Changing the World

I have a speaking engagement coming up tomorrow in front of a tough audience.

Elementary school students.

It’s Career Day and I was invited to an Elementary School in Maryland, along with lots of people who likely have much more exciting careers than mine. I’ll have just 10 minutes per group to talk about what I do and answer questions.

I’m in a quandary about what I should tell them.

Writing is pretty boring. At least the act of it.

Unless you’re inside my brain, I appear awfully sedentary. Most days I bore my office mates to sleep.

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So, what should I tell the kids?

Obviously, they’ll find my dog writing much more interesting than my women’s fiction writing or my occasional freelance pieces about parenting or organics or writing. They probably know more than me about marketing yourself via social media. And I’m pretty sure that talking about the largest part of my writing day – editing – would bore the life out of them, as it does me.

My tentative plan is to dazzle them with the dogs. I’ve even printed out a few 8x10s of some of my more exciting foster dogs to flash them.

My biggest dog- Whoopi. Continue reading “Changing the World”

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Lacking Inspiration?

Feeling inspired?

No?

You’re surrounded by inspiration, as ever-present as the air you breathe.

Okay, sometimes you have to reach further to find it, but it’s there, believe me.  All you need is an open mind, a little creativity, and a good analogy.

Okay, maybe the analogy doesn’t have to be that good.

Glancing around my workspace, I can see a pencil sharpener. That pencil sharpener is like me working on my latest manuscript  – I carve and twist and sharpen my point to perfection, but really, will anybody need that pencil? Nobody uses pencils anymore.

Depressing? Yeah, kind of.

Here’s an even more depressing one from PG Wodehouse:

“It has been well said that an author who expects results from a first novel is in a position similar to that of a man who drops a rose petal down the Grand Canyon of Arizona and listens for the echo.”

Do you suppose he was looking out the window at his garden when he came up with that one or maybe there was a brochure for the grand canyon on his desk?

Maybe you read that and thought, who thinks like that?

I would assert – anyone and everyone.

You, for instance.

You are surrounded by potential analogies. They’re everywhere.

My oldest child is a creative soul. This made him both a pleasure and a pain to raise.

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He is also smart. His standardized test scores came in very high in every area, except one.

Analogies.

These questions he would miss with alarming regularity. The problem was that he could always see two sides of everything.

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He could absolutely understand how a bear could live in a hotel or a table could be used to sleep or a car is part of a kitchen or that something that is right is very wrong.

Look around you.

What does that lamp look like? A snake? A butter churn? An alien?

How could whether or not you made your bed this morning be an analogy for how you live your life?

What about your dog? Is he living the life he always wanted or is he a prisoner in a foreign land who has adapted well?

The truck rattling down the street — where is it going? What is it carrying? What has it seen? Who’s trapped inside? Did it runover the walnuts covering the street, the sound of the shells cracking like bullets exploding?

There is inspiration all around you, free for the taking.

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My cat has been slowly destroying my laptop. Whenever I leave it open, she nests on it. Her relentless plucking has removed key after key, her efforts so thorough most are unable to be snapped back on. This week she tore off the control key. I’m annoyed with her, but I’m sure there’s an essay in there. (I’ve lost my control….)

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Being open to possibility is the first step to discovering inspiration.

Sometimes when I’m journaling and can’t think of what to write, I’ll open a nearby book and randomly place my finger on a word or line. Then I’ll either continue the sentence or write about what that word or line brings to my mind. Other times I’ll look out the window and see what first catches my eye and explore why.

You can find inspiration on billboards, click bait, cereal packaging, or sales circulars. You can find it in the dirty laundry on the floor or the gunk in the sink drainer or the sarcasm in your teenager’s remark. There are analogies to be had in being late because the cat threw up or being lost when your GPS fails you.

Inspiration is everywhere. The place is lousy with it.

Breathe it in, and see where it takes your mind.

Need a chuckle? Check out these hilarious analogies written by high school students.

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.

Honored,

Cara

If you’d like to know more about me, my books, and where you might run into me, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at carasueachterberg@gmail.com.

 

Sometimes It’s Brilliant, Sometimes it’s Cleaning Vegetables

“If every time you sat down, you expected something great, writing would always be a great disappointment.” -Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones)

This is the third post I’ve written for the blog this week. (Do notice that it’s the only post I’ve actually posted.)

The magic just wasn’t happening.

*sigh*

Maybe it’s the sore shoulder. (Writing injury. No lie. I won’t bore you with the entire post I wrote about it.)

Maybe it’s the gray-gray-gray of the never-ever-ever-ever ending winter. (We still have to get through February? March? The dental hygienist reminded me that April can be iffy, too.)

Maybe it’s the lack of puppies. (I own that addiction.)

Maybe it’s my new (depressing) resolution not to eat after 6pm (including wine?).

Whatever it is, when I sat down to write, everything that came out was boring and trite and no-help-to-anyone.

Those days happen. They’re part of being a writer.

Now here’s the part about being a professional writer….

I still wrote. Every. Day.

Even when it was horrible.

Because you know what?

IMG_1899Every time I put what’s on my mind and in my heart onto the page, it makes room for the bigger, better thoughts. Kind of like cleaning vegetables. I shucked the skin and cut off the core and picked out the seeds. Necessary work to get to the good stuff.

So maybe when I sit down to write next week, it’ll be clear sailing. Nothing but brilliance in prose form.

And if not?

I’ll write anyway.

How about you?

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.

Honored,

Cara

If you’d like to know more about me, my books, and where you might run into me, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at carasueachterberg@gmail.com.