“Unreasonable” Rules

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”   George Bernard Shaw

“People who lead a satisfying life, who are in tune with their past and with their future — in short, people whom we would call ‘happy’ — are generally individuals who have lived their lives according to rules they themselves created.”   Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, psychologist and writer

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, nobody knows what they are.”   Somerset Maugham

Writing rules abound. We’re advised to avoid adverbs, never start a story with the weather, and always start a story in the middle of the action. The list goes on and on. It can make your head spin, especially since many so-called “rules” clash and, even more important, because many writers have gleefully ignored them and gone on to write wonderful books.

So, if all progress depends on the “unreasonable man” and the happiest people are those who live “according to rules they themselves created” — then let’s each make up our own set of rules to write by. Here are a few we might consider:

I will see writing as way of seeking wonder in the world.

I will gratefully mine my mistakes for feedback and fuel.

I will develop a “passion for completion” in my work.

I will seek out kindred spirits who support my writing.

I will make “Don’t quit, can’t fail” a writing mantra.

I will remember that “a relaxed mind is a creative mind.”

Are there any personal writing “rules” you’ve adopted that have helped you improve your craft and stay strong? If so, I’d love to have you share them as we all write on!

Please help KWD grow by sharing: https://karinwritesdangerously.com/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Memorial Day

Let’s launch this Memorial Day weekend early with a moving meditation about heroism:

American Hero
by Mary West Jorgensen

“Our history is studded with heroic names. These names compose a world roster from which almost every nation may choose one and say: He is ours! We produced the clan from which he sprung. See how he spells his name! That is how his family spelled their name years ago, here, in this land.

“The tale of heroism runs true from Valley Forge to Gettysburg, from
the Argonne to Guadalcanal. How is it possible to select one and say
of him: He is the bravest of all?

“Therefore, I choose one who lies in Arlington beneath the inscription: ‘Here rests in honored glory, an American soldier, known but to God.’

“Of him we know three things: he was an American, he died for freedom, he sleeps in the comfortable keeping of the Lord of Hosts.

“He is a symbol of heroic qualities, of the vision of Washington, of the humanity of Lincoln, of the courage of MacArthur, of the faith of Rickenbacker, of the sacrifice of Kelly. He is, moreover, a symbol of the common man who dies daily in order that freedom may not perish from the earth.”

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded every minute of every hour of every day. Blessings upon those who keep this silent hero safe and all those who have protected us and still stand watch to keep us safe as well. Their tales are so important to share and remember.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ignore Limits

From Know Your Limits—Then Ignore Them by John Mason:

“It doesn’t happen often, but while I was writing my book Let Go of Whatever Makes You Stop, I was awakened in the middle of the night with this thought, ‘Don’t live within your means….’

“What do I mean when I say, ‘Don’t live within your means’? I believe we should act bigger, believe larger, and associate higher. Your outlook determines your outcome. So make your plans BIG.

“I’m not encouraging you to go wild, to have no boundaries or be reckless. Certainly we should spend within our means—but not live there. Talk with people smarter than you. Listen to those more insightful than you. Ask questions of those more successful than you. Lend a hand to those less fortunate than you. Don’t stay where you are.

“I sincerely believe that many people who think they are frugal aren’t really frugal. Rather, they are full of fear. The label of frugality, balance, or conservativeness is often a mask to hip over up a deep-rooted fear in their lives. Don’t make such thorough plans for rainy days that you don’t enjoy today’s sunshine. Abandon altogether the search for security. ‘Only the insecure strive for security’ (Wayne Dyer).

“No matter what level of your ability, you have been equipped with more potential than you can possibly use in your lifetime. Don’t let the future be that time when you wish you’d done what you aren’t doing now. You need to have a dream to make a dream come true….

“Webster knew all about the ineffectiveness of ‘living within your means.’ When you look up the word means in the dictionary, it tells you to see the word ‘average.’ When you decide to live within your means, you are deciding to live an average life.

“Do this: Know your limits—then ignore them!”

And now, inspired and emboldened to leave our limits behind, let’s all write on!

Please help KWD grow by sharing: https://karinwritesdangerously.com/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Standing Up

Just recently, I saw an old movie called The Star, featuring Betty Davis and a lovely young 14-year old Natalie Wood. In a post-film review, I heard following story:

The movie called for a scene where Natalie Wood had to jump off a boat into the ocean. Natalie was afraid of the water and couldn’t swim. At one point, she burst into tears, but the director insisted she follow the script and do the scene. Then Betty Davis stepped in. She told the director in no uncertain terms that she would walk off the set if he tried to force Natalie to jump into the water. Natalie never had to jump.

Years later, Natalie Wood recalled this moment. She and Betty Davis became friends as a result of that film. Natalie said that seeing Betty Davis take her part taught her that it wasn’t a bad thing to stand up to a director—a lesson she never forgot.

Standing up—for ourselves and others—is so important! We can do this in many ways:

We can stand up for freedom of expression: I think of the brave writers around the world who risk so much by defying attempts to silence them. And of teachers and librarians who are standing up for the rights of students to read a wide array of books and to keep banned books on the shelves.

And closer to home:

We can stand up for our friends: When writers we know experience rejection, or feel low about themselves, or think of abandoning a beloved project because it’s not going well—we can stand up for them. We can encourage them and inspirit them by giving them the support and practical advice they need to keep going.

We can stand up for our work: No one enjoys smooth sailing all the time. Getting our work out into the world isn’t easy. We face a lot of turndowns and naysayers—people who question what we’re doing. When this happens it’s so important that we stand up for our work—that we believe in its value and continue to create as we choose to.

We can stand up for ourselves: As creatives, we can be hard on ourselves. We can give ourselves a hard time when our work is stalling or scrambling away from us. Let’s remember that writing is hard work and be kind to ourselves. And let’s take to heart those helpful words, “This, too, shall pass,” and keep going in “quietness and confidence.”

When we stand up, we stand tall. And when we stand tall, we can see farther and think bigger. Write on!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Astonishing Austen

I will be mistress of myself.”

“Indulge your imagination in every possible flight.” Jane Austen

A gathering of the divine Mistress Austen’s wisdom and witty sayings from a lovely Abrams Noterie journal spur us on our way today:

“Her own thoughts and reflections were habitually her best companions.”

“If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.”

“There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time.”

“There could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feeling so in unison.”

“For what do we live but to make sport for our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn?“

“Perhaps it is our imperfections that make us so perfect for one another.”

“A watch is always too fast or too slow. I cannot be dictated to by a watch.”

“It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.”

“But indeed, I would rather have nothing but tea.”

“Run mad as often as you choose, but do not faint.”

“What are men to rocks and mountains?”

“I am all astonishment.”

And I, too, am all astonishment at Austen’s ingenuity! May she give our own words wings as we all write on!

Please help KWD grow by sharing: https://karinwritesdangerously.com/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Amazing Arthur

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable must be the truth.”  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Today, May 22, is Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday. Let us ponder his amazing achievement in creating one of the most enduring fictional characters ever — the satisfyingly mysterious Sherlock Holmes. Gobsmacked — just love this word! It means “astonished” or “flabbergasted.” I am positively gobsmacked to report that there have been over 100 different Sherlock Holmes depictions on stage and screen. People everywhere discuss Sherlock as if he were a real live, honest-to-goodness person and not the figment of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s imagination.

It’s hard to think of another fictional character infiltrating the global consciousness more thoroughly. Who else would be a candidate? Hamlet? Don Quixote? Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz? I’m not sure any of these figures can hold a candle to Sherlock.

Consider Sir Arthur’s astonishing accomplishment — creating a character still being recreated today, more than 120 years after his fictional birth. Clearly, Sherlock is still alive and well because of the skilled pen he sprang from. You only have to listen to a Holmes story read aloud by a gifted actor to realize what a powerful and creative writer our boy Sir Arthur was. He’s by turns serious and witty, ironic and earnest, cagey and revelatory. A few reasons I think Sherlock has proven to be a man for all seasons:

He’s a mix of fiction and reality: Sherlock is actually based on a legendary doctor and diagnostician Sir Arthur studied with as a medical student. So Sherlock’s investigative skills are rooted in fact and sent soaring through fiction.

He’s everything we want to be: Sherlock, in many ways, caters to the secret longings many of us harbor: We want to be brilliantly clever and admired, witty and mysterious, far ahead of life’s game and anything it throws our way.

He’s everything we don’t want to be: Cold, detached, isolated, a misfit in society, someone who spurns deep relationships.

The stakes he’s playing for are high: When Sherlock comes on the scene, something bad has happened. As readers, we long to see the balance of things tilted back again towards justice and fair play. We want to see good outsmart evil every time. Sherlock has a worthy opponent. When he comes up against his archenemy, we know serious danger is afoot. They are so are well matched things could go either way.

All of this creates enormous tension and excitement — wonderful qualities for propelling a story forward. Sir Arthur surely knew how to pen a great yarn. What an inspiration he is as we all write on!

Please help KWD grow by sharing: https://karinwritesdangerously.com/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Something Wonderful

Shooting Star

From Ariadne’s Crown
Something came flashing down
Over the distant town,
Over the river and sleeping farms;
The planets above seemed to wink
As they watched the traveler sink;
And motherly Earth, I think,
May have folded a little lost star in her arms.

Edith M. Thomas

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Long View

And now, inspiring words from the children’s writer, Roald Dahl:

“When you’re writing, it’s rather like going
on a very long walk, across valleys and
mountains and things, and you get the first
view of what you see and you write it down.
Then you walk a bit further, maybe up onto
the top of a hill, and you see something else.
Then you write that and you go on like that,
day after day, getting different views
of the same landscape really.

“The highest mountain on the walk is
obviously the end of the book, because
it’s got to be the best view of all, when
everything comes together and you can
look back and see that everything you’ve
done all ties up. But it’s a very, very
long slow process.”

This long view of writing is comforting, isn’t it? We need to just keep walking and writing, walking and writing, and eventually we’ll get where we what to go.

Dinty Moore, author of the lovely guide, The Mindful Writer, sees this as an apt reflection of the revision process. Here’s how Dinty describe his attitude toward revision:

“Revision is my favorite part of writing, because I can look back from the highest of hills (the end of my latest draft) and see where I’ve been, where I wandered jaggedly off course, and where I might have saved myself some steps. Plus, it is at this point that I begin to have a sense of where I’m going (having just arrived).

“Revision allows me to retrace my steps and adjust my journey, making it graceful and efficient, constructing the path I would have followed had I known all along here I was headed.

“It can be a ‘very, very long, slow process,’ as Dahl suggests, but it is what writers do and it is worth every moment you spend.”

What a graceful, encouraging way to view revision: A long walk that allows us to revisit our journey and understand more fully where we were headed in the first place. A “long walk” — let’s keep this image before us today as we all write on.

Please help KWD grow by sharing: https://karinwritesdangerously.com/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bearing Fruit

“And the wind said: “May you be as strong as the oak, yet flexible as the birch; may you stand tall as the redwood, live gracefully as the willow; and may you always bear fruit all your days on this earth.” Native American Prayer

I love this prayer, so simple and soulful. To my mind, it captures so many of the qualities we need as writers and we can make it our own:

May we be strong as oaks: It takes strength and stamina to be a writer. It’s not for the fainthearted! Time and again, we have to push through our comfort zone. As my good friend Coach Tully says so well: “Your dreams always lie outside your comfort zone.” It takes strength and will power to venture beyond the place where we feel safe and to move steadily forward toward our goals.

May we be flexible as the birch: Surely one of the most valuable assets we bring to our writing life is flexibility! We need to be open to the world. We need to be curious. We need to be resourceful and nimble when it comes to shaping our stories and our characters. And we need to be willing to explore all the pathways to publication with gusto.

May we stand tall as the redwood: Sometimes, as writers, we long to shrink into ourselves—to just sit and our desks and peck at our computers or push our pens across the page. We may feel that our work isn’t all that important in the scheme of things, that it’s just an echo in a world of shouts and stridency. Let’s remember that words matter! When we write from the heart, we have the power to move hearts. Let’s stand tall. Our pens are mighty!

May we live gracefully as the willow: May we find our natural rhythm and voice—and cultivate it gracefully and with joy. May we remember, as Keats tells us, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty”—and strive to bring more truth and beauty into the world with grace and style. May we hone our skills and improve our craft with love and devotion. May we find grace and and bring grace to our work and our writing life. And may we share our gifts and encouragement with generosity.

Be strong, flexible, tall, and graceful—what wonderful advice for us as creatives! When we bring these gifts to our writing, then surely, we’ll bear rich fruit all of our days. Write on!

Please help KWD grow by sharing: https://karinwritesdangerously.com/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Personal Mountain

It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”
Sir Edmund Hillary

“Appreciate yourself and honor your soul.”
Yogi teabag tag

A little known fact: Lord Nelson, England’s most famous naval hero, suffered from bouts of seasickness his entire life. Still, he didn’t let this stop him from destroying Napoleon’s fleet or winning the many other sea battles that made him a legend in his own lifetime. He not only lived with this personal weakness, he overcame it.

Just like Lord Nelson or Sir Hillary, we each have our own personal sea to cross or mountain to climb: Many of us are quietly waging a private war no one else sees: battling against something inside us that we feel is a weakness — a shortcoming we believe is holding us back from achieving what we want to achieve. Sometimes it feels like a hole inside us that makes our writing goals seem like impossible dreams.

These self-perceived shortcomings come in all shapes and sizes. We may lack confidence because we were discouraged from writing when we were young. We may fear we don’t have enough talent or training to succeed. Or we may find it difficult to reach out and make connections, so we feel we lack the industry contacts other people have.

Whatever our personal mountain or sea, let’s take heart by remembering three things:

First, others have struggled with the same challenges and overcome them. If they did it, we can, too. Second, whatever we’re feeling, we can act as if it’s impossible to fail. We become what we do: When our motto is, “Don’t quit, can’t fail,” our sheer persistence will carry us through. And finally let’s embrace the wisdom of the Yogi teabag tag: “Appreciate yourself and honor your soul” — let’s applaud and honor ourselves for our strengths and the courage it takes to keep going, despite our shortcomings. When we’re grateful for our strengths and nourish them, our weaknesses often recede or fade away.

Strengthened and emboldened, let’s all write on!

Please help KWD grow by sharing: https://karinwritesdangerously.com/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment