Monthly Archives: March 2012

In My Back Pocket

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As I continue to struggle with running and achieving my dream of running a 5 k, I continued to struggle with my breathing. Since I was diagnosed at age 20 with asthma, I carry an inhaler in my back pocket when I run in case of an emergency. I’m happy to say I rarely use it due to the lack of attacks that would necessitate using it. Because I have been struggling with making it around the track despite working at it for several months, I thought a trip to the allergists for a check up was in order. After a 45 minute wait and an expensive co-pay later, I spoke to the doctor. She asked “Do you use your inhaler before you exercise?” I shrugged my shoulders. “I know it is only for emergencies, and since it hasn’t been an emergency, I haven’t used it.” The doctor tilted her head to the right, nodding, and staring. ” Hmm, well, maybe you could try to use it 20-30 minutes before you run and see how it goes.” With that, she quickly scrawled out a new prescription and left.

“What?! 

That’s all you have to say!

You mean to tell me I had what I needed  all this time?”

“What a waste of time!”

Or was it?

It’s easy for me in my writing to think I have nothing to offer. After all, what advice can I offer anyone? I have only self published one book. No agent or publisher has ever touched my work. That must mean I don’t know enough to contribute in any considerable way to the  world of words.

Right?

Little did I know then, but I had the resource I needed in my back pocket the whole time. If I had just thought it would add value to my running and used it, I could have enriched my  life and greatly increased my experience. Instead, I ignored what was right in front of me, and went to someone I thought would provide me a magic answer,  a doctor that could give me some magic pill or potion that would put fire under my shoes and propel me around the track with more speed than the Road Runner.

I realize I am far from a perfect writer, as any writer would agree there is no such thing. But, I have learned  enough to contribute something to the writing world, whether it is mentoring a newer writer or teaching a workshop on a topic of interest to writers.  I have the resources I need in front of me. I just have to dig deep and pluck those insights from deep inside me and be willing to give it, share it, embrace it. If I do that,

Maybe,

just maybe,

I’ll touch a life.

As for the running, the inhaler has worked, but now the second my feet hit the gravel, I get shooting shin pain. But, that’s another story…=)

When One Door Closes…

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I began this blog to inspire and encourage writers like me who are serious about the craft, but need tips, advice  and resources to help them achieve their writing goals. One thing I also vowed to  do was to share my own triumphs and trials regarding the writing world. I encountered one of those trials last week  as I recived a rejection for a proposal I sent a publisher back in August.

After many attempts to follow up during the waiting process, I heard nothing. I resolved in my heart that I would be rejected, so I was not surprised. But, from the advice of a friend and editor, I followed up one more time with a more forceful e-mail. Within a half hour, the acquisitions editor from  the publisher responded and informed me she had never received the material. I sent it again and received a rejection within three days.

Although she mentioned that the proposal was “first rate” and my credentials were adequate to tackle a topic such as this, she spoke specifically about the idea itself. She stated she felt it simply  would not sell in today’s market, given my target  audience.

I am disappointed and understandably so. It is difficult to receive negative feedback on something I spent an incredible amount of time and money hoping to perfect. However, I appreciated her willingness to provide me with somc specific feedback about it, a rare opportunity in this field. I also thank God that I connected with so many people  at my last writers’ conference. Those connections have lasted well into the  years that followed and continue to make a lasting impression on my craft.

Although I thought I was embracing one opportunity, the Lord blessed me with another, and I am grateful for that. Feedback is a gift that I would have paid double to receive.

I suppose the adage “When one door closes, another opens” rings true today…

The Art of Communication

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I went to a restaurant the other day with a friend. I go there often, and know most of the waitresses and workers.  While I was talking to my friend, a waitress placed a small ssheet of paper on the table and cleared our plates. Interested, we both looked at what it said.

In small letters at the top, it said ” Have you heard about our Sunday dinner 3-7 pm.”

In the center were bold faced, capitalized letters saying “HAVE YOU???”

The following line was also in normal font type asking for a list of dinner suggestions and a few blank lines for us to write our thoughts.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about the advertisement. I was initially confused by the lack of information the paper presented. What is the dinner for? To raise money? A new experiment to keep the diner open longer hours on Sundays?

I was a bit hestiant to write my suggestions, considering I felt like I was being yelled at for even looking at the paper. I’m sure this was not their intenetiion, but putting the words ” Have you?”  in all caps and bold faced font sends a very specific message.

It is so important to think about our message and the content within that message, but also the tone in which we say things. The written word is much more difficult to decipher than the spoken word. The spoken word carries with it a specific tone. If the speaker is in front of you, you can also see their body language. The written word carries none of that, so it is left to the reader to interpret what is being said, which leaves room for a large amount of error.

We need to make sure our words are seasoned with an extra amount of grace and kindness than we might otherwise allow. That leaves the reader with a smaller amount of ways to interpret the message.

Are there ways in which you need to change the tone, content or style of your written communication in order to communicate in a more positive way?

Your Stories are in the Mundane

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In my life, there are weeks when I have lots of inspiring days, budding ideas and weekly goals to achive. Other weeks, the demands of life outweigh the time to create. I grasp at random moments when I can, and on the off chance I get a block of time to write, I strive to take full advantage. I open my laptop, crack my knuckles and hope that something, anything comes to mind worthy enough to tap those keys. I also have stretches of time which are not futiful. I tap my hands on the table, head in hand, waiting for the inspiration to begin.

Yesterday was one of those unfruitful times. I  hoped reading might help rejuvenate my creative juices, so I opened a devotional entitled “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. It said, “Instead of appoaching the day as a blank page that you need to fill up, try living it in a responsive way; being on the lookout for all I am doing.”

Instead of coming with my agenda when I sit at my writing desk,  I need to come with a more responsive approach, being aware of all that God is already doing in my life. Instead of waiting to be inspired, my inspirations are coming from every circumstance, person and event that goes on in the mundane parts of my day. Instead of feeling up my blank computer screen with what I think I should say, I should open my eyes and see what is around me. My stories are being written in front of me; I can decide if I want to write them.

What stories are being written in your life? Are there people, events and circumstances that are a part of that story?

Will you choose to write the stories that are found in the mundane?

The Importance of Branding 2

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In the last post, I wrote about the importance of branding because it sends a very clear message to an audience about who you are. As I studied that Starbucks cup, I realized that not only does the company create an atmosphere where a patron can spend as much time as they would like, but that the Starbucks Siren, (or mermaid) that they use on all of their merchandising, creates for them a specific identity. She is so important to the company’s future that without her would make Starbucks just another cofeee shop.

Don’t believe me?

Close your eyes.

When I mention the word ” Starbucks”, what comes to your mind?

Perhaps the earthy green color, or the circular shape of the logo. But, I am willing to bet that the wavy- haired Siren is not far from your mind.

in fact, she is literally “branded” into your mind. Her presence not only creates a cute logo but an entire identity on which the company is based.

She has made an impact on your world, and you didn’t even know it (or want it).

As a writer, I need to ask myself the same questions:

Is what I am writing about a part of who I am? Does my writing tell my readers more of who I am as a person? Or is it separate?

If I stopped posting on my blog or engaging in the craft of writing, would I cease to make an impact on my world?

The Importance of Branding

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I strolled into my nearby starbucks yesterday  for my weekly routine of brainstrorming, and hopefully, writing. I looked over at the Starbucks cup sitting within reach and for the first time, examined its exterior. The green and white woman with regal looking crown and long wavy locks statred back at me. I studied all of her features, and when I was done, I asked myself one question:

“Who is she Anyway?”

I googled the starbucks name and discovered some interesting facts about the Starbucks icon. Steve M., senior writer for Starbucks.com says,

“She is a storyteller, carrying the lore of Starbucks ahead, and remembering our past. In a lot of ways, she’s a muse –always there, inspiring us and pushing us ahead.

And she’s a promise too, inviting all of us to find what we’re looking for, even if it’s something we haven’t even imagined yet.

She means something different to every one who sees her, who knows her. For me she’s kind of the final say on the spirit of everything I write and everything we do.”

All that from one logo.

Who knew?

I often hear that as a writer, I need to have a ” brand” or at least a ” tagline” on my website or blog to help draw readers in and help them to understand a bit more about me. I began “The Writer’s Tapestry: Where Writing and Life Intertwine” in hopes that writers could come together as a community and not only join me in my journey, but also comment and encourage other writers to share their journeys with each other as well.  I hope that you will free to comment on this blog with encouraging tips, notes and feedback so I can make this as useful to you as it has been to me.

it is interesting to note that everything Starbucks does from its cup design to the color on its walls, communicates to its audience about what that company wants to be known for. Starbucks has always prided itself on being a warm, welcoming atmosphere, with custom made drinks and comfy chairs to beckon the consumer to stay as long as they like. Some may see it as a rediculous ploy to siphon unsuspecting consumers’ hard earned pennies from their pockets.

But, from what I see, it works, and consumers seem very willing to hand over those heard earned pennies. Why? Because people buy into their message.

The questions I (and perhaps you) need to ask are:

What am I about?

What message am I trying to send my reader?

Do I know my market well enough to communicate a message that readers are willing to buy into?

If you have a ” brand” or at least a “tag line ” I’d love to hear about them!