Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Paying It Forward

Quote of the Week:
When you allow yourself to begin to dream big dreams,
creatively abandon the activities
that are taking up too much of your time, and focus your inward
energies on alleviating your main constraints, you start to feel an incredible
sense of power and confidence.
~Brian Tracey

Local Weather:

Schizo periods of sun with snow showers followed by serious
periods of contemplation and belief in this thing called Global Warming.

Currently on my IPOD:

Lost Without You
~Robin Thicke

Hello to Each and Everyone of You...

Thanks to author, Brad Meltzer, I spent most of the night not writing, but rather listening to a lecture. No, this wasn’t Brad lecturing, this was a man by the name of Randy Pausch and his lecture for Carnegie Mellon University Series titled: The Last Lecture.
But it was Brad who mentioned this man and the video and book on his blog.
So, thank you to Brad for giving the gift of this man’s words.

I have half the mind to end the blog here and make you guys spend a little over an hour with this guy. It’s worth it. Finish reading my petty words, which don’t have near the weight of his and then please, stop what you’re doing, fake sick at work. put the chapter you’ve been working on for the last few hours away and watch this guy. Please.

Alright, onward bound.

Randy speaks in his video about the power of not only fulfilling your dreams, but helping others fulfill theirs. Karma, Love, Power, Whatever you want to call it. But, I can atest to the power of paying it forward. There have been years in my life where I have been unable to help others because I needed the help in the very worst way possible: my seemingly failing health at times, twin preemie girls and a host of difficulties with their early days, out of work spouse, depression, death of family members etc. And to tell you the truth, I am amazed that I am still standing, and others who have seen me through the worst of it are probably saying the same thing.

About a year or so ago, I had a very bad thing happen to me. I collapsed at a writers conference, I wasn’t in good health when I went, and now I recognize that. For a few days I was in the hospital, on a vent, with a virus in my central nervous system. When I awoke, there was one person at my side. I won’t name who this is, as he knows who he is, but I will never forget him or stop loving him for what he did for me. And then the whole community of writers who were at the retreat who incidentally kept me in their prayers, thoughts etc after witnessing my collapse, rallied around me and to this day are some of my very best friends in the industry.

In the days following my release from the hospital, I experienced something that I have yet to experience in my life. A total breakdown of myself. Having lived through all the above stated problems, and a number of health issues, I assumed I was strong enough to deal with this too. But I was wrong. Mentally, physically and emotionally I broke down. I took approx. a month or a little more off of writing the novel because the medications I was on limited my ability to think clearly or see very well and at times I was so forgetful I even lost my way around town when going to pick up my children at daycare. And once again, had it not been for my friends in this time of my life, I wouldn’t be here today. Sharon, Travis, Alex, Mike, Ryan, Nicole, Carrie, and too many others to name, I thank you whole heartedly.

So, you may ask what the point of revisiting my sob story is...(and I have blogged on my experiences after being on the vent. Check out the months of March and April 2007 here on myspace) to pay it forward. To tell you the truth, most people I know think of me as a tenacious person. One with confidence, not afraid to conquer anything or anyone. But, when it comes to writing, it has taken me a very long time to build up confidence within myself. Not that I am overly confident, I believe there needs to be some confidence in order to write anything and to make it to those fabulous two words, THE END. But, I have worked very hard, staying up into the wee hours of most nights to try to make this industry one in which people will know my name. And day by day, minute by minute, I am getting one step closer than I had been the day before.

Part of my pay it forward movement is to do what Randy talks about in his lecture. I want to help others. No, I don’t have a publishing contract with a major house...yet...but, I think I can help other writers build up enough confidence to take on the overly negative world of literature. It amazes me that so many writers are sooo helpful and willing to work with other writers when the agents and editors are out to seemingly eat the newbies for their dinners. Look at the blogging agents like Miss Snark and then take a look at Kristen Nelson’s blog
, Pub Rants.

These are two very different examples of how business can be handled. Miss Snark is well, a wee bit angry on most days and if you suck or are just learning the biz, then she will eat you alive. But, Kristen, in her blog is a very nice person, and I’m sure she feels on some days, more snarky than not, but the way she handles hapless authors and makes the industry seem a little more human and approachable is a breath of fresh air. This is what I’m trying to do. Yes, I’m going to plug my retreat.

I set out in this business with no intent on becoming a published author or even doing anything more than getting the demons out of my closet and onto the blank page before me. But now, I want to give back..I have even gone as far as starting my own business.

I am now offering a retreat for writers (*Writing Away Retreats) in Vail, Colorado, with the first one taking place in October this year. What I really want to give to other writers is a place to go and work. Not an overly crowded conference with hotel rooms, anonymous speeches that all tell you how to pitch or how not to pitch, how to get published with your epic novel on the Care Bears and how they slipped their MS under the bathroom stalls etc. That's just not my idea of fun. Do I go to these conferences? Of course, and will continue to go so I can network and meet others who have this same habit...Instead, I am offering a haven for writers to live and breathe their works-in-progress. To get away from everything and with an established, published author, editor and mentors. The writers who attend my retreats will have days with them, not 10-15 minute slots.

I want to give other writers every chance possible to succeed in this industry. Face it, Borders Stores are closing, books aren’t being put up on shelves as they should be, people would rather read signs on the highway than books. What we need to do as a collective group, is bring back the art of writing. Benjamin Franklin saw the power of books, and therefore started the public library system in this country. Where did the excitement go? There are FABULOUS writers out there who have to work day jobs such as bank tellers and Starbucks in order to make ends meet. Did you know that Ireland actually supports their artists? Yeah, anyone wanna move over there with me?

So here's my plan...Lets all get excited about writing and help one another in succeeding. Let's build up platforms for others, promote the works of people you have read and enjoyed.

Take this attitude with you: You are not my competition. You are my colleague and friend. Bond together, work together and form the human connection that is soooo lost today and you will find that people, despite the jaded reality around us, haven’t changed a bit.

This is my chance to give back. My friend Lisa Gates says that she loves how I look at the world. I take the world is flat approach. This approach works, I promise. Let’s level the playing field, learn from eachother and be better for it. Future slush pile writers unite with the rest and the best. I encourage you to check out the blog I posted on Sunday with our guest author, R.A. Nelson. He shares this philosophy and is a wealth of encouragement for other writers.

I hope you will allow me to give back to you. What can I do to help you become tenacious, positive and willing to let your real life begin? Is it attending a retreat of mine, working with you daily to make you smile and see the world a little more clearer or offering life affirming positive thoughts? All you have to do is ask. Right? If you need something, if you need to be loved, if you need someone to give you a light to carry, then ask. There is no point in being shy. I know...easy for an extremist extrovert to say.

I have an interview with Photographer and National Geographic Eco-Ambassador, Chris Jordan, coming out in Art Nouveau Magazine on May 1. I will make sure I send you the link. He talks about the same principles of reciprocation kindness, love and love for the world we live in. It seems that most of the successful people in this world share this thought process. Do you?

Instead of shunning the other people in the world, think what it is like in their shoes, love them for the culture they provide and the contributions they could potentially make to this world.

I hope this hasn’t been too preachy. I really wanted to take the time to point you in the direction of some wonderful and very giving people as well as give you the chance to tell me what I can do to help you, for you are all my friends and my family of friends.

Lots of love.

Yours in Loving, Living and Letting the World Turn Without Negative Pressure to Be Someone I’m Not,



bookfraud said...

wow, cicily. that one a powerful post. you are lucky to have such friends.

what can I do to help you become tenacious, positive and willing to let your real life begin?

that's easy. get rid of our bed bugs, refinish our floors, paint the walls, buy new furniture, and babysit the little one at any hour of the day.

just kidding.

but your post does make me want to help a fellow writer in some way. which is probably the idea: i'm a firm believer that the best thing a person can do is help another person. if giving of yourself doesn't make you more positive, little will.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful stuff, Cicily!!

I heartily agree....you are on your way and bringing others with you. Keep it up! Pay it forward is most definitely the best way.

Thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of your retreats. Really looking forward to it!

R.A. Nelson

Travis Erwin said...

I wish I could make it to the retreat but knowing you, you'd make me eat salad anyway.

Good post, and that was one scary moment when you passed out. Is till say you need more red meat in your diet and all will be good.