We have all been in situations were people have treated us harshly. Sometimes we deserved it. Sometimes we didn’t. It is only natural that we are going to react defensively when we perceive someone is attacking us, even if it is only with words. Our heart rate increases, our blood pressure goes up and anger kicks in.
But this is not a state of mind or body we should hang on to. Holding on to old hurts, nursing those grievances for weeks, months or even years, is always going to hurt us more than it will ever hurt the perpetrators of the original hurt.
We cannot all exhibit saintliness and constantly react well to bad situations but the art of moving on quickly is the key to our own health and happiness. Nurturing anger, jealousy or hate will only reverberate negatively within us. Make peace with your anger and let it go. Try to understand that the person or people who have done you wrong were probably hurting themselves, lashing out at whatever was in front of them, weighed down by their own troubles. Few people in the world are truly evil. Most have simply had the odds stacked against them since birth and are overburdened by the memories of traumas we could not imagine unless we walked in their shoes.
Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength.
I finished my novel last weekend. High fives and glasses of wine all round. It’s gone off to my editor. Before I know it, it will be back with a myriad amendments to be made but for now, I have planted the words ‘The End’ like a flag on a mountain top.
Whenever I reach the end of a novel I always feel a huge sense of relief. Relief that I went to the well and there were words there to find. Relief that I had an idea and a half decent novel emerged from it. Relief that those characters that I thought about and worked so hard to create have taken on lives beyond those I imagined for them. I gave them wings and away they flew. Relief that I can still do it. I can still pull it off. I can still spin a plot and weave the magic. The muse hasn’t abandoned me. Yet.
Am I alone in my feelings of relief? I often wonder about that. Do other writers experience joy, happiness and pride when they reach the end of their novels? I am always so drained by the end of the writing journey that those feelings occur further down the road to publication. At the instant I finish and for the immediate days after, relief is all I feel.
It is not relief that the writing is over, you understand because I am always writing. There are always a dozen ideas waiting to be developed and explored. It is relief that I can still do my job. I am still a writer.
The relief comes hot on the tail of the fear that stalks me: that one day the words will not come, that the plot will not gel, nor the characters take flight. One day I will have an idea and not do it justice. One day I will not be able to capture lightning in a bottle. One day I will fail.
Everywhere you look there are people telling you to be thinner, fitter, happier and healthier. They are promising you quick fixes to difficult problems. All you have to do is buy into their message and all will be well. For them, maybe. Financially. Call me a cynic but I don’t think we need any of these so called experts to show us the way. Most of what they peddle is common sense dressed up in fancy new clothes. If we stopped to think we’d probably know a lot of this stuff already and we could certainly use our intelligence to fill in any gaps.
We have all succumbed to the marketing skills of the New Year salesmen and women at one time or another. None of us is immune. They tap into the need within all of us to mark the start of a new year in a positive way. We are all keen to begin again. Whatever mistakes we made last year, the new year is a clean slate. We haven’t made any bad calls yet. We haven’t exercised any questionable judgement. We will, you know. It’s just a question of when but for the moment our slate is still shiny and untarnished.
So if we have the ability within ourselves to tackle our own problems why do we, year after year, invest in the merry go round of New Year promises the gurus make on our behalves? I think it comes down to belief. We have the knowledge, we have the ability. What we want is to put our faith in someone other than ourselves because we know ourselves only too well, right? We want to believe in the New Year Salesperson’s spiel because if we follow what they say to the letter we won’t fail this time. We won’t be the person we were before, the one who tripped and fell, the vulnerable one, the one who started with the best of intentions but faltered when things got hard. This time we’ll be a better version of ourselves, a new version.
If you want to be thinner, fitter, happier and healthier in 2017 I wish you all the best. They are worthy goals. But I think the best gift you can yourselves for the New Year is to promise yourself you will try to be fearless. I don’t mean reckless. I mean fearless.
As some of you will know who follow my blog I am in the midst of rewriting a novel I wrote some years ago. It needed bringing up to date – smartphones have rather taken over our lives and I needed to address some inherent problems with the plot. I blogged about it here in Easy Option – https://goo.gl/qPP5SO
Now I am deep in the heart of the rewrites and my confidence is sometimes high but mostly low as I grapple with the mess that was once a cohesive novel albeit a troubled one. I am sure you are all familiar with the saying ‘You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs’. Well my desk is covered in broken eggs right now and it is hard to keep the faith.
One part of the story was giving me more trouble than any other and I spent a couple of days beating myself up at the keyboard wondering why I just couldn’t make it work. Sometimes you can just be too close to a piece of work and all it takes is a little distance to see where you were going wrong.
Exhausted by the process of getting nowhere, my brain aching from turning the same problems over in my mind and not reaching any satisfactory conclusions, I decided to take a complete break from writing for a couple of days.
It was a brave thing to do (some might say foolhardy) given I had a self imposed tight deadline but that in itself was adding to my stress levels. When you can no longer see the wood for the trees your writer’s spidey senses are hardly going to be at their best. So I decided to pull the plug for a while.
I stopped being Ellie Holmes the writer and just enjoyed being me. It took a few hours for the white noise of a busy writer’s brain to calm itself. A dose of reality TV and comfort food helped. And once peace reigned, I lived for a few days like normal people live. You should try it some time. I highly recommend it.
As you can tell from this blog, it didn’t last long. A brief holiday from my writer’s self was all I needed to recharge the batteries and rev up the creative engine. But as with a traditional mini break I came back refreshed, reinvigorated and ready for the challenge.
When I was young I wanted to blend in. Standing out from the crowd wasn’t seen as a good thing. If your friends were into something, it was good to be into it too. I wanted to feel as though I belonged.
Somewhere along the way, my feelings changed. As I grew up, I began to realise that I no longer wanted to conform or blend in. Being part of a crowd, particularly if it meant suppressing who I was, became anathema to me.
Now the thought of being part of a homogenised whole makes my heart sink. Today if everyone else is turning right I will turn left just because I can. Being different is no longer something to be shunned. Now, it is something to be embraced, cherished and encouraged.
Partly I think the change is down to confidence. As you grow up, you discover who you are as an individual. If you are lucky you become comfortable in your own skin and no longer need the comfort blanket of others’ opinions to know your own mind.
Partly I think it is the nature of society today. When we are children we are learning how to survive and thrive in the outside world. The group represents safety in numbers, the camouflage of others. When we grow up we find ourselves surrounded by subliminal messages of how to behave and what to aspire to. The power of advertising and social media can make it all too easy to live in identikit houses, eat identikit food and live an identikit life. No wonder so many people find the pressures of modern life suffocating.
Are you one of those people who others turn to in times of crisis? Are you the shoulder to lean on? The one who sorts things out and makes people feel better? I am one of those people and I like the fact that others feel they can rely on me and that they see me as someone who they can trust to help them. But what happen when it’s you who needs the help?
It is one thing to give help to others, it’s quite another to accept help in return or even to ask for it. To those of us who think of ourselves as strong it’s hard to let go and admit there are some things you simply cannot handle on your own.
Strong people often take pride in their strength and their ability to cope. They feel sorry for those weaker than themselves who cannot ride the tides of life quite so well. But even for the strongest amongst us, life can sometimes drag you down to your knees and when it does it takes a different kind of strength to reach out and grab the hands being offered to you.
So next time life batters you around the head don’t let pride stop you asking for help, give yourself permission to be weak, just for a little while because the real strength is in knowing you don’t have to be strong all the time.
When people think of indie publishing they think of one person multi tasking, swapping between being a writer, being an editor, being a formatter and being a promoter. There are some writers (and I take my hat off to you) who do all those things themselves. Most of us have a team we rely on to help us do the jobs we cannot do ourselves or don’t have time to do.
But beyond that group of people are a wider support network which form such an important part of an indie writer’s support system and most of them the writer has probably never met. I’m talking about the online support groups. Most writers belong to a few of these. They can be enriching, entertaining, informative, sometimes frustrating but always worthwhile – at least when you find the ones that suit you best.
And that’s the beauty of support groups – there are a lot of them out there and every writer will be sure to find at least one group they feel comfortable with. As with other aspects of life, one man’s meat is another man’s poison and just because your writing friend raved about a particular group doesn’t mean you will find them worth committing time to. You have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince (sorry – blame the romance writer in me for that analogy!).
One group I was fortunate enough to discover very early in my indie writing career was the Alliance of Independent Authors. If you are not familiar with Alli and are an independent author I strongly suggest you check out the Alli site. If you need to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s new in independent publishing, best practices and so much more check out the link to their website below:-
If you have a favourite writing based group you belong to, why not tell us all about it either in the comments section below or perhaps in your own blog post and send me a link. Why not share the love?