Now that The Forget-Me-Nots is published, I find myself in a situation I haven’t been in for quite some time. I’m between projects. So, what should I do next?
- Start a list of book ideas. An idea is percolating. That’s a good thing for it to do. Jumping right in to the next project isn’t always the best idea. Sometimes the better one is to brainstorm another adventure for these characters or contemplate an entirely new cast and setting. Besides it’s Christmas. Why not write several prompts about what these characters do to celebrate? It could be a pivotal scene in the next novel!
- Set goals. I have already started a few goals as described in my recent blog entries. Maybe asking for a planner is a good plan. I did! But, not just any planner. A novel planner!
- Study craft books. Another way to generate ideas is to read about what others have done. Craft books are an excellent source of inspiration. At present, I am reading Jeff Gerke’s The First 50 Pages.
- Scribble. Sometimes simply putting pencil or pen to paper generates ideas. Grab the nearest scrap of paper–even if it is a napkin at the coffee shop–and write down the first word that comes to mind. Get inspired with a word-prompting adult coloring book. Splurge on a journal and fancy pen. Go back to the spiral notebooks and dime-a-dozen pens from school days. Practice that signature for the future best-seller that will begin with the word just written on a gum wrapper.
- Survey my surroundings. Speaking of the coffee shop, sharpen those sensory hacking skills and troll the patrons for character traits and dialogue. Describe this typical cafe with its whirring cappuccino machine and place it on the outskirts of a nebula named after a best friend or first enemy. Or have your own characters walk through the door and set the scene.
- Seek out solitude. Speaking of coffee shops again. Find an escape. Maybe it is five minutes in the car after everyone else has gone inside. This is a good time to put those scraps of paper to use. Or it could be a pretend conversation on the phone. Be sure to write down what was not said on the other end.
- Search for new books. Surf Amazon for bestsellers, new authors, and free offers. Fill that wish list and pass it on.
Whatever you do while waiting for words, don’t forget to add The Forget-Me-Nots on that must-read list!
Let’s look at well-being full in the face.
If physical well-being is the pendulum keeping time, emotional and mental well-beings are the hands doing the work. They encompass the face–the spiritual well-being.
Spiritual well-being is the outer foundation over the functioning innards. Sometimes its features are bold and obvious. Sometimes it is blank and almost nondescript. Sometimes it focuses on color. Sometimes it reveals a window, showing the inner workings. Either way, the face reveals whether time is being well-kept, whether the work is being done too fast or too slow.
The problem with spiritual well-being is that it doesn’t run the way our world does. We expect everything to be on demand, energized, and technologically savvy. Yet, spiritual well-being begins with consistent turning, a steady swinging, a setting of the hands.
The key is in the daily wind.
My grandparents had an old farm clock. It is the one I used as a model in my book, The Forget-Me-Nots. My grandfather wound that clock every day. This habit was as consistent as their daily prayer time together in the morning and in the evening after their meals. It was as constant as their personal devotional times when they set their own hands to His work. This was their daily function every day–as long as physically, emotionally, and mentally possible–while they lived.
And so it is with me. My daily spiritual wind-up might appear a bit different from theirs, but the purpose is the same. If I don’t remain consistent in this routine, I get run down, can’t keep up, and eventually stop in the other areas of well-being in my life.
We often think the key to well-being is our physical health. We spend thousands even millions of dollars on counseling and education. Yet, those things mean nothing if our spiritual faces fail to reflect our divine purpose.
Pick up the key. Add a daily wind. Maintain that consistent turning, that steady swing, the setting of the hands one manual-page at a time.
The day after The Forget-Me-Nots was released, I received an email from my sister with the subject line “Not the Family Poet.” Attached to the email was a beautiful tribute poem she had written about her husband’s grandparents.
The day after that I received an early birthday present from my oldest son. He sent me a Willow Tree figurine holding forget-me-nots. Perhaps more meaningful was the card–an original haiku including the book title.
A few weeks ago one of my dear poet-reader friends sent one of her poems to me for critique. Her poem “The Forget-Me-Knots” is a well-written persona poem I had the privilege to read.
As an author, I love to encourage the inspiration of others. I feel it is one of my responsibilities as much as it is a natural response. After all, I learned this skill from my grandmother, the person I consider our family poet.
I am missing her a little more these days. I wish she was here to celebrate the release of the novel her life influenced and inspired.
Perhaps that is the role all family poets play–to influence and inspire others to write their own poetry. In that way, we are each responsible for sharing our natural response with others. It is our tribute, our persona poem, our original haiku.