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What’s your Style of Conflict?

Conflict is necessary when writing a story. Tension is the conflict’s little brother. While conflict might be more visible through a friend’s fight, a lover’s betrayal, or a tragic accident, it will keep the reader on edge from one scene to the next as they wonder how it will all come to an end.

If omitted, readers may decide to skip your novel entirely.

The principle of conflict is that it should rise and fall at uneven intervals. Escalation and resolution should occur so that conflict has motion. As a writer, you will want your characters to respond. For example, a woman leaving her husband can not happen without reason. Here, you begin to see how certain factors in story-building affect one another. 

We have to consider the degree of conflict and how that will impact your characters. 

Eventually, as writers, we try to make peace with the characters involved in the conflict. We try to think about their personality traits, their motivations, or their goals. We try to be in our characters’ shoes by considering what they will do. How would my characters respond, or does the conflict change them? The transition could be a bumpy one. 

Similarly, when we conflict with others, we ought to learn to make a truce.

The above applies to our lives. 

A conflict in our day-to-day lives helps us stay alert and, in some cases, grateful. If nothing ever went wrong in our lives, we would never have a chance to grow stronger. On the other hand, life, all rosy, would be so dull, aimless, and bland. A rise and fall at uneven intervals can keep us on guard and allow our intellect to make decisions when we are in a puddle. It’s also a test of our intelligence, which makes us different from any other living species. 

Conflict is the vehicle for change in our society, our personal lives, and at work.

Martin Luther King, Jr., looked at conflict as a means of making positive social change. It is how we handle conflict that we need to consider.

According to the Thomas-Kilmann, Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI), used by human resource (HR) professionals worldwide, there are five major styles of conflict management—collaborating, compromising, avoiding, competing, and accommodating.

Collaborating: 

While working in collaboration with another peer at work, an individual could create concerns and needs. Although partnership could generate creative solutions, foster respect, trust, and build relationships. But it can also lead to competition to create a win-win solution. 

Collaboration is far more powerful than competition. Your body and brain work best when you’re joyful and peaceful, not when you are pushed to the wall.

Compromising: 

People who work as compromisers are willing to sacrifice some of their goals while persuading others to give up theirs. They are ready to walk the extra mile to help maintain the relationship. Although the compromise is not necessarily intended to make all parties happy, to split the difference, game-playing can result in an outcome that is less creative and ideal.

Avoiding

People who use this conflict style deliberately ignore or withdraw from it rather than face it when in such a situation. However, they hope the problem will go away if they lay low by not taking responsibility or being involved. But then avoidance can be destructive if the opposite party perceives that you don’t care enough to engage. The result could be a loss for both parties since the argument could result in angry or hostile outbursts by not dealing with the conflict. 

Competing

People who compete come across as aggressive, confrontational, and can be intimidating. Having a competitive style is mainly to gain power while pressuring a change. However, this style could help in making difficult decisions and can harm relationships beyond repair. 

Accommodating

People who adopt this style of conflict usually keep aside their own needs because they want to keep the peace. Accommodators are cooperative and keep their egos at bay. They wouldn’t mind losing and allowing the other person to win.

Conclusion

How we respond to someone challenging our ideas or questioning our views is an essential aspect of our personality that we would be wise to recognize. At work or within the family, how we engage with others can make the difference between a positive and mutually beneficial relationship or one that is fraught with distrust and frustration.

We might consider this mode as our instinctive reaction to conflict. Knowing our mode can help assess whether we are the right person to engage in a row.

My two cents

By first gaining self-awareness, engagement with others can be more thoughtful and considerate, which is critical in improving one’s work situation and achieving professional objectives. 

Different situations demand different conflict approaches as long as we continue to heal ourselves with any process. 

So, what’s your style of conflict?

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This post comes from Rough Writer Ruchira Khanna

A Biochemist turned writer who gathers inspiration from the society where I write about issues that stalk the mind of the man via tales of fiction.

I blog at Abracabadra which has been featured as “Top Blog” for five years. Many of my write-ups have been published on LifeHack, HubPages to name a few.

I can be found at:

https://www.facebook.com/RuchiraKhanna01

Twitter: @abracabadra01

Instagram: ruchira.khanna

Humor in Writing

I write contemporary fiction genre with themes that revolve around the facts of life.  

Bowled but Not Out (BbNO) revolves around second chances. Often, an individual who has been let down the first time from a dysfunctional relationship will not have the courage to stand up and look out for another opportunity. Despair and discouragement will envelop her. 

“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh; otherwise, they’ll kill you.”

― George Bernard Shaw

That’s when I thought of sprinkling humor in my protagonist’s life, Saru, by using cricket as a metaphor throughout the novel. I have projected Saru to be confident, empathic, funny, and silly at times. She bats away the sarcasm and negativity in the stadium that is her life. 

Humor isn’t easy to define. While you know that comedy is a cognitive and emotional experience that often leads to laughter, you may not know why. 

Why is something funny?

No one knows how to answer that question definitively. Humor is personal, subjective, and biased.

Humor is often the result of surprise. An unexpected action or phrase can be a delightful treat when set up in the right way.

“There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”

― Erma Bombeck

There is a thin line that separates laughter from pain. I embraced some tips to be able to make it an entertaining read.

  1. Mold a protagonist to appear silly. I portrayed her as a die-hard Bollywood fan who would love to sing and dance around trees and even get emotionally charged if someone did a favor for her. This easy-going personality came in handy when I showcased her in a dysfunctional relationship. But then I also tried to have a character support her transition during that period and not give up. 
  2. Compare two lives. One was the protagonist who had entered a dysfunctional relationship, and the other was her co-sister happily married. This contrast helps the reader get a grip on what my protagonist is going through, and it helps generate empathy for her. 
  3. Use metaphors to define her tragedies in addition to happy moments keeps the mood light. I used the terms of cricket to do the above. 

Example: “Go and hit the ball out of the park.” Saru’s dad cheered when they reached their destination. Saru realized that she had received a beamer and was quick to duck figuratively to avoid getting hurt. Her self-pride was bruised, but she continued to glare at the maid’s audacity. 

4. Place a character reader love to hate. That prevents the plot from becoming too spicy and intense.

Example: “Just remember, Saru, the whole world will be watching you.” Mom got comfortable on the dining chair with the rotary phone on her lap.

“What a smart way to encourage your daughter, Sushma!” Her dad scorned his wife then inquired, “What are you doing?”

“I have to inform our relatives, Colonel. How will they know that our Saru is going to be on TV?”

5. Make them laugh when they least expect it. Never set the expectation that you’re about to try to be funny. It’s much easier to be funny unexpectedly. Attempting to be funny is a subtle side effect; humor is a pleasant deviation from an expectation. Then create a scenario where laughter is induced skillfully. 

Example: Saru goes for a TV interview, and things don’t go as planned. But she turns out to be everybody’s favorite towards the end. 

I usually project the mental growth of my characters as they learn from their failures. And in my Bowled but Not Out novel, I project the same. This young lady knows to groom herself to be a confident achiever and strengthen the platform for her daughter and her future. 

The use of simple language, smooth transition of the story plot, humor, relatable and straightforward characters all make this book enjoyable and a must-read by one and all.

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This post comes from Rough Writer Ruchira Khanna

A Biochemist turned writer who gathers inspiration from the society where I write about issues that stalk the mind of the man via tales of fiction.

I blog at Abracabadra which has been featured as “Top Blog” for five years. Many of my write-ups have been published on LifeHack, HubPages to name a few.

I can be found at:

https://www.facebook.com/RuchiraKhanna01

Twitter: @abracabadra01

Who Left the Dang Gate Open

“If you open a gate, you close it. You’re responsible for what happens if you don’t.” These are some of the live-by words my dad instilled in me from as far back as I can remember. They still bounce around the gray matter each time I open a gate – any gate. 

The consequences of not heeding his directive meant taking the heat over a gate being left open and the possibility of animals escaping. Even worse was trying to round up the stock before anyone became aware they were not where they were supposed to be! 

Your wake-up call comes when all you see at the end of the day is one lone herd member grazing. First and foremost, you are the one responsible for making sure you take every opportunity to close the gates. Always! When you are aware of what the repercussions can be, it is up to you to be the responsible landowner.

Keeping the gates closed is a concept that should trickle down through the generations as a learning tool on how we handle our social media posts. The last thing we want is to lose visitors and possibly sales because we have been remiss in performing our due diligence.  Rotating stock in and out of feeding pastures is necessary; however, you need the knowledge to control the gate and where they go. The last thing you want is the herd breaking free before they have filled up on everything you are capable of feeding them.

Blog writing, in my opinion, has to be one of the best ways to show the importance of closing gates to keep control of the herd, a.k.a., your visitors. We have all read about the benefits of sharing links to other information that resonates with your writing, but here is where you need to be on your A-Game. Those links to outside sources can be a nemesis or a feather in your cap. 

The Nemesis—Links that open to outside information might mean your visitors leave your website and don’t come back. Why? Because the gate was not properly secured. 

The Feather—Links to outside information that is properly secured show the reader that you are willing to provide additional material. If the gate is secured correctly, the visitor will wander in the new pasture with a view of the home corral still in their sights. An example of this is the links in my Bio at the bottom of this article. Each should open as independent pages without taking you completely away from this CRCL Quiet Spirits column. 

The goal should be to allow the reader to open links without leaving the original article. As they finish reviewing the material found through the link, the linked page can be closed, and the original piece is still before them. You have not lost this visitor. 

Opening content in a new window is an easy step to keep the herd (a.k.a. visitors) corralled on your land. Platforms offering blogs, in the majority of cases, provide the option to “open in a new window” when setting up a link. If you don’t use this option, I recommend you start. It is something I also use with links within my website. Why? Because I don’t want the visiting herd to get lost on my land and not know how to find their way back. 

The long and the short of all this is: Pay attention to how you add external connections to your work. Having links open in a new window will guarantee most visitors to your website/blog will stay with you when they close the external link. Losing them through an open portal may mean lost sales and followers. 

The concept is much the same for any platform. If you forget to include opening links in new windows, you can go back and edit your work to make the change. Closing the gate after the fact isn’t the best choice, but it is a step in the right direction to keeping the herd where you want them in the future. 

I have created a free downloadable, how-to cheat sheet to help you stay on top of keeping the dang gate closed.

Ann Edall-Robson relies on her heritage to keep her grounded. Reminders of her family’s roots mentor her to where she needs to go. Gifting her with excerpts of a lifestyle she sees slipping away. Snippets shyly materialize in Ann’s writing and photography. She is a lover of life and all things that make us smile. Edall-Robson shares moments others may never get to experience at HorsesWestDAKATAMA™ Country, and Ann Edall-Robson where you can also contact her. Books written by Ann Edall-Robson are available through her website, at Amazon, and various other online locations.

Write to Inspire Yourself

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes, I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can escape the madness, melancholia, and panic fear inherent in a human situation. ~Graham Greene.

I am a classic example of this statement. When arthritis struck me in every joint of my body, the plus side was that I became aware of all the joints that exist. Each step would be as laborious as a chain smoker trying to breathe. The pain was excruciating, and to date, I get the chills. The negative side was I was forced to go into hibernation mode.

However, my infant was being taken care of by my mom, who had traveled from India. At the same time, I had to make an effort to move to nourish myself, in short, to come out of hibernation. 

Weeks turned into months, and I finally decided to quit my corporate job since I had no hope of going back. It was a tough decision, but I decided to take charge of myself. No more blaming fate over it; thus, slowly, but with steady steps, I decided to fight this inflammation off my body while keeping a keen eye on my infant’s milestones in the background. 

This autoimmune disease was my turning point in my life. While the doctors had prescribed me pills to ingest every other hour, I decided to fill myself up with affirmative messages to get my limbs moving. 

 I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn. ~Anne Frank

I started to pen down words since we all know that the society that we live in is filled with negativity. Dialogues from a distance such as, “Oh! How do you manage?” “Gosh! I feel for you.” “You are so young to get this?” 

The above conversations would put me in the ‘Why me?’ stage, and I would get into the loop of never-ending pity. That would incur all sorts of negative emotions and make me take a back step.

Some of the writing:

Life has many phases bestowed upon us. There will be happy while there will be challenges to overcome. Don’t become serious when there are challenges ahead in life; continue to do your part to solve the issue by being sincere. You being diligent, honest will take you miles. But by becoming serious and losing sleep on it will make matters worse. Since the saying goes, “All work and no play make a man all dull and lame.”

You can do it!! This is the mantra we should always be chanting. Man is born to have ups and downs in his life. In this period of life, we go through ups and downs, and we can stay motivated during our down period by chanting the above mantra. Positive thinking helps.

The power of a touch, a small act of caring, can blossom a plant. Life is like a plant. Just as the plant needs water, fertilizer, sunshine, and fresh air, we need to experience the power of a touch, a smile, have a listener beside us, or hear a compliment to keep us blossoming and going every day in our lives. 

Develop a challenge during a crisis. Keeping that attitude will make you confident; to try to overcome the problem, and you will be able to see through the smoky tunnel for light.

 Life is a grindstone, and it will grind us down. We can choose to get polished by the grinding and shine like a jewel, or we could get crushed by the grinding. 

Every minute our body creates a new cell. The cell divides, and a new cell is formed based on the type of energy we have. If we are bickering or complaining, the new cells formed are deformed and can have a derogatory effect on our health in the long run. No matter what the situation is, think positively. No problem can be as big as the kind of cell being produced in your body, which will reward us in the long run with good health. 

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The topic for the write-up would vary on my mood each day. But writing helped; I would go back to it; when fear, anger, pity would encircle me. These words would be gold then and would ground me and help me find light in the dark tunnel. 

Eventually, this kind of pattern became a habit, and today I cannot live without it. My body is quick to retaliate if anything negative encircles around, making me conscious of my breath and thoughts.

Amidst all the chaos and the turmoil of inflammation, I could sense the negative and positive vibes. That also made me recognize that universal energy is supreme; thus, I learned about Reiki and other modalities.

I eventually started penning stories and novels and entered the self-publishing world in 2013. Also, I blog at Abracabadra, which has inspired many because of the mantras attached to each feature. 

My 2 cents

Life is all about twists and turns. This detour in my life made me recognize the passion within, and I am living a fulfilled life.

Mantra for today: Man plans for his future, but only 1% of it gets executed. 99% is what destiny has in store for him. But the choice is yours to either drive it or let it drive you! 

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This post comes from Rough Writer Ruchira Khanna

A Biochemist turned writer who gathers inspiration from the society where I write about issues that stalk the mind of the man via tales of fiction.

I blog at Abracabadra which has been featured as “Top Blog” for five years. Many of my write-ups have been published on LifeHack, HubPages to name a few.

I can be found at:

https://www.facebook.com/RuchiraKhanna01

Twitter: @abracabadra01

Creativity Takes Courage

As defined by Wikipedia, creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible or a physical object. 

Although keeping this creativity to yourself is like a common man doing his chore daily without having the guts for the world to take a peep at what he has created. 

After all, it takes courage to show your creativity. 

A Vibrant World

With billions of permutations and combinations, our genes have created 7.7 billion humans with a unique personality. Sure, there would be some overlaps of likes when random people are put together in a room. But to have 100% compatibility is a no-no. Even soul mates, identical twins would not have that quality, let alone best friends or a married couple.

When people choose to create something with their intellect while allowing their mind to be at rest: a piece that’s as precious as Mona Lisa or Alchemist, the novel or a COVID vaccine or Serenade by Mozart is presented to the world. 

To date, some have admired it, and some don’t. 

How many times have you often second-guessed yourself? Is your mind a swirling storm of contradictions and negativity? And then when you least expect it, your inner critic rears its ugly head, often very loud and mean. You have a fear of judgment that kept you playing small, forcing you to swallow your questions or ideas from one minute to the next?

Creativity is Intelligence having fun.

Albert Einstein

Here is a list of strategies you can put into action, one confident step at a time, when you have created something beautiful and want to showcase it to the world.  

Reframe your superpowers of creativity

You have created beautiful work; is it fair to keep it with you? Don’t you want to give it wings to fly? It’s just like when you give a bird flight; it’ll chirp and spread the music around. That music could be a melody for some, while some would frown upon it. To be able to see a mix of both is what creates a balance on this planet. Reframe your ideology, and embrace all forms of critics that come your way. 

Giving Voice to the Inner Gremlins

We often fuel our inner critic by fear and uncertainty. Our mind creates such useless dialogues within our organ, the brain, that many of us allow our manuscripts to gather dust, and eventually, dust mites eat them away. Our inner dialogue becomes a mash-up of limiting beliefs that keep us playing safe and free of harm. When we humanize our inner gremlins, we appreciate their value and break free of our ability to keep us stuck in the same pattern. 

Replace negative talk with encouraging words.

Connect with people who appreciate your work

The saying that like-minded people will always boost your confidence holds. Connect with them, allow them to beta read your work, take those suggestions, and try to improvise. 

Mind your Mind 

Reflect on your strengths and superpowers, and act with intention as you fine-tune your inner dialogue.

Always remember you’re the driver of your creativity. If you fall prey to your inner critic, you’ll be swirling down the drain endlessly with no chance of seeing the light any time of your life. Take control of the reins. You might hear the horse neigh over it, but you continue to keep those reins pulled. Pull them hard. Do some pep talk that will help dispel the mounting anxiety and uncertainty. The horse within will calm down and will be ready to take that step towards showcasing your work. 

On a personal note: I am a Biochemist turned self-published contemporary fictional writer with eight books. I have no formal training in writing. But I gather inspiration from society and write about issues that stalk a human’s mind while projecting each of my characters’ mental growth. With each book, I grow as a writer as I learn the tricks of writing. Even though my previous book would have the flaw (lack of POV, tell vs. show), I choose to shine a light on what I’ve accomplished in the past.

 Your superpowers are excellent armor and ammunition against that caustic inner voice. 

My two cents

Create what your Intelligence seeks. Your creativity gives you the confidence that serves the wings to fly, to soar high. 

  Life has no limitations, except the ones you make. 

Les Brown

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This post comes from Rough Writer Ruchira Khanna

A Biochemist turned writer who gathers inspiration from the society where I write about issues that stalk the mind of the man via tales of fiction.

I blog at Abracabadra which has been featured as “Top Blog” for five years. Many of my write-ups have been published on LifeHack, HubPages to name a few.

I can be found at:

https://www.facebook.com/RuchiraKhanna01

Twitter: @abracabadra01

Uncluttering the Mind to Be Creative

Creative writing is defined as writing fiction or poetry with imagination and contrasts academic writing. As a creative writer, we imagine our character to gallop over the green pastures or drag his feet in the dry brown desert. To be able to take long firm strides over the mountainous terrains, or glide over the waters like a speed boat.

Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds, you can grow flowers…..or weeds.

But that requires an uncluttered mind where we have neatly piled all our emotions just as we stack clean clothes versus the scattered dirty laundry.

That allows a single-pointed mind, and a writer can be in her character’s shoes and capture just the right kind of emotions.

Writing is like housework. For that, the mind should be tidied up just like our bed every morning before we sit down to write. It should be crystal clear for those cells in that organ to create something extraordinary for our character. If we cannot differentiate between fiction and our real-life, we will end up writing a memoir unknowingly, of course.

If our mind is hungover from yesterday’s dialog between a friend or a relative, our plot would unknowingly revolve around that scenario. We have limited ourselves to our environment and missed out on a classic scene, which our mind dared to explore. Due to the circumstances, it wandered around our troubled spots and penned those down instead.

Mind and Intellect can go hand in hand, but the mind ought to first spruce up to listen to the Intellect.

A mind without thoughts is no mind, but to tidy up our thoughts is the key.

But how do we unclutter that damn mind to begin exploring the unexplored?

Unclutter Mentally and Physically

Meditate

The learned suggest we meditate. Continue to breathe with closed eyes while keeping your mind over your breath. This activity is like rinsing your mind with fresh Oxygen as you continue to breathe, which helps curb the erratic thoughts. Can you imagine how soothing it would be?

The scenario is like the ocean waves crashing on the shore, washing off any footprints left behind by humanity.

Attached is a guided meditation.

 

Journaling

Writing down thoughts can help your mind stop churning and begin to release them. An individual can choose to write what pains her since most of the time, people are aware of their foul mood, but don’t know its reason. Journaling helps to work through current challenges, helping one get rid of mental blocks. As a doctor drains a wound, write out all those toxins on paper, and those words will glow in gold once your heart is lighter. So, find a comfortable spot, grab your pen and paper, and get going. Journaling is meant to be a stream of consciousness activity, so you can choose to set a timer or just free flow.

Some prompts that an individual can choose to write is:

“What makes you feel happy?”

“What is hurting, and why?”

“What do you believe in most?”

“Write a letter to your future self?”

“What is your past that still hurts you?”

“List the things you are grateful for?”

 

Walk

Walks amidst nature can help turn your mind outside and help calm the chaos in mind. It’s just like distracting a child who is throwing tantrums. This activity enables an individual to relax as she continues to take deep breaths while she is striding through the open space. Such walks not only help clear the mind but also help burn some calories. On a side note, it gives many ideas even if you choose to call yourself a plotter or a pantser.

Uncluttering is simple; the only thing needed is having the awareness to do so. Once that is in check, one can shape the character or the plot as your creative bugs allow you to do so without anybody’s interference. You are at liberty to either project your characters’ mental growth or take them to a dark place.

I’ve tried all the three methods above and can vouch for it.

As a writer, I write about issues that stalk the human’s mind via tales of fiction, making my readers tag my work as, “Books that make you ponder.”

My contemporary romance novels and short stories have allowed my readers to go to a beautiful place and take home a message. That has helped them ponder their true nature and enjoy my characters’ growth as they endure through the journey that I have created.

My work can be found at www.ruchirakhanna.com


This post comes from Rough Writer Ruchira Khanna

A Biochemist turned writer who gathers inspiration from the society where I write about issues that stalk the mind of the man via tales of fiction.

I blog at Abracabadra which has been featured as “Top Blog” for four years. Many of my write-ups have been published on LifeHack, HubPages to name a few.

I can be found at:

https://www.facebook.com/RuchiraKhanna01

Twitter: @abracabadra01

T-Shirt by Pete Fanning

The other day I was running errands, going about my business and sweating in the blaze of the midday sun when an older gentleman stopped and looked me over with a smile.

“Good to see a fellow Owl.”

“Oh,” I said, unsure if I’d heard him correctly. It wasn’t until I got in my car and started down the road that it dawned on me. I was wearing my ratty, sweat-patched Temple Basketball t-shirt.

Oh, right.

I love random t-shirts. Always have. As long as I can remember I’ve foraged thrift stores and flea markets, rummaging through estate sales in search of the perfect tee. If it fits and it’s comfortable, I’m wearing it. Family reunions, YMCA staff, at least one Seoul 2003 marathon long sleeve—I’m a regular international man of mystery.

My favorite ones are the colleges: Temple Basketball, Vermont, SUNY Plattsburgh. I get asked all the time, “Did you attend Random College?”

Sometimes I’ll play along, shrug and smile. But the first time it happened I was too shocked to do much of anything.

As a shy, awkward, pimply freshman in high school, I clearly remember one day in the cafeteria. I was waiting in line to pay for lunch, wearing a Duke Blue devils t-shirt. I’m no Duke fan by any means, but back in the nineties I was a big fan of Grant Hill, the superstar freshman on the national championship basketball team. Maybe it was the only clean shirt I had that day. Nonetheless, I never would have remembered any of it had the shirt not attracted the attention of an old assistant coach.

He came hobbling over to me, his gut protruding from his track suit. “Boy, why are you wearing that shirt?

I blushed. My ears went hot. Again, I was painfully timid, self-conscious about my shadow. I spent a lot of time figuring out ways to avoid people, be it slinking through the hallways, hiding in the crowd, or arriving early to class and NEVER volunteering for anything. Ever.

But this was a coach, calling me out in the cafeteria. I was half expecting him to smile, maybe chuckle and spill the punchline. Instead the old man only looked me up and down, shaking his head. I knew he was a football guy, a legend back in the day. And yet, here was this silver-haired old man regarding me like I’d personally insulted him.

He pointed to my chest. “You don’t deserve to wear that shirt. You know that?”

I did not know that. I was fourteen. Today people speak of this man as a mentor, a great coach and motivator. We hear so much about the impact our coaches have on a young person’s life, how they build kids up, make them feel like they can do anything they put their minds to do. Well, it must have been an off day, because according to him I didn’t deserve to wear a shirt with his alma mater on it.

And that was it. He stalked off, still grumbling about a kid wearing a shirt.

Such an insignificant part of his life. And today I know more hard truths about the world. We can’t do anything we put our minds to do. I couldn’t learn quantum physics if you gave me a lifetime to do it. But here I am in my forties, and I can remember with great clarity this moment on some random day this man had on my life. So many times it’s popped into my head and I’ve laughed, wondering just what this great coach saw (or didn’t see) as he wandered into the cafeteria that compelled him to approach and lay clear a kid’s limitations. To tell me what I didn’t deserve.

And hey, I’m not saying he was wrong. Sure enough, I didn’t go to Duke. I followed the path this wise old gruff already knew to be my destiny. I attended community college, only to drop out and go to work at the car wash. After that I cut grass. I cleaned bathrooms. Joke was on me, right?

Perhaps. But what the old ball coach didn’t know—couldn’t have known because I certainly had no idea at the time—was that while I was toiling away, be it waxing cars or push mowing through a haze of grass clippings, I was coming to terms with what I could do.

With every car I washed or lawn I mowed, every mop I pushed, a story spun its way through my mind. And well before I was ready to admit it, when I was without story, skills, or even the first letter on a page, I was dreaming. Dreaming of what I could do.

I read constantly. I cut grass and came home to Steinbeck, Hemingway, Fitzgerald. Richard Wright. From Stephen King to John Grisham, even my mother’s Nicholas Sparks collection wasn’t safe. I loved the smell of the pages, the yellowed rinds of life’s tragedies told in so many different ways. I dreamed of the day it would all work out.

As I moved on in the real world, got a new job and made several dumb decisions, I thought maybe I’d buried the dream. I learned several painful lessons about eviction, debt, consequences, love and loss, while crossing paths with too many colorful characters to count. And just when it seemed nothing would ever work out, my dream would surface with a whisper, having followed me faithfully into whatever hole I’d dug. Even after I’d told it to get lost.

How could I write? I couldn’t even finish community college. Heck, I didn’t even deserve to wear the t-shirt of a college. Think I forgot?

But it was there, fighting to claw its way out. And still, I kept telling myself for years, I couldn’t do it. Why even try?

So I read. I continued to keep journals and write silly things that caught my mind. And then, years later, as I was dealing with personal issues, I was on a walk with my dogs by myself when the voice piped up again.

You’re a writer.

I don’t write.

But you should.

I can’t.

But I had nothing to lose. And so I wrote. Short nothings. Then some more. I wrote and it was like scratching an itch that had been nagging me all my life. It wasn’t good writing, but it could be. And what did it matter. I was a writer. I am a writer. I deserve this.

It’s still hard for me to embrace. To open up and put it out there. To speak in front of the class or even believe it’s happened. I’ve had two books published this year, with four more on the way next year. One every three months. You win, Dream.

Am I Hemmingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald? Not even close. I’m just a guy who didn’t deserve to wear a t-shirt.

Pete Fanning is the author of Justice in a Bottle, Runaway Blues, and Bricktown Boys (scheduled to publish in January of 2021). He’s a regular Rough Writer at Carrot Ranch and published in The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology, Vol. 1. You can read more of his writing at Lunch Break Fiction and follow him on Twitter @fatherknwslttle.

Quiet Spirits ~ Open the Gate

Write about what you know.

My initial knee jerk, gut reaction, to that statement was, “No one would be interested in the things that I know.” Followed by, “I can’t write about some of that stuff! People wouldn’t believe half of it.” 

Needless to say, I got past my inner voice with guidance from previous generations, melded with my own experiences and input. I have found writing about what I know is quite enjoyable, even with the hurdles that presented themselves along the way.

I have come across many bumps, frost heaves, and closed gates touring the trails of the four genres that I write in. Yet, the passion to share, and more importantly, preserve the knowledge, pushed me through the shin-tangle, and diversity was born.

Choosing to write in more than one genre occasionally causes me consternation. I think this comes from words pummelled into our brain from those who don’t know us, or what we are capable of. “Find one genre, stick to it, write it well, no cross-contamination, and defiantly no trying to make a name for yourself using more than one genre.” 

Unfortunately, we tend to head these words until we, or perhaps I should say I, finally resolved what works for me. I am not saying it is or isn’t good advice, but these comments proved to be nothing but a frustrating, brick wall challenge for me. Had I allowed myself to adhere to the guidelines of staying in one genre, I might not have bothered to venture as far as I have, into the modern-day literary world. 

There is an old saying that goes something like this, ‘Open the gate and let the horses out if you want to see how they will really perform.’ Well, that about describes me and my creativity to a tee. It took me quite a while to settle within the niche that let me run free with my writing. The realization it was okay to ignore the genre rules made less of an obstacle for me to pen my thoughts. I could now write about everything I love, embrace, and am passionateOld Gate about. I knew all I needed to do was stay true to my brand—something that came easy to me because of my upbringing in ranching country.

While the genre argument was happening in my brain, another mud hole opened up in the road to being published. Notoriety using name identification was certainly not going to happen for me when over thirteen million results of my name, Ann Robson, appear on a search engine. 

I sat looking at a list of books I thought I would write—cookbooks, a collection of my (very) early works, several books to include pictures I had taken, and let’s not forget fiction with some poetry and children’s books thrown in for good measure. How could I write about these varying topics using my plain Jane name? I knew if I was to become remotely successful, garnering a reader following would not be easy; yet somehow, I didn’t care. 

And that’s when the light came on! While I made a list of my first, middle, and last names in as many scenarios as I could think of, the answer became clear. I merely switched out my middle initial/name for my maiden name that starts with the same letter. It made me giddy to think I would include some very important family history in my author’s name. My name was now unique and completely me. The dilemma was over, Ann Edall-Robson would do quite nicely. 

In retrospect, it hasn’t been that long that I have come to terms with the fact that it is okay to write in several genres under the same name. To heck with what ‘they’ say about what I should and shouldn’t be doing. Again, I didn’t care, and it made my job easy—each piece of my published work must somehow intertwine with my brand. 

After eight books in four different genres and more than five decades of various types of writing under my belt, I still walk the trail of uncertainty when I come up with a new book idea and where it might fit in. As a writer, I think it is a good thing that I remove complacency with a jolt of what-if questions before I start a new project, it keeps me focused on what I believe in.

If you are new to this game of writing, my suggestion would be to just write and write lots. Try to write something every day, and don’t stop to edit, just write. After a while, and you get to choose how long, read out loud all of your work in the order you wrote it. You should see a pattern forming. You should see what you are comfortable writing about. Ultimately you might find the genre(s) you are best suited for; and, hopefully, you will get a glimpse at a writing voice growing through your written words.

For those who have always written in one genre, maybe now’s the time to dust off those pieces you have squirrelled away. You know, the ones you didn’t think fit within your current genre. You have already tasted the wide-open spaces, so why not open the gate to a different pasture and explore your options. 

Whether you are an old hand at writing, or a greenhorn, taking the plunge through the gate to write in more than one genre should not be taken lightly. Do your homework. You need to find a common ground in these genres you are about to embark on. A commonality that may need to be justified, or explained to others. Try to remember, your name is not that common ground, but your brand should be. 

 

Do you write in more than one genre?  Do you use more than one pen name? Is either of these something you have thought about doing but have some trepidation about opening that gate?

 

I rely on my heritage to keep me grounded. Reminding me of where I come from. Gifting me with snippets of past life and lives. Providing fuel to include in the writing I do about the lifestyle I see slipping from my grasp, from the world.

The taking pictures thing started forever ago, and when I found I could marry them to the material I have written, and am writing, well, to put it mildly, I think I have a bit of a runaway going on.

I am a lover of life and all things that make us smile. I write and take pictures for the pleasure of being able to share at Morning Muse, HorseWest, and my Blog at AnnEdallRobson.com where you can also contact me.

Being Creative in Balancing Relationships

Man is a social animal, and we need each other for emotional support. The pandemic is the classic example when the world is in lockdown. Many are feeling the brunt of not being able to communicate, hug, and interact with their extended families.

Now, although the immediate family is in the same four walls, emotions are running high as mostly our thoughts and ideas don’t agree.

As a writer, I have observed that my creativity is the lowest at that point. My ego-filled mind and intellect run parallel, just like two railway tracks, and I can’t pen a single word without frowns and disappointment.

I can feel the train of thoughts chug by in my mind with no interaction from the intellect since the track is parallel. As a writer, I see the sunrise and sunset without getting any inspiration to pen since I choose to brood over an argument that happened within my four walls or choose to lament over what my teen did or could have done in his spare time.

Sigh!

But as the weeks ticked by and spending family time amidst board games and movie nights, I realized there is no such thing as winning an argument amidst family.

When you win, you usually don’t win. And when they win, they don’t win. The best outcome is a tie. If you both can walk away equally satisfied—or even similarly dissatisfied—that’s the real challenge. And the real win.

Easier said than to be doing in practical life. I made a few pointers that I eventually embraced to find that inner peace to start my penning.

Be in the moment

That requires the art of being aware of an argument in the first place. I had to be mindful of my surroundings—my thoughts, feelings, and body. And also be conscious of the people around me. Most of our communication is felt or seen before it reaches the verbal realm. Being fully present…is the key.

Stay Present 

I realized I’ve been eluding my teen’s presence. I would do this in subtle and subconscious ways.

Most of the time, we are in a constant state of avoidance. By avoiding, you are telling people in your life that something is more important than them. Going back to the first point…become mindful of their presence will help solve this issue.

Make Time 

Too much to do in the lockdown, but less time. Are you also multi-tasking, like me? Then, how would you become fully present in any conversation?

As Malcolm Forbes said, “Presence is more than just being there.” Being fully present focuses all of your senses on the task or person at hand. Being mindful for a couple of minutes a day and see what you notice.

Since I work from home, multi-tasking was a band-aid solution to fill my void, which became a habit even during the lockdown with family around. I could feel myself becoming overwhelmed. How could I dismantle myself from this over-scheduled and over-committed life for my search for Balance?

Set Boundaries 

Can’t say No to family requests that usually involve cooking their favorite foods could lead to overwhelming emotions that could, after a few weeks, lead to spew of venom. Creating a boundary where each respects their space gives all the privacy and yet the privilege to enjoy each other’s company, is the key.

Energize the Mind-Body

Taking time to exercise is very important. The mind also needs our love and undivided attention every day for a few minutes.

Embrace an unprecedented time

Lately, the news of COVID is that it’s airborne. Now, to embrace the new change of not stepping out without a mask and maintaining that social distance should be the mantra. Again that allows us to be mindful of our actions when in public and be in gratitude to be in good health to venture out in the first place.

All the above steps are tedious, and honestly, there are days when my mind gets exhausted before the physical body. But, aren’t we the intelligent souls here, we can fight out any times. Let’s continue to find that inner peace and be able to continue with our passion…writing.

Quiet Spirits ~ Heritage Traditions

 

I find it unfortunate that so many people in today’s world are not interested in their heritage. Traditions and knowledge passed down through generations, face a continual demise because of them. 

Events, people, stories, and personal memories, whether good or bad, are all triggers. Ramblings of the old ways and days somehow are encouraged to leap to the surface from a hidden memory vault.  A pilgrimage to where? Bits and pieces rendered together by a thread of coherent thoughts. 

Perhaps just logical arguments between possible misconstrued imagination and the actual archived knowledge.

 

I am passionate about preserving western lifestyles and traditions. What is it I do to ensure the information passes to the next generation, and beyond?

You can often find me traveling gravel roads and wandering the land, stopping to take pictures as I go, and capturing moments others may never get to experience. When I come across a familiar scene that evokes an image of yesteryear it’s easy for me to slip back in time and writeWestern Traditions

Finding the unexpected sends a slight shiver that pulses through the body and mind. Words resonate with a visual scene telling of a life that still exists from another era, a reminder of stories told by old-timers and elders in an attempt to keep traditions alive. It was a way for them to teach about their lifestyle while sharing a connection to their past.

Personal experiences and the recollections of our family’s stories make for excellent research data, and I rely on both when I write.

What can I suggest to you about keeping your traditions from evaporating into hearsay?

The process has no need to be elaborate. A simple trek into genealogy will provide a lot of information. It’s as easy as paying attention to the stories your elders tell. Make a habit of recording names, dates, and anecdotes. Their age and mental health might cause some skepticism in their tales, but don’t let that deter you.  Take pictures. Ask about people in old pictures. Nothing has to be carved in stone. For now, it only needs to be documentedBear Springs Cabins

Now for some fun…

I encourage you to write about a tradition from your heritage. It can be one your family follows with a modern twist. It can be one you would like resurrected. It can be one you have used for research in something you have written. The only rule…go where ever the quiet spirit within takes you.

 

 

Keeping the fast disappearing western heritage and traditions alive, in case you haven’t guessed, is one of my passions. And like everything else in life, it isn’t until you can see it sliding away, that you start hanging on for dear life. 

The taking pictures thing started forever ago, and when I found I could marry them to the material I have written, and am writing, well, to put it mildly, I think I have a bit of a runaway going on. 

I am a lover of life and all things that make us smile. I write and take pictures for the pleasure of being able to share at Morning Muse, HorseWest, and my Blog at AnnEdallRobson.com where you can also contact me.