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Lines in the Sand

December 14, 2015

Lines in the Sand

I received this link this morning through an online group: Elizabeth Gilbert & Marie Forleo – Fear, Authenticity and Big Magic. Listening to it helped me extend and add some lines in the sand. (Caveat – swearing involved in the video). It is longish but OH SO WORTH IT if you, like me, are struggling with what success means; with self-worth, with achieving. Whether as a writer, artist, musician, business person, parent, spouse, whatever you want to be successful at. It added to my description of success and working through my fears.

Monetizing, Success and Creativity…Do They Have to be Exclusive?

SO much emphasis has been put on monetizing our work as writers lately that I feel it is stifling creativity, at least mine. The part in the interview where Gilbert talks about NOT expecting your creativity to support you ~ that YOU will take the pressure off your creativity and support IT….totally resonated with me.

‘Make money with your writing this way,’ ‘Monetize it this way,’ or ‘ ‘You can’t be a successful writer unless you make money at it.’ Sometimes, I worry SO much about making money with my writing that I don’t write. I just sit and stare at my computer or do ANYTHING else on it than write. Sometimes life just gets in the way and I absolutely don’t have time to write. So does that mean I’m unsuccessful. Earlier this year I would have said yes.

I have been struggling with this lately because I work outside the home, because I have a life commitment that I can’t let go of just yet, because I have been having some small successes that spur me on to wanting bigger success. But do we let others’ definition of success taint our own achievements?

What Does My Sandwich Taste Like?

When Gilbert got up in the morning, for seven years, to be a bar tender, a waitress, or an au pair, she didn’t know that she was going to see her name on the best seller list (‘Eat, Pray, Love’ anyone?). What she did know is that she was willing to eat whatever type of sandwich (just watch the video) was set on her plate in order to write. Writing is what she loved so much for those seven years that her sandwich tasted like other jobs in order to pay bills; in order to allow her the space to be creative.

My sandwich tastes like databases compiled for others, dishes done at my own home; slogging through webinars, blogs and websites – none of them my own, in order to gain some more knowledge; getting back on the writing horse, getting the words out of my head so there’s room for other things. What does your sandwich taste like?

WHAT exactly does my success look like?

Like any writer, I DO want my writing to make money. But is that where my success lies?

Not so much – at least at this season of my life. I’ve come to realize lately that success is when I can sit down at the end of the day, with my glass of bubbly water and lime, relax and truthfully say that I got words down on paper – even though my day was jam packed with life. That I sat down and slogged through some words, good or bad, they are down on paper – or more accurately, up on the computer screen and in some not-so-understood place called computer memory.

My Line in the Sand

So what is my line in the sand? That I put fingers to keys and started pushing them. That I wrote. That is my measure of success right now. THAT is my line in the sand.

Because I have come to realize in recent months that I am writing through an ever-present fear; an incipient fear of success. I am writing through one devastating sentence, said to me when I was in my early 20’s; said in anger and drink stained self-recrimination, by someone I loved. I allowed that one sentence to shape me for too long. (A topic for another blog some day…maybe.) I allowed that sentence to sink in and dig its talons in me; to be fearful of success because someone else had not been successful – in their own eyes.

Pulling Out the Talons

But that fear of success is slowly being replaced by another fear – the talons are being removed…one sharp claw at a time. The fear of success is being replaced in a healthier – at least for me – fear of failure. I don’t want to say, “if only” in my later years. So I’m drawing a line in the sand. I cross that line whenever I write IN SPITE OF the fear. Whenever I write, period; whether it’s going to make me a dime or not. Whether it’s good or not. I cross that line every time that I put fingers to keys to string together letters into words, words into sentences, into paragraphs, pages and a book.

Lines in the Sand - measures of success or fear

Lines in the Sand – sometimes they move

I cross that line every time I work through the fear of what someone else might have once thought of me or what they think of me now. The fear of living down to others’ standards or up to my own. The fear of failure. The fear of success. Of not being good enough. Not making a difference. The fear of not making money after all the time I’ve put in to this venture. And even the fear of making money and having to do it again.

For now, in this season of my life, working through my fear is my line in the sand, my measure of success. Sometimes the line will move BUT the line is there and can be crossed.

Where do you draw YOUR lines in the sand? Are you tentatively putting a toe across one or are you boldly walking right over it? What is YOUR measure of success?

Go find your lines in the sand….
Looking forward to our next visit!

Letter Box

June 18, 2015

Did you ever find an old Letter Box and just couldn’t help diving in to see what was inside? We’re bound to find some surprises here too! In the coming weeks and months I’ll have information about, and interviews with, guest writer’s, bloggers, authors and artists. You never know who might stop by for a visit!

Letter Box


Currently Under Construction

Pencil Box

June 18, 2015

Pencil Box holds pens and pencils. Pens and pencils contain ink and lead. Ink and lead are the ‘magic juice’ of creativity and imagination. Although I, like most writers now days, commit words to paper or screen with computer and printer, those sticks of graphite and ink still hold a special place of imagination igniters in my heart. These are my writings, thoughts and posts.


My first post:

Journey to Here was originally written to be a guest post on another writer’s blog today – June 19, 2015. Unfortunately that didn’t happen but I hope you’ll enjoy reading it here as my first blog post.

Journey to Here x 2

June 17, 2015

Note: This post was originally destined for another writer’s website, with me as her guest today. Unfortunately, health issues have prevented her from continuing her site for the time being. Instead of scrapping the article I had planned to share, I felt it was as good a post as any for the first one. A little of how my journey to here ~ Up in the Attic ~ came to be.


This is copied directly as I submitted the original so it may sound a little ‘wonky’ for my own website, but you’re welcome on the journey with me.

The Question to be answered: How have you seen God work in your writing journey?

Detours and Quiet Directions

by Cathy Rueter

God has worked through my writing journey from the beginning, I just haven’t always been aware of his handiwork. He’s there in the ‘nudges,’ in the ‘something kept me going,’ and in putting people and events in my life to offer help and hope. He has especially been present when the opposition has tried to take a foothold on my journey.

Early on I didn’t consider myself a writer. I was an office administrator and bridal accessories designer. I have always adored reading, liked writing letters, and love words; I dabbled in newsletters for business and church associations but I didn’t just wake up one day and know I wanted to be a writer.

My real journey as a writer started when I was in my late twenties. My husband and I moved halfway across the country with our seven-month old son for a job opportunity. There I was, a relatively new mom, away from family and friends. My husband worked such long, unpredictable hours that I would often take dinner to him so he could eat and play with our son for a few minutes before he went back to work. In short, I was bored out of my skull and looking for something to do in order to use my mind for more than just stacking blocks and figuring out the grocery budget.   2015©PPP_0695_JourneyPost_6_17_15

I had shut down the bridal design business when we relocated. Honestly, I would have liked to continue that line of work – I still enjoy creating the occasional bridal headpiece – but our little apartment didn’t have enough room for all the inventory required. While reading a magazine one day I saw an ad for The Long Ridge Writers Group (LRWG) – Breaking Into Print program. The program was conducted mainly through the mail and was just getting a stronger foothold in the door of teaching the written word.

My first experience with the group was almost my last try at writing. My instructor was someone so opposed to my sensibilities we clashed on paper continually. For one particular story he strongly urged me to, “look for the bizarre or macabre in turning this tale into one with real kick to it.” One recommendation was to change one of the main characters into a vampire – otherwise, in his words, my story was going to be a “nice family treasure” but nothing more. I usually back as far away from confrontation as I can. I was ready to quit. This time however, something (or someone) pushed me to contact LRWG and request a new instructor. I’m glad I did. My new instructor, Carolyn M., critiqued the same story with a very different mindset. She didn’t try to change who I was and what my story was about. That story went on to win honorable mention in a national writing contest, spurred me on to continue my writing, and Carolyn is still in the writing business. Little mention can be found of the other instructor.

My writing life remained in the ‘detour’ mode, including adding another son to our family, another multi-state move, severe childhood health issues, among other things. During each step away from writing, there was still that something or someone redirecting me to continue writing, reading, and studying.

When our kids’ health stabilized, we decided it was time for mom to get out of the house more. A part-time job fit the bill but I needed something that would work around my family’s needs. Through an acquaintance in my local writer’s group I learned of a part-time position for a local reporter. I knew nothing of reporting but I applied and got the job. The editor and I didn’t mesh on many things – I was too ‘Polly Anna’ for him, he was too brash and loud for me – but the job worked around my kid’s schedule so I kept at it. That job was where I began to experience God working strongly in my writing life.

Being a private person I had a hard time getting into other people’s business and I had a particularly difficult time accepting some of the editorial practices, but I needed the job. With a weekly deadline of three to five stories I was at the computer a lot and needed a way to ‘get down to business.’ Without realizing it I began a writing ritual, something a lot of writers do. Mine included a cup of coffee in my favorite mug, donning a specific pair of glasses, and a few moments of silence to try to get out of mommy-mode and ‘center’ my thoughts.

Covering the school district news was fairly easy and fun, as long as it was photographing and writing about the students in eight different buildings (eleven by the time I became editor of the school district newsletter). Covering the local news was often enjoyable – parades, ribbon cuttings, municipal fire-fighter training and community events, even a bit of the local rivalry that happens in a smaller town.

But local life often took on an uncomfortable edge when I had to write about contentious schoolboard meetings, police and fire reports that resulted in arrests or worse, obituaries; and the side of life that pitted my fellow community members against each other, that was one of the hardest. I had to report on it…and still live in the area. If I was going to keep this job that worked around my family so well, I would need a thicker suit of armor to withstand the occasional jab and community dissent. I believe my armor was found through that ritualistic quiet time I took before writing nearly every article.

When I first started at the paper I was dumbfounded to learn that my editor would ‘tweak’ his reporter’s submissions, without their knowledge, and send them through to printing. We didn’t know what might be changed until the paper came out. Sometimes his changes marred the story or altered the tone, but for whatever reason, this was an accepted practice. Each of us just hoped that he wouldn’t change too much or alter the substance of the story; after all, our names were above those words, not his. During one particularly tough week of trying to balance family health issues and getting to events for work, I was exhausted. Instead of just sitting quietly and centering before my writing time, I began questioning God if this was really what He wanted me to do. I didn’t know how to begin the tough stories that week and I ended up beseeching Him for help. I prayed that my editor wouldn’t change too much of this particular weeks’ stories; I didn’t think I could handle it. To my amazement, the words just flew from my fingers. The stories which started out so difficult practically wrote themselves. In fact, when I was proofing them before submission, I didn’t even remember writing some of it.  I realized that the more I turned to Him, the more His direction became clear. I’m not one who audibly hears messages, but I do get certainties and nudges. During the three years that I wrote for that paper, more often than not, after a time of sitting quietly and waiting for His direction, I was able to put my own thoughts and feelings aside and report in a factual, concise manner, considering both sides of the story, without compromising my principles. It wasn’t always easy to report on happenings of neighbors and friends, but I did earn a reputation from many readers for having integrity, compassion and fairness. I know I couldn’t have done that without His direction.

I have felt those nudges, pushes and His direction many times in my writing life since; too many to list. Life has continued to hold more detours, so I am just getting back into the writing field after a number of years absent. Recently, while embarking on my newest writing adventure, a website and blog Up in The Attic with Cathy Rueter,, I’ve witnessed His strong presence again. I’ve had numerous roadblocks of misinformation, lack of knowledge, a shortage of finances; even Mother Nature threw in an overabundance of storms and massive rains in Texas this May, affecting several avenues. Each time I wanted to quit, or questioned this endeavor, I brought these questions and unease to Him and things worked out. People and places were put in my path that eased the way, money became a non-issue, and ‘my’ vision seemed to translate to people without me even trying desperately to make them ‘see’ it. Still in the infancy stage, Up in The Attic with Cathy Rueter is a work in progress to be sure, but then again, so am I; His work in progress, working on being a good listener for His direction.

**Other places you can visit me:

Pinterest: cathyrueter

Linkedin: cathyrueterwriter

Google+ CathyRueterWriter

Facebook –


2017 update

We moved, AGAIN, in 2016. When I wrote the last article in December of 2015 I had no idea it would be two years before I touched base with you all again. I didn’t know the move was on its way, but that’s what you do when the main breadwinner is hired at a company that requires anywhere from 1 1/2 – three hours drive away (Dallas traffic dependent).

March 2016 came roaring in with the new hire and the following months were spent packing, shutting down, closing up, house selling, and home purchasing. Then the move. No work website wise but lots of work when it came to my time management. Well, that and the fact that some much needed paperwork for the website was lost in the shuffle of movers packing things up.

The second half of 2016 found us moving into a small apartment for a short-term stay, and then another move to our home. A bit of a fixer upper with good bones and an even better neighborhood. We love it but it is requiring some time and energy for updating, which continues throughout 2017 and further.

2017 also was the year of a bout of depression (something I continually battle with but had been winning for quite awhile). I lost my Lil’ Gram, my last grandparent, earlier this year and a wonderful aunt a short time later. With all of these family changes came the realization that I am now fully ensconced in the sandwich generation – long distance. I didn’t touch my website other than to do some background work for much of 2017. The 2015 last entry was kind of a giveaway, wasn’t it?

Now here it is, November 2017, and I finally decide to pull up the big girl panties and tackle the website learning curve again. That missing paperwork? I still haven’t found it. But thanks to the wonders of Google, with God and the Holy Spirit putting ideas in my head, I finally found what was needed and plan on getting back on this website horse soon.

Thanks for being patient with me. I’ll be seeing you around in 2018!



Book Box

May 20, 2015

The Book Box.

I read – a lot. And when I get excited about  the words I’m reading I like sharing them with others. Look for reviews of books and articles that I’ve read in the past, ones I’m reading now, and those that I plan to read in the future. If my review (or that of a guest reviewer) helps others gain knowledge, discover a new writer, or learn a new hobby, all the better.

The Book Box


Under Construction