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fiction

The map that’s helping me find my way again.

by Corinne on December 10, 2012

Lately, I’ve had an uneasy feeling. In one word, confused. My little family, my job, my health, all fill me with happiness and ease. I’m not overlooking these blessings–I thank my lucky stars for every one of them. But my writing, the words with my name on them, felt unsteady.

And then on Friday, I got the call. Probably a call that any writer would dread. My agent–a woman who has been my friend, editor, partner and cheerleader over the past three years–wanted to have the talk. And deep down inside, I knew we needed to have it. I’d changed, grown, shifted, and we weren’t on the same page anymore. No hard feelings. No ones fault. But, in the moment, it hurt.

Mostly, I felt lost, embarrassed, and mournful. I knew it was the natural next step and I needed to let go, but my pride was getting in the way. My ego was shouting at me: What will everyone think? You put in all this effort and you failed. You just blogged about how great everything was going. Did you really think you were going to be successful? And at the core of it all: You’re not good enough. Ouch.

I turned to two people who have been there for me every step of the way. My husband gave me a shoulder to cry on and my dear friend and boss, Kris, gave me some good ole advice and perspective. This doesn’t mean I won’t write fiction. It’s not a reflection of the quality of my work. It’s just another stop along the way. Rejection is good! Kris urged me to toast to this shift instead of resisting it. So that evening, after tucking Audrey into bed, I poured a glass of vino and clinked glasses with Steve. Here’s to rejection, I said, and I felt a little better.

But it takes more than 24 hours to move on, even if I was trying my best to keep my chin up. I still felt…off. As always, the universe had already given me exactly what I needed. I’d bought The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte the day before the call. Hello, life line.

Over the past three days, I’ve spent every free moment listening to Danielle read The Desire Map on my iPhone. Chores became pure delight as I washed dishes, mopped, and vacuumed the weekend away to Desire 101. Sunday morning, I printed out the first section of Book Two: The Workbook. While Audrey napped and Steve watched football, I sat on my bed, played The Desire Map’s soulful Spotify playlist and tore through the worksheets.

Three hours swept by. My heart raced. My stomach flip flopped. I felt uncomfortable, daring, hopeful. Clearly, I needed to do this work. And at the end of those three hours, I smiled. I felt lighter. I didn’t have answers, but I had less noise. I just felt present and I knew that I had begun something that would feed me and truly help me lead a happier life.

The Desire Map

I could see my blessings in bright, dazzling lights and I started to feel like I could take a little breather from my fiction. It’s not going anywhere. Maybe now is the time to read more, be present more, take more notes, journal, and just be. Maybe that’s what’s going to bring the best stories out of me. I’ve been writing so fast the past three years–trying to reach goal after goal. Maybe I just need to live. Not to mention the fact that I’m working on a digital book with Kris right now, which fills me with excitement and joy. Maybe that needs my attention at the moment.

For now, I’m doing what feels good. Early morning yoga and writing before the babe wakes up. Focusing on my job and soaking in all the phenomenal opportunities it offers me. Being present while reading Audrey a book or sitting with Steve in our decked out living room while the Yule Log crackles in HD. All of these things feel spacious, infinite and nourishing. That’s where I want to exist.

Here’s to Desire Mapping, new beginnings and letting go.

❤,
Corinne

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You can have it all…well, sorta

by Corinne on November 21, 2012

I’ve really been struggling lately to nurture one of my biggest commitments.

Family and health come first, but how do you prioritize the rest of the stuff? Writing is at the root of my passions. Luckily, my job is one of these passions. At work, I get to write all day long, interact with inspiring people who challenge me everyday, and focus on a mission that resonates in my heart–helping others achieve inner and outer health. I am truly grateful for that.

But there’s another part of me that loves writing fiction. And over the past year, through new motherhood, a new job and a lot of traveling, it hasn’t received the attention I used to be able to give it. And that didn’t feel right. I started to doubt myself. Can I do this? Am I being naive? Is this what I have to accept–that I have to let go of some dreams? Frankly, it was making me feel pretty blue.

Then, I saw Marie Forleo’s interview with Steven Pressfield about his book, Turning Pro. And it’s changed my life in a BIG way. Steven and Marie talk about the difference between pros and amateurs. A pro doesn’t hit the snooze button in the morning when they need to get up and write. A pro takes care of herself because she needs to be in tip-top shape to get her work done. A pro succeeds because she doesn’t give up. Amateurs give up. And I’m not an amateur.

The next morning, I got up at 5AM and wrote for two hours before Audrey woke up. And I’ve done the same ever since, including weekends (I get up at 6AM on Saturday/Sunday). Here’s what this small change has done for me:

I’m taking better care of myself: I start the day with lemon & warm water. I’m only drinking one cup of coffee per day. I’m going to bed earlier. I’m turning off my computer a couple hours before bed because I’ve already done my fiction and freelance writing in the morning. More sleep, more peace, more space for creativity.

I’m more in the moment with my family: I’m not distracted in the evenings because I know I have that sacred morning time to get my writing done. I’m not tuning out with the TV at night. Instead, I’m tuning in with my family at the dinner table, reading stories with Audrey or enjoying a glass of wine with my husband.

I feel passion for my fiction again: Now that I’m investing daily effort into my novel–the love, the drive, and the excitement are all coming back. And that feels really good in my core. Those feelings seep into every other part of my life. Making me a better wife, friend, mom, employee…you get the picture. When you feed your needs, especially the biggies, you have more energy and joy to give everything else you love.

I believe that you can have “it all,” depending on the things that fall into that category. For me, having it all means two simple things:

❤ Trying my best each day to love and care for my family, friends and myself.

❤ Working with people and on projects that are aligned with my beliefs and my passions.

I encourage you to watch Marie’s conversation with Steven and put a new habit into practice that will feed your dreams. Try to stick to it and watch how it transforms your life.

❤,
Corinne

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Anyone can become a solid writer…just don’t expect it to happen overnight.

I learned the fundamentals of writing and editing while working on my college essays with my mother (almost fifteen years ago). She never judged my writing, even though it was terrible at first. Since there was no judgement, I could engage in the process openly, without fear of being scolded or humiliated. This is crucial to working with anyone on their writing.

The way you write is easily tied directly to your intelligence, which makes the act intimidating. If you can find a mentor or teacher who will be kind, encouraging, and thoughtful about your work, hold on tight and learn everything you can from them.

Keys to working with others on your writing:

1. Push through the uncomfortable I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing phase. No one knows how to be a strong writer at first, just suck it up and live through the awkward phase (it will be back to visit you again and again).
2. Listen & smile. You don’t have to agree, but I’ve learned that it is best to receive constructive criticism with grace. You can sort through what you do and don’t want to incorporate into your writing practices later.
3. Give back. Editing is a labor of love. It takes full attention and a great deal of time and energy. Anyone who delivers quality feedback is giving you an invaluable gift. Return the favor as much as possible.

Back to my first turning point (I will always be a student of writing). While working on college essays with my mother, I would take a stab at the piece on my own, print out the document, and give it to her. She would sit at the kitchen table for at least an hour to dissect my draft, red pen in hand. When she gave it back to me, you could barely see the original words. We would walk through her notes together, one by one. It was during those moments at our kitchen table that I built the foundation for every word I would write in the future.

I’d return to the computer with her shorthand notes–squiggly lines, abbreviations, and symbols that she had picked up in law school–to rewrite the piece. We’d repeat this process 5, 10, sometimes 15 more times, until it read effortlessly. Reaching the finished product was exhilarating.

My mother always told me that I was a good writer. Since I knew that she was revered for her writing and editing skills, I was honored by the compliment. Somehow, she could sort through my immature prose and see that I had potential. I believed her. Every time we tackled an essay together, her notes on the page lessened.

I still follow the guidelines that I learned in my late teens during my kitchen table critiques. At first, I felt like a robot, following her notes blindly. But with time and repetition, the editing language became fluent and found its way to my gut.

I experienced the same learning curve when I joined a local writer’s group five years ago. It was my first attempt at fiction and my initial submission was returned covered in notes. I was overwhelmed and embarrassed. I could have left that first meeting and never returned, but I swallowed my pride and took the monthly critiques to heart. Three years later, I landed a literary agent. I’m eternally grateful for the generosity and honesty of that group. Their teachings still influence my writing today.

These lessons have grown roots inside me. Now, when I read and edit someone’s writing, I follow an inner compass. As I sort through and stitch together each sentence, I feel calm and fulfilled. Time is irrelevant. I’m in the zone.

I’m not a grammar guru. I don’t have a degree in English. I wasn’t a book worm as a kid. For all these reasons I used to think that I couldn’t succeed as a writer. Finally, I’ve embraced my own path, even if it doesn’t include formal training and a personal library filled with classic literature. I believe that vulnerability, commitment, and a willingness to listen and learn from your teachers (whether they’re your professor, boss, mother, or fellow writer) are all you need to hone your craft. Just hang in there.

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STAY by Allie Larkin & Query Contest

by Corinne on June 7, 2010

*Contest is closed. Thanks for all the entries! The winner will be announced on Monday, June 21*

STAY by Allie Larkin

I wasn’t surprised when the buzz around STAY began (it is officially released on June 10th). It’s the kind of book you always hope for–the one you can’t put down. The one you stay up until 5AM reading. STAY took me on an unforgettable journey through one woman’s exploration of family, love, and companionship. Every time our heroine Van falters, she brushes herself off and carries on with her head held high, making you root for her even more. As I rationed out the pages of STAY, trying to make the first read last as long as possible, Van and her dog Joe came to life and filled my heart. Returning to its pages was like visiting a dear friend. Even if you’re not a dog lover, you’ll connect with this entertaining and touching adventure, especially if you’ve found joy and love through your darkest moments and come out on the other side as a stronger and wiser person. Check out the book trailer!

Want a chance to receive a query critique from Allie’s literary agent, Rebecca Strauss? Comment on this post, at Allie’s blog, and/or at Wendy’s blog. We are all blessed to have Rebecca as our literary agent! Each comment will count as an entry in the contest. If you’re working on a novel and want to receive invaluable insight into your query and first two pages, Rebecca is your gal. Read on to learn more…

An Agent at McIntosh & Otis, Inc., Rebecca is eager to work with both debut and established authors.  She is looking to add to her list of diverse and compelling projects and is particularly seeking non-fiction, literary and commercial fiction, women’s fiction, mysteries, memoirs, humor and pop culture.  As the Director of Subsidiary Rights, she continues to build on her prior experience with Trident Media Group, as well as her time at Sony Pictures where she was a book scout and development assistant.  Rebecca earned her degree in English Literature from Duke University.

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