On Writing

Photo by the lovely and amazing Jen Gray.

Photo by the lovely and amazing Jen Gray.

When the lovely and amazing Sherry Richert Belul asked me to join a blog hop where writers are writing about, well, writing, I couldn't resist. Here goes….

What am I working on/writing?

Right now I am putting the final touches on my e-course The Conscious Booksmith: A Mindful Approach to Creating Your Book. Most of the written content is all finished for the course, so it is now a matter of getting all the tiny details in place - graphics, chapter titles, photos and other goodies - before the course kicks off on June 9th. 

I am also working on a book about my family, which has been a project I have started and stopped many times over the past five years. Now that I am teaching a course on how to create a book I feel that much more accountable to the book, especially since the course content was created from my experiences struggling to get the book written. In other words, I've spent all my excuses - now I have to write the book.

I've still managed to indulge in all manner of excuses not to work on the book lately - "I have to get the course finished! We're traveling! I need to organize my dish towels!" - but they are growing thinner by the minute. Yes, I have work to do to wrap up the course and yes, we were actually away last week, but right now I'm looking at a pretty wide open calendar travel-wise for a long stretch of time. In other words, I'd like you to email me next week and ask if I've gotten back to the book. If I don't respond with a "Yes I have!" then I hereby grant you permission to harass me until I do.

(Because you have nothing better to do than be my taskmaster, right?)

How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

Because it's me. And no one else is me. 

Why do I write what I do?

Writing is a way for me to celebrate and create beauty. Most of my writing explores the beauty and wisdom in everyday life - even the messy parts (especially the messy parts) - and that comes from a deep desire to live in the present and to live in gratitude. I have been doing the work I do for more than 18 years, and while it has taken shape under different types of work (commercial illustration, fine art, teaching) and brands (Swirly, Matrilumina, Notes from The Rocket), it has all been about the same thing - inspiring others to create a meaningful life, honor their dreams and passions, and know how magnificently the light they'll shine from doing so will guide others. When one person takes a leap, someone who sees them doing this will be inspired to take their own leap, and so on and so on and so on.

I am writing the book about my family because I believe our story is truly remarkable. We are a merry band of steps - stepson, stepmom, step daughter-in-law, step nieces and aunts and nephews - and we all came together carrying heavy loads of stories that should have resulted in a train wreck. We aren't perfect, and we struggle just like any other family, but that we are a family is astounding. I'm not sure I know anyone who isn't or doesn't have a step of some sort in their families. This topic is relevant - maybe even urgent - and I think anyone trying to maneuver through the world of blended families could use all the support they can get. We need more stories of the kind of compassion, transformation and kindness my family has practiced and inspired. What can I say? I'm proud of us, and I think our stories will give readers of the book guidance and inspiration for their own families, blended or not.

How does my writing process work?

If I don't have a set routine, I get a lot less writing done.

…unless I have a deadline, in which case the writing gets done in order to meet my deadline.

When I'm "winging it" - as I currently am with the book about my family - I sneak in tiny morsels of writing when I can - twenty minutes here, an hour there. I don't consider this an especially committed writing practice, but some words on a page are better than no words on a page.

My writing practice is also about letting myself write a lot of crap and/or write a lot about things that won't even end up in the final piece (or chapter or book.) Writing involves a lot of unloading and it involves a lot of sifting. For my family book, I am simply writing, and I am going to write a lot more until I feel like I have enough. Then I will begin sifting - sorting through the pages, tossing this, keeping that, putting this over there and adding that over here. I am constructing the puzzle pieces as I write, and then I'll have to dump them all out on the table and begin to click certain pieces into place. 

It involves silence and solitude, but also focusing my concentration on my writing despite noise and activity in my home. It is about creating a writing workspace where I can, when I can on the days when I'm not able to sequester myself in my studio.

Head to Sherry's entry for the blog hop and follow the trail of bread crumbs for a long, inspiring series of pieces about writing, written by, well, writers. 

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Sherry Richert Belul believes that in the midst of everyday life, it is easy to forget how extraordinary — and fleeting— our lives are. So she helps people celebrate who they are, the people they love, and the shape of their lives — even when none of those look the way anyone had imagined. Her company, Simply Celebrateoffers one-of-a-kind tribute gift books, life coaching, and inspirational books/articles. Sherry is the author of Simply Celebrate: 101 Ways to Turn Ordinary Days into an Extraordinary Life and Present Perfect: 127 Creative, No-to-low cost, Wow-‘em Gifts They'll Never Forget. Download Sherry’s free Love List template here: http://www.simplycelebrate.net/love

Christine Mason Miller

Santa Barbara, CA

Writer * Artist * Storyteller * Guide