Holly Lisle Rocks My Writing World

 

About 4 years ago, I was googling writing things and ran across a lovely lady who didn’t try to blow wind in my sail about the perils and pleasures of writing. At the time, writing about writing wasn’t as common as now, and I didn’t know any local writers, and Lord, I was a prideful creature. After trying to figure out novel writing on my own for about 3 years, which subsequently whittled down my hubris to a mere stub, I went searching on the internet for a guide.

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Her name is Holly Lisle, and I started with her blog. A dim light began illuminating my manuscript. I tried a small plot course. Hallelujah, planning starting making sense. I bought a novel-writing course on a payment plan, How to Think Sideways, and my writing life changed forever.

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The book that I’d been writing bits and pieces of for almost three years, fell to bits, but I knew why, and I did better with the next try. I still pop back to certain lessons when my brain is goo and my stories feel like gooier goo. She’s written over 30 books, so I feel safe in her instructing hands, and she is so good at explaining how and why she does what she does. There are very few strategies that don’t work for me.

Above is a list of Holly’s books, excluding nonfiction. Click on the image to see up close!

I’m writing this because, when I take a course from her, I learn more than I did in my college creative writing course! (Perspective: It was an introductory creative writing course a thousand years ago, but still. I was surprised.)

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It was my first venture investing in learning without a certificate or degree as an end result, and I was so pleased.

All this to say, when I received an email, explaining that there is a Holly Lisle patreon page, I was so happy! Here she is still giving to me continually, and finally I can give something back to her on a regular basis! I don’t have a lot, but she wasn’t asking for a lot. I wish I could hug her and tell her in person how she’s affected my life, but since that could be creepy, I put my conviction in a monthly donation.

I’m not asking you to do so (unless you love her, too); I just wanted to share my excitement! If you want to know more about Holly, I’ll leave some links below.

Holly’s Website: https://hollyswritingclasses.com/

Holly’s Blog: https://hollyswritingclasses.com/blog/

Holly’s Writing Courses: https://hollyswritingclasses.com/shop/

Holly’s Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/hollylisle/posts

Sharing the knowledge, people. Just sharing the knowledge.

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A Word to You Graduates

Hello, Graduates! Congratulations on this crazy awesome milestone and having the guts to jump blindly off this cliff of adolescence into the abyss of adulthood.

Y’all are so brave, and I mean that.

I remember not feeling brave at all when I was a high school graduate, ducking into abandoned hallways or taking the long way to my car, so I could avoid people asking me the question all graduates hear:

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It was always followed by a sardonic laugh, like the person who asked it created the question for the pure joy of seeing me squirm and fish for words.

Ha, haa, huhhh…

Back then, I didn’t know what I wanted my career to be. I didn’t have a lot of talents, or so I thought. I never internalized what my “dream job” would be. Truthfully, the only career options I considered was what I could do that wouldn’t kill me and provide, you know, food.

It never occurred to me to “dream big”, to “search deep”, to “care” about what I should be. The question was so monstrous, so intimidating, I decided that I just wouldn’t “be” anything. That what I would “be” inevitably would pale to whatever dream I could conjure, so I might as well not conjure one at all. Ignorance is bliss and all that.

I was not a confident teen. I was driven by fear-fear lead to procrastination-procrastination to denial. Denial that I even wanted more than what I had allowed myself.

I’ve heard a lot of people blame the world for failures, but I was the worst kind of hypocrite. The world wasn’t my problem. I was my problem. And I had convinced myself that I didn’t need to know myself, that I didn’t need to believe I could be more.

I had been telling myself “NO” long before I donned a cap and gown.

For example, I was waiting tables my senior year of high school, and met a news anchor for the local television station. When the check was delivered, she put her card in the small, black folder and asked me to contact her if I wanted an internship with her.

I was elated. My heart burst forth lighting my path with rainbow dust. The opportunity of interning with her hung before me, a colorful piñata ripe with sweet possibilities. I held the stick. All I had to do was whack the thing open.

I didn’t.

I lived off the good feeling the offer gave me for a year before I realized I’d wasted it.

The phrase “my life will do” took the place of “I love my life” and, my young friends,  “doing” might make you feel good for a moment, but long-term, you want the “loving”.

I settled on a path in college, and didn’t dare question it until my senior year, and by then, I was so close to a degree, I just sucked it up and finished it.

Why did I do this? Why was I so self-destructive?

I’m not a thousand percent sure, but I have an idea that this is part of the reason:

I was asking the wrong question.

It shouldn’t be “WHAT do you want to be when you grow up?”.

It should be “WHO do you want to be?”

To get to that answer, maybe answer a few of these questions could help.

What kind of person do you want to be, inside and out?

What characteristics do you want to embody?

How do you want to affect others?

What about you do you want others to admire?

How do you want to feel at the end of the day?

I don’t want to give you the impression that answering this question is easy. In fact, my answer two years ago is different from the answer I hold in my mind today. It’s an evolving answer as we grow, observe, learn, and change.

BUT the hard work will be worth it.

In my heart of hearts I know if I would have ventured onto this path of self-discovery, my career choice would have been chosen to complement me, rather than an obstacle to overcome. And if I would have stumbled into a career choice that didn’t match my expectations, it would have been okay because at the end of the day, I would have known who I was. I could have recognized when I was in a situation that didn’t honor WHO I wanted to be and I could have made the necessary career changes earlier.

So, WHO do you want to be? WHO do you want your future spouse to fall in love with? WHO do you want your parents or guardians to be proud of? WHO do you want to face in the mirror every morning? WHO do you want your future kids to look up to?

Find that person, BE that person, and the WHAT, WHY, WHERE, and HOW will fall into place.

Cheers, class of 2017! Don’t be afraid to show my generation up!

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