Are You Feeling Depressed?

28 03 2011

sailboatI love Eureka! moments. And I had one today. I’ve been sailing along, thinking of how great things have been going.

I’ve tackled lots of projects weighing on my mind by setting aside a Procras- tination Day once a week. I’ve felt lighter and airier without all that guilt holding me back.

I completed a huge assign- ment of 133 articles a week before they were due. (Anyone who knows what a procrastinator I am will realize this was a major victory.) And I completed the art for two book projects within the past two months.

I’m excited about the way my business is going, and I just returned from a terrific conference with Donald Maass that energized me. So why was I feeling so down?

Sure, the weather’s a bit rainy, so it’s dark and depressing outside, but what does that have to do with my internal landscape? Wallowing isn’t usually my nature, but I couldn’t shake this depression that gripped me. I do find, though, when I ask a question out loud, I always get an answer. (And that includes those “Why me,Lord?” ones I sometimes utter.) I don’t necessarily like the response, but it’s always apropos.

Today I asked, “Why am I depressed?”, and got my reply a few minutes later. My Google Alerts, which often drags in many unrelated items, did so again this morning. But I couldn’t resist taking a peek at The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. I’m so glad I did, because I ran across the following sentence:The Big Leap book cover

“I manufactured the stream of painful images because I was feeling good! Some part of me was afraid of enjoying positive energy for any extended period of time.” ~p. 5-6

Talk about a Eureka! moment. I decided to let myself enjoy my successes and positive moments. Not sure if it was coincidence or the power of positive thinking, but the minute I did, the rain cleared up and the day became sunny.sun

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Off into the Wild Blue Yonder

24 03 2011

Flying off to PA tomorrow for a conference with 2 CPs. Last year I was speaker. This year I plan to soak up some wisdom and tackle revisions on one of my many manuscripts.

I spend so much time helping other people get their mss in shape, now it’s time to concentrate on mine. Hope to come out of this soaring.





Writing a Breakout Novel

9 09 2010

Gotta love my CPs (critique partners, for those of you unfamiliar with the acronym). Where else would I find such a great group of cheerleaders. They keep me going on my manuscripts, subtly pressuring me to complete a new chapter for each critique. And it works.

Sure some chapters need a lot of work, but my CPS are always generous with their crits (and their praise, so I don’t get discouraged). And sometimes they do something extra special that makes my heart race. Last night was a case in point. One generous member of the Piedmont Plotters gifted all of us in the group with Donald Maass’s (yikes, all those s‘s? But it’s what CMoS says is correct, & I always follow Chicago Manual of Style) Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. How cool is that? I’m guessing we’re all going to be breakout novelists soon. Can’t help but be.

According to the promo, we’ll “learn to: – Create a powerful and sweeping sense of time and place – Develop larger-than-life characters – Sustain a high degree of narrative tension from start to finish – Weave sub-plots into the main action – Explore universal themes that will interest a large audience.”

From the first lesson, which you can see here, your protagonist needs to have at least one heroic quality. Try the exercises on page 12 and see what heroic qualities you value.

I couldn’t resist adding more than one person I admire, but it turned out they all had similar qualities. My list included Mother Teresa, Gandhi, MLK Jr., and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. I’m drawn to people who fight for human rights, who fight convention, and dare to be different. I was intrigued to find that the protagonists of all my books share these qualities.

Two other things that resonate with me are selfless giving and nonviolent protests. Interestingly enough, my main characters don’t always use peaceful means to reach their goals. And sometimes (a character flaw, perhaps?) they’re far from selfless. It definitely set me thinking.

What about you? Who are your heros/heroines? And why are you drawn to them? Do your book characters reflect those values?