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Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Rasley’

Write On The Beach

Write On The Beach

This weekend I wrapped up a 2 day inaugural writers’ workshop I was co-hosting. It was a ton of work, but an extremely exciting and successful event – which is what really matters. I’ve never attempted anything on this scale, and bringing together 4 diverse, very successful authors to Grand Bend to teach 90 minute workshops to an equally diverse audience of new and “wannabe” writers proved to be no small challenge.

We couldn’t have done it, and done it so well, if not for the help of my partners-in-crime, Mary Alderson and Jonathon Roulston. Of course without the financial grant support of the Grand Bend Community Foundation, the Lambton County Creative County Fund, and the Grand Bend Art Centre, none of it would have been possible. I’m incredibly grateful for these groups and individuals who pulled together to make this entire event and weekend a success. Our instructors were also a real treat to work with. Jeff Rasley, Alicia Rasley, Bonnie Burnard, and Robyn Doolittle are professionals of the very finest merit. Their wisdom, humour, and expertise were appreciated by everyone. Judging by the comments I received from attendees, each session was chock full of insightful, helpful information and take-aways.

Grand Bend Harbour

Grand Bend Harbour

One of our added goals was to increase awareness of Grand Bend, Lambton Shores, and all we have to offer residents and visitors. Long known for our beautiful, wide sandy beaches, incredible sunsets, beach town vibe and family-friendly restaurants and activities, we wanted to showcase Grand Bend’s cultural and creative side as well. Visitors to the workshop, including instructors Jeff and Alicia Rasley who travelled from Indianapolis, Indiana, came away impressed by Grand Bend, and stated more than once that they’ll be back.

These are all true win-wins for everyone involved. I like that. It also means we’ll definitely be going ahead and doing one again next year, so stay tuned next spring for details.

 

 

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I’m so excited to share information on a new 2 day writers’ workshop series in Grand Bend, Ontario (2 hours from Toronto, 45 minutes to London and Sarnia) this June 11-12/2016! With four A-class, seasoned writers as instructors talking on a variety of topics, there’s something for everyone! Whether you’re already well into the writing journey, just starting out, or want to learn how to get started, these workshops were made for you. 

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Why Bother?

Why Bother?

Well, there’s a question and a half! Every so often I ponder this question, and at the beginning of a new year, it’s extremely appropriate.

Life can seem like such an uphill battle that it’s easy to think, “Why bother?” After all, if whatever you’re doing isn’t getting you where you want to be, maybe you should just quit. I mean seriously. Quit. Or don’t quit. Only you can decide which path is right for you.

In a YouTube video I posted a few months ago, I remarked that I’d watched a video with Pastor Rob Bell and author Elizabeth Gilbert, where Rob commented that perhaps we don’t need to “find” our place in this world, so much as “create” our place in this world. Wow! That really hit home, since I’d spent most of my life trying to figure where I fit in. I’ve come to a conclusion; I don’t need to fit in. I can create my own place and thrive from there.

But what if what I’m doing is hard? Really, really hard. I’ve questioned this chosen path of writing so many times. I’ve cried, I’ve pleaded with God to give me a sign, I’ve meditated, and I’ve demanded. I’m still right where I’m meant to be. I’m still struggling. I’m still learning. I’m still growing – sloooowly. Maybe someday I’ll look back and wonder why I couldn’t see what was right in front of me, or why I even questioned who I am and what I want to do with this life I’ve been given.

Struggles Ahead

Struggles Ahead

In reflection it occurs to me that every struggle I’ve had to go through has brought me to this point in my life. I’ve hated the struggles while I was going through them, and I know I’ll hate the ones that are looming out of sight. After all, what if my choices lead me places I don’t want to go? What if I never reach my goals of making a living from my writing. What if all my family and friends never understand what I’ve been trying to do? What if I fail?

So why bother? I have the free will to change my course and do something entirely different. The next question is; do I really want to? What will I gain if I do? What will I lose? Every choice has pros and cons, and being a reasonably intelligent woman, I have to consider those pros and cons every single day. From the moment I open my eyes in the morning, to the moment I close them again at night, I have to choose how I spend my hours. Sitting here writing this blog post, I could be doing something else. But this question has been bugging me, so I’m better off getting it out in the open where I can see it. It’s a big question, and the answers are scary.

Do I have to answer today? Right now? Tomorrow? Next week – or next year? No, I don’t. I could just drift along and let life take me where it will, but knowing me, I won’t like that either. I know I need to feel I have goals and some measure of choice in what I do. I need to be intellectually challenged – Lord knows I’ve had life challenges enough. I don’t need any more “blessing in disguise”. I want them front and center where I can see them, so I know there’s a reason to bother. Of course what I want isn’t necessarily what I get. It isn’t always what any of us get. So, we choose to either bother, or not bother. There are consequences to both.

For me, I choose to continue to work at writing because I feel my most authentic when I do. I feel good at the end of the day when I’ve done the work, sat in front of my computer, slogged at getting the words down on the page of my current WIP. Even when I know it’s not perfect, it’s at least a start. I have that choice. Every day. Now, because I can, I choose to work five days a week at my writing, leaving the weekends for family, friends, errands and household chores. After all these years, I know this is when my brain functions best, so I’ve learned to go with what I know works for me.

Networking works!

But if I’m not making a wonderful living from my writing, why bother? If I’m not a famous author yet – after five, going on six, loooong years – why bother? I guess the answer to my own question is because not writing scares me more than failure. I’m afraid that if I stop, that’s where I’ll feel I’ve failed myself. I don’t know what the future will hold, but I do know that I love writing stories. I also love interviewing other writers from around the globe and getting to “know” them. Connections matter to me, so if I were to stop, I’d lose that. I also learn so much from other writers like Molly GreenAnne R. Allen, Ruth Harris, Christina Hamlett, Janna Graber, Deb Cooke (aka Claire Delacroix), Jeff and Alicia Rasley, and so many more I’ve come to know and enjoy through my writing and interviews. I think about the connections I haven’t made yet, and I don’t want to give those up either. For me, they are reasons to bother.

When I think about the question “why bother”, as it pertains to anything in life, I guess the answer is to consider what you’d do if you stopped. Are you okay with the consequences? Does stopping fill you with relief, or disquiet? If it would truly be a relief, then perhaps it’s time to try something else. On the other hand, if it fills you with disquiet or upset, then you aren’t done yet. Possible future or past failure doesn’t matter. It becomes a moot point, since that’s no longer why you do it. You do it because you aren’t finished with whatever your “it” is, or “it” isn’t finished with you. Simple. As. That.

So, I guess I keep writing. I can add to my repertoire of writing. I can explore new avenues of writing to add to my novel-writing, such as freelancing with articles, more interviews, or non-fiction. I can fall in love with the written word and communicating with others all over again and stop worrying about the what-ifs. What I choose not to do is stop. I choose to bother. Doesn’t mean I’ll never complain again, or worry, or agonize, or cry, or demand, or question. That’s not part of the bargain I have with myself or with God. I’ll just do my absolute best and see how it all turns out. It’s all any of us can do.

What have you chosen to bother, or not bother with for this new year?

 

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Godless

Godless

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff Rasley’s newest book, Godless, sounds a little misleading. Rather than expounding on the benefits of not believing in God at all, he delves into the theory that if we can put aside our prejudices regarding religion, doctrines, dogma, theology, and politics, we can and should be able to look at each other as human beings sharing this incredible planet. With fresh, insightful thoughts on what it means to be a human being and spiritual person vs a particular religious or political animal, he reminds us of the importance of seeing each other for who we are rather than what we are or what we believe. Using down-to-earth language and open dialogue, Rasley encourages people to become more attuned to the human experience we all share. This is a must-read book for anyone seeking answers to the God question, or who just want a different perspective to some age-old questions surrounding religion.

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Soul Full Eye by Artist, Lisa Redfern

Soul Full Eye
by Artist, Lisa Redfern

I have to admit, I’m a lover of fantasy. I love the idea of going after the dream, wishing on a star, and clicking my heels three times to achieve my deepest desires. But that’s not gonna happen any time soon. So what am I left with? Reality. I’m left with the realization that I have to do something, anything, to make things happen. No fairy godmother is going to come along and wave her magic wand and make me or my life what I want it to be. Talking about it, planning for it, making lists, researching, none of these things really advances me toward my goals in a substantial way. Oh, they may be necessary aspects of beginning a new project or adventure, but they don’t have the same effect as getting off my duff and actively doing the nitty-gritty work necessary.

 

When I talk to groups of people who attend my writing workshops, I always start by asking where everyone is in their writing journey. At least half, if not more, of the class talks about how they want to write, how they have always wanted to write, which is why they’re in my class. Beautiful! Wonderful! But I then ask those same people, why they haven’t started to write yet? That’s when the excuses come into play. They’ll claim that they haven’t had time, or the self-confidence. Some will claim they need to learn how to write before they begin. I then ask if they know how to use a pen and paper, or computer to put words down into sentences. Everyone nods their head and laughs. Of course they do, but they want to learn how to begin. I tell them it’s really very simple. They just start writing.

 

babies walkingEver watch a baby learn to roll over, crawl, walk? Ever watch a toddler climb, begin to talk, feed itself, and all the other astounding things they do each and every day? No one teaches a baby or toddler to do these things. They just decide to do it, and they keep making mistakes and trying again until they get it right. Yes, they will fail, and they might cry in frustration, but then they’ll get over the tears and make another attempt, until they get it right. Then once they’ve mastered that feat, they begin to tackle another in exactly the same manner. Try, fail, fall down, cry, try again, fail again, fall down again, cry again, then get back up and do the whole thing over again, until success is reached. No one has to teach them any of these things. Oh, we as adults can encourage and praise, but that’s all. The rest is up to the individual child to discover what works for him/her and find their own way. So it is with writing. You can take all the courses you want, make incredible outlines, plan to your heart’s content, but until you actually plant your butt in the chair and begin writing, you aren’t a writer.

 

That doesn’t mean the learning curve isn’t huge, because it is. Yes, there are guidelines and things to learn, and tons of ways to fail, but the words on the page are what writing is all about. Nothing else. This writing gig is a loooong battle that never really ends. I’m learning that for myself the hard way. As I continue to slog through revision after revision of my latest WIP, I could get discouraged, and sometimes I do. If I’m to move forward though, I have to get back to the business at hand and write. It doesn’t even matter if what I write in the first or second draft (or third or fourth) is particularly good; that’s what edits and re-writes are for. The key is to sit down and write.

 

It has often occurred to me that life is exactly like writing, or anything we wish to accomplish in our lives. At some point, the rubber must hit the road for the car to move forward even one inch. It doesn’t matter what challenges you’re faced with, to move forward means doing something. It’s okay to stop and consider the options though, and in fact, it’s extremely advisable. We were given brains to use them in constructive, creative ways, so we might as well use them to figure out ways of getting what we want.

 

Interviewing Interesting Writers

Interviewing Interesting Writers

Everyone has different dreams and goals. Each person is unique unto him/herself, and we can all learn from each other. We can all be inspired by others and apply what we learn to our own lives, or just admire the doer for their innovation and creativity. Anyone who regularly visits this blog knows I interview other writers, primarily because people fascinate me. I began interviewing other writers from around the globe at various stages of their writing journey for another blog, Christina Hamlett’s You Read It Here First.

Through Christina, I’ve had the great privilege and pleasure of “meeting” so many incredibly talented people over the past year. People who are taking their dreams and running with them at full speed. People who seek new ways to express the deepest part of themselves, and help others along the way. Talk about inspiration! Each one of the individuals I interview shines a light into an area I had never explored before. Although I may never choose to climb a mountain, like fellow writer, Jeff Rasley, be able to create stunning pieces of visual art, like Lisa Redfern, take a love of animals and turn it into unique stories told from a dog’s point of view, like Carol McKibben, write wonderful, witty plays like Christina Hamlett, translate an admiration for another person into a series of books, like Tony Lee Moral, trek around the world and write about my adventures, like Janna Graber, or gather my family and head out to parts unknown to experience new cultures and ways of life, like my up-coming interviewee, Michelle Tupy, I can be inspired by them to keep playing my own tune and following my own dreams.

 

I find it reassuring to know that people can do literally anything they choose to, and do it with skill, finesse, and a lively sense of humour about trials and tribulations they encounter. I love knowing it’s okay to make mistakes, to fall down, and then get back up to try again. In fact, since I started writing, I’ve come across scores of people who are launching themselves forward into their lives with gusto, and with a look over their shoulder to see who they can help along the way. How cool is that? In talks with other writers, like ML Swift (watch here for his interview in the coming weeks), who chose to dedicate the last years of his mother’s life to helping her get through the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s Disease, then wrote about that experience, I realize that we all have something to give, and get, from other people. Perhaps we should retain more of the dogged determination of infants who watch, learn, internalize, then gather the courage to get out there and DO something, damnit!

 

So yes, learn all you can about whatever it is you want to go after, but at some point be prepared to put yourself out there, risk humiliation, overcome fear, and HAVE FUN with the whole messy business of living your life while going after your dreams! And if it helps to close your eyes and wish upon a star, cross your fingers, click your heels together, whatever, then go for it, because we can all use whatever help God, the Universe, Allah, Buddha, whatever you want to call it, can give us.

Wish Upon A Star

Wish Upon A Star

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The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

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