By now, if you have been a reader of mine for any length of time, you know that I wrote my first book last year and published it on Amazon (under my real name-sorry) on January 2nd of this year. The point of writing that book was to see if I actually had the guts to put my writing, which I had always kept a big secret, out into the world to be loved or hated, and to hopefully be read. It was never about becoming rich or famous or the next bestselling author. It was simply a personal challenge to climb out of my comfort zone. Clicking “publish” on Amazon was incredibly liberating for me as a writer.
After publishing my first book I immediately starting thinking about the next book. My brain had a different idea though. It shut down for a while. It took a siesta, a vacation. It was worn out from the 7 month marathon that I had just put it through with the first book that it said, “no more writing for a long while, please.” I have written some poems, and a couple of short stories, too, but nothing of novel-worthiness.
Then a few months ago it hit me . . . Another novel wouldn’t be a personal challenge. I already know I can do that. A personal challenge would be publishing my poems and short stories, the stuff that is actually pulled from my real life. I wanted to see if I could not just share my imagination with the world, but also share Me with the world. My poems and short stores, and even this blog, are essentially the pages of my journal.
Now you may be asking yourself, “But, Carrie, where’s the personal challenge in publishing those poems and short stories on Amazon if you can publish them here on your blog.” It’s simple really. Right here, right now I am completely anonymous. You have no idea who I am aside from what you’ve read. You already know my real name isn’t Carrie, and none of my friends or family read or even know about “A Tale Of A T-Rex.” It’s easy to appear bold when nobody knows you are doing it. But in truth I am hiding behind this blog.
So, my goal for book number two . . . To bring my truthful and honestwriting, the same stuff I write here, to the people who actually know me.
For a while I considered not doing it because I didn’t want to offend anyone who might recognize a piece as being about them.
Then tonight I realized something . . . Why should I censor myself to protect people who probably won’t even read the book anyway? And what kind of writer would I be if I censored my personal writings just to protect those who may have inspired that particular piece?
Although if there are any specific names in a piece they will bechanged or edited to protect the “innocent”, so they don’t get all butt hurt. This book is not about hurting anyone or getting back at anyone. This book is about putting Me, all of me, out there into the world. As a writer if I can’t put all of me out into the world then I may as well throw away my ink pens and tear up all of my paper because what is the point?
So I’m going to do it. I’m going to take the chance. My poems, shortstories, and other writings based on my “adventures” . . . a journey not into my imagination, but instead a journey into me.
Until next time . . .
Lately I have been doing a lot of reflecting on my life. There has been no significant event to bring on that reflection. Sometimes you are just able to step back and see things for what they are.
I am a 37-year-old wife and mother. I am an aunt and friend. I am a dedicated employee and newly reborn Christian. Am I now where I thought I would be by this age? Nope.
When I was a kid I wanted to be a firefighter, neurosurgeon, truck driver, and in the military. When I was a teenager I found my calling when I watched my dad practice for this bar dj’ing gigs. I knew that radio was what I was meant to do. I was a fine arts geek in school . . . band, choir, theatre . . . but my passion lie in my clarinet and saxophone. I remember thinking that I would never be able to feel whole if I stopped playing music.
I look back at the friends I had when I was younger and vividly remember writing notes to them that were signed “best friends forever.” You never think when you’re younger that the friends you had then would not be the same friends that you would have when you are older. Many of those friends from high school I don’t even talk to anymore. They were people who were there for me at some of my hardest teenage times . . . break-ups with boyfriends, fights with other kids at school, struggles with classes. I thought that we were building friendships that would last forever. But when you are a kid it’s difficult to see past today much less see years into the future.
I remember my first love . . . Bill. My world rose and fell on him. He was adorable to my little high school mind. He was tall, blonde, the most beautiful blue eyes, and very smart. Everybody loved him. He was my first boyfriend. He was my first kiss. He was the first one that encouraged my writing. He was IT . . . my first love. I thought that relationship would never ever end.
I haven’t seen or spoken to Bill since December, 1995. I do know that he is father to a couple of children and married to a beautiful girl that we graduated with. She has the same name as me. It’s funny the way life works sometimes.
As a kid I had lofty dreams of where I would be when I got older. I would be living in a nice house, driving nice cars, and doing very well off financially. I would be married to the perfect man, and I would be a raging success in my career. Basically I imagined my life as a fairy tale. How does the saying go . . . “Want to make God laugh? Tell him your plan.”
We can make all the plans we want, but only God knows where our life will go. Only He knows what lies ahead of us on our road.
I do not live in a nice house. I live in a two bedroom apartment. I do not drive a nice car. I drive a little Kia. I am not well off financially. I struggle every month to make the ends meet, and sometimes they don’t. I am not married to a perfect man, but I am married to a man who is perfect for me. I am not the raging success in my career that I pictured while I was in broadcasting school, but I have listeners that enjoy me being a part of their day.
Thanks to Facebook I still can keep up with many of the people who I was friends with as a kid. But, honestly, if I deleted my Facebook account the loss of their constant updates about their trips to the gym and what they made for dinner would not diminish my life. Why? Because I don’t know those people anymore. I am not the same person I was when I did know them. Just as they are not the same person they were when they knew me. We have grown and changed, and have not talked in years. Facebook is just the last vestige of holding on to the past.
I just realized that I sound kind of bitter right now. Bitter is not at all how I feel. I feel so very thankful for the way my life has turned out so far.
2-and-a-half years ago I realized my dream of going to work for a station I had been hoping to work at for 10 years. I have been married to a wonderful man for almost 10 years. I have an amazing 8-year-old son that tries my patience but makes me love him more everyday. I have a 14-year-old stepdaughter that is growing into a wonderful young woman. In the past couple of years God has brought so many people into my life that have brought change in me that I could have never imagined when I was a kid. I have met people who are like family to me. I have more moms that I can count now. I have friends that are more like brothers and sisters to me. I have met people who have helped me find my way back to God, and people who have helped me grow in my relationship with Him.
A year ago I was on a path that was leading not only to my own self-destruction but to the destruction of my family also. I was having an affair with one man, and just a few months away from meeting another man who I would actively try to seek an adulterous relationship with. Did I plan on that when I was a kid? Nope. I was going to have the perfect marriage, remember? But one year ago I was lying to my husband about where I was so that I could go to another man.
I am not saying that my life is perfect now. It’s not perfect at all, but it is getting better. I am getting better. I have learned to have faith in God to lead me where he wants me. I have learned that he will bring the people into my life that he knows that I need to be better for him. I have let go of the adulterous relationship, but am still struggling to extricate myself from the other man I was actively pursuing. But God will show me the way and give me the strength.
I had great plans for myself when I was younger. But God had great plans for me from the minute I was born. I am finally able to see that.
I have not taken the radio world by storm. I am not rich or famous. I don’t have a big, fancy house. I don’t have a super nice car. But I have a roof over my head, food on the table for me and my family, a job that I love, and the faith that God is giving me everything I need.
As I reflect on where I am in my life I look back and see how far I have come in the weeks, months, and years of my past. I am not who I was then. I am not who I will be in the future. Who I am is who God wants me to be right now.
Are you who God wants you to be right now?
Until next time . . .
I consider myself a writer. It’s what I love to do. It’s what I am good at. I have been known to be sitting in a bar, doctor’s office, or in my car at a stoplight and have to break out the pad of paper because an idea just struck. I’ve even been known to text poems to myself because I didn’t have a pad of paper to write it down. If you consider yourself a writer also then you know exactly what I mean. You never know when “THE BEST IDEA” will come to you. When it does, though, everything else comes to a grinding halt until you can get the words out of your head.
I follow a several writing blogs, “like” a couple of different writing-related Facebook pages, and they all say, “make sure you write everyday. Write, write, write every single day!!!!” As a writer you are supposed to write, then write some more, write when you want to, and even write when you don’t want to, write when you have lots to say, and write when you have absolutely nothing to say. I understand why you want to always be writing everyday . . . you have to keep that muscle worked out to stave off atrophy. For some people to lose the ability to write would be to lose their most prominent voice. Some people, myself included, just don’t know how to speak any other way than through their ink pen (which is ironic if you remember that I am a radio d.j.).
But what about those days when you just really have absolutely nothing to write about? Nothing inspired you. Nothing stood out to spark your creativity. You didn’t see anything that made you think, “that would make a great poem or short story.”
We’ve all, at some point or another, suffered from that evil demon known as writers block. Any writer who says they have never had writers block is a liar. Do not believe them. I firmly believe that one can not call themselves a writer until they have fallen into the jaws of writers block and climbed back out. The longest it lasted for me was 6 1/2 years. I didn’t write a single poem, short story . . . nothing.
I don’t know if I just had nothing to say, or if I lost faith in my ability to get the words out. I do know that I considered throwing out all of my notebooks, because they were just a taunting reminder of that part of me that had gone dormant. Then one day the machine turned back on and in the 2 1/2 years since then I have written more than I ever did before the writer’s block.
I don’t write everyday. I don’t always have something to say. For all the times that inspiration has hit me like a ton of bricks there have been more days where the inspirational well is dry. Yet I still consider myself a writer.
It’s been on my mind a lot lately that maybe I can’t call myself a writer because I don’t write everyday. I don’t have a special area set aside just for writing. I don’t devote hours of each and every day to my craft. I don’t write to entertain or inform others, but instead I do it to empty myself of things that fill me up . . . joy, sadness, heartbreak, love, uncertainty . . .
Do you consider yourself a writer?
Why do you write?
I have an overflowing 3-ring purple binder at home that is full of all the poems and short stories that I have written since I was 14 years old. It is the physical version of my heart and soul, and isn’t that what writing is about? When you write aren’t you supposed to bear your heart and soul to the reader? After all, how can the reader truly know how you want them to feel if you hold yourself back when writing that poem, short story, novel, or even that blog post.
I may not follow the “rules” when it comes to writing. I don’t write everyday. I don’t write, then write some more, then keep writing more after that. I write until my overflowing cup is empty, and then that piece finds its way into my purple 3-ring binder.
I write. I write when I am inspired. I write when my cup runneth over. I pour myself out through my ink pen or computer keyboard. I sit down and leave a part of myself on display on the paper in front of me. I give myself to the reader to be judged. Isn’t that what writing is all about?
So I ask again, are you a writer?
I know I am not the world’s most amazing writer. I have no delusions of taking the best-seller lists by storm or putting Stephen King out of a job. I do take pride in my writing though. Writing is my way to purge myself of pain and heartbreak. It is my way to praise and celebrate. My poems and short stories are pieces of me. They are my heart and soul bared under a microscope for all the world to see. If you read any of my writings I may as well be standing naked in front of you. Some of my writing is deeply personal and very difficult to share, whereas other pieces I can not share fast enough.
Then there was the piece that was a challenge to myself, a dare if you will. It was an adventure with no road map. It was conception, pregnancy and labor and all the fears that go along with it.
Last summer I set a goal for myself to write a whole book . . . chapters, plot twists, character development, the whole bit. I did it to see if I could undertake a project of that size and then follow through with it. I wanted to find out if I had the courage to put such a huge part of my myself out into the world. I wanted to find out how far out of my comfort zone I could step. I wanted to know if my imagination, which generally produces emotion-filled poetry, could write a book . . . a whole BOOK! EEK!!!!
I wrote the entire book by hand. It took two purple 3-subject spiral notebooks. I bought a cheap laptop off of Craigslist. When my creative juices would run low I would type the handwritten portions and work on editing. I discovered that I love revising, but I absolutely loath editing. I spent a lot of time in front of my laptop with my headphones on, listening to Kenny Wayne Shepherd while checking for misspellings and errant commas. Bluesy guitar riffs are very calming when a self-imposed publishing deadline is looming ever closer.
I wrote the first words of my book while sitting in my studio at work on June 10, 2013. I published it on Amazon on January 2, 2014.
Is my book literary greatness? Not at all. It is still riddled with mistakes that could have been alleviated by another run through of the fine-toothed editing comb. My book is filled with imperfections, but it is my book. I set a goal for myself and saw it through to the end. It was an amazing learning experience for me. It was such a roller coaster adventure. All of the up’s of “I can do this! I will write a book. The words are coming faster than I can get them down on paper.” And then the other side of the coin . . . the down’s. “I can’t finish this book. This was a stupid idea. Nobody will want to read this giant turd. Everyone will hate it!” It was the greatest roller coaster I have ever ridden and I can’t wait to take that ride again.
I cried when it went live on Amazon. I was official! I was a published author. I had accomplished my goal. That was what the entire adventure had been about. Writing that book had been my Mt. Everest climb. It was crossing the finish line at the end of a marathon. It was my Olympics. It was proof to myself that I had the courage and faith to get past my insecurity and fear and open myself up to the whole entire world. It was empowering. It was liberating. The only moment that was better was the day I gave birth to my son.
So when I read my first bad review today my initial reaction was to get angry and offended. After all, the reviewer admitted to basing their opinion of my book strictly on the fact that they had only read the first couple of pages. I am sure though that when Da Vinci debuted the Mona Lisa not everyone liked it. When the Taj Mahal was unveiled there were probably people who thought it was hideous.
An artist can not please everyone. Sometimes that can’t even please anyone. Art and imagination are subjective. You see what you want to see in any given piece of art, including written pieces . . . even this blog post. I see what I want to see, even if I am looking (or reading) at the exact same thing as you.
In the cast of my book . . . it is my baby. I love it and all of its imperfections. I dreamed it up. I grew it. I nurtured it. I stressed over it, laughed with it, cried over it. I raised it from the first idea of, “I should write a book,” to the day I clicked “publish” on Amazon and sent it out into the world. I am proud of what I accomplished. I created a book where once there had been none. I made my mark, no matter how small, on the literary world. Nobody can ever take that from me, not even all the bad reviews in the world.
That reviewer may have thought my book sucked, but as least I took the risk. I set a goal and followed through with it even when the road was scary and it would have been easy to quit.
My writing is not the best in the world, but I write for me. I write to purge myself of all the things inside of me. If you happen to enjoy my writings then that is fantastic and I thank you. I don’t write for reviews or to be the next world-renowned author. I write because I can. I publish because I can. God gave me a gift to tell a story and took away my fear of sharing those stories with you. So if I could tell that reviewer that didn’t like my book one thing I would say . . . I am working on book number 2 right now.
Until next time . . .
What are you passionate about? Have you ever really given it any thought? What is the one think in this great big world that makes your heart race, that gives you peace and happiness, that makes you tick, that completes you, that makes you who you are? What is the one thing in the world that if you were to lose it would be like a part of you died?
Now don’t say that you are passionate about your friends and family. Those are things that we are all passionate about. But everyone has at least one thing that really defines who we are . . . that one thing that we are ceaselessly passionate about. I will use a few of my friends as examples . . .
My male best friend . . . radio d.j. . . . comics and superheroes
My female best friend . . . business manager . . . law enforcement and helping church
Former co-worker . . . radio station engineer . . . making music
Former co-worker . . . organizer of beauty supply shows . . . animal rescue
What we do for our career does not define who we are. Our career is merely what we do to pay the bills. What defines who we really are is what we are passionate about.
Me . . . radio d.j. . . . writing
I saw a post on Facebook recently that said “find your passion and let it consume you.” Take a moment to think about that. When was the last time you fell in love with something so much that you let it consume you?
There are unfortunately too many people walking around the world right now that have no idea what they are passionate about. They are so worried about having the right job, fitting into the right social circles, and always being perfect that they never take a chance at finding what really makes them happy. To find your passion is to find what makes your heart happy.
Rescuing abused and neglected animals and finding them furr-ever homes makes my beauty show organizer friend happy. That is what fulfills her heart. Overcoming the demons of his very ugly childhood via the comic superheroes he loves is what makes my best friend happy. Writing poetry, short stories, even the posts on this blog are what makes me happy.
Many people are lucky enough to discover what they are passionate about. For those people it could even become their purpose in life. My beauty show friend would love to be able to give up her job and devote herself day and night to rescuing animals. But with the free time that she gets from work she has done amazing, life changing things for so many animals. She has found her passion and she has let it consume her.
What are you passionate about? Do you even know? If you could drop everything right now to do the one thing that makes you happy what would it be?
So, what are you waiting for? Find your passion and let it consume you.
Until next time . . .
It’s glorious and oh-so-amazing to take a moment, look back and see all the little ways God has worked in your life. Whether it is something small or something to turned out to be huge God is always there working on you and working for you.
I have always been under the belief that we should always keep learning. There is always something new to learn about and to help us broaden our view our view of the world . . . how to make beaded jewelry, the history of your hometown, the names of and stories behind the constellations in the sky . . . anything. We should never pass up an opportunity to learn. As long as we wake up to another day we have a fresh opportunity to be taught more about the world that God created for us.
Lately I’ve been thinking about going back to school. The thought has been floating around in my head for several months. I didn’t know if I wanted to take anything specific like a writing class to improve what I already know and love, or if I wanted to try something completely new like archaeology or automotive repair. In my indecisiveness God gave me my answer. I believe he is the one who implanted the desire to go back to school. But where I have found myself recently is not your average school setting. There are no desks, no chalkboard, no lunchtime or recess. But I am definitely back in school, and I couldn’t be happier with the setting that God led me to.
God led me to the greatest school I could ask for. God led me to church.
My eyes and heart have been awakened to the wonderful creation that is God’s world around us. In the past several weeks I have learned more through Sunday morning services, study guides, and even posts right here on WordPress from other followers of Christ than I have in my entire life. I have truly been sent back to school. God knew that I was open to be taught. He knew I was ready to find him. He directed every aspect of my life so that everything led me to him.
Do I still have questions? Absolutely. Will I someday know all there is to know about God’s work in us and in this world, about the work that Jesus did on earth before he was sacrificed for us? I hope not. I pray that God keeps my mind open, my thirst for knowledge about him unquenched.
To wake up to another day in this world is a blessing. To be given another day to continue to learn about my creator and the son he sacrificed so that you and I could have eternity with him is beyond a blessing.
Until next time . . .
Sometimes it’s difficult to see the way God acts in our own lives. Between the rush to get to work in the morning, the boss who can be a total jerk, long lines at the grocery store, getting housework done and dinner on the table, and helping the kids with their homework it’s very easy to lose sight of the way God blesses our day-to-day lives.
Rushing to get to work and the jerk boss = you have a job when so many others do not.
Long grocery store lines = you have money to put food on your table when too many others don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
Housework = you have a home when too many in this world are sleeping on the streets.
Helping the kids with their homework = quality time with your family when so many are alone in this world.
God’s blessings surround every aspect of our lives everyday whether you realize it or not.
Sunday morning in church the Spirit of God was so strong that everybody could feel him. Voices were raised in musical worship as we sang to him. Arms were uplifted. Smiles adorned lifted faces and tears rolled from eyes as God acted in each of our hearts. It was a beautiful moment. God was in the hearts of everyone there. It was truly a moment of praise and worship. At the end of the service five people made their fresh start and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. Seeing that happen will never get old to me. I joked with a friend that I am going to have to quit wearing mascara to church because I can’t make it through a service without being moved to tears. The sight of a new believer coming to Christ . . . there are no words for the way the joy fills my heart.
That moment on Sunday morning was a tangible moment of God acting in our lives. We could feel him there. But those moments when you are harried and rushed to get out the door, when you a fighting traffic and your jerk boss, when you impatiently waiting in line at the grocery store, or on hold for a customer service representative . . . take a moment to think of the way God has blessed you and your life.
On Friday nights I go to bed hoping that my son will sleep past 7a.m. on Saturday and thus let me sleep past 7a.m. Every Saturday morning at 7a.m. there he is on my side of the bed asking if he can play with my phone and letting me know that he is going downstairs to watch Spongebob in the living room. Every once in a while he will climb in bed between me and my husband and let us cuddle him (he’s generally not a cuddly kid, he likes his space). I love those moments when he lets me wrap my arms around him, lean my head against his, and enjoy the few moments of cuddly time. I love to kiss his cheeks and smell his hair. I look at him and say, “I like Nathan cuddles.” His response, “I like mommy cuddles.” Then I say, “They make me happy.” He responds with, “They make me happy.” That is our cuddly routine. It never lasts more than a few minutes but in those few minutes I know that I am blessed. God saw fit to give that beautiful little boy to me and my husband. He trusted us to raise Nathan to be not our son but the son of God.
An early morning whisper of “mommy” from Nathan, a giggle from the living room as he watches Spongebob, a random hug, to see him come running down the steps to welcome me home after work, late night milkshakes, him helping me cook dinner . . . it’s the little things . . . God has blessed me.
My family is not a rich family. As a matter of fact, there are some months when we struggle to meet all the bills. But somehow we always make it through. What my family has plenty of though has far more value than money. It’s something that we were losing before I made my fresh start, before I opened my heart and life to Jesus Christ . . . we have love, we have quality time together, we are rebuilding our bond as a family. That is something that a price can never be put on.
I could buy all the Happy Meals in the world for Nathan and send my husband to all the wrestling events that he could ever want to go to, but nothing will mean more than the time we get to spend together.
I used to take the little moments for granted. I am a workaholic. From the moment that I got my first job at seventeen years old I started putting work before family and everything else. I was unhappy in my own home, unhappy with my husband, and with my family. I used work to try escape what was making me unhappy. I didn’t realize thought that what was making me unhappy was me. I was trying to escape from what I thought was making me unhappy, but you can never escape from yourself. That was a lesson that I learned and could not deny when God held a mirror up to my face. I was tearing apart my family. I was throwing away the blessing that God gave me.
On those days when I think God has it out for me (you know we all have those days sometimes) I remember that God has blessed and those rough days are making me stronger. Those rough days make me appreciate all the wonderful things in my life that much more.
How has God blessed you?
Until next time . . .