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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fun, the Fair & Feeling My Age

Personal Weather Report - Cloudy with a few sprinkles after receiving some contest feedback.

Writing Activity - Making progress on the revision of Love in Bloom, one of the two manuscripts that finaled in the Romance Writers of America® 2008 Golden Heart® contest.

"Spinning rides and cotton candy." That's what I used to answer when asked what I liked best about the county fair. I had a cast iron stomach in earlier days, er, make that decades. I could consume the fluffy treat before the rides, no problem.

These days I leave the midway madness to my seventeen-year-old. She inherited my pre-pregnancy ability to withstand countless revolutions on the Tilt-a-Whirl or Scrambler, although she considers them tame, preferring rides that go upside down and backward, preferably at high speed. If I so much as walk by one of the rides that used to leave me with a delicious giddy sensation, I'm reminded of the nine and a half months of morning sickness I endured while carrying her and experience a disturbing queasy feeling.

Our county fair took place this week, and my family spent the afternoon
of opening day making the rounds. I didn't even set foot on the midway. Touring the main exhibition hall, watching our daughter perform in an American Idol-style competition and downing two delicious tacos with pan-fried shells dripping with grease made me happy. Pretty lame, I know, but consuming that much fat and cholesterol in one sitting is a rare treat these days. My digestive system ain't what it used to be.

At six o'clock, my husband and I prepared to leave the fair. Our daughter headed off with a fistful of ride tickets to hook up with her friend. I made a mad dash back to one booth that had caught my eye. A local couple produces a series of excellent books on the history of California's Gold Country, and they just put out a new volume on Sacramento. Since I write historical inspirational romance, the book was a must-have.

Breathless, I bounded onto the shuttle after my sprint clutching my treasure to my pounding chest, dropped into a padded seat and laughed at myself. Who, but an aging romance writer, would consider buying a research book the best part of visiting the county fair? In my own unique way I had fun at the fair despite feeling my age.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Fraidy Cats

The doorbells rings, and two flashes of orange fur fly by. Our cats are scared of strangers and hightail it to the back bedroom whenever anyone comes to visit. One of the fainted-hearted felines is so skittish that we announce ourselves each time we enter the house so he won't bolt.

I'm like my cats, afraid of things outside my comfort zone. While I admit to being an introvert, as are most writers, I won't go so far as to say that I have the same level of xenophobia as our cats.

I will, however, confess that I am claustrophobic and suffer from both altopobia (fear of high places) and the closely related aeroacrophobia (fear of open, high places.) Throw in my aviophobia (fear of flying,) and you can imagine the gouges my fingers leave in airplane armrests.

Just recently I experienced a rare but rather debilitating case of graphophobia (fear of writing.) For a writer, this can be quite a drawback, let me assure you.

Okay. Truth be told, I'm not afraid of the actual process of writing. It's more that I fear I won't be able to produce a decent piece of prose. I won't go so far as to say I had a full blown case of writer's block. I wrote, but I wondered if anyone would want to read the ramblings I produced while I was mired in self-doubt.

I read a blog post recently from C.J. Redwine, one of my fellow 2008 Golden Heart® finalists, which addresses the need to write despite our doubts. Her advice to those of us waging a war with words that won't do what we want was simple. Keep writing.

When I attended the Redwood Chapel Christian Writers Seminar in 2007, the keynote speaker, Kay Marshall Strom, said she doesn't believe in writer's block. Writers write. That's what we do. We are professionals who persevere, put fingers to keyboard despite our emotional state and get the work done. Laughter erupted when she said that a dentist would never close his office one day because he had a case of dentist's block.

After learning that two of my manuscripts had finaled in the prestigious Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® contest, the Oscar of the unpublished romance writer's world, I did everything but write for the next few weeks. I started this blog, set up my website ( and joined a number of online writing groups. Useful? Yes. Fun? Definitely. But tending to those tasks didn't get my revision done.

Why did I stop writing? Because I felt pressure to produce writing worthy of my new status. The joy had evaporated. The words wouldn't come. My creative juices turned to vinegar.

What did I do? I faced my fears. I took the sound advice of CJ, Kay and many other's. I sat down and put fingers to keyboard, and guess what happened? I got unstuck. James and Rebecca began chattering in my head once again. Scene after scene improved. I rediscovered the thrill of writing.

I don't think our cats will ever overcome their aversion to the ringing doorbell, but I can face my fears. When graphophobia threatens to overtake me, I won't be a fraidy cat. I'll keep on writing.

What fears threaten to cripple you? How do you deal with them?