Walk for Life, Write for Life #writing #music #inspiration

Tall, dark, and handsome with a laid-back personality and a slight southern drawl, my step dad was liked by pretty much everyone. I didn’t think of him as a step dad back then – he was just dad. So as step dads go, he was pretty easy to get along with. But looking back, I have two insights into our relationship: (1) he respected my boldness and talent (2) he resented my existence. And knowing what I know now, I resented his.

One thing he said to me that I never forgot was “You’re dreaming your life away.” Wondering why he said that, I remembered how I would take solo walks to think about life. I found it quite inspiring and was the way I sorted through things. How I processed the past and dreamed, yes, dreamed of the future. Was this a bad thing? Was I missing out on life because of it? Those words haunted me.

Continuing to read Julia Cameron’s latest book called Write for Life, I noted this:

Inspiration comes to us as we walk. Novelist John Nichols walks daily. So do I (Julia Cameron), and so does Natalie Goldberg who said, “I will tell you what I have learned myself: for me, a long five- or six-mile walk helps. And one must go alone and every day.”

Emma Lively, writer and composer, walks daily. As she walks, she daydreams. She experiences hunches, inklings, and inspiration. coming home, she sets her hand to the page, writing out melodies and scenes for her musicals. Lively believes what Ueland wrote: “Imagination needs noodling: long, inefficient happy idling, dawdling and puttering…”

Aha! I wasn’t “dreaming” my life away, I was getting inspiration for a life as an artist, a writer, a musician, a songwriter. What that also tells me is that no, I don’t have to make a choice between writing and music. There is much writing in music, musical theater, lyrics, story. Who knows where my writing will take me, what shape it will take. It could only be in song or it could be in novel or short story or playbook form.

And walking and dreaming and thinking is vitally important.

I’ve really been expanding my walks in the neighborhood, either staying within walking distance from my home or getting in the car to drive a couple of miles to another part of our “neighborhood,” with lakes and woods and trails, all so beautiful and amazing and inspiring. I’m looking forward to returning and taking photos.

Yesterday, I walked the neighborhood and discovered a path to a golf course. Walking, exploring, daydreaming… and when I returned home, I finished a song that I’d been stuck on. Walking, so inspiring!

Introvert vs Extrovert, East vs West

As an Artist, an introvert, there are 3 things Julia Cameron says are musts:

  1. Morning pages
  2. Walks (alone)
  3. Artist dates (alone)

So not only are we now both working at home together, but we’ve been walking together, too. So lovely to walk and chat together. That’s a nice thing about having him at home. I do so enjoy his companionship.

Monday was not a work day, but we went out for a walk together and crossed paths with one of the neighbors he’s chatted with before. She and her dog were in front of our house just as we were crossing the street to go home. Naturally, we had to greet her and chat. Or, at least, he did. And then there were introductions to be had, because I hadn’t formally met her before.

She said, “Oh, you like to walk?” as if that was an odd thing to do. As if walking was something you did for your dog.

A wave would have been enough for me. We could have kept walking on our side of the street and turned around to cross over to our house later. There was no rush to go home.

Then there’s that other neighbor, the one I call Nancy, although her name is not Nancy. Everybody knows Nancy. As soon as somebody moves in, boom, she pounces on them. She must watch from her front window.

“What’s your name? What’s your last name? Where are you from? What are you going to do with your backyard?” Everybody’s trying to avoid Nancy – lol!

So now, not only do I have to be strategic inside the house, but I need to plot and plan my steps outside the house. Not what an introvert wants to do. It doesn’t work well with the whole automatic thing to avoid decision fatigue.

Walking alone should help. Nobody really approaches me when I’m walking alone. If I cross paths with someone, we smile, say, “Good morning” and keep moving. That’s my style. That’s energizing.

The challenge for my husband is that he needs interaction and that’s probably been difficult for him working at home. Not having those work encounters. I love how friendly he is. That people like him. So personable. His great sense of humor. Dry wit. How he comes alive joking around with people. That’s what drew me to him when we met at work in Silicon Valley.

That’s why we gave him the front bedroom for his office. He can see what’s going on outside, he can pop out and chat with someone when they’re outside. In fact, he’s gotten to know several neighbors, all bonding together in a brand new community, exchanging builder stories and what’s going on with their house. They all seem to be from up north (as is he), as is so often the case in Florida. They bond over that, too. They’re chatty people. That’s what they do out here.

The West is more independent. Even if you do chat briefly with a neighbor, there’s no fear that it’s going to become a problem. There’s no feeling of claustrophobia. There’s no need for strategy. You know you’ll part and carry on with your independent life.

Nobody asks if you like to walk. Of course, we like to walk. That’s what we do there. Nobody asks what your plans are for your backyard. Nobody even asks your name or certainly not your last name or where you’re from. That may sound cold, but that’s what I’m used to. That’s what works for an introvert.

This house gives us all the space we need, but now I feel claustrophobic outside the house and when I come inside, I feel claustrophobic inside the house. As if all of that togetherness outside has barged its way inside, too.

There’s always the nocturnal life, popular with introverts. So here I am, up at 4 am, writing this blog post. I usually wait until first light to get up. But if I get up now, do a few things, starting with morning pages, I can sneak out and go for a walk once the sun comes up.

So that takes care of morning pages and solo walks. I haven’t mentioned solo artist dates, though. That’s because I haven’t been doing them. My excuse is that I don’t really know my way around here–we’re still exploring together. But he’s encouraging me to get started with my artist dates. He thinks they will really help me feel like I do know my way around here.

I’ll let you know how it’s all working for me.

 

 

First Blog Post for 2023: Decision Fatigue

Okay, so making a resolution to stay off YouTube, Twitter, and my blog was totally impractical. I think I should be making a reverse resolution: to connect more on YouTube, Twitter, and through my blog, because these are the 3 ways I connect with people online.

So I’m browsing my Twitter feed and I see this video from Producer Dojo on “Decision Fatigue” and I’m thinking, “Bingo!” Hubby and I have just been discussing how I can automate my day more like how I used to when I had the house to myself. Working with another person around changes everything. And I’m the root cause of a lot of it. I can be quite chatty, in spite of being an introvert. We’re close and we can both be chatty.

And I’ve gotten into the habit of cooking our lunches. Ack! This must come to a stop. I must get back to automation, doing my own thing during the work hours as if his office is offsite. I also need to get out of the house and explore this new town of ours. But what I miss the most is having the house to myself. As an introvert, if I have to leave to have some alone time, I’m not really alone “out there,” am I? lol!

This is definitely one of the challenges of our Covid era world. Covid may be over in some people’s minds, but its effects are quite lingering and some changes are here to stay. Some things are not going back to how they used to be.

But as Producer Dojo says, eating the same thing every day, wearing the same thing every day frees your mind up to be creative. And now that the holidays are almost over (when will they end?), I need to finally get a routine going.

“She’s Not That Good” on YouTube

Okay, so I had to do it, right? I made a little YouTube video of an excerpt from She’s Not That Good, my latest release, a romantic comedy novella set on a cruise ship. Created/produced the music, too, originally for FAWM 23. I may develop it further for the songwriting challenge.

In the meantime, check it out – lol!

Novels, Novellas, and Short Stories for #Cruisers

One of my favorite settings for writing is a cruise ship. Ever since my first cruise, I was drawn into an isolated environment like a ship or plane or train, etc. Maybe because of my own experiences.

I remember so clearly that first day on my first cruise on Carnival Cruise Line’s first ship, the original Mardi Gras (in service from 1972-1993). Ships were tiny back then compared to today (see orig. and new Mardi Gras comparison in photo below).

There I was on my first cruise and the free rum drinks (yes, back then the welcome aboard drink was free) were flowing. So this woman sat next to me on a chaise out by the pool. And proceeded to tell me about how the woman she was sailing with had no idea she was having a romantic fling with her brother. She avoided me for the rest of the cruise, which wasn’t easy since back then you saw the same people over and over again.

Anyway, that scene inspired Real Women Wear Red, which led to the sequel Real Women Sing the Blues, which led to the short story Cougars in Cabo leading up to my latest release, She’s Not That Good, a novella.

These are all available for the Kindle with the links to amazon below.

Real Women Wear Red (novel)

Real Women Sing the Blues (novel)

She’s Not That Good (novella)

Cougars in Cabo (part of short story anthology)

She’s Not That Good is Live!

I did it! I finally finished She’s Not That Good by the end of NaNoWriMo 2022, and it’s live in Kindle format on Amazon.com. This book has had many lives, from a YA novel to a short-lived Kindle Vella to Contemporary Novella, which is what it is now. I hope you enjoy it!

Failing to launch an adult career, haunted by thoughts of never being good enough, Brandi Redwine searches for something she is good at. After chasing music and the exboyfriend in Nashville, she returns to San Francisco feeling like a loser.

Her best friend steps in and recommends her for an opportunity to compete for a job onboard a cruise ship. Her high school sweetheart is also on board, and his girlfriend is competing for the same job.

Will her entire future rest on a final performance, or will she finally realize she is good enough when she pursues what’s really in her heart?

AVAILABLE NOW!

If I Don’t Tell the Story, Who Will?

Reading the novel Lucy by the Sea (Elizabeth Strout) in the author’s very autobiographical style stirs up all kinds of memories and ideas, not only in my experience with Covid, which was so different from the main character’s (and author’s?) and probably from so many New Yorkers, that I’m driven to write bits and pieces of something that may or may not make it into a book.

One piece sitting on one of my hard drives is called “If I Don’t Tell the Story, Who Will?” Perhaps, it’s on a backup drive because I can’t find it on my newest computer. So I decided to write this new piece:

If I Don’t Tell the Story, Who Will?

The last time I “spoke” to my father was actually through email. I’d posted a photo on Facebook of him (with camera, next to Joe) with Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, the one he had given me and said I had permission to post on my website even in a book as requested by somebody writing about Marilyn Monroe. Well, he asked me to take it down from Facebook. For some reason, it was a problem for my half sister, the one who was his daughter, not my other half sister, who was my mother’s daughter.

It brought back those heartbreaking memories of when I was a kid and had first heard that my dad was not my dad, that he was Sherry’s dad and I had a different dad. My grandmother (my mother’s mother) had given me a letter and photos, but my mother insisted I give them back, that they would “hurt” my step dad, who I called dad.

So to have my real father so many years later, the one I had searched for and found and met and was doing everything I could to create a relationship with, ask that I take down that photo was just too much! I deleted Facebook for the last time and never communicated with him again.

A year later, I sent him a Christmas card because I didn’t want to part that way but he died the next year and I don’t even know if he got the Christmas card as he was in an assisted living facility before his death. I only discovered my dad was dead when my aunt (my uncle’s widow) saw it on Facebook and told me at the same time that the rest of the world found out. This is why I hate Facebook.

Writing as Therapy

Writing used to be therapeutic for me. I processed a lot of stuff during that time of discovery by writing and blogging. And did I need to do that back then! You’d think I’d be finished by now. But every once in a while, some old feelings are stirred up and become too draining to write them in a book. It’s no longer therapeutic. Besides, I told that story in Myths of the Fatherless (the “cleaned-up” version, I might add… what if I told the whole story…) And that’s the idea behind “If I Don’t Tell the Story, Who Will?”

Even my wip, She’s Not That Good, is giving me migraines during the editing process. My editor kindly suggests I stop the project. But I’m feeling a bit stubborn and want to finish it. But will I have the stamina? Perhaps, one chapter at a time.

Music as Healer

Instead, I find music more soothing. It keeps me anchored in the present, instead of the past. It conquers the past. it’s like my brain has been rewired from writing to music and can’t really turn back. And if it’s true that you should “put your ass where your heart wants to be,” well, that is certainly where my heart is.