X Marks The Spot

Those of you who know me, also know I am going through a divorce after 34 years of wedded bliss, or something like that. Obviously, someone who is interested in writing could care less about that, but stick with me.

Part of the journey here is the adventure of middle-aged divorce. You have to tell yourself it’s an adventure or it turns into a soap opera. I prefer adventures.

Last night, while I was lying in bed, trying to go to sleep I thought about where I was in life. Kind of like those maps in the malls with the big red X that announces, you are here. I decided I needed to make one of those maps for me with a big red X. I really have to figure out where I am before I can figure out where I am going.

When I took stock of where I was, it wasn’t a very pretty picture. I’m positive I’m somewhere in the basement next to the discarded janitorial supplies. The good thing about that is there are only a few ways to go, so it’s hard to get lost. I can move laterally in the cleaning supply closet or I can move out.

The first step is to make a list of all the things I want to improve. That’s a two-pager, with narrow margins and single-spaced. Well, maybe 1 ½, but certainly not double-spaced. Kind of depressing.

Not really. That just means I have lots of opportunities to succeed and with me, victories, even little ones, are important.

Once I made a list of the things I want to improve I had to figure out the best plan of action for each project. I’m never going to be 20 again, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be better than I am now.

Vitamins are a big thing with me, so that’s going to take some research. What is my target for each supplement and how do I achieve it? The problem with this is so many supplements have multiple ingredients, which means I have to carefully look at the total. The good thing is, once I figure out the plan I just have to plug everything in.

Skin care. Ah, remember when you were 20 and had that peaches-and-cream complexion older women complimented you on? Yeah, well those days are gone. How do I improve what I have sans a massive budget for spas and plastic surgeons? Again, lots of research. This may take awhile. I’ll get back to you on it.

How does this all pertain to writing? Writing also has an X marks the spot moment. Mine came a few weeks ago, when I made the decision I was going to stop talking about writing this novel and write. This blog is part of my sneaking out of the janitorial closet. It was a public announcement to the world. Hello, my name is Julie Weathers and I’m a writer. At times I even think I’m a damned good writer. At other times I feel like I am in kindergarten. I’m a story teller. The problem is getting the story out of my head and into the heads of readers in such a way they will find it as exciting and intriguing as I do.

This also involved making a list of problem areas. POV I stab at thee! Yes, I confess POV is my nemesis. There are other problems, but the process is the same. Identify the weaknesses. Name the strengths. Find a way to correct the things, which need improvement and play to the things you do right. I do humor decently. I also have a knack for the unusual.

Brutal, honest self-examination is always a very humbling experience. It‘s like getting up in the morning and standing naked in front of a mirror. All the lumps and bumps are there, but along with them is the knowledge that I have the power to change the things I don’t like. I can lay off the Snickers bars and exercise more until the lumps disappear. I can practice POV until it becomes second nature. I can search for ways to show and not tell. I can paint beautiful word pictures that make the story spring to life.

By the power of Gray…wait, wrong inspiration. I have the power to change when I practice doing things right long enough.

Then I can have the piece of Godiva chocolate. Umm, no I can’t. That’s on my naughty list for the other X marks the spot map. In this case, that X is on my left thigh, right below the panty line.

I know I can’t improve everything overnight, but through consistent effort it will happen. Therein lies the secret. All those lotions tell you the same thing. Use daily for best results. Expect improvement in ninety days.

The same goes for writing. Use daily for best results. It doesn’t matter how much you do, but do it daily and expect improvement in ninety days.

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