How writing a novel made me a better person

A lot of personal growth gurus tell you that when you’re trying to be something you tell yourself you are that something to help you achieve your goals. Mind over matter. Fake it until you make it.  Honestly, that’s how I finished a manuscript for a book.

The path to writing a novel has been an interesting one. I have always been a storyteller: I had friends put on versions of fairy tales in my backyard when we were little; I studied theater in high school and college; I was on the school newspapers as a writer, and loved to take creative writing classes. I could give you many more facts to support that I like to tell stories—but I think you get it. The thing is, I just am a storyteller. It has always come naturally, and I love it. I also don’t understand it, can’t explain it, and am not good at owning it. I’m an actress—a damn good one—but its taken me years to be able to say that with conviction. Part of it is that I’ve not had thousands of glittering fans following me, and praise from teachers and critics. Part of it is that my storytelling talent is just as much a part of me as my arm, or my teeth, or my brain—its just there, I have cultivated and kept up its strength, but I don’t know that its really mine to take credit for because I’ve always had it. A creative outlet also helps my survival, so in a way, its like me taking a compliment on breathing….thank you…?

Anyway… the novel I’ve written started as an outlet, a way to breathe. I had a relationship that was very jagged in the way it ended. I needed to figure out a way to deal with my feelings of it, so I started journaling. After a few weeks of hearing myself only complain both on paper and to anyone who would listen, I got so tired of it. My journaling morphed into my writing letters, which morphed into a fictional version of myself writing letters to someone else at the end of a relationship—I felt very Chekovian at the time. From these letters a plot started to emerge about how this woman felt so deeply, and loved this man so deeply, but his depression got in the way. I just felt compelled to keep writing. I wrote on the subway every time I could get the chance. I would write until I fell asleep each night. I would wake up and write while I was making coffee and a few times while brushing my teeth.  Elizabeth Gilbert talks on her website about her thoughts on writing.  I’ve also heard her quoted to say that she sits down and just slogs though the work. I just wrote whenever the muse called, or whenever I could. Liz says on her page: “Your job is only to write your heart out, and let destiny take care of the rest.”  I just kept writing.

6381538651_89ed61b708_b

At this point it was all hand written, and I decided to sit down in front of the computer and see what happened… I had over 80 typed pages. WOW. By this time the muse had a hold of me, and I just kept writing. I started telling people that I was writing—and it was interesting, there were two reactions: 1) people were excited and couldn’t wait to read it, 2) people were inspired by me and were either going to start their own, or dust off the one they had already started and were going to work on their own.

4913826800_8de9d94012_b

The more I told people, the more it became real. The more I became a writer. I sent pages off to friends who read it and couldn’t wait for more. I even started a Facebook page to keep myself honest and update everyone on the progress—because it became my main talking point.


The more I told people, the more it became real.


Life intervened and distracted me—truth be told, I don’t know if I was ready to complete a story then, I was sad, and the story needed a happy beginning. At some point LL and I sat down and decided to launch LiveClareLesley, first as a book, and then as a blog—and that took my writing down a different lane. I moved three times, and my storyteller was quelled by all of the theater I was performing. Then in June of this year I had a brainwave for a play. I told myself that I wasn’t allowed to start on the play until I had finished the novel.

And I did. I sat down, I slogged through it, and now I have a manuscript. I have done the research on self-publishing. I have a Facebook and a following. And now, I’m trying to get this sucker published with a GoFundMe campaign and donate if you can. Please go check it out and I will adore you if you like the book on Facebook, and post my GoFundMe on your own social media!

6217631400_66cbd1c3a0_b

But wait, there’s more! Ok, this blog wasn’t a commercial to help fund my book. Its about owning the talents you have and letting them come to the surface. I did not start out to write a novel, but I arrived at that. I’m proud of myself for continually sitting down to work on it and owning it. Here are some of my suggestions on how to get started:

  • If you feel the need to be creative and don’t know where to start, make a “bucket list” and a separate list of things that inspire you. What of those make you want to take action? Start to follow your inspirations and passions.
  • It sounds silly, but literally take a different route home—I always am happy when I do, because I see something or someone that I wouldn’t have normally.
  • Read. Nothing inspires me more than words and other stories.
  • Go see a play/movie/opera/concert. Get out and get some culture.
  • Just try something. If you feel inspired to write, just start writing. If you want to learn something new, sign up for a class. If you want to dance, go find a place to dance!
  • Remember the beginning is always slow, but you have to just slog through it. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and you’ll get there eventually.
  • Tell your friends and family. Maybe they’ll want to join. Maybe they’ll support, or even better they’ll look at you like you’re crazy and ask why you’re doing it—which will reaffirm your desire to do it! They’ll also keep you honest, and remind you to keep doing it by asking you about your activity!

Maybe you’ll succeed. Maybe you’ll fail. No matter what you’ll try something new and you’ll learn something. I’ve been a reader for as long as I could read. I appreciate books so much more now that I’ve been through the process of writing one. No matter what happens, I’m a better person for having started writing this novel. I’m a better storyteller.

Go visit my Facebook page for The Time Turner,  and visit, donate, and repost my GoFund Me!

–Clare

If you have a comment scroll down past the tags below (or up, if you’re on the main page), or email us at liveclarelesley@gmail.com   We LOVE your feedback!!   Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for DAILY inspiration!

Photo Credits:  Palo (writing on page), Go to the Eye (typewriter keys), Twentyfour Students (keyboard keys).  All photos are from Flikr Creative Commons.

Advertisements

Take a Leap of Faith

I have fallen into most jobs I’ve ever had. My first job was at a very cute coffee shop near my high school. My mother mentioned it seemed like a great place to work after visiting there. Less than two weeks after our visit, I was hired. I don’t even remember interviewing.  My second job, my classmate put my name in for her job at a doctor’s office when she moved to Arizona. Two weeks later, I was a junior in high school and I had a new job making more than I did at the cafe with weekends off.  In college, I turned in applications at an upscale mall. One of those applications, I handed in to Clare, and the next day I interviewed with the manager. The next Monday I was working for the same boutique as Clare. We became good friends and even business partners.

I stayed at that store from 2002-2007 moving up from cashier to store manager at my original store, and was later transferred to another location 50 miles away to manage that one.  I was good at my job, but it wasn’t fulfilling.  I needed a change of scenery. In hindsight, I needed to change careers. I had already discovered Pilates but wasn’t listening to the voice inside my head telling me “go this way.”  Instead, I tried to “fix” things by doing the same job with a different backdrop. Hello Patterns and Change. I still needed to learn something here.

I thought moving cities, locations, new friends a new life was what I needed. I also thought I was waiting for the next promotion to be a regional manager. I kept thinking that if maybe if I just waited a little longer…I’m sure you may know what I mean here. For years, I thought I was “next” in line. In fact, even other managers in the company thought this. It never really occurred to me if I wanted to be “next” or if I just liked the idea of it.

Think back, or maybe think now! Are you in a job that you wanted or that you just got because it was the next step? Jobs are often like relationships and can “happen” to us if we are not present with our own wants and needs. If we are not clear on our goals then someone else will get clear on their goals for us. This was the case for me. While I was “figuring” out my early twenties I wasn’t clear with myself on my goals and I began working very hard for someone else.

While waiting I decided to start training as a Pilates instructor. I thought I would do it as a hobby. Something to keep me busy. As I mentioned back in my Orange County life I had already discovered Pilates. I freaking LOVED it! As an ex athlete, Pilates made me feel like I was back in training again. But this time instead of training for a race I was preparing my body for my own life. I loved how strong it made me feel and I also enjoyed how no matter my mood walking in I always walked out focused, present and invigorated. But, when I moved to LA I struggled to find a teacher I could jive with like I had back in the OC or afford. I went to a training mostly for my own self learning. I knew enough about the body (I went to college originally to become an Athletic Trainer, the dream was to work for the San Diego Chargers) I figured I would just teach myself. A girl on a budget I could save a lot teaching myself.

The thing about callings is that once you’re called you have to answer! If you don’t it’s like a phone that doesn’t stop ringing. You can ignore it, even try to silence it but the call list still shows it’s trying to get a hold of you. Try not answering see where it gets you.

I couldn’t though. I answered it! Except, I tried to conference call—I tried to do both, manage a store and start my Pilates Teaching business. What happened? Well after a couple months of working 7 days a week some days 6am to 8 or 9pm! I needed to hang up the old landline. I just didn’t know how.  My transition from my manager job to full time Pilates extraordinaire was a big deal for me. Many around me tried to give advice. Tried to tell me I cared too much. To just put in my notice and move on with my life. The thing is, I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I was still caring too much about someone else’ goals for me. I was still not fully engaging in my calling. I was on the phone, but I was also talking to the person next to me. Eventually, I was forced to get f’ing on my call and hang up the other. Callings are like that. They are demanding. Selfish. And they should be. It is your calling—what you’re meant to do with your life.

I wish I could say that those on my other call were still part of my journey. They are not. That’s ok, as we all know when someone doesn’t join us on our journey we can take it personally. We shouldn’t though. Now, on my own journey I have worked hard to support those who have to take their own path. In fact, I get excited even through them a party! Today I will encourage anyone who wants it to follow their bliss as soon as they can. Why? Because I took a little too long to admit that I didn’t want to just keep getting promoted. Of course new titles are exciting, more money in my pocket. But, what did any of that matter if I was following someone else’s dream and not my own?

I will never say it’s easy. Actually, it’s probably easier to ignore the call then it is to hang up and answer the new one. I knew what was on the old line. My store manager job was a salaried job with commission. I knew exactly what the minimum I was going to make each month. Security is a big deal. I knew I had health insurance and vacation time. Leaving that for my bliss too a huge leap if faith. Faith in myself and the Universe.

That leap was the best jump I’ve ever had. I’m still flying high 6 years later. The thing is when you start following your bliss, when you answer your calling. You’re rewarded!

How do you answer your call?

Well, turn off all the noise. Yep! Put the distractions away, the apps, gossip magazines, the reality TV shows, your email. Sit still, go for a run or swim, grab a notebook. It’s time to hear what you’ve probably been avoiding. Change is scary, leaps come with fears, what if’s, how’s and unknowns. All those distractions keep you busy avoiding that nagging voice telling you you’re meant for something bigger!

You know deep inside your heart what that is. What if you had zero obstacles keeping you from your calling. Forget money and time and anything or one that is putting doubt in your mind. Take a step in the direction of your dream. It’ll pay off!

As I said it’s not always easy. But wouldn’t it be the greatest to wake up and be excited about what you have on your calendar that day? Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have career love? To have Life/Work balance? (Yes, I wrote LIFE WORK balance.) wouldn’t it just be grand to live your dream, and not someone else’s? Leaving a consistent guaranteed paycheck for a “service job” where I’m paid only when I work was scary. I had and still have bills just like everyone else. I have student loans. I still had to make a certain amount. But, looking back and looking forward no regrets or worries interrupt my call. I am excited for what I know is coming ahead and for what I don’t.

LL

Opportunities

There is a huge theme in the dating world:  Meeting the elusive “One” that you’re meant to spend your life with.  Here is the truth I believe in: Everyone gets a shot, a chance, an opportunity to be with anyone they meet. DO NOT ROLL YOUR EYES AT THIS PAGE! Hear me out:

Recently a letter went around Facebook from “Your Future Mate”. If you haven’t read it, here is the link:    http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5195511 The letter states why “The One” hasn’t found you yet and sites examples like: They are with the wrong one now; they are still hanging on to what they “think” they want; they are not ready for you yet.

That last one might be my more favorite one. It’s also part of my point. Everyday we meet people. We are set up on dates, we swipe right on Tinder (or maybe it’s left or a double tap? I’ve never used it) or search Facebook and other web pages for a connection. We go on dates and make up excuses as to why it “didn’t work:” “They were great but not what I am looking for.” “Too busy” or “just out of a relationship” and or “Not ready for a relationship.”

Well guess what? If we are not our best selves at the time, if we are not “ready” to be vulnerable and let someone into our world. The connection is missed, at least for now. Maybe even for good.  Sometimes, these connections revisit you later in life. Like my most recent “revisit.”

When I was a freshman in college, I was in lust with a junior. He was the Resident Advisor of my friend’s floor in our dorm, and I just had to have him. I would find any reason to go to my friend’s floor during “visiting hours.” I about died when he showed up at my dorm one night. He had to like me back, right? One night around 2am, I walked past the offices below the dorms. There he was. My crush.  Working on a paper. He saw me, got up and met me at the door to chat. I stood there willing with my mind, talking with my eyes, hoping against hope that he would invite me into that office. I know I am aware that had he invited me in, we just would have had sex and we most likely would not have dated. However, in my 18-year-old mind, sex at that moment would be amazing. We liked each other, but we were in a place where we could be caught (Christian school…so definitely not something looked highly upon). Also happened to be the office of the Resident Director (his boss) and the person who makes RA’s enforce the no sex policy (obviously, that made it more enticing).

Instead, none of that happened. No invite, no kissing, no passionate on-top-of-a-desk in an office of the very person who could have kicked us out of school sex. Life went on, semesters passed, and he married another girl.

Then, last week thanks to the wonders of the internet, he found me. Added me as a friend and then called me. Yes, it was lovely to catch up, reminisce. But, when he eluded to us hanging out, hooking up etc…I sat there and knew in my gut the answer was no. In my heart the answer was: No, too bad we didn’t do it 10 years ago. My head’s answer was: he missed his chance.  Back then, he totally could have had me. But, the opportunity passed us (well mostly him).

So, what does my trip down memory lane mean for you? Simple, really. In order for you to be with your true counter-part three things need to happen: you need to know who you are, what you want, and why you need it. Who you are.  What you want.  Why you need it.  When you do, when the opportunity presents itself 1) you will recognize it 2) you will be your best, loved and respected self.  And that amazing person who is right for you will be excited to be part of your life.  If you don’t know these three things, the opportunity will occur anyway, but you will not be ready.  You may miss this chance to be with someone who is equal to your BEST self.

Stop wondering where the “good” ones are.  Instead, start LOVING yourself.  Figure out who you are.  Make yourself the best version of you that you can be. Stop second-guessing yourself and FIND yourself instead.  Currently you might feel like you are missing opportunities.  You probably are because you are not being you.  If you are yourself, these won’t seem like missed opportunities because you’ll know how to field them. When you know who you are, and are your best self, you could meet your partner in crime tomorrow.  It could be something as simple as loving yourself today and going for a latte leads to meeting the right person.

What would that be like to attract exactly what you want and deserve?  Guess what, it’s not a unicorn. “The One” exists but you have to be ready to strike when the iron is hot—which means making sure you’re in the best place to receive it.  We here at Live ClareLesley are going to continually repeat this until you are so tired of hearing it that you’re putting it in to practice: live your life and be the best version of yourself instead of actively seeking out another person to complete you.  “The One” will be a complimentary entity of you, not complete you (sorry, Jerry Maguire).  So, are you ready?

LL