24/7 Writer Brain

Year of Yes cover image“Being a writer invades my life 24/7.”

When I read that line in Shonda Rhimes’ book Year of Yes, I thought, Exactly.

All day long I take mental notes of everything I see. I can’t not do this, even when I want to shut my brain off. Even when I notice stupid details that will likely never make it into my writing, like how cigarette butts pile up in intersections where people empty their ashtrays while their cars idle or how the smell of the dollar store clings to you even after you’ve been out of the store for hours.

And I wonder about everything…The Wal-Mart employee with the raccoon eyes, snapping her gum as she stands frozen, starring at a shelf, a product in her hand. Is she putting away returned items? Is she doing a price check? Has her brain frozen in place? Does she know her eyeliner is running? Does she care? Maybe she’s depressed? Maybe her boyfriend just broke up with her this morning after he used her toothbrush and took the last bagel. Maybe….

The squished toad on the driveway, guts spewed out its flattened mouth. Did the driver notice before they ran it over? Did I run it over? The flattened skin has the same texture as a football.

The pink hue to the light at dusk and how it makes everything softer, the same way snow makes everything look cleaner. How do you capture its essence in words?

Walking the dog, I find myself narrating my actions as if I was in the story itself. “They crested the hill and scanned the woods for the fox that keeps watch over the chicken pen. A hawk circled overhead– was it a sign?”

busy beesI can’t seem to stop my brain. I tell it to chill, but it doesn’t listen. Maybe I should sign up for yoga or learn to meditate. Something to stop my busy brain.

Sometimes I’m frustrated when I can’t seem to put into words what I truly feel in my heart. The perfect words that floated through my thoughts as I ran along our country roads this morning, escape me when I finally sit down to type them out. When I read the writing of someone like Shonda Rimes, who so easily, almost embarrassingly, spills her heart on the page, I think, “Yes! That’s it!” I’m grateful for her talent and strive to open my own heart unfiltered as she does.

I find there to be a magic in writing, a power well beyond me. So I’m grateful for this 24/7 invasion. It makes my days richer, even as it means that my mind is preoccupied and sometimes I forget about the clothes on the line or the tea I left steeping on the counter.

Writing makes life more real for me. I’m awed by the potential power it holds. Maybe this next sentence will change a life or lift a spirit, bring back a memory, or at the very least, make someone wonder. Maybe it will shine right through, all the way from my heart to yours.

maybe it will shine

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.

COMING AUGUST 2018 FROM Pegasus Books:

Another Good Dog cover

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Changing the World Over Donuts

Last Friday I had the great pleasure of speaking to 4th and 5th graders at an Elementary School in Maryland.

It was crazy fun and went by in a flash. I met with ten different small groups for only ten minutes each session, which was never enough time. I wasn’t quite sure I had something to say, but those kids sure had plenty. I loved hearing what they are reading and writing and I enjoyed answering their excellent questions.

I tried very hard to leave them with the message that words are powerful. Their words can change minds and hearts and they are here long after we are gone.

I went home with a smile on my face and hope in my heart. I wish I could visit with elementary age kids more often; they are certainly good for the soul.

Tomorrow I will have the opportunity to meet with another local group. This time it’s the Rotary Club.

I wasn’t too worried about it until I looked up what the Rotary Club is. For some reason, I thought they were the old guys who zoom around on their scooters in the Mummers parade.

bikes in parades

Turns out, they’re not. They’re actually a group of business and professional men and women who to meet to talk about how they can help this world. They’re a service organization.

So now I’m pretty intimidated. I’m not sure I have anything to offer them beyond my story. Which isn’t really helping the world. At least not directly. Hopefully, my stories help entertain and maybe even inspire, but world changing? Probably not.

Like the elementary school kids, these folks are busy, so the meeting is brief. It starts long before those elementary kids are even on their buses, includes breakfast, and finishes up in a neat hour. The friend who invited me to come speak said they’d just like to hear my publishing story. That story is a long and winding road that changes every time I tell it.

long and winding road

It’s not that I’m embellishing with the glint of history, it’s just that I always try to condense it and I’m never quite sure if I get my cliff notes right.

What to include, what not to include? There have been so many false starts and pointless tangents. Because how do we know what really influences our journeys? Was it the word of a wise editor or the nudge of a trusted friend? Maybe it was a comment from a stranger or the doubt of a family member.

I freely admit, I did not always make the wisest choices as I followed my heart to where I am now, but I think it’s mightily better to follow your heart than the crowd.

Reflecting on the influences upon my own story, I can’t help but picture the eager faces I encountered last Friday. I hope that the words I said and the answers I gave are little seeds planted in those kiddos that will someday help them know the power of their own voices.

And tomorrow?

I don’t know what I’ll say, or if any of it will be of consequence, but I’ll offer it up straight from my heart and hope it helps make the world a little better.

Or at least entertains some mighty impressive people over donuts.

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.

 

Is There Any Reason to be Reasonable?

Every new year I make a list of resolutions. This year’s list is long. I’m not going to share it here because that would mean you might hold me to it. I’m gonna hold me to it, so you don’t have to. But also because some of my resolutions are deeply personal. I’m digging deeper this year.

2017 was fine. Lots of good stuff happened. I learned quite a lot. I adopted a puppy and bought a convertible, so I really can’t complain.

But 2018….this is gonna be my year. I’m going to make it so.

When I first scratched out my list, I thought, yeah, right, you are so overshooting. But then I thought – why can’t I overshoot? Why can’t I reach for bigger stuff and bigger dreams (and maybe a smaller waistline)? Why can’t I want it all?

I’ve read a slew of new year’s posts full of very nice resolutions and advice. Make it reasonable. Make it doable. Make it measurable. Pick one word, one resolution, focus on that.

Why?

I see no reason to be reasonable. Our world has seemed incredibly unreasonable this past year. No one else is staying within the lines, why should I?

And doable? Well, there’s no way to know if something is doable until you try to do it. So I plan to.

And the thing about measurable is that it’s restrictive and reeks of judgment. It’s more or less a pass/fail situation and that doesn’t leave enough room for really great tries or hitting it out of the park. As Norman Vincent Peale said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss,  you’ll land among the stars.”

shoot for the moon

I’ve made ten resolutions. Ten big ones. For a great part of my life, I’ve been practical; I was learning, growing, practicing, trying, but you know what? I don’t know how much life I left (neither do you), so enough rehearsing, it’s time to act. It’s time to make this thing real.

How about you? What are you resolving to change? Cause if you don’t get moving, you’ll surely get runover just sitting there. It’s time, people.

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.

 

What is YOUR Creative Self Saying?

I started teaching a new course of Creative Writing this week. I forgot how much I love it. My class last spring didn’t fill and was canceled. At the time, I was busy preparing for a book launch, so I was somewhat relieved.

Driving home after class this week, I was energized. It’s so exciting to work with writers who are just beginning their journey. The possibilities are fresh and exciting.

The knowing nods when we talk about the urgent need to write, reassure me. I’m not the only crazy person in my town who feels this compelling urge to bear witness to all the little oddities in my life and heart.

pexels-photo-115782We talked about what we write and why. So many echoed the same sentiment—a voice running through their heads aching to get out on paper. I recognize that insistency. It’s their creative spirit. Everyone has one. That spirit can find its way out in a plethora of ways, but when its left trapped inside, unrecognized and unfed, it can lead to a confused despondency, a sadness borne of a day-after-day sameness. Continue reading “What is YOUR Creative Self Saying?”

Write.

It’s summer.

The kids are underfoot.

The house is a mess; it’s noisy, too.

The garden is a tangle of weeds and the blueberry bushes are so full, the berries are bending the branches low enough for the mice to feast.

I drank too much wine last night; I can’t think clearly.

I’m not feeling it.

I’m tired.

I’m sick of this story.

I’ll just take today off.

What’s the point?

That’s just a small sampling of my excuses. What are yours?

There’s never a good time to write, but if you’re a writer that really doesn’t matter—write.

Some days the words circle your head like invisible gnats, and while you can hear them buzzing, you can’t catch them—write.

Other times the grocery list and the thank you notes are nagging around the edges of your brain; they can wait another day—write.

Even when you have nothing to say and what you do want to say is everything you wish you’d said to someone who belittled your belief yesterday – write.

Maybe the only coherent thought you have is, I hate this. Write.

As Elmore Leonard, arguably one of the most successful, working class writers, puts it—

“I don’t believe in writer’s block or waiting for inspiration. If you’re a writer, you sit down and write.”

What are you waiting for?

Sit down and write.