Satisfied

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Many of you know, that thanks to my sister Kelsey, I am currently obsessed with the musical Hamilton. (If you click that link you will be taken to a YouTube of the Hamilton song, Satisfied). 

I’ve been listening to this musical for about a month. I wake up singing it in the morning. I’ve always liked musicals, but I wouldn’t say I’m a connoisseur of musical theater. I simply listen to music and musicals I like.

In the song Satisfied, Angelica is making a toast to her sister, Eliza, on her marriage to Alexander Hamilton. Only Angelica is still in love with Hamilton, but gave him up for many reasons. And the scene zooms back to when she met him at a Winter’s Ball, and they talked about never been satisfied. I know this song is about a romantic situation, but it can be applied to other situations in life too.

Satisfaction. Is anyone ever 100% satisfied? This song was in my mind, because I think I have a tendency not to be satisfied. For a long time, I looked for the little negative things in my life. I didn’t look at the bigger picture. I walked around with a smile on my face, but behind the smile lay a world unraveling. I felt wholly and sadly unsatisfied. I wanted what I didn’t have, and I didn’t want what I had. Finding writing again helped me curb the unsettled unsatisfactory feeling within myself.

In the song, Hamilton tells her she seems like a woman who has never been satisfied. And then he compares her to himself and says that he has never been and will never be satisfied either.

Hamilton was wildly successful, you know, besides being shot and killed by Burr. He wrote the majority of the Federalist Papers, shaped the US founding government, was the first State Treasurer, and started the banking industry (because of him I have a job). But he never felt satisfied (or the creative license would have you think that). And here’s a thought: the lack of satisfaction is a driving force in success. Why do people rise up from the poor? Because they’re not satisfied with what they have? Why do people change jobs? Because they’re not satisfied. Why do people become politicians? Because they’re not satisfied. Why do people write? Because they’re not satisfied.

Think about it this way. If a writer wrote a book and was completely satisfied with it, would they ever write another one? Part of what keeps people driven is the lack of satisfaction, either with their current situation or with the world around them. Not feeling satisfied is an unsettling feeling, but is also a key to success.

Why drives you? Are you satisfied?

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Now…or Later

I met a woman over the weekend at a book club who had the gift for gab. She told me she had written a children’s book and four memoirs. She has this exuberant personality, go-getter attitude, and incredible energy. We went to lunch yesterday. This woman is in her 80s, and she wanted me to put some information together for her so she could try to have her non-fiction children’s book published. Talk about living your dreams at any age.

I’ve had a hard time lately, thinking I’m running out of time to become a serious writer. And I think this woman was sent to me to remind me that as long as I’m motivated I can achieve my dreams. She has done so much with her life, because she went for it when the time came. And she said something to me yesterday that made so much sense too. We were talking about my fear to speak in big groups, and she said, “Let the butterflies in your stomach drive you, because they’re energy. Don’t let them turn into anxiety that holds you back.” I think this can be applied to other situations. Often in writing, us authors get caught up in the thought of someone reading and critiquing our work. We get caught up in thinking about rejection after rejection from agents.We let these anxieties hold us back. We need to use our creative energy to propel us through that and not let the anxiety rein us in.

What drives you forward? What are some ways you can achieve your dreams?

And as a completely unrelated aside. Here’s a tribute to my dog Beasley who is being euthanized today. 14 1/2 years old. He was a wonderful Beagle pup we retrieved in the country of Maryland from a breeder who said he was defective because of an overbite. He lived with us for 5 years, and then resided with my parents when Rob and I moved to Montgomery and had to live in an apartment. He was always happy, smiling, and there never was a tail that wagged more. My mom fixed him some pizza in the Cuisinart last night, and he went to town. He has cancer, is blind, and deaf, and has started walking into walls, and acting like he doesn’t know where he is. So we know it’s time. Here’s to a sweet old dog as he travels across the rainbow bridge.

Beasley

Beasley – younger days

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Carry On

When I wake up in the morning, I grab a cup of coffee, sit down, turn on Pandora, and I blog, write, or work on yearbook (almost done!). This morning, Pandora played the same song for me two times in a row. Carry On by Fun.. It reminded me how you can put CDs on repeat and play them over and over again, reveling in the words that seem so relevant in your life but are sung by a total stranger. How many of you have done that when you’re having a bad day (or a bad breakup)?

Carry On is such a great song. A few years ago, I listened to this song in my darkest days, and it helped me to do just that: carry on. Walk away from the past with open arms toward the future. The future is full of infinite possibilities, and if we didn’t carry on then we’d never have those experiences.

I sat down unsure of what I wanted to blog about this morning. I have been writing, working on a story that took me away from my two previous works in progress. Now that yearbook is almost complete, I’m going to put more effort into blogging more and also into finishing up edits on Little Birdhouses, writing more, and I’m going to start querying again. (Get ready for lots of blog posts about rejection) When I wrote last week, for the first time in awhile, I felt relief wash over me. And it reminded me of the reason I write. I write because I have to. I write because it takes all of my restless energy and turns it into something amazing and beautiful. And because maybe, like I did with Fun.’s song, someone will relate to something I’ve written. The gift of words.

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Inspiration and Godliness

This past week, I attended a book club to discuss my book The Devil Within and do a little book signing. I’m always a little nervous attending these functions, but it’s nothing a big glass of wine won’t cure. 😉 Luckily, the book clubs I go to usually have wine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fairly outgoing but I’m always nervous and a little shy in a group of people I don’t know at first. It takes me a few minutes to come out of my shell.

Book clubs are always interesting, because sometimes readers have insight on your book that you didn’t necessarily have. Or their opinions about the characters and the events differ from the author’s own thoughts. I find this intriguing, and it’s one of the things I love most about writing: the reader’s reaction.

At this book club, one of the attendees questioned by inspiration. I’ve never had this happen before, but it made me think about inspiration. Because really, inspiration is a funny thing. Slimy, slippery, there one minute and gone the next. A single fleck of an idea that spins into a larger story like a blanket being spun from yarn.

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What about this sign inspired me to write about Will and his family? I’d driven past this sign a million times, and then one day as I drove past it I thought about a little boy, growing up on that beautiful rolling hill, in a family that used religion to justify abuse.

Religion and the South go together like peanut butter and jelly. But religion and big churches can always be used to further hateful agendas. They can be full of hypocrisy. They can provide so much good too: comfort, devotion, and social outlets. And looking at this sign, spawned the idea in my head of Will being stuck in the middle of the two: devotion to religion as a comfort and devotion to religion as a way to further hate.

What inspired me to write this book? My own background of growing up in the South. My own thoughts on how religion and Christianity ought to promote love and peace instead of hatred and judgement, a thought I’ve struggled with my whole life in respect to the promotion of the Christian agenda. Spirituality and godliness plus church don’t always necessarily go together. One can lead a Christian life without ever attending church. Or one can lead a life promoting kindness and faith without even believing in God.

Driving to Knoxville with my oldest son two weeks ago, we passed this sign and here was our discussion (He’s 11):

M: What do you think about the message on that sign?

C: I think it’s true. Church is good. God is good.

M: So do you think if you have a person who is always doing the wrong thing, and he’s hateful, and hurtful that if he goes to church the devil won’t get him?

C: Backtracks, Well, um, maybe not.

M: What if you have a person who doesn’t go to church, maybe doesn’t even believe in God, and mostly does the right thing (there is no always–no one always does the right thing)? Is that person doomed to an eternity in hell, because he didn’t go to church even though he was true and good?

C: You’re right. The devil wouldn’t get that good person.

It’s all about perspective. I’m interested in knowing what road my next flake of inspiration will take me down.

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