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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fun Fridays: YAWP and Perseverance

[caption id="attachment_152" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Each Book is a Ray of Light. Someone created it."][/caption]I got a rejection letter today - that's two this week. It happens and I've learned that the stack of published stuff outweighs the pile of unpublished. And I love what I do. And I keep going.


I keep going because I live for the sounds of words, rippling through the air like music. I love words. I love how each word is a poem is like a musical note, and the entire thing forms a symphony. I do this because books, words, novels, and stories are our history. They are proof of our humanity, our shared passions and secrets, our hopes and our ordinary days. When you write a story, even if you are the only person to see it, or if you have a readership of millions, that's your heart, your love, your baby, your truth out there in the world. And your voice, my voice, our voices, our collective voices - they matter.

I began to look for inspiration. Here is what I found.

1) Finding your creative nerve is important. In this fantastic scene from Dead Poets' Society (1989) Mr. Keating (Robin Williams) inspires shy Todd (Ethan Hawke) to find his "barbaric yawp." That's the first step to creating. You have a YAWP, yes you do. Let it out!

"I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world." - Walt Whitman

2)Don't give up. Show your moxie! Rock and roll legend Joan Jett (after she quit the Runaways) was rejected by 23 (that's 23!) record labels before getting picked up. As a reminder, Jett would be the woman who did this.

3) Believe in Magic: Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling worked as a temp for eight years and wrote in between making copies and getting coffee for her boss. She was considering taking a job teaching French when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was published. She is now one of the richest women in England, if not the world.

4) Don't Give Up (It's Worth Repeating):Horror megastar Stephen King worked as a English teacher, getting paid a whopping $19,000 a year and  living in a trailer with his wife Tabitha and their first child before his first novel Carrie (1976) was published. Now? He's Stephen King. You've heard of him, right?

5) Follow the Beat of Your Own Drummer: Katherine Hepburn is now seen as an icon of style, strength and women's rights. Yet in the late 30s, she was labeled "box office poison." Then she did The Philadelphia Story and, hello fame. (First she performed on Broadway and bought the rights. Smart!)

6) Be Yourself. There Is Room In The World: Leonardo DiCaprio was told by an agent that his name was too "ethnic" and he would never be famous unless he changed it to something like "Lenny Williams." DiCaprio is now one of the largest names in Hollywood and I assume that agent is slinging hash in a diner somewhere.

Here's Lenny Williams - I mean, Leonardo DiCaprio - in Inception.

Tips and Writing Prompts

1) Keep going.

2) If you love what you do, you're already a success. - my dad (and someone else before him, I'm sure.) What do you love?

3) Keep going some more. Where do you stall? Where do you start?

4) Read about people who did what you are trying to do. You will no doubt find out the several ways that this person was rejected or told by others that he or she couldn't do it/didn't have the chops/wasn't enough. This is only true if YOU accept it.

5) If you're a writer, walk into a bookstore and see every single book in there as one success story. If you're an artist, every painting that you look at for the next week is one ray of light. Don't think about the competition, the economy, or all the "reasons" you have to stop right here and now.

6) Yawp. Loudly. When was the last time you did this?

In the 1977 film Julia, about the life of playwright Lillian Hellman (played by Jane Fonda), her lover, writer Dashiell Hammett (Jason Robards) says to her as she battles writer's block, "It's a great time to stop. No one will ever know that you existed." Ouch. Thanks, Dashiell. (Hammett may have been the hard-drinking granddaddy of hard boiled mysteries such as The Maltese Falcon, but I imagine he was not known for his breathtaking sensitivity.)

Still, what he meant was that no one will come to your door and politely ask you if you are ready to embrace your YAWP, if you are ready to live your honest life, or if you are ready to follow your dreams. YOU have to YAWP. I promise. You must do it. You must find that place inside you that believes with all of your heart that you have something worth saying - and that it is worth it for others to hear. And even if they don't want to hear, you commit to saying it. It is your truth and your choice, always.

It's your move and the world is waiting. More importantly, you are waiting. You are. You are waiting to step into your truth and your creative expression.

7) When was the last time you allowed yourself creative expression? Cooking? Singing? Painting? Acting? Writing? How did it feel? How did your body feel?

Go for it.

I wish us all the loudest and fiercest of YAWPS this weekend.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Creative Writing Prompt: Rainy Morning and Staying Put

[caption id="attachment_160" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Windy Tree Thursday"][/caption]

How often do we ignore a change in the weather? Not open our doors and windows? I do it plenty.

One thing can change your day. The heat of the sun. Cold rain. The smell of dirt as we plant something in the garden.


I began the day carefully and slowly, questions building in my head as they do every morning. I get dressed on the second to last day of vacation and come downstairs. I'm prepared to go out jogging in the newly windy Florida day. Instead, I read a book, I lounge. I lazily take advantage of the time my university is off school.

I gave up running. A storm kicked up. The kind of windy, barely-supressed, rainy, flesh-tingling storm that opens gardens wider and makes you feel a little more alive.

I did something I haven't done since starting to revamp this house. I opened the back windows to catch the Florida storm. (We had to commit to new windows a few months ago. They were needed, thirty years of water and wear had destroyed the old ones.)

I turned the small couch around so its facing the back garden. I pulled back the drapes and opened the back door. It feels stiff and new in my hand, the factory newness reflecting off every shiny surface of it.

Now, the cold, clear air blows through the living room. The Bougainvillea tree is scattering dark purple petals over the yard. Some flower fragments have danced their way up to the closed screen door. Every time another gust of wind comes through, I can feel it all over.My nose feels it and responds accordingly. Twitch. Twitch. Breathe.

I can smell the cold and the rain through the open door. A neighbor is smoking and even though he is smoking in his yard, just next door, I can smell a much-watered down version of smoke. Every few seconds the wind pulls the sheer curtains tight against the screen and then they dance back, flapping wildly.

If I hadn't turned the couch around, I would have missed this. The smell, the cold rain. Glorious. I'm not thinking about my questions or my worries - or the how, what, why, how can I, what can I, where.

I'm here.

Creative Writing Prompt: Nature and Me

  1. When was the last time you connected with nature?

  2. Where were you?

  3. How did it feel?

  4. Did it change your day for the better or worse? How?

  5. What colors were active in nature that day? Describe them.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why Uranus in Aries on 3/11 Will Change Your Life

[caption id="attachment_157" align="alignleft" width="260" caption="Uranus Moves in Aries - Unexpected Changes!"][/caption]

We're approaching Mercury in Aries, which will go into effect on March 9. For the last  three weeks or so, we've been in compassionate, dreamy Mercury in Pisces, lending a gentle touch to our communications (Mercury). Now, the planet of Communication goes into assertive, take-no-prisoners Aries, asking us to communicate directly and forthrightly. This change in communication is small potatoes considering that ...

Uranus the planet of the unexpected is also shifting from Pisces to direct and forthright Aries.

This is a BIG DEAL.


We're seeing a repeat of the Cardinal Grand Cross from last summer. A Grand Cross is when you have four planets squaring (warring) off, all at 90 degrees apart. Last summer during July 2010:

  1. Saturn in Libra offered us relationship LESSONS.

  2. Pluto in Capricorn shook up the status quo.

  3. Jupiter in Aries gave us direct luck,

  4. ...Here's the catch. Moving ahead (especially for the Cardinal Signs of Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn) may have felt amazingly frustrating or slow. You may see a repeat of issues that arose in late summer of 2010 - Summer 2010 Issues, Part II. And now? It's easier. A lot easier. Now we can use this energy to figure out where we are going and why.


Uranus, planet of the unexpected, moves into Aries on 3/11: Self-esteem, self-love, independence and all other things that fall under the domain of Aries will come from unexpected, shocking Uranus-style places. You may find these things in the least common of places since Uranus rules the unexpected, so keep your eyes open!

Jupiter (luck) in Aries is squaring off to Capricorn in Pluto (deep rebirth).  Make your own assertive (Aries) luck (Jupiter) by allowing the status quo (Capricorn) to transform (Pluto).

I believe we've seen this in the events in Egypt in the last few weeks - the world watched as a government (Capricorn) fell and is now beginning to transform in a very baseline Plutonian way.  It is Jupiter's job to blow up and expand. Take a deep breath and go with the Pluto shake up. The life that you are building now has the potential to be 100 times better and more satisfying than before...but as long as Pluto is in Capricorn, it may feel like you're straddling a fault line. Jupiter is like a helium balloon - blowing up everything it touches. It may blow up issues about YOU (Aries rules the self) so they can be dealt with. It may also lead you to experience exhaustion because everything is changing so fast. Ride it out and be aware of HOW you want to direct this energy. It's big. Also, Uranus will be in Aries until 2018! So, whatever changes are being made, they are for the long haul and the greater good.

Also, with Jupiter (luck) and Uranus (surprise) in Aries, expect to find unexpected luck around Aries issues of self-esteem and motivation.

Many of us - specifically those of us who have Sun Signs or Ascendents that are in the Cardinal Signs of  Aries, Cancer, Libra, or Capricorn - will feel this more accutely than others. If you know your chart (or want to check it for free, go to, look where Aries or Capricorn planets fall in your chart for more information. Those will be the areas feeling the impact of this square.

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