The Forest Chapel: A Short Story

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The Forest Chapel

by

Shelley Robinson

The massive front door made of Douglas fir planks blocked me from entering.  The little sign hanging from a single nail, said, “Closed Today”.  I was disappointed because I had made it my habit of coming to this heritage lodge.  It had become my rustic forest chapel surrounded by enormous legacy trees that guarded over it like faithful soldiers.  Over one hundred species of tree seeds brought back by the owners from countries around the world, had been planted here. Logging had been what helped them build their empire and beautiful home.  As a result, cedar and Douglas Fir were used to build and decorate the interior.

Today, the quiet visit that I had anticipated here was put to an unfortunate halt.  I peeked through the mottled hand-blown window glass, wondering if maybe there was a mistake.  ‘Surely there were some people inside’, I hoped.  I strained to see the grand yew staircase, with its one large bannister limb reaching down to the newel post at the bottom.  Everything about this lodge was about trees.  Trees fortified it with its posts and beams, and fuelled it in the large stone fireplace.  The energy that it imbued provided respite from a stressful life.

Because the house was closed, I was relegated to the front covered veranda.  Two drift wood lounge chairs welcomed me to sit.  I had an eery fixation with this place. Sometimes, I would come here and listen.  My adult son had commented when he had visited here, “I can feel the ghosts in this house, Mom.”   He was a big believer in the paranormal; whereas, I was a skeptical believer.  If there had been ghosts, I would have seen some by now in my five-plus decades on earth.  No angels, ghosts or demons had ever come to say hello and actually pay me a visit.  However, I had always felt some strange connections to buildings in the past.  I sometimes heard, smelled, and witnessed things that were a bit unusual.

“Is it open?”  I turned to see a tall backpacker approach.  He sported a paisley bandana and sunglasses, and carried a large overnight backpack.  He clunked up the stairs with large shoe-laceless hiking boots.

“No,” I answered disappointedly.  “It usually is, but I’m not sure what is happening today.”

He smiled slowly revealing a large toothy grin.  “That’s too bad.”  He looked to be nearly half my age and a well-seasoned traveller with all of his weathered gear.  He seemed to be relaxed in his Bohemian lifestyle that I might have embraced if I had had another lifetime to trek around the world.

I nodded, unwilling to share with him my irrational preoccupation with the estate.   He took off his pack and sat down in the other chair.  He pulled out his water bottle, and drank most of it.  He explained, “I am related to the owners.  That’s why I came.”

“Are you the long lost grandchild due to inherit all of it?”  I joked.

“Wouldn’t that be interesting if I was,” he laughed, appreciating the possibility as he looked up at the building.  “No, I am related to the cousin of the owner’s daughter somehow.  My mother used to talk about this family like they were the royal family.”

“They had a strange history.” I explained my limited knowledge of it.  “He inherited the money by marrying his wife and working his way into the family logging empire.  In the end, he was the last surviving of his two children, who died fairly young, shortly after their mother.  It was all very sad.”   I was momentarily distracted by the pretty pink hollyhocks knocking up against the porch front.

“You know quite a bit about the owners,” he mused looking around at the acres of manicured gardens leading away from the forest and down to the Comox Bay.  In the distance, the Beaufort Mountain Range and its white glacier framed this pretty ocean paradise set in the Valley of the Whale.

“Not really.  I did a bit of reading, but there’s not much to learn about it aside from what the tour guides tell us.  I just like sitting in the quiet of it when no one is around.  I suppose I come here expecting answers. I listen for some kind of advice from the walls,”  I admitted to myself and to him.

“The walls…” I could feel him summing me up as a bit odd, and he was likely correct.  He contemplated my strange disclosure for a while, and then said, “I do that too.  I look for answers in odd places, especially in nature.  What are you hoping to learn?”

“I want to learn why I keep coming back here.  Every time I do, I see things changing inside of the house.  I feel a conversation stirring inside of me as if there is something on the tip of my tongue that needs to be spoken.  There are also smells…”

“What kind of smells?”  he pondered.

“Apple pie; a man’s cologne; and roses…lots of roses…oh…and strong cigars.  I can almost see the smoke.  It all happens when no one is around, nor when anyone nearby would be making these smells,”  I tried to change the topic.  “But no matter, I just enjoy the place.”

He sat back in the chair, and folded his arms.  “I am a little bit psychic sometimes,” he spoke tentatively.  It was my turn to wonder if he was a bit daft and disoriented, or in these parts, maybe a bit under the “influence”.  “I have spoken to ghosts,” he said convincingly in a whisper as he leaned in to me to explain further.

 

The elderly lodge caretake interrupted coming up the steps.  “Can I help you?” the portly older man with an uncomfortable looking limp, stopped to inquire of our loitering.

“We were wondering why the house is closed,”  I prompted him to explain why to my myself and the backpacker friend who had introduced himself to me as James after complimenting on my long hair.  “This fellow here came to see the house because he is related to the owners.”

***

“You may kiss the bride,” the minister announced.  We leaned in to kiss each other very passionately, and then turned, almost surprised to see to the house full of guests.  They clapped in celebration, recognizing the joy we were experiencing together.  We had finally found each other, and we were thoroughly caught up in this special moment.  “We’d like to invite everyone into the dining room to enjoy some wine and toasts,” my new husband, Chris, cleared his voice and announced.  He was very handsome in his dark pin-stripe suit.  His red rose boutonniere complimented the white and red rose flower arrangements that had been brought in by my family.  It was Christmas time, and we stood in front of the Christmas tree, humouring my father for a couple of pictures before heading to the other room.  

“You have finally found each other…” my best friend began her toast, while my other friends filled up their glasses with champagne in preparation to raise them in good cheer.  The rest of her toast was a bit of a blur to me as she reminisced about my childhood, and some of my accomplishments.  I was also distracted by my husband who leaned in to kiss me on the head during it.  I could smell his sweet cologne, and could sense his excitement and fatigue from the many days of preparation that had led up to this special day.  It was both a triumph and a relief to have it all come together in such a beautiful venue.  I had always liked this house. I had doubted that I would ever marry at all, let alone in such a special place which sometimes felt to be more a church than a heritage home. 

We could smell my sister’s apple pies cooking in the kitchen.  It had been decided that it would be an old-fashioned wedding and what better way with which to bring in a new life together than with the taste of her nutmeg and cinnamon seasoned dessert.  However, there were more toasts, first by my husband’s brother, and then by my other friend, who broke into tears before getting very far in her speech.  It was all a bit of a dream for me, as I had wondered how it all happened so quickly.  

We met each other over coffee, and we spent our first date exploring the park around this very house.  Then, on our second date, we walked further over to the spit, and enjoyed a beach fire by the ocean.   From there, our lives together unfolded naturally, as we shared a mutual love of hiking in the trees.  He would laugh when I would go up to an old-growth Douglas Firs and sacredly hold my hands on their trunks.  I had been told that these parent trees nurtured the smaller ones in the forest.  I believed that they gave me energy too.  We were tree huggers, and for us, there was no finer place in which to share our vows than in a home and park dedicated to appreciating them right along the harbour front. 

It was raining and we wrapped our arms around each other.  The damp pungent smells of the cedar shingles, and the fragrant foliage that stayed green here even into the middle of winter, sharpened our senses to this magical evening.  We sat under the tin roof of the veranda, and Chris pulled me in to him, savouring this quiet moment together before we headed back into the lively celebration. “I love you beyond belief,” he whispered. 

***

“Just come on in,” the lodge caretaker laughed, amused by our interest in the house.  “I have dishes to clean up from the wedding this afternoon.  You can poke around.  I’ll be here an hour or so.”  He pulled out a key chain with dozens of keys on it, and opened the front door.  We were welcomed into the woody living room with hand-woven Persian rugs.  This cozy sanctuary was filled with antique, hand-made mahogany and oak furniture surrounding a large stone fire place that still burned wood on special occasions. “Please take off your shoes,” he looked at James dirty boots and backpack.

“Amazing,” James exclaimed.  We wandered into the dining room with rough cut Douglas fir planks across the ceiling.  A used silver tea service was spread out over the dining room table.  We stepped down into the little breakfast nook and admired the mosaic floor with its inlaid multi-coloured tiles.  They had been brought over in the ballast of ships from the Far East for lumber.  “There is such a powerful energy here.”  He looked carefully at the family pictures on the wall, reading about the family history.  There was one of the owner’s daughter and the owner on the front steps of the lodge where we had been sitting earlier.  She was joyful in her wedding dress, holding wild flowers.  The owner looked on at her with pride.  The photo captured this family in its golden years, and it was with sadness that I thought of everyone who had lived here, and were now gone.

He came over to me and spoke quietly so that only I could hear him.  “I think that this house holds memories of the past and the future in it.”  He reminded me of his son in his youthful belief of mysterious and unexplainable things.

“How can you have a memory of the future?”

“This house seems to have something prophetic about it.  I don’t know if I would call it a memory.  It just gives me some feelings of things to come.”  He touched the heavy wooden mantlepiece above the fireplace.

“What kinds of messages?”  I had been alone for along time.  I always liked to speculate what lay ahead me.  I had many tarot card readings foretelling pretty average events.  Most were vague and inarticulate at best.  I wished that somehow I could know what lay ahead for me.  Would I grow into my older years alone?

“I feel something about you.  You are attached to this home in the past and in the future.  Have you ever been here before?”

“I don’t think so,” but I tried to think about where I might have somehow come across this lovely place in my history.  My family had come over to the island when I was a child, but I had no real recollection of it.

***

The men’s laughter rang through the night louder than the rain that pelted overhead onto the tin roof of the veranda.  They spoke heartily about the deal of the day.  “…and I told him to bugger off if he didn’t have the cash for the lumber.”  All five older gentleman dressed in distinguished evening attire laughed in unison enjoying their whisky and lox.  He pulled out a cigar and clipped the end of it in a definitive stroke, and then handed the cigar clipper over to his friend who did the same.  They savoured the slow catching of the flames before inhaling them.  “Dad,” a woman poked her head out of the front door.  “Can I talk to you?”  

“Sure,” he responded, handing his cigar to a friend with a pat on the back, excusing himself.  He followed her into the lodge, past guests in the living room, with whom he shook hands.  They ended up in the sitting room of the master bedroom, where she sat with him on one of the sofas.  

“I am not sure that I can keep doing it,” she confided to him.  “He has been moody and unpredictable.  I am exhausted with all of the money he has been spending lately.”  She looked over as a little girl peeked around the corner, looking up at them shyly as she made her way from the bathroom back towards the living room to find her parents again.  Mary smiled and beckoned the girl over to her, and had her sit between them, playing with her long red curls as the girl looked up at them through sleepy eyes.  

“I don’t know what to tell you.  Marriage isn’t easy, Dear. It seems like yesterday when you were the bride here in this house.  I think you have to talk to him and make it work,” he looked into her sad eyes, and offered, “Would you like me to talk to him?”

“No,” she was quick to reply.  “He would be furious.”  She started to cough. “We have to get back in and pay our respects to the beautiful bride.  She is such a lovely New Year’s bride, isn’t she, Dad?  She has so much hope for the future, doesn’t she?…”  She sighed.

“Yes, she does,” he held her hand.  “1967 is going to be a good year for all of us. You lie down,” he pulled her in for a hug and then encouraged her to rest.  “You don’t look well.  I’ll pass on your best wishes to the new couple.”  

“Okay,” she agreed.  She never left a social occasion early. He held out his hand to the small girl who looked up at them with wide green eyes.  “And we need to find your parents, Missee,” he smiled down at her, and then led her out to the living room.

***

“It’s a beautiful place,” James looked around and then down at his phone where he typed a message.  He looked up at me and then spoke a bit distractedly.  “I do feel the energy that you are talking about.”  We had wandered around the upstairs and we ended up in the owner’s daughter’s bedroom.

“Apparently this room has been reported to have ‘an unexplained chilly draft in one part of this room’”, I read the description of the room posted on the wall.  “‘Over the years, various lodge caretakers and workers have reported sensing a ghostly, yet benevolent, presence about the property, particularly in the owner’s former bedroom’.  Spooky!”  I turned to James and we both looked out of the room with a stunning view of harbour.  “This is the room where I smell a lot of lavender.  I asked the lodge caretaker before if they used lavender oils or perfume in the room, and he said that they do not.  He also confirmed that there was no longer lavender on the grounds because it was sometimes invasive to other flowers.”

James turned to with a strange look in his eyes.  “I think you will have a significant moment in this room.”

“Really?  Unless I break in here at night, I don’t think anything really interesting can really happen to me here with all of the tourist traffic,”  I teased.

His phone chirped again, and he made apologies.  “My girlfriend is texting me, and I’m going to have to go.”  I was taken aback by the abrupt ending to our brief encounter.  He continued, “It was nice meeting you.  Remember, good things are going to happen to you in this house.”  He said a quick good-bye, leaving me to wonder about where he would end up.  I was left alone in the quiet of the house.  I explored the adjoining dressing room with its built-in cupboards, and coal fireplace.  I felt a presence, and heard a hint of laughter, but I wasn’t sure if it was my over-active imagination.  I stayed still, listening.

***

“She is so perfect,” I held my sleeping grand-daughter, Jane, breathing in her lavender talcum powder while her mother, Andrea, explored the room. Jane’s little eye lashes fluttered and her tiny fingers twitched while she slept in my arms.  I was in love with this little biological heirloom that my son and his wife had given our family

“This is an amazing house,” Andrea exclaimed as she wandered around the room, appreciating all of the antiques.  “Do you think this room is really haunted?” 

“I don’t know.  I’ve always felt like it had something magical about it.  Now you are here to share it with me,” I revelled in the intimacy of this moment together, just the three of us.  

“It looks like they are setting up for a wedding on the front lawn?” she pointed down to a man who was setting up a table next to a full garden of pink hollyhocks.  I leaned out of the open window, and recognized him. I couldn’t quite place where I had met him.  He looked up to the window that we were leaning from, and squinted up at us.  

“Hey, Christine,” he seemed excited to see me.  “Remember me?”  

“No,” I yelled back, smiling.  My daughter-in-law’s awkward laughter suggested that this might have been a forgotten lover from days gone by.  

“I’m James…”

Like a slow processing computer, my mind finally crunched out a memory of my very brief encounter with this man.  “James!  The backpacker.  I remember you.  God, it has been almost ten years.  Do you work here now?”

“I took over that old caretaker’s job.  It helped to be a long lost relative.  I love the trees, and hell, the pay was pretty good.   I got married too.  We live in the little cottage behind the house in the forest,” and as an after thought he blurted, “…and you still have that pretty long red hair.”

I smiled a bit awkwardly.  The dots in my head were starting to re-connect the many pieces of the puzzle of this house that we had spoken briefly about a decade ago.  “I got married too, and we got married here in this house. This is my daughter-in-law, and their baby!”  We both waved a bit awkwardly to him, holding up the sleeping baby who was oblivious to our hollering back and forth.

He gave us a thumbs up and flashed us those big white teeth.  He still wore a flannel shirt, and I wondered if he had finally gotten shoe laces for his big boots.  “You see,” he yelled up happily to remind her knowingly, “Good things did happen here, didn’t they?”  Our conversation years ago had been a foretelling of things to come for me, and stirred a memory from my childhood that I had long forgotten.

“Yes, they did!”  I gave him a thumbs up, and held my other hand to my heart at the immense realization of it all. 

Getting Started Writing for Love …AND a Living: Research and Reflections on Creative Writing through to Publication: An Article

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Finally Ready to Write:  The Journey Begins

It is finally time for me to write and publish.  After teaching writing; publishing research about the creative writing “experience” (Robinson, 2009); and then trying to fit it (and some publications) into the cracks of my real life; I have decided that it is time to put my writing first.  Through my life’s twists and turns, I have ended up fifty-one; newly married; with a good education; and with a 24-year-old son who is successfully launched on his own.  My new husband has given me the opportunity and encouragement to take time away from my normal job which sometimes steers me away from writing.  I have spent much of my life living second-hand writing experiences by generating text for or editing literature written by others in an educational context.  I have decided that I will no longer put my creativity on hold.  I am ready to leap in with both feet to make new marks on familiar and new paths.  

Much of what I have written over my lifetime (fiction and non-fiction) has been my experiments with truth.  I did so “in order to make sense of the world and to sift it through some creative practice in order to see life from a more inspired vantage point” (Robinson, 2009, p. 90).  This process has not always been easy.  For example, I often wrote after my son fell asleep at night, which was my only quiet time as a single mother.  At other times, I would write poetry on napkins at conferences while pretending to pay attention to the speakers.  I was notorious for writing (some of my best writing) during statistics classes instead of crunching numbers.  Words have always been my distraction.  Regardless of the crazy scramble to fit writing in, my life has always been enhanced when I re-live my passionate encounters with the world through text.  

My Research Findings About Creative Writing

Through the journey of researching and then writing An Autobiography of the Creative Writing Experience (2009),  I narrowed down the important findings of this research to six key insights (pp. 104 and 105).  When I now re-read it with the intention of moving ahead with writing and publishing, it is like my younger self is helping my present self to get started:  “Hey you!  Here is what you need to remember”.  It seems valuable to re-visit these ideas now.  They also resonate with the thoughts of other writers (some foundational in the research field of writing, and others, seasoned authors).

  1. It is important to express writing in my own voice:  As I better understand who I am in my mind, heart, motivations, body and spirit, I am allowed a certain freedom to immerse myself in text in more confident and enlightened ways.  As Virginia Woolf explains, “I have found out how to begin (at 40) to say something in my own voice” (Briggs, 2005, p. 105).
  2. It is important to write about what is meaningful to me.  It is obvious that when something is important and interesting to me, I write about it.  This interest incites passion and has the potential to allow me a “flow” (complete absorption) in the creative writing experience.
  3. It is important that I find or cultivate a place of readiness inside of myself to be creative through rest, walk, travel, inspiring settings, insightful conversations with others, and reading.
  4. It is necessary to live, ponder and write deeply to “expose the unexposed” (Lamott, 1994, p. 198).  It is not enough to simply render what we experience in life onto paper, nor write what we think others will want to hear.  We have to add some part of ourselves or reflect on it through our own eyes in order to show the life encounter in our own rich and personal ways.
  5. It is powerful to have a language to communicate about the experience-process of writing.   When I am able to dialogue with other like-minded writers about what I am doing, I open the door to the thoughtful collaboration about it.
  6. The more I write and share with others, the more confident I become to write and share with others.  As a result, it feels like it is time to stop doubting myself and move beyond being an aspiring writer and start being a successfully active writer.

It is obvious that in light of these key insights, that I need to forge ahead, take some risks and begin submitting my work to publication.  However, sometimes “our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt”  (Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, I, iv, p. 78).

Finding Motivation

Getting started at anything creative, I find, is a frightening prospect.  I concur with Ruiz (1997) that “[d]eath is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to…express what we really are…” (p. 17).  To first generate a seed of creativity from the depths of inspiration, then grow it into a sensible shape that illuminates the light of the artist’s inventiveness, is not only an amazing feat, but it takes courage.  I am finding now that I will have to dig deeply to make it happen.  In the educational world, this motivational work is known as the “conative” (motivational) learning domain (Riggs, 1998; Robinson, 2009).  It includes the elements of engagement, discipline and determination.  Successful conative ability comes with self-development and self-discipline where Hawley (1993)  explains that there is “the cultivation of inner abilities.  It involves narrowing one’s attention so it becomes a force that can be directed…It takes work” (p. 12).  Here is how I how I plan to be motivated:

  • Getting ready:

The following techniques have always helped me to get ready for writing:  1) create silence; 2) follow my intuition and 3) practice mindfulness (Belitz and Lundstrom, 1998).  I cannot create if I do not let quiet into my being.  I must get in touch with my creative spark, and when I do, good things start to happen.

  • Finding flow:

I always seeking that special place of flow– a special place in my head where innovative ideas are readily available.  When we actively engage in writing because we are interested in what we write about, we are often fortunate enough to get into “flow”.  Being in flow (Csikszentimihalyi, 1990) is a “deliberate unfolding…and is marked by two types of occurrences:  synchronicity and fortuitous events.  As the experience of flow increases in our lives, so do these experiences…”  (Belitz and Lundstrom, 1998; p. 4).  I find that when I am writing deeply, books I am referencing seem to open to the right pages, and people who are also relevant to the topics, start bumping into me.  It is quite magical.

  • Staying healthy and active:

“Many people are accustomed to being out of touch with the body and they live entirely in a mental world.  The fact that the body and mind are interconnected might even be hard for them to believe…”  (Brach, 2003, p. 98).  I am reminded that everything about my body affects my writing and my writing affects my body.  How fast I walk, what I eat, what I drink, whether I exercise, whether I stretch, how I sleep, and breathe–all seem critical.  Breathing is most important.  When I am breathing deeply and regularly, I feel better poised to write.

  • Reading other literature:

There is nothing more valuable than reading the writing of other good writers.  The more fiction and non-fiction that I read, the more compelled I am to improve my own craft.  It is also helpful to read what other writers feel about writing.  For example, when I do not write, I get a little lost.  It is refreshing to read what Heard (1995) explains, when she does not write, “My body knows it.  I feel cranky and life feels dull.  The more I write, the more I have an urge to write, and the closer I come to finding my way home” (p. 6).

  • Doing other art:  

I am not the world’s greatest painter.  In fact, I am novice at best.  However, when I attend to the fine details of painting a picture, my mind gets into flow.  It exercises what I believe to be a creative region in my brain that also fuels my creative writing.  Creativity is creativity, no matter how I work it out.  In any art form, we are exercising and strengthening our own creative energy.  

  • Setting the stage:

I am discovering that where and when I write is very important.  I am just learning to give myself permission to follow my motivational whims in this regard.  For example, even though I have a very nice home with a view of the ocean, I am sometimes more inspired to write in the white noise of a coffee shop.  I am also very motivated just after I have attended a writing group, or spoken with someone about an idea.  Music is also an important inspiration for me, provided that it does not have lyrics.  Too many words in other forms like television, radio or music, interrupt my thought processes.

All of these efforts to set the motivational stage help prepare me for the gut-wrenching work of staying motivated.  I have had to think long and hard about what works to help me get started, but what is even more important for writers, is to stay the course and see things through to completion.

Leaping into Words:  An Action Plan

Once my emotional brain has worked past the justification and then the motivation to write, my cerebral side of me likes to sit down and map out a plan.  I recognize that creative “[w]riting is exploring!  We know the direction in which we will go and the main landmarks we hope to pass, but not every twist and turn of the path”  (Conrad, 1990, pp. xxxvi).  However, I like to take a bit of a metacognitive (reflective) stance in doing it because it helps lead me through the process successfully.  This type of “meta-thinking” (hovering above our thinking) is the jargon in educational settings as a way to think about our thinking.  In doing so, I spell out a strategy that works best for me about how to approach my writing process, goals, networking, and marketing.  In all of it, I hope to write well. Goethe (n.d.) states it best when he explains, “Everything has been thought of before, but the problem is to think of it again (Proverbs in Prose, unsourced)” and to do so in our own mindful and innovative way.  

As I grapple with these next steps, I hope to invite some dialogue with other writers and mentors who are like-minded and on the same journey.  With a little research of a few current authors familiar with some of the realities of the current writing and publishing world in the digital age (Casey, 2012; Clark, 2013; Klems, 2014), and considering my own writing style, I think I am leaning towards the following action plan (not always in the following order).  Here is my to-do list:

  1. Revive and refresh my old best-of-the-best fiction (prose and poetry) and non-fiction
  2. Find and list out all of my new writing ideas that I actively keep in notebooks or on my phone or computer
  3. Map out outlines or mind maps of the writing that calls to me the most so that it is activated and ready to launch
  4. Research, research, research:  All writers are researchers, and we need to take notes of everything we hope to write about, either by researching it online, in books or from first and/or second hand (by others) experiences
  5. Create structure and discipline in my day so that I find a good routine.  I need to respect this time to write like any other job
  6. Think in terms of a timeline with targets and deadlines (outline, drafts, editing timeframes, and last steps)
  7. Use current writer’s market guides and websites as a series of goals:  Identify target contexts for publications (from online and print sources)
  8. Identify and communicate with good literary agents based on the type and genre of literature that I choose to submit
  9. Talk to successful writers in and beyond my writing community about their trials and tribulations.  Learn the tricks of the trade
  10. Identify local targets; for example, the local papers, and magazines.  Sometimes publishers are interested in developing local talent
  11. Examine best practice in terms of query letters to publishers:  Speak to three possible topics for each potential submission
  12. Don’t wait for responses.  Keep the query letters moving.  Keep writing
  13. Expect the best, and when it happens, submit my best writing
  14. Effectively negotiate the fee for writing (contract or free-lance)
  15. Keep a copy of my writing on my writing website so that I can reference it easily and share it with others, and optimize my website profiles (Greenlee, 2016)
  16. Network with other writers through real and online writing groups.  Find mentors. It is both motivating and humbling to get feedback
  17. Exercise my creative writing muscles to stay active and fresh through periodic “free writing” exercises (writing for fun without purpose or parameters)
  18. Keep motivated (as per the above)

Effort and Luck:  Crossing Fingers

And, so I embark on the journey of following my calling to write.  Creative writing will now become the work of my life for the next while.  I do understand the challenges (passion and grunt-work) of formulating ideas into text and then seeing it through to publication.  I am finally at the point in my life where I want to know if I have what it takes.  I have spent my whole life training for it; pining to do more of it, while hoping to find an audience interested in reading it.  Therefore, I think it is important to dedicate this year (and possibly more) to getting this dream underway; in other words, enough talk and more walk.  Everything in my life has pointed me in this direction, almost as if my God has pointed me to the desk and turned on my computer for me.  He/she has told me to dust off my old writing and has inspired me with new ideas.  Therefore, I am taking the chance.  It is now or never.  If I don’t do it now, when all the conditions for doing it are upon me, I never will.

References

Belitz, C. & Lundstrom, M. (1998).  The power of flow:  Practical ways to transform your life with meaningful coincidence.  New York:  Three Rivers Press.

Brach, T. (2003).  Radical acceptance:  Embracing your life with the heart of a Buddha.  Toronto:  Bantam Books.

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