves. This is a time to unite and be there for each other. 

Please be with the artists who have concerts and tours in progress or about to begin, including David next week. Keep them safe as they travel, perform and do what they love as they bring joy, comfort and entertainment to their fans. 

And lastly, please be with the world. We need You more than we know…and it is through You and one another that we can achieve peace. For one day, let us be together and not judge because we don’t like this or that person or the politics in this complex world. This is a time for compassion and unity, not hate and condemnation.

In Jesus’s name, we pray.

Amen.

One Year Anniversary…Or Close to It Haha: Reflections and Lessons

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“Number One Candle Shows One Year Anniversary or Birthday” by StuartMiles: Credit: freerangestock.com

I can’t believe it has been almost a year since I launched this blog!! How time flies!

I want to take a moment to thank you all who have checked out, shared and took the time out of your busy schedules to read my blog.

So what would you like to see me do next here? I am open to suggestions!

Blogging was something I’d never thought I’d do for a number of reasons: what people might say, the stories I share, my faith, etc. I do wish this blog got more comments, but hopefully as I improve my skills that can make things interesting.

I have some things I still need to work on such as trying to do posts ahead of time so they can post on their own opposed to manually doing it myself, maybe share some of my works-in-progress and not just talking about articles that catch my eye from various magazines and stuff.

So what do you wanna see? Let me know and may The Writer’s Soul continue to shine!

Breakdown to Breakthrough: Writing, Indie Bookstore Day and Turning to Faith

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The tree in my front yard 

As the month of April wraps up, the flowers are beginning to bloom. I woke up this morning to see the tree in my front yard blossom to life with pink! I always liked spring for this reason: new beginnings, the winter thaw and the end of hard periods in life.

Today is Independent Bookstore Day. Falling on the last Saturday of April, indie bookstores around the country are celebrating with readings, parties, discounts, exclusive items for sale and so much more. My final two years of college were spent in indie bookstores: perusing their shelves, finding books that I would come to love and a sanctuary from the craziness of college life. If I didn’t have so many books, I would be at one of them today. I am forever grateful for these bookstores for what they do.

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Here are the books I’ve found at Indie Bookstores

Can’t forget the notebooks too: a tool every writer needs! (Pardon the lighting)

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This week was both a breakdown, and a breakthrough. My biggest frustration of late has been not writing for four months. The last thing written was a short story back in December. I have been writing posts on here of course, but it’s not the same. Writing should bring you joy, not misery.

Other things in my life also culminated in my breakdown a few nights ago. On my knees by my bed crying to God, wanting to scream but couldn’t so I didn’t wake up my parents. Tears and everything.

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“Pens” by Bradley Strong; Image taken from freerangestock.com

But I am reminded of something regarding breakdowns: they lead to a breakthrough. Two days before, it was around eight at night. Having completed my unpaid internship work for the day, nothing on TV, talking with a friend on Twitter and watching my favorite musician’s latest Facebook Live, I found myself opening a Word document.

I started typing. 500 words to be exact.

I wanted to cry. I thanked God twice. I was writing again.

I didn’t stop there either. The next two days, I was at my desk, typing. It was random, didn’t make sense, some of it was fanfiction.

But I was finally getting a habit in motion. 500 words a day, no more or less. Three or four times a week I will sit down at my desk at 8 p.m., writing 500 words. Being a fast typist, it doesn’t even take me an hour! Sometimes less than a half hour.

For now, I’m just establishing my writing time, no exact project in mind. But after maybe a few weeks, I will start one.

Never stop writing. We all have those dark periods where we can’t think of ANYTHING. I even signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo this year to try and get the juices going. But it didn’t.

It wasn’t until I showed up, as many writers and bloggers say, that the writing came. Smoothly, quickly and happily.

If you were/are in a similar dark period like I was, please don’t stop writing. Give yourself time to read a good book and focus on other interests. I truly believe the writing NEVER leaves you.

It’s always there, waiting for you to arrive.

End of Lent: Reflections and Doubts

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“Desert glow” by Chance Agrella; Credit: Image from freerangestock.com

Lent is now over and Easter is also over.

So how did I do with giving up Twitter?

…I did great. In fact, it was quite refreshing not having to stare at my phone, scrolling through my timeline for things I might have missed. Not caring about fandom trends or everyone’s opinions from politics and celebrities to everything-in-between.

But there was one thing missing.

I wasn’t writing.

My prior post was pretty grim and depressing because I wondered if I was truly a writer, or just telling people I was when I am really a fraud or joke. It should be easier because of places like Kobo, Amazon, Apple, Smashwords, NOOK Press and so on where you can publish an eBook. Blogging was also something the greats of old didn’t have.

As I write this…I wonder how can I inspire others as a writer…when I’m not making the time to do the work.

It has been almost a year since I graduated from college…and I feel like a failure. I actually woke up crying in the middle of the night last week feeling that way: about my life, no job, my faith, my passion, my dreams…an utter embarrassment, failure and screw-up.

Without getting personal, I am known for caring more for others than myself. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because one should not only care for themselves. But, it can become a bad thing if you neglect the things that make you happy.

If you neglect yourself.

Artists, scientists, politicians and the like. With everything we all care for and love…we struggle. We have those difficult days, weeks, months or even years feeling we have failed. That we are not where we’re supposed to be in our lives.

Stuck.

I will never be a perfect writer, nor a perfect Christian. I will continue to make mistakes and have regrets in my life. I did lose a couple followers for checking out from Twitter like I did. I didn’t do things I wanted to do. I did things I shouldn’t have done.

When does the moment come when you finally stop and decide to take charge of your life?

When does one sit down to write..and find their strength to embrace their passion again?