Monday, March 25, 2013

A Cheer for the Hard Times

During the month of March I've been participating in a "March-a-thon," where basically a group of us are doing as much as we can on our current projects. My very favorite part of this process has been the "Cheers" that have taken place--essays written by the participants to cheer each other on. I wrote this one last Thursday and today one of my friends suggested that I post it here. That it was "Too good to keep to ourselves." I appreciated that confidence she has in me, and since I've not posted anything inspirational for ages, it felt like the right thing to say today.

My mother spent the first few years of her life in Tucson, Arizona back in the 1930s. She was a precocious child—curious and frequently doing things without thought, once jumping back and forth over a rattlesnake until my grandmother snatched her away.

One day she decided to go for a discovery walk toward town. Unfortunately, the closest route was across the railroad tracks, which she’d been told time and time again not to go near. Now, we’re not talking about crossing the tracks. No, I mean, the tracks formed a bridge that spanned a deep gorge that was nearly a mile across. So, this particular day she started on the tracks, skipping and probably singing, as she jumped between the rails.

She was having a grand time until the ground began to shake. She glanced over her shoulder and was terrified to see a train bearing down on her, horn blasting its warning. She ran as fast as her five-year-old legs would carry her, but even at that young age she knew there was no way she could make it to the other side before the train arrived. 

As death raced toward her, getting louder with every passing second, a quiet voice spoke within her. “Climb over the side.” Without hesitation, she lowered herself over the side of the track and hung on to the trellis with all her might. The passing train was inches away and deafeningly loud, but she hung on, fearing her bones would shake to pieces, until at last the caboose passed her by and she could pull herself up and, with shaky legs, make her way home.

And why do I tell you this? Well, aside from the fact that it’s just a really cool story, it does have a purpose—one that has affected me throughout my years.

Things got hard. Terrifying. Life threatening. But she listened to the spirit inside of her and she survived. She made it through the hard and survived to become something more.

Now, if you read my short post last week, you’ll know that life has been really hard for me lately. For a solid year or more I’ve struggled with a rebellious, disobedient, and disabled teenager that I thought was going to put me in jail or a mental institution. I wanted to die, just to make the pain stop. 

But guess what? The spirit spoke and I listened. Time after time after time I received peace and reassurance from the other side. You’ll be okay. You can make it. Be patient. There’s a time for everything. So many words and such comfort despite the difficulty, and finally life is getting better.

Let me share something that my friend Regina Sirois wrote to me recently, as I feel it applies to all of us:

“Giving birth to words is like giving birth to people. Sometimes they come with only discomfort, sometimes with a struggle that seems to threaten life instead of give it. Since you know dragons, let me remind you how many you are fighting right now. They are savage and relentless. You fight on, bloodied, tired, wounded, feeling the cause is hopeless. It isn't. I wish you could see the faces of the angels fighting with you. Their jaws are clenched, their eyes are burning with determination. They will not leave you. This is their battle, too. Because you only feel the fire burning over your head, you don't realize how brave and strong you have been. You don't have time to look around you and see how many enemies you've slain. And someday when these dragons fall you will sit down and rest. You will have time to look around you. You will remember what you have done and you will smile. Give yourself permission to fight one battle at a time. Give yourself permission to tend to your wounds. Give yourself permission to feel how loved you are. . . .

" . . . Give yourself permission to fail. And after the first attempt fails, give yourself permission to try again without feeling like a failure. The words will come. Like children, sometimes they arrive late. Sometimes they surprise us. Sometimes they cost a great price. But always, they are miraculous.”

I really can’t say it much better than she did. Life gets in the way much too often, and as parents, especially mothers, it is easy to feel guilty, whether it is guilt for not writing, or guilt that we are writing too much. Guilt that our children aren’t making the right choices. Guilt that we just aren’t good enough, our writing isn’t good enough, nothing will ever be good enough.

Let me tell you right now, that is not true! 

My mother told me two things over and over, and though I still face guilt and fear of failure, I remember her words and they make me strong. I give those words to you.

“You can do anything if you want it enough.” And “I have confidence in you!”

Those words have helped me to try things I’d never known. I’ve created useful projects that have helped me move or simplified my life. I’ve built bookcases and laid carpet and tile, painted, and built an entire office in my garage—all because I KNEW I could do anything. My mother told me so.

I’m telling you now. You—yes, I’m talking to you—YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!

Believe it. Live it. Do it.

That’s where you’ll find your joy, and isn’t that what we’re here for? Find joy in the journey each and every day, despite the trains bearing down on you. Because why?

You can do anything. 

Anything at all.

"I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it."

Friday, March 15, 2013

Long Time, No Write

Hello, friends. I apologize for not writing lately. Sometimes life gets too hard and I can't process the emotions battling inside of me, so I hide. I hide from writing, I hide from my friends, and I hide from life. It's the only way I know how to cope, so that's what I've been doing. I won't bore you with details (unless you really want them. If so, it's all there in naked, gory detail at . Nobody died, it's just been some family stuff I haven't been able to process, but it is starting to resolve, so I'm back. Hopefully for good.

Now, enough of that. I'm sure you're all wondering which faces I chose for my characters so I thought after such a lengthy absence you deserved that at the very least, so here they are!

Lily: What's funny about y'all choosing this picture is that this is the one I had already chosen and have used for two years. LOL! I guess we all have good taste, eh? I definitely approve.

Kayla: Your votes chose this picture as well, and though it's not one I would have picked originally, it fits far better than any I've chosen previously. Definitely approve again!

C'Tan: You may not remember seeing this picture in with your choices for a face for the evil woman. Well, that's because she wasn't there! I liked the choices that came out with your votes, but there was something still missing so I continued to look and within days came across this picture. It holds just enough venom and beauty with the possibility of redemption that I just couldn't resist and I clamped hold and can't seem to let go. Thank you for your votes, everyone. It really does help make my job easier.

Now, for an update on The Emerald Wolf: To be honest, there isn't one. As of this post, I have about 17,000 words written, which is exactly how much I had written last fall. I'm afraid I let those hard things in life weigh me down and I haven't written anything but a new prologue--but that is going to change here and now.

As of this moment, I, Karen E. Hoover, solemnly promise to you, my readers, fans, and friends, that I will have the first draft of The Emerald Wolf finished no later than April 30th. I also plan to write Book 2 of The Misadventures of a Teenage Wizard, titled "Attack of the Zombie Roadkill," and if I am still sane, I will finish the first draft of Book 4 in The Wolfchild Saga, titled "The Amethyst Eye," all within 2013. Yes, it's a lot of work in a short period of time, but I have a lot to make up for, and frankly, I miss writing. It is the one thing that keeps me truly sane (you have no idea how true that is!!!)

So, I've given you my promise, and I ask only one thing in return: KICK MY BUTT!!! You can do it gently with encouraging words (preferred method), or you can do it swift and hard with a reminder of my promise and telling me to get to work. Whatever it takes. Whatever you can do to help me achieve these goals, whatever small word you are willing and able to offer, I plead with you to do it. Say it! Help me succeed here, people, because without you my writing is just scribbles on a page. You are the ones who make it worth it. You are the ones who make being a writer the best job in the world.