Mom Versus Career

Finding the balance between being a competent decision-maker, a desirable spouse, and a kick-ass mom.

‘Here we come a-wassailing…’ October 4, 2011

Filed under: Life,Paperback Writer — MomVersusCareer @ 8:53 am

I’m usually one of the first people to shake her head and sigh when I see Halloween paraphernalia in stores in July or Valentine’s Day decorations before the New Year has officially arrived. I even cringe a little when Christmas ornaments and wrapping paper magically appear before Halloween.

However, there is one thing I don’t mind hearing early: Christmas music. I’m a sucker for Christmas music. That is one marketing ploy that actually works for me. I usually start listening to my personal collection of Christmas music in September or October. My husband laughs and shakes his head when he drives my car and hears Elvis Presley singing “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you.” (Yes, I’m an Elvis fan, but that’s another post altogether.) He will listen to Christmas music only on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day.

I’m not sure why I love listening to Christmas music so much. I love listening to the traditional hymns like O, Holy Night, O, Little Town of Bethlehem, and O, Come All Ye Faithful, but I also like non-traditional songs as well. Christmas Song performed by Dave Matthews is by far one of my favorite non-traditional Christmas songs.

There is something joyful in most Christmas songs. Even the sad songs like “Blue Christmas” hold some hope that Christmas will be better, a new start. That’s a lot of hope to pin on one holiday, but given the time of year and the reason for celebrating Christmas, having hope seems appropriate.

 

I Got Nothin’ September 1, 2011

Writers block has reared its ugly head again. I had some great ideas yesterday and promptly forgot them because I didn’t jot them down in my new favorite cross-platform app, Evernote.

So, now I am trying to remember my ideas but I’m not having much luck. I’m hoping that just writing anything, like this post about nothing, will help jog my memory. Nothing yet.

It’s like when someone’s name is “on the tip of your tongue;” my ideas are just out of my mental grasp.

My ideas are playing hide and seek in my brain. I have a vague notion of the direction at least one of my ideas is heading, but I can’t seem to catch it before it turns a corner or finds a better hiding spot elsewhere in my mind.

I’ll probably remember my ideas tonight while I’m sleeping or tomorrow morning while I’m in the shower. That’s how it usually goes. 🙂

What do you do to work through writer’s block or any other creative block? What do you do to get your ‘creative juices’ flowing?

 

Eye of the Tiger August 10, 2011

Filed under: Life,Paperback Writer — MomVersusCareer @ 7:30 am
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My college professor, Dr. Hensley, is partially responsible for my love affair with literature and writing. (My grandmother contributed to my passion for writing, too. :)) Many students were introduced to his strict teaching style through his freshman English course. Dr. Hensley expected his students to be on time to a class that started at 7:45 a.m. three days a week. (I’m not sure why it was harder in college than it was in high school to get up for an early class. Maybe it’s because mom wasn’t there to make sure I got up in time. :))

He expected his students to try their best and never settled for less. If you happened to love English and literature, the class was relatively easy. If you paid attention in class and took good notes, you were likely to do well. The ultimate goal was to get what he called the ‘Eye of the Tiger’ or ‘EOTT.’

To achieve the EOTT, you had to receive three As in a row on consecutive tests. The first time a student achieved EOTT status, my professor presented that student with a cassette tape – yes, cassette tape – of Eye of the Tiger by Survivor, a small tiger that plays Eye of the Tiger when you press its belly, and ‘EOTT’ across the top of the third test. He chose Eye of the Tiger because of its message to try your best, to keep fighting, to ‘rise up to the challenge of your rival.’

This song has remained a theme song for me since I received my first EOTT from Dr. Hensley. This song is one of many on my EOTT Playlist, which includes songs that inspire and motivate me to chase my dreams, to fight mediocrity, to pursue excellence.

Below is my current EOTT Playlist. It’s a work in progress, so feel free to make suggestions! Do you have a theme song? What is it? What songs are on your inspirational/motivational playlist?

Erica’s EOTT Playlist
Don’t Stop Believing – Journey

Dog Days are Over – Florence & The Machine

Eye of the Tiger – Survivor

Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield

Paperback Writer – The Beatles

Beautiful Day – U2

Your Love Lifted Me Higher – Audio Adrenaline

Let My Love Open the Door – Audio Adrenaline

Free Ride – Audio Adrenaline

God Will Lift Up Your Head – Jars of Clay

Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves

It’s My Life – Bon Jovi

Dare You to Move – Switchfoot

Taking Chances – Celine Dion

Don’t Stop – Fleetwood Mac

Raise Your Glass – Pink

Firework – Katy Perry

Light Up the World – Glee

 

In the Heat of the Moment August 5, 2011

Filed under: Paperback Writer — MomVersusCareer @ 7:30 am
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I tend to write in the heat of the moment with whatever emotion I’m feeling fueling my writing. It’s usually just a first draft, but that’s where the initial idea is born.

Is it better to write out of raw emotion, or to jot down your thoughts and come back to them later?

Personally, I think if you wait, your writing can be watered down and have less effect. The flip side is that you more clearly state your thoughts after you have had time to reflect on them.

Emotional writing tends to be more raw and honest, but it can also be counterproductive to the point of the piece. You can get lost in the passion of the emotion and miss out on an opportunity to make a great observation about life if you focus on the emotion itself.

I like writing in the heat of the moment. It’s therapeutic. However, not everything I think and feel needs to be published. That’s the challenge of writing when fueled by emotion. It’s harder to edit myself and not publish something I shouldn’t and normally wouldn’t publish. But that’s also the attraction. It keeps me honest.

I don’t know the answer to the question I posed above. I think the best, healthiest method is a combination of both. I usually start writing in the midst of an emotion and come back to it later to edit it. Sometimes the passion has subsided so much that I no longer want to publish the thought. Sometimes it’s renewed and new ideas are incorporated into the piece.

It’s fun to experiment and discover what works.

Wow. I’m a nerd. I love writing. 🙂

 

Recalculating August 3, 2011

Filed under: Life,Paperback Writer — MomVersusCareer @ 8:38 am
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I have not been impressed by my GPS lately. What good does it do if the GPS can’t locate a satellite signal until I’m nearly halfway to my destination? I like exploring unfamiliar towns now and then, but I’d prefer to limit my exploration to days when I am not expected for appointments.

I have a terrible sense of direction. I’m the first to admit that. (I suspect it’s because I don’t have enough iron in my nose like men do. Maybe I should get my nose pierced. I wonder if that would help.) I rely on street signs, written directions, and landmarks to navigate. Telling me to turn North on 7th Avenue means nothing to me. Telling me to turn Right at the Blue House with White Shutters gives me a landmark to go by.

I’ve determined my brain has been working a lot like my GPS lately. I decide what I want to do and request directions from my brain to complete that task. Unfortunately, my brain sometimes has difficulty locating a ‘satellite signal’ or gets detoured by ‘road blocks,’ much like my GPS.  I tend to get in my own way when it comes to doing something I really want to do. I put up those mental road blocks by devaluing my dream and my talent. I allow my brain to have a ‘weak signal’ by not following God’s direction for my life.

I make it nearly impossible to reach my destination because I choose to follow my own path and take wrong turns instead of following the path God has laid out for me. I keep running into myself as I try to reach my goal, and I’m starting to bruise.

Wouldn’t it be great if my brain could just recalculate like my GPS when I choose to go my own way? It would magically guide me back to God’s path. Sure, it will take longer to get there and there will likely be more weak signals and road blocks, but at least I’ll be on the right path.

That’s where I am today: finding my way back to God’s path for my life that He mapped out long ago. Why would He give me a passion for writing if it wasn’t part of His plan for me? All I have to do is get those mental road blocks out of the way and maintain a ‘strong signal’ so God’s path is clear.

 

What’s Next? August 1, 2011

On Saturday, I was riding the wave of an emotional high; filled with energy and motivation to throw myself into pursuing my dream of being a writer. That day, my friend Kiki and I attended the first ever Quitter Conference based on Jon Acuff’s book, Quitter. The conference was everything I expected and more!

It was entertaining, educational, motivational and totally worth the trip to Nashville. If another Quitter Conference is scheduled in the future, go!

So where do I go from here?

Now that the emotional high is gone, how do I stay motivated to complete the tasks I set for myself during the conference? How do I go back to my day job without feeling resentful and bitter? I can feel the Sunday Jerk syndrome creeping in (Read Quitter to find out what a Sunday Jerk is). I can hear the Doubty Voices in my head saying, “You’re not good enough, Erica. There will always be someone who is more talented than you are. Sure, it’s a nice idea to be a writer, but you’ll never follow through, so why start?” Ouch, right?

It would be painful if someone actually said those words to me. Instead of taking that risk and putting myself out there, I hide behind my self-derision. I try to rationalize the statement above as being reasonable. It isn’t!

My first step toward battling my own doubt was to get up 30 minutes earlier this morning and write. Just write. Even though the Doubty Voices tried to convince me to sleep just a few more minutes. Jon Acuff made an excellent point during the conference. He said if your dream isn’t something for which you’re willing to wake up half an hour earlier, then it’s probably not your dream.

While I wasn’t waking up early, I was trying to find time throughout the day to write, but I never seemed to have enough time to focus on writing on a daily basis due to little things like work and surfing the internet. You know, the important stuff.

The second step was to do something Jon calls a ‘time audit’ to figure out how busy I really am. Just going through my daily schedule mentally was an eye-opener. Being a working mom and wife doesn’t allow for much time in the schedule to write, but I can eliminate some things that are not necessary or worth my time, which is precious and should be used wisely.

There are several other steps I’ll be working through during the next few weeks and months to focus on writing. I’m confident I can do it. I just need to keep telling those Doubty Voices to ‘Shut Up!’ and keep going. Keep doing what I love. It’s the only way my dream will happen.

Thanks for supporting me! Please keep me accountable by asking me how it’s going, especially those of you who attended Quitter with me. We need to stick together!

How do you combat the Doubty Voices in your
life?

 

 
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