Monday, March 29, 2010

Let's Talk About (Suc)Cess, Baby!

Success...What is it, how do you achieve it, when do you know you have it? It's so much easier to know when you don't.

Story time, Dear Reader, so settle in. About this time last year I submitted some work to a local literary magazine, The Porter Gulch Review . I was surprised to find out one of my poems had been accepted and was to be published in the 2009 edition. It was totally cool and fun and led to my first public reading! I enjoyed the experience immensely.

However, I pretty much pooh-poohed the PGR - basically because they had selected one of my poems to publish. What was it that Groucho Marx said? Something along the lines of he wouldn't want to belong to any group that would have him as a member.  Essentially I figured the PGR wasn't much of a literary journal if I got in. (Yes, this is a sad indicator of how low my self-esteem is...)

Imagine how I feel now having submitted several poems for consideration for this year's edition and  not having any accepted. Pretty crappy.

I submitted poems to three journals - all of which were to contact selected poets by March 31. Granted, it is only late on the 29th and therefore there are technically another 48 hours...but it ain't lookin' good folks.

Waaaahhhh. :-(

On the flip side (and there always is a flip side) I am a little relieved because I recently workshopped  one or two of the poems I had already submitted. Now that I have done more revising they are much stronger poems. And I have every intention of submitting them to other journals. That is part of my on-going plan - keep those freakin' poems in circulation, because sooner or later someone will read them and see the shiny goodness they hold.

In the meantime I am feeling a little disappointed and sad.

I was reading quotes on success and came across this one that, for some reason, I really love:

" Success isn't a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire." - Arnold H. Glasgow

Please pass the matchbook,

Quote of the Day

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." ~ Anais Nin

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Cleaning

Spring has sprung Dear Reader!

This has to be some of the best news we have heard in a very long time. Last week I was walking on a wooded path in a coastal redwood grove nearby and was thrilled to see the most amazing flowers - tiny purple orbs hanging thankfully on green stalks, hopeful, beastly fern fronds unfurling themselves in the shade, even the poison oak, shiny in its "leaves of three, let them be" glory was something to be thankful for. Spring!

Last week, however, I was extremely ill with some crazy flu-like version of a very bad cold with a side of mucus producing hacking. Felt about as lovely as it sounds. BUT, I decided to put a positive spin on things. Since spring was in the air I decided that being sick, without an appetite, and with feverish nights that left my bedclothes soaked each morning, was a great way to get some physical spring cleaning done. Think of the toxins I got rid of! I had been indulging in too much sugar, too much caffeine, too much bad, processed food. So the sickness imposed semi-fasting and major detox sweat sessions were really a blessing in disguise. I took Friday off and slept all day, in anticipation of feeling miraculously better on Saturday - the Spring Equinox.

Well, Saturday morning didn't exactly live up to it's reputation as a glorious day full of enlightenment and green grandeur, but by Sunday I was feeling pretty good. And I am now on a strict sugar diet (wayyyyy harder to stay on than I thought - further evidence of, ahem, "an issue" perhaps?)

This, Dear Reader, is a perfect segue into my check in for Week 10: Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection. This week, you see, was all about "search[ing] out the toxic patterns we cling to that block our creative flow."

There you have it! What a great way to breakthrough those toxic patterns - get sick! Have limited or no desire to eat, have limited or no desire to sit up and surf the internet (one of my identified blocks), and have limited or no desire to multi-task, be busy just to be busy or really have any interest in getting anything done. Perfect! It its own kind of cosmic slap in the face way getting sick helped me to identify all those bad habits I have that block me.

They are (in no particular order): food (sugar and caffeine, I am talking to you), the computer (yeah Face Book, this means you!), housework (I don't even know what to say in your defense, really. But as soon as I can afford it I am getting a housecleaner - you can count on that!), and "reality" TV (Top Chef, Project Runway, Millionaire Matchmaker - did I just say that out loud? - and those damn housewives - really, why oh why do I get sucked in?!?!?)

OK, we both know I am human - specifically a Jessica - so the simple fact that I have a) identified my time sucking wasting destroying blocks and b) purged myself of their draw for a week does NOT mean I will be able to maintain this abstinence. Nor that I want to, necessarily (so there, bleh.) However, it is important for me to go forward and be mindful about what I am giving up (time with my family, time for my writing) in order to partake in these other, way less meaningful or productive things.

Sugar and Caffeine? Consider yourselves warned.

Write on,

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thought for the Day

“You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.”

― Rosalynn Carter

courtesy of Real Simple

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


jux·ta·po·si·tion [juhk-stuh-puh-zish-uhn]

–noun act or instance of placing close together or side by side, esp. for comparison or contrast.
2.the state of being close together or side by side.

I am in the graceful state of juxtaposition. I am totally happy, excited, inspired and optimistic about life and writing and my place in both. Alternatively, I am 100% relating to the idea of "Stop the world, I want to get off!" I really, truly, madly, deeply want to take a break and lay in the overgrown green grass of spring and watch the clouds go by...for about a week.

Honestly, I think that would make a world of difference.

But we all know that ain't gonna happen! Besides, if it was possible I am assuming I would not be alone on that pretty green overgrown rug o' spring. How many of you would be there with me? Right? Can I get an "Amen!"?

Alright, Dear Reader, let's move on from Jessica in Dreamland and on to Reality with a capital "R". Time for the overdue Week 9 check in.

Week 9, if you recall, was all about "Recovering a Sense of Compassion". The idea was to uncover our internal blocks to creativity, address our past shames and failures as artists and move forward. We were to talk about what makes us afraid - of creating, of success, of failure.

My answer was to create a plan. Hah! How typical of me. Really, I don't have time to hash out all that I have done wrong in the past. I have started and never finished so many projects - too many to list. So let's just move forward, shall we?

I think we can all agree I have a little writer idol worship going on. I think most writers are better than me - more dedicated, more talented, more able, more driven, more focused.

Blah blah blah.

On the other hand, I am feeling pretty excited about working on my project once I am done with the next two weeks of TAW. I am happy with the poems I workshopped at Amber's and the feedback I got. I am looking foreward to workshopping two more this week. I have definately developed a writing habit. One that I feel badly about breaking - that is good. I may not write every day of the week, but I get 5 religiously and usually 6. I have set some realistic creative goals and am making plans to keep myself accountable and on task over the coming months.

I have slacked on the Artist's Date. Maybe I'll take myself out for a leisurely roll in the grass...

Write on,

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

System Reboot

Dear Reader, 
 I am in a personal purgatory between abject apathy and total motivation. My system is not responding. I need a total system reboot.

Not sure how to make that happen. Been pushing buttons all day long and none of them are quite doing the trick.

You know how when you push the hard reset button it takes  a little while for the system to start up again? It just sits there for a minute ( you really want me to start up again? don't you need to go pee or grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine first?) and then, one little program by one little program it begins to come back to life. Always in the same order. Very precise. Very deliberate. Following restart protocol everytime.

Baby steps in the computer world y'all. Means I need to take baby steps on Planet Jessica too.

Baby step #1:When in doubt, make a plan.

I love to have plans - just so I  can not stick to them. Makes me feel better somehow. So here's the plan for the next 30 days+:

  • This week (3/8)
    • Complete The Artist's Way Week 9 "Recovering a Sense of Compassion"
    • Begin Poetry Revision workshop with Amber Sumrall. 
      • workshopping 2 poems a week! 
  •  Week of 3/15
    • TAW Week 10 "Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection
    • Session 2 Poetry Revision Workshop
    • Listen to Lisa Allen Ortiz read at Poetry Speak  2pm, Sunday March 21st at the Santa Cruz Public Library
  • Week of 3/22
    • TAW Week 11 "Recovering a Sense of Autonomy
    • Have a date with an artist friend (Amy , are you reading this??) 
  • Week of 3/29 
    • TAW Week 12 "Recovering a Sense of Faith"
    • Celebrate completing The Artist's Way in a splendid and worthy fashion! 
      • find that special writing table perhaps? a new hot pink journal? a new fancy pen? Throw myself an  "I AM a Writer Damnit" party? 
    • Come up with a new mission and tag-line for the blog, since it will now be about something else - my life as a recovered creative and a writer working on a project!
  • Week of 4/5 
    • Spring Break from the day job! Try not to gloat. 
    • Spend at least one very late wine fueled night looking through all my half-finished, just barely started stories and poems and decide which ones I want to go back to. 
    • Begin working on "The Project" in earnest, with intention and dedication and commitment.
      • make edits, add new stuff, print out new working copy...Get Busy!
This, Dear Reader, be my 30-day plan. 

What do you think? 

Feelin' better already, 

PS: write on!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Things I've Learned

Hello Dear Reader,

One of this (two) week's tasks has been to go back through my Morning Pages and read them. (Yawn...) I've been instructed (by the book, not the voices in my head or transmissions from outer space) to take two different colored highlighters and highlight a) any insights and b) any action items.

I began this porcess last night and promptly developed a massive migraine which I am still suffering from as I type. Blech. Perhaps it was the neon green and yellow of the highlighter oddly illuminated by the fire reflecting off my glass of sparkling water and chardonnay. Regardless, the task gave me a headache.  I need a brainema.

All was not lost, however. I have learned a few things that I will now share with you:

~ I simply MUST write first thing in the morning, or else I run the risk of not writing at all or wasting a page lamenting the fact that - just like exercise - if I don't get it done first thing, it doesn't get done.

~ I am quite unhappy with my current work situation. I am not 100% sure why. I have my suspicions.

~ I should always shut up long enough to hear what my gut is telling me - and then do that, not the opposite.

~ I strongly desire my own writer's table.

~ Good advice: "You just have to keep trying. Eventually you will find someone who likes your stuff."

~ "Comparison is lethal to contentment." I don't know who said that, but they are a freakin' genius!

That's all I can muster at this time, Friend. Don't worry, I have more to share. Be patient!

Write on,

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss! (and thanks!)

I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me.

-- Dr. Seuss

Join me, Dear Reader, in wishing Dr. Seuss a happy birthday!
You know, I went to grad school in his hometown - Springfield, Massachusetts. Just a little Jessica Trivia for you.
You may have noticed it is Tuesday and I usually post my weekly check-in on Monday.  I am giving myself another week (again, per usual) to work on this week's topic, "Recovering a Sense of Compassion." I have not done much this week. I have lagged a little on the daily pages and I didn't do a single task out of the book. I have not felt motivated at all. I have felt uninspired, lazy and all around ugly.
Apparently, that is not uncommon at this point. (Relief! I am not strange! I am not abnormal!)  As I read the sidebar for this week (kind of a "what to expect" blurb) Cameron writes, "This week finds us facing the internal blocks to creativity. It may be tempting to abandon ship at this point. Don't!"
OK. I won't.
No, really. I won't.
I promise.
As I read on, Cameron says,
Blocked artists are not lazy. They are blocked.
Being blocked and being lazy are two different things. The blocked artist typically expends a great deal of energy - just not visibly. The blocked artist spends energy on self-hatred, on regret, on grief, and on jealousy. The blocked artist spends energy on self-doubt.
Hmmph. Not that I want to admit to all that, but yeah, she is totally on the money, Honey. That about sums up my mental space this past week. Yuk.

So what is plan to get past all this self-perpetuated ugliness you ask? Do I have one?

Oh yeah, I've got one:

"...I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!"

Write on,