Monday, July 21, 2008
Old Friends, New Friends and Golf Balls
I was honored to speak to the NTRWA folks on Saturday morning about writing women's fiction. My sister Angie lives in the area and she hauled me around the Dallas area and even sat in on the workshop so that she could "see what I do." (Scary, since I'm not even sure what I do half the time!) What a great group NTRWA is! I had a chance to catch up with my old friend Leanna Ellis (old as in "longtime" not "age!") and see the gorgeous covers for her upcoming books LOOKIN' BACK TEXAS and RUBY SLIPPERS. Check out Le's fun website and read about her wonderful books. I met so many fun and talented people -- Gina, Jen, Angi and too many others to name. One very interesting young woman was visiting NTRWA for the first time. She had moved to the area recently after "retiring" from her career as a police detective in another state, and she plans to draw on her experiences to start a new career writing suspense novels.
Spending time with writers--especially new writers that are so filled with energy and ideas--always revives my enthusiasm for my own writing. I came home more eager than ever to dive back into my Dust Bowl story.
One thing I absolutely loved about the NTRWA group was their ritual of announcing member successes and rejections. Every success was cheered and applauded and every rejection received a unanimous sympathetic, dismayed groan. When you get knocked down, isn't it nice when people that care rally around you, offering hugs and understanding? That's what those groans felt like. And no matter how dejected you might feel, it's difficult not to smile when an entire room of people groan in unison!
I ended my presentation with a story someone sent me that made me think about the importance of keeping my priorities in perspective. I've noticed that sometimes writers have a tough time doing this. Remember -- while writing may be one of your passions--a golf ball -- getting published and/or continuing to publish is only a pebble--or should be. Read on and I hope this will make sense!
The Mayonnaise Jar and 2 Beers
When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 Beers .
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He th en asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous 'yes.'
The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
'Now,' said the professor as the laughter subsided, 'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things---your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions---and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.
The sand is everything else---the small stuff. 'If you put the sand into the jar first,' he continued, 'there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.
'Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first---the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.'
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, 'I'm glad you asked. The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.'