The Life List Club: Maiden Voyage Blog Hop

I thought of calling this post “The Life List Club: My Virgin Voyage” but thought that might send the wrong message…

Welcome to Life List Friday! Anne-Mhairi should be making her grand entrance to this blog-hopping party anytime now. I’ll put a margarita in her hand and add her post when she arrives.

In the meantime, if you click on the link below you’ll be transported into the next room of this daisy chain blog-hopping party, which is over at Sonia G. Madeiros’ blog. My inaugural Life List Club post, Show Up For Your Writing will start over there at 8 am California time (and no, that doesn’t mean noon).

Since this is a party, I figure it’s fine to chat and drink for a few minutes while we wait for things to kick into high gear. (I’m waiting for the right moment to jump up and start the table dancing).

Anyway, yesterday I was down in Laguna Beach at the Sawdust Festival and Art-A-Fair (a wonderful day if you’re ever down this way in the summer) with my friend Clair, who is an artist.

She and I talked about two things I thought might interest my writer pals.

#1 – Art is art is art

The process of art is universal. This is not to say that any of us approach it the same way or do the same things but, as Clair and I talked today, it became clear to me that the emotional process of art is the same, whether you are a mixed media artist like Clair, or a writer like so many of us.

To set the scene:

We walked into one artist’s booth with an amazing painting of boats moored at a dock in the ocean. You could practically hear the waves gently lapping at that boat when you stared at that picture.

Clair was transfixed by the water. She must have gazed at it for 20 minutes, walking up until her nose nearly touched the canvas, then backing away and moving right and left to see it from every possible angle.

I heard her muttering to herself, “It’s so simple. Why can’t I get it right?”


Water is Clair’s kryptonite. It’s her perceived Mt. Everest of what stands between her and artistic independence and success.

Every time she tries to paint water, she gets discouraged, leaves the canvas unfinished, hates it, has artistic tantrums. (Sound familiar?) You name it, she’s done it…all in the attempt to draw water as well as she wants to. Great water is the pinnacle to her, and one she despairs of ever reaching.

In the pursuit of her art, it is water that has defeated her every time. For me, it’s been finishing long works of fiction. What is it for you?

#2 – Don’t minimize your talent

In case you haven’t guessed this part of the story yet, Clair has more amazing art in her pinky than most people have in their entire body. Her mosaic tables are stunning; her ceramic tiles to die for. She has a sense of color that makes you want to weep with joy that they created the paintbrush.

But this water thing gets her goat. She does a million arty things really well and still feels like  a failure over her “sucky water.” Why do we so often let that ONE thing defeat our dreams?

She got on my case because, when I refered to her work, I called her a “real artist.”

Clair: “You’re a ‘real’ artist too, you know.”
Me: “Yes, but–.”
Clair: “There’s no ‘Yes, but…’ I’d say your kind of art is MORE important in some ways. I can draw, but you can describe what I draw and get people to come buy it.”

She went on to clean my clock a little further on the subject but you get the gist. The moral of this discussion? Don’t minimize your talents just because you want to be better at one particular thing. Your strengths will outweigh your weak points most of the time if you just trust in them.

Perhaps you are a kick-ass world builder. Maybe you write great sex, or funny jokes. Whatever it is, do it a lot. Celebrate it. All those A+ talents will help you build up the confidence you need to tackle whatever personal kryptonite is keeping you from success.


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About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! My passion is finding those qualities that are unique in every person and every piece of fiction. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm ( Write on!
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30 Responses to The Life List Club: Maiden Voyage Blog Hop

  1. labanan says:

    Got it! Thanks – think my Waterloo (sorry couldn’t resist) is structure. When I don’t get it the way I want – I feel like throwing out the whole 9 years in the making tamale. Yikes. While I ponder that – pour me a drink – sure it’s 8:18 AM here in Nova Scotia – but you know what? It’s been raining for a month and I’d like a drink. Now! Maybe a Bloody Caesar so I don’t feel so evil.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      LOL to “pour me a drink so I don’t feel so evil.” It’s 9 am on the West coast, and I’ve got your drink right here!

      Love the Waterloo analogy. Writing certainly isn’t for sissies. Have you read any books on structure? If you’re more immediate, Kristen Lamb has some great posts on this. Plus, I love Stephen J Cannell’s YouTube videos.

  2. Sherry Isaac says:

    Don’t minimize your talent. It’s a kick in the head, to see it typed so plainly on the screen. And so easy to to exactly that when we receive negative feedback, a rejection, or a low contest score.

    But easier to fix when we strip away the crap and really look at it for what it is.

    Thanks, Jenny!

  3. jessicaaspen says:

    Can you have multiple Waterloos? There are so many things I get self critical about it can get crazy! But I think my main thing (and its a biggie) is plotting. I know if I could plot more in depth ahead of time, my writing would go smoother and faster and the editing would be easier. But I’m still struggling with not knowing what will happen along the way from the inciting incident to the first turning point, and so on. I almost have to write to get there. And that is time consuming and frustrating. I hope it gets better with practice!

    • Jenny Hansen says:


      Do you have a group you can plot with, so you don’t have to do it all yourself? I have an early post called “exercising your What-if muscle” that talks a lot about brainstorming. If you did that ahead of time with the group, and wrote down the results, you’d have that in your head as you wrote.

      What do you think?

  4. Stacy Green says:

    Yeah, I have many Waterloos as well. Like Jessica, plotting ahead of time isn’t my strong point. I have to write to get there as well. I’m working on improving that, but it’s a constant point of irritation.

    • Jenny Hansen says:


      I commented to Jessica about trying group plotting, or the List of 20 to get the ball rolling. I know you’re working on your synopsis…I have friends that use their first synopsis as a plotting device. It makes it more fun for them and helps keep them on track when writing the book.

      Would that help you?

      • Stacy Green says:

        It would probably help me with the book I’m currently plotting, but I don’t know about the finished book. The synopsis I’m working on right now is for that one. I hope to query in a couple of months.

        I don’t know if I could write a synopsis before the book. I’m trying not to be a panster, lol.

        • Jenny Hansen says:

          I’m mostly a pantser too, Stac y. I completely get it. The thing is, if you write the synopsis in advance, it becomes a plotting session. You can then write the book, throw the original synosis out if you deviated and write a new one. But it gives you a cool before and after journey. :-)

        • Stacy Green says:

          Good advice. I’ll give it a try!

  5. wosushi says:

    Don’t minimize your talent. So so true. I’m my own worst enemy so often.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      We ALL are, Amber. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you paint, write or play music. The tendency is to minimize it. The older I get, the more I find that to be such a shame.

  6. Gene Lempp says:

    Hey Jen! Love your message, very upbeat and right at the heart of what makes us successful. Great first LLC post!

  7. hawleywood40 says:

    Welcome to the Life List Club Jenny – so glad to have you on board. It has been a wonderful ride : )!

  8. Thanks. I snorted my tea over the “Virgin Voyage” thing. :D Great points. I know I get hung up on one thing sometimes. Arg! No more. :D

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      That’s so funny, Sonia…I did the same, but with coffee. :-)

      You are such a beautiful writer. I say, just write and don’t give a rip about “the one thing!”

  9. Like everyone else, “don’t minimize your talent” hit me right between the eyes. I always denigrate what I have done, because whatever it is, it doesn’t count. I write kickass medieval studies articles (okay, you can laugh now!), and my short stories haven’t killed anyone yet! Hey, it’s something! Thank you so much for the post!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      See, Nancy? There you go…I would love to read a kickass medieval studies article (and wouldn’t have the foggiest idea how to write one)! I’ll bet your stories are wonderful.

      You’re very welcome. :-)

  10. Fae Rowen says:

    Blog hopping. Another new social media “trick” for this old, well oldish, one to learn. Okay, I’ll bite. Going blog hopping now!

  11. Laura Drake says:

    This is such a recurring theme in life – think about your looks. Everyone has good points (oh come on, you know you do!) and parts they have to minimize. NO ONE gets it all! What I’ve found as I get older though, is that does not matter. Not ONE bit!

    What really matters, is to use what you’re given, and what you DO understand to 100% of your ability. That will take you SO much farther than you think! So Clair makes a quadzillion bucks as an artist – doing desertscapes. or painings of fruit. Or people. How horrifying is that?

    The difference between frustration and happiness is all what you focus on.
    Wow, I’m philisophical for a Friday night! Ohhhhhmmmmm!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Ohhhhmmmmm, is right. You go, Laura (BTFO, as Chuck Wendig would say)!!

      I think it’s all about focus. Focus on your strengths and you get even stronger. Focus on your weaknesses and you get to feeling lik a big loser. I’m just sayin…

  12. Deb Glazier says:

    What an incredible blog. Thanks so much for your insights.
    Debralee Mede

  13. It is so easy to focus on the negative rather than the positive, isn’t it? Here’s a great quote from John Wooden I have taped above my computer:

    “Do not let what you can not do interfere with what you can do.”

  14. The kryptonite we can work on slowly. Kinda like desensitizing ourselves little by little the same way some people used to take poison so and build up little by little so that they could build up resistance against it. :-)

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