Progress not perfection

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I often wish that my typing was in step with my thinking.  I wish the words would flow from my fingers to the keys as fast and as often as they come to my mind.

But they don’t.

Most often I just sit, thinking – over-thinking – in front of my keyboard, my fingers at the ready……and nothing happens.  It’s not that I don’t have words, I don’t have ideas. In that regard, I can’t turn the tap off.  Most of the time I have too many ideas, too many thoughts to express – have I mentioned I am currently working on three books??

The problem, I know is me, getting in my own way. ALL. THE. TIME.  I worry too much about how to say things or even should I say things (my first novel Hope Quest dealt with incest and I struggled for months over whether or not I should include that at all).  I also deal with crippling self-doubt that anything I write will want to be read.  What’s the point of writing if no one is reading??

 

I recently got a new shirt to practice my yoga in. Across the chest, it announces: “Progress not perfection.”  After three years, I have come to embrace that idea in my daily yoga practice.  Yoga is not about having a perfect body or having perfect poses.  It’s about challenging yourself (mentally and physically) and also embracing yourself wherever you are on your spiritual/physical journey.  It’s very much a self-centered practice, done by you and for you only, no audience necessary or needed.

 

I’m starting to come to realize that I should embrace my writing in that same way.

I don’t do the most graceful backbends, but I still do them.  I don’t yet have the ability to do handstands in the middle of the floor, so I do them against the wall. I don’t overthink when I am practicing yoga.  I don’t stress, I don’t doubt.  I flow through the motions without worrying whether or not I can or even if I should.  

If I sit down at my desk with that same mindset ( perhaps that same “progress not perfection” shirt, too!) maybe, just maybe, I will find my writing flow, too – and having an audience would just be an added bonus.

 

My books are free today!

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To celebrate the one year anniversary of Hope Quest book 1’s release, BOTH books in the series are FREE today on Amazon!  Link to Hope Quest book 1: Blackbird and link to Hope Quest book 2: The Lightning.

This story developed in my head for twenty years before I finally sat down and wrote it (the entire trilogy in an eighteen-month period!). The main character, fourteen-year-old Hope Quest and her coming of age story to find the origins of her strange star-moving talents came to me in a series of dreams when I was fifteen and going through some very dark times in my life.  She was very much like a life-line for me and in writing her story, my hope is that it will be the same for others, particularly teens, although it is meant for all ages.  Just know that book 1 does contain some triggering material in it related to abuse and drug use.

If you read them and like them, please consider leaving me a review on Amazon!  Those reviews are gold to indie authors like me!!

Say the word

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In Buddhism, there is a concept of a restless, unfocused way of thinking called the monkey mind.  It refers to the relentless chatter in our head which needs to be “quieted” or “calmed” if we are to become mindful and focused.

Before the pandemic, I lived a fairly peaceful internal life. Practising yoga, following Buddhism (albeit loosely), having structure, routine and a sense of purpose in my everyday life was key to maintaining that sense of mental peace, but it was somewhat tenuous (the monkeys were caged, but the locks were frail and rusty). The pandemic, it’s subsequent lockdown and abrupt end to all of my routines shook up everything in my life and ultimately, freed those monkeys.

Running amok, tossing bananas here and shit there, my monkey mind would swing wildly from task to task, moment to moment, even book to book in my Kindle, only allowing me to focus on a sample here and a page there, until one day I came across an idea so simple, yet so profound, it stopped all the monkeys in their tracks.

In Design Your Day, Claire Diaz-Ortiz explains how deciding upon a word of the year has become a simple, yet powerful tool in her life.  “Every year, you should choose a word to represent the year you have in front of you.  Think long and hard about one word that will serve as a guidepost for what you want to do and be in the year to come.  And remember that a year needn’t start January 1 – you can start your year at any time!” 

As a lover of words and finding myself mid-way through May, this sounded exactly like what I needed to do. I spent the next day thinking about my word.  The monkeys were a fantastic help in throwing out hundreds of options.

Finally, I decided upon one that felt right. Both positive and representative of what I need to do to (regain focus) and what I want to do (write my memoir), I decided that my word of the year shall be: reflect.

I use it now as a mantra, repeating it to myself whenever the monkeys start swinging around in my head and so far, they seem to like it too, providing me with some much needed calm and quiet so that I can reflect, and ultimately, write again.

 

 

 

 

 

in pursuit of imperfection

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“Can you answer me this?” the dm began.  “Should my poetry have perfect punctuation? Or will the message be missed?”

For the first time ever, I had a young poet reaching out to me for advice.  ME.  It felt weird and somewhat awkward thinking of an appropriate response. Who was I to give advice to anyone?  Most days, especially lately, I barely know the what, never mind the why, of anything I do.

Despite writing poetry on and off for twenty-plus years, having had some pieces published traditionally and putting out two collections independently, I certainly don’t feel as though I have any expertise to lend about what I do.  Mostly, and honestly, I just do it for me.

For nearly my whole life (seriously, since I was five), I’ve written creatively because I’ve felt compelled to do it.  It’s how quiet me communicates best and it makes me feel better to have done it, even if I feel as though my work gets largely overlooked and is mostly misunderstood, I still persist because I’d feel infinitely emptier if I didn’t.

And there is no perfect way of punctuating that.

“Poetry is about expression,” I replied after careful consideration to the young poet.  “And that tends to get emotional and messy at times so forgive yourself if you forget a comma every now and then.”

The message won’t be lost – at least, not on me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mistakes brought me here

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At fifteen, I ran away from one bad home situation into an even worse one. Within a year, I was introduced to a lifestyle of rampant drug use and went from a straight-A student to a high school drop-out. Sitting by candlelight one night, the electricity having been cut-off due to non-payment again, I sat filling out application forms for dead-end, minimum wage jobs, when a life-changing thought occurred to me like a lightning bolt:

No one is going to save me from this.

I realized in that moment that I had made a mistake – a big one.  My life was falling apart. I was going nowhere very quickly and I knew that no one was going to sweep in and save me.

I had made a mistake, but in accepting that mistake and learning from it – rather than beating myself up emotionally and staying stuck in that situation -I realized that I could change things and, more importantly, I did.

Within a year, I had painfully extricated myself from that life into a better one.  I went back to school, earned a few university degrees and have been on the road to a much better life ever since and I owe all of my success and my happiness to those mistakes I made along the way.

Although painful, I am strangely grateful to them. Without those mistakes, I wouldn’t have worked as hard to get what I want.  Without them, I might not have known what I wanted and I certainly wouldn’t have learned to appreciate all that I have now.

Since becoming an indie author in the past year, I have recently begun to realize that I have been making a whole lot of mistakes along the way.  I have put out four books and have struggled to get them noticed, read, reviewed.  It’s been frustrating and disheartening, but I’ve begun to realize that it’s not because of me or the books, but because of my lack of marketing and distribution channels.  More importantly, I know that I can change that, I can fix it.  And I will.

Mistakes can lead to failure, but viewed in another light – even by dim candlelight- they can also point the way to success and there’s no shame in learning that at any point in our lives.

 

 

 

Redefining “responsible”

“No matter how far you’ve traveled down the wrong path,

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it’s never too late to turn around.”

Memes don’t usually give me pause for thought, but that particular one did.  A few years back, I began to question the path I was taking in my life.  I was happy with most of it – I had a great marriage, happy, healthy kids, a nice house, a decent job.  But there was this constant little voice nagging in the back of my head – what about Hope? what about your stories? 

What about them??

Shortly after the birth of my first, I gave up on my creative writing dreams.  I had had minor success as a teen and in my twenties with publishing my short stories and my poems, but with all the responsibilities of parenthood and a growing family, etc, I figured that writing – particularly all the time spent imagining, daydreaming – was something best left for the carefree (eg: not new parents) and best left out of responsible “adulting.”

Years went by, two more kids arrived and as the responsibilities piled on, my yearning for writing only increased in response. For so long, it had been my outlet, often my only outlet, for dealing with depression – something that has plagued me since adolescence. The writing wasn’t just a hobby, it was my therapy, my coping mechanism.  It was a large part of who I was and how I had handled my depressive thoughts in the past, and without it, I began to realize that not only was I risking falling into it again but I was also denying myself that important outlet of my own self-expression.  I wasn’t allowing myself to be, well, me.

It was just that important and I realized then that I absolutely needed it back in my life.

So, I stopped.  I stopped my journey down that long, arduous (at times, dry and dusty) road of responsible “adulting” and I turned around.  I bought a writing desk, a laptop.  I carved time in my day (sometimes even just 10 – 15 minutes!) and I gave myself permission to write again.  I changed my definition of “responsible parent/adult” to include imagining and daydreaming (and getting more tattoos and listening to new bands and going to concerts again!).

I’ve honestly become a better version of me – even a better parent – for it.  My kids are inspired by it – I’ll never forget my son’s look of amazement when he saw my book on the library bookshelf for the first time. He saw me in a whole new light then, just as I’ve started to see myself in that newer, brighter light too.

This indie author path is a bumpy and uncertain one, for sure, but two years and four books later, I am more than happy to be on it – even if at times I feel completely irresponsible and, not to mention very lost, along the way.

I’m figuring it out as I go.

 

 

 

 

Between the pages, between the cracks

crackI never feel more alone than I do when I am amongst a crowd.  I’ve always felt that way.  Just out of place with everyone and everything. I don’t stress about it too much.  I figure that’s just what makes me who I am.  And I like who I am.  I enjoy my own company, to be really honest.  But at the same time, there are periods when I want to belong, when I want to be accepted, when I want to be a part of something bigger than just me because sometimes being alone a lot becomes, well….lonely.

I have a very small family and I have very few friends.  Being introverted and, for the most part, very private, it takes a lot for me to let others into my tiny circle.  I don’t care for small talk and anything that is popular in the mainstream usually turns me off.  I’ve always been drawn to the outsiders, the outcasts, everything and anything on the fringe.

Maybe that’s why I was always drawn to writing.  It’s the perfect occupation for an outsider, an outcast and can and often is done on the fringes of society, away from the crowd.  I feel most comfortable when I am alone and writing.  But I sure would love for some of that writing to be read at some point.

Rachel Carson so beautifully wrote about the loneliness of creative work:

“If you write what you yourself sincerely think and feel and are interested in, the chances are very high that you will interest other people as well.”

I like to keep that in mind when I am writing – alone in my head, alone at my keyboard, feeling as though I am sending my thoughts and words out to no one.

If I keep at it, maybe people will eventually read my work.  Maybe my words will resonate somewhere, with someone and maybe, just maybe, I might be accepted and finally find my place amongst that crowd.

 

 

 

The Measure of Everything

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Two of the most powerful attributes that humans possess are:

1)  the ability to LOVE

2) the ability to CREATE

Having spent my formative years under the thumb of a restrictive parental figure: I was not allowed to say “I want”, I never heard the phrase “I love you” (certainly was never inspired to speak the words either) and my creative endeavors were always overlooked and dissuaded – the idea of living a creative life was laughed at and labeled a “pipe dream” – I’ve spent my adult years learning both how to express love and how to express myself – including allowing myself to express both my needs AND my wants.

 

In the process, I’ve discovered a deep, rich and untapped well of passions lying dormant inside of me. 

 

It’s taken many, many years of learning, growing, stretching myself beyond my comfort zone and oftentimes just plain scaring myself, but the faster my heart beats and more anxious I feel, the more that well gets churned, and the deeper and deeper I am able to dip into it – loving, creating (particularly, writing) and allowing myself, finally and freely, to express myself.

It hasn’t always made me the most popular girl around – especially within my own family!! – but I refuse to censor myself, to keep my emotions or my wants or needs repressed any longer.

It was no way to live. 

With a heart full of love and a head full of stories, neither of which were wanted or allowed to be expressed, my memories of childhood and adolescence boil down to being simply a very unhappy time for a very unhappy kid.

But now, I am the parent and as so, I have always encouraged my children to express themselves in every positive and negative way they see fit – and they are growing up to be the most loving and creative people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing!

 

My measure of everything in life now lies in how much that well of passion gets churned by the thought of a new project, new adventure or new endeavor:

If it’s not a ‘hell yeah!’   Then it’s a ‘no’.

                      (the unhappy kid inside of me smiles whenever she hears that)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visibility Lessons

alexander-krivitskiy-8Z8JijlydJs-unsplash (cue the tiny violins)….I wrote my last poem today.  Things just weren’t working out.  The amount of energy I was expending on them, losing sleep to get those lines out of my head, onto paper (initially – usually scrawled at 4 am by dimmed light with blurry eyes and a tired hand) and then getting them into just the right poetic order, searching for just the right stock photo, getting it onto Instagram at just the right time suggested by Insights………..only to get maybe 20 likes and generally zero comments.  It just wasn’t working.  It wasn’t what I wanted for my poems, those tiny pieces of huge emotions that I felt just secure enough to release to the world.  It just wasn’t working.

They were all falling flat. The message was being lost.  The words were unraveling.  Over and over again.

And it was making me feel…..broken.

So, I wrote my last one today.  It’s not my best one, but it took just as much time and care and attention as all the rest, so it’s just as important – and once I decide to publish it, I know it will suffer the same fate as all the rest.  “I’m sorry little poem,” I’d often say just before posting them, “you’re going to go die a slow death on Insta now.  I’m so sorry.”

But, in a way, I’m not.

I’m not sorry because I have written hundreds of those poems over the years and now I have hundreds to submit to literary magazines in a quest to get traditionally published for the first time in too many years.  My poetry audience wasn’t on Instagram, but maybe there are eager eyes looking somewhere else for my work, so I’m going hunting for them now, putting my energies into finding just the right magazines, submitting at just the right times for their deadlines.

Being invisible to some eyes doesn’t necessarily mean being invisible to all the eyes out there.  I know someone, somewhere will see my work – and now I can concentrate my own eyes on writing the three novels I currently have in the works.

I did start this year with a publication. A literary magazine in Indiana accepted one  of my dance photos – not one of my poems – but something of mine found an audience! It’s getting published!

I’ve found my first set of eyes.

 

My second novel is released!

Screenshot_2019-12-17 Hope Quest Book 2 The Lightning (Hope Quest trilogy) - Kindle edition by Melanie Ever Moore, Jared Ka[...](2)My second novel (and fourth book of 2019!) is officially released today!

Hope Quest book 2: The Lightning!  It is the second part of my Hope Quest trilogy and today thru Friday, the e-book is FREE!!

Link to book here: Hope Quest book 2: The Lightning

Also, for today (Wednesday, Dec. 18th) only, Hope Quest book 1: Blackbird is also FREE!

Link here: Hope Quest book 1: Blackbird

This is a story that was in my head for twenty plus years and that got me through some dark times in my life.  It is the story of 14 year old Hope Quest, an unusual girl with a face full of scars, who talks in a whisper due to a damaged heart from a lightning strike as a toddler and has some very strange coping mechanisms to deal with an abusive life as she searches for her true origins, which are not entirely human.

I would love for you to check it out!  And if you like it, please consider leaving me a review on Amazon and /or Goodreads!