Friday, March 10, 2017

One Traveler

In order to be published successfully, you need to write for a few years. Anywhere between three and fifty should do. Then you need to write a book that’s new, fresh, unique, but still adheres to a best-selling genre that will set the next new trend without hoping to set a trend or follow a trend. Then you have to write a gripping query and query agents for a few years. Because agents are the gateway to a successful career in publishing. Then get a contract with a big publishing house and hope to sell enough copies to pay back your advance.

Wait, no, stop. Things have changed. In order to be published successfully, you need to write a gripping story about whatever the hell you want. Then get it professionally edited and invest in a flashy cover. And then upload it to a highly successfully e-reader distributer like Amazon or Barnes & Nobles. Then use your online platform to market and sell!

Wait, no, stop. Things have changed again. In order to be published successfully, you need to write a gripping story in one of the bestselling genres, and fly on the coat tails of already-established indie authors because the market is saturated and new authors aren’t seeing as much success on their own or with genres that don’t fit the mold.

Wait, no, stop. In order to be a successful author, you need to be both traditionally published and self-publish because, reportedly, ‘hybrid’ authors make the best living.

Wait, no, stop.


Don’t get me wrong. I don’t miss the days of printing out queries and snail mailing them to London agents found in the year’s Writers’ and Authors’ Yearbook, only to get a rejection card in the mail a few weeks later. I think the direction publishing has taken puts greater value on craft and content, because it’s the masses who decide what rises to the top. Which is a good thing.

And yet, I can’t help wondering, will the dust ever settle? I miss the clarity that publishing used to have. Sometimes I feel like I’ve taken a step back from it all because things have just changed and evolved so fast in the last four years, it makes me dizzy. It almost reminds me of a poem we were forced to learn in the seventh grade:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-          Road Less Taken, Robert Frost

I can’t help the feeling that the moment I finally decide to jump in, the winds will change once again, hurling me toward the unknown; caught up and invested in ‘a side’ of this tug of war between indies and tradies and hybrids, oh my!

Anyone else feel like they’re still ‘one traveler’- looking down each path, and uncertain and wondering what direction the industry will take?

Friday, January 29, 2016

So, Here We Are....

18 months ago I walked out on my blog. I didn’t know, back then, that it was my last post, but in retrospect I suppose it had been the natural course after a year of an off again-on again relationship. But for some reason, a year and half later, here I am, standing at its front door with a bouquet of flowers. Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t Katie picking up the proverbial plume (is that a thing?) again.  

While there is still ‘a’ writer floating around in Katieland, I no longer identify myself as ‘a writer’. Which is why I think I took a step (okay, a very large leap) back from that world. Because my days were no longer filled with word counts, and chapters, characters, or pacing, query letters and agents. And while I remain in tune to some of the news through authorly and bloggerly friends on facebook, I haven’t used my writer account in ages because I feel so out of touch with a writer’s day to day. 

Nope. Since the birth of our baby boy in May 2015, my days have been spent firmly (although sometimes painfully) grounded in the real world. Our little guy had a hard time of it those first few months. He was born with an undetected heart defect that needed open-heart surgery a few days before his three-month birthday. He made it through with flying colors, though, and has been growing strong and healthy ever since. 

Our oldest daughter, Lily, began the sixth grade at an international middle school 20 minutes from here, so this year has consisted of LOTS of taxi-ing her and her two younger sisters around to and from their respective schools, cleaning, cooking, shopping, and caring for two babies (two and under) AND studying to pass my teaching certification exams in March since I finally FINALLY obtained French citizenship and can be employed as a state employee (ie public school teacher) full time. 

So, here we are. Even now, as I read through this short post, I can feel the passion remains unstirred. I hope someday that part of me will get her time in the sun again. Until then, I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m still here, I’m okay, and I think of you often and wish all of my old blogger buddies the very best in everything!

This is Creepy, signing off...again. :)


Monday, July 7, 2014

This is Creepy, Signing Off!

For another summer-long hiatus:) That’s right. School is finally out, the kids are home free (which means my freedom is officially out the door:). Even though we’ve kicked off this summer with a crap load of rain and the defeat of the French and American soccer teams at the World Cup (booo!), there is still SO much to celebrate in the upcoming months.

My parents and two youngest siblings are flying over for a two-week visit, and arriving July 16th. We’ll be celebrating my daughter Phoebe’s baptism on the 18th and then heading down to the French Riviera for two weeks of camping on the Mediterranean coast.

And in mid-August, I’ll be heading back to the U.S. for a brief trip, for my best friend’s wedding, which I am extremely excited about!

I don’t plan on getting much writing done over the next two months, but you never know when inspiration may hit! I didn’t reach my goal of finishing a manuscript before July…but I’m okay with that.

I know I can write a book.

I’ve done it before, and I can do it again. But it feels almost like now isn’t my time, and I’m perfectly okay with that, too.

Sometimes you just have to let go and stop trying to force productivity for pride or ambition’s sake, and just be where you’re meant to be, doing what you’re meant to do, without judgment or fear.

In any case, here’s wishing all of you a beautiful summer! See you in September!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Katie Gets Philosophical

I’ve been on a spiritual journey these last few weeks. I think, at some point, many of us experience a period where we start to question our beliefs, who we are, and why we’re here. And lately that just happens to be where I’m at.

It started with yoga. I know I joke about a broadening of perspective that many people claim when they begin practicing, but in my case it’s true. I started to feel different. And I began to desire a closer relationship with something. Something big and important and imperative to human life and happiness.  (I am Catholic and I’ve always believed in God, but I wanted something beyond religion)

I began by reading The Secret. I’ve read it before, and while I believe in the Law of Attraction and thoughts creating our world, I still felt there was more to it than that. Something deeper.

Then came Positive Magic by Marion Weinstein, which has been on my kindle for a long time and I’ve read before, but never really ‘got’ it. Now, however, the messages were breaking through and this has become pretty much my go-to manual. Everything she has to say rings true for me,-- but while I felt and agreed with all of this on an intellectual level, the desire to feel it on a skin deep level remained.

Then our yoga book club started reading The Four Agreements. Even though this book didn’t have the same effect on me as Positive Magic, there was one thought, one idea that stuck with me and for which I’m so grateful. And it happened. I finally began to ‘feel’ what I’d been looking for.

This is going to sound trippy. Don’t be frightened. I’m still wearing shoes and haven’t purchased any white robes yet. No plane tickets for any deserts.

But the basic idea is--there is something inside me. A force, an energy. The universe is made up of it- like one, huge, perfect diamond. And each of us are shards of this diamond, smaller but equally perfect and equally priceless. And this piece of me, at my core- it is also in each of you. We are made of the same thing. When you can look at others and see that part of yourself staring and reflecting back, recognize the sameness in every living thing, and acknowledge it, well, you can’t help but love it as you love yourself. Because that is the force, the energy, or at least what we call it down here. It’s love.

Many people have said it in different words and different ways but only now have I really ‘felt’ it.

I think this force is positive and that is why we are constantly striving to be happy and joyful and grateful and see this life as a pursuit of happiness--, because those emotions are more closely aligned with where we came from.

But between positive and negative polarities, everything hangs in the balance. All life.

Without one or the other, there would be nothing. Therefore, we need the negative. The key is learning to appreciate it and be thankful it is there, helping hold everything in place, without letting it take hold of us, our thoughts or our lives. It is possible.

Whew! *sigh*

I think it’s time for some coffee.

Any of you ever had a spiritual awakening that threw you on your ass?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Fight for your Right to Party

Like the United States, France adheres to a strict separation of church and state.

Except, not really.

For instance, today is a national holiday. Why? Because it’s Pentecost weekend. And last week there was no school on Thursday… because it was the Ascension. The Monday after Easter is always a national holiday as well. 

If you ask a French person why these are national holidays, when technically, Catholic (not necessarily cultural) holidays aren’t supposed to be sited or celebrated by a government when there’s a true division of church and state, they just shrug. Doesn’t seem to matter much to them, as long as they get their long weekend. To be honest, it doesn’t really bother me, either. I figure, at least, the government is honest about the true nature of their holidays, and don’t try to cover it up by calling it something else or putting emphasis on a non-religious reason for the day off…

Minor Catholic/Pagan holidays are also celebrated in lesser degrees that aren’t official national holidays but are widely-known cultural traditions. Like the cutting of the ‘King’s Cake’ containing hidden figurines on the day of the Epiphany. The exchanging of ‘lily of the valley’ flowers on May 1st. Or the Chandeleur when everyone makes and eats crepes. Then there’s Mardi Gras, of course,- a time to pig out or go drinking to get all your vices out before the beginning of Lent. Some of these are internationally celebrated holidays. Others are only celebrated in France or French provinces.

In deeper, more rural parts of France, there are carnivals and festivals and traditions that date back to before Catholicism even arrived. Bon fires, the throwing of fiery disks, lanterns, parades and masquerades, etc…rituals that managed to remain intact despite the passage of time. How do I know this? The national news covers them regularly, during their afternoon broadcasts dedicated to cultural heritage. And I have to say, it’s interesting stuff!

So, as bummed as I was yesterday, when I realized the kids had yet another day off school this week, I have to say I’m grateful to live in such a culturally and historically rich nation.

What are some of your favorite low-key holidays? I noticed an increasing excitement about May 5th in the U.S. these last few years, even though I don’t remember celebrating cinco de mayo when I was younger because... we’re not Mexican, but what the heck… Sometimes any reasons a good reason to party:)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Yoga Me

Taking a little break from the usual to share one of my newest passions. Truth be told, whenever I thought of yoga, I pictured well-to-do real housewives holding stretchy poses while making weird ‘omm’ noises.

But, after four kids, my regular exercise routine just wasn’t doing it for me anymore and I had a lot of unresolved pain in my hips and back from all the baby-carrying. I started to research some of the benefits of yoga and saw just how strong and muscled yogis get from in-depth practice and though ‘why not?’ **Okay. This totally sounds like an infommercial. It’s not, I swear. **

I didn’t have time or money to invest in a studio and while I tried to find a decent at-home dvd yoga program on amazon, it was hard to know the best option for me and I didn’t want to waste my money on something I'd be dissapointed with.

And then I thought ‘Hey, Youtube taught me how to crochet monkey hats and make glasses out of Corona bottles…maybe it could teach me yoga, too.’
So, I started ‘shopping’ for a yoga coach on Youtube, clicking through all the 30-40 minute yoga classes. It took longer than you might expect.

First of all, I didn’t bother clicking on any headline I couldn’t pronounce, so that eliminated about half my options.

Then there were videos that featured someone bending backwards to touch their ankles or some other no-way-in-hell-asanna.

When I’d actually check out a video, I’d end up hitting the ‘next’ button after much of the following:

-Exotic or psychedelic music
-Swedish accents
-Irritating high-pitched voices
-Instructor so far away on their mountaintop, I can barely see what the hell they’re doing
-Diaper-wearing yogis
-Videos that began with ‘Today we’re going to work a willywankomalafidofatcha…sana’ in other words, the ‘pooping pose’.

No, but really. It took me some time, but I finally found an instructor whose videos were clear, professional and fun. If you guys have the time or interest, I sincerely suggest checking out Yoga With Adriene.

Over the last two months, I worked through her beginner classes and up to the intermediate strength & lengthen weight loss classes and now I’m currently on the third week of her REBOOT program.

My energy is up, I’ve lost all the baby weight leftover from Phoebe, and I swear, my body hasn’t been this lithe or fit since I was a teenager. But more than that- something unexpected happened as I started working the poses day-to-day; a deepening and broadening of perspective that I’d heard happens, but didn’t necessarily believe it would to me. I swear, it's taking every ounce of self-control not to start eating kale and researching chakras.

So, yes, all in all, yoga rocks and I’m totally hooked.

Besides writing, you guys have other passions that have become an integral part of your day to day? 

Monday, May 19, 2014

It's Been Awhile Since I Could Hold My Head Up High...

Forgive me blogger, for I have sinned. It has been seven weeks since my last pitiful post. I could blow off this newest impromptu hiatus by saying it was due to waiting out the end of A-Z, or that I’ve been too busy, but none of that would be true.

I have a confession to make, and this has been a long-time coming.

The truth is, my life in every other aspect is going just fine. My kids are healthy and happy. My husband’s doing great. I’ve been doing yoga, running, and preparing to find a job for September. All’s good.

Except for one thing.

That ‘other’ part of my life. The one I once held so dear, it could have drowned out everything else if I'd let it--That great thrill of creativity, words, and stories come to life and the thriving community that accompanied the process.

It’s time I stop beating around the bush and just state the truth about why I keep dropping off the face of the virtual planet:

I haven’t been around the blogosphere or the writing community much because I don’t like the way it makes me feel. (through no fault of its’ own)

I hadn’t realized it until now, or maybe I had, but just wasn’t ready to deal with it. But the truth is, I don’t think I’ve completely gotten over the deception that came with all those near-misses ages ago. I hate to admit it, but maybe I’m not as strong emotionally or psychologically as I once believed.  Sure, I talked a good game, but when it comes down to it, I’ve started and stopped four different projects in the last two years, some getting 30k along before I simply ‘lost interest’. I haven’t been able to make myself blog regularly or keep up with publishing, author, or industry news.

When it comes to writing, I'm sure it's partly because I’m afraid. Afraid of finishing a project and investing in it emotionally again. Afraid of putting it out there. And afraid of enduring the same feeling of failure and just-not-good-enoughedness that I had last time.

When it comes to the community, I still flip through my writerly facebook regularly, because I miss the connections and friends I made during my blogging hayday. I spend time ‘liking’ all the amazing things my writing friends are putting out there and experiencing, admiring how productive and accomplished they are.

But it’s only a matter of time before I turn to my own, empty status and realize I have absolutely nothing to offer. I’m not productive, inspired, or successful. I’m a hack. Total fraud. Undeserving of interest or praise.

That sinking, no-good feeling begins to spread. 

Which is why I quickly retreat back into myself and the other aspects of my life, and away from the writerly part, in a self-imposed exile that really affects no one but me; punishment for being so utterly unsuccessful, boring, and incapable. My solution? Complete and total avoidance of the problem.

Does it make sense? No.

But it is what it is. *shrugs*

I’m just tired of letting this feeling of failure keep me from a part of my life that I miss terribly. I think it’s time to put ‘er down. And I’m hoping that putting it out there will be the first step towards that. It’s easier to shoot an animal that’s out in the open, and all that jazz.

Anyways, I want to offer a heartfelt apology to all of my blogging friends for my absence. For being little and weak and cowardly and not facing my own crap sooner so that I could be here for all of you- have joy in your successes and offer encouragement through your obstacles. You can be sure this community has left its mark on my heart. If it hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here. So here’s to taking back the reins.

You guys ever let negative emotions keep you from something you love? Any advice as to how to get over this feeling of failure that settles over me whenever I think about writing?


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