Nostalgia. Something old and familiar. A feeling that takes you back to a time when you were safe, when life was simple. It’s like parting the curtains in a dark room to reveal the mid afternoon sunshine outside. It’s too bright to get a clear view, squinting your eyes, you barely see the glorious day outside.

Slowly your eyes adjust, and you feel secure. Cares melt away and the polished smooth memories of yesteryear catch the reflections of the light. A longing comes over you. A longing to relive those moments, to cast off the burdens that wrap themselves tightly around your soul.

Gingerly, you press your fingers against the window and feel the warmth of the sunshine through the glass. The longer you gaze outside the closer those memories seem – so close they could almost be real. You take a deep breath and allow the scents of the trees and the flowers to fill your lungs.

Sweetly and softly you exhale and close your eyes. For a moment the past seems to brush against your skin, a fleeting tickle, and then it’s gone.

The afternoon stretches long and the light takes on a cooler hue. You open the curtains wider hoping for a little more light, a little more warmth but all you can feel is the cool late afternoon breeze.

It carries with it a stirring of regret touched by loss. In vain you press your face against the glass, straining to leave the confines of your room, straining to dance one last time in the fading glow of daylight.

Your heart beats with an urgency as you glimpse the rising moon on the horizon. “No,” you wisper to yourself, “Not yet.” Shadows creep across the grass outside engulfing all in it’s path.

“No!” you scream, pushing yourself forward. You must touch the sunshine before it is gone. You can’t die in this dark room alone. With panic you lash out at the glass separating you from your sweet remembrances. The window shatters under your weight. Deseperately you claw your way over broken glass, lunging for the light as it winks out of existence.

“No!” you cry, as tears stream down your face, the salt stings your fresh wounds. You grasp at those memories, but they are gone. The night brings with it the cold and a shiver overtakes your body.

You gaze at the room of today. Pieces of glass litter the floor as a cold wind steals the remaining warmth from the room.

Your yesterday is gone, and your today is broken and cold.

Today I feel like a real writer

I’ve been a writer all my life. I’ve found joy in putting virtual pen to digital paper and sharing my most personal thoughts and daring on flights of fancy. Yet after all these years I’ve never felt that the enticing self description was fully reflected in reality.

Today that all changed.

Today I not only am a writer, but I feel like a writer too. I woke up early in the morning, exercised with a friend then took a short trip in to my office where I will work for a few hours before catching the return flight back to Seattle.

It’s a gorgeously clear day in Santa Monica, with a hint of a breeze that nips the suns rays away before they get a chance to settle. My body alternates between lusciously warm and almost uncomfortably chilly.

You see, my office is the beach, my work attire a cute black bikini, and my coworkers are the surfers and sun bathers than frequent the beautiful beach just a short walks away from the Santa Monica pier. The calming sounds of the waves paint an auditory backdrop matched only by the expanse of soft yellow sand and deep blue ocean.

It’s easy to draw inspiration from such a setting. To glance up at a couple wandering by, or a dad carrying a surfboard as he teaches his son to surf, and craft a story of their lives in my imagination. The shoreline is resplendent with opportunities to meld words into stories and fashion stories into lives that entice the intellect while tugging on the emotional heart strings.

I am blessed. Today is not the start of my writing, for I have written many a word before. Today doesn’t mark the first time I accept financial compensation for my creative endeavors, for I have found abundance in my work before. Today is the day that separates my dream of writing with the reality of a long and prosperous career as a writer.

For years I have held a dream deep in my heart. A dream that my life’s vocation as a writer would be fulfilled pouring out my talents where the sea and shore meet. Today is the start of that dream, and I thank the universe for opening this path. My spirit is nourished, and a prosperous future dawns ahead of me.

I can’t wait to get started.
I already have.

Lubricate Your Writing

From the dawn of mankind the most innovative among us have created implements to hasten our task and lessen the burden of our work. Simple tools made it easier to light a fire, hunt for food or eventually grow our own crops. As our sophistication grew, so did the number and complexity of our tools.

The industrial age ushered in a cornucopia of new vessels for productivity. Yet even this boon was nothing in comparison to the bounty we are reaping in the information era. The proliferation of electronics, software and services has given us access to tools that those living merely 20 years ago could only dream about.

Each advancement of technology brought with it the promise of advancing our proficiency, and then fell crashing on the rocks of distraction, endless maintenance and steep learning curves.

Some trepidation

So it is with some trepidation that I share the tools I have chosen to use as I further my literary journey. I could regale you with tales of old cliche’s the steadfastly cling to the notion that a shoddy craftsperson blames their tools instead of their underdeveloped skill. Yet that would be neither enlightening nor interesting.

It is true that my tools won’t make me a better writer. They won’t paint the landscape of my story, or breathe life into the characters that walk it. Yet I have found that tools can have evoke a visceral impact on my propensity to engage in the creative process.

I can scarcely imagine the daunting task faced by writers of yore. Sitting down on a cold and dim night huddled around a flickering candle, clasping at a dirty sheaf of worn paper and laboriously inking their pens. In spite of my love for words, such a task would seam more like slow torture. Each thought extracted through screams of pain and every plot twist aching through broken bones.

My tools to make writing a joy

I used to use a kludgey set of tools that made writing a chore. Though admittedly not quite as arduous as my imaginings of yesteryear, I never felt my tools calling me to write more. It was always the yearning from within my soul that drew me back to the keyboard for one more dance along the floor of imaginings.

A few weeks ago I completely revamped my writing toolkit, and even as I type these words I can hear my tools sing to me. They call my name. The buttery smooth keys delight my fingertips like a mild narcotic. The beautifully inviting font begs me to write just one more paragraph. To fill in the blank space with it’s monospaced beauty.

And then there is my software setup, which gives me the ability to write when my muse calls, and tinker with technology when she is sleeping.

My Writing Implements

I have two computers I use for writing.
A Macbook Pro Retina, which I use while at home, and thoroughly enjoy it’s expansively beautiful screen.

I also have an 11” Macbook Air, which I use when I’m traveling. It’s small enough to fit into almost any bag, and since the keyboard is the same size as it’s larger brethren, it makes a perfect typewrite.

After much research I finally settled on MacJournal for my writing software. I was sorely tempted by IA Writer, which is a fabulous piece of software, and really nails the writing focus. Sadly though, the file management needed to write regularly across multiple different blogs just isn’t strong enough. I found myself spending too much time making folders and naming files and… you get the picture.

MacJournal balances simplicity, with organization. It’s not a blogging focused tool, but does allow exporting to blogs. Giving me a clean separation between writing and publishing. Two activities which engage vastly different parts of my brain.

In addition, MacJournal has one of the best focused writing views of any app out there, with the possible exception of IA Writer.

I spoiled myself, and sprung for the gorgeously enticing Nitti Light font, that is used with IA Writer. Be sure to get the style pack that includes the bold and italic versions, so you can seamlessly emphasize your words.

To keep everything in sync across my computers I have dropbox setup, and my MacJournal master file from both computers points to the same Dropbox location. So far this seems to be working well, though I can imagine that sync is a tricky technical challenge, so I keep quite a number of backups, just in case.

The most beautiful thing about my tools though has to be the keyboard on the Macbook. Absolutely fabulous! The best keyboard I’ve ever used. I wasn’t kidding when I said my fingertips danced with delight. Even now it feels as though I can keep writing, if only to sate the need to caress just one more key.

Tools allow the story

As much as I love the tools I’ve chosen, tools do not create the story, they only allow it to flow. Stories are created deep within us. It’s only by plumbing the depths of our greatest joys and despairs, our deep or our fleeting relationships, and the crazy world of our imaginings that we can craft a story to dazzle the world.

May your tools be a blessing. May they speed your words and fortify your resolve.

A vignette a day keeps writer’s block at bay

Along with my insights and sometimes obvious observations I’ll share vignettes on Melted Words. These could be snippets from a large work in progress, or just a situation that pops to mind that seems interesting to explore. Today’s vignette is titled, “Let it go” – the first two lines have haunted me for the last few weeks, and felt I needed to take it a bit further.

Let it Go

“Touch the table,” she said, gesturing gently towards the pock marked cherry wood surface. “You’ll see that everything I’ve told you is true.”

Deadra wasn’t quite sure how to proceed. The act seemed simple enough, yet the implications made her pause. Could this really be the final artifact? The one she had devoted the last twenty years of her life to uncovering. She turned her eyes from the table and looked at her unlikely host. Calling on the practiced intuition that years as a psychologist had honed she was almost certain Viola was telling the truth. Or had been so thoroughly convinced that her body betrayed no knowledge to the contrary.

“Be careful,” she muttered under her breath, just softly enough so the words disapated before they could be heard. Continuing now only to herself, “There is power in this belief that you barely understand.” Unconsciouly she rubbed at the still healing incision on her left thigh. It was barely an inch long, but served as a tangible reminder of how lucky she had been. And how quickly it could go wrong.

“What do you want?” Deadra said, shocking herself at the confidence that rung in her voice. “I’ve already paid your price.” Viola laughed. A horrible, tension filled sound that seemed to jab at the air around her. “Child, after all these years you still don’t know the right question to ask.” “As you say, you have paid our price. We have what we want.”

Viola paused, shaking her head. Deadra knew better, but it almost seemed for a moment that Viola was disappointed in her. Her parents had looked at ther the same way when she had turned down a scholarship to a prestigious medical school. Shaking their heads in disbelief, as if the gentle disapproval of that motion could convince Deadra to change her mind.

No, Viola wasn’t disappointed in her. She was grappling with her own loss. She’d given too much of herself to the artifact that even the thought of it’s loss seemed to age her. Deadra couldn’t be certain, perhaps it was just a trick of the light, but Viola looked visibly tired now. As if their conversation had gone on long into the night, instead of just a few minutes.

“Was it just a few minutes?” Deadra thought as she glanced up at a large plastic wall clock that hung out of place in this otherwise tastefully decorated room. The artifact had a way of changing time. She breathed a mental sigh of relief, only twelve minutes had passed. That seemed about right.

“It’s not what we want,” Viola said, rasing her head to look at Deadra, “but what you are willing to give. To the artifact.” Viola seemed to gather a thought from far away. “I wonder, ” Viola continued, “how far are you willing to take it?”

A patch of sunlight flickered through the window. Now Viola looked dinstinctly harrowed. It was as if something were feeding on her life energy. Sucking her dry like the last remnants of a big gulp on a warm Saturday afternoon. Just twelve minutes ago Viola had looked the picture of health – a strong and determined fifty something woman. Despite the circumstances that brought them together, Deadra respected her. Now she was fading quickly, she looked more like an anorexic clinging to life than the CEO of one of the country’s most powerful corporations.

“It will do this to you too,” Deadra reminded herself, “if you let it.”

Writing is not easy, it’s effortless

I spent some time this afternoon examining my beliefs about writing. I’ve been wanting to spend my “working hours” writing for some time now – many years in fact – but before now I’d never been able to get past the point of beginning. Something subconsciously was holding me back – like a shadow from my dark past wrapping itself gently around my waist beckoning me to stay just out of the light’s intense glow.

What were my old beliefs about being a writer

I realized that there were old beliefs rattling around my head, filling me with all the reasons to hold on to my lucrative career in technology. Before I could move forward I would need to acknowledge these beliefs, and replace them with more empowering ones.

  • If I were to become a writer I would struggle, and not have enough money. We’ve seen it so often that by now it’s expected – the struggling writer who eventually gets a break and makes it big. The struggling writer who slaves for hours as a waitress, fiercely staving off fatigue to write one more page of her novel.
  • I don’t have any formal training, so I won’t know what to do or where to get started. Those struggling writers I just introduced you to were most likely English majors – people who had been trained to write. If they were struggling, how could I, a computer geek, hope to succeed?
  • I won’t know how to publish my book when it’s finally written. Instead of actually writing my book(s), I’m spending all this time worrying that I won’t be able to publish them. Already I’m getting exasperated by these old beliefs of mine – ridiculous boat anchors I’ve been trying to take with me in my carry-on luggage.
  • I’ll be lonely and isolated if I write for a living. This one amazes me, because I’m lonely and isolated now – I spend all my time at a job I don’t enjoy, and come home wiped out. The pay is great, but every time I invest myself in work I drain my life force to feed a vampire than can never be sated. my life force is sucked from me. Even if I weren’t lonely, I’d be soulless!
  • I won’t have the drive and follow-through – I’ll give up half way, and then where would I be? I imagine this is a real concern for many, but I’m snickering a bit as I read this. I completed college, moved half way around the world, worked at two of the top technology companies, and I’m worried that I don’t have the drive to succeed at writing? If you think about your life for a second, you’ll see how equally true this is. If you’re a mom – how much drive have you already shown to raise your kids in a good home? Just think for a moment about all the ways you’ve already shown the ability to follow-through – I know that’s what I’m going to be thinking!
  • I’ll knock my abundance off course and never be able to recover. This is the insidious cousin of my first worry that whispers to me, “Things are fi-ine, if you change something you’ll just screw it up and blow everything you’ve worked so hard for.” But if things we’re “fi-ine”, I wouldn’t have this hunger in my soul that I cannot satisfy by continuing to exist without writing.

What I believe now about being a writer

  • I’m a great writer – many people have already told me so – I don’t need an English degree to succeed as a writer. In fact I’m blessed to have a diverse set of experiences to draw upon to enrich my writing.
  • I know what to do – in fact I’m already doing it with almost no effort – just imagine what I could do if I actually worked at it!
  • I’ve got drive, determination and follow-through. I’ve accomplished some amazing things in my life, and writing is no different.
  • Writing is my passion – when I follow my passion the universe can’t help but open up with abundance – financially, emotionally and in my relationships.
  • Writing will draw me closer to other people because I’ll finally be living my identity.
  • I have a tremendous set of skills, an abundance of preparation – both financially and emotionally to succeed as a writer. Being a writer won’t divert my abundance off course, but divert the tributary of my success into a rushing torrent of abundance!
  • Every moment I don’t write is a moment when my life song is fading. If I don’t make a change NOW my life song will disappear forever.

I’m at a point now where I can’t help but write – writing is the oxygen I breathe, the oxygen/hydrogen mixture I drink and the more complex chemical compound – I won’t even try to describe – that I eat.

Being a writer isn’t easy – it’s effortless.

Keep Writing

Newton’s first law states, “The velocity of a body remains constant unless acted on my an external force.” It’s worth considering this law when you embark on your writing career. The effect of inertia is one I am all too familiar with.

Don't let inertia steal your writing dreams

Don't let inertia steal your writing dreams

At the beginning of a project I am excited, and pour all my energy into it. Not a day goes by without me thinking about it, or doing something to bring it closer to fulfillment. Then somewhere along the way I decide, “Taking a few days off won’t hurt.” Before I know it, a few days has turned to a few weeks, a few weeks to a few months. Eventually I can barely remember what I was doing, let alone pick up the and carry on.

Writing projects in particular need momentum to keep moving forward. Getting a novel back in motion once it has stopped is an arduous and difficult task. I know the feeling of flow will come back if I can just write a few hundred words. Even then I find excuses to keep my writing apps closed.

Writing a novel can seem like a daunting task. It’s difficult to separate out one page from the novel, and just complete it in isolation. In my mind the entire book seems to grow. I see every plot twist stretching out in front of me, and I get overwhelmed. When this happens I can’t tackle the novel – it’s too big for me. But I need to keep writing.

The novelists best friend

A blog is a fantastic tool you can use to encourage yourself to keep writing. You don’t need to create length discourse, or complicated story arcs. Just write a few words. You don’t need to polish it, or get a copy editor to go through it before sharing. Just publish it. You can write a blog and just let the words flow onto the page. You can train your writing muscle back into shape if it has been neglected, or do those extra warm ups before the big game.

I maintain a number of different blogs for the various interests I have. From technology to personal fulfillment. This allows me to keep writing, even when my interests wander from topic to topic. I don’t always feel like writing about a certain subject. In fact, at times the very thought of writing on a topic is enough for me to close my laptop. By having variety I’m able to not only keep going, but explore and learn many new things about myself and about this life.

The challenge

My challenge, as I embark on this project, is to keep writing. To write something every day. Some days it will be here, on Melted Words. Others it will be on another blog, or a page for my novel. This is my challenge, and also my commitment to you – whether a dear reader and friend or the faceless Internet. Thank you for joining me on this journey!

The Journey of a Thousand Miles

It’s said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and a flat tire. Perhaps this is an homage to the difficulty faced when beginning any new venture. The unknown yawns before us with tantalizing promise and fearful questioning. Committing to an outcome takes bold courage – it means leaving the safety of the certain and casting our hopes like stardust on the path of life.

This post is the beginning of my voyage to unlock who I am, to let the untrained music of my melody reverberate through the mountain peaks and sift through the tree tops. I look longingly back at my certainty. A good job. No, a great job – a job that millions would love to have, at a company that lavishes blessings on those in their employ. Yet like gold-encrusted chains I can feel the yoke of abundance strangling me – forcing my soul to dance like a marionette to a tune I never really cared for.

There are words burning in my chest. Words that must be freed or else my very being will glow ablaze and turn to ashes. They call inside of me, “Set me free”. They scream in anguish, “Our song is dying”. Their cacophony compels me to act. To turn my eyes towards the worn and rocky path ahead and claim with all the passion inside me:

I am a writer! I must write!

I love writing. It fuels my spirit, whenever I write I enter a state of flow, where time passes effortlessly. Writing allows me to contribute my love, compassion and ideas in a way that touches hundreds of thousands, even millions of people. It is my life song, it is one of the reasons I was created. Words burn within me, they must escape or I will perish.

This blog will chronicle my journey – from a technologist who longs to be a writer, to a writer who lives her greatest passion every day. Along the way I’ll share mistakes I make, frustrations I overcome and learning that moves me forward.

I am most grateful to the friends who have encouraged me to seek my true passion – you have planted within me the seed of blessing that will bear fruit for many years to come.