Going out on submission. Page 1 of a new story. Losing the Marauder’s Map to your muse.

Any of those things inspire fear in your writerly soul or trigger the insta-welt of hives? They do for me. And it’s funny, because the more scary something is—in life, writing, or otherwise—the smaller I want to become. Seriously. I want to collapse all my atomic space and compress to the size of a dime. Then someone can just stick me under the couch cushion where I’ll be safe and snuggly beside a forgotten Cheez-It. (And bonus—there are snacks here!)

But guess what? You can’t shrink yourself. I know because I’ve tried. So now I’m going to suggest something even more soul quaking…

The times you want to be your smallest are ALWAYS the times you need to be your biggest.

Yeah. The universe does this on purpose. I call it a Moxie Check. There are times I’ve failed and times I’ve succeeded. And in the spirit of this, I’d like to share an anecdotal success that led to a failure. Sorta. How’s that for ambiguous? 😉

In 1995, I had just been nominated “Soldier of the Brigade” at the US Army Aviation post where I was stationed in Germany. If I recall, (though, I confess my mind can be a tad Swiss cheesy) the qualifiers had to do with your physical training scores, weaponry skills, and occupational performance. Meaning I was a stellar helicopter refueler. Some girls wore perfume, I wore Fleur de Jet Fuel #8.

Anyway, there were a total of four nominees who would be pitted against each other before a panel of high brass commanders. (Think Hunger Games but with mental carnage.) The commanders would ask rapid-fire questions testing your knowledge of all things military: What is M.O.P. level-3? How do you perform a tourniquet? Plus you’d be asked to execute basic drill movements—About face! Forward march! Then they wouldn’t shout, Halt! Until you ran into a wall.

Needless to say, when the day of competition arrived, I was terrified. Especially when I saw the three male soldiers—massive, focused, and unflinching—I was competing against. And to make matters worse…I was the last to be called into the room. Heh. No pressure.

So there I stood, sweating outside the door and having a shrink-me-to-a-dime-shove-me-under-the-couch-cushion moment. Total Moxie Check. I remember staring at the ugly linoleum and thinking it looked like Rocky Road ice cream. Then trying not to projectile vomit because I was so terrified AND hate Rocky Road ice cream. But I knew, I knew I had to make a huge entrance. That’s when I got the command to knock and wait for permission to enter. *cue hyperventilation* But you know what I did? Even though I felt tiny and scared and insignificant? I dug deep down inside and…

I kicked the door. Three sonic boot booms. Bam. Bam. Bam.

I wish you could’ve seen the looks on their faces when I marched in. Eyebrows buoyed. Mouths gaped. And words were…mumbled. Yet somehow, despite feeling as wiggly as Jell-O during an elephant stampede, I managed to show them my biggest me.

If you’re wondering whether I won the title of Soldier of the Brigade, I didn’t. I lost. But I won a lot of respect that day—from no person higher ranking than myself. Because that was the day I learned bravery has nothing to do with the absence of fear. It’s the grit and determination to surge ahead…in spite of it.

The times you want to be your smallest are ALWAYS the times you need to be your biggest.

I know. That’s a tall order. Which is why you’ll need your biggest you. 😉 Now go kick some ass. The world is waiting.

And if you have a Moxie Check moment, I am all ears!

 Darcy

 

 

Writer's Life
30 Comments

New Orleans is crawfish claws down, one of my FAVORITE cities! It’s one of those places I classify as a World City. Meaning if an alien mothership landed and asked (in a robotic voice, of course) “Where should we go to experience humankind?” I would plug The Big Easy into their sophisticated alien GPS and say, “Go there.”

Why?

It is a cultural melting pot. A mecca of gobsmacking food, people, history, music, traditions, and…well the list is quite endless. So on the heels of my *pauses to tabulate* 4th visit, I decided it was high time to compile a small sampling of my favs. So the aliens or, you know, YOU have some idea of what may tickle your New Orleans fancy should you decide to go. And you should. (Sidebar: dead giveaway you’re a tourist if you pronounce it “New Or-leeeens” it is “New Or-lins” proper or nothing at all.)

Without further ado and in no particular order:

IMG_0407Cafe Du Monde: The ORIGINAL French coffee stand of New Orleans. Yes, it will be crowded. Yes, there will be a nearby street performer playing the sax or some other instrument. And yes, everything will stick to the table from the ridiculous amounts of powdered sugar. But who freaking cares! The beignets and cafe au laits are totally worth it. AND you will be able to cross one more thing off your bucket list :) Just don’t ask me how many I had. I’m pretty sure my arteries are still giving me the finger.

Maison Bourbon: In this humble girl’s opinion, this authentic jazz club is the saving grace of one of the most infamous rues in the French Quarter. It’s unequivocally the pearl among the gelatinous, grey, spring breaky oyster that is Bourbon Street. We were fortunate to catch Philthy Phil & the Philistines during our visit. They were AMAZING! So amazing I kept flailing $5 bills in the air until my husband was like, “Uh, are you going to give away our 401K?” Probably. Because I have a soft spot for talented, under appreciated, starving artists.

IMG_0391

Philthy Phil & the Philistines

http://www.maisonbourbon.com/

Support this fabulous local business dedicated to the “preservation of jazz.”

 

 

Jackson Square: A veritable feast for the eyes. Take a stroll around the park and see locals vending their wares and services. Anything goes–from past life readings and water glass musicians, to dogs playing dead…in a mini casket…in a mini tuxedo. There is something for everyone! And while you’re at it, snag a Muffuletta (regional sandwich delight) from Central Grocery-The Home of the Muffuletta. Then find a patch of grass in the square or by the Old Mississippi and dig in!

Here lies Fido... Total faker.

Here lies Fido… Total faker.

Garden District: If architecture’s your bag, then you’ll definitely want to book a walking tour of this gorgeous section of the city! Or you can do as I do–hop a streetcar to Charles Street and lose yourself amidst these beautiful historic homes and landscapes. BTW, losing myself is something I do on purpose and accidentally in almost every city I visit. This should explain a lot.

 

IMG_0371Mardi Gras World:  If the weather’s uncooperative this is a really fun detour! Learn more about the fascinating tradition of the Mardi Gras parades and check out the HUGE warehouse where all the floats are made (and see artists in the process of creating!).You’ll have a whole new appreciation for the craftsmanship that goes into these roving works of art.

IMG_0382

Just beware of cannibalistic props.

Mardi Gras Parade: In surrounding cities (such as here in Slidell) the parades kick off a couple weeks before the New Orleans parades. So for those wanting a “taste” of Mardi Gras without the astronomical crowds & sky-high prices, this is a great alternative. And looky! You can still get lots of beads!!! Ahem, without resorting to the…flashier currency synonymous with Bourbon. IMG_0429

 

 

 

Nola Restaurant: Okaaay. There are roughly eleventy billion places to have a died-and-gone-to-caloric-heaven dinner in the French Quarter alone. But Emeril’s Nola is consistently one of my top picks for mouthwatering food and impeccable service. Absolute splurge and worth every damn penny. I recently had the GARLIC CRUSTED DRUM fish with wood burning oven roasted ∙ brabant potatoes ∙ crimini mushrooms ∙ bacon ∙ sauce beurre rouge. *passes hanky* Sorry, you were drooling. And for dessert I had to go for the the CRÈME BRÛLÉE TRIO Vanilla Bean with Fresh Berries, Coconut with a Coconut Truffle, Mocha with Chocolate-Almond Biscotti. Mmmmmmmmm. Just…mmmmmmm. Don’t forget to pack the Tums and something with a forgiving waistline. Spanx is not your friend here.

http://www.emerilsrestaurants.com/nola-restaurant

Pat O’brien’s: A visit to NOLA is never complete without a world famous Hurricane. Do not let its benign Kool-Aid appearance fool you. This rum-based drink packs a wallop and has been responsible for certain people making friends with a table of strangers from Baton Rouge. Only to later find herself performing karaoke at the CATS Meow. Or so I hear.

Not Kool-Aid

Not Kool-Aid

This list is but a tiny sliver of all the city has to offer. There are tons of museums (even voodoo ones!) tours, cemetery walks, and much more!

New Orleans is a place that, above all, celebrates the joy of living. And how can you NOT fall in love with that?

So, anything on your Not-to-be-Missed New Orleans List?

 (and beignets) Darcy

Travels, Writer's Life
18 Comments

icestormI once read a factoid that stuck with me. This isn’t unusual. Factoids have a knack for sticking to my brain like annoying wads of gum to a shoe. But I recall it was something to the tune of trees experiencing 70% of their root growth during winter. Now I’m SURE this depends on the tree, zone climate, and a whole lot of other variables that Dendrologists (thank you, Google) could tell you.

But the bottom line is this: Stuff grows even if it looks like it’s not doing anything.

Who in the name of bark cares?! Well…I do. Deeply.

And here’s why:

As writers, we often use our word count as a measuring stick. A way to tangibly gauge whether the BICHOK day is a raging success or a head-hanging failure. *braces self for chorus of Amens* However, I’ve come to realize the inherent danger of this practice. Because for me it’s the writerly equivalent of playing in traffic…at rush hour…on a unicycle. It is a muse kill.

Now, obviously there are word count realities we must self-impose to meet a deadline. I get that. But when the word count becomes your ONLY reality, well, it’s tough not to wither and die on the creative vine.

Because not every success can be measured in words.

Sometimes it’s an epiphany—big or small. That missing puzzle piece that suddenly gives your story/scene more clarity. More depth. More…more. And should that deserve any less rejoicing than the number at the bottom of your computer screen? Please. Just give that a moment to marinate before answering…

THIS is exactly why we as writers (or whatever your creative endeavor) need to give ourselves permission to be the tree in winter. Despite our floundering words or tears over the lack of them.

Stuff grows even if it looks like it’s not doing anything.

Without fail, winter will pass and give way to spring. And all those roots you’ve been so laboriously growing while everyone (including the cat) thought you were hibernating? They’ll finally give rise to the blossoming flower and its subsequent fruit. Glorious, magnificent, word fruit!

They say nature is miraculously complex.

But I say… So is writing.

Honor your nature. Whatever the season.

 Darcy

Writer's Life
43 Comments

So you might have noticed the addition of a bunch of these ‘s. I tossed them around the website like confetti. They were missing from my last site because my theme was devoted entirely to coffee. Which you know, I love, but then Obvious started yelling at me (as she often does)…

DARCY, YOU WRITE ROMANCE!

DARCY, YOU WILL ALWAYS WRITE ROMANCE!

WHY IS YOUR WEBSITE COVERED IN COFFEE BEANS?!

Uhhh. Okay, Obvious, you can stop shouting now. I get it. Unless I’m going to write a story about the love affair of two beans *ponders* then I should probably stick with ‘s. Which are such an excellent companion to my new tagline!

Hope you dig the new look! I do. It’s why the website and I spent the better part of the night spooning each other.

 Darcy

Writer's Life
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I’m guest blogging with my home chapter, Mid-Michigan RWA about my “golden” experience.

Discover my favorite four-letter word, and its instrumental role in my journey to the Golden Heart :) Curious? Check out the link below!

 

http://midmichiganrwa.org/dare-to-dream/

Guest Blog Appearances, Writer's Life
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