Saturday, January 31, 2015

Relax! It's the End of the Beginning by Andrea Downing

"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from."  T.S. Eliot

By the time January 31st rolls around, we know all too well we are truly into the New Year and all the resolutions of January 1st are but a fond memory for most of us.  It's about this time I ask myself, 'what's different from last year?'  As Eliot says, the end makes a beginning but the beginning also marks an end.
There's been a lot of discussion recently about writers losing their impetus to write, losing their joy of creating.  Is it a case of the mid-winter blues or was that joy just left behind with the holidays?  At a time when we should be relishing the feeling of it being a brand new year with tons of possibilities, some people carry the problems of the last year into the new and get bogged down.  It's difficult to let go; it's almost impossible to ignore the lurking fear of failure and strike down the voice demanding if you're going anywhere wfith all this work, that last year wasn't the outrageous success you'd envisaged.  We gaze goggle-eyed at the heap of drudgery before us—for writers, it's generally promotion and social media that suck out the life blood of the actual writing—and wonder if we can recreate the day to have twenty-six hours instead of twenty-four.
So let me ask you this, stockbroker or author, inventor or artist:  did you ever wonder why your best ideas come to you just as you're about to drift off to sleep?  Or while sitting back in the tub with that glass of wine?  It's because, quite obviously, you're relaxed!  The two sides of your brain are no longer fighting each other; you're able to let creativity flow.  Creating is rather like giving birth and, don't laugh, but we've all heard the stories of what doctors initially tell couples unable to conceive when there's no evidence that anything is wrong:  take a cruise!  Turn off the phones, get away from the computer and the demands of house and home, and relax.  And then there are those tales of couples who go ahead and adopt only to then find they've conceived.  Why?  Because the angst and worry has been finally taken from them.  When my first book came out, I wrote a blog post comparing the book's creation and publication to giving birth.  Conceiving ideas is not so far from conceiving a child, even if it isn't quite so much fun. 
So.  Don't worry about those forgotten resolutions.  Don't bite your nails over the problems leftover from the previous year/month/week/day.  Grab a glass of wine, sit back, and make a continual new beginning and take things in your stride.  Easier said than done?  Perhaps.  But perhaps the very act of creating is relaxing. After all, it's an escape. Once you start and are focused on what you're doing, everything else disappears into a sort of inconsequential fog.  Try!  That's my advice, and I'm taking it…but I'd like to know how you get your creative juices flowing again and get out of the winter doldrums.  Have you stuck with your resolutions?  And can you relax?!
   Thanks, Roses, for having me.  And Happy New Year everyone.

Blurb for Dances of the Heart:   Successful, workaholic author Carrie Bennett lives through her writing, but can’t succeed at writing a man into her life. Furthermore, her equally successful but cynical daughter, Paige, proves inconsolable after the death of her fianc√©.
Hard-drinking rancher Ray Ryder can find humor in just about anything—except the loss of his oldest son. His younger son, Jake, recently returned from Iraq, now keeps a secret that could shatter his deceased brother’s good name.
On one sultry night in Texas, relationships blossom when the four meet, starting a series of events that move from the dancehalls of Hill Country to the beach parties of East Hampton, and from the penthouses of New York to the backstreets of a Mexican border town. But the hurts of the past are hard to leave behind, especially when old adversaries threaten the fragile ties that bind family to family…and lover to lover. 

 Excerpt:  “You know how to Texas Two-Step?” he asked.
 “No,” she said, laughter just below the surface.
 “Well, sweetheart, you have come to the right place. Or at least got yourself the right man. By the time I finish with you, you’ll be the best dang stepper on the floor.”
 Carrie looked around. “There isn’t anyone else on the floor at the moment, Ray.”
 “Well, heck, I know that. That’s perfect for learning.”
 As soon as his hand closed around hers, the leather of his palm a strange glove over her own fingers, a sudden frisson of connection ran through her she hadn’t known in a very long while. He moved her to face him squarely on, a small smile tipping the edges of his mouth, the dark, impenetrable eyes shining with his captured prize.
 “Just follow me,” he said as his right hand went to her back. A cover of a Vince Gill ballad started, the mournful tune setting a moderate tempo. “Perfect.” He held her right hand high and applied slight pressure to move her backwards. “Fast fast slow slow, fast fast slow slow.”
Carrie felt a light bulb go on. She got it. It was good. It was fun. And she relaxed in his embrace. He was an excellent teacher, a fabulous leader on the dance floor. Would wonders never cease?
 “You’re doing well. You’re doing fine,” he assured her. “We’re gonna try a little promenade now, and then a twirl, so get ready.”
Carrie couldn’t stop herself from smiling, anticipation bubbling for just a second. And then out of the corner of her eye she caught Ty watching them, beer half-raised in salute and a smirk plastered on his face. A moment’s hesitation and she missed the step.
 “What happened there?” asked Ray, oblivious to the effect the on-looker had on her.
Other couples were finally joining them on the dance floor, but despite the company, Carrie’s discomfort increased. “That boy, that Ty,” she told him. “He was watching us. It made me feel…uneasy.”
Ray scanned the sidelines, but Ty had gone, nowhere to be seen. “Oh, don’t pay him any mind. He’s harmless enough.”


Margo Hoornstra said...

Welcome, Andrea. Here at Roses of Prose and TWRP. Excellent advice about beginning and ending. Or is it the other way around? ;-) All the best with your new release.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Margaret. I'm really pleased to be back with the Roses in both places!

Jannine Gallant said...

Yep, sometimes when I'm having writing or editing or promo issues, I force myself to sit back and un-clench. It really does help. Take a deep breath and then get back to work. Best of luck with your new release!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Andy, my friend! Welcome to this blog! What a nice surprise. Your words of wisdom resonated for me. I've noticed that the loops are quiet lately; we seem to be waiting for a surge of energy to move forward and take heart (Valentines February should help). It's natural for us to search for meaning/purpose in our writing, as well as to make it fun/interesting. I constantly need to recenter myself. Thanks for the reminder...February will be better. P.S. Turns out I can't make it to the InD'Tale conference either. If this inaugural event works well, maybe we can get to the next one. Happy New Year to you, too!

Anonymous said...

Jannine, I'm glad to hear you can force yourself to unclench--that's the difficulty, forcing it.

And Rolynn, I sort of wondered if you had pulled out of the conference as didn't see your name on the list of attendees in the last issue of InD'Tale. I'll look forward to seeing you there next year--let's hope it's a good year filled with successes.

Lynda Coker said...

Nice post, Andrea. I'm a big fan of "Grab a glass of wine and make a new beginning." It's like hitting that 'restart' button on the computer.