Next Stop on the Blog Hop: Narnia
Recently, a woman I admire greatly approached me about joining a "Blog Hop." Seeing the names of all the amazing writers and artists who had joined, I was honored to be among them. Shocked, too. Honestly. From the amazing artistry and words of Patricia Saxton and the Messy Musings of Bernadette Smith to touching words of Jill Alman-Bernstein, Ella the Rebel and Juliette Mansour! Such amazing women! I was to answer a series of questions about writing and set up a few more stops to the Blog Hop Tour. So, not only will you be travelling with me into my caffeinated writing world, also known as Narnia, you can travel with my talented friends, too! The brilliant Sue Krebs will be your next stop. Please check out all of these blogs as I am sure you will love these talented and inspiring ladies as much as I.
Next Stop: Narnia. Welcome to my world....
Why do I write what I do?
If someone had told me five years ago that I was going to become an inspirational writer, I would have laughed at them. I would have told them that I was far too cynical, jaded and blunt to ever succeed in inspiring anyone. I have always been a call-it-like-I-see-it kind of girl and I tend to not mince words. If something needs saying, I say it.
When my life came splintering apart three years ago and my whole world was in a tailspin, I sat at my kitchen table, steaming mug of coffee in my hands, contemplating my life. I had always used writing, in journals or on scraps of paper, as a way of making sense of the mess in my mind. On a whim I built the Random Thoughts n’ Lotsa Coffee website, added a blog and took the first steps in what would become an amazing journey. I write about life. Real life. It’s not always rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes, life beats you up and kicks you around. It breaks your heart and your spirit. I found who I am carried through in my writing and that people needed what I had to say.
I write the way I do because it is exactly as I am. Straight forward, honest and blunt. I want to show people who are facing the darkest times in their lives that they will make it through. I want to remind people they are strong enough, smart enough and worth it. I found a level to myself I never knew existed, born from harsh life lessons, confronting reality and learning to see myself through to the other side of it all.
How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?
Well, for one, I freely admit I do not hold the secret keys to happiness in my back pocket. I won't ever sit here and say; “I have all the answers!” Because, I don’t. What I am doing, just as everyone else, is figuring it out as I go. With my gritty form of inspirational writing you don’t always walk away from reading something of mine feeling light and fluffy because I make you think, really think. I write things that no one ever says to you, I hold my readers responsible and often times give them a healthy dose of New England common sense. I can’t help it, I’m from Maine. I offer suggestions, I tell stories and I bring my readers into my kitchen with me, offer them a coffee and then get to work figuring out how they can make their lives better. One of the best compliments I have had came from someone who had just finished reading my first book. She said, “The whole time I was reading it felt like you were in the room with me, drinking coffee and talking with me about my life.”
I write about truth, reality and rarely sugarcoat anything. Straightforward and blunt. I find most of my readers find this refreshing, motivating and inspiring. Which to me, was completely unexpected but so exhilarating.
A friend of mine the other day said I was the only one she knew who would “give it to her straight” and how much she had come to appreciate that. I think that is what makes me a bit different. I hold people accountable for their own lives. Not by telling them what to do but by showing them what they can do.
What am I working on/writing?
After taking a brief rest following the release of my second book, The Other Side, I find I am overwhelmed with ideas. My blog is where my random thoughts go. I never know what I am going to write for that until I actually sit down with my coffee and let the words flow from my soul. Sometimes it is just a fragment of a sentence floating around my consciousness that demands to be fleshed out, sometimes it is just a single word that I know once I let the words flow, will come to make sense.
I am working on some bigger projects, as well. Another book, this one a story. I am also working on a coffee table book with photos from Maine accompanied by passages I have written. I have some other ideas and am really thinking about doing on-line videos sometime in the future. I am also on the brainstorming phase of creating classes for women on a wide range of topics.
So many things to do… Must drink more coffee and get to it!
How does my writing process work?
Once I figure this out, I will let you know. Seriously. I don’t really have a process. Words form in my head constantly. I see things while driving down the road that kicks off a thought stream that I must follow through, sometimes song lyrics trigger something inside my mind and off I go. Seeing some situation unfold while grocery shopping, getting gas, walking through the mall – all contribute to “the process.”
I remember one day I was eating a sandwich while sitting on my deck, there was an ant roaming aimlessly all over the table. I decided to feed the ant some of my sandwich because I had a feeling there was a lesson to be had. There was and following my lunch date with the ant, I went upstairs to my writing room (affectionately known as Narnia) and wrote about what the creepy bug had taught me.
See: "Ants, Bacon and Life Lessons"
I take life, break it down, study it and then write about it. I take the past and do the same. I study people, situations and life lessons to see what I can learn. Sometimes, I have to write about them to actually figure it out. Every day is different. My mind never really stops looking, thinking, absorbing and trying to be open to the lessons in every single situation I come upon.
There are a few components to my process though that never change – When I am in Narnia writing, I always have coffee going (sometimes two or three), music in the background, incense burning and a steady supply of DeBeukelaer crème de Pirouline (chocolate-hazelnut rolled wafers) at hand. I have a comfy blue chair that sits in the corner, it was my grandfathers, so if the words get stuck in my head or if I need to meditate on something I want to get out, I sit on this magical blue chair, close my eyes and let my muses fire off the synapses in my brain. If a deep think isn't required, but a quasi-deep think is, I will hold in my hand one of the many stones I have on my writing desk and rub it til the word or thought shakes loose.
I also stare out the windows a lot, though I never really seem to actually see the trees outside, as I am usually lost chasing a thought through the wilds of my mind.
After writing, comes editing. This part of the process is painful and I don't like thinking about it. I also stink at it. Therefore, I have an editor who delights in taking his red pen to my work (he is secretly a sadist) to make me sound like less of a bumbling idiot and more of a grammatical genius. Bumbling idiot may be closer to the truth.
Thank you for hopping along on this Blog Express and stopping by Narnia to hang out with me for a while. I hope you enjoyed your stay and that you will continue on to some of the most inspirational and amazing women artists and writers along the reminder of the blog hop tour. It really is an honor to be among them as their work never fails to inspire me, drive me and make me think more of those random thoughts.
Bernadette Rose Smith
Bernadette Rose Smith is the resident muse of MuseFusions. A writer and artist, she makes marks on paper with words and paint. Strives to be messy and playful. Casts all “shoulds” to the wind. Surrounds herself with artful and literary eye candy. Finds courage in embracing her vulnerability publicly. And, when she makes a real mess, she upcycles, repurposes and takes recreation in her re-creation. Her fidgety fascination with the power of words to heal birthed Enlightened Ink and published “Bernadette’s Pages: An Intimate Crossroad,” a book that journeys through the “I do but he doesn’t” time in her marriage. (Because life’s messy moments are invitations to love.) Bernadette also spends time in people’s homes and closets. (No, she’s not a voyeur or stalker.) She offers a holistic blend of Feng Shui, de-cluttering and organizing through her company, Enlightened Interiors. You’ll find her musing on Facebook and blogging at Musings from the Messy Room. And, you will find her answers to the Writer’s Blog hop here: http://enlightenedink.com/blog
Links to Bernadette:
Bernadette’s Pages: An Intimate Crossroad: http://enlightenedink.com/book
Sue Krebs, Soul Speaking
Passionate about many things, Sue Krebs is a consummate lover of life. Her desire for personal growth has propelled her into many areas of personal exploration and creative expression. She is a master Reiki practitioner and an Akashic Record consultant. She plays with singing bowls and collects crystals. She loves photography and the written word and often combines those talents on her Facebook page Soul Speaking which has grown to include more than 1.7 million followers in just over two years.
Driven to understand herself at a core and authentic level, Sue has always turned to writing to give meaning to her experiences and to bring clarity to her responses. She continues to write both for herself and to share her journey with others. While passionate about writing, she loves even more to connect deeply with others on their own journey of self-exploration and understanding.
Sue lives in a rural area just outside of a major metropolitan area in central Minnesota. She is a wife of 20 years and mom to three teen-aged boys. She spends her some of her spare time reading, gardening and riding her motorcycle. You can connect with Sue through her blog (www.suekrebs.wordpress.com) or her FB page Soul Speaking (www.fb.com/SoulSpeaking).
6/30/2014 03:33:04 am
Everytime i read Jenn Mannings work, im captivated. Im completely lost in another place, a place where i find myself feeling understood, and stronger. My soul absorbs every word as my heart races as my eyes seek out every new word. What a life changer this beautiful and empowering woman she is. XOXO
6/30/2014 07:56:43 am
Your comment brought tears to my eyes!! Thank you much, it was like a soul hug and solid reminder to always dig deep because sometimes I don't know the effect my words have.
6/30/2014 02:04:51 pm
Jenn, you are refreshing ... always. And I so love that we got to blog hop together! By the way, your thoughts are not so random ... just hyper-focused where it matters. I think I may have spotted a few coffee rings in my messy room ... were those yours or mine? Love you, lady! Keep spinning those words! ;)
Wow Jenn! I am so honored to be even mentioned in your beautiful and oh so poignant blog hop post! I love your spunk and straight shooting style, and the randomness of what speaks to you, and your perception and ability to create language that so perfectly expresses whatever it is that catches your spirit and gets mulled over in that big coffee cup of yours!
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