Wreck This Journal: Two Roads


Throughout Wreck This Journal there are a number of blank pages that serve as spaces for random creativity. While working on a collage for another project, I came across some advertisements in a magazine that inspired my muse to fill one of those pages.

Give me a dirt road and I shall happily travel.

The tree root backdrop came from a National Geographic Traveler, while the letters on this page came from an ad for a car (I think). I simply cut out and rearranged the letters until I got a phrase that made sense.  Then, I finished the thought along the right edge.  I must have had Robert Frost on the brain when I filled this page as it alludes to one of my favorite quotes:

Two roads diverge in a wood and I –

I took the one less traveled by

And that has made all the difference

Recently, I met with a friend who asked me an interesting question about how I came to be confident in who I am (including the weirdness).  Her question took me by surprise and I wasn’t sure how to answer it until I came across the above page in my journal.

The truth is I’ve never considered myself to be an overtly confident person, but rather accepting and content with who I am. I’ve always been a little different and I’ve always embraced the idea of walking a different path.  Even as a child, I knew I didn’t want to blend into the group.  I can distinctly remember thinking how boring it would be if everyone was the same. Perhaps, my “confidence” stems from never being afraid of exploring the unpaved path or one which has no footprints.  After all, the grandest adventures come from daring to go where no one has gone before, (Star Trek wisdom rocks).

Of course, spending a large part of my childhood in the depths of the Northwoods also might have something to do with my attraction to unpaved roads.

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Stay inspired!

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Don’t forget to cast your vote in Poetry Poll #1. So far, “Force of Nature” has the lead, while “The Guardians” is in second.  Thanks so much for your participation!

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c.b.w. 2012

Guest Blogger: Julie Hedlund


When I first started blogging back in April, I had no idea I would connect with so many amazing writers.  Today, I am pleased to host a blog from Julie Hedlund, a writer who truly inspires me with her gumption, creativity, and optimism . . .

First, a big thanks to C.B. for hosting me today.  I only “met” her (in the online sense) a few months ago, but I’ve fallen head over heels with her blog.  It seems like everything I think, she writes.  So it is a pleasure to contribute to the blog in this small way.

Part of why I am here is to spread the word about a story I entered with a children’s e-publisher entitled, A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS.  But it’s been a little over two weeks since the contest began and I’m so tired of listening to myself talk (or write) about it that I don’t want to belabor it more than necessary.  So a quick spiel: finalists will be selected by a combination of individual votes and editorial staff judgment.  I figure the more votes I have, the better my chances of catching the editor’s eye.  So if you would be so kind as to click this link and if you like the story, vote for it. If you feel inclined to share it with your Facebook friends and ask them to vote, so much the better.  Thanks!

Now, that out of the way I want to talk about something else that happened to me this week.  For the past four months, I’ve been participating in a coaching group with Cynthia Morris called The Creative Leap Club.  It’s meant for people who are launching any type of creative venture.

This Monday, we had our final call and I was lamenting that I hadn’t gotten as much done on my CLC project as I had hoped, and I blathered on and on about this contest – how promoting it had taken so much more time than I had expected and yada yada yada.

Cynthia interrupted me and said, “You don’t have to apologize. I think it’s great that you’ve taken a stand for something you’ve written.”  You could replace the word “written” in that sentence with painted, sewed, composed, crafted, drawn, etc.

For a long time, I mulled over those words.  I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing, but Cynthia was right.  I was (and am) taking a stand.

Putting our work out into the world, much less promoting it, is the hardest part about being a writer or any artist.  Each work is like a tiny soul imprint – no matter how irreverent or far removed from our public selves it may seem.  How will the world react?  Will they like it or hate it?  Will they take this piece of my soul and crush it? (By the way, I have gotten NOTHING but positive support and encouragement as I’ve shared this story.  It’s shown me how unfounded many of our fears are.)

But you know, this experience has taught me that taking a stand is just as important as creating.  We don’t need to be published or earning a living from our art to be a “real” writer or artist, but we do need to create it, to believe in it, to nurture it and to praise it when praise is due.  We need to send it out into the world to whatever reception it will meet.  Then we need to sit back down and do it all over again.

Each time you write, you’ve taken a stand.  Each time you submit to an editor or an agent, you’ve taken a stand.  Each time you spread the news about a project you’re working on or have completed, you’ve taken a stand.  Each time you write a blog post about your journey, you’ve taken a stand.  Each time you reach out to help someone else in his or her journey, you’ve taken a stand.  Each time you tell people, out loud, “I am a writer (or artist),” you’ve taken a stand.

So remember the next time you sit down at your desk to create that you’re not taking a seat.  You’re taking a stand.

Julie Hedlund blogs about the writing life (and regular life) at Write Up My Life. She writes picture books, travel articles and personal essays and WILL write a novel one day. When she is not mothering, writing or reading, she enjoys running, hiking, skiing, cooking, yoga, and savoring a great glass of red wine at sunset. She especially likes to do these things while traveling.

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I highly recommend visiting Julie’s blog . . . especially on Sundays.  🙂

I Write Like . . .


Writing can be an arduous process that involves hours of pounding away at a keyboard, planning plots, editing, reading, and fighting the inner critic.  Sometimes you need a little boost to your confidence or just a little chuckle to keep you going.  For just such an occasion I keep a website bookmarked on my toolbar: I Write Like.

The site has a snazzy program that analyzes a written excerpt from a novel, story, blog, etc. and determines which famous author it most resembles. Through statistical analysis, elements such as word choice and sentence structure are compared to the styles of well-known writers.  For example, I copied a segment of my novel draft and pasted it into a box on the site’s homepage.  After a quick click on the analyze button, I found out that I write like Charles Dickens. Yeah, right,  I laughed to myself.  Different pieces of my writing have also been analyzed to be like David Foster Wallace, Margaret Atwood, and Stephanie Meyer.  I’ll admit being compared to Wallace was super exciting as he is an idol of mine, but it’s all relative in the grand scheme of things!

I don’t know how accurate or scientific this whole process is, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t exciting to be compared to Charles Dickens. Though its impossible to pigeonhole artistic expression with statistics, I find “I Write Like” to be a nice distraction when I’m having a difficult writing day.  Of course my goal as a writer is to have a distinct voice that is solely my own, but it’s nice to be “like” a famous author. It gives me a little hope that one day I will taste the sweet victory of publication.

So, who do you write like?

c.b. 2011

My Inner Critic Is Trying To Kill Me


Last week, I finished the third and final draft of my first novel.  After three years of toiling over the characters, the story, and every single word, it was finally done!  My inner critic, however, refuses to let me celebrate.  She reminds me that I have no idea what I’m doing.  Worse still, she can back up that statement by bringing up the three prior false starts that can only be described as epic failures.

I remember how my pulse shot up for a brief moment as I reconfigured the last line one more time. I had only a few seconds of excitement before it all turned surreal.  Now that it was done, what was I supposed to do next?  I could almost hear the witch cackle of my inner critic as she started to toy with my confidence.  The next natural step, of course, is to let people read your work and then brace yourself for the feedback.  In the back of my mind that cruel little voice started whispering,  “It sucks, you know.”  “There are thousands of writers who can write better than you.”  “There are mistakes on every page – stupid mistakes that should not be there.”  “No one wants to read this piece of crap.  What were you thinking?”  “Everyone is going to hate it.”  I wasn’t kidding when I said she was trying to kill me.  She’s mean.

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