Tag Archives: art

Lucky Number 8


by Lillian Csernica on June 9, 2013

Eight Ways To Win My Heart:  I do consider the number eight to be lucky.  The person willing to do some or all of what’s listed below is a winner in my book!

Intelligent conversation.  I value it even more than good chocolate.

Send me something fun via snail mail.  I love to get cards and packages.

Be willing to watch a movie with me, one of the ones I really enjoy due to explosions, strange characters, foreign culture, or a movie star I have a crush on.

Ignore my weirdness on my bad days and accept the apologies I offer later.

Fold the laundry for me.

Convince me that I will finish this book, I will finish the others, I will write and sell good, solid stories, and someday I’ll be nominated for literary awards.

Get me out the door so I’ll take that walk or go for a swim or do something to exercise this aging, high mileage vehicle.

Don’t ever lie to me or jerk me around.  Prove to me that I can’t trust you and you’ll never be on the Authorized Personnel list again.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog challenges, Depression, Family, Fiction, Humor, Special needs, Writing

Mood Swings


by Lillian Csernica on May 9, 2013

Over the years I’ve discovered that I write the best when I’m in either a really high mood, or the absolute abyss.  Am I bi-polar?  No.  Does my mood vary like this on a daily basis?  The short answer to that one is no.  Most of the time I’m chugging right along in that combination of happy about some things/worried about other things/gonna kick somebody’s ass about that one thing.  This means I’m thinking about too many different things at once, which makes it hard to get my energy together in that mental space called the “creative trance.”

Am I advocating jacking up your mood or getting really depressed?  Of course not.  For centuries writers have tried doing that by artificial means, and while some of them produced some lasting pieces of really memorable writing, many of them destroyed their talent, their minds, and their lives.

(Yes, there’s a fine line between creativity and mental imbalance.  Sometimes they go hand in hand.  We’ll talk about that another time.)

There are some things you can do to get yourself in the mood for writing that are not dangerous to your physical or mental well-being.  Music is the first example that springs to mind.  When I was writing my very first novel, a fantasy novel where I alternated chapters between the two main characters, during the writing of the one character’s chapters I blasted “The Best of Berlin” over and over again.  When I was writing a section of SHIP OF DREAMS where Alexandre contemplates all the losses in his back story that made him turn pirate, I kept playing U2’s “With or Without You.”  And for those days when I’m feeling sluggish and don’t want to apply myself, I crank up Pat Benatar and in minutes I’m so wired I can’t type fast enough.

In one of my earlier posts I mentioned chocolate.  Oh yeah.  Please see What Fuels My Writing for my thoughts on chocolate as the writer’s friend.

What does it for you?  What puts you in the mood to write the sad standing-by-the-casket scenes?  What gets you all happy and jazzed so you can write that intense chase scene?  What helps you shut out all the tedious little daily distractions so you can be fully present in your writing mind?  Think about it.  Keep a mood journal.  There’s nothing like tracking habitual data in an empirical format that will show you patterns you didn’t know existed.  This could help you pinpoint your best times of day, noise levels, quality of light, all these details.  Figure out the environmental factors that support your creativity and productivity so you can recreate them at will!

Wannabes think, “Oh, I have to be in the mood to create.”  Serious writers and artists figure out how to put themselves in that mood and make the most of it.

2 Comments

Filed under Depression, fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Writing

S is for Sabotage


by Lillian Csernica on April 22, 2013

From Wikipedia.org:

Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is a saboteur. As a rule, saboteurs try to conceal their identities because of the consequences of their actions.”

Psssst!  Here’s one of the dirty little secrets of being a writer. There are people who don’t want us to succeed. Among them we can count the least likely suspects, our very own selves. Now why on earth would we get in our own way? Simple. It’s really hard to go on writing book after book after book. A lot of perfectly reasonable obstacles can get in the way, especially if we have work, kids, school, or other serious commitments such as being the caregiver for another family member. On a day to day basis, the little tasks that demand our attention can also gang up on us.  When we allow these little tasks to get in the way of our writing, they become avoidance behaviors. We want to get today’s writing done, yet we rush off to fold laundry, answer the phone, groom the pet, trim our toenails, etc.  This is self-defeating behavior. Career-derailing behavior. Self-sabotage.

Now let’s look at the people in our lives who might have some motivation for spiking our writing ambitions.

  1. The “Good Intentions” crowd. These people think we’re chasing a hopeless dream, wasting productive time, setting ourselves up for the pain of rejection and disappointment. They think they know what’s better for us than we do. They don’t understand why we write and there’s not much point in trying to explain it to them.
  2. The Jealous Wannabes. We’ve all met them. They talk a lot about writing, but they don’t do much of it. Or they do write, but they refuse to listen to any input that suggests weaknesses in their writing style, plot structure, etc. They claim they know What It Means To Be A Writer no matter how unrealistic or self-defeating that idea might be.
  3. The Know-It-Alls. They hide behind a mask of information, but what they’re really doing is playing oneupsmanship games. No matter how much writing we do, the Know-It-Alls will quote some authority on how we should be doing either more or less at this or that pace. No matter how much success we achieve, the Know-It-Alls talk about the career patterns of Big Name writers. Notice the consistent behavior here. All Know-It-Alls do is talk, and that talk is designed to undermine our confidence, motivation, and momentum.
  4. The Dream Killers. These are hostile jerks who get their jollies from trashing somebody else’s hopes and dreams. They can put on the masks of the above three types, or they can be quite direct with their insults and mockery. Either way, they’re toxic and we need to avoid them.

How do we protect ourselves against such sabotage, especially when it comes from family or co-workers? Just smile. Smile, say thank you for their interest, and go on writing. Know these people for what they are.  Their efforts at sabotage are all about their problems and have nothing to do with us or our writing.

It’s hard, I know, but there’s nothing sweeter than announcing to these people the sale of a short story or a novel. Living well really is the best revenge.

10 Comments

Filed under Blog challenges, Depression, Family, Fiction, Writing

J is for Joie de vivre


by Lillian Csernica on April 10, 2013

Yes, that is indeed French for “joy of living.” The English definition of the phrase is most often rendered as hearty or carefree enjoyment of life. Sounds pretty good, right?

To be a writer is to be driven by some inner compulsion to render one’s thoughts and ideas into words. Most of the writers I’ve known well have been what might be termed “broken people.” Many of us write because we’re trying to make something stop hurting. Or perhaps we’re trying to prevent others from suffering the hurts we’ve endured. This is a noble task. Messy, painful, an uphill struggle at times. After all that effort, we might reach only a handful of people with the message we’re driven to send.

You know what many of us need to do? Lighten up.

That sounds frivolous, doesn’t it? Oh no, we tell ourselves, we have serious work to accomplish. Time lost is never regained. Nose to the grindstone! While there’s something to be said for the Puritan Work Ethic, even the Puritans had some fun every once in a while.

I have been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. I am low serotonin. Going back on both sides of my family one can read the patterns of depression and alcoholism and divorce. I have bad days when I can’t write. I have, however, learned how to get past that horrible conviction that I will never write another worthwhile word again. The solution is simple.

Go play with your cat. Go blow bubbles. Go sit in the sunshine. Go look at the stars. Be Here Now. Be fully present, fully mindful, in full possession of whatever inspires in you the joie de vivre waiting within every moment. Better yet, when you have happy moments, WRITE THEM DOWN! Write down what gives you a lift, what drives back the shadows, what floods your weary mind and heart with all the wondrous colors of life.

My writing teacher, Andy Couturier, gave me a brilliant piece of advice. One night after class I was all excited over the progress I was making on my current novel. I was happy, really happy! Andy suggested I write down how I got to that place of happiness. Life is full of ups and downs. Some time another bad day would hit, and I’d need to find the longitude and latitude of happiness once again. A few months later one of my best friends died suddenly. I still miss her every day, but now the grief does not cripple me and stop me from writing.

Joie de vivre. The joy of living. Breathe it in. Let it soak into your every cell. Then return to your writing radiant with the pure energy of being alive.

14 Comments

Filed under Blog challenges, Depression, Fiction, Writing

How to Make Writing Progress Every Day


by Lillian Csernica on March 28, 2013

As the mother of two special needs teenage boys, there are many days when I am just not in the mood to write.  I’m too tired, I’m too stressed, I’ve had to be out at appointments or making phone calls or sorting out scheduling problems with the nurses and aides.  All I want to do is flop down on the couch with a bag of microwave popcorn and let my higher brain functions take a vacation while I watch some trashy action movie on Netflix.

That doesn’t get the day’s writing done.

How do I get myself to churn out the day’s writing regardless of mental fatigue, emotional turbulence, and family demands?  I keep two lists:  Process Goals and Productivity Goals.

Process Goal: This is an activity that will contribute to the overall completion of a particular writing project.  I have a new short story underway.  I brainstorm more plot complications to see if I can raise the stakes and make the story more exciting with greater suspense.

Productivity Goal:  This is the write-the-actual-words goal.  A thousand a day?  Two thousand?  If I want to get a five thousand word short story written in first draft form in one week’s time, then I have to hit my target of a thousand words per day.  If I write more, great!

There is always something I can accomplish, no matter what my frame of mind might be.  If I want to be successful as a writer, both on the personal and the professional levels, then I have to get the story or novel written, clean it up, and get it out to market.  If I keep my sights set on today, I won’t feel so overwhelmed.  Today plus today plus today adds up.  A thousand words per day five days a week for twenty weeks or five months equals one hundred thousand words, which is a four hundred page novel.

Keeping those lists of Process goals and Productivity goals is my way of making sure that no matter what kind of mood I’m in, there will be something I can muster up the motivation to accomplish.  Once I’ve overcome the inertia of not being “in the mood,” I can build some momentum and get the work done.

8 Comments

Filed under Family, fantasy, Fiction, Writing