About Me

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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I Think I Forgot to Shower

Over the past few weeks I’ve taken on a few extra writing projects and let me tell you I’m having fun!

How do I know I’m having fun? Well, on two separate days last week I reached the end of the day, looked in the mirror and said, “Huh, I think I forgot to shower.”

I get up every morning with my high school daughter at 5:30. I walk while she attends an early morning class until 7am. I come home and get everybody else up and ready for their day. Most of the time I use any lag time until they’re gone to do a little house work, usually dishes, and check my email so that once their gone I can get a shower and immediately start on my work.

Suddenly, I seem to be skipping a step. The draw to the computer has been so strong that I’m starting work before they leave; dragging myself away from the computer to get them to the bus stop and dragging myself away again to pick them back up from the bus stop.

Does that mean the work I’m doing are my dream assignments? Not at all. In fact a lot of it is down right boring. But, it is a challenge, and I love the challenge. For me the joy comes from conquering the written word. The reward is another satisfying day where I had the luxury of working from my home.

Given the results of the last week, the rest of the world is probably glad I work from home as well.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Thinking In Stories- Reflections on Being a Writer

I have a problem. It seems I’m addicted to stories. I read them, I write them, but most of all, I think them. I can’t help myself, all my conscious (and some unconscious) thoughts roll and swirl through my brain till they have evolved into stories. All it takes is a trigger: a sign on the side of the road, a house painted pink and purple, the woman standing in front of me at the post office. Before I even know it’s happening, the trigger has taken on a life of its own. I think in stories.

People think on all different kinds of levels. Some are very literal: pictures, words, or numbers. Others think more freely: passing fancies, colors, feelings, smells, humorous anecdotes. A writer is in a different class all together, we can’t think literally, or even figuratively. A writer can’t let a thought go until it has been completely defined. The writer feels obligated to answer the where’s, why’s and how’s that never occur to anyone else when they look at the world around them.

The first step to resolving an addiction is to admit you have a problem. For me, realization came after a trip to the circus with my family. I turned to my husband and made a harmless comment, “So, what did you think of lady with the monkey act?”

His only comment was “She was too fat for that dress”.

I tried again, “Well, how do you suppose she came to have a monkey act in the circus in the first place?”

“I don’t know.”

I had walked away from the show with a million tales spun in my imagination. One for each trigger: the blond lady with the dog and pony show, the ring master, the youngest trapeze artist, the clown with the green hair and naturally big nose. I had created a story from everything I saw. On the other hand, my husband had come away with “huh, neat trick” and “her dress is too tight”.

I have come to the conclusion that there is no cure. Once a storyteller, always a storyteller. I tried to stop myself once. The result? I caught myself creating a tale to explain away my resolve within the first five minutes.

So, what does a writer do with such an addiction? The answer: write! Give in, and succumb to those impulses. Feel free to look at the woman in front of you in line and think “I’ll bet she’s a school teacher……” then go home and write it. Or better yet, pull out that idea notebook and write while you’re still staring at the back of her head, imagining what grade she teaches.

I keep notebooks all over the house, the car, my purse. Whenever I can manage it I sneak my mini-computer in my purse hoping for a few minutes to pull it out. If nothing else, there is always pen and paper in reach, because I never know when a new story will start. Those little notebooks open doorways to wonderful worlds. Plus, they’re great ego trips. To let your mind go, let it pour out your soul, your thoughts, and your feelings, into a concrete form is the greatest high a writer can achieve.

Write it all. Admit your addiction and come out of the closet. We provide a service to the rest of the world. While some think in pictures, we fill in the fine details for them. While some think in numbers, we give them references for where the equations can take them. While some think in color, in smell, in feelings, we give them those colors, the smells and feelings in a broadening perspective. As writers we allow others to see into our worlds, the worlds of thoughts, feelings and experiences that fill our souls every day, with every new story. Our addiction makes life rich for everyone else.

If you wake up in the morning with a story in your head, and you can’t rest till you’ve given it a life of its own, you’re a writer. You will always be a writer, no matter what the occasional rejection letter says. It just becomes a trigger for another story. The one where the editor is a bitter old man who wouldn’t accept a great piece of work if it smacked him in the …… you know the rest.

You are a writer. You think in stories, the world can’t resist great stories and neither can you. Give those stories wings and they will find homes.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Supporting Angels

I just witnessed something amazing. For those of you who are LDS you know that it is conference weekend. Two weekends out of the year the members of the Church watch and listen as we are instructed by the general leaders of the Church: the prophet, his counselors and many other men and women of spiritual greatness. It can either be long and boring or a feast beyond compare- depending on what you bring to it.

On Saturdays, the pull to “do” competes with the pull to “listen”. I generally choose chores to do while I watch conference on my computer with gratitude in my heart for byu.tv that allows me to do this.

I admit I was distractedly listening until I heard something strange coming from the speakers. An extra muffling was annoying me, I couldn’t clearly hear Brother Wirthlin’s message and it was one I had been recently pondering. I went back to my computer to see that the problem was not technical, but rather human. I watched with a prayer in my heart as Brother Wirthlin’s strength began seeping out of his legs and body as he struggled to complete his message. Then, a beautiful thing happened. As my prayers and I’m sure the prayers of many others were extended in his behalf he received strength. No, he did not suddenly overcome his human frailties; his strength came from the very thing he was addressing: service. As he spoke, Brother Nelson quietly came up behind Brother Wirthlin, compassionately gripping his arm with one hand and his waist with the other, patiently waiting for Brother Wirthlin to finish his own service. What a beautiful spoken and unspoken message.

Now this witness of the beauty of life and the gospel came shortly after another small miracle. I’d taken the last few minutes before conference began to cruise through some of my favorite blogs. Enter my sweet friend Tristi. Her message: Turning our lives, our trials over to God. I needed it badly as I am struggling with a serious problem right now and pondering how I can best do that very thing.

The two experiences worked together to create another beautiful miracle. It was an image of myself going forward, trying my best, sometimes very poorly by the world’s standards, to serve in the best ways I know how. I wasn’t alone. As I learn each day in my own weak way to plead for help and support with things that are beyond my control there are others silently supporting me. Sometimes I can see them, most of the time their presence and comfort come from beyond my natural sight. How many angels stand behind me as I struggle to stay on my feet? How many times have I looked at my own frail arms and given up in despair, ignoring the strength that was being lent to me by my Heavenly Father?

How difficult is it to stop struggling and start seeking out peace and trust? Very. I’m hoping the blessings of this day stay with me for many. I need that confirming peace as I go forward with many aspects of my life.

Someday I hope to give someone else that kind of hope in the gospel through the things that I write. I believe this is one of the major reasons the gift of words is mine. I am human and weak. Yet, I want my words to leave the page and reach out gentle hands on someone’s arm or waist supporting them when they need it the most and opening their eyes to strength they can not see. That is why I write: to inspire and bless. May the Lord continue to quietly support me in my feeble efforts.

Friday, October 5, 2007

My Cheering Squad

I’m drawing close to the end of the BIAM challenge and just wanted to thank my cheering squad.

Candace has been awesome to drop by constantly and cheer me on. Thank you so much for you loving support!

Tristi is as awesome as always. I am in awe of all she manages to do with her life and the amount she still has left over to fill everyone else’s cup with. She loves you into wanting to do your best. What a great gift.

Then there is my husband who asks me before he leaves for work what scene I will be working on, calls at lunch to check my progress, and encourages me to write at every turn. I took my mini computer to bed with me the other night to catch a few more thoughts before I went to sleep. Besides, I usually can’t get to sleep until they're on the page. Instead of grumbling, he listened. He listened to the tiny clicking my keys make as I type. Whenever they would pause he’d check in with me, asking if everything was ok, how it was going, or if I needed help. Not an impatient: “Aren’t you done yet so I can get some sleep?” What an amazing man.

OK, it may seem a little strange but I have to include my dog among my cheerleaders as well. Remember that small clicking sound I mentioned? For some reason it’s like a siren song to her. Whenever I take my computer to the recliner in “her” room, she comes over and perches herself on my shoulder and lies down with her nose almost touching the keys. This makes it very hard to type I assure you, but some how I manage and she silently watches, her ears twitching to the rhythm of my fingers. If I stop she looks back at me with that “Well, get on with it you silly human look.” I’m so glad I can write a book for her sole amusement.

My kids are mostly oblivious to the project. They’re kind of used to their mother acting psychotic all the time. They’re good with that as long as I keep that house stocked with cold cereal (hey, its vitamin fortified), milk, hot dogs, bread, and PB&J. My teenage daughter does notice and is rooting for me not to finish. Even this is very encouraging. See, we have an additional challenge going between us that I will finish my book before she gets all of her school work caught up. It’s a tight race. The looser has to treat the winner to dinner at Taco Bell. Yeah, I’m cheap.

I know I’ve mentioned it before but I am very blessed to be able to live the writer’s dream. One of the most frequent questions writers get asked is, “How do you find time to write?” In this I’m also very fortunate. My husband’s job earns a decent income so I don’t have to work. My children are all in school. Yes, my oldest is home schooled but her course work is entirely automated on the computer. I’m just there to monitor her and help her along. Still, my life is very stressful and hectic. If you’ve read my previous blogs you know that one of my biggest struggles is justifying the amount of time I devote to writing without it bringing in the kind of income I could be making if I just went back to work as a nurse. It’s a very twisted way to look at one of my greatest gifts and pleasures.

When I think about it, really think about it, and get past the world’s notions of success I find something amazing. I am a better person because I write. The world is a better place because I write. I have amazing friends and family who stand behind me as I write.

With all that I’ve been blessed with the question should really be, “How can I not find time to write?”

Thanks for cheering me on and keeping my perspective focused on the happiness writing brings me.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

BIAM Update- Building Bridges

For those of you who have been watching my word count with baited breath (yeah, right) I was not a total slacker last week, my internet was down for two days and that was all it took to get me out of the habit of posting my numbers. I’ll try to do better this week. On the other hand, it’s amazing what you can get done without the internet distraction.

This past week I have been building bridges.

When I begin writing I generally have a pretty good idea of where I’m going with the first several chapters. I also know a lot about some of the major scenes that will carry the plot forward. I write these first, then go back and begin filling in gaps. Last week I decided it was time to fill in a lot of the left over gaps.

My manuscript was well over a hundred pages long but it lacked some of the satisfaction that can give because as I’d scroll through the text I’d run into “Not Done Yet” places more and more the further I got into things. So, I set a goal to close all those gaps. I built bridges between all of my previously written scenes, some just small transitory notes, some more major event sequences. It’s not as exciting as writing the major scenes but it is still very fulfilling. Now when I scroll down to the place in my manuscript where I left off, I don’t have any wide white spaces with small notes about things that need to be added. I have a complete manuscript finished to the point where I am currently working.

OK, so there are a few left over scenes that are tacked on the end. For instance I’ve already written one scene just because my emotions at the time were similar to what I wanted my character to feel in that moment. I wrote it. I also know exactly how this story ends. I wrote that when I wrote the beginning.
It always amazes me how many different ways there are to create a story. It is truly an art.

I don’t have all the answers yet on how to solve my “Not Done Yet” syndrome but there is one area of my life that I am determined to over come it in. Yes, I have fears and slow days, and I’m easily distracted, just like anyone else. I’ll never get it all right and I’m far from perfect; but, if I could choose one thing to focus on about myself that makes me the best “me” possible it would be my writing. Housework and projects will always fall to the wayside in my ADD mind and life but I am determined to keep building bridges, to keep finding my path, to keep writing- a little further and a little better every day.