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A writer by predilection, an aunt by blessing and a friend by choice, Shelley has spent many years journaling before sitting down to draft her first novel. She has a B.A. in English discourse and is currently working on her third romantic-suspense, the title of which will be announced soon pending publication. Shelley is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as her RWA state chapter of the Maryland Romance Writers.
"I love story-telling. It's a way to live an experience through the eyes of a character." - Shelley N. Greene

Sunday, March 19, 2017

JULIE, JULIA & SHELLEY


Hello and welcome back!

March is rapidly drawing to a close and the first of April is upon us, which means warmer weather, and for me, a month of daily blogging which is sure to put a jumpstart to my spring.

          I’d announced last post that I’ll be participating in this year’s A-Z BlogChallenge. This is where a group of courageous bloggers commit to posting every day in April (except Sundays), each date corresponding to the 26 letters in the alphabet. There’s an overall theme, and by the end of April, the A-Z of that subject will have been blogged.

          I’d participated in the challenge for the first time in 2012, my theme was writing, and it was a great way to sharpen my blogging skills and to give readers an inside look at an author’s toolbox.

          This year's topic is Scrapbooking, and the month-long endeavor is a challenge.

          I’ve been mentally preparing for weeks now, drafting an outline, and gathering my thoughts. When I’m embarking on a journey (of the mind, body, or spirit), I like to ask for guidance. I believe that there’s connection between all things, and every time I’ve felt lost the Universe always sends me a signal, an omen that points me in the right direction. I call them “Road Signs.”

          My current Road Sign came in the form of a movie. It’s not the first time the Universe has spoken to me this way. One of the basic cable channels has been playing the film JULIE & JULIA on repeat, and I catch myself stopping to watch it often.

          The story is of Julie Powell, a newly relocated resident of New York, in search of an outlet during a gray time in her life. Julie decides to channel her energy into cooking, specifically every recipe in Julia Child’s book MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING over the course of one year.

          Julie’s cooking crusade became the THE JULIE/JULIA PROJECT blog, which grew into a renown internet publication, and later the movie that chronicled both Julie Powell’s and Julia Child’s lives.

          The movie’s themes spoke to me as they parallel my life right now.

          Every person hits a point in their life where they question their existence. “What am I here to do? Am I living that purpose?”

          Julia Child moved to France with her husband in 1948, and in a post-WWII time, she defined herself. Julia went on to become a master in her field and a mass-media instructor, on TV and in her books. Julia Child broke the mold.



          But all of that discovery began with one question:



I think of the expression, “The answer is simple, not EASY.”

          It begins in a deep recesses of your heart and personality.

It asks the infinite question, “What are you passionate about?”

Because if you are to master something, you must be passionate about it.
Julia Child appreciated the taste of finely prepared food. That was the spark for her. It led her to want to learn how those delicacies were prepared.
Julie Powell followed the same route. She got restless, and felt the need to take action.


I’ve got the same attitude- sans the knife wielding.
I’m passionate about writing and scrapbooking, although it does take a bit more than just love for a hobby to be a blogger. Another phrase that the Universe keeps throwing at me is “It takes 10 years to master a skill.”
From what I understand, Julie Powell had cooked prior to starting her year-long blog challenge, but not the decade prior. Julia Child began her education in France, and soon excelled in her field.
By comparison, I’m pretty oblivious to my skillset. I have ten years in the writing department (English degree, a compilation of short stories, and a self-published novel). I have studied formally in a classroom, informally with skilled online groups, and have attended workshops with national writing organizations.
I’ve scrapbooked since 2004, and that is where I think I’m like Julie.
No formal training but real world experimentation has given me a style.
To Rich – if you are reading this. Thank you for the gift of my first album. You saw a talent in me that I did not see myself. The book is where my hobby began. Thank you.

And it’s not so much fear of writing as much as it’s the process. My blog challenge is only 30 days long. Julie Powell’s was 365 days and 524 complicated French recipes. (I honestly don’t want to know how much the ingredients cost, but I shouldn't talk – scrapbooking isn’t cheap either K ). 
            
  I empathized with the struggles Julie went through. After participating in my first A-Z blog challenge, I'll never forget how much energy it took to pull off. Its funny - there are distinct stages, like of acceptance. The first post you’re all gung-ho, raring to go, and nothing is going to stop you. It’s mid-way through that you encounter those exhausted, “Oh God, what did I get myself into?” moments.




I remember the post I isfor Imagery was one that truly drained me. I was past the point where I’d had the posts pre-fabricated, and I’d worked a 10-hour work day at the day job. The whole thing is essentially a 612 word love letter to my bed, which admittedly, is not my literary best, but educational nonetheless.


Then, enviably, you’ll have one post that unexpectedly wins the popular vote. For my writing theme that was O for Onomatopoeia. I was equally tired for this post, but in a more honed mindset. It turned out to be concise, funny, and easy to read. To this day it’s my most read post for all of my blog. It was the point that I'd hit my stride with the daily writing.


The support of other bloggers really plays into the challenge, too. The event is huge with many participants, where all the posts can get overwhelming, but you still have people reading your stuff. Bloggers endorse one another – and even though we’ve been reading and writing and social media-ing all day, we still take time out to read others’ work.


That was another facet that the movie illustrated. Julia Child (according to her biography) had a beloved pen pal named Avis. The two women wrote to one another frequently, and when they finally met in person, it was like kindred spirits.





My critique partner, Sarah, is like my Avis. We actually just celebrated our 7 year friendaversary. A fellow writer, blogger, and confidante, Sarah and I connected through an online writing forum and to this day she is my sounding board for so much.


When we first met in person, it really was like how Julia greeted Avis in the movie. Silence and staring until someone speaks and then that wave of recognition. “My darling friend – it’s you. It’s really YOU.”


The online experience is vast, but not as cold as it seems. We live in a digital age, but that culture has much to offer. Using technology, a person can be a teacher, a student or both.





So, please mark your calendars, and check your Facebook, because starting April 1st, I’m going to be talking scrapbooks and how to tell your story using pictures, words, and paper. You're welcome to come watch my peaks and valleys as I embark on this 30-day, crazy blog-a-thon.
I promise no harm will come to any lobsters.


Hope to see you there! <3
-         Shelley




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