Writing is a solitary sport...our opponents are largely unknown and rarely seen. But that doesn't mean that we, as writers, don't compete, because we do. Yes there are awards, cash prizes and accolades to win...and those are very nice but, for me, the biggest and best prize of all is writing a book that I'm proud of! I think competition can be healthy, if kept in check, and that winning can be lots of fun...if you don't let go to your head. For me, though, I enjoy competing with myself. Is the book I'm working on the best work I can do? Is it as good, and hopefully better, than my last book? And, most importantly, am I proud of having my name on the cover? To some, that may not seem like much of a prize, but I can tell you that seeing your name on the cover of a book you wrote gives you a feeling like nothing else. And it's a feeling that will stay with you always...long after those cash prizes have been spent and the luster has worn off the trophies. So, yes, the competition is fierce! Trying to outdo my last effort is what keeps me focused and writing to the best of my ability every single day. My eye is always on the prize...seeing my name on the book and knowing that children will read my words and smile.
As a writer, my goal is to have my books reach as wide an audience as possible. Sometimes I have a little difficulty doing this. There are lots of talented children's authors out there so finding the children that will enjoy my books can be a daunting task. I was discussing theis problem with my mom the the other day and she suggested that I might get some of my books translated in Spanish; thus reaching a new, world-wide audience. It was a brilliant idea, but had one, small flaw...I don't speak Spanish! My mom laughed when I explained the problem to her. Her reply was simple, "Irwin, you're a frog. There are frogs, and thus relatives, all over the world. Why don't you contact your cousin Elena la Rana in Columbia. I'm sure she could help you." And so I did. I sent Elena an email and she answered right away. She wanted very much to help me with the English to Spanish translation and said she's take the next flight to Land of Lily Pad.
Much to my surprise, she arrived late yesterday afternoon and is eager to get started on our joint project. What did I learn from all this? I learned that sometimes the easiest, and simplest, solution to a seeminlygly insurmountable problem can be found right there in front of us. If you don't believe me, ask your mom!
(photo: me and my mom)
I've been doing a lot of reading lately on the subject of happiness. There is actually scientific research being done regarding this subject and what does and does not increase happiness. One of the things that I found most interesting is that a person's environment (and, apparently, a frog's, too) can play a big role in their state of emotional well-being. For instance, if you tidy up your living and/or working space it can boost your level of happiness. And if you introduce just one other pleasant element, such as a scented candle in your favorite fragrance, or a bouquet of flowers, it will boost your happiness level even further. Listening to your favorite music works well, too. These things are so easy to do and, for the most part, pretty inexpensive. I guess I've always known this, on some level, because every Sunday afternoon, I tidy up my lily pad and get my home office ready for Monday morning. Usually, that includes a few flowers in a small vase next to my computer. That little extra pop of color just brightens up the area and makes me want to sit down and write; so when Monday morning finally rolls around, I'm eager to begin my new week in a pretty and clean work space. I hope you have found this information as interesting as I have and that maybe it'll help you to increase your happiness level. And we can use a little more of that in our daily life! Here's to a week of happiness.
Where has the week gone? It seems like just yesterday that it was Monday. There's an old saying, "Time flies when you're having fun." And it sure does. When you love what you do, you don't mind working and that's how I feel about writing. I can think of so many ideas for books but there are just so many hours in the day that I can work. So I keep a list of possible projects...just in case I ever run out of ideas. But that's not very likely! Creativity keeps us young...at least young at heart. Ever watch a child when you give them the a blank piece of paper and a couple of crayons? They instantly turn into an artist. Why? Because it's in the DNA of all humans (and a few frogs and snakes I know) to create. People are endowed with creative minds...but that creativity often gets stifled and put on the back burner. Spending time creating is just for children, they think. Read this and you might change your mind.
As the above aricle states, there are a number of studies that show where there is a "vital relationship between creative expression and healthy aging."
Whatever your plans are for the weekend, be sure to schedule in some time for a creative endeavor. Whether your thing is; painting, writing, arranging flowers, playing music, etc. just go ahead and do it. Let loose and have some fun showing off your creative side . Feel like a kid again! You may not look any younger on the outside, but you'll feel younger and being "young at heart" is so much more important. See you all back on Monday.
I've talked before about happiness and how it can have a profound impact on our health. I was witness to that very thing yesterday and I'm still "gobsmacked" at what happened. A very dear froggy friend of mine has been feeling very low; no spark, so to speak. He didn't wan't to get off the lily pad and do anything; he felt lonely. Even catching bugs was a chore for him. The longer sadness dragged on, the more I saw him fall into ill health. There was a general malaise that couldn't really be explained by any medical tests; aches and pains for no reason, fatigued, irritable etc. I suggested that he find an army of frogs to join that might have similar interests. I was sure that being around others would perk him up. I got a call last night from my friend who said he'd taken my advice and joined a group. At his first meeting, he struck up a conversation with the frog sitting next to him. Turns out that the other frog had be going through some similar eperiences. After the meeting was over, my friend and his new acquaintance went out for a nice cup of tea and conntinued their conversation. They had made plans to meet up again very soon. Well, needless-to-say, the transformation in my friend was amazing. He was full of energy and renewed creativity. He wasn't tired any longer and those mysterious aches and pains? Gone. What my friend needed was somebody to talk to. Somebody to bond with. I should have gone to see him more often but, as you know, I've been pretty busy. But I do plan on being a better friend and keeping in touch more often. Having friends, especially more than one, is so important to our well-being. The lesson I took away from this is: to make a friend, you have to be one. I also learned how the hand of friendship can transform a life; even just saying a simple "Hello. How are you today?" to someone...maybe a stranger...can make them feel so much better. Add to that, a touch on the hand, or a pat on the back, and you could become the miracle worker somebody desperately needs. So, my message today is, go out and be a friend to someone who's lonely. You could very well be the prescription the doctor ordered! (And you'll feel better, too.)
It's official. Fall is here. It's a magical time of year when the leaves turn beautiful colors, the pumpkins are ready for carving, and Halloween is just around the corner. The air is cooler and crisp. The days may be getting shorter, but the weather is glorious and everyone enjoys being outside more. I love fall. I think I do my best writing during this season. For me, it's more of a beginning than Spring. As one of my favorite poet's once wrote, "Autumn, the year's last, loviest smile." Those beautiful words were from William Cullen Bryant and are as true today as they were back in the 19th century. That's the wonderful thing about seasons. The world keeps changing...not always for the better, but we can always count on the seasons to be the same. They're predictable; Winter brings snow and cold; Spring brings warmth and a rebirth of life; Summer is hot and lazy, and Fall, well, I think Mother Nature saved her best and most beautiful for September and October. Happy first day of Fall!
Writers, like everyone, have disappointment; we don't get a publishing contract, shipments of books are delayed, illustrators are slow getting their work done on time...there's a lot that can go wrong when you write. Writing, as in life, is a series of ups and downs. But, I've found, that it's not so much the disappoints that we should judge our success by, but how we learn to deal with things that don't go our way. Can we look at these problems as "gifts"..things that will help us grow and be better at what we do...or will we view them as failures, taking on the "whoa is me" attitude that is so tempting during difficult times? I like to try to learn from my mistakes, my disappointments, and my shortcomings. I ask myself, "What can I learn from them that will make me a better frog and, hopefully, a better writer, too?" The next time that disappoint strikes, instead of sitting on your "pity pot", get up, dust yourself off, and see what amazing things you can learn from the disappointment and turn that little failure into a big opportunity!
Give Whirled Peas a Chance was a popular bumper sticker on human cars a few years back. It is, of course, a play on the words Give World Peace a Chance. Today is the day to do just that; International Day of Peace 2015. Whether you make up with someone after an argument, send a comforting email to one who is experiencing difficulty or, perhaps, just say hello to the checker at the grocery store...you know, the one who looks a litttle weird to you...it's important to mark the day with some random act of kindness. I firmly believe that the world's governments won't bring about peace without each one of us doing our small part to show them that it can and must work. Without our seemingly small, inconsequential daily acts of kindness, what reason do they have to try and make it work on a much larger scale? Human politicians reflect back a lot of what they see happening. I know this is an over-simplification of reality, but I do believe that humans, as individuals, can do great things. And, well, when banded together...anything is possible. And that includes a lasting and permanent "whirled peas." Go out and do something peaceful and joyous today!
Inspiration is a lot like lightening...it can strike anytime, anywhere. It's everywhere and sometimes it's the smallest things that inspire us the most. Like yesterday; I was taking an online class when, out of the blue, a tweet appeared. The tweet wan't to me specifically, it was addressed to the 25,000+ students taking the class, but it had caught my attention. I was inspired to look up the human who sent it and let her know that her message had touched me. After a warm reply, we decided to have a conversation about our shared interest and, perhaps, even collaborate on a project. If I hadn't been inspired by her words, I wouldn't have written and, thus, wouldn't have met a new friend who might also become a work collaborator! Inspiration can be powerful; it starts with just a thought...or one small action...to get the bee buzzing, so to speak. What will inspire you today? Will you take action on it..or let the moment pass? These creative and inspirational moments are what shape our future. All great and good things started with just that minute spark of inspiration. The next time something or someone inspires you, don't be afraid to fail. Just hop right in with both flippers. You'll never know if something will work until you get your feet wet. Who knows? What you say or do might inspire someone else to achieve their dream. And wouldn't that be inspiring!
Happy weekend. I hope to see you all back here on Monday.
Ever say something then wish you hadn't? I think everyone has had that happen. It's not a great feeling when you realize that what you said might have hurt someone or, at least, been misunderstood and taken the wrong way. This can happen when you write, too. You know what you want to say but your reader doesn't always interpret the words in the way you meant. That's way careful editing is so important when you are writing. Have someone else read and proof your work. Is the gammar and spelling correct? Is the meaning clear? What's nice about writing is that you can go back and edit your words; refine them, change them, clarify them. The same cann't be done when you speak, unfortunately. Sure, you can always add, "What I meant was..." but it's a bit too late; the words are alrrady out there floating around in the listener's head. If there's even the slightest possibility that your spoken words will be misunderstood...or you are speaking in anger, pause; pause and mentally edit before you speak. You'll be so glad you did... your audience will be, too. Words spoken in haste are the words that we most deeply regret.
Land of Lily Pad's first published author. I enjoy writing fun and educational books for kids. My blog is for you parents; the kiddos might like some of them, too. As always, everything I write is family-friendly, so don't hesitate to share my messages with everyone. I hope you find them helpful and maybe even inspirational. Cheers!