“Our memories aren’t perfect.” – Brent McLaughlin, writer

In my latest interview, I posed a question to my friend, Brent McLaughlin, what it was like to journal on a regular basis. Aside from giving our thoughts a place to rest, Brent summed up his experience like so: it’s a means to look into where I’ve been; where I’ve come from. Because as he put it, “our memories aren’t perfect.”

I couldn’t have agreed more with that statement.

I’ve never been good at keeping a journal. I make time for reading in the morning. I make time for writing the next chapter of my book. But, when it comes to decompressing my thoughts in a journal form, I just don’t do it. And as of late, I wish I did.

Rushing from one thing to the next in life can make us feel like hamsters on a wheel. Most of us are good at setting goals. We look at our resources. We set our parameters – and we go for it. Yet we don’t always know how or what brought us there once we make it (if we even do). I believe if we took more time to reflect on what it was that got us through, we might appreciate our accomplishments more. We may slow down more. We may even enjoy our lives more.

Because, again, our memories aren’t always perfect. And we need those little reminders as often as we can get them.

#12Months12Books – April: “Spirit, Run”

This month has been rough. I’ll just throw it out there. I’m officially four months in and this #12Months12Books thing isn’t getting any easier. However, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to re-release this novella, Spirit, Run for the month of April. So here we go.

A little about Spirit, Run, I wrote this story about a year ago and shared the majority of it on my blog. I’d say this was one of my first attempts to do something that wasn’t a full-scale novel. The entire thing felt like a contained story, one that could be told in fewer words than a big, overarching tale. I liked the concept and away I went with it. Ironic considering how appropriate I feel the title has become for what I did with it: run. 

Originally, Spirit, Run was just Spirit Run (hopefully you caught the change there). There was no emphasis added; no comma. I know it may seem ridiculous, but that added punctuation made all the difference. It turned the title into a command. As if the spirit is being ordered to run. That’s what I liked about changing the title. Rather than sounding like a linear tale, one that followed a specific track, it was now left with a greater deal of freedom.

The main character, a spirit racing toward its human vessel, is commanded to run for its target. And it does so under the guidance of three angels; a trio of protectors battling on the soul’s behalf. However, they are unable to interact directly with the one whom they are defending. A real challenge considering the types of opponents they find themselves up against. As for what (or who) they end up fighting against, I’ll leave that up to the reader to find out.

Spirit, Run will be available on Kindle Friday, April 24.

Hope you enjoy.

 

Holiday Reading: The Screwtape Letters and Blood Meridian

I’ve been busy reading both of these books during the holidays; Blood Meridian for much longer than The Screwtape Letters. The former is written by a man who may be better known for his story, The Road (McCarthy). The latter is a literary hero of mine (Lewis). And both are powerful wordsmiths. For example, some of his (Lewis’) sentences can be as long as a whole paragraph, if not as long as the page itself – complete with semicolons, hyphens, and multiple commas for good measure. And McCarthy can be just as lengthy, capturing the imagery of a sunset on an entire page and then casually jumping ahead three days in the next paragraph.

Basically, you have to be paying close attention when reading these guys. Otherwise, you’re bound to get lost somewhere.

If you know nothing of C.S. Lewis, it’s like this: asking for a small order of fries, but instead getting six pounds of ribs. At first, most people would be happy about the surprise, but would soon find themselves overwhelmed by what they’ve undertaken. And, if they’re feeling that way, they walk away before the meal is finished. That’s how I felt the first time I read something by Mr. Lewis – overwhelmed. But, I soldiered on and found Lewis’ works to be as engaging as they are difficult to understand, at times. Nowadays, I expect ribs; not fries. As for Mr. McCarthy, his style can be frustrating too, but I’d compare it to finishing a final exam. It may take you a couple hours, but if you stayed focused throughout, you’ll feel good about the result.

As for the reads themselves, Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters is a dark tale about a demon, Screwtape, writing letters to his nephew – Wormwood, who is also a demon – about how to properly kill a man’s soul. Yikes, right? And McCarthy’s Blood Meridian is a fictional tale set in the old west – filled with plenty of violence, gore, and paces itself in a less apologetic manner than any John Wayne movie you’ve ever seen. Indeed, my holiday reading hasn’t been for the light of heart.

But hey, that’s okay. I’m not trying to kill the holiday spirit by reading dark or evil tales – I’m just doing some much needed weightlifting; specifically for my brain. I remember having to read books in high school that I hated; for instance, The Scarlet Letter. God bless the soul who likes The Scarlet Letter. I understand it’s been regarded as a classic, but to me, it’s just boring. As an adult, I can’t bring myself to read it again. However, I can bring myself to appreciate its word choice, its context, and its large vocabulary. And as a writer, I can challenge myself to read something for that very reason: to enhance my overall knowledge of words and ultimately, become better versed in how to use them.

When I first started writing stories, I found myself emulating the author I was reading the most. If I was reading something by Hans Christian Andersen, I’d shadow his work in a similar fashion. The same thing happened when I was reading Tolkien, Frank Herbert, or Stephen King. Essentially, what I was taking in, I was pushing out. This was good, at first, but I stopped this pursuit once I felt I had a “handle” on what I needed. That was the wrong choice. Like, applying for college when you’re still in the eighth grade – you can’t expect to do calculus well without first taking pre-calculus. A lot of aspiring writers tend to miss this, myself included. They jump into the deep end with an idea yet have nothing to draw from other than popular cliches or a list of their favorite phrases, often recycled or paraphrased from that favorite story. “They were frozen with fear”; or “They’d never seen anything like it.” Not. Good. Writing. I’ve found it’s better to diversify one’s literary vault than to squeeze it tight. If you’re writing historical fiction, then read lots of historical fiction. Find the buzzwords. Find what works; find what doesn’t. Then you can move forward.

At which point, you get to enjoy the fun part: finding your own style and voice. Only this time, you have a plethora of new toys (words) at your disposal. You’ll face less odds of sounding foolish to your readers and more like someone who has done their homework. A better place to find one’s self in and a better way to become less reliant on just one story.

So Your Book is Out – Now What?

Yesterday, I finally got to release The Scientist’s Dilemma on Kindle. Might go without saying, but hey – that was very exciting. It’s surreal knowing my thoughts and ideas are now open to praise, criticism, and verbal shellackings. I’m sure I’ll never tire of the high it gives me; be it for good or for bad. But, when the day is over and I’m lying in bed, an annoying question may creep up and invade my thoughts: so what now, Josh?

Obviously, I have some options when that happens – four of which I find to be the most immediate during this process.

My first option might be to keep checking up on my story. The Internet is a double-edged sword in this way. I can track views, likes, clicks, purchases – just about everything other than tracking my readers via satellite are some things I can do. And yet, if I’m not careful, I can find myself staring down the rabbit hole of never-ending browser clicks; hoping and praying that someone may have shared my link, viewed my webpage, or took the ultimate chance and made a purchase in the last five seconds.

Yes, the dark side of tracking one’s book can be dangerous. It’s nice to know how things are going, but if that’s all you’re doing then you’d best get to doing something else.

My second option would be to keep posting information about my book. Of the first two, this is the one that keeps things moving. A good business practice is to operate with forward motion. Lingering over concepts or ideas for too long creates stagnation and if you’re interested in being a professional writer, you have to view yourself in that same way. Your name brings a certain product and people – as nice or as thoughtful as they are – don’t always remember to check out your book. So you must remind them by continually getting yourself out there. This can be a tough one to execute and must be done with the level of charm that doesn’t turn people away.

Again, a double-edged sword, but if worked at, can become a powerful asset in your arsenal of online marketing. Am I pro at this myself? Oh, heavens no, but I’m learning as I go and this has proven to be a major part of what helps to build one’s platform.

My third option would be to look for more opportunities to share my work. I can post and connect links and write as many blog posts as I like, but I may be just working inside of a vacuum. With that in mind, it’s good to take a moment and think, “what am I not doing that I haven’t done before?” For this particular venture – The Scientist’s Dilemma – I decided I should only release it as an ebook. In the past, I would have scoffed at doing such a thing. “That’s too small. Either get recognized by an agent or nothing,” – that was my thinking. And with that stubborn attitude, I probably missed out on some opportunities along the way.

The downside here is looking back in hindsight, but there is a silver lining also: any chance you didn’t take doesn’t really matter anymore. If you’ve arrived at a point where it’s easy to look back and say, “should’ve done that” then you can ultimately use that to your advantage later. Learn what works and what doesn’t, but don’t try to recreate old scenarios for the sake of just trying to prove yourself.

My fourth (and last) option would be to work on the next project. It’s in these times when I can feel the most invigorated or the most demoralized. To know that my next work could be months, maybe even years away, is a daunting feeling. All sorts of doubts and dreadful thoughts can surface – and they can come from inside my own head or even come from the tongues of those around me.

The key in beating this is to be decisive in what project you choose to undertake. Oftentimes, I’ll find myself floundering between ideas, unable to get a solid grasp on what the best use of my time will be. This is normal though and is a natural part of the process, but it’s also not something to dwell upon or beat yourself up over. If anything, it might be healthy to have more than one project going at a time. Journaling is a good deterrent and can be very beneficial in flushing out the gunk that clogs things up. I’ve found journaling to be very helpful.

All that being said, back to it. I got some options to work with.

Courage – what it means to a writer?

Nowadays, most people can claim to be writers. Not that most people do; it’s just that most people can. Your coworker, your uncle, your unborn child – all are capable of having webspace. And all are capable of pushing their thoughts out for the masses to read and evaluate. We know that in the past, there was a definitive gatekeeper; someone who kept that barrier from being breached. But, today? Not so much. That’s why when I hear someone say, “I have this story idea. I think I’m going to write about it and get it published,” I can’t help but cringe a little. Not because I feel the sting of competition – I just cringe because this person has unknowingly entered into an agreement that is not what they think. Writing a bunch of thoughts down is easy. Writing a book is hard.

Generally speaking, someone’s perception of something can be lightyears from the truth. Experiencing a vision is much different than merely gazing upon that vision. That’s why when I hear those words, I don’t get angry, frustrated, or anxious – I just wonder what that person perceives as “being a writer.”

For example, I’ll be 30 this month. I’m in pretty good physical health, but if I were to tell someone, “Yeah, I’m thinking of taking up karate. World black belt champion sounds fun so I’m gonna do that” – people would probably think I’m crazy. Sure, I could do karate and work towards becoming a world class black belt, but do I possess the personal conviction to do it? Is it in my heart to work towards that goal? More than likely, there are years of practice, years of dedication, and years of failures ahead if I want that distinction. It simply won’t happen overnight. And yet, I feel like that’s what has happened to “being a writer” – we’ve seen or read stories of people who had popular blogs and we think a stellar book deal is easily achievable. Or rather, we think it’s easy because everyone is writing. Everyone has a voice somewhere. Everyone has a platform.

So, from the outside-looking-in, the logical question becomes: “Why not me? That looks easy enough….”

I don’t fault anyone for thinking that. Who am I to judge if someone has a killer idea for a story? But, in some ways, I feel like the courage associated with following that killer idea – the perception of what it takes to become an established writer – has been forgotten. And the only way someone will be recognized for having “made it” is when hashtags begin trending about their book idea. Obviously, a hashtag is not a sign of “making it”, so what is? Is that something an aspiring writer should be concerned about? Is this the only part of writing that’s “courageous” anymore – to have made it commercially or financially? People can get their 15 minutes of fame for a popular book, but is that all anyone should be after?

Well, that may all depend on what your perception of success is – a concept that’s difficult to pin down if you’re afraid of what success looks like to you. As a person who has been self-published, entered numerous writing competitions, and been freelancing for several years, the decision to be a writer was a hard one. It wasn’t as simple as creating a new Facebook page. What’s behind me, I see as a success. What’s in front of me, I see as more opportunities for success. But, success is relative without courage. And courage is relative without joy upon completion, which is truly what any writer should be after: joy. Consider who has more joy – the person who gets 15 minutes of fame for a popular, yet fleeting idea? Or the one who toils, working hard for years to master a craft that is long-standing and definitive of the voice and resolve he’s carried with him for a job well done?

The answer to that question – the person who can claim to be a writer –  is the one backed by their courage.

Courage – what does it look like?

Last month I focused in on joy. What brings someone joy? What doesn’t? People will spend a good deal of their day – and life – trying to attach themselves to what makes them happy, but never really get to that point of joy. I wanted to examine that further and for the most part, I did. But, I was also a bit distracted last month. In a good way though – I got married.

You might say that I have plenty to be joyous about. Wedding, honeymoon, beginning life with a best friend – yes, these are all awesome things. Daunting, but exciting and a great transition into the topic this month: courage.

It’s a hard term to define nowadays. What is courage? What does courage even look like? Ask someone 80 – 100 years ago and courage may look like defending one’s country or feeding the mouths of the hungry; a black and white concept with immediate results. Ask someone from 50-60 years ago and courage takes a new form: inaction becomes mistaken for action and calls to war separate people rather than bringing them together. Flash forward to the present and the image of courage is even more skewed; less clear and murkier than ever. In fact, courage now looks like this: sitting at home, “knowing what’s wrong with the world”, yet possessing neither the fortitude nor the incentive to act on the wrongness we feel. This new courage is all about hiding – the complete opposite of what the word means. The 21st century “warrior” builds barriers around one’s self, makes more money than his neighbor, and leads as comfortable an existence as possible.

Don’t believe me? Consider the protagonists of today’s popular stories and movies. And like it or not, the stories we are willing to indulge ourselves in – the stories we pay attention to – help define what is worthy of being called, courageous. On one side, there is the unattainable image: the perfect mate who never wrongs you or the impossibly-shaped supermodel made only for you. Neither persona exists as a whole – sorry. But then, you have the other extreme: the slacker; the privileged fool; the self-entitled comedian. All of which can exist, but share none of the qualities with being “courageous.” And with such opposite ideals flying around, people may find themselves struggling to achieve one of the two; thinking if one cannot be attained, then the other must be what he or she is meant for.

For example:

“If I can’t be the hero, then I can definitely be the slacker who will eventually get his day.”

“If I can’t be funny or land that awesome job, then I’ll work hard to get that perfect soul mate to make my life complete.”

These may not sound like actual statements, but through a person’s actions, we can observe where these unconscious agreements have become conscious reality.

I find myself severely convicted by this growing trend. More than in recent years. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, maybe it’s because I just got married, or maybe it’s just because it’s always ticked me off – for whatever the reason, I burn with the foreboding sense that courage is a trait most men – and women – will never understand. Not until we make the effort to reevaluate courage will we see the difference. And courage is not always about getting recognized; it’s about the willingness to face and fight battles we’d normally run away from. Confronting an abusive relationship, not giving into despair and depression, acting on a civil injustice rather than standing idly by, etc. The list goes on…. Courage isn’t about having a grand stage; it’s about growth.

My most recent of reads, Killing Lions, by John and Sam Eldredge, strives to showcase the lack of courage our society faces and honestly, I agree with them. Not because I’m a crotchety old soul who hates fun – it’s because the epidemic is true. The world is in need of more courageous men and women. And that doesn’t mean more rich people, more ultra-successful entrepreneurs or people who get elevated to a top management position. It’s about daily living that isn’t racked by fear, but moved with a sense that the world is messy and in need of those willing to get their hands dirty and clean it up.

Desktop Update – September 2014

I’m a little late to the party with this post but I think I deserve some leeway because of what’s been going on in my life. The biggest news being that I got married about a week and a half ago. Very cool and very awesome. My wife and I are slowly starting the process of settling into life together. Moving into an apartment, getting her signed up with my last name, figuring out who gets to shower when – you know, important administrative stuff. Indeed, the road ahead is a new thing for both of us but we are excited about what’s in store.

What’s also exciting is what “post-wedding” life is like. After all the planning, the honeymooning, and the moving in together, there’s no specific blueprint for figuring out your spouse. You just have to live life together. And that can be as daunting or invigorating as you choose it to be. Yesterday I met a woman who was going on her 50th wedding anniversary. Yes, 50. I’ve only been alive for 30 years – not being married – and this woman has lived almost twice as long with another person. When I told her I’d been married not longer than 2 weeks, she immediately jumped in with advice: “It’s hard but it’s worth it.”

Simple and to the point – I like it. I thanked her for the wisdom and went on to write this post.

Which brings me to the next topic – where does that leave the individual? I’ve got a partner for life but there’s also some new things happening for me too. All kinds of changes; changes that have affected this desktop of mine, for example. I recently became the recipient of a brand new computer; a gift from my amazing wife and I’ve begun the process of transferring data from one computer to the other. It’s more painstaking than I would have imagined and reminds me how much we tend to store our lives away on personal computers. Possessing storage applications like Google Drive and Dropbox are great, but when you find you have tons of personal photos, old word documents, and other buried treasures like past resumes and cover letters lying around, it really makes you wonder how much of your life is still sacred; not hiding away on some ancient hard drive.

Cleaning house....

Cleaning house….

The good news is: new computers mean new stuff. So that’s really what I’m up to this week: cleaning house. A somewhat humorous thing if you Google the terminology online. Don’t worry, they’re G-rated.

But more importantly, “cleaning house” now means more than just my own stuff – it means somebody else’s too. Once again, exciting, to say the least.

Did I mention I was excited?

Joy: Friends and Writing

Writers tend to lead a solitary existence (insert crying face).

No secret to anyone who claims to be a writer, but to the ever hopeful and aspiring young scribe, this may come as a harsh truth. Yes, you may need to be with people less if you aspire to be a published author. But, if you’re willing to sacrifice a few social hours for writing hours, you’ll embrace a new understanding of what it takes to be a written warrior. As ridiculous or enlightening as that may sound.

But, what about your social life? How do friends – people you’d hopefully define as “joy-bringers” – how do they fit into your life? Us lonely writers need to seek out friends every now and again, but what about anyone else looking for common ground and a good conversation? Well, we live in an age of identifiable “top 5’s” and “10 reasons to know when…,” but truth is, friendship is literally born out of joy; not fleeting happiness. Here’s some reasons why – from a writer’s perspective, of course:

Friends will build your spirits, not your walls

Hanging around your friends should give you energy, not take it away. Introvert, extrovert – neither distinction really matters. Friends have a unique effect on your psyche and your overall health. And the resulting effect should be a renewed spirit, not a desire to lock yourself away.

Shared experience breeds life

Writers need experience if they are to write about experience. And friends can provide you with this crucial element if you let them. Granted, not all experience can be good, but every experience can be beneficial to a person’s growth in the long run. How does someone deal with heartbreak? By leaning on the shoulder of the one they call “friend” – that’s a start. Or how does someone know what it means to win something together? By winning with someone at your side – that’s how. Despite the circumstances, all experiences can eventually lead to a better outcome. And having a friend by your side is a good way to go about it.

Emotional Intelligence – What’s that?

In the same way you get energy or gain experience, you can also become the recipient of an increased emotional intelligence. What does that even mean? Well, consider how your friends intrigue you. They bring old news and new news with them. It’s not that every moment has to be exciting; however, there’s definitely something about them that’s as comfortable as it is challenging. And having a ‘ying’ to your ‘yang’ is a powerful force when walking life’s journey.

Isolation is not life

I’m not someone who does well with solitary confinement – ironic, considering my line of work. If I’m faced with long periods of alone time, I talk out loud. Just to hear a voice, I’ll talk out loud. Not because I want someone to answer back, but just because I like to know I’m not just trapped inside my head. One of the biggest traps we face today is fighting isolation. For as much as social media has connected us, it’s also distanced our perception of what “life” and community really look like. And no, it’s not about having over 1,000 Facebook friends – it’s having at least one or two people you knowingly can call on to give updates on regular life “status.” You know, real life status. And that’s the opposite of isolation.

It’s also something called joy. 

 

The Joy

Last month I decided to look at pressure and how that affects a person – specifically in the realm of writing. With plenty of writing ventures up in the air, I’m feeling both the angst and the excitement of many good plans coming to fruition – or not coming to fruition. ‘Such is life,’ some may say. But, that’s only looking at the problem rather than where you’ll eventually get to. And where you should see yourself getting to is a place of joy.

This month, I’m more about the joy – or rather, I want to be more about the joyPressure tends to steal joy away; eventually leading us to “comfortable dissatisfaction”: a locale where the majority of middle-class Americans are liable to find themselves. It’s a draining existence if you don’t make a conscious effort to pull yourself out of that dark void and it’s a place where a close friend of mine saw me headed – so he took action. But, instead of doing the “normal American thing” and taking me out for a happy hour, he gave me a book to read and promised to follow up with me to make sure I was reading it. Well, I started reading it and he followed up as promised. The book was called, 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life and it’s written by Tommy Newberry, president of the 1% Club and a recognized leader in business/family mentoring. Here’s a pic of the front cover:

40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life, by Tommy Newberry

40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life, by Tommy Newberry

The book’s cover is unassuming – it appears to be have been written by Wal-Mart’s founder – but don’t be deceived: there’s a ton of good material worthy of application. And I wanted to highlight a few I’ve taken and applied thus far.

The first being this: how we prepare our minds is a reflection of how we will respond later.  For example, when something happens and it’s unexpected, do you focus on the good? Or do you focus on the bad? This is not the same as being happy-go-lucky or being naive all the time. The difference is preparation. A guy cuts me off in traffic and suddenly, I’m angry all morning. All because of one guy’s errant traffic violation. My response exposes me as being ill-prepared. Not for the bad driver, but for circumstances I can’t control.

To piggy-back off that idea, Newberry argues how we are not our emotions. Our feelings fluctuate constantly throughout the day and they can dictate our experiences if we allow them. Therefore, recognize an emotion as being a fleeting arrangement and you can distance yourself from the emotion before it consumes you. Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Well, it would be easy if it weren’t worth the effort. A good thing to train yourself for those “heat of the moment” situations.

Lastly, the conscious mind can only populate one thought at a time so why troubleshoot more than one? I find this to be the most applicable for the modern worker. Emails, social media, texting – all can be severe distractions from what really needs attention. Too many detractors means too little time to deal with matters elsewhere.

I would encourage any person to pick up Mr. Newberry’s book and give it a read. More than just a great exercise, it’s good for the mind and the soul – literally. Just don’t plan on me calling you to keep you on task like my friend did. Find a close friend of your own. Unless, of course, I’m your friend already. Then, I’ll consider it. With a smile.

Desktop Update – 8.25.14

I started writing this as a means to keep my mind in order. Between wedding planning, house-hunting, and everything else going on, it’s been tough making time to just relax and quiet all the external voices that come creeping in. When you’re stressed out by any number of responsibilities, you open yourself up to distractions. I’d love to check certain things off my to-do list, but it’s more important that I keep certain things off my list too. That being said, I’m reassessing my desktop and seeing what’s out there – along with planting a screenshot for accountability’s sake:

Priorities

1. Freelancing 

This is a tough gig. Don’t let the countless websites and email solicitations fool you – if you want to be a freelancer, it’s tough work. I know plenty of folks that want to do freelancing full-time, but their time is limited and/or their portfolios just don’t have the breadth to make proper headway. The 2014 year wasn’t my first year doing the freelance thing, but it’s certainly been the most rewarding thus far. The reason? 2013 was a lot of “Hey, I’ll do that for free” – that way I could accumulate some understanding of what it means to be a freelancer. And to be honest, not many people will pay you for a work unless you’ve had experience – proven experience – to do the jobs that are asked of you. One thing I’ve learned is that getting paid isn’t always the most important thing – it’s the experience. So here’s to a stronger, better 4th quarter in 2014 and beyond.

2. My next manuscript

The screenshot is not my next manuscript, but it is a short story I completed earlier this year. And I’m still working on the rewrite as I debate how to publish or merely share online. However, since A Dinner with Titans has been done for a while, I find myself putting more and more time into my next major manuscript: The Lion’s Den. It’s been nearly a year since I started The Lion’s Den and it’s been quite a year at that. I’ve worked through several iterations, worked up about 88,000 words, and even begun all over again. There’s no way to write that lightly – it’s been hard work. And now, I’m on my 2nd rewrite and am slowly making up ground as I push myself to finish before year-end. A time when the real fun begins: how to publish and where to publish. I have some ideas on how to go about that, but I can’t concern myself with that at the moment. The best I can do is get back to business and finish what I’ve begun, reminding myself of what’s behind me and what’s in front.

A Dinner with Titans_page 1

A Dinner with Titans_page 1

3. My (other) next manuscript

Though it’s not a requirement, I would suggest this to any aspiring writer: have plenty of projects lined up. Or at the very least, a few. Changing up the creative flow of things can help loosen up the mind and set you back on track. Especially in those moments when you’re frustrated or just plain stuck. I’ve never had an issue with this –  I’ve been working on sporadically on several – and these other works have helped to keep my head above water, but they’ve also restricted me from sinking into the bowels of a single idea that could make or break my spirit. That just wouldn’t be a good place to be in. First things, first though – finish the manuscript and then deviate my attention as appropriate.

Not Priorities

1. Starting another blog / building a new website

2. Searching for editors / publishers / agents

3. Allowing myself to get frustrated