Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Finding the "Write" Path

 Finding The “Write” Path


Pour yourself a second cup of coffee. I'm giving you, my readers, the inside scoop.

I have been residing in a strange place in my writing for a while. I love to write stories. I love to see characters come to life on the pages of a book. I like the entire writing process. Yet these past months I have struggled with the craft.  


I’ve been praying about it for several months. I totally renovated my office. I created spreadsheets for my works in progress. I talked about the books I have brewing in my head. 


In many ways, it seems I have been glued to my computer without results. Okay, that isn’t exactly true. I have boosted my score in several word games and logic games as well as an online version of Yahtzee. 


I’ve kept my blog up and running even when I have to pull an all-nighter to string enough coherent sentences together to qualify as a post. And I have resorted to a few “themed” posts when I had to travel or knew my calendar wouldn’t allow anything akin to “being creative.”


Yet, you, my readers have been faithful supporters of my blog. Thank you.


Then there is the once a month newsletter. Once a month should be doable, right? Doable as in done, but to be done right? That is still a work in progress. I actually like the newsletter when I can include great ideas and inspiration for readers and not just a bunch of stuff about me.


The computer is also where I am expected as an author to “build a platform.” Publishers and agents want to know how many followers I have on at least two social media accounts. They want to know how many readers I have on my weekly blog. They want to know how many people subscribe to my newsletter. 


I have followers. I connect with readers in the newsletter, others through the blog, many on Facebook, and a large number on Twitter. I am not a good “Instgram-er” so though I have an account, I can’t say I do much with it. But like a good little soldier, I keep plugging along at the keyboard, posting and tweeting on a regular basis.


The thing I haven’t been doing with my computer is writing.


The very thing I want to do, I have little to no time to do. Yes, I know I mentioned the games I play and you’re thinking I should simply use that time to write. Not so. My mind must not be working all the time. It needs time to play.


I have come to three realizations in this past week. 


Writing is my gift. Not my calling. Teaching is my calling. Writing is a piece of that, as is speaking and researching and helping people see things from differing perspectives. Writing is my gift.


Social media, blogging, and newsletters have a place in my life as a writer. Those very elements can also be traps keeping me from the joy of opening the gift of writing.


Finally, I am comfortable and even excited to promote my books. I am weary of promoting myself.


So what is next? 


My blog posts from now on may not be clever and trendy, but they will be open and honest. Maybe sometimes raw. Think of me without make-up. No, that isn’t a particularly good descriptor. I never wear make-up anyway. I think you get the idea, though. I am willing to write what I feel and experience on this side of writing. Not particularly an audience builder, but true to who I am. I only hope you can stand it. And if not, then maybe the blog has run its course and needs to be phased out. We’ll see.


I am not going to beat myself up over social media. 


I do enjoy the newsletter concept. Once a month I pop into your email feed with a short reflection or inspirational thought and a brief paragraph about what is going on in my writing.  If you are not signed up for my newsletter (I see it as more letter than news) then shoot me an email at rebecca@waterswords.com and I’ll put you on the list. You can unsubscribe at any time but I do give away free books to subscribers from time to time so that’s kind of cool.



And finally, I am writing again. And I am loving it. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Cauliflower, Cabbage, and College

Cauliflower, Cabbage and College

I am working on a contemporary novel set in the fictional town of Longneck, Indiana. My main character is William Morganthaler, a young wounded warrior starting his own business. It is a suspense novel. 


I was looking for a proverb or saying of some sort that might hang on Will’s office wall. Several about success came to mind. Those sounded appropriate for his tool and die operation, but I wanted something a bit more vague or something he could call on for inspiration when he faces down the antagonist. I haven’t reached that place in my book yet, but you get the idea.


So like any good author, I set out searching the internet for interesting sayings.  I soon found myself probing into the words of Mark Twain. I’m not sure any of his quotes will make it into my book, but they were so entertaining, I decided to share a few of them here. Some are simply humorous, others poignant. 


And as you read through these, keep in mind Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) died over a hundred years ago. You’ll be surprised at how relevant many of his words are today. In the Bible there is a verse that says, “There is nothing new under the sun.” I believe it.


A Few More Quotes from Twain:


“Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”


“Climate is what we expect. Weather is what we get.”


“Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain.”


“Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”


“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of congress; but I repeat myself.”


“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”


“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”


“There are basically two types of people. There are people who accomplish things and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.”


“Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.”


“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it.” 

“When your friends begin to flatter you on how young you look, it’s a sure sign you’re getting old.”



“Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.”


“Let us endeavor to live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”


“All generalizations are false, including this one.”


“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.”


“It is no wonder truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”

To Receive My Monthly Newsletter, Email Me at rebecca@waterswords.com.

Thank you for stopping by. And yes, I respond to comments.




Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Not New and Not Normal

Last week I woke up and started the day with joy. “Ah, Yes!…Friday!” 

I was totally disappointed to discover it was only Thursday and I had a full plate of things to accomplish before the weekend.

Fatigue? Brain Fog? Anxiety? You thought those were symptoms of “Post COVID-19 Syndrome,” right? 


Yes. And no. 


Many who have not contracted any form of the coronavirus are actually experiencing those same symptoms.


Some relate it to Zoom Fatigue. And yes, Zoom Fatigue is real. Many of us still struggle to remember the day of the week. Others write it off as the “new normal.”


So what is going on and how can you combat it? 


For over a year we changed the way we live, work, and interact with others. It was a time of uncertainty. It was a time when we stopped vacationing, eating out, and throwing parties. We ate at home, played at home, worked from home. 


Some of that was fun. For a while. And while work may have been more productive, it was also more intense. We longed for the long commute when we could listen to the radio or dream of next month’s vacation. Or the commute home where we rehashed that awful meeting in our head and didn’t have to do it in front of our family.


We tired of watching ourselves talk on Zoom. We couldn’t read our audience because the only non-verbal clues we were getting were when the family dog dropped in for a pet or a team member got up to switch the clothes from the washer to the dryer. We soon learned to hit the “hide self view” button and to focus only on engaged members of our work team. 

We were certain that once we had the vaccine or once the mask mandates were lifted, we would all be fine. We would quickly adjust to a “new normal.”


The “New Normal” grew old quickly and was anything but normal. 


So is it fixable? 


Here are six steps you can take TODAY to regain your energy, focus, and overall wellbeing:


1. Get dressed. Dress for the day right down to your shoes. Don’t don your sweatpants even if you are still working from home. Remember the old adage “dress for success?” That includes your shoes. Trust me on this. You will accomplish more if you get dressed for work. As a writer, I work from home, but I always write more and accomplish more goals when I get “dressed for work” first thing in the morning.


2. Keep a physical calendar. Yes, I know you love keeping everything on your phone or digitally elsewhere, but a physical calendar or day planner will help you see your day and week more clearly. It is a visual you can see without charging it every day. That brings us to number three.


3. Set limits on your computer time and any other screen time with which you engage. That includes your phone, television, and various electronic devices. Screen time is draining on your eyes and brain. Take brain breaks between computer sessions. 


4. Make a plan to eat right and exercise. You don’t need to plan on losing ten pounds or counting calories. Simply plan to eat regular meals at regular times and engage in some sort of physical activity. When I feel tired in the middle of the day, instead of taking a nap, I take a walk. Think you’re hungry? Try drinking a glass of water first. You may simply be thirsty.


5. Sleep at night. Let me revise that. Sleep at least eight hours at night. Your body needs it. So does your brain. You may need to train your body to sleep eight hours but if you can do it the reward will last a lifetime.


6. Find a cause to support or a service project. Serving others, giving back to the community goes a long way to improve your overall mental and emotional health.


So what is your plan? What are you doing to regain control of your life?

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Lend Me Your Ear

 Lend Me Your Ear


Have you ever known someone to be “half listening?” I’ll confess. I’ve been that person. We’ve all done it. I have actually been known to look directly at someone and instead of listening to what is being said, I’m busy thinking about some clever comeback. 


Even the Bible admonishes us to “…be quick to listen, slow to speak…” James 1:19. 


It reminds me of the old adage, “If it had been intended for [man] to talk twice as much as listen, [he] would have been given two mouths and one ear.”


Listening. It is often considered a lost art. Listening requires engagement. No, not that “nod the head” kind of engagement while you actually do something else. Listening involves eye contact, paying attention, understanding, and sometimes…on occasion… responding verbally. 


Kelsey Grammar’s character on the television show, Frazier, used the tag line “I’m Listening” for his radio talk show. 


If only we could all carry that mantra.


We can.


While at a conference in Los Angeles, my daughter had the opportunity to hear the founder of the organization called Urban Confessional, Benjamin Mathes, speak. You may have heard of the Free Listening Movement. Actually, the real opportunity for Kendall came when she, along with dozens of others hit the streets with their own “free listening” signs to listen to the stories of people they did not know. 


Strangers took advantage of the opportunity to share their stories. One older couple, curious about the sign, stopped to chat. As they spoke, the man said something about his wife. Kendall acknowledged his offering and the man shared more of the story. All around were silent as the man spoke with genuine admiration and respect for the woman by his side. His wife, tears in her eyes said softly, “I’ve never heard you talk about me like that.”


In the 1940’s and 50’s Carl Rogers put forth the notion of “active listening.” Counselors, teachers, and medical professionals still use the techniques of active listening. I love the “active listening” comically modeled on the Big Bang Theory. I’m including the YouTube link at the bottom of the post if you want a fun example of key elements identified in the technique such as paraphrasing, maintaining eye contact, restating, and questioning using key phrases. 


The program is funny, but the message is real. If we want to be heard…we must first learn to listen.


Everyone has a story to be shared… a story that matters. 


So here is the challenge: This week…this very week, lean in. Listen. Listen without comment.


This week, carry your own sign (literally or figuratively) to listen to three (3) stories from people you know. Learn something new about them. AND listen to two stories from people you do not know. 


Lean in. Listen. Three stories can change your life and the lives of those around you.