If you haven't heard about my good news yet, you can find the full story here. Lots and lots of excitement for me lately!
If you're here to check in for March Madness, great! If you think March Madness is all about basketball, let me enlighten you. OUR March Madness is about books: setting and achieving goals to do with writing, reading, blogging, or illustrating throughout the month of March. If you haven't set any goals yet, it's not too late! Find out more and set your goals here. And why should you bother? Well, besides the fact that you'll have some great accomplishment to show at the end of ONE MONTH, my March Madness hosts and I are also offering some pretty stellar prizes. You can check those out when you set your goals, but for now, let me toss another prize out to one of our dedicated participants!
The next prize goes to: Candilynn! Congratulations, Candilynn! You can drop by this post to pick your prize from the remaining prizes. Email your choice to d(at)denisejaden(dot)com and I'll make sure we get it out to you!
(Just a note--the hosts are busy with their March goals as well. We don't have time to chase people around to give them prizes, so I'm afraid if you miss checking in and miss your name being announced, you'll also miss out on a prize. See, even more incentive to check in every day!)
While trying to figure out what to make this week's post about, I couldn't stop reflecting on one particular highlight from my recent trip to Mexico. I was aboard a cruise ship, and for those of you who haven't cruised before, most big cruise ships offer nightly entertainment. I have been a professional performer for most of my life, so, to be honest, my expectations of cruise ship entertainment were not exactly high. But I still went to watch. It was something to do.
On one particular night, I was blown away, and it takes a lot to do that to me. There was a performance by an Olympic gymnast/acrobat, Lance Ringnald that was beyond skillful, plus entertaining and hilarious. The guy cracked jokes on his wireless mic as he did handstand push-ups OVER THE EDGE OF THE STAGE!
Besides that, he started juggling a variety of objects, then proceeded to plop himself down at a piano to play and sing for us!
Anyway, you may wonder how this has to do with writing and completing your March goals. I'm still working that all out. I can tell you, though, that I am feeling inspired to work harder than I have in the past, simply from being around this guy. He talked a lot about continually challenging himself in new ways (thus the juggling and musical skills) and it really inspired me in so many ways.
Lance Ringnald also wrote a book, which I picked up on the cruise ship and devoured the first half of on the plane ride home. It's an autobiography, reflecting on competition from his early years, to the Olympics, and beyond. All through the book, I couldn't help relating to him in his journey.
As writers, we pour our blood, sweat, and tears into our work. We often rewrite entire four hundred page manuscripts from scratch, only to discover that there's something vitally wrong with the entire premise. Hundreds and hundreds of hours, we pour our focus into our writing, not knowing if anything will become of it, or if it'll just end up in the Recycle Bin of our hard drives. Lance Ringnald would probably fall off of his pommel horse at the thought of comparing writing a book to Olympic gymnastic training, but I'm going to do it anyway. Because most writers I know work freakin' hard at their craft, day in and day out, not knowing if it will ever amount to anything, but having to stir up their hope each day just the same. We love it. We can't stop doing it. But it's still damn hard work. As my good author-friend Eileen Cook says, "Life would be so much easier if I really really wanted to be a plumber."
Writing--or at least writing to get traditionally published--can often feel like a competition. There's simply not enough room for all the books that are written to find a place in traditional publishing. The ones that connect with the right editor of the right publishing house on the right day is a very small number. And that's not even to mention finding the right readers for our books. There is a certain amount of kismet involved, and it can be disheartening if today just isn't your day, or if this year just isn't your year for everything to line up.
I love anything that gives me a little bit of hope to push on. I want to constantly continue to challenge myself, regardless of what rejections or acceptances I may be receiving. We can look at the writers around us and decide to hate them because they may take our coveted spot in the publishing world, or pick at the ones we feel are sub par. Or we can look to the really excellent writers and people in this world in order to draw inspiration. We can let them push us on to be better than we ever thought we could be. That's what Lance Ringnald did while training with, and then competing against, some of the best gymnasts in the world. He trained in the same gym alongside gymnasts he would be up against in his next meet. And there are things even in highly competitive gymnastics that aren't always fair. I figure we all have a choice: we can spend our time grumbling about things that are unjust, or we can go searching our world for inspiration and then doing the work to give ourselves at least a chance of success.
I will come back with a full review of Lance's book when I finish reading (it's hard to find time to read when I'm not on vacation!) but I highly recommend this book for anyone in any field who is looking for a little inspiration or added perspective.
Going into the third week of an ambitious month-long goal is usually the time I need inspiration the most. So I showed you mine...
What or who inspires you the most? Is it always something writing related, or have you found something outside of writing that you can draw inspiration from? And how has your progress been on your March goals so far?
Don't forget to check in at Kim's blog tomorrow.