Saturday, February 28, 2009

Motivational Quote #23

"Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them." - Orison Swett Marden

This particular Marden quote should be posted above my desk. Like many, I often let obstacles stand in my way instead of plowing through them. The scary part is that sometimes when my husband finds a solution for dealing with that obstacle, I immediately come up with a new one, so that once again, I cannot move forward. Sound familiar?

I have struggled with this aspect of my personality for years and it is through helping others that I found I have been able to help myself. While encouraging writing friends to pursue their dreams, I actually find a way to encourage my own.

An aspiring author faces many obstacles, and they often aren't easy obstacles to overcome; especially with self-doubt and fear of failure looming close by. But if we take the advice of Marden, who believed that our thoughts influence our lives and our life circumstances and that we have the ability to "...make the world we live in and shape our own environment," then we soon realize that the only thing stopping us from achieving success is us.

Does that mean that everyone who dreams of being a writer can do so right off the bat? No. Maybe we have to take classes to hone certain skills. Maybe we need to spend time networking and surrounding ourselves with people who can help us achieve our goals. Maybe we need to get organized first and really decide what our goals are.

What Marden's quote is saying is that you can do all that as long as you decide to tackle those obstacles instead of being afraid of them. I know I can do it...and so can you!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Motivational Quote #22

"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step."- Martin Luther King Jr.

I saw this quote and just had to use it for today. But first, a story.

Last week my youngest daughter won tickets to see Disney on Ice at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston. The tickets arrived in the mail this week and they could only be used for one of two performances: Thursday, February 19th or Friday, February 20th.

The girls are on school vacation this week, so that worked out well. But, I hate driving into Boston and my husband was working, so either I had to take the girls or we wouldn't go.

Actually, when I say I hate driving into Boston, I actually mean I don't like driving alone anywhere, but especially not to a big city. I'm happy in my little suburb where the worst trouble I can get into is getting lost in the woods behind our house--which I've done, in case you were wondering. The hubby thought it would be a great idea for me to take the T (commuter rail) into Boston, but again, it's not something I really like doing and I had worked myself up into such a fit by last night that I figured I would just find something around here to do with the girls today...even after my son's fiancee agreed to come with us.

Well, I did it. It really wasn't half as bad as I thought it would be. I drove to the Riverside Station, we took the T to the North Station--which is where the TD Banknorth Garden is--watched a great show, spent a bit too much money, stopped for lunch on our way back, and made it home in one piece. I'm exhausted, but I did it.

This story works really well with Martin Luther King Jr.'s quote. I had determined without giving too many valid reasons that I just couldn't make it to Boston and back with the girls. No matter how many times my husband told me how easy it was, I put up every fence to avoid going. And when he provided a solution to a problem I had stated: provided me with a link and directions to the Riverside Station, gave me his Charlie Card for the T, had his friends from work tell me exactly what I needed to do and how to get to and from where I needed to go, I still came up with every excuse as to why I couldn't do it.

But I could...and I did!

Writing is the same way. Too often we convince ourselves that we don't have what it takes. We don't try because then we can't fail. There are classes we can take to hone skills that might be lacking, there are tons of websites for aspiring authors, and there are so many published authors offering to help those of us who haven't quite made it yet, there's really no reason we can't try. But we have it in our minds that we can't.

What is your trip to Boston? What is it that stops you from working toward fulfilling your dreams of becoming a published author? What excuses do you use so that you don't have to try?

As King says, you don't have to see the whole picture to get started, all you have to do is take that first step in faith. Have faith in yourself. You have the power to make your dreams come true. Use it!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Motivational Quote #21

Since tomorrow is Valentine's Day and the start of the girls' winter vacation from school, I figured I would post this today. Besides, it really caught my eye this morning and considering how true it is, I couldn't wait to share it.

"People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing."--Dale Carnegie

I doubt I have to tell anyone who Dale Carnegie is, but some interesting facts that I didn't know about him follow:

* Carnegie was born the son of a farmer in 1888
* He attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York but found little success as an actor.
* The Dale Carnegie Course evolved when he began to teach public speaking at the YMCA where he had to live because he was unemployed and broke.

The above mentioned facts add depth and meaning to Carnegie's quote about having fun with what you do. As writers, we may not achieve the status of Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Anne Rice, or Tom Clancy, but if we're having fun doing it, why stop?

Let this fun motivate you and push you forward to help you acheive your dreams. Yes, writing is a business, but do you have to approach it seriously all the time? I don't think so. Some of the most well received pieces I've written, are ones that I've done totally for fun.

If you have fun being a writer, then do it. As Carengie says, it can help you succeed.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Stories in a Box

I'm not going to post a motivational quote this week because I want to share something of a more personal nature with you. I don't usually do that, but since it is writing related, I hope you'll bear with me.

Both my daughters take dance lessons. At the end of each lesson they get a sticker for doing good work. Today, I happened to mention to the oldest one that when I was a girl I used to collect stickers. It was a big thing in the early 1980's. Stores had long racks that looked like metal paper towel holders that held rolls of stickers in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. They also had sticker albums with laminated sheets to store your collections.

When I told my daughter that I still had my sticker albums upstairs in my hope chest, she asked to see them. Of course, they were close to the bottom of the chest and I had to take out what was on top of them to find them. As I dug through the items inside, I found myself stopping to look at many of them, allowing my mind to wander back to days long ago.

Here are just a few of the things I found:

* Diaries that I kept in 1990 and 1991 to track important events in my life and the world around me.

* My son's artwork from preschool (he's 21 now).

* A box of old photos of two people who were like parents to me growing up and who have since passed away.

* A rain poncho I bought when my son, my husband (then boyfriend) and I traveled down to Disney in August 1997, where it rained every afternoon between 2 and 4 pm.

* My red t-shirt from when I roller skated for leukemia. I was probably about 8 or 10.

* An infant's bonnet that was made out of a handkerchief that was given to me when our oldest daughter was born (she's now 7). The poem says that I am to give this bonnet to her on her wedding day. I had forgotten all about it.

* Photos from some of my elementary school field trips.

I could go on, but the point is that there are so many things in that hope chest that I forgot about; so many things that tell the stories of my life and of those I love. Somewhere in that chest is a manilla envelope stuffed with stories I wrote as a teenager. Even then I dreamed of being a writer.

As I tucked my sticker albums back into the chest and placed everything else back on top of them, I wondered, what if I took one of those items from the hope chest and used it to create a story? Who knows what might happen with it? I'm sure it would be totally different from the true story behind that item in my hope chest, but I'm the only one who could write that particular story because I am the one who carries those memories of the true significance of the items I've saved all those years.

I've always liked this quote from novelist Thomas Berger. "Why do writers write? Because it isn't there." And it truly applies here because that story is inside you.

What story could you write based upon one of your momentos?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Kim Smith Discusses What She's Learned about Writing and Publishing

One of the best things about virtual book tours is that authors spend time sharing their advice, wisdom, and insights into the world of publishing. Kim Smith stopped by Murderby4 today. Here's the lead-in of her article:

"When Marta asked me to write something for this article, I had to think, and think hard. I really wanted to say something that would matter to you as a reader or a writer.

Since embarking on the journey as a published author, I’ve learned so much about myself! For example, although I am a pretty meek and mild kinda gal, I can take the bull by the horns and wrestle with him a ways. I can face adversity and stand tall. That’s a great thing to find out about yourself, in case you wondered."

You will find the rest of the article here.