The last few months have been full of crazy. Or I could use other adjectives like exciting. Fun. Adventure. Sports. Play. Work. Celebration. Food. Art. Writing. Culture. Bonding. Homecomings.
Lots of good things. But LOTS of things. I’ll be going off-line for a bit since we will be moving in a couple of weeks. But for your viewing pleasure, my crazy (and by crazy, I mean awesome) life in pictures:
I LOVE our local library. And more importantly, my kids love our local library. My sons aren’t shy about asking the wonderful librarians for help, and my daughter knows right where to go to find the cool computer with kid-friendly games (which are, of course, all educational).
One of our favorite things is the summer program. The nationwide theme this year is:
To add to the fun, our library made this awesome photo background (complete with cape and mask) for our photographing pleasure.
And see that kid right there? My second grade graduate? This reading program has fueled his love for reading. All year he’s been meh about it. Reading wasn’t horrible for him, but it was something he did when we made him.
But since the summer reading program started, he’s been determined to get in the minutes to earn those books and prizes . . . he’s a different child. He just finished Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein.
And before that it was all three of the Case File 13 books by J. Scott Savage. And he’s now dying to write to Mr. Savage who is now his favorite. (My reluctant reader as a favorite author!)
Obviously I love the summer reading program as an author. How great that kids are reading!
But I love it even more as a mom. I just want to thank all you librarians out there who work so hard to encourage a love of reading. Who put awesome books on display, and make going to the library a treat. Thank you for sharing your passion. Thank you for making it fun. Thank you for opening doors upon doors of opportunity and adventure to my children, because that’s what reading does.
Is anyone else out there participating in their library’s summer reading program?
Last weekend I went to LDStorymakers writing conference. I went with a critique partner and I got to meet my agent which was pretty awesome (!!!). And I should totally have a picture of this momentous occasion, but I don’t. I’m like the worst ever at remembering to take pictures. In fact, I didn’t even take one picture during the whole conference. I know, right??? I guess I was just too busy soaking in all the writerly Karma of the place. 🙂
The thing I love best about writing conferences is that they help me remember why I love writing in the first place. And they help me remember all those things that make my writing better.
I don’t want to re-hash everything I learned because one, that would be boring, and two, that would be copyright infringement. However, I did want to share a couple of gems.
FIRST: You may laugh at this one, but I said a big AMEN! Peggy Eddleman gave a class on getting your writing mojo back. One point she made is that as writers, we seem to think we earn the writer’s badge by missing sleep. We stay up late. Work off of two hours sleep. And somehow this is a bragging point. Well it’s not. WE NEED SLEEP TO FUNCTION. Obviously everyone is different and we all need different amounts of sleep. But skipping sleep is not doing ourselves any favors!
So, don’t be afraid to go to bed on-time to get a full night’s sleep. Then you will be refreshed and ready to tackle a new day and fresh ideas. [And no, we won’t talk about the irony of the fact that I am staying up late to write this.]
SECOND: I attended a class by Chad Morris and Brandon Mull about the 3 parts that make an awesome story idea. While there was lots of good stuff, the gem I got was that every trouble needs a payoff. That may sound obvious. But I needed the reminder. I can’t just make my characters go through hard things and expect my readers to enjoy that. There has to be a moment that makes it all worth it. Both to the character and the reader.
And THIRD: This one came from a class on Description by Sarah Eden. We talked about all kinds of things, but one piece of advice that stuck out was this: Never interrupt your own story! Well, duh. Except I do this! Description should be organic, and if it disrupts the flow, then you’ve done it wrong.
I know. None of this stuff is new and exciting. But amazingly, what I need from conferences is not new and exciting info. What I need is a reminder (preferably in a not boring way) of all the things I know, but have forgotten.
When’s the last time you went to a conference? And what do you get out of them?
My family and I really like Chinese food. Our favorite part (okay, maybe tied with eating all the yummy food) is opening our fortune cookies.
I always get the best fortune.
Seriously. Like, even my kids want my fortune.
I’m just lucky that way.
Here is my latest.
So to understand how great this fortune is, you need to know why we were eating Chinese.
Why, you ask? Because I’d just spent a week packing and cleaning to get our house ready to sell–solid days of doing nothing but that–and I didn’t want to dirty my newly immaculate kitchen.
As you can imagine, I was thrilled with this fortune! Because who wants to do a bunch of hard work and not have it pay off, right?
And happy for me, this fortune cookie really was all-knowing. Our house sold, and we are feeling all kinds of relieved.
The thing is, since that time, I’ve had an epiphany. This fortune came true not because of some omniscient cookie. This fortune came true because hard work ALWAYS pays off.
It just doesn’t always pay off in the way we would like.
Remember that manuscript you wrote and edited, then finally tucked away in a drawer? Remember that laundry you folded that your toddler then unfolded? Remember that bed you made that you then unmade later that SAME DAY??
Every one of those situations included pay-off. Think of the practice and skills that were gained in writing that manuscript. Think of the work ethic your toddler gained by watching your example. Think of the peace that made-up bed exuded in your room all day long (and peace exuding is totally a thing).
Hard work always pays off.
So don’t you go fearing that your efforts will be a waste. They won’t. Even if you don’t get what you want, they. are. not. wasted.
Peace out and work on my friends.
I have this daughter.
I love her for so many reasons that I couldn’t possibly tell you about all of them. But one thing I will tell you about is her individuality. I love this chica because she is her own self. And she is not afraid of being her own self.
For example. This is her at her last soccer game:
I’ll be honest, I am so used to her being her, that I didn’t even think twice about her skirt until everyone commented on it.
And then there was this Word Find that came home in her folder:
I kind of really love that with the top one, if she had gone straight, she had the word. But that’s not how she saw things. Why make a straight line when you can jump over a letter and get something far more interesting?
She is such an example to me. An example of being true to yourself. An example of finding your own path, even when the world would send you another direction.
As writers, sometimes we forget that. We try to write what everyone else is writing. We try to imitate another author’s style. We focus on what might be big (according to the world) instead of staying true to ourselves. Our own ideas. Our own passions.
It’s easy to get caught up. But it’s better to be ourselves. It’s better to let our individual uniqueness shine like a pink tulle skirt in a soccer game.
Because seriously, who doesn’t secretly envy that girl? Wish they were brave enough to do it, too.
So how are you letting your personality shine? I’d love to hear. 🙂
I don’t know what it is about April, but every year it is as though the winds of life pick up a bit, and the swirl and clutter of it all is just a bit more than I can handle. Something has to give. And usually it is the blog.
Now please, no worrying about me. I am fine. I am busy living life. And it is good. Just a lot.
So I am taking my annual April blogging break, and I hope to meet back up with ya’ll in May (or so).
In the mean time, I’m sending best wishes to all of you in whatever endeavor you are up to.
Take care, and à bientot!
“Everyone wants to be successful until they see what it actually takes.”
I saw this quote on facebook this week. I don’t know who said it, but it was accompanied with a picture of a ballerina’s bleeding and bandaged feet. Success looked pretty painful.
And I bet you saw the picture of the physician after losing a 19-year-old patient that went viral last week. A moment of “failure” . . . probably after doing everything he was humanly capable of doing.
As I consider these two images, thoughts are swirling in my brain. Success is such an interesting concept. One word, but defined so differently from person to person. Are we only a success when we’ve reached the point of being a “prima ballerina”?
I once ran a half marathon. It was hard. It left my feet a mess, and gave me aches I still deal with. Am I a failure since I now choose to run shorter distances? I don’t see it that way. I see it as a success that I still run.
A person who writes a book, but never gets an agent or sells it . . . are they a failure? I don’t see it that way. I think they are a success for finishing the book.
Now don’t get me wrong. I believe very strongly in working hard to achieve something. And I don’t think we should hand out awards just for showing up (I really hate the trophies they give to everyone for just playing rec soccer or whatever). But as we celebrate the small successes, they can keep us moving forward when everything else would tell us to stop. Give up.
Work hard. Do your best. Don’t give in. And when you reach a milestone, celebrate! Don’t be afraid to recognize the quiet successes that litter our lives.
What is your most recent quiet success? I’d love to celebrate with you!
Words. I love them.
Simple words with fun sounds. And oh don’t get me started on cognates and lexical gaps and all the fun things that amuse me because I’m a language geek. I LOVE WORDS! Let me shout it out from the rooftops!
So you’d think, given all that, that I’d be a fabulous cross-worder. You’d think.
Every now and then I dive into the foray of a puzzle because I’m certain this time will be different. Except it never is. <sigh> And I’m scratching out letters, and sneaking cheating peeks at the answers until I bang the magazine shut. Because who thought that was a good clue anyway?!? No one could have guessed that!
And so I move on in frustration, swearing them off forever. Or at least until the next time . . . When the glorious blank spaces call out to me and the need to find a pen (always a pen!) overcomes.
And all this makes me think. Have you ever let a character struggle with something that by all rights should have come easy?
Hmmm . . . and now if you’ll excuse me, I have some revising to do.
It was awesome. My husband and I have been gone a lot lately, so the kids were excited to be spending time with us. The train delivery of our food was just cool. We smiled. We laughed. We even let the kids get light up toys for the performance. We were just happy to be together. And even my 11-year-old was loving the ice skating.
At intermission I posted a happy picture on facebook of our super fun evening, and if that was all you ever heard, you’d have an idyllic picture of our family evening. Maybe you’d be a little jealous and wish you could do the same. Maybe you’d roll your eyes and doubt it was that great anyway. Whatever your reaction, my “story” is out there exactly the way I told it.
See, the first half of our night really was that idyllic. I just never got around to posting about the second part.
Just after intermission, 8-year-old began complaining that his stomach hurt. He really wanted to wait it out because we were having that much fun. But shortly before the end it was too much. Husband took him out, and shortly thereafter the rest of us followed and met them at the car where 8-yo was holding an empty grocery bag and moaning.
We hurriedly got on the road (thankfully we beat most people out of the lot), but it wasn’t long before the puking began. The other kids immediately complained of the smell, and though it was a chilly night, but we unrolled the windows and did our best to ignore the shivering. Well, that worked right up until the skunk smell hit. I couldn’t decide what was worse.
At home we began the process of cleaning up the child, doing laundry, scouring the car seat, finding a suitable place for him to sleep (with low clean-up factor and easy access to a toilet). Oh, let me tell you that it was the polar opposite of the first half of our night. Not fun.
Not fun at all.
Except I was cracking up the whole time. Because polar opposite! Hahaha! Okay, well, I think the irony is funny.
Point is, the rest of story completely changes everything. Yes, we had fun, but it wasn’t the idyllic evening that was potrayed in that facebook post (even if that WAS an honest posting at the time). And this is like the writing world (and any other world, but since this is a writing blog . . .).
We read stories about writers getting agents, making book sells, doing class visits, signing books at overcrowded book signings, whatever, . . .
. . . and maybe we think that’s really cool, but maybe we compare ourselves just a little. And maybe a little jealousy creeps in. And we wonder why we don’t have what they have. Why haven’t I found an agent yet? Why didn’t my book sell that fast? Why don’t I have crowds and crowds of people at my book signings?
Not that I have ever felt this way. 😉
Here’s the thing: We may know all the good stuff, but what we don’t know is the rest of the story.
Because I guarantee you that everyone has their struggles. Surrounding those idyllic moments are doubts, and concerns, and HARD THINGS. Things we really, really, really wouldn’t want to go through.
And I sometimes need this reminder. We are all different. We have different successes and different trials. And that’s okay. We take the bad with the good, and we are grateful for what we have.
So let’s stop comparing ourselves. Stop thinking we aren’t good enough because we don’t have what they have. Let’s remember The Rest of the Story.
And then let’s laugh a little. Because that’s so much better than the alternative.
“If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.”