We all want to be happy and yet some of use find it incredibly difficult to be just that. I’m not talking about the occasional moment of happiness but a life where we are happy a lot more often than we aren’t. We imagine that only the rich and famous or maybe the Dalai Lama can achieve such an exalted state but really anyone can do it.
Happiness is much easier to achieve when you practise gratitude every day. Just find five things a day that you are grateful for. Unless you’re doing solitary confinement in Alcatraz I think most of us can find five things to be grateful for. They can be big things like booking a holiday or small things like having hot buttered toast; there are no limits on what you choose because its your list and no-one else can say whether its right or wrong.
Since about September last year I have been learning to play the guitar. I don’t think I’m doing very well but then I never do. But it has struck me how much like writing learning the guitar is.
Firstly, progress is always painfully slow. I sincerely wish I could pick up the guitar one day and play like Hendrix the next but that’s never going to happen. It’s endless hours of practise that improves one’s playing and nothing else. I have heard rumours that if you go down to the crossroads and sell your soul to a tall dark gentleman with horns and a tail, then your ability can drastically improve very quickly but that’s too high a price to pay in my book. But there are so many other things to do in life and so many times when the last thing you feel like doing is writing or practising the guitar.
And when you’re learning anything new is can be so disheartening. As someone who suffers with a lot of self doubt, I never think I’m doing enough or doing it properly. I feel guilty if I don’t practise the same as if I don’t write. At least I have a guitar teacher to give me a small sense of perspective. He’s always a lot more enthusiastic about my playing than I am. But with writing, it’s much harder to get perspective and I’m sure all writers are familiar with the feeling that every thing they write is probably garbage and how they feel they’re probably wasting their time doing this.
However, when a break through does occur and something goes well, the feeling of achievement is monumental. Music, writing and creativity in general is, despite the difficulties and setbacks, such a joy. With the guitar, my aim is to be good enough to be in a band. With the writing, I want to be a successful published author. What I really want is some sort of public vindication. Yes, a best selling novel or a grammy awarded album would be great but what I really want is for people to like what I do. I want my creativity to be appreciated. Surely that’s not too much to ask?
Wrote a first draft of my current novel for NaNoWriMo and it went okay except for the fact that it was way too short! Finished at about 25,000 words which is only half of what I should have. Left it until after Christmas to start the editing process and decided to re-write from the beginning hoping that each time I wrote it, it would come out longer. The first edition was actually only the bare bones of the plot with very little of what the characters were thinking and the action practically took place in a vacuum.
So for this version I’m writing now I’m trying to add a lot more interiors, if you understand what I mean, to the characters and do a lot more description. I thought that one way to add more interior thinking for my main character would be to switch from the third person that I’d written the original in to the first person and then she’d be able to think out loud. Also started writing in the present tense which I wasn’t sure about but decided to go with for now.
Well I got about twelve pages in and lost the present tense which I think is probably a good thing. But I also found myself shifting back to the third person. I did think that the first person wasn’t working out as well as I’d expected. So now I’m back in the past tense and the third person but still ploughing on. I’m full of all the usual worries like “Is this a load of crap?”, “Does this story work?”, “Should I abandon this and switch to another project?” etc, etc, etc.
The good news is that I am keeping up with the page a day challenge that I set myself on the first of January so I have seventeen pages of version two of The Bear In The Woods so far!
Not such a good week as last week I’m afraid. Did my 750 words and worked on my novel The Bear In The Woods every day but I only blogged once and that’s today. Didn’t fit in as much reading as I wanted to nor did I do as much cleaning/de-cluttering as I wanted. Didn’t practise my guitar for two days but I did over forty five minutes of practise today to try and make up for that.
My guitar teacher really likes my new guitar so that was good and he was impressed with the progress I’ve made and joy of joys, he said I have the strumming pattern that I’ve been practising for the last six weeks to the point where it was driving me insane! I can’t play it at the right speed but he said I do play it right and I figure that playing it right is more important than playing it fast. I can learn fast later but better to get it right to begin with.
Bought five new books at Glastonbury on Saturday so they’ve all been added to the To-Be-Read list. And I got another book out of the library! Ordered two more books from the Oldfield Park Bookshop and have to pick them up tomorrow as well!
Another year, another round of ROW. So I have a list of seven daily goals and my goal is to try to do all of them every day but not to hate myself if I don’t manage that. Then every week I shall assess how I’ve done and report back on that.
So my daily goals are
1) Do one page of my W.I.P. every day. So far I’m five for five on that one.
2) Practise guitar. Haven’t done that so far today but I have for the four other days this year.
3) Do 750 words every day either on the computer or longhand. Am five for five on that one too.
4) Blog every day. I have two blogs now. This one and The Queen of Books one so I must have something to say on at least one of them every day, you’d think but this task seems to be the one I have the most trouble with. Only two out of five on that one.
5) Reading. No problem there. Five for five as I would rather read than eat.
6) Cleaning. By this I mean above and beyond what I normally do. Not just the usual cleaning up but deep cleaning and/or decluttering. Managed three out of five so far.
7) Read Mike Young’s book, Kirk’s Landing and write a review on Amazon when I’m finished. I’ve read the first seven chapters.
And finally I’ve chosen my keyword for the year and it is ‘magical’. This will be a magical year for me in every sense of the word. It’s time for me to stop dabbling and really dive into the depths of my magical powers. Look out world!
Gosh I haven’t done one of these in ages! It’s been so long I’ve forgotten what my original goals were! Never mind, that’s a good excuse to come up with new ones. I now have a list of daily tasks which I aim to complete. So far I haven’t had a day where I do all of them but I managed to do most of them. The tasks are:
2) Write at least one page of my WIP
3) Practise my guitar
4) Work on my jungle/garden
5) Do 750 words thing
6) Do one blog post for either of my blogs (I have tow now!)
7) Carry on with all my with assorted reading
Today so far I have done one, three, six and seven. So I don’t think I’m doing too badly. I know full well that I’m not going to do everything every day; as I said I haven’t managed to achieve one day yet where I have done every task but if I’m doing most of them then that must be a good thing.
If I don’t do one task then I try to prioritise that one for the next day. Yesterday I forgot to practise my guitar so I made sure that I did that today.
When I was a young girl I used to go to the library with my mother and she let me take out books on her library card but this one particular library trip when I think I was about eight or nine, she wanted to take out a lot of books and so did I. We were standing at the desk and the librarian was watching us and my mother said to me as I stood there with a stack of books in my arms, “I think you’ll have to put some of those back.”
Understandably my face fell and the watching librarian said to me, “Why don’t you take out a library card of your own and then you can take out all those books?”
I felt like I’d been given the keys to paradise and I remember being really excited. I remember it being one of the most exciting events in my childhood and certainly something I have never regretted.
So what about you? When did you get into libraries?