Friday, March 15, 2013

March Madness Check-In Day 15! #WIPMadness

If you haven't heard about my good news yet, you can find the full story here. Lots and lots of excitement for me lately!

If you're here to check in for March Madness, great! If you think March Madness is all about basketball, let me enlighten you. OUR March Madness is about books: setting and achieving goals to do with writing, reading, blogging, or illustrating throughout the month of March. If you haven't set any goals yet, it's not too late! Find out more and set your goals here. And why should you bother? Well, besides the fact that you'll have some great accomplishment to show at the end of ONE MONTH, my March Madness hosts and I are also offering some pretty stellar prizes. You can check those out when you set your goals, but for now, let me toss another prize out to one of our dedicated participants!

The next prize goes to: Candilynn! Congratulations, Candilynn! You can drop by this post to pick your prize from the remaining prizes. Email your choice to d(at)denisejaden(dot)com and I'll make sure we get it out to you!

(Just a note--the hosts are busy with their March goals as well. We don't have time to chase people around to give them prizes, so I'm afraid if you miss checking in and miss your name being announced, you'll also miss out on a prize. See, even more incentive to check in every day!)

While  trying to figure out what to make this week's post about, I couldn't stop reflecting on one particular highlight from my recent trip to Mexico. I was aboard a cruise ship, and for those of you who haven't cruised before, most big cruise ships offer nightly entertainment. I have been a professional performer for most of my life, so, to be honest, my expectations of cruise ship entertainment were not exactly high. But I still went to watch. It was something to do.

On one particular night, I was blown away, and it takes a lot to do that to me. There was a performance by an Olympic gymnast/acrobat, Lance Ringnald that was beyond skillful, plus entertaining and hilarious. The guy cracked jokes on his wireless mic as he did handstand push-ups OVER THE EDGE OF THE STAGE!

Besides that, he started juggling a variety of objects, then proceeded to plop himself down at a piano to play and sing for us!

Anyway, you may wonder how this has to do with writing and completing your March goals. I'm still working that all out. I can tell you, though, that I am feeling inspired to work harder than I have in the past, simply from being around this guy. He talked a lot about continually challenging himself in new ways (thus the juggling and musical skills) and it really inspired me in so many ways.

Lance Ringnald also wrote a book, which I picked up on the cruise ship and devoured the first half of on the plane ride home. It's an autobiography, reflecting on competition from his early years, to the Olympics, and beyond. All through the book, I couldn't help relating to him in his journey.

As writers, we pour our blood, sweat, and tears into our work. We often rewrite entire four hundred page manuscripts from scratch, only to discover that there's something vitally wrong with the entire premise. Hundreds and hundreds of hours, we pour our focus into our writing, not knowing if anything will become of it, or if it'll just end up in the Recycle Bin of our hard drives. Lance Ringnald would probably fall off of his pommel horse at the thought of comparing writing a book to Olympic gymnastic training, but I'm going to do it anyway. Because most writers I know work freakin' hard at their craft, day in and day out, not knowing if it will ever amount to anything, but having to stir up their hope each day just the same. We love it. We can't stop doing it. But it's still damn hard work. As my good author-friend Eileen Cook says, "Life would be so much easier if I really really wanted to be a plumber."

Writing--or at least writing to get traditionally published--can often feel like a competition. There's simply not enough room for all the books that are written to find a place in traditional publishing. The ones that connect with the right editor of the right publishing house on the right day is a very small number. And that's not even to mention finding the right readers for our books. There is a certain amount of kismet involved, and it can be disheartening if today just isn't your day, or if this year just isn't your year for everything to line up.

I love anything that gives me a little bit of hope to push on. I want to constantly continue to challenge myself, regardless of what rejections or acceptances I may be receiving. We can look at the writers around us and decide to hate them because they may take our coveted spot in the publishing world, or pick at the ones we feel are sub par. Or we can look to the really excellent writers and people in this world in order to draw inspiration. We can let them push us on to be better than we ever thought we could be. That's what Lance Ringnald did while training with, and then competing against, some of the best gymnasts in the world. He trained in the same gym alongside gymnasts he would be up against in his next meet. And there are things even in highly competitive gymnastics that aren't always fair. I figure we all have a choice: we can spend our time grumbling about things that are unjust, or we can go searching our world for inspiration and then doing the work to give ourselves at least a chance of success.

I will come back with a full review of Lance's book when I finish reading (it's hard to find time to read when I'm not on vacation!) but I highly recommend this book for anyone in any field who is looking for a little inspiration or added perspective.

Going into the third week of an ambitious month-long goal is usually the time I need inspiration the most. So I showed you mine...

What or who inspires you the most? Is it always something writing related, or have you found something outside of writing that you can draw inspiration from? And how has your progress been on your March goals so far?

Don't forget to check in at Kim's blog tomorrow.




37 comments:

  1. I've always loved writing, so my inspiration started internally. But over the years, I've been surrounded by supportive people (my family, teachers, my husband, my friends) and that really gives me the drive to keep going on those days when I'm feeling less than creative.

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    1. How wonderful that you are surrounded by such supportive people, Jennifer (and even more wonderful that you appreciate them so much!)

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  2. Awesome, Denise! You have hit so many nails on the head. As for inspiration, I draw so much from all you Wipsters who keep in touch on twitter and facebook and blogs. My favorite storytellers also keep my wanting not only to write, but to write well. People like John Green and Joss Whedon and Libba Bray. But my biggest inspiration right now is my kids. They are both going through some big changes and rough emotions. Sharing those passages with them helps me keep my world in perspective more as well as inspiring my actual stories.

    I just wish I could keep them next to me all day long...

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    1. John Green is such a huge inspiration to me too, Mary Ann. And kids! Yes, they are so inspiring and fill me daily with renewed perspective.

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  3. Some days I don't seem to need inspiration so much as initiative. Maybe it's the influence of one rainy day after another at this time of year, but it's hard to overcome the inertia. I have visiting family this week and it's so easy to use that as an excuse. It's a good thing I'm committed to checking in here every day! I find everyone else's enthusiasm contagious.

    I did my two hours of writing after everyone went to bed last night, but in the light of day I've deleted most of it. I'll persevere. More words will come.

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    1. Good for you, staying up to get it done, Carol! And even if you had to delete some of it, I guarantee getting your head into your project helped keep your momentum going. All the best with moving forward on it today!

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  4. Hey, congratulations on all your recent success, Denise!

    The recent success of my CP's inspires me. My kids, absolutely. Amazing books. Sometimes artists of other disciplines - especially dancers, for some reason. I think it inspires me to see how disciplined and physically and mentally tough they have to be while facing all the same rejection and overwhelming odds that we face. I especially love So You Think You Can Dance, because dancers who've already excelled in one style of dance (ballroom or contemporary, for example) are suddenly pushed into doing something totally different, like hip hop or Bollywood.

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    1. Thanks, Joy! So glad to hear of your CP's success (and that you're so supportive of them!) I'm also hugely inspired by dancers (I'm a Polynesian dancer, myself, but any kind of dance inspires me). But I can see how you would especially like people being pushed out of their element and excelling. That is always inspiring to watch!

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  5. Congrats on your latest news!

    I have to say hearing a teen or someone comment on how much they love my writing does help but overall it has to be seeing my writing in print. That has to be one of the biggest highs. Actually holding, touching, and yes, smelling my book is beyond fab. Plus it's kind of cool when son introduces me to others as his writer mom and then go on about some of my recent projects.

    Son and husband going to a scout overnight activity which means this chica is hitting her revision big time! I really hope to finish another round by the end of this month.

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    1. Thanks, Kim. I love getting feedback from readers, too, especially teens.

      All the best with getting some good progress on your revision tonight!

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  6. I tried checking in on Ghostgirl's blog yesterday but it ate my comment, wah. Anyway, trying again here today. I finished my revision and sent it off to my betas today, wheeee! So I'm in the clear to head off to Spain.

    I honestly don't remember the last time I didn't have an active project, but I'm going to be busy enough with family over there that I wouldn't have had much writing time anyway, so win-win. I just picked up a bunch of good books for the journey though, including Eleanor & Park, which I've been dying to read after all the thumbs-up on twitter.

    This'll be my last check-in for the month, but I'll be thinking of you all and sending you good vibes to keep up the good work, Wipsters! Carry on!

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  7. I'll count your check in from yesterday, Kip, even if it isn't there, so no worries. I've heard wonderful things about Eleanor & Park! I can't wait to hear what you think of it.

    Have an awesome time in Spain! We'll miss you.

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  8. Congrats on the win, Candilynn!


    I'm sure you know by now how much my nephew and niece inspire me. My nephew, also my godson, and I have a special bond. I fell in love with that kid when I saw him at fifteen minutes old, but knew I loved him while he was still in the womb. He's talking more now. Had some speech delays, but I'm amazed at how smart he is. Even before he turned two who was making color and word associations, grouping flashcards of shape words in one piles, colors, in the next. Then he'd match the word to the actual shape, and so on. His latest thing now is typing out words. Ask him to spell BUZZ, he looks for the letters. Can't blame him for not knowing a QWERTY keyboard. He starts with B then types Z. He knows the sound and you can hear him sounding it out softly. He couldn't find the letter U so he subbed in H and typed BHZZ. Same thing with ANDY. He couldn't find the letter N so he typed AHDY. Later he found the N, backspaced and typed it correctly. My mom texted me yesterday and said he got his little foam letters and spelled A BUGS LIFE.

    I know I love PIXAR, just because, but I'm evermore grateful that PIXAR's helping him read, write, and speak. (I just need to curb his excitement for the action and semi-violent parts. They're animated, but he understands what they're doing. And don't get him started on reenacting the Buzz/Woody fight of 1995. Yeesh.)

    The niece? Full of energy. So adorbs. Actually more aggressive than her brother. She likes to sing and yodel-slash-scream, just to see how loud she can go. Also, I think she knows it ticks him off because he cries when she goes off. She'll stop, look at him reacting, and scream some more. Ah, siblings. She'll bum-check him to get a toy and now they both try and play cutsie for our attention.

    The both dance now, too. They've got rhythm and the waddle in the diapered tushies also help with that swagger.

    I could watch them all day. And on most days when I'm with them, I do--for safety purposes. haha But when I see how they see the world, it's amazing. Despite my love for all genres, it's my love of children, being around them all the time, that motivates me to write children's books.

    Hope this makes you smile and laugh:

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/27-heart-melting-moments-of-childhood-discovery

    I need to go and push a vacuum around the apartment for a bit. One of those inspirations is spending the weekend with me. :)


    Cheers,

    Tonette

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  9. Siiigh. Thank you, internet, for being a pain and wiping my comment.

    I mainly get my inspiration from music these days. :-)

    Checking in: Only read one chapter, but I was ahead, so it's not so much of a bother. Yesterday I read 17 chapters while trying not to fall asleep because of my stupid stomach bug. Writing wise, I wrote 2383 words today, which means I'm three and a half days ahead now.

    Looks like I'm beating the stomach bug today. Hopefully tomorrow will go just as well. :-D

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    1. Glad to hear you're beating the bug, Misha, and congrats on the great progress, even while being sick!

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  10. Haha. I got swept up by my love for those kiddies, I forgot to check-in my progress:

    - finished the judge's feedback for six novel entries & synopses
    - fleshed out more of my short story submission pieces and will be drafting this weekend (What's it called when it's past the outlining stage and not yet in the drafting stage? Whatever it is, I'm in that fleshy bit.) --> deadline's looming for both submission pieces
    - I've decided on my story idea for Camp NaNo, have a crew built, and I'm psyched at the outlining stage.

    I think all the McFlyness has inspired me to look to the past. Talk about inspiration. I'll be watching 'The Goonies' and the 'The Monster Squad' for starters, but for a small town feel, I'm also going to grab 'Stand by Me' and 'Now and Then'.

    The story will be set in a small fictional town in British Columbia. Since I'm not native to the province and have only bunked here for the last six years or so, any local insight would be appreciated. The kids will also have more diverse ethnic backgrounds, much like my own childhood.

    I'm getting giddy just writing this post. April is bound to be just as mad as March!

    **back to pushing the vacuum around. As you were.**


    Tonette

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    1. Wow, great progress, Tonette! And lovely to hear about your little inspirations. Kids really are the best inspiration, aren't they? I am from B.C., so if you have specific questions, I may be able to help.

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    2. Super duper. Would it be more convenient to contact you via email? Thanks in advance.

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  11. My inspirations? A single word perfectly placed in a sentence (usually in someone else's story!). A conversation with one of my kids can spark something. Watching a fav TV show and being led down a path I didn't expect. A beautiful lyric in a song I like. A simple picture. Anything except a blank page... that scares me to death!

    As expected, no writing today. Revision, revision, revision. How many hours can one person spend on a query letter? Draft 9, or is it 11? Not sure anymore but I really wish I hadn't sent out a previous version a month ago! Oh the things you learn after it's too late. (Can you say "rhetorical question"?)

    I'm doing great on my reading goals! Totally loving "Gone" by Michael Grant and have already ordered the next 3 in the series!

    Congrats to everyone for making it to the midway point!

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    1. All great inspirations, Carolyn! And revision is awesome. Be proud!

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  12. The sports analogy was especially apt today. I've written about 6,000 words (3 chapters) and I feel like I've run a marathon or two. My brian is mush and my fingers and wrists are wailing in protest. MADNESS.

    - M

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    1. This gymnast talked about hard physical training for 3 hours twice a day...just in case you were feeling sorry for yourself. LOL.

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    2. Oh, I don't miss the days of training 5+ hours a day at all (skating was my sport of choice). It's a different kind of exhaustion. Harder on the body than writing but easier on the brain.

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  13. I am here and still kicking, dissapointed I have missed the past handful of check in's :-( life decided to run away from me for a while there, but I am back on track and still looking to reach my goal by the end of the month!

    I take inspiration from a lot of different things. My children and their amazing imagination, my mother for many reasons is probably my biggest inspirations and of course inspiration I find in the library but my all time favorite place to find it is in the isles of a used book store.

    Progress on the novel had begun to slow down the past few days but I managed to pick myself back up and write just over 3000 words between yesterday and today. Still on track to reach my goal and am actually hoping if I can push push push I may be able to finish my first draft all together (being overly optimistic? Who knows)! 7000 words till my goal!

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    1. 3000 words is awesome, Rebecca! I have no doubt that you will reach your goal (and it's not too late to start checking in daily!)

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  14. I am inspired by gorgeous art, beautiful music, the glory of creation, the taste of incredible food and drink, the smell of flowers or melting butter or pine trees on a warm day, birdsong, and the list goes on and on. I am inspired by the incredible beauty that surrounds us each and every day. It makes me want to create something special, too. ^_^

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    1. And I am inspired by your inspirations!! I loved reading that, and I am now longing for the smell of flowers, can't wait for spring to come in full force.

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    2. Your comment IS very inspirational all unto itself, Angelina! It's so important to remember all the little things that we can draw inspiration from.

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  15. I hope this doesn't seem trite, but lately I've been inspired by my wee little flower garden. It took me three months to completely weed it and turn the soil. Then I discovered about 200 bulbs in the soil (they hadn't bloomed with all the tight grass on top), so I replanted them. But I didn't know what the bulbs were going to be. So, we're just ending wild patches of crocus, when suddenly a couple dozen hyacinths appeared. Next up appear to be a mix a tulips/daffodils. I worked so hard on this and it's gratifying to see the little baby flower heads stand up. I think of the hard work as equal to drafting and the baby flowers as my cast of characters.

    As for goals, this week was abysmal with interruptions and schedule changes. But next week, I try again. Even if 50,000 doesn't happen, at least drafting is.

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    1. A garden doesn't seem trite at all! When I gardened, I used to draw great inspiration from it (I keep thinking I should go back to it, but alas, they seem to be empty words...)

      I have every confidence that you will be able to make your goal--and possibly even more than you hoped for.

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  16. I must be honest and say I've felt pretty crappy lately and I think I've got the I'm-never-gonna-sell-my-picture-book-ever! blues. Got word it was passed by the 7th editor...huge sigh. It's gotten me extremely down. I sooo apologize for not being around, cheering everyone on as I should be. I know during times such as these, we writers should reach out and seek support, but instead, I crawl into my shell and hide. It's so self-destructive. Today was the first time I've stuck my head out on social media. Seriously. Note to self: stop being so hard on yourself. lighten up.

    I've also been dealing with a medical issue, again. I had cervical spine surgery last Feb. and it seems I may be dealing with another one soon. It's been extremely difficult to sit at a computer and type with my hands and arms numb and aching. I have an appointment with the neuro surgeon at the end of March. Keep your fingers crossed it'll be an easy fix.

    BUT imagine my surprise when I arrived here and saw that I WON a prize!!! I'm humbled. Thank you so much!!!

    Progress: I've put project one on hold to work on project two instead. Project one felt like it was moving backwards instead of forward. March's progress is slow, but I've gotten some good work done today on project two. I'm going to stick with this one for the remainder of the month. Hope to have it ready by March 27 for the next SCBWI critique session.

    Denise, I loved reading your SUPER news on your post! Congrats, and yes, lots of great things are happening for you!!!

    Hope y'all are wipping up some madness. Keep up the fabulous work!!!

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    1. Huge (((HUGS)))! I remember how that felt, when it seemed like every few days a new rejection rolled in. It is debilitating and draining. Took all the writing energy right out of me. I'm happy to hear you had a good day and hope those will continue.

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    2. Eek! My computer is NOT working well today at all and keep eating my comments! Anyway, Candilynn, I did want to mention that up until a week and a half ago, I had almost zero hope about my work selling as well. It only takes one! It truly does. I know it can be hard to keep up the hope, but I'm glad to hear you're still moving forward with another project. Hugs and congrats, and all the best with continued favor and progress!

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    3. Candilynn!! I'm so sorry to hear of the health issues and rejection blues. We're here for you when you need us and understand the need to hunker down now and then. Big Fat Hugs!!!

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  17. Reading excellent books, chatting with writer-friends, and hearing stories from other people's lives all inspire me to get back to writing.

    I'd hoped to do some pages of revision tonight...I don't usually write after working a shift at the hospital, but in the spirit of madness, I had good intentions. However, it was a busy day, and the last thing I did before coming home was comfort the family of a patient who just died...I was ready for some down time when I got home. Hubby and I ordered a pizza and watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and (surprise!) the wonderful story inspired me, and Maggie Smith inspired me, as she always does. It was a good evening. Tomorrow, much madness!!

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear about your night last night, Shari. There is a special place in heaven for folks like you who are such a comfort to families in times of heartache.

      I have full confidence that you will get back at it with renewed inspiration.

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    2. Shari - I saw that movie by accident (my friend and I were going to see Snow White and the Huntsman, then balked at the reviews), and it was one of the highlights of my summer. Such a beautiful film. I loved all of the actors, and I especially enjoyed Maggie Smith's character arc. Hope you found your madness!

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