Monday, November 30, 2009

The Handwriting of a First Grader and Other Random Thoughts from Unplugged Week

Yes, this is my actual handwriting and
 my actual notebook with my actual
rough draft drivel on it.

As some of you are aware I "unplugged" a few weeks ago so I could focus more time on my rough draft.  When I sat down to the computer all psyched and ready - can you guess what happened?  Nothing.  Nothing would come.  My fingers hovered above the keyboard twitching to type...something...anything, but nothing was all I got.  My head began to ache from the pressure building inside.  I tried to convince myself to stay calm - the words didn't need to be perfect.  The cold, pale computer screen loomed before me, daring me to type a word so that it could chew it up and spit it out.  

That's when I stepped away from my computer and grabbed a notebook and pen.  I normally don't like to freehand because as you can see - I have the handwriting of a first grader.  But I shoved past the embarrasing scribbles and began to write.  It was great.  The pressure I felt to write amazing and perfect prose left me and I allowed myself to just write.  The beautiful mess above is a sample of my creative abandon.  I'm mostly pleased with the results:

Day one: 948 words
Day two: 807 words
Day three: 965 words
Day four: 300 words and edited short story
Day five: burned out - blogged about it here.
Day six: edited short story.
Day seven: I don't write on Sundays.

Since I wrote the words first and then typed them into the computer - does that count as double the words written?  I think it should. It's a great way to do a little bit of editing and clean-up as well - just don't go overboard.

I recommend the pen and paper method to anyone who is having a hard time letting themselves write because their too busy trying to edit. This method also helped me stay unplugged.  I wasn't near the computer so I couldn't check out facebook or read other blogs during my writing time.  It was a win, win situation. 

There's something else I discovered during unplugged week.  I'm not sure if I should admit this, but I'm going to risk being shunned and say it anyway -  I got bored of writing.  Maybe bored isn't the right word.  I don't think I'm the type of person who needs to write all the time to be happy.  I enjoy it for a little while and then I want to do something else.  I enjoy the creative process of brainstorming and researching, but when it comes to the actual writing part I get burned out.  Writing doesn't come easy for me.  My story is perfect in my head and it's so frustrating when I can't write the scene the way I picture it in my mind.  Probably all writers feel the same way.  If it was easy everyone would do it, right? Anyway I think I've decided that right now writing for me is nothing more than a creative outlet.  I don't need to do it all the time and if days go by where I don't write I'm not going to feel guilty about it. 

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Mine was nice after an emotional week.  Thank you so much to all of you who offered condolences and sympathy in regards to my dog.  I appreciate this new found blogging community so much.  You are all awesome!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Grateful Heart Amidst Grief

“All happy people are grateful, and ungrateful people cannot be happy. We tend to think that it is being unhappy that leads people to complain, but it is truer to say that it is complaining that leads to people becoming unhappy. Become grateful and you will become a much happier person.” - Dennis Prager

I'm not always as grateful as I should be, but today I'm grateful for many things.

My husband is #1.  He loves, protects and works very hard for us.  I'm especially grateful right now for the way he rushed to my side at the emergency vets and took care of everything while I was a sobbing mess.

I'm very grateful for my children.  Three wild boys who push my patience to the edge, but are still the cutest, bestest boys ever.

My extended family and friends who are all supportive and wonderful.  

My beautiful dog has passed, but I'm grateful she was apart of our family for ten years. 

I'm grateful for the complete strangers who stopped and helped when my sweet dog was hit by a truck.

Another stranger drove us to the emergency care because I didn't have the car that day.  I'm extremely grateful to her.  

I'm grateful for kind neighbors and friends who have expressed their condolences and sympathy and are generally great all the time.

Especially grateful for the neighbor who took care of my children while I left to be with my dog. 

Again I'm grateful for my husband and father-in-law who dug a grave in the dark and cold and for the sweet prayer uttered over her body.

I'm grateful to know I'm a daughter of God and that I'll see my loved ones again someday.

Finally, I'm grateful for all of you - my blogging and writing friends.  Thank you for the wonderful advice and encouragement that you share with all of us everyday.  Thank you for taking time to comment on my blog.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


"Tragedy strikes like a hungry lion, 
tearing at our hearts."

 Keeshka -- 1998-November 23, 2009

Beautiful. Sweet. Protector. Friend.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Meet Mirai

Mirai McKain is a friend of mine from Writers' Guide. He's a fantastic writer. You've got to see some of his stuff. He has a website with two poems there right now. Check it out here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

Samara Taylor used to believe in miracles. She used to believe in a lot of things. As a pastor's kid, it's hard not to buy in to the idea of the perfect family, a loving God, and amazing grace. But lately, Sam has a lot of reason to doubt. Her mother lands in rehab after a DUI and her father seems more interested in his congregation than his family. When a young girl in her small town is kidnapped, the local tragedy overlaps with Sam's personal one, and the already-worn thread of faith holding her together begins to unravel. - Goodreads

Fun Quote:  It's hard to explain how it feels when Nick Shaw smiles at you. Not butterflies or blushing.  It just feels good.

My Thoughts:  This book started out a bit slow for me, but it was very worth pressing on.  It's YA and written in the first person point-of-view of Samara.   I don't always like Zarr's main characters, but I liked Samara a lot.  I identify with her in a lot of ways.  She is struggling with problems within her family that she doesn't want anyone to know about, and yet she wishes everyone did know about them so that she wouldn't have to pretend her life is perfect anymore.  Her struggles lead her to doubt her faith and everything she has been taught.  Zarr handles her struggles with amazing insight and delicacy.  Also appreciate Zarr for not putting in any language or sexual situations that would make me uncomfortable to recommend it to mature teens and adults.

A wonderful coming-of-age story that slowly unfolds to a lovely and satisfying end.

My review of Sara Zarr's other books can be found  here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Her Is Me or Finding Depth In Ourselves and In Our Characters

Do any of you read the Nie Nie Dialogues?  If not then you really should.  Read todays posting - you can find it here.  Go ahead I'll wait...

Did you read it?  Heartbreaking, right?  What kind of a person would say such a thing?

If you don't already know, Stephanie Nielson is a young mother who kept up a charming blog about her family and life.  In 2008 Stephanie and her husband Christian (love that name, can you guess why?)  were in a plane crash.  They both suffered severe burns all over their body - Stephanie more than Christian.
Her blog postings are the most inspiring things I've read.  I eat them up everyday. 

This is Stephanie before the accident.

Beautiful yes?  I think so.
Did she have depth? Probably

For a long time Stephanie would not post pictures of herself post burning.  Finally she was brave enough to do it.

This is the first picture that Stephanie posted of herself after the accident.

Beautiful yes? I absolutely think so.
Does she have depth?  Loads and Loads.

Now I have not been burned and my pitiful trials are no where near what Stephanie's are, but I too don't like to post pictures of myself.  I have struggled with weight all my life.  There have been times where I have been thin and I thought I looked pretty good.

This was me in college.

Beautiful, yes? Maybe.
Did I have depth? A bit.

Stephanie struggles everyday with how she looks.  So do I.   In my mind I still look like that picture above.   Then I look in the mirror or I catch a glimpse of myself reflected in a window as I pass by.  Everytime I'm shocked.  The image in my mind and the image reflected back at me don't match.  When I come face to face with the reality I want to run away and hide.   Today when I read Stephanie's post I realized what a coward I am.   She is putting her picture out there for everyone to see and she is praying hard every day to be happy with who she is now.  So, if Stephanie can do it,  so can I.

 This is me now.

Beautiful, yes? Umm.
Do I have depth? More now than before.

I don't like to give writing advice, because really - what do I know? But I do know what I like to read.  I like books with characters who inspire me.  The main character of the book I'm writing is a person who once was beautiful and her family was wealthy, but she had very little depth.  Later her family loses their fortune and she loses her beauty.  Do those trials give her depth?

I'm not trying to suggest that you or your characters need to become ugly to have depth.  But just like us, it's not the trials that our characters face that gives them depth.  It's the way they deal with those trials and everyone's trials are different.  Do your characters become better people because of their trials. Are they inspiring?

Depth and Inspiration.  This is what keeps me turning the pages.  It's what makes me want to read a book over and over again.

Do you feel the same way?  In what ways are you giving depth to your characters?