Monday, October 22, 2012

Living Out Loud

"So much to do, so little done, such things to be."--Elizabeth Taylor

I've been talking a lot lately about living out loud. Just what that means, all that it entails, really depends on the person living ( or trying to) live that life. Really. Remember, no one-size fits all formula for success and happiness. Sorry, if that's the instant quick fix you're looking to buy, move on: I'm not selling it here.

What I've been getting at is the notion of living the life you want as boldly and loudly as you can. Start with identifying what you want and need. Now. And as you forge into the future. That old (cliche alert) new agey slogan: "If you can dream it, you can be it, " writ large. And if you're gonna dream, you might as well dream BIG.

Be bold, audacious. And say it. Okay, here's where folks sometimes recoil. Some are afraid of potential ridicule, others fear mere mention of their desires will put the kibosh on the whole thing. I've never cared much about looking the fool in the eyes of strangers or, for that matter, my close circle. Pretty sure most folks are familiar with my various follies by now ( and most have engaged in their fair share, too). But I admit I have often employed the "jinx theory." Yep, as sagacious as I may be, I , too have fallen prey to the erroneous idea that if I actually articulate my hopes and dreams, somehow they won't come true.

Silly right? I mean come on, simply declaring my desire to write a bestselling novel, say, or host a popular syndicated radio show, doesn't negate the future success of such lofty aspirations. On the contrary, by asserting the desire I am putting both myself and the universe on notice. These are my intentions. Help me turn them into reality.

Another grand personal growth ditty: "Say it to claim it" applies here. Start by first naming the intention, then say it aloud. Say it first--and frequently--to yourself. This may actually be the hardest part for some people. Just admitting what it is that you want and need can be both daunting and an enormous relief.

Once you've become comfortable with the concept, once your intention is clear and right to you, shout it, with all your might, into the universe. Go outside, stand under the stars and roar into the night.

Now that you know, and the universe knows, you may be ready to share the intention with your coach, teacher, friends, partners. It's probably wise to skip running up to random strangers and declaring your future plans. That sort of exuberant outburst may work for some folks, but since I can't gauge the range of myriad reactions, I'm not officially recommending such free-falling enthusiasm.

Say it, claim it. Dream it, be it.

Revel in the release of the intention. And then get ready to work harder than you've ever worked in your life to make it so.

To be continued....

Cheers and onward.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Reframing Rejection

I collect nos. And if you're a writer ( or anyone looking for a job these days), you probably do, too. Unless you're Stephen King's wife or Mary Higgins Clark's daughter, you're likely to amass hundreds, if not thousands of rejection letters. I refuse to count, but I have a friend who keeps a tally. A student alphabetizes every rejection by the agent's last name; another catalogs them by date received. Some people hang them up on a wall; some burn them in a cleansing ritual; some simply toss them in the trash. I'm saving mine for an art project worthy of a National Endowment for the Arts grant or for gotcha bragging rights when I become famous. Whatever works.

Of course there are variations on the "no." Some are mere form letters, untouched by human hands. Some are more emphatic than others. The " No way in hell," is rarely bluntly stated, but often implied in the short " Dear Author" form card. But just as quickly as such an austere standard brush -off can slam the door shut, a slightly warmer rebuff can open a crack in the window of literary fortune."Not now," especially if written in hand with something akin to, "But try us again," offers a glimmer of hope. A real personalized letter with actual suggestions and a " try again later," is nothing short of promising.

All writers---novices and pros alike--need encouragement. It may seem counter-intuitive to find such a boost from a rejection letter, but it's in there. Look at it this way: sending out your work is a positive step ( assuming it's ready to be seen by editors and agents). It is your foray into the literary lottery. And like love and other games of chance, the submission process is very much a numbers game. Frequently you have to endure a succession of nos to finally arrive at that one coveted yes. But that one sweet yes can swiftly eradicate your rejection dejection.

And you never know who will see your work along the way. An unsolicited call from an editor asking me to write an article or story or a festival director seeking to produce one of my plays can help me rebound from a recent batch of rejections. Just the jolt I need to re-energize my creative juices, refuel my resolve to keep going, fortify me for yet another round of submissions.

So every time you get a rejection letter, file it, count it, catalog it, toss it. Do what works for you. But make sure the ritual includes savoring each rejection as a symbol of your commitment and faith in your own work. And know you're not alone. There are millions of us collecting nos. Like that famous little train, if you think you can convert those nos into a yes, you can.

I think I can. I think I can. And I think you can, too.

Cheers and onward