Here’s an excerpt from my latest novel, Between Thoughts of You. Although I am finished writing it and am in my 4th round of edits now, two days ago I felt compelled to get up early. I wrote something fresh, this excerpt, that I decided to keep. Lulu is my protagonist who finds herself in Tuscany taking care of a dying man. She left Hawaii, all reminders, and everyone she has ever known—not to start over, just not to die. See she wanted to die, to collapse into a black hole of darkness after her baby girl mysteriously died and her husband left her. History was repeating itself. Her mother commited suicide after her father left when Lulu was just a baby. She decided she needed the distraction of constant, demanding work and foreign lands to keep going, to not make the choices her mother made. But she didn’t anticipate hearing such dramatic secrets from the old man, riddled with guilt over leaving the ‘love of his life’ during the War—that no one in his family knew existed. His passionate stories trigger Lulu’s own grief and memories—especially in the early morning hours when she wrestles with the Universe for answers. The answers finally start to come. Enjoy! Chime in if you have thoughts…Excited to send the manuscript to an agent first week of January. Keep striving, keep believing. Love & Light ~ Laura xo
From Chapter 6:
ko’u Pu’uwai : My Heart
Somehow she was starting to understand that none of ‘it’ was about her anyway, which was a relief. All this thinking about herself and what she deserved or didn’t deserve, or whether she was lovable or not, or had bad karma or not, was exhausting. Lulu had not deserved ‘it,’ or caused ‘it’. Any of it. No one left her or hurt her because they loved her too much, or not enough. It wasn’t even about her. These thoughts crept in, like tumble weeds twirling and bouncing aimlessly along a stretch of deserted highway she was now traveling on without a clear destination. She was a grain of sand. A speck in the Universe. Clearly, she hadn’t deserved what Kon did. Just like Kiyomi hadn’t deserved what Pops had done to her—or Sachi what Peter did. It wasn’t about Kiyomi or Lulu or Sachi. The answers were coming in that morning like navigating stars desert nomads prayed to see. All she knew was that what Akoni and the old man did, maybe Peter too, had something to do with fear—and nothing to do with love. To choose love is to banish fear. It is to choose yourself. It demands that you not listen to what others think, or what others want, or what you think others would want for you. It is quiet and it is pure and it is within you all along. And it can’t be taken away. Ever.
Photo by: Laura Roe Stevens
I was recently reminded that what I do when I’m not writing, may be as important to the creative process as writing itself. Well, almost. Clearly, I still need to put in the work. But if you, like me, get stuck often or procrastinate, take a look at your daily habits to see if they are helping or hurting. I attended a seminar a few weeks ago that suggested specific lifestyle changes in order to better tap into the subconscious mind, energize the non-dominate side of the brain, find an authentic voice and banish crippling fear.
The main tidbit of advice? Put down that martini, tumbler of scotch, wine glass and/or cigarette and take a long, cool drink of water. Yup. We all can’t be Hunter S. Thompson and go down in a flame of booze, cigarettes and drugs. Writers and bad habits often go hand-in-hand. Partly, it’s cultural. When I was a newspaper journalist, I remember more than one editor drinking on the job. In graduate school in New York, most writers I knew met up at bars and pubs to ‘talk’ into the wee hours. I was working too many jobs to do this often, but when I did, I remember how many of my creative writer friends seemed to idolize Thompson, Ernest Hemingway, John Cheever and Truman Capote. All iconic writers. All alcoholics. I know this much: good writing comes from the depths of our souls. It can come from an inner whisper of trauma. It can be a vulnerable place to live. Yes, you may be writing fiction, but the truth that may emerge can painfully mirror fears, demons, love, longing, insecurities, loss, heartbreak…It’s all raw. And strangers will read it. And being raw, in and of itself, takes a toll. I know. Last Christmas I wrote the most painful chapter of my novel Uriel’s Mask. My boys were with their dad. I was alone for nearly two weeks. I started to slip into a depression as I wrote about abuse seen from a six-year-old’s eyes. I was having night mares. I slept with the light on. I wanted to drink. My relationships suffered. What I was experiencing must be close to what actors feel when they are in character. Some days I walked on the beach and cried after writing for hours. It wasn’t explainable to friends, so I didn’t bother. But I was raw and I was needy without knowing what I needed. But there it is. That vulnerable place of truth leaves us feeling exposed, uncertain, adrift. The feelings can be overwhelming—even if cathartic or beautiful. It’s understandable to have the urge to swallow them. But here’s the rub: in order to keep writing and finish that powerful novel, screen play or short stories that will resonate with readers…FEEL those damn feelings and push through without relying on stimulants or depressants. This is what I’m currently trying to do. It’s hard. And that’s why it’s so easy to push the writing aside. Don’t.
Here are some tips to help:
- Exercise! Dean Nelson, Ph.D., founder and director of Point Loma Nazarene University’s Writer’s Symposium, Behind The Scenes, shared recently at the La Jolla Writer’s Conference that many of the best-selling authors he has interviewed over the years link their career longevity to exercise. Running is Nelson’s choice. When he’s stuck, he says he’ll step away, go for a run in San Diego where he can find a great vista, and just let his mind drift.
- Meditate. Giving my brain a pause lets me detach and float up into my subconscious mind. It also gives me a break from my fear of failure—or success—and gives me a mini-vacation from my life. Not only is meditation great for creativity, it has amazing health benefits that can’t be disputed. From keeping Alzheimer’s at bay, to reducing blood pressure and anxiety, meditation is life changing.
- Yoga. I place yoga in a different category from exercise or meditation, although outsiders may wonder why. Yes, it is a form of exercise, and yes, there is meditation at the end. But yoga, in and of itself, is like mindful movement that improves my focus and goal setting. Deep hip opening poses have surprisingly released memories, grief and grudges. While heart-opening poses force me not to close down with my alignment—which then influences my actual being. And, finally, yoga helps me embrace my authentic, timeless self. And, it just feels damn good. I smile. I’m surrounded by heart-felt people. I leave energized and suddenly ready to tackle the next project, the next chapter, the next assignment. It’s amazing.
- Reduce caffeine. This is SO tough for me! But I know that 3 to 4 cups of joe just makes my heart and thoughts race. Plus, I don’t sleep as well. It doesn’t help me craft eloquent lines.
- Write a few pages long hand. Step away from the computer, go outside (if possible) and put pen to paper. Something magical happens. Maybe it’s tactile, but somehow, if I’m blocked, the words start flowing again. Try it.
- Write a few paragraphs with your opposite hand. It’s supposed to jog that non-dominant side of the brain. When I do it, I’m amazed at what I actually say.
- Paint or draw. Painting just takes me away from my fears, anxieties and my daily grind. I become razor focused on the present moment. I come back refreshed and grateful.
- Cut off the cell phone and internet for a few hours a day.
- Read other books! Seriously, it just gets me so excited to read my favorite authors, even if only for just 30 minutes at bedtime.
If you liked this article, try Finding the Sweet Space of Between.
Posted in WORDS
Tagged banishing fear, depression and writers, finishing that novel, how to tap into your authentic voice as a writer, strategies to overcome writer's block, tips to overcome procrastination, what makes a good writer?, why good writers often drink, writer's an addiction, writer's block, writers and alcohol