The writing pit bull …

Many moons ago, during a work performance appraisal, a former manager of mine referred to me as a “pit bull with a bone.”

Of course, my first reaction was one of disbelief.  And then I wanted to punch her. 🙂  Good thing she explained rather quickly why she made such a reference, because I probably would have been out of a job.

She described me as a person who never gave up.  She went on to say that when I had a project to do, I’d take the assignment and run with it.  And no matter what, I refused to let it go until it was completed.

I thought about her comment and although I was still relatively pissed, I took what she had to say as a compliment.

And then I took what she had to say as fact.  And then the truth.

I don’t like leaving things undone, especially my writing.

It’s been a little over a year, since I’ve looked at my WIP. Except for my critiquing group, I did nothing remotely literary, including reading. And that pained me.  But life became overwhelming and my writing took a back seat.  Dare I mention my previous surroundings (home/office) weren’t conducive to writing or reading?

However, I’m happy to say that that sorry book is closed and for the first time in many months, I’m grabbing on to that bone and not letting go. I’ve been able to REALLY look at my WIP with interest. It’s fantastic to be able focus on a manuscript I started years ago.

I even managedstop-writing to finish a book by one of my favorite authors, Maya Banks. It felt so good to read again!

I’ve said it before; no man (or writer) is not an island. As writers, we need feedback, encouragement and collaboration, which is why I’m so thankful for my critiquing group—three fabulous writers, Leigh Raffaele, Beth-Ann Gutsick Kerber and Kathleen Pacheco. They allowed me to vent when necessary and the time to get over a major hurdle.

I’m also thankful for my critiquing partner, writer Jaye Gavin Allan, for checking in on me every once and awhile to make sure I was still breathing!

Writing is my best friend and I couldn’t go another day without it.  To do what we love doing, requires a place that is conducive to writing and one that nurtures to our creativity.

This pit bull is lucky to have found it again because I refuse to fail.

As an artist, how do you get back/stay on track?

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Affirmation 411

To end the week, I decided to go back to my roots, to the form of the written word that started me on my journey. Poetry.

Have a good weekend and be courageous.

*********************************

My actions during the day don’t affect those at night

I am a sound sleeper

Gossip, egos, holier-than-thou attitudes don’t get in my way or in my ear

I am a sound sleeper

The hurdles, obstacles and disappointments that may give the ordinary person pause; bolster my conviction, and strengthen my resolve

For I am a sound sleeper

My decision to act accordingly, pay it forward and let go of what I can’t control, all feel right to me

I am a sound sleeper

Your disapproval of me or the way I conduct business, treat my friends or live my life doesn’t bother me and I won’t let it.

I am a sound sleeper

© Nett Robbens, 2014.

Throwback Thursday: All-Star Converses

When I’m so inclined, I will catch a rerun or two of “That ’70s Show” to relive my youth and see how close they come to getting it right.

Yes, I grew up with hot pants, tie-dye shirts and platform shoes, which by the way I should have kept. Who knew they’d be back in this millennium?

I grew up watching the Knicks (when they were worth watching) and stars like Walt Frazier, Earl “the Pearl” Monroe, Bill Bradley (now Senator Bill) and Dave DeBusschere.

But when I really want to relive my ’70s days, all I need is a pair or two of All-Star Converses. Oh yes, I’m a Converse girl!

Back in the day, I wore them until the soles were hole ridden, the color faded or until my mother found them and threw them away! And, I am–along with countless others–dedicated to carrying on the genius and comfort of salesman and basketball player Chuck Taylor’s mega endorsement.

So, I’m starting to rebuild my collection with the four pair pictured above. And my eyes are focused on three more pairs: the pink, purple and brand-new all black leopard pattern.  There’s even the Wonder Woman pattern!

A while back my daughter and I saw the movie, “The Judge,” and afterwards wouldn’t you know–a showdown ensued–in the middle of the parking lot–between Converse or Vans!

Who won you might ask? I’ll let you decide. 🙂

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Taking the first step toward normal …

Another year has passed.  Birthday wise that is.

It’s been another year filled with accomplishments and let downs; defeats and triumphs. And while I’ve gone through it all, there’s one thing that I couldn’t get out of my mind. WRITING.

I’ve doodled a sentence here and there.  Concocted two or three new ideas for upcoming stories. Revised a WIP. And even (much to my dismay) received a good tongue lashing from one or two of my characters who I have neglected tremendously.

Another year has passed, yet a constant theme drummed in my head.  I LOVE TO WRITE. I WAS BORN TO WRITE. I’M NOT REALLY HAPPY UNLESS I’M WRITING.

So, my new year starts today–with my birthday. Not on Jan 1.  My resolutions can’t wait until then. My life as a writer is urgent, critical and I have to take steps to secure my future. I have to get back into the swing of things.

Apparently, my characters are making bold statements in reminding me of who they are.  I’ve seen their names on the backs of trucks, street signs and even storefronts.

One thing about life is that we all go through stuff–king-size mounds of stuff that seem too overwhelming to move, or small droplets of stuff that are still annoying as hell to remove. The good thing is that we can learn from each other’s stuff. You know, share best practices for overcoming stuff.

If you’ve experienced a period of inaction or piles of stuff, but are doing better now, how did you get over it? What was your first step toward normal?

Back in the saddle again …

cowgirl-riding-horseWe’re moving into February and I’m just getting around to saying Happy New Year to everyone. For that, I apologize.

I’ve been away from blogging for a while and I’ve missed it. It’s not that I didn’t have any crazy thoughts or tidbits to share, I did. But life sometimes takes the wheel, and with all its unexpected twists and crazy turns, you sometimes have to put on your seat belt, say a prayer and hang on.

I’ve missed the camaraderie with friends, and the interesting conversations. But I’m back in the saddle and although my blogging schedule may be a little spaced out this time around, I intend to rejoin the hoedown! (Yes, I love westerns and everything cowboy!)

I’m planning to pitch at the next writer’s conference I attend. So, I have to keep my “ass in chair,” and focus on making both manuscripts the best they can be. I’m hoping to pitch two books this year. However, if I can churn out the third book by October, I’ll be pitching the entire three-book series.

Last month, I attended my first meeting with my new critiquing group and it was SO helpful. They’re an extraordinary group of writers who discovered things in my manuscript that went right over my head. That’s usually the case when you’re so close to the project. In addition to identifying the problems, they made awesome recommendations on how to revise it.

I’ve mentioned how important having a critiquing group or partner is in prior posts. And I must again. Having a critiquing group or partner is one of the best things you could ever do to advance your writing career.

Speaking of writing, how snazzy is the new format for WordPress?! It looks like they’ve added a few bells and whistles. Do I need a tutorial? Has anyone discovered if any of the new features offers a greater blogging experience? Hmmm ….note to self investigate this.

Thankfully, some things have remained the same. PoeWP My faithful buddy Poe is still here, and he’s still like Velcro. I move. He moves.

I hate to even throw this out into the universe. But one day, I’m going to break something because I was trying not to trip over him. In his defense, he’s there when I need him. When I’m working on a book, he offers his literary opinion with one or two barks. And if he totally hates the storyline or the character, he’ll howl. It’s nice to know that he takes his namesake (Edgar Allan) seriously!

In any case, I’m happy to be back and blogging, and look forward to catching up. Happy trails everyone!

A lesson in living from my deceased cousin

Two days ago, a cousin of mine died of a heart attack. He was a few years younger than I and only the second cousin of my generation to pass away. My family tends to have a long lifeline.  (My great-grandmother lived to be 98.)

As kids, I remember sharing summer days with him on my aunt’s lawn, eating ice cream and bragging about what we wanted to be when we grew up. He wanted to be an astronaut and a police officer.  I argued that he had to pick one or the other because he couldn’t be both. (I know, opinionated and bossy.)

I, of course, wanted to be a writer. Even at eight years old, I had a one track mind.  I knew I wanted to tell stories. Decades later, I followed my dream.  I am a writer.  Becoming a romance author is following close behind.

But my heart is heavy.

Although our lives took different paths I often thought about my cousin. I wondered if he’d chased the dream, he shared with me so many years ago. I’d wondered if he’d nurtured his passion.

About four years ago, we connected and chatted on the phone. He’d move from New Jersey to Tennessee and wasn’t in the best of health. Much to my dismay,  I learned that he had not fulfilled his dream. That saddened me. I wanted to reach through the phone and smack him. He had so much potential, which had diminished to nothing.

I couldn’t imagine that I wanted my dream more than he did his. Going to the moon was all he talked about.  Perhaps  life  and situations got in his way. Maybe circumstances snatched away his passion, and he was helpless to stop them.

Like many of us, death always makes me take stock in life–to reassess, to recalibrate. It sounds cliché, but life is terribly short. And the older you become, the more compressed it seems to be.

But my goal in life is not to dwell on getting older. It’s to focus on getting things done while I’m here. My goal is to do exactly what the quote in the picture suggests, “go to the grave skidding sideways.”

My cousin’s death again reaffirms my belief about life. I should recognize its potential and act on it.

Although heaven is not where I’d like my cousin to be right now, I’m sure he’s walking on the moon and directing traffic. 🙂

Thursday’s Toss—Live your dream. Enjoy the ride. Skid in sideways.

‘Tis the privilege of friendship …

“Tis the privilege of friendship to talk nonsense, and to have her nonsense respected.”
― Charles Lamb

I’m fast approaching my 100th blog post (tomorrow, exactly) and despite pictures of the best gang of friends around–the “Little Rascals,” I’m feeling a bit philosophical.

It has been quite a journey since I started this blog three years ago. If I’d been consistent in my blogging, I might have tripled the number of hits, comments and posts. However, I’m not going to think about the would haves, could haves or should haves. Life jumped behind the wheel—as did my mission to finish my first book—and I had to let them drive.

This year, in between writing, I found my way back to my blog, self-expression and to friends, near and far, who matter. Whether we realize it or not, we’re making friends—through our shared interests, thoughts, lives, and our willingness to help others.

I’ve been fortunate to meet artists whose greatest joy is to hold a paintbrush between their fingers. I’ve chatted with photographers who rather hear the sound of their camera’s shutter first, and get laid later. (No joke, they said that!)

I’ve met mothers who love being a mom, but everyday yearn for the opportunity to pick up where they left off with their dance or art lessons. And that desire doesn’t make them a bad mother. If anything, it makes them better, fully faceted individuals.

And with each encounter, I realize that it is oftentimes the people furthest from you, who understand you without reservation.

At times, I feel that way about my writing. Although my family is super supportive, they don’t understand that I can sit in the house all weekend at the computer and be quite content. At times, they shake their heads at the thought that I’d rather revise a chapter or agonize over the correct word usage, than go bowling or go to a show. It’s not that I don’t enjoy doing those things, or get the chance to do them. I do.

But I live a writer’s life.

    A writer’s life consists of more nouns and strong verbs than endless chit-chat over the phone.
    It consists of countless hours of trying to reason with characters who believe they’re in control.
    It consists of destroying the dangling modifiers and adverbs that threaten to weaken our prose.
    It consists of sacrificing all you hold dear, so that your baby—your manuscript—will be so endearing that an editor or agent will want to take it home and keep it. (When that happens, drinks are on me.)

I look back over my blog and I see how far I’ve come not only as a blogger, but as an individual. I’ve opened up and invited others in, and it’s so exhilarating when they accept.

Speaking of accepting …On the my 100th post, a dear friend and new author has accepted my invitation to stop by and chat. Can’t wait!

Thank you for listening to my thoughts, my attempts to be helpful and my nonsense (because I KNOW I have moments of insanity).

“Tis the privilege of friendship …”