Alicia Anthony

Suspense with a Twist

Tag: motivation (Page 1 of 2)

Finding Motivation

Everyone warned me.

“Be careful. Make sure you have a plan laid out, goals that will keep you writing once this organism called an MFA program ends. Some people stop writing altogether. Don’t let that happen to you.”

I scoffed at their remarks. And rightly so. I had a plan. I would finish my manuscript and send it out, find a home for the characters who had become friends, get published, and write another one.

But things don’t always fall into place as easily as we’d like, do they?

I graduated from my MFA program in June. It was a wonderful final residency full of camaraderie and inspiration that I knew would follow me home. And after the pomp and circumstance of graduation died down, it did.

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I completed Inherent Lies, and was even named a finalist for the Killer Nashville Claymore Award just as I launched my first round of queries, hoping to find it the right home with an agent who shares my commitment to this project and can see the manuscript’s commercial potential.

I even have another project started, but for some reason, the spark that propelled me through Inherent Lies and even the novel that came before, Inherent Truth, is missing. Is it because the characters have yet to become so real to me? Perhaps. But I think the more likely culprit is fear. Fear of having spent so much time, so much energy, so much life working on something that may not ever…No…I won’t honor that thought with a voice.

But now that I’m in this place, this rut with walls so high climbing out seems impossible, what can I do?

Advice from some of the masters (Stephen King, James Patterson, etc.) indicates doing what you can to forget about that previous book. Focus wholly on the next project, and I suppose that is my struggle. Until Inherent Lies finds a home, I feel as though I’m in limbo. In some in-between place where one version of myself is pulling me to try to “fix” that manuscript.

“I’ve had some great feedback, there must be some reason it hasn’t been picked up. Maybe I can fix it… But then again, I need to focus on the new project. If I can just get in the groove on that one, waiting for news on Inherent Lies won’t be so hard.”

That is the mantra that keeps spinning through my mind, and I’m giving myself good advice. But regardless, it’s keeping motivation at bay when I wake at 3:30 AM to take advantage of the writing hours I’ve worked hard to carve out among the responsibilities of my day job and family obligations. And let me tell you, nothing makes an early rising writer crankier than lack of inspiration when she could be curled up asleep in her nice, warm bed.

Grrr…

So, what does one do with those early morning hours when she could be sleeping or writing but can’t?

Well, there’s Facebook, of course, and planning imaginary vacations. Those are two of my personal favorite time wasters. But a close third is researching writer’s block, of course.

And here’s what I’ve discovered… the masters are right. I’ve got to move on. Inherent Lies will find a home in time, and an editor will one day force me back into the world of Liv and Ridge, but now is my time. My time to unearth the new characters who are ever so slowly emerging from my subconscious, to peel back the layers to discover what they’ve done and why and what they will do about it next.

I realized that I almost allowed the treachery of waiting to wipe away the thing I love most about writing: the ability to constantly discover, and it is what I’ve been missing the past couple months or so. I’ve been gripping onto the characters in Inherent Lies so tightly that these new characters had no where to go, no one to listen to their stories. And in order to move forward, that must end.

So, with the publication of this post, I am determined to ward off the dark shadow of pessimism that calls out to me to re-revise my manuscript, to hold tight to Liv and Ridge and all the other players in that novel. Instead, I will listen for the whispers of the muse that shines a light for me each time I take up a pen or sit in front of my laptop. I will tune my ear to the eager voices of slowly developing characters. Voices whose time it is to be heard.

…I think I just heard a whisper… 🙂

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A Gentle Reminder

Teachers work hard.

No matter how you feel about the profession or those in it, one thing is for certain. Good teachers put in many hours and go above and beyond to make the lives of their students more memorable. None of us went into the profession hoping to satisfy our state department of education (although it has become a necessary evil). We chose this profession for one reason, and one reason only… to enrich the lives of students.

The one downfall to this, however, is that we rarely get to see the impact we’ve had on their lives. Students get older, move on to the next grade, until eventually, we are but a speck in their memory. Hopefully, a speck they remember fondly, but still… you get the point.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of experiencing one of those rare moments of gratification. I was mentioned in the acknowledgments of a student’s novel.

“The last person I would like to thank is Mrs. Anthony. She brought NaNoWriMo to [our] school.”

-Joshua, 4th Grade Student at London Elementary School

It’s nothing more than a blurb, but I can’t tell you how warm and fuzzy that kind of thing makes me feel. That one line makes all the extra effort worthwhile. And since today I’ll be opening up sign ups at our school for Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), it seems my young friend had perfect timing.

Thanks, Joshua, for proving that what we do makes a difference. You rock, my friend! And remember…

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Spring Renewal

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Starting over – it’s not easy, but the season of Spring exudes it. Flowers poke their heads above the warming earth and trees begin to bud and leaf. What better season, then, to make a metamorphosis of my own?

I will graduate from Spalding University’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing program on June 4th. It’s been a long journey that has spanned four countries and two continents. It has been the impetus for new friendships with wonderful, imaginative people, and an excuse to travel to places I’d never under normal circumstances get to go. And although it proved arduous at times, and will likely bankrupt me as I spend the rest of my days paying back all those student loans, it is a decision I’d make all over again.

A year ago, in the midst of writing my extended critical essay, I was ready to be done. I was tired of the grind that five packets a semester entailed. Tired of critiquing books by other authors when all I wanted to do was write my own. But now that the time has arrived, now that I’ve spent the last several months immersed in my own fiction, spit shining my creative thesis, I’m having a hard time letting go.

I can’t help but ask the question, “What happens now?”

Thanks to the poignant words of my mentor in our final conference, I think I can begin to answer that question.

This is not the end. This is just the beginning.

This is the time to plan, the time to give voice and merit to the goals I’ve set for myself. It’s time to stop calling this vision I have a dream, and begin calling it what it is…a professional goal. One that I’ve spent the last four years dedicated to achieving, and one that has become even more attainable by earning this degree.

This is my spring renewal… my metamorphosis from dreamer to achiever. My chance to put what I’ve learned into action, not for the purposes of the next packet, but for myself. Each word, sentence, and scene that I write will bring me one step closer to the goals I’ve set for myself. This spring, it’s time to bloom.

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Blog-o-Rama Day… uh… 16: Mailbox

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Well, for those of you who’ve been keeping tabs (although bittersweet, I don’t think there are that many of you) I’ve missed a few days. I could go on about why I’ve been neglecting my blogging duties, but the mundane drivel of my everyday existence may bore you to tears. Regardless, today’s prompt was, “mailbox”.

As if the universe knew I needed some inspiration for this post in order to set me back on track, I opened my mailbox to find two very exciting packages. The packages were identical with the exception of their addressees. One was addressed to Doug, and the other to Jillian. Inside were my beloved family members’ brand new passports. Eek!

Okay, that may not seem very exciting, but I am very much looking forward to our travel plans this summer. I will be traveling to Ireland for the Spalding University Low-Residency MFA program and Doug and Jillian will be joining me after my classes are finished. Neither of them have ever been overseas, and I can’t wait to show them one of my favorite places in the world… The Emerald Isle. Talking Doug into this trip wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, and he’s still not crazy about staying as long as we are, but I am confident that once he is there he will be very happy he decided to go.

So, in the mailbox today was the first stepping stone along the path that will lead (push) my “happy to go to Gatlinburg every summer” hubby across the pond (no disrespect toward Gatlinburg intended, I do love the Smokies). Now I just have to hope he falls in love with the country as easily as I have.

I mean, come on, who couldn’t love this:

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Slàinte, my friends!

Blog-o-Rama Day 10: Stars

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From the time I can remember I wanted to be an actress. I yearned to walk the red carpet, to have strangers ask for my autograph, and most of all to have the opportunity to pretend to be someone else. So, for today’s prompt, stars, I decided to blog about this long dreamed aspiration of mine.

I had my shot at the acting life. It may have been brief, but I took it and in hindsight gave up too quickly. However, I’ve come to realize in life that everything happens for a reason. The good and the bad both have a place in this journey we call life. My journey was meant to include tiny stints in Los Angeles, studying theatre at USC and later as an extra in American Pie. Both of those experiences help create the woman I am today.

Now, I have realized that acting is not the only profession that will provide me the outcome of living other people’s lives. As I was writing my novel I realized that creating these characters on the page is as satisfying (if not more so) as acting. In fact, as an author I have full authority over what happens to my characters. I’m not bound by someone else’s script or dialogue.

Wow! What a revelation!

The lesson to take away from this is that even if the life you thought you had planned for yourself doesn’t work out, another path is waiting for you. And that path may be more incredible than you ever thought possible. Stars will align. Maybe not in the formation you originally intended, but they will align just the same.

Happy writing, my friends!

Blog-o-Rama, Days 8 & 9: Shapes and A Snack

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I’m killing two birds with one stone today. I neglected my blogging duties yesterday in order to attend to my teaching duties at last night’s Make It, Take It opportunity for our school’s second graders. But I am back at it tonight and rolling two prompts into one for your reading pleasure. 🙂

Yesterday’s prompt was shapes, so the snack I chose for today’s prompt is filled with lovely little squares. I always loved squares (I really am kidding) and candy is one of the best places to find them (true, but weird). These chocolatey delicious squares belong to an Anthony-Thomas Crispy Crunch fundraising bar. I think just about every student I have is selling these for some club or sport right now. This one came from one of my dear friends, and fellow teacher, who keeps her daughter’s stash in her classroom. Much too handy for me to pass up. Thank goodness she’s almost out!

Until tomorrow, my friends.

Blog-o-Rama, Day 7: Something That Begins with F

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FUR! It happens to be one of my favorite wardrobe accessories. I’m rarely seen without at least a tuft or two dangling from my pant legs. The fur in this photo belongs to one of our two dogs, Colby Jack. His yellow fur makes him an oddball in the world of Miniature Australian Shepherds, but once I saw his picture, I had to bring him home. He brings me lots of joy and has provided endless moments of laughter in the past few years. Of course, dog fur isn’t the only type of fur you might find on my clothing. I’ve been known to sport horse fur, cat fur, and rabbit fur on occasion as well. Thanks goodness Doug and Jillian aren’t allergic to my furry friends!!

Blog-o-Rama, Day 6: Broken

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Broken… in my home, what isn’t broken? We live in a circa 1890’s farmhouse in need of lots of improvements. For today’s photo, I chose this porcelain doorknob which I bought as a replacement for one of our doors. Sadly, it has never made it to its destination.

The doorknob isn’t the only occasion of brokenness in my century-old home. We have a portion of our hallway that needs either new plaster or drywall. Right now it is beautifully exposed lath board. That’s all the rage on the home improvement shows, I’m sure!

The funny thing is, beyond the broken plaster, cracking walls, and ill-fitting doorknobs, nothing about my home is broken. I have the most wonderful husband a girl could ask for. He willingly puts up with my traveling, writing, studying, animal adopting, and complaining (not necessarily in that order) and somehow loves me in spite of my downfalls. My daughter Jillian is the most precious little girl I could ever want. I marvel at her sweetness and unrestricted aspirations daily. So even though the walls of my home may need repair, the love that is inside remains wholly intact. What more could I ask for? 

May Blog-o-Rama!

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Since today is May first, I have assigned myself a new challenge. Each day this month I will blog according to the ideas listed on this image. So today’s blog post is… Uh-oh… I guess I’m not starting off so well. You see, I didn’t buy a thing today. Actually, for me that is a great thing!! Doug will be so happy with me! Oh, well… Until tomorrow, my friends.

Emotion: To Save It Up or Let It Flow

I am a cryer. Anyone who knows me well, knows this about me. I cry over the big things and the things that seem so insignificant it is ridiculous. (I most recently spent the end of the movie Parental Guidance with tears streaming like rivers down my face. Wasn’t that supposed to be a comedy?) So I guess you could say that I am flabbergasted by those strong souls around me that can refrain from shedding tears when emotional events occur in their lives. I keep expecting those people to someday just explode, all of their pent up emotion showering down on those around them like monsoon rain showers in Cambodia.

So, that is the question I’d like to pose to all my fellow bloggers and followers out there. Is it better to save up all that emotion or let it flow whenever the mood strikes? Here’s the thing, though… what if it doesn’t seem as if you are purposefully saving it up. What if the urge to cry really never comes? What does that mean?

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