THE SENSE OF INSPIRATION: Marry The Gold
The beauty of inspiration is hardly inimical.
The might of its contagion spreads like the wildfire
of French marigolds.
It seeks to hold the retina captive—taken hostage,
with its awestruck glamour, like a tenfold hammer,
sizzling optic nerves piped to the brain.
It seeks to remain, replicate its burning sunset flames
spewed out to whimsical petals—
edged and tamed by the guardrails of amber yellow.
True healing seems to be its abiding fellow;
burning away the dross of pain, anger, and torment
of hidden sorrows.
The true rapture of inspiration knows no tomorrow,
for the skilled nature of its artistry demands the here—
It is an alluring shield against the precise arrows of anxiety,
deflecting the anguish of a perilous state of mind.
If we would only labor to find, dig, for its glittering treasure,
marry the dimension of its true measure, and seek the gold—
Prompt from Poeticbloomings.com
With the onset of one of the worst infectious outbreaks of our time, the Covid-19 Pandemic, or Corona-virus apocalypse as I call it, there’s a critical need for coping mechanisms. I live in the U.S., so I don’t believe we’ve seen the worst of it yet. The schools, bars, restaurants, YMCA, barbershops, businesses are all closed. The kids are home 24/7. Work is drastically reduced, although I do work in healthcare, but not on the frontlines of a hospital. The elderly population that I work with are the most vulnerable, so Assisted living facilities are either restricting non-essential personnel, or closing their doors completely. In other words, I’m pretty much stuck at home seeking ways to escape intractable boredom.
One of things that has helped me cope with depression, panic, heightened anxiety, and the madness of the world going to the pot, is music therapy. I’ve made several playlists on my device, but the one that’s saving me right now is named JACKED. It’s a list of 7 great songs by various artists and types of music. For the sake of space, I’ll split it in half and only share 3 songs here. Ready?
The first on the playlist is this…
Genre: Dance/Electronic Album: Atlas Shrugged 2018
There are no lyrics, just some background vocals with a sensational rhythm and great bass line. I can’t tell you how this makes me feel when I fire this one up on the headphones! There’s simple introduction with various electronics, voices, then….the bass line drops. BAM. Instant gratification.
*Call To Arms = 1: a summons to engage in active hostilities. 2 : a summons, invitation, or appeal to undertake a particular course of action. (Merriam-Webster)
The beginning of this playlist, JACKED, begins with a “Call to Arms”, a call to engage in active warfare. On a much deeper level, this is our actual situation in the midst of this global pandemic. An invisible enemy has attacked us with our pants down, daring us to respond. How will you respond? Staying at home all day doesn’t seem much like a call to action during wartime, but it is. We can’t fight this enemy head on. Our call to action is to retreat, distant ourselves, check on our loved ones, or those who are at greater risk of infection. I’ve been in the healthcare industry going on 20 years and I’ve seen firsthand what infectious diseases can do to the human body. It’s not pretty, trust me. To think we’re somehow immune or invincible to once in a lifetime pandemic is simply preposterous. Being smart doesn’t mean mass hysteria, or sustaining a sense of panic. However, strategy is everything in warfare.
Genre: Epic music, Symphonic, electronic, instrumental. Album: Magnus 2015
The group Audiomachine is as awesome as it sounds. Very professional, epic sound. In fact they’ve appeared on multiple trailers for blockbuster movies over the years. I found them over the last few years and simply can’t recommend them enough. This particular peace is just heavenly, majestic, however you want to phrase it.
*Providence = 1. a divine guidance or care. 2. b God conceived as the power sustaining and guiding human destiny.
In dire times such as this, certainly we need the divine guidance of God himself. God have mercy on us all.
Genre: R&B/Soul Album: Blended Family (What You Do For Love) 2016
I’ve always loved the magical voice of the wonderful Alicia Keys. Her ability to invoke emotions in me through her music is truly special. When I listen to this song, Blended Family I’m immediately transported into her experience of loving her family. You can find the story behind her inspiration for Blended family here. Alicia Keys shares her experience of her husband, producer Swiss Beatz, his children from a previous relationship, and their own children. Families can be very diverse considering all the dynamics involved.
Definitely in the midst of any crisis we need to seek the emotional support from those closest to us. I found myself reaching out to some members of the family I haven’t regularly spoken to in a while. Under the strict guidelines provided by the CDC, state and local authorities, social or familial interaction is critical.
I’ll share the remainder of the playlist, JACKED in the coming days. In the meantime. Stay safe, take care of yourself, reach out to others who may be in need.
This is the writing train signing off…until the next time.
IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!
Your elusive creative genius | Elizabeth Gilbert
IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!
How To Find And Capture Ideas For Your Novel with Joanna Penn
How do you capture your ideas? Tell us in the comments!
IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY FOLKS!
Building a Career in Fantasy with Author Michelle Madow
What did you take away from this discussion? Tell me in the comments!!
So who is Pam Lazos?
Let’s find out!
Pam Lazos is an environmental lawyer and the author of the eco thriller, “Oil and Water”, about oil spills and green technology, and of a collection of novellas, “Six Sisters”, about family, dysfunction and the ties that bind us; creator of the literary and eco blog http://www.greenlifebluewater.wordpress.com; a blogger for the Global Water Alliance (GWA) in Philadelphia; on the Board of Advisors for the wH2O Journal, the Journal of Gender and Water (University of Pennsylvania); a former correspondent for her local newspaper (Lancaster Intelligencer Journal); a literary magazine contributor (Rapportage); an editor and ghostwriter; the author of a children’s book (“Into the Land of the Loud”); and, because it’s cool, a beekeeper’s apprentice. She practices laughter daily.
Pam is also one of our wonderful authors in this year’s Mystery Thriller Week celebration beginning Feb. 12-22nd. Don’t miss out on all the fun!
You’re a writer so what’s your story? Or what inspired you?
I think it’s less about inspiration for me and more about need. I need to write. It’s either that or spend copious amounts of money on therapy! I actually went to my first writing class because a friend dragged me along. I went and never looked back. That was 20 years ago. One of my first classes was a screenwriting class. I think visually and it carries over into my writing so that class was a perfect fit for me.
The need to write is a great thing to have. Sometimes I sense an urge to write, but oftentimes not. But if I keep writing the need to write increases. Yay!!
What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?
I think we’re all writers at heart. We all have stories we want to tell. Some of us are better orators than writers, but we’re all storytellers. Beyond that, though, I have this burning desire to educate people about the need to care for the environment and I often use my writing to get some of these environmental issues out there across a greater spectrum. I do my best not to be preachy which is why I like thrillers because I can hide the information I’m hoping to convey inside the action.
It’s good that you have a specific passion to write about. That’s wonderful. A great topic too!
What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)
Oh, a full time job, my volunteer work, and, of course, familial obligations. I have to either stay up really late or get up really early to get anything done. I’ve been trying to dedicate blocks of time on the weekends, but we have a busy household so it’s not easy.
I salute you for writing books with so many responsibilities! It can be done!
What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)
That’s a good question and I don’t really know the answer. I don’t think it’s simply the desire to be a rich and famous best-selling author. I think it’s more visceral than that. Writing helps me sort out the messiness of my life. It’s almost as if I need to write to make sense of things.
YES. I LOVE THAT. I think deep down I feel the same way. Visceral.
What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?
It used to be me. I got in the way, either because of my inexperience, my lack of confidence, my lack of faith in myself and my ability. But I’ve been working at this writing thing for almost 20 years now and I feel as though I’ve really hit the tipping point. I’ve put the hours in and I feel as though I could write anything anyone asks of me.
Wow. I love hearing your experience on this. It’s very inspiring for us newbies.
Why do writer’s give up, quit, or never complete their work?
Hmmm, not sure. You definitely need a tough exterior, have to listen to “no” about a thousand times, and yet still keep at it. Tenacity is key. A lot of people want instant gratification, but unless you’re incredibly lucky, the business of writing is a long game.
That’s right! It’s definitely not a sprint but a marathon.
What would you say to a struggling writer who has given up?
You’ve got to write for yourself first and if you’re not doing that, then it’s probably a good idea to give up. If you’re already writing for yourself, it’s likely that you’re still in this thing and that you’ll be in it for the long haul.
BONUS: What else do you have coming down the pike?
I’m currently working on a psychological thriller about the pharmaceutical industry and a vaccine gone bad.
OH! I love that. Please keep me in the loop for that one. A possible ARC? Would love to help.
Connect with Pam Lazos
The earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth.-Chief Seattle
“Every life lived is a story worth telling”-Benjamin Thomas
Life is a story, what does yours say? -Unknown
Today we have with us an excellent writer from South Africa, Sarah Key. She’s the author of Tangled Weeds and the Sister of Light series; The Dandelion Clock and The Butterfly Wind. Sarah is also one of our authors participating in this year’s Mystery Thriller Week event. Please check out the site for more details. It begins Feb.12-22nd, don’t miss it!!
You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?
Becoming a writer was a natural progression of my professional life. I have a liberal arts degree majoring in English and Psychology before training as a high school English and Guidance teacher. After that I moved into Adult Education in which I hold a Master’s Degree.
I worked at the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa) teaching academic writing before embarking on a project in the arena of HIV and AIDS, a devastating pandemic affecting many people in Southern Africa.
After a three year period of travelling the country, the UICEF and Department of Social Development initiative ran its course and I was at a crossroads. I was processing experiences of working in semi-rural environments with people who had very different social practices and cultures. I decided these, with a bit of flair and a stretch of the imagination, would make good stories.
I really appreciate your kindness in helping others. Education at necessary at every stage in life. Very unique.
What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?
I began to write to make sense of aspects of life that affected or concerned me. I had been a social activist and was worried about many issues such as the instability of southern Africa and how this feeds into the exploitation of women and children (sex trafficking). I had witnessed the downward spiral that accompanies drug addiction, and I wanted to write novels that exposed the harsh realities of life to sensitise people towards these conditions and to increase tolerance and understanding. Wrapping them in the guise of fiction in a gripping psychological thriller was one way I thought would make them more palatable.
Writing, for me, is therapeutic and is a way I can release my creativity. It is something my soul demands I do. It gives me tremendous pleasure and, at times, a fair bit of pain too!
Wow. That’s a great way to release your creativity, Sarah. These are harsh realities the world has to deal with, but ‘m glad your muse has found an outlet to tackle them! I have tons of books to read but I’d like to make room for yours as well.
What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)
I have completed all of my projects so far. My debut novel, Tangled Weeds is a stand-alone book and currently I have almost finished The Starlight Tide, the final book in my Sisters of Light trilogy, This follows The Dandelion Clock and The Butterfly Wind.
I have been writing since 2011 and, although I could have written faster, I have not put myself under creative pressure. Life gets in the way of art at times and I have been involved in raising our two daughters and have family responsibilities. At stages I have had a mini crisis of faith but I am doggedly determined and once a book is begun am driven to complete it.
Life does certainly get in the way at times. Much too often in my opinion, but I admire your determination! Once we start something it must be finished. That’s the way it ought to be.
Conflict builds character. Crisis Defines it.-Steven V. Thulon
What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)
Writing is my life’s purpose at the moment and that passion goes a long way to keeping me motivated. There is nothing better than seeing your book published with your name on the cover.
I have a highly active imagination and a plethora of ideas. Once a setting and a cast of characters invade my mind I am under siege! My characters develop through my stories; they evolve or devolve as the case may be. The moral dilemmas they face are of particular interest to me. I believe that good must triumph over evil and there is always a chance of redemption. I think that this message of hope must be offered to readers in these challenging times.
YES, I love it! Purpose and passion are two big motivators for anyone. I love the imagination of authors! It keeps me turning the pages coming back for more. Can’t wait to read your books.
What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?
One can always find excuses that delay or sabotage dreams.
This game can be overwhelming and doubt destructive. I am fortunate that I have a husband who supports me and my work, which is a huge factor. I have also learnt that it is more important to live modestly and do what makes you truly happy.
Your statements rings so true. Excuses, doubt, and lack of support all are formidable opponents.
Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?
There are so many answers to that question. Writers often feel lonely and have no support. They cannot pay the rent by writing. Insecurity about the quality of their work shuts down their imagination and they run out of ideas and cannot finish their stories. They read other people’s books and feel inferior and are rejected too many times by publishers and/or their confidence is eroded by unfavourable reviews. They are overwhelmed by the fact that writing is the easy part of the job and the rest is too great a mountain to even attempt to summit.
This is a great list. An accurate one too! This is one of my favorite responses to this question.
What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?
Write for yourself. Write for personal satisfaction and mental gymnastics for your brain. Appreciate that writing is not easy. Some days you strike the keyboard with smug satisfaction and other days you sit tormented and tearful. Try to get into a routine of writing every day – even if it’s just for twenty minutes, The more you practice the better you’ll get.
Like everything in life, you have to deeply desire the final product and realise that it takes a lot of effort, sweat and tears. Finish what you start. It gives you a great sense of accomplishment. Writing teaches you discipline and courage and these attributes will stand you in great stead throughout your life.
Find a writing group or a mentor. Use social media to link to like-minded readers and writers – there are a gazillion out there. Writers are kind; they form communities and nurture and support each other.
Excellent! Medicine for the weary!
What else do you have coming down the pike?
Once I have completed my trilogy, I plan to write a novel highlighting the plight of rural girls in South Africa.
From the coastal city of Durban, to rural hills outside Ixopo, to smoky Alexandra Township and the posh suburbs of Johannesburg, Veils of Smoke will follow Nonhlanhla Biyela on a dangerous undertaking to try to locate her missing cousin, Sinazo.
Wonderful. Keep us posted on the third installment and the next novel. Would love to see how it pans out.
Thanks so much Sarah! You’re words have not been wasted. You’ll be a truly effective writer.
“Never be afraid to fly”
“Don’t climb the mountain others have built. It’s better to grow wings.”-Benjamin Thomas
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What doubts do you have in your writing? Tell me in the comments!!
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Author of The INFJ Writer Cracking the Creative Genius of the World’s Rarest Type
Lauren Sapala is a writer, writing coach, author of The INFJ Writer, is obsessed with all literature, and my newfound best friend.
*Are you originally from the west coast ?
I’m originally from Michigan, but moved to Seattle right after college. After a few years there I took off for San Francisco. I had never visited the west coast at all before moving to Seattle, and I had never been to California before I moved to San Francisco. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl!
I hear you! Me too!
*When did you decide to be a writer?
Wow, this might be the toughest question I’ve ever been asked about writing! I don’t think I ever “decided.” I started writing stories and poems from a young age and it was just always something I did. I never had to think about it or choose it. However, I did choose to stop writing, right after my senior year in college when a professor told me I wasn’t very good at it and I should find something else to do with my life.
That’s awesome it feels very natural and instinctive to you, or at least until you encountered a negative influence in college. Sorry to hear that. You’d be surprised how many writers I’ve talked to that had the same experience. I find that very perplexing.
“Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing.” -Melinda Haynes
*Who or what influenced you the most in your decision?
There are too many names to list so, in the interest of brevity, I’ll just say: Other writers. Every book I read that spoke to me had a writer behind it who encouraged me to start writing again, and then to keep going.
It’s great to receive encouragement and motivation from other writers isn’t it?
*Besides nonfiction, what else do you write?
I’ve written three memoirs and two novels. The first memoir is scheduled for release in Spring 2017.
Oh nice! Yippee! Another book release! Drop me line and I’ll help you with some promotion if you’d like.
*Why did you decide to become a story coach?
After I started writing again in my mid 20’s I formed a writing group in Seattle and then one in San Francisco. These writing groups were based off of the Alcoholics Anonymous format, meaning: you came and you shared your struggle with writing, but you didn’t have to participate if you didn’t want to, you could always remain just an observer. After the sharing, we settled down to do an hour of silent writing together. I found myself working one-on-one with a lot of the writers in the group, and pretty soon it was eating up so much of my free time that I decided to open a business doing this work.
Nice. I like how those begin. Organically and spontaneously. So glad you started writing again.
*Can you name a few benefits from helping others in their writing?
Holy cow, there are so many benefits I don’t know that I could even begin to cover them all! My first and favorite probably is that I get to hear about and share in other people’s lives. Whatever story someone is writing, it always has everything to do with them. I find human beings to be the most fascinating magical creatures, and the fact that other people trust me enough to let me try to help them with their creative process, and sometimes all their inner emotional “stuff” too, is such an honor.
There’s definitely a rewarding social aspect to helping others. Human beings are definitely fascinating magical creatures! Especially the intuitive, artistic types!
*Tell us about your book, The INFJ Writer.
The INFJ Writer is a writing guide based on the real-world experiences of my writing clients. After a year or two of doing coaching work with writers, I noticed that almost every blocked writer that showed up on my doorstep (that is, in my email inbox) was an INFJ or INFP personality type. These writers were highly sensitive introverts who had A LOT to say about the world but no way to get the words out. I saw immediately that they were the same kind of writers who had shown up to the writing groups I formed based on the AA format—scared, creatively paralyzed idealists who were also thoughtful, compassionate, and invested with a deep sense of purpose and passion about art and writing.
They were intuitive writers. And traditional methods don’t work for intuitive writers, as I had found out through my own personal experience, and as I saw my clients finding out, over and over and over again. Outlining, plotting the entire arc of the story in advance, using checklists for character development—none of this stuff worked for intuitive writers. In fact, it blocked them even more from their own inner creative light. That’s when I knew I had to write The INFJ Writer. It’s for intuitive writers who are experiencing blocks and don’t have the money or the time to hire a coach like myself who specializes in working with intuitive introverts. The book contains exercises in every chapter to get the blocked writer’s creative energy moving again.
Thank you for taking the time to write such a book. Although my personality type if not INFJ, I can relate to all of the points that you make here. We’re not too different!
*What led you to discover your personality type and what bearings did it have on you as a writer?
I had a desk job for a while where I had a ton of free time and unlimited access to the internet. I had always been interested in psychology so I started taking a lot of online personality tests. Most of them were just for fun, but when I read the description of the INFJ personality type it was like my whole world cracked wide open. Suddenly I realized there was a chance that I wasn’t a completely weird alien (which is how I had felt for most of my life). Finding out I was an INFJ bolstered my self esteem in a thousand ways, one of those being that I finally had the confidence to start putting my writing out into the world.
I could never have a desk job, although I’ve been blogging a lot these days, lol! Wow. You’re story sounds strikingly similar to mine. I’ve only discovered my personality type earlier this year after suffering from a long bout of depression and low self-esteem. But when I read Heidi Priebe’s book, The Comprehensive ENFP Survival Guide, It opened up mines of life changing revelations.
*How much does our personality type affect our ability to learn the craft of writing?
Hmmm…this is an interesting question. I would say that our personality type doesn’t affect our ability at all, but it does affect the way we view ourselves and how adequately we are measuring up to what we consider “ability.” For instance, most INFP writers do not do well with linear structure. When they’re writing, they tend to write in scattered pieces. There IS an order there, but the order usually has to do with a hidden beautiful pattern that the INFP writer follows almost solely according to intuition. From the outside, it might look like a mess. And many, many INFP writers have internalized the assumptions of mainstream writing culture, which says writers should be very concerned with the coherence of the storyline, even in the very first draft. So the INFP writer will see that he’s writing in pieces and get very down on himself for it, and then the negative self-talk comes in and the INFP writer berates himself for not having any writing “ability.” Well, this writer does have ability. His ability just shows up in a different way (especially in that first draft) than it does for most other people.
I should’ve phrased this question differently, but your response is perfect! I can totally relate to this one.
*How can not knowing our personality type inadvertently affect our writing?
Just like in the world at large, an intuitive who does not know she’s an intuitive will tend to feel crazy or like something is wrong with her most of the time. It’s exactly the same thing in writing. If you write in scattered pieces, or you have a lot of trouble finishing things, or you go through huge amounts of anxiety and emotional turmoil whenever your stories are critiqued, and you don’t know you’re a highly sensitive intuitive writer, the first thing you’ll do is blame yourself. The second thing you’ll do is try to “toughen up” and introduce some sort of harsh discipline into your writing life, which will make you feel worse. Until you learn about your true makeup as a person and an artist—and accept that makeup—you’ll always be caught in this vicious cycle that swings between the inner critic and writer’s block.
This is all very helpful and therapeutic information. Thanks for sharing.
*Have words of encouragement to all the intuitive types?
Almost every intuitive person I’ve ever met undervalues their own intuition and their own strong intelligence. Use that mind that’s so strong in you! Read everything you can about what you are, and learn everything you can about other people and what makes them tick. The more deeply you know yourself, the easier everything becomes.
I love this statement! I find it very uplifting. Do you have any reading recommendations for personality type? How about your book!
According to Goodreads
After years of coaching writers who struggled with procrastination issues, high sensitivity to criticism, and crippling self doubt, Lauren Sapala realized that almost every one of her clients was an INFJ or INFP. Using the insights gleaned from these clients, as well as her own personal story, Sapala shows us how the experience of the intuitive writer can be radically different from the norm.
INFJ writers don’t think like anyone else, and their highly creative brains take a toll on them that they rarely share with the outside world. The INFJ Writer discusses such topics as:
How an INFJ writer’s physical health is tied to their creative output
Why INFJ writers are more likely to fall prey to addictions
When an INFJ writer should use their natural psychic ability to do their best creative work
Whether looking to start writing again or to finish the novel/memoir they started so long ago, any writer with the self-awareness to identify themselves as highly sensitive and intuitive will benefit from this book that helps them to find their own magic, and to finally use it to build the creative life that actually works for them.
Add this one to your TBR pile!
*I’m an ENFP writer. What 3-5 things would you say to this kind of writer?
Oh, one of my best friends is an ENFP! You guys are truly bubbling fountains of light and inspiration…who can very quickly turn into avenging angels when someone has been unfairly wronged. ENFPs tend to experience a lot of guilt because they are driven so strongly by their curiosity that it makes them sometimes abandon projects they cared about a lot or befriend people who can be unhealthy for them in different ways. ENFPs are very, very hard on themselves inwardly and, like all intuitives, they struggle with giving too much to others and not letting themselves receive.
Oh good, make that two of your best friends are ENFP! Tell her I said hi and give her a big high five! Thanks for sharing this. It all rings so true. Never realized how hard I was on myself either. I’m totally Curious George on steroids.
I always advise ENFPs:
To follow your curiosity wherever it takes you. It doesn’t matter if no one else understands why you’re drawn to that person or thing. If you’re drawn to it, it’s got something for you.
You’re way more intelligent than you give yourself credit for. ENFPs can come off as bouncy and happy and even a little spacey, but under the surface they are extremely astute observers and very quick studies. Science, math, foreign languages—all of these subjects come naturally to ENFPs who find some emotional reason to get invested in them.
It’s okay to work on a bunch of different writing projects at once. And it’s okay to abandon a writing project if the spark is gone for you. ENFPs are true artisans. They’re like sculptors with words—they like to have their hands on many different textures at once. Let yourself play and explore. ENFPs need to do that.
WOW. I love this. I want to print this out and plaster it on my forehead!
*If you could change yourself which personality type would you pick? Or perhaps, what would change in your cognitive stack?
A few years ago I probably would have said that I wished I was an ENTJ or an ENFJ, some type that still had the intuitive piece but perhaps didn’t share the constant companion of introverted anxiety I’ve experienced for so much of my life. But now, in my late 30s, I’m actually pretty happy with what I was born with, anxiety and all.
What a great answer. I love it. Sometimes I want to be an ENFJ, but I would be a completely different bird. Having that “P” Perceiving function is a huge part of my personality. Thank for sharing.
One of my very favorites is from Napoleon Hill:
“It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project.”
Isn’t that the truth.
*Favorite writing books?
I love, love, LOVE Stephen King’s Memoirs on Writing. That man is a genius.
That he is. Haven’t read it yet but looking forward to it.
Thanks for joining us Lauren!
Check out my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com