My Beauty

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We all look for beauty. Sometimes we don’t even know what we are looking for but we search for it anyway.

The turn of a butterfly wing, the breath of a mountain, the lazy falling of snow, the laugh of a child, the absoluteness of mathematics, or the study of the microscopic world that exists all around us. We seek so much in this life. In the end it all boils down to a space where we can feel like ourselves, whoever we believe that self to be.

Blessed are those that find beauty in all things, in small things as well as the grand. Elizabeth Barrett Browning liked small books, simple words, and small things because she felt she was small while Ansel Adams settled for nothing less than entire mountains and their skies. Some look for the terrible beauty of the Himalayas or the sweeping sound of a symphony orchestra but others are content with the light of a yellow sun on their screen door or the heartiness of a well-made stew.

Where do you find your beauty? In the wide open skies of the plains? In your backyard? In the mirror? Do you struggle to find beauty or does it surround you every moment? Is your beauty someone else’s ugliness? That’s ok. No one can or should tell you what beautiful is.

I find beauty in the whisper of swaying trees, the hum of insects in tall grasses, the exciement of my dogs as they clamor for dinner, and in the hard won life of my kitchen garden. And whenever I feel stumped for a topic on which to write, I let the memories of these things sink into my soul. Inevitably ideas will flow.

Tell me about your beauty and where you find it.

Social Media and Authorship

Today I attended a Self-Publishing workshop put on by a local writer, Tracee Garner (you can find her at Teegarner.com). In addition to her workshop, I’ve been doing a lot of research on writing, editing, writing contests, and publishing. The one thread that gets mentioned at any of these how-to’s, conferences, workshops, and websites is the importance of social media. In fact, many people harp of this idea of staying connected on multiple platforms to the point that you want to run screaming from the room, “Isn’t there anything else to know?!”

As always, there’s plenty to know about writing. Otherwise there wouldn’t be miles of books on the subject in every college bookstore, online bookseller, or large bookshop. But, if you, like me, one day hope to publish and have your scribblings read by other people–well, people other than your mother, father, family and friends–then you have to take social media into consideration.

Now, I’m fairly new to this social media game. I only just signed up for Twitter a few weeks ago and I’m still not sure how to use it to its best advantage, but I recognize the importance of building an audience if I hope to earn any traction with my stories (and I do mean earn, by the way). And social media is a great way to follow your heroes and see what they’re up to, how they use the platform to benefit their goals.

However, using all of these connections within connections baffles me. Google+, WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, RSS Feeds, and more. How do they all fit together? How does one ever hope to maintain coherent understanding and maintenance of so many platforms? And yet, people do. Daily. Hourly. It has gotten to the point, that in order to stay relevant among a target audience authors have to have webpages, twitter feeds, Facebook profiles, audio books, e-books, blogs, and more. These are all ways the modern reader connects with an author and his or her stories before they, if they, pick up a physical book.

The struggle I have is how do I connect? How does an unknown writer with no published material to her name begin to branch out? How do these thousands of bloggers gain enough steam in the beginning to earn readership in the thousands and hundreds of thousands?

How would you do it? And if you’re one of those amazing people who has achieved success in the digital world, how did you do it?

That’s My Story and I’m sticking–wait, I’m not sticking to it?

Last weekend, I attended a meeting of a local sci-fi/fantasy writer’s group. They’re a great group of writers, each with their own keen sense of humor and beautiful imagination. I had submitted the first six pages of my current novel to see what they group thought of it. They had some great ideas for minor problems I knew about, but one writer had a fantastic idea. The only issue with the fantastic idea is that I would have to re-work the plot of my first seventy pages. Basically, everything after this first six pages…

I am not so foolish as to think that my initial writing is glorious and should be left alone. But how does someone go about tossing such a huge chunk of your story? It is something I’m sure writers get used to but this first time is going to hurt.

I had a creative writing professor tell my class once that if you craft a perfect sentence, paragraph, or essay, one that surpasses everything you’ve every written, a sentence that makes you stop and stare and smile, then you should throw it out. Initially I balked at the idea. If it’s so perfect, why on earth should you throw it out? However, a year later I had to write a research paper for another course and found myself staring at a cleverly crafted sentence that caused me to throw my chest out with pride. But, as I re-read the passage for basic edits, I slowly came to realize that the sentence didn’t fit with the rest of the work. It stood out. With a heaving sigh, I saved the sentence in a separate document and started again. On a final read-through, I silently saluted my professor and her hard-won wisdom.

This seems to be the same sort of situation but on a much larger scale. It’s daunting, and I can see why editors have such trouble with stubborn authors. It can’t be that bad! This section can’t be that out of place. If you delete this, then the rest of the story doesn’t work! And so on. Granted, this is a first draft, and there are strong and intelligent reasons why I should follow my fellow writing group member’s advice. That tiny creative child inside of me is kicking her feet in outrage though. Perhaps I will find a new path for my characters, a better one that will move faster and with more precision, two things I have struggled with so far.

Have you ever had to deal with major edits or deletions? Have you ever read back over a substantial piece of work and decided to chuck the entirety and start again? How difficult was that for you?

I’ll let you know how bad it goes for me and how far I let my creative child throw that tantrum.

Happy Writing!