Monday, February 11, 2019

When "Figure Out Life" is a Task for the Day...

When figuring out life, a fire is needed (also to keep off chills).
While cleaning off my desk in my office at school, I found a “To Do” list that had one of the items listed as “figure out life.” It was the only task on that list not marked off as completed. Who would have thought that figuring out life would be so difficult?

I’m also now questioning exactly what was going on in my head when I thought to put that down on as a “To Do” task? It was several tasks down on the list, so perhaps I had something stressful happen that day? I’m not sure. What I do know is that if I went so far as to write it down, it must have been necessary in the moment!

For me to “figure out life,” it must mean that I really want to figure out what I’m going to do besides what is going on right now. I know I have it pretty great at my current school, with just a few things that drive me absolutely bonkers. It could be much, much worse. I’ve experienced much, much worse at another school. Like many great things, they do eventually come to an end. It could be that my principal retires and we get someone fairly awful as a replacement. It could be that my role as librarian completely changes, which is in the realm of possibility, for sure. It could also mean that opportunities arise that would mean my whole career path changes. 

All of this thinking of “it could mean” does kind of scare me. I don’t have a bullet proof career, and there are many people out there who could say the same. I do have those moments where I dream of independent work, where the only boss I have to answer to is me. I don’t know if my current path through Rachel Pilcher Writing Workshops will lead me there, but I can sure hope. I know that the surefire way to ensure that it doesn’t would be to not do a thing to move it in that direction. That would be unacceptable.

I'm pretty sure that I still haven't "figured out life" yet. Maybe I should add it to my tasks every day until I do?

Monday, February 4, 2019

When it's 78 in February, You Get Your Nails Dirty!

One of my planters. Winter killed nothing!

This time of year, especially when the typical Texas winter is happening, I end up doing a lot of gardening work. Sunday alone I spent four hours raking, digging, uncovering, transplanting, and seeding. I mean, it was in the 70s on February 3rd, so how could I not spend time outside? As I stated in my previous post, I get so much thinking done while getting dirt under my nails, I should really try to do it non-stop every week of the year!

In my soreness today (because I am almost always working muscles while gardening that seem to never get worked out through dance or yoga), I get to act on that thinking. I have at least three pieces of writing going as I write this blog post. Luckily, I’ve finally convinced myself that they best way to get writing done is to just apply the butt to the seat and write. Editing while I’m going or thinking about that most perfect sentence is not going to get it started or finished. 

While I would love to be able to just garden, write, and read, I know that I have a mission which must be fulfilled on my campus. Until the funds for writing match that of the day job, I will be at school most days during the school year.

Monday, January 28, 2019

When in Doubt, Get to the Garden!

My Sunday seed haul. Calloways saw me coming.
I am almost always my most creative in writing when I have a secondary passion project going on. In most cases, that secondary passion is gardening and yard work. Getting my hands dirty in the soil, laying out the plant design, whether it be flowers or vegetables, gives me time to be at one with my thoughts. I don’t have to talk, look at a screen, or even really think of anything other than the seedling in front of me.

This year I got ambitious in my seed purchasing (photo above). I tend to container garden, using oblong galvanized water troughs purchased from my local feed store. While they may seem expensive, they last forever, are portable, and I don’t have to build anything. I’m pretty sure I’m going to need more than my current four troughs!

Even though it’s late January, I look forward to the crops and meals the seeds will produce throughout the spring, summer, fall, and here in Texas, into the winter. My hope is that it will spur many creative thoughts, as well.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

At My Most Creative...

"Creativity Light" one of a pair hanging above my bed.
Any time before noon. That’s when I am most creative. After noon, I need a nap. Working a 7:45am to 3:45pm job means that I can’t easily get all my creative work done before noon. Sometimes I don’t have time to even think about my “To Do” list until after lunch because of interruptions and emergencies in my day. Due to that, my goal is to get up at 5am so that I can get some creative writing in before I go to work in the mornings. That doesn’t always (read “usually”) happen. When it doesn’t, I try my best to steal moments throughout the day so that I can get that creative need fulfilled. It’s a struggle sometimes, and I fail at it many days.

Why do I not just give up? The simple answer is, I can’t. While that is simple, the reason is not. It is a drive. A desire. A need. I absolutely have to write down words. I have files in my cloud storage filled with random paragraphs, ideas that sparked my interest in those moments of writing need.

Sometimes my words in a day end up being complaints. Frustrations that I can’t speak out loud. Worries about not getting things done as they need to be. There is nothing wrong with that, but complaining is not always fulfilling to my creative soul. It just ends up frustrating me more.

I honestly never really have writers block because I can always write words. What I do have is creativity block, where my brain gets overwhelmed and the interesting stories just can’t come out. I’ve been working on trying to make those complaining and worrying paragraphs, located in a file aptly called “Complaints Department,” into some sort of story collection. All those words, those complaints, those worries will become something useful to me.

This is why journaling is so important. If I can’t think of a thing to write, I journal. I start my morning off every day that I can with journaling about anything and everything. You never know what your mindless writing will bring to you. Mine will hopefully become a book by the end of the year.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Happy 2019!

Crazy asparagus growing in my garden: January 2019
Happy New Year, Y’all!

Well, its ten days after the first, but you can say "Happy New Year" all throughout January, right?

If you’re anything like me, you are probably already a bit overwhelmed with the tasks of everyday life. Over the last few weeks I’ve been closing out my goals for 2018 and getting them solidified for 2019. Some of my goals for 2019 are repeats from previous years. If you watched my Facebook Live on December 30th over on the Rachel Pilcher Writing WorkshopsFacebook page or the replay on YouTube, you already know that I picked five goals for my writing year:
1.       Create workbooks for all of my online classes. (speaking of, my first workshop, Write Fearlessly in the New Year, is coming up on Saturday, January 19th. Join me!)
2.       Blog at least once a week (and…I’m working on that.)
3.       Do more than just business writing.
4.       Submit to my critique group every month.
5.       Finalize my screenplay.

None of this is unrealistic. I just have to work on it. I need to use those open times when I’d normally mindlessly flip through Facebook or Instagram and write. By analyzing how I use my time, I can certainly do all that I have planned. I think the most challenging goal will be #3-do more than just business writing. I do a lot of writing for my business. In teaching writing, you have to do writing. Sometimes this tricks my brain into thinking that I’ve done my writing for the day if I’ve spent two hours writing. Nope. I need to do creative writing, as well.

On Sunday I participated in an online live workshop called Tranquility du Jour Live with Kimberly Wilson. This is a free seasonal offering where she guides the participants through setting intentions for the season. I always have a takeaway from this, and this time around was no exception. I’ve been trying to set my word of intention for the year for the past couple of weeks. I kept bouncing back and forth between several words, but Sunday I finally settled on one: Focus. All of my issues that I have with writing, reading, or even completing some simple tasks can all be attributed to a lack of focus.

Focus. Something we all need more of in this multitasking world.

I like it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Winter Break Means Time to Think and Write!

It’s the day after Christmas and I’ve given myself two days of my winter break to relax. Today is a workday for me. I’ve never been so excited to get into my office and get to work! In preparation for winter, I moved my citrus trees in the house. I currently have a fully blooming Meyer lemon tree directly behind my desk. It smells lovely and in a few months will give me quite a nice supply of lemons. It's definitely a scent-spiration to work!

Just a quick bit of promotion: If you’ve ever taken my Write Fearlessly course in person, or always wanted to, but just couldn’t make it out on the day it was scheduled, I now have an online class scheduled on Saturday, January 19, 2019 at 10am CST that you can take from the comfort of your home! To read more about it and to register, click here.

I’ve been contemplating my work- as a librarian, a writer, an instructor, and publisher. There are certain goals that I’ve set in place for myself when it comes to my work and I'm pretty cut and dry when it comes to thinking those goals are being met. I do well in structured environments. I do well when I can have a daily or weekly checklist and accomplish tasks every day, marking the tasks off that list. I do well with few interruptions. I do well when the job that I’m supposed to be doing is the job that I am actually tasked doing.

The day job, as a librarian, is morphing into something that it was not originally and I’m not sure that I want to do that particular job- If I did, I would have applied for that job! It’s not that I can’t do it. I can. I just see that eventually the gig will be up and the powers that be will decide that they don’t need to pay someone as much as they pay me—or librarians, in general—to do the work they have cornered us into. I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to do about it, but I know that it won’t be sitting around, just letting others decide what my job responsibilities are. For now, though, I’m doing the work until another option becomes available.

As for my work as a writer, instructor and publisher...there will be a renewed focus on this in 2019. If only I could make those my day job!?! Well, I’m going to push the limits to see how much I can grow them. I see this particular work like sourdough bread starter: you can let it go dormant a bit, but if you begin to feed it, the growth will take off. I’m looking forward to that growth and I hope you will join me on that journey.

Oh, and coming up this Sunday, December 30th at 6pm CST, I will be live discussing writing goals for the New Year over on the Rachel Pilcher Writing Workshops Facebook page. Let’s talk!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Online Classes are FINALLY Coming: January 2019!
It’s been a long time since I was last excited about teaching a workshop. If I looked at my calendar, I could probably say exactly when the last live class I taught was, but off the top of my head, not so much. I’ve been working for almost a year to develop my first stand alone class via Udemy. I’ve had a few setbacks, mostly due to me prioritizing other tasks in front of getting the class ready, but also just being unsure how everything will translate from my live class. For anyone who has ever put something important off, you know how down it can make you feel to not accomplish something that you really wanted to do. I’ve gotten downright depressed about it.

Today, though, it finally hit me that I could still do online classes, and actually do them live instead of pre-recording them! I really don’t know why it didn’t come to me sooner, especially since both my school district and several other classes I’ve taken online have used Zoom to do online conferencing webinars. It was like hitting me over the head with a brick when I figured this out. Why hadn’t I thought of it sooner? I will still work towards getting my classes on Udemy because they will be accessible at any time anyone would want to take them, but live online classes will definitely be happening in January 2019!

The signup will go live in a week or two for my first online class, Write Fearlessly in the New Year. I’m so thrilled to finally be back in the teaching game!