Tag Archives: determination

F- Finish…Motivational Writing Quotes A-Z Challenge.

Welcome to the latest installment in my Motivational Quotes for Writers and Creatives for the April Blogging A-Z Challenge. While I could’ve addressed failure, instead I decided to focus (There we go. Another F word) on reaching the finish line. What you decide to call your finish line will vary. It might mean completing your first draft before you have it edited. Or, you might see it as the finished product hot off the printing presses with your name and title on the spine and cover. You book is ready for the world, not just for the shelf.

Contrary to my advice in the previous post recommending balance and including exercise as part of your writing routine, I really loved this quote which really is a big part of crossing the finish line:

“You’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed.”

― John Irving, The Hotel New Hampshire

However, obsession also needs to be harnessed, directed not only towards reaching the finish line, but also towards producing a body of work which is worth finishing. After all, if your writing’s rubbish, the sooner you finish up and even thrown it out, the better. You can start on something else. Not every idea is a winner. As a writer, you should never feel bound to finish everything you start. Writing a book involves significant hard work and sacrifice, and personally it needs to be worthwhile. Not necessarily in a commercial sense, but at least as something you can be personally proud of. Here, I’m not talking about people who are just getting started, but those of us who have done the hard yards and are ready or even long overdue to go for gold.

That’s where this quote from John Frank Tesh (born July 9, 1952) American pianist, composer of pop music, radio host and television presenter comes in:

“The world is full of people who have dreams

of playing at Carnegie Hall, of running a

marathon, and of owning their own business.

The difference between the people who make it

across the finish line and everyone else is one

simple thing: an action plan.”

John Tesh

Having a plan…in my limited experience, this is what has worked for me. Perhaps, you’ve heard the terms “planner” vs “pantser”. You could probably worked out that a pantser writes by the seat of their pants, and has no plan. Let’s the writing find its own way.

This is how I usually write, which brings great spontaneity and raw emotions, but I’ve found it hard to shift across into writing a book. I’ve needed a plan. Perhaps, not a rigid, inflexible plan, but at least some scaffolding to give me a sense of direction. I am currently writing biographical short fiction and working towards a compilation of around 30 stories. I have a list of people I’m exploring and why they’ve been chosen, which provides a focal point. However, beyond that I’m back to my panster ways. I’m currently hopping around the list in no particular order as each of the characters or their place in history, speaks to me. So far, this fusion is working really well and I can really see myself reaching the finish line. 

Before I head off, I thought I’d leave you with this quote to stew on: 

“The thing about finishing a story is that

finishing is really only the beginning.”

― William Herring

What are your thoughts about that? I’d love to know!

Best wishes,

Rowena

D- Dreams, Doubt, Determination…Motivation A-Z Challenge

“Cherish your visions and your dreams as they

are the children of your soul, the blueprints of

your ultimate achievements.”

Napoleon Hill

Welcome back to my series of motivational quotes for writers and creatives for this year’s Blogging A-Z April Challenge. Today, I’ve decided to focus on three words which, at least in my mind, go hand in hand…Dreams, Doubt and Determination. Indeed, they’re all part of the production process which take us through to the finish…The End.

Dreams

How often has a writer or creative person been described as a dreamer? Moreover, while we might view being a dreamer in a positive light, the description is usually applied in the more derogatory sense…”You’re a dreamer'”. Or to quote one of my favourite Australian movies, The Castle: “Tell ’em he’s dreamin'”

“Writers write. Dreamers talk about it.”

Jerry B. Jenkins

Yet, in many ways, creatives need to be dreamers. Not only to come up with the initial creative spark which inspires a project, but also to set aside a massive chunk of time devoting yourself to something unknown, unseen… a vision. Something where there isn’t a pay packet at the end of each week, and you’re turning your back on the well-worn road  to a warm seat at a much-used desk and having what is otherwise referred to as a “real job”. In this sense, it takes us back to my first word in this series “adventure”. While “adventure” is usually portrayed as a more rugged and physically challenging  form of travel often involving daring physical feats like climbing Mt Everest, writing a book out of nothing, is also “a daring adventure”. It’s a massive risk, when there are so many other tried and tested paths. It is anything, but the easy road. Yet, somehow for some of of us, it becomes the only road.

Self-Doubt

This leads me to the flip side of dreaming, self-doubt. While that initial creative spark can be rather intoxicating, the process of converting that into a finished product is  challenging involving a lot of hard work, dedication and often crippling self-doubt.

Having experienced crippling self-doubt myself, I wasn’t surprised to find an abundance of quotes covering on the subject. Although he lived centuries ago, William Shakespeare could have been writing about me:

“Our doubts are traitors,

and make us lose the good we oft might win,

by fearing to attempt.”

― William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

However, it’s not just the up and coming who are plagued by doubt. In Modernism’s Patriarch (Time Magazine, June 10, 1996)] Australian Art Historian, Robert Hughes wrote:

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt.

Perfect confidence is granted to the less

talented as a consolation prize.”

Even the great Tennessee Williams wrote:

“I don’t believe anyone ever suspects how

completely unsure I am of my work and myself

and what tortures of self-doubting the doubt of

others has always given me.”

This self-doubt can escalate and literally gain a stranglehold either in terms of creatives taking their own lives. Indeed, this incredibly heart-breaking loss of life is something our creative communities need to address. Too many have taken their own lives to keep hiding their epitaphs under the carpet. While nothing compared to the loss of life, too many truly brilliant ideas and valiant efforts have also been dashed against the rocks due to self-doubt.

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot

paint, then by all means paint and that voice

will be silenced.”

― Vincent van Gogh

Determination

This brings me to determination, which often starts out with something incredibly basic…simply taking action.

“We all have dreams. But in order to make

dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot

of determination, dedication, self-discipline,

and effort.”

– Jesse Owens

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds

confidence and courage. If you want to

conquer fear, do not sit home and think about

it. Go out and get busy.”

– Dale Carnegie

On a personal note, the photos featured in this post were taken at Palm Beach back in 2014 while I was having chemo treatment for my auto-immune disease, dermatomyositis. At this point in time, my future was looking rather grim, but I was also very determined to beat it. My kids were ten and eight at the time, and as much as getting a book published has long been my burning, almost all-consuming desire, the prospect of leaving my kids behind was excruciatingly painful. That was five years ago and the treatment worked and I’ve been in remission ever since, with ongoing ups and downs.
So when you see me standing on top of that rock, it personifies determination and overcoming all sorts of doubt. I also needed quite a lot of help climbing up and getting down. Yet, that’s okay. You don’t need to get there alone.
Best wishes,
Rowena

Climb Every Mountain…Singing Towards Her Dream!

When you think of intrepid explorers and their conquests, rugged mountaineers immediately come to mind. Those brave or mad enough to not only scale the peak of Everest but even scratch the Seven Summits off their list.

However, I am incredibly proud of my intrepid Mighty Miss, who refused to let anything stand in her way and boldly insisted that Mummy filled out that application form to audition for the Sound of Music .

Miss as Gretal/Marta at her Musical Theatre performance in August.

Miss as Gretal/Marta at her Musical Theatre performance in August.

This audition wasn’t just for some local production, either. It is for THE Sound of Music to be held at Sydney’s prestigious Capital Theatre, starring alongside Cameron Daddo, Marina Prior and Lorraine Bailey…names which might not mean a lot of overseas but are huge mega stars in Australia.

This is the Australian Big Time.

Miss closely resembles Marta, aside from the fringe.

Miss closely resembles Marta, aside from the fringe.

Miss is auditioning for the role of Marta, the second youngest of the Von Trapp children.

Of course, this is all incredibly exciting and such an amazing experience…just to even get an audition.

However, the unsung story here is that against the odds, Miss has put herself out there against the very best. This is the same shy child who used to hide behind my skirts and didn’t speak.

Miss in Hospital

Miss in Hospital

Not only that, Miss has severe vocal nodules and has been seeing a voice therapist once a week for the past month and had been prescribed “voice naps”. She has been told to practice her breathing and have frequent sips of water just to speak, let alone sing and these were pretty strong words! After all, we couldn’t mess around.

These vocal nodules have developed not only from what is known as “vocal abuse” (ie shouting at big brother, Mummy etc) but also though reflux from a condition which affects her digestion….Gastroparesis, or delayed gastric emptying. Due to this condition, she has been markedly underweight and was struggling to get through the day before we finally found a diagnosis and she received medical treatment. She has since gained a bit of weight and perhaps grown up a little too. She is still petite but that’s a good thing too…just as long as she eats.

Under these circumstances, obviously attending such a big audition is not what the speech therapist prescribed and not wanting Miss to experience humiliating defeat, I naturally advised her “next time”.

However, her big blue eyes welled up and her body stiffened and that iron will I know only too well, rallied its troops: “But Mummy, you don’t understand. I’m the right height. I’m the right height now and I’ll never be the right height again.”

Humph…

Of course, you can just see my weaker will withdraw its forces altogether and concede defeat.

There was no point even going into battle. I filled out the forms.

What would be, would be and who was I to stand in the way of a little girl’s heartfelt dream? To knock her down before she even got started? After all, haven’t I been the one encouraging her to have a go and putting my foot down when that same iron will was shooting itself in the foot?

Miss on Stage Performing with her Musical Theatre Class.

Miss on Stage Performing with her Musical Theatre Class.

Ironically, the same small size which often infuriates her, will actually help her for this audition.

Marta is petite and Miss actually looks quite a lot like her, which I guess is also why she scored the audition.

Thank goodness, her vocal nodules have also improved a lot and she can sing clearly again.

So, we emailed off the application and I don’t know whether I expected her to get an audition or not because by the time the news arrived that she’d been successful, I’d caught a severe lung infection and my chest was rattling like an old jalopy. Given my auto-immune disease and the fibrosis in my lungs, this was looking like hospital and possibly worse.

Two years ago, I’d caught pneumonia and actually stopped breathing briefly one night, which as you could imagine, was absolutely terrifying and I could see I was heading back there again and needed to pull out all the stops. My GP switched me to some industrial strength antibiotics and I had 24 hours to respond or it was hospital. I was pretty sure they’d work as this had done the trick last time but the stress and also the question of knowing when and if I should go to hospital plagued us. We were weighing up the benefits of intensive treatment versus catching something even worse and it’s the latter that sees us aim to stay home.

I was also on the nebuliser every two hours.

Accompanying Miss while on the nebuliser. I personally find combination of preparing for the audition while being so sick and on the nebuliser almost comic. It's the first time I've been on the neb at home for 20 years. I have also playing chess with Mister while on the neb too.

Accompanying Miss while on the nebuliser. I personally find combination of preparing for the audition almost comic. It’s the first time I’ve been on the neb at home for 20 years and I’m only on it for a few minutes at a time. The photo just gives it a resonance, which is a bit over the top.

So, it was into this toxic germ soup of household that the news arrived of my daughter’s audition and that we needed to have her at the Entertainment Quarter at Moore Park in Sydney at 9.45 Monday 7th September.

At this point, I was barely able to stagger out of bed to the toilet a metre away and yet I really wanted and needed to be the one to take her. Do this audition thing with my little girl. Yes, to be the proud stage Mum and flaunt her unashamedly like a trophy but more to share the experience with her. Be an active, integral part of her life and be her Mum. Even if I needed to be in a wheelchair rugged up and attached to the nebuliser, I wanted to be there. After living with this wretched auto-immune disease, my own personal antagonist for so long, it’s not uncommon for me to take it on head-on and tell it in no uncertain terms, that it’s not going to stand in my way. “You are not going to come between my family or what I / we want to achieve. You’re not going to get us”.

Most of the time, we surprisingly win!

I really don’t know how and it actually astonishes me.

“Success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard for twenty-two minutes to make sense of something that most people would give up on after thirty seconds.”
Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

“…educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom examined the lives of some of America’s most accomplished artists, athletes, and scientists. He discovered that drive and determination, not great natural talent, led to their success in their respective fields”- Howard C Cutler.

So, with only days to go, I am improving. Still a bit rattly but by Monday, I will be there with the Mighty Miss cheering her on. Not just because she can sing but because she has such incredible determination and willpower to overcome hurdles and setbacks and have a go.

Of course, in my mind, this is already a victory!

xx Rowena