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Wednesday, February 04, 2015

CJ Carmichael: Rise And Shine

Some people wake every morning with a smile on their face, anxious to start the day. Others take a little longer to ease into a wakeful state. But we all need a reason to get out of bed each morning. What is it for you?

Children or pets who need you?

Your job?

A commitment to exercise?

Or maybe just the allure of breakfast and that first cup of coffee?



When you’re self-employed—as I, and many other writers are—the motivation to rise every morning and attack “the work” has to come from within. There is no child that will cry until you start writing, or boss to tap her watch and raise her eyebrows at you.

And sometimes it’s hard.

We work because bills must be paid, but we also want to feel that our labor is fulfilling a larger purpose, whether it’s helping others, keeping the peace, making the world a healthier, cleaner, more educated place.

Throughout my career as a writer I have struggled with the question of whether my stories matter. Will they make a difference to the lives of the people who read them? Perhaps more crucially—will people read them? Stories have no impact if the words lie unseen on the page. If they don’t win prizes—the Pulitzer Prize, the Booker—were they still worth writing?

The one way I can clear my head from these worries, is by heading out to the mountain to hike, ski or snowshoe. Sometimes you have to climb the peaks, to rise above the fog in the valley.


Unfortunately I don’t come home from these treks with new wisdom and insights about the world. But I am refreshed and healthier. I realize that my stories must contain my truth—what I care about and what I believe. Sounds pretty, but what is that, exactly? What matters to me?

Sure, there’s chocolate. Good coffee. And pretty shoes.

More importantly there are people. My family and friends. Neighbors, colleagues, and Molly at the grocery store who always smiles and asks me if I’m having a good day.

I care about my city, and my country. Yes, I worry about the economy. But also, is constant growth sustainable? And is it possible for humans to ever live in peace with one another and the natural world around us?

Turns out there are so many things I care about that making a list isn’t really helpful in deciding what I should write about. I can’t tackle everything.

I’d love to write an epic, world-changing novel. Something that would make the entire literary community shake their heads with awe and wonder. But I don’t know how to do that. So, I start small. I pick a place. A couple of people. A small, fictional world begins to form…

And it turns out that what I really care about are relationships, all the nitty gritty problems that are part of living and loving. I’m fascinated by the good and bad in all of us. And the struggle between these powerful forces.

So, if that’s what I care about, what do I believe in? If you’ve read my books you already know: The power of love and truth to resolve conflicts.

The message is simple, nothing you haven’t heard before. I’ll have to leave the Pulitzer Prize winning literature to others. My stories may be small, but when I receive a review or email from a reader saying they stayed up all night to finish, that they cared—laughed and cried—that the story felt so real, then I know my message may not be original. But it’s something people need to keep hearing.  And believing.

***

I love connecting with my readers and fellow writers. Please tell me what gets you out of bed each morning. I’d really like to know!  One random commenter will be chosen to receive a $10 Starbucks Gift Card.

27 comments:

Laurie G said...

I'm a morning person. I wake up around 5 every morning ready to take on the day.I go on the computer or read. I try to swim an hour from 7-8. If I work I have to go later in the day.

Elisabeth said...

I have young children so if I'm not up before they wake up they'll get me up later on 😊 But I'm a morning person so I always want to wake up early. Love to see the sun rise. That gets me up in the morning.

Lil said...

I am not naturally a morning person but was always motivated to get up and start my day for family and obligations with work. The kids need a boost to get out the door and start their day even now when in high school. And I love my job so rather look forward to flinging myself into the fray.

little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

Lil said...

I am not naturally a morning person but was always motivated to get up and start my day for family and obligations with work. The kids need a boost to get out the door and start their day even now when in high school. And I love my job so rather look forward to flinging myself into the fray.

little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

Carrie E. said...

I'm NOT a morning person, but I love spending time with my husband and kids in the morning, so I'm up every day!

Kerry said...

Not a big morning person, but my son is, then my daughter. My son is usually next to me saying "wake up, wake up, Mommy." Then I get hugs and snuggles. He is 6, so I know that it won't be too much longer he is going to want to snuggle his Mommy...
Thank you for taking the time with your books! You always have me hooked, and I know to have my kindle fully charged when I start one!

Mirjam Leunissen said...

I am a morning person. I have a great job with great colleagues, so I don't mind getting up early. I really love to read your books, so please continue writing them. I also love that some of the writers share their love for other writers, so my TBR list is still growing.

Debra said...

I love your truths and the honesty that shows in your work. And, yes, I'm one of those people who stays up late to finish your books. So, keep on getting up, my friend. We need your books.

Robin Driscoll said...

A good cup of coffee, knowing that I get to spend time with my husband before work and weekends when I can make a good egg breakfast.

CJ Carmichael said...

Laurie I really admire your morning routine!

CJ Carmichael said...

Children & sunshine are great reasons to get out of bed!

CJ Carmichael said...

Lil, I don't love mornings, but like you I always got up to see my kids off to school, even when they were older. It's nice to have the point of connection at the beginning of the day, even if not much is said. :)

CJ Carmichael said...

Great reasons to force yourself out of bed, Carrie!

CJ Carmichael said...

Kerry, my children are in their 20s now. I do miss those early morning snuggles! Thanks so much for being such a supportive reader! It helps me to keep doing what I do. xxx

CJ Carmichael said...

Mirjam, I'm so glad you love your job! I love mine too. Usually. :) I love it even more when I receive sweet compliments from readers like you!

CJ Carmichael said...

Thanks for your support Deb--you are an awesome author yourself and I'll always be making room for your books on my keeper shelf!

CJ Carmichael said...

Finally someone mentions coffee. I thought I was the only one. :)

Janine said...

I get out of bed every morning, every day of the week. It's not only because my cats demand it but I don't want my husband thinking I'm lazy. So, I get up when he does. I would love to sleep really late one day. But the house always needs cleaning and those cats don't like a dirty little box after they have their breakfast.

Di said...

I'm definitely not a morning person, but I'm usually hungry when I wake up and want a good cup of coffee to get the day going.

dstoutholcomb said...

The alarm clock. lol. I have children to send to school and a husband to work. Otherwise, I'd sleep another hour or two in the morning.

Denise

Carol L. said...

It used to be to my responsibility to get up for my husband and 7 kids, school , work etc. Now they are all grown with their own families. I think knowing I don't have to get up takes the thrill out of "just 10 more minutes" lol. But great smelling coffee brewing always does it and the fact that I can't seem to sleep longer then five am.
Carol L
Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

CJ Carmichael said...

Seven kids! You deserve to sleep in now, Carol! :)

CJ Carmichael said...

I use a radio alarm clock...and always set it at least 30 minutes before I have to get up...:)

CJ Carmichael said...

Mike brings a delicious latte to me at my desk most mornings. Mmmmmm!

CJ Carmichael said...

Sounds like you are very disciplined Janine...and that you deserve the occasional "lazy" morning.

Laney4 said...

Let's be honest here. The toilet gets me up first thing in the morning, LOL! Once I'm up, I might as well stay up!
Twice last week I got 8.5 hours of sleep (probably because I've been sick). (Usually I get 5.5-6 and feel groggy all day.) I much prefer feeling wide awake instead. Then I feel like the world is my oyster....

CJ Carmichael said...

***WINNER
Thanks for sharing in the discussion everyone. Kerry is the winner of the $10 Starbucks card.