Pure Inspiration!~~ Read the Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrman

(c) Max Ehrman 1926

Life is What We Make it By Edgar A. Guest

Life is a jest;
Take the delight of it.
Laughter is best;
Sing through the night of it.
Swiftly the tear
And the hurt and the ache of it
Find us down here;
Life must be what we make of it.

Life is a song;
Dance to the thrill of it.
Grief's hours are long,
And cold is the chill of it.
Joy is man's need;
Let us smile for the sake of it.
This be our creed:
Life must be what we make of it.

Life is a soul;
The virtue and vice of it,
Strife for a goal,
And man's strength is the price of it.
Your life and mine,
The bare bread and the cake of it
End in this line:
Life must be what we make of it.

By Edgar A. Guest

Inspiration for Aspiring Writers & Adventurers: An Interview with Author Alexandra Fuller

I am happy and proud to share a "fresh off the press" interview with one of my favorite authors. Alexandra Fuller was born in England in 1969. She then moved to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) with her family when she was two-years-old. After Rhodesia's war of independence in 1980, her family moved first to Malawi and then Zambia where she met her husband. In 1994, she moved to the United States and  now lives in Wyoming with her husband, two daughters, son, horses, cats and dogs.

Alexandra in Wyoming

Alexandra's books include:

The Legend of Colton H. Bryant (Non-Fiction), Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier(Memoir), and Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood (Memoir).

I was thrilled when I found out that Alexandra was so very willing to participate in a Q&A session with me for several reasons: Firstly, because aspiring writers need sound advice from accomplished writers on how to be bold enough to write and attempt to be published -- secondly, because in my early 20s her book "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight" helped me find the will to stare hurts from my childhood down and attempt to process them. And finally,  my father Wilmer John Engevik had taken a trip to Zimbabwe a couple of years before he died in 1986...Alexandra's words gave me an insiders view of the land in which my father adventured into and of which he shared such fascinating tales.

In my mind Alexandra embodies boldness -- the willingness to place it all on the line so that others may find hope, beauty and truth...

Alexandra Fuller - Author

When did you know you are a writer?

When I was five. My mother was home-schooling me for a couple of years before I went to boarding school.  She loves words and books and writing and Art and she used to have me write "stories" from the adventures of our day out on the horses, or about what happened to the dogs and then illustrate my stories. I loved seeing the words make my stories both permanent and safe - once they were on the page they became exciting, as opposed to terrifying. I also loved watching her read what I wrote, her pleasure if I used a tricky, descriptive passage. Every child wants to please their mother, I think , and writing was one way to get my mother's approval.

How can one be certain that he or she has the skills that it takes to write and be published?

That's a hard question because I don't think I ever take that for granted, even after a few books have been published. I guess I would say that in the past I have had the skill that it takes to write and get published, but I never know, from one morning to the next if that gift is still MINE. The more you write, the more likely it is that you will get published, but I wasn't a good writer at university, and there are plenty of people (myself included, often) who would say that I have a long way to go before I really write well. It's a moving target, like any art. Only very, very few people are natural at this, I would say.

Writing is a solitary act...have you ever found this to be a challenge?

Not really. I love being alone. I spent a lot of my childhood and a huge amount of my adolescence alone or with dogs/horses. In any case, I am never alone for long. I have three children, dogs, horses, cats, friends - sometimes the challenge is to find enough time to be alone. I also usually have the radio on for company, and I can't remember the last day when I truly didn't see another human being.

How did you first enter into writing professionally?

I wrote "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight" after writing ten novels which circled around the same subject (all the novels were veiled accounts of my childhood). All the novels were rejected.  But "Don't Let's Go" got accepted and I was on my way.

Have you ever doubted your writing ability?

At some point every day.

Do you have any suggestions for those struggling with insecurities and fear surrounding a writing project?

Well, I would say that insecurities and fear are part of the process. The trick is working hard enough on your own self (I try to mediate, walk, dig deep and uncover why I am feeling so insecure) to rise above the fear/insecurity arise if I let my ego take over. So much of writing for me is about working on having less ego (zero ego would be best!!) which makes it easier to get out of the way of my work.

How do you select topics for your books? Do you actively search, or do they make themselves known?
Both. I look for stories all the time, but eventually, one will just insist on itself, keep me awake, wake me up, shake me to my core and then I know I have to write it.

In several of your interviews, you have mentioned speaking your truth...in doing so what has it done for you?

I think learning how to be truly "truthful" (which is quite different from brutal honesty which I am sometimes accused of, but I am not sure that's what I am aiming for) makes us awake, aware, alive. It's a less safe place to be socially - most of us tell tiny little lies from the moment we wake up both to ourselves and others - but it's a great place from which  to write. I think/hope it makes the work more universal. All humans recognized "truth" when they see/hear it.

Your love for Africa is so very beautiful...I read that you want to return to live one day. What does Africa represent to you?


On the front flap of your book "The Legend of Colton H. Bryant" it reads: "Colton knew there were a hundred ways to die in Wyoming. That's why he figured there was only one way to live - with all his heart." What does living with all of your heart mean to you?

It means being very alive to every moment. Living in the gorgeous, difficult fatness of every experience. I think most addictions - to Facebook, alcohol, relationships, texting...whatever it is we do to stop from being where we are - are ways to avoid being completely present in every moment. I have found that working on trying to be here, now, has given me a richer tapestry to live in. It doesn't mean there isn't huge amounts of pain sometimes - being awake is an extremely painful process (I really felt this when I was writing 'Colton') but I would rather fully feel the pain so that it comes out in some neurosis or on my deathbed.

Finally, I would like to close with something that Alexandra wrote to me regarding our childhoods -- I think everyone can benefit from her wisdom:

"I think our childhoods swell to take up too much room in the rest of our lives unless we face them - for all their complicated, difficult, double-edged gifts!"

- Post by Jen of Project Be Bold

Don't forget to go out and make bold decisions!