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21 February 2009

The "C" Word

"The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating-in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life."~Anne Morriss, Starbucks Customer, New York (The Way I See It #76)

A Starbucks cup. It's a paper cup, nothing special really. The only thing that distinguishes it from any other paper cup is the iconic logo on the front and the delectable goodness inside. A while back (I know not how long ago), Starbucks had the brilliant idea to invite their customers to submit their thoughts for consideration for publication on the back of one of these unremarkable cups. I thought it was great! I've read some amazing quotes over the years, and some that should just be tossed in the trash along with the rest of the rubbish. So it goes with opinions. But one day last week, as my husband and I sat down to enjoy some cinnamon dolce lattes, I stumbled upon the gem which you read above. I read it again. And again. It really struck me as more than opinion. This was wisdom, deep seated and spawned from experience. I enjoyed my latte and took the quote home with me in my head.

Three days later: I'm alone, going to Starbucks to write a bit before heading home. I order a cinnamon dolce latter (it IS my favorite). I sit down at my too small cafe table and begin to type. Suddenly, I glance over at my grande paper cup and I see a suspiciously familiar word: commitment. No. There's no way! I pull of the cardboard skirt that surrounds my cup and blocks all the delicious warmth from burning my hands and thawing out my fingers from the biting cold of another Georgia cold spell. Sure enough, printed in indelible black ink, is my quote. Well, not mine, but you know what I mean. How could this be? The same quote, twice, in a row? Hmmmm. It got me thinking.

This thinking produced a rather interesting bucket of thoughts. I tossed out most of them and kept just what stuck to the sides: the realization that I am afraid of what people think. So afraid, that it has governed my decisions for the past 31 years. O sure, I've made strides in this war on fear, but not enough. No. And it took a quote on the back of a Starbucks paper cup to point me to the truth.What does commitment and fear have to do with each other?

Everything.

You see, we all have dreams, yes? We all have things we long to do, dream of doing, places to go, people to meet. But unless we commit to doing them, commit to seeing them come to pass, we will succumb to the first tremor, the first storm that blows through that tells us "NO!" or "YOU SCREWED UP" or "I DON'T LIKE THAT". *Gasp* Dare I do something that no one approves of? Dare I stand up to the "no" that holds me back? Dare I yell back, "I DON'T CARE!!!"Yes. Because if I don't, I die. And there's not one bit of good a dead person can do. Not. One. Bit.

I know how it feels to die. How, you ask? Have I physically died? No, my soul has not left my body and returned. But I have had my dreams shatter before my eyes. I have had someone tell me, under no circumstances can your dream come true right now. In that regard, I know what it's like to die, to have a piece of me cut out, trampled over, and left bleeding on the ground. I know what it's like to hold my dying dream in the palm of my hands and have no idea how to resuscitate it. I know what it's like to hold my husband in my arms and hear his sobs because the word NO meant the end of our deepest desires.

But you know what? I also know the freedom that NO can bring. I know the freedom that, after you scrape yourself up, after you dry your tears and call the "powers that be" all manner of names and curses that what matters is that you are still there. That God is not finished with you yet. That there is still something left for you to do. And you know what? That something is what you desire with your every breath. How do I know that? The Bible says it. You may not believe in the Bible. That's your decision and your right. But I do. And I ask you to hear me out: "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart". It's in black and white. And it's stood true for over 2000 years. Why don't more people see their desires? I blame our Puritan ancestors and their restrictive, manipulative, Calvanistic beliefs. But that, my dear children, is another post entirely.

Something else that came to light: I survived. I lived through the worst possible thing I can imagine right now. And I'm here. And I have nothing to lose. NOTHING. Because I've heard the word "NO" for my deepest desire, and I'm still standing. It makes me wonder? What else dare I try? Dare I step out and open my own business? Sure. What do I have to lose? Someone telling me "No, you can't do that?" Ha! Watch me. Dare I finish all the novels and screenplays in my head? Yes. What do I have to lose? Someone tell me "You're Not Good Enough"? So. That' s what 70+ publishers told Dr. Suess. That's what several recording companies told the Beatles. That's what 10 years of rejections told Madeleine L'Engle and she turned around and won the Newberry Award for Fiction with that "unpublishable" book after a decade of "failure".

What separates those who are told NO and die and those who pick themselves up and plow forward anyway, stubborn as mules? Commitment. When you commit to something, you are in it for the long haul. You are there until "death do you part".

I'm not just talking about marriage, although there are plenty of people out there who should realize this BEFORE they say "I do". I'm talking about anything. If you have an idea, commit to seeing become a reality. That means exhausting every possible resource, ability, talent, connection, etc. you have to making it happen! The Bible says with God NOTHING is impossible!

That says to me that God does the impossible. If that's true (and I believe that it is) then that means it's up to us to do the possible. When you've exhausted the possible, then (and ONLY then) can God step in and do the impossible. He's not going to carry you to the door if you have two perfectly functional legs. But he will make a door where there is none if you get your lazy butt off the couch and make your way over the crap, and through the mess, to get to the brick wall.

I say all this to get here: what are you committed to? What is it inside you that you know you are here to accomplish, to see into reality, to birth into this world? Have you been told no? Have you? Has someone come to you and said, "Nope. Bury that dream. It ain't gonna happen." Guess what? That last thing you should do is that. You need to look them in the eye and say, "You're wrong." Exhaust your every option. Call the president of the company. Write to Congress. Demand to speak to the manager. Once you've exhausted every option, if the answer is still no, you have two options. You either do the next best thing, and know you've done your best and wait for the right time and ask again, or you can die.

I don't' know about you, but I'm not through asking; I'm not through fighting. And when I am, if the answer is still no, I'm go to suck it up, thank God I'm still alive, put my self in plan B and work my butt off there. Then, when the time is right, I'll strike back out at plan A. And I have a funny feeling, it will pay off.

16 February 2009

Mondays

So I took last week off from writing. It went well, got some projects finished. It was weird though; I felt as if I wasn't making any progress, that I was being lazy. I know that's not true, but when you do something for so long and then take a breather, it can feel a bit abnormal. I plan to restart the writing machine this week. I've got that monster looming before me: the third book in my trilogy. Boy am I intimidated by that one! Loose ends, sub plots, character woes (and I do mean woes!); it's a lot to keep up with! And of course this is the last one so you have to make sure you give closure to everything that's happened so far. And if you know how I write, you know that means a LOT has happened in books one and two. We'll see how it goes! I have an idea, though not a very concrete one of how I want it to go. I know how it's going to end. But of course, characters like to mess up the best laid plans...

11 February 2009

Just a little update!

Greetings!

It feels like forever since I last posted but it has been for good reasons. I finished my book!!!! What a relief (and honestly, I'm very proud of myself). Considering it took me 5 years to finish part one of this on-going saga, finishing part two in 31 days was exhilarating. It kept me unbelievably busy and there were days I really didn't want to put in 4 hours of writing, but just knowing I'd made a commitment to myself to finish really helped me get it done.

What's next? Well, for now, I'm taking this week off to concentrate on some other projects I've had (literally) lying around the house. Next week, I plan to start working on part three of this trilogy. I am going to employ the "Book in a Month" program for this one as well. I hope to have great news come the end of March! I'll continue to post at least once a week. Sometimes, if for nothing else, just to have a place to vent!

Ciao!

04 February 2009

Progress and a Movie Review

I am almost finished with my book! Considering it took me five years to complete the first installment and I'm near the finish line of part two after just four weeks, I feel I have reason to shout! The BIAM program (that's Book In A Month) has really been the drill sergeant I've needed to push me (uphill mostly, it seems) to complete this story I anticipate I should finish in just two more days. That will be exactly one month from the time I started. After this book, I shall celebrate. Reward for the completion of any goal met is an important part of the process.

Not quite sure what I'll do...yet!

While we're on the subject of books, my husband and I went to see "Inkheart" Sunday after church. I fell in love with the series years ago and was excited to hear a movie adaptation was in the works. Well, as excited as I ever am about movie adaptations. there's usually some heavy trepidation accompanying that excitement. I'm a purest when it comes to story and I don't much like producers (or anyone else for that matter) taking liberties and altering them just to make a film. Most of the time, they are done well enough, only minor liberties taken (I'm still annoyed that Harry Potter's hair is never properly messy in the films as I feel Ms. Rowling intended, but I have been accused of being a bit anal). Other have so altered the scope and integrity of a story I can barely recognize it (and if you've ever seen the movie version of "A Wrinkle In Time" you'll know what I mean. I'm convinced the producers didn't' even read that book. They took the title, read the back cover and decided that was enough to make a movie on...but I digress).

"Inkheart", thankfully, was a pleasant surprise. They stayed true, for the most part, to the story. Alterations weren't too severe and the biggest change (which I shall not mention here) was made for a very good reason and done very well.

All in all, I give it two thumbs up. It is a wonderful, magical story, the casting was spot on, and the special effects were handled very well. In the words of the Mayor of Halloween Town:

"I fully endorse it! Let's try it at once!"

Or in my case, twice!