I struggle when the days are gray and cold and I can’t be outside enough. This year, my winter was better for a number of reasons, but the one thing that got me through was getting outside every single day, even when the weather was crappy.
For Christmas, I got the book The Open Air Life by Linda Akeson McGurk. It’s a beautiful gifty book that probably could have been a long article, but it did inspire me to get outside by reminding me that there’s no excuse, you just need the right gear/attire.
So I layered and bundled up and started walking, and eventually running up the dirt roads near our house. The roads wobble up and down and side to side, along cow pastures, farms, and a few homes. I’ve gotten to know them well and I’m on a first name basis with a few of the cows (number 10 and number 545 are my favorites).
I listen to podcasts or audiobooks pretty much every day – while walking, doing puzzles, or driving (three activities I seem to spend a lot of time doing).
I’ve gotten addicted to a podcast called Primal Potential. I found it because I was trying to figure out how to lose the menopause/COVID/drinking-too-much-wine-weight that is not going away even though two out of those three causes have.
I listened to a podcast recently in which the author reflected on applying social media algorithms to her life.
Her basic point was this – When you click/react/comment/share clothing ads or true crime or dog rescue or particular politics or people, Facebook (and the other social media feeds) fills your feed with more of the same.
So, the more you click on one topic/opinion/person, the more you are bombarded with more of the same, and the less you see of opposing viewpoints or other topics or particular ‘friends’.
Which explains how when a person spends a lot of time on social media, our world can become skewed. We might begin to see the world through a different lens—the lens being curated by a bot that feeds back to you more of the same. Just like a Pandora playlist.
Are you wasting all your time with all these words? #areyoustillwriting #amwriting #writerswrite
I have gotten out of the habit of writing.
And serious writing depends on just that—habit. Not waiting for inspiration or time or a good night’s sleep or a better outline or the dog to shut up or until you take some class/webinar/retreat.
Writing requires that you sit down and do it. No matter what. As often as possible, every day if you can. You start where you are and spill your jumbled thoughts, wandering storylines, and vast emotions on the page. Your fingers tap along as your heart and mind try to make sense of it. (or maybe that’s just how it works for me.)
If you keep going, pressing past the doubt and frustration and discouragement and that little nagging bird fluttering all around you chirping that you’re wasting so much time, if you wave her away and type on, I promise something will come of it.
This past year has felt a bit surreal. As if the world was unplugged and we are collectively holding our breath, waiting for it to be plugged back in and spring to life like my laptop after a hard shut down.
Some writers I know have been absolutely unable to write. Their worlds disrupted understandably.
Hey, it’s been a minute since I last wrote, hasn’t it?
Lately I’ve been distracted by a HUGE project that is exciting and scary and so, so important to me. It’s a dream I’ve had ever since the first time I stepped into a southern animal shelter and saw what was happening, and thought, “How the heck can this be going on in this country?”
This country is big-hearted, generous, and completely obsessed with dogs. How do I know this?
Thanks to the pandemic, though, it feels like any other day. There is no launch party, no celebratory signing, no champagne with friends even.
I’m planning a Facebook LIVE at lunchtime on my writer page, but I’m certain it will feel as lonely as every other LIVE I’ve done—talking into the abyss and wondering when I finish if I’ve connected with anyone.
Releasing a second book during this ‘unprecedented time’ feels like the final nail in the coffin of my dream to ever make-it-as-an-author. I had such high hopes for this year. I thought it was the year that I would ‘arrive.’ The less-than of every moment leading up to this book feels unfair and personal, as if God doesn’t think I can take a hint.
These are the thoughts spinning through my selfish mind. But then my heart says, “Get over yourself; this isn’t about you. It never was.”
On the mind vs heart equation, I usually operate at about a 40-60 ratio, but I think I’ve finally realized that if I want to be happy—really happy—in my life, I need to get to a 20-80 or even a 10-90 on the mind v heart battle.
So, shoving aside all the business and planning and success factors of my writing career, I’m overjoyed that Blind Turn is out in the world. It’s a book I have poured so much into and a book that has saved me again and again. Not only did it land me both of my agents, it has pulled me back into the fight again and again when I’ve all but given up and gone to work at Walmart.
Blind Turn is a story that sums up my own philosophies about life—everyone deserves a second chance and no one is irredeemable; we need to be present in all the moments of our life and conscious of the fact that any single moment can change everything; and more than anything, real love requires forgiveness on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.
Those might be the three tenets of my life. And there they are in this story. I never set out to write a story about any of those things, though. I simply dreamed up a few characters, tossed them into a situation that scared the heck out of me, and wrote through what happened.
And as I wrote, my heart spoke its truth, sometimes surprising me on the page.
Blind Turn isn’t a classic or a parable or even literary fiction. It likely won’t find its way onto a bestseller list since it is coming out with an independent press few people have likely heard of, but it’s finally real. It’s loose in the world, my heart’s message to the masses.
Incredible thanks to the people who have always believed in this book, and in doing so believed in my heart, and in my mind’s ability to tell a story worth reading.
Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.
Blind Turn is a mother-daughter story of forgiveness in the aftermath of a fatal texting and driving accident. Learn more about it and read a few early reviews here.
If you’re curious about what else I’m up to, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.
If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.
My book, 100 Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues was released this past July from Pegasus books and is available anywhere books are sold, but if you’d like some help finding it (or want to read some lovely reviews), click here.