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Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: love

In the spirit of Valentines Day (which is tomorrow, btw), we are going to talk about a different sort of love…our LOVE for writing. We are already six weeks into 2012, and the New Year’s Resolutions are long forgotten, dulled by the screams of children racing through our house or the demands of a nagging day job.

Perhaps this was the year you vowed to take that novel more seriously, and you set out with bold promises of daily word count. The first week of January, you were off like a shot. The creativity was flowing, and you couldn’t remember a time you felt so alive. You might have even wondered why you put this off so long! Fingers flying across the keyboard, you laughed in the face of all your naysayers.

Now? Six weeks in?

You’ve lost that loving feeling! Whoa, that loooving feeling. Bring back that looooving feeling cuz it’s gone, gone, gone….whooooaaah.

Okay, I promise not to sing anymore.

Maybe what was so exciting and fun a month ago, now feels more like slogging through a rice paddy wearing ankle weights, snow shoes and a lead-lined Snuggie. I feel your pain. When you hit that mental wall, what can you do to push past and find that same kind of energy?

Here are some tips to help.

1.  Recognize that stalling is normal.

When we start off with a new sparkly idea, it is like a first date that goes really well. We spend every spare second dreaming of our next time together, and every moment apart is torture. But, like the dating world, the one month point with our new project marks a transition in our relationship. This is the point we often ask, Can I commit for the long haul? ‘Til “published” do we part? Be encouraged. Just because we don’t get giddy every time we think of our work in progress in no way means that something is wrong. It just means we have an opportunity to dig in and go deeper. This is no longer a fling, a wild fleeting affair. It’s a commitment. That’s a good thing.

2.  Revisit the plan.

There is a saying we used all the time when I was in sales. Fail to plan and plan to fail. Many writers (I’ve been guilty) just take off writing without any prior preparation. It is usually about the 30,000 word mark that this initial failure to plot starts becoming clear. We stare at our screen and realize our story is so complicated the reader is going to need a GPS and a team of sherpas to navigate our plot. Heck, WE barely even understand what’s going on, and it’s OUR story!

What went wrong?

Maybe we should have spent a tad more time plotting. We have a choice. Keep writing, or stop and make a plan. Often, if we will just go back to the original idea and construct even a basic outline, we can easily see where we got off track. Think of it like taking a wrong turn on a road trip. We can keep driving and hope to stumble across a familiar interstate, but the better idea might be to drag out that AAA map we ignored in the beginning because we wanted to be “spontaneous.”

Frequently, when we hit a mental wall in our writing, it is because our subconscious is shouting, “You took a wrong turn!” If we will listen and retrace our steps, we will be cooking down the Inspiration Interstate in no time. Even pantsers can benefit from writing down the main idea and the fundamental narrative points.

3.  Revisit our goals. 

At the beginning of every new year, a condition called RDD sweeps the globe, and writers are particularly vulnerable. What is RDD? Reality Deficit Disorder. I don’t know if it’s the champagne or peer pressure that makes us believe we can lose thirty pounds, build our own California Closet out of spare Popsicle sticks, and win the Pulitzer by summer.

Let’s be honest. New Year’s Day makes us stupid.

We seem to lose all grasp on reality and forget that we do have a life. We have spouses, children, pets, day jobs and needy houseplants that all need our attention, too. These things don’t just go away because we decided to write a book.

If you are starting to feel burned out, then it might be a good time to revisit your original goals and grant some grace for temporary insanity. Maybe you need longer than 8 weeks to write your magnum opus. Just because we move a personal deadline does not mean we have failed.

Sometimes our creativity will lock up simply because it is caught like a deer in the headlights. Give your muse some breathing room, and she might just spark back to life.

4. Focus on love.

One great way to rest and recharge our creativity is to read. Remind yourself why you love to write. Get away from your own work and out of your own head for awhile. Read the kind of stuff that inspired you to want to write that novel in the first place. This is a good way to recoup, but still be “working.” Often, by “plugging in” to the creativity of others, we can recharge and be ready to write in no time.

In the end, know that writing a book is more like a marathon. We have to train, prepare, and then pace ourselves, or we will end up curled in the fetal position on the side of the road waiting on the rescue van. It’s normal to make mistakes and have setbacks and feel less than thrilled about our decision to become a writer. What is important is to remember that all of the doldrums and depression is temporary, but the thrill of publication is forever.

5. Above all else, remember that Love is a noun, but first it is a VERB.

Huh? Let me explain. Yes, love is a feeling. We get all ooey gooey and can’t get enough. But feelings are fickle and excitement is fleeting. Falling out of love with your WIP (work in progress)? Then go LOVE your WIP!!!  Again, huh? Love is first a VERB. It is part of the infinitive verb, “TO LOVE.”

What is love? Love is patient, kind and long-suffering. Love waits, endures and sacrifices even when everything looks dark. Love is not a fair-weather friend. Love is there even when no one else remains. When everything seems dark and bleak with your WIP? Go LOVE it. Love it enough, and the excitement will return and it better, it will remain.

If we keep chasing the noun–the feeling of love–then all we will end up with are a string of one-night stands unfinished projects. When we get good at the VERB–TO LOVE–we become committed professionals with wonderful, finished novels to our credit.

What are some ways you use to bust past the writing doldrums? What do you think causes your creativity to “lock up?” What tactics do you use to get unstuck?

I LOVE hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of February, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will announce last week’s winner on Friday.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of February I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Winner from Week One is Patrick Thunstrom and Winner from Week Two is Peter Koevari! Congratulations, guys! Please send your 1250 word Word document to author kristen dot lamb at g mail dot com.

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

Image courtesy of Lisa Weidmeier WANA Commons.
Image courtesy of Lisa Weidmeier WANA Commons.

I figure today we will have some light fun. Five years ago, I was still single, and it was right at Valentines, and I was seriously feeling like chopped liver. So, I sat down and scribbled out this fun little poem to give myself (and other singles) a good laugh. I hope it makes all of you smile. Hey, pass on the love to some single pals while you are at it :D.

So without further ado…

Twas the Night Before Valentines…by Kristen Lamb

Twas the night before Valentines, and all through the land

The poor single people were wringing their hands

Handcuffs were hung by the nighties with care

Near the lotions and chocolates and mint underwear.

A day made by Hallmark to sell lots of stuff

Pushing candies and kittens and kisses and fluff

A day that makes “Single” a social disease

Like bubonic or typhoid or chiggers or fleas

And that fat baby Cupid must be on the take

Paid in buckets of cash and red velvet cake.

Love songs are played on every damn station

As “mush” takes over our entire nation.

Now not that we’re jaded, us single-type folk

We’ve tried Facebook and Match, and Equally-Yoked

We’ve tried parks and clubs and churches and bars

And a handful resorted to wishing on stars.

Like most other people, we want company

Without drama or fighting or disharmony.

No Jerry Springer or Kardashian drama

We have no time for all of that trauma.

Maybe we’re picky, world-weary, or fussy

Because we won’t date any Joe Schmo or hussy.

We want someone good-looking, gentle and sweet.

Hey, just cuz we’re single doesn’t make us minced meat.

We don’t begrudge the romance of others

The passion of courtship, the heat between lovers.

Before you judge my singular state

Think back to the days when YOU had to date.

Tomorrow we’ll stand in the grocery store line

Behind the husband with a bottle of wine

And a “Get-Well” bouquet cuz he waited too late

To find the red roses to give to his mate.

Hallmark has trained you to scurry and dash

Into its stores with fistfuls of cash.

For stuffed little critters with a lap full of love

And boxes of chocolate morsels from Dove.

Singles won’t stand hours waiting to dine

On elf food with garnish and overpriced wine.

No chocolates with abnormal tropical middles

Or angst about thighs that may wiggle and jiggle.

No staying in bars desperately late

Trying to connect with a last-minute date.

So embrace your status and shout it out loud.

Yes, I am single! Single and Proud!

So all you single commenters out there, at least you know we WANAites love you. Enjoy being single. And, yes, if any of you want to repost this as a blog, you are welcome to so long as you link here and give me credit. When school children are studying great 21st century literature and are assigned to write essays about my poem, I want the credit for this literary genius :D.

 

I hadn’t planned on participating in August MacLaughlin’s Beauty of a Woman Blogfest. I didn’t find out about it until my BFF Ingrid Schaffenburg asked me to look at her post for typos (check out her post here. It ROCKS). So here goes.

Yes, I am a total joiner.

Let me start out with a little back story. I was never the pretty one in the family. I had two cousins who were stunning…then there was me. Family members would say, “Oh, Cara and Sonja are just so gorgeous. And Kristen, she is so…smart.” I guess it was a compliment. And, in fairness, my cousins looked like Mila Jovovich and Darryl Hannah so it was hard not to look plain next to those two. It still is. They still are DROP DEAD GORGEOUS and I love them both to pieces.

Anyway, when I was thirteen, I wanted to enter a modeling contest and the family laughed. They thought I was kidding. Later, when I was sixteen a family member told me, “Kristen, it’s a good thing you are so smart. Not like you are going to catch a husband with your looks.” And I suppose all of that was bad enough, but I had a nickname I never could escape and it bothered me far more than the remarks about my plain looks (yes, I was a late bloomer and thank GOD for makeup). What was the nickname?

Thunder Thighs.

See, I am only 5’4″ on a good day when all the planets are in line, and I am of…stockier build. I started ballet before I was four, and I never stopped dancing. I dreamed that one day I would dance in NY, so I practiced for HOURS. One day, a girl at recess called me “Horse Legs” and that was the first crack in my previously bullet-proof confidence. Suddenly, I realized that all the other girls in my ballet class were long and willowy. So were the ballerinas in the pictures on my wall. For the first time, I realized I was different.

We can call Kristen a lot of things, but “willowy” ain’t one of them.

Anyway, a boy at school heard the “Horse Legs” comment and decided to up the ante and call me Thunder Thighs…which stuck.

The 80s were a dreadful time for somebody with 21 inch thighs. The skinny jean with the tapered ankle was in style and I would get stuck in my jeans…literally. I remember one day my dad had to get involved. By this time, I’d given up dance and taken up soccer, and my jeans were stuck on my calves. Took someone with a good grip to free me from my denim snare.

Mortifying.

And it was bad enough to have Thunder Thighs because I was fit, but later I struggled with my weight. If anything stopped me from a regular workout, I gained weight quickly…all in my butt and thighs. I recall one time I gained a lot of weight after a nasty ankle injury. I had tipped the scales, and, for the first time, I had to go over to the plus size section. I remember retreating to the shadows near the escalator so no one would see me cry.

For those followers out there on the heavy side, what SADIST determined that African animals across the @$$ was a good idea? Oh this row of zebras across my derriere makes me look three sizes smaller! This giant hibiscus on my left boob makes me look so svelte!

But you know what? I am happy for that experience, and I am happy for my Thunder Thighs. Hey, at least I have legs that take me where I need to go. I’ll admit that I still struggle with loving the Kristen I see in the mirror, but the cool thing is that I have learned to love the Kristen I see reflected in other people much more. To me, THAT Kristen? SHE is the pretty one. The Kristen who keeps the new writer from giving up, who encourages the retiree who struggles to tweet.

My weight goes up. It goes down. Hell, I have everything from a size 2 to a size 16 in my closet. But, at the end of the day, none of that really matters when it comes to beauty. Real beauty is a white light we shine into the world, and we can only see it reflected in others. Kindness, generosity, love, patience are all qualities that make those around us glow…and we all look skinnier in that kind of lighting :D.

I know what it feels like to be “the plain girl” and “the fat girl” and that is cool, because it freed me up to learn to be “the kind girl” and “the fun girl.” Life is short and so am I. I will never have 88 inches of skinny model legs. I still want to write Target hate mail because they still INSIST on carrying 15 different varies of SKINNY jeans and only two curvy styles, but it doesn’t bother me like it used to.

Having Thunder Thighs caused pain, true. But, as my friend Ingrid tells me, “Humor is birthed from pain.” And I always add, “Which is why I am so damn funny.” I believe that, when we learn to laugh at our imperfections, it frees us to grow, to learn. I think one of the most beautiful things about me is I can laugh at anything, and I am not afraid to share my screw ups so I can help others learn. Maybe if I had been as beautiful as my cousins or as willowy as Ingrid (who was a professional ballerina and frets over her her small boobs–seriously check out her post). Maybe if I ‘d been anything other than the smart, plain, girl with the Thunder Thighs I wouldn’t be here…and I wouldn’t have you guys.

Which means I wouldn’t change a thing.

And P.S. I actually didn’t catch a husband because of my looks, or even because I was smart. I caught him because I was FUNNY :D. Thank you, Thunder Thighs!

LAUGH! It makes you beautiful!

Thanks, August for the challenge!

So what about you? Maybe you haven’t participated in this blog fest, but you can share here. Do you struggle with Thunder Thighs? Have you ever had to endure the Zebra Pants of Shame? Do you loathe Target and their 50 varieties of skinny jeans? What part of you did you have to make peace with? Maybe it isn’t even your looks. Are you shy? Do you collect bar coasters and love to yodel and it has interfered with finding a husband?

…whoa. Just kind of went Jerry Springer there.

And on the next edition of Kristen Lamb’s Blog. Her commenters confess to a secret life in the circus!

Whatever. Have fun. Share. It counts for the contest.

I LOVE hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of February, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will announce last week’s winner on Friday.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of February I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck! 

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

I have avoided saying those words, because it means giving up, and I am really not one who has ever been good at throwing in the towel. But, it is almost three weeks since my dog, Boo, disappeared and there has been no sign of him since. It is as if he simply…vanished.

Last year, on February 7th, I lost my cat, Flea, to kidney failure, and it was really tough. I’d had her since I was 19, in college, single and unmarried. Flea had seen me through eight moves, three fiances, a college education, a career in sales, and had even been there when I lost everything and decided to become a writer. Those were dark days in that I was very ill with pneumonia (I had a misdiagnosis of epilepsy and the meds weakened my immune system). I remember being so sick, up all night coughing until I thought I would break, and there was Flea. She would sleep on my pillow and stroke my hair with her paw. I had her for almost 16 years and life still seems so wrong without her.

And back to the Boo.

Poor Boo. Boo was not a dog for most people. I used to  joke that he was my Grace Child, because I had to give a lot of grace to love him, and I did love him…a lot.  I found Boo on September 19, 2005. I was walking my Chihuahua mix Ladybird (a.k.a. Birdie) at the park, when the male mini-pin mix showed up. I had never seen a dog so ghastly thin and his eyes were milky. It was clear he wasn’t well. Ah, but he was in love with Birdie even though he wouldn’t come anywhere near me. I have no idea what puppyhood was like for Boo, but it clearly wasn’t pleasant. He was a happy dog with a sweet nature, but he was terrified of everything and everyone…so I named him Boo.

Anyway, I used Birdie as bait and lured Boo into my car then took him to the vet. $635 later he was mine. No such thing as a FREE DOG, right? Boo had every worm and parasite in the book. The vet said he wouldn’t have lasted but a couple more days. They even offered to put him down instead of treating him. In their opinion, he was not “adoptable.” I felt he just needed an owner who could be patient, so I okayed the high bill of treatment.

Boo was an emotional mess. I had to put a 12 foot lead on him because he would hide. At first, I didn’t dare let him off his lead before I got in the house because he would take off running in a wild panic.

A month after I got him, I had to go to Maryland, and I asked some people from church to watch him. I told them to never ever leash him and leave him outside, that his nickname was “Boo-dini.” Anyway, you guys can guess what they did. Took me two weeks of handing out flyers and searching. Lots of “Boo sightings” but no one could get a hold of him. I remember the moment I fianlly found him, curled in a small brown ball that blended in with the winter-deadened grass. I had never seen a dog so happy to see me.

After that, Boo never took off. He didn’t improve all that rapidly, but he stayed close to home. It took almost a year before Boo would untuck his tail. He never would let anyone pet him or hold him but me.

Boo was the best dog, though. He never barked except when someone came to the door (and that took 4 years). He was perfectly housetrained and I didn’t even have to use a leash with him when I’d take him out to the ranch. Boo came to hand signals. I could work in my front garden and Boo would find a patch of sun close to me…always close to me….and sleep.

Anyway, in early April, I had to go to L.A. on business and I didn’t want to kennel Boo. The last time I tried to, it cost me $100 to treat his badly sprained paw. He tried to pull a Boo-dini and got his paw stuck in the cage and no one found it until morning. He nealy lost the paw.

My mom has Ladybird and so he has stayed with my mother in the past very successfully. This time Boo was doing great and having loads of fun with his other doggie pals at my mom’s house. My mom had hired new landscapers and didn’t realize they had been over to mow, and had left the gate standing open. 

Boo hasn’t been seen since.

It has been a weird three weeks. Boo was a big part of my life for almost 6 years. I drop food when I’m cooking and expect him to be there. I wake up in the morning and, out of habit, go to his crate to let him outside. This morning I wanted to go for a walk, and, found myself looking for the leash.

I don’t know which has been harder. Flea passed away in my arms. I got a chance to tell her I loved her and to thank her for being my friend. With Boo? I feel like a sentence left unfinished. I don’t want to put away his bed, because it means I have given up. But, at the same time, I can’t bear looking at the blanket with his bone…just as he left it.

No one has seen him, dead or alive. No shelters have found him and no one has called to report a wandering pooch. My mom and I have combed the neighborhoods and nothing. He has disappeared just as he appeared…unexpectedly. And life feels so wrong without him.

Here is hoping that he one day comes home, but for now I must say bye to the Boo. I loved him dearly and he is very, very dearly missed.

What do you guys think about the relationship we have with our animals? I believe the hurt can be far deeper when we lose them because there is only love. There aren’t the scruples of human relationships. Have you guys had an animal that changed your life? Was your lifeline in a time of need?  What about loss?  What are your pet stories?

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of May, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of May I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

Important Announcements

Winner’s Circle!

Winner of 5 page critique for last week in April Michelle Massaro. Please send a Word doc (1250 words) to kristen @ Kristen lamb dot org

Winner for 15 page critique for month of April is Tracy Green. Please send a Word doc (3750 words).

Winner of 5 page edit for first week in May Sharon Hamilton. Please send a Word doc (1250 words).

May 9-13, 2011, I will be teaching an on-line Building Your Author Brand with Social Media Class for only $15 to support the wonderful Long Island Romance Writers.

My new book, “Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer” will be out soon! Stay tuned.