get a move on

I'm still continuing with thoughts and rambling journal entries from fall of '09...but eventually I will catch up and it'll be present day once again.
Life goes by- days go by- all too quickly.  I've realized what I need is not just one day, but two strung together with no need for sleep in order to feel like I really had time on my hands.

Life has its concerns.  My young adult childrens' issues.  Work being very busy.  Writing- I still daydream about it. I'm too tired to write much in the evening.  My motivation and desire come most easily now, in the morning, when I need to get out the door to school.  Sometimes I feel that just being at my job (working in the elementary school library) surrounded by all those beautiful picture books will somehow by osmosis make me one step closer to writing a successful children's story than if I didn't work there.

We're hosting the Scholastic Book Fair this week.  For me, it holds the pangs of "Man I wish I'd written that" when I see simple stories and simple concepts so beautifully told with gorgeous illustrations.  It lends itself to frustration (and wanting to give up) for me, but I must not go there.

I get to thinking- "If only I'd thought of it, I could have written those books." I smile to myself as I write this, because apparently that very statement is a common problem among writers.  "I could have written that!" or "My stuff is better than that published garbage!"  Fact is, those books are on the shelf, and mine aren't.

Better get crackin'.


It is good to have this thing called writing.  Because of reading Writing Down the Bones, I am feeling free to just write- about anything, anytime, anywhere.  My journal is like my companion, and I even take it to work each day just in case I want to write or in case something happens worth writing about.  Just glancing down at my workbag and seeing it gives me comfort, as if a piece of me were right there, ready to spring into action at any moment.

Writing is wonderful because you need minimal supplies, no electricity, and there is no limit as to where it can be done.  I like that it can fill a few minutes or an hour.  It’s a great thing to do while you’re waiting for other things to get done.

So far in my journal  I’m recording thoughts and feelings and daily stuff without the express purpose of writing towards any end but apparently, according to Natalie (my new bff via paperback) that’s ok.  As I’ve said before - or was it Nat? (that’s what I call her now) - it all counts.  It’s all part of finding my voice.

I’ve heard it said, “If you don’t normally speak that way, please don’t write that way.”  So you can be sure I won’t be filling this blog with a rambling of words like nevermore and wherewithal and posthaste.  Don’t write words you yourself wouldn’t use, because then your writing definitely won’t sound like you.

When there’s nothing else to do - I can write.
When I’m bored - I can write.
When I want to eat- I can write.
When I’m happy, sad, or stressed- I can write.
When I have 5 minutes or 5 hours- I can write.
When I have only a piece of scrap paper and a pen - I can still write.

Writing is so universal, so commonly accepted, so available to everyone, I’m wondering why more people don’t do it. 

And if you don’t do it - maybe today’s the day to start.

losing a good friend

This weekend we lost our cat, Tiger, whom we'd had for 14 years.  He was our daughter's birthday present when she was just 6 years old.  The woman we got him from said he was the best of the litter because he was patient and playful and very easy to get along with;  truer words were never spoken about him.

Tiger was the most personable cat we'd ever known.  He would seek you out wherever you were, inside or outside, just to hang around you.   He meowed enough to carry on a full length conversation when he really had something to say, and he finally learned to tolerate our large, energetic, furry golden retriever who, despite seeing the cat every day, seemed to have a continual fascination that we had this feline in our home.  Tiger was always worth a doggy sniff and inspection to make sure things were as they should be.

When you have an animal living with you for fourteen years and then they are gone, it's really hard not to look for them around every corner, imagine that you see them in their favorite sleeping spot, or hear a meow when the house is quiet.  He was a wonderful presence in our family's life and loved by everyone.  He seemed to outlive his nine lives and I'm sure stretched it to eleven or twelve.  He was failing, healthwise, this past year, but still had the strength to catch mice and deposit them at our back door on his favorite mat, bring me the occasional dead bird, and jump at the front door continually until he had jumped with enough force to successfully open the heavy latch at 5:30 in the morning when he felt it was time to come in for breakfast. 

We miss you, Tiger.  We always will.  Thanks for being a peaceful presence with us these past years.  It was a great run. 

writing down the bones

   I'm reading a favorite book, "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg.  She said what I was hoping to hear - that even rudimentary journaling is some of the best practice writing there is, because at the very least it's writing; and when you're writing, it all counts.

  Whenever I sit down with my journal and other books in the morning for my devotional time, the first thing I want to do before reading is open my journal and write, almost as an introduction to the day (or as an introduction to myself for that day).  I have always been drawn to the writing./journaling/daily update part of my morning time.  I love getting my thoughts down on paper.
  Reading Ms. Goldberg's book last night gave validity (which I didn't really need but thought I did) to this daily journaling I love to do.  She encourages it as a valuable writing practice to employ to find our voice, get out thoughts, feelings and emotions.

   If you journal - do you love it?  If you don't, would you be willing to start?

moving ahead and forward

After I wrote my "fear of failure" rant (see previous post), I realized that I wasn't trusting God with any of this.  I needed to have faith that whatever happened, He was in control, not me.  So, I jumped in with both feet and took the time I needed to write query letters for my manuscript, network with others online, join SCBWI, etc.  I can't manipulate how it's all going to work out- I just need to be faithful with the parts I can do and trust Him with the rest.   This pursuit of possible publication is something I love to do and I think I can relax about it because I'm not hanging my hat on it; if it happens, it happens.

But part of me slides toward panic.  Why did I wait so long to to discover this love of mine? (as if I could unearth some desire years ago simply by willing it to happen).  What if it's too late? What if I'm too old to start on the road/journey towards publication, recognizing this could take years...although I hardly think 29 is too old.  (Ha. I wish).  But God's timing is perfect.  I cannot concern myself with why I didn't start sooner because I didn't.  The only way to move is forward. 

My devotional commentary for last week said, "There is nothing quite so fulfilling as completing an assignment for God.  You did A, B and C, and you finished it!  You stuck to it until the job was done.  The joy comes, of course, when you are doing His work.  I will lose heart if I consider the work mine."

Amen and amen.

becoming transparent

I've recently read some blog posts that are extremely vulnerable and real, thanks to the people writing them.  While I do not desire for my blog to be just fun and fluff (and I don't think it is), I've not been as transparent on here as I have been in my journal that I write in longhand.  In looking back over some of the things I've written in the early hours of my day, I can see more of me coming out on the page via pen and paper. So instead of reinventing the wheel in the form of new blog posts,  I've decided to put some of those handwritten entries to good use by posting them here in digital form.  A step towards being the real, struggling, not always perfect me.  ;)

It was the beginning of a journey where I was learning I loved to write.
   I'm stalling and I know it.  Why do I do this?  I have done it to myself numerous times.  I used to stall, procrastinate, get paralyzed when I wanted to create a beautiful scrapbook; now the same is going on here (with my writing).  It's because of having to become vulnerable, take a chance and put myself out there that I hold back.
   I used to stall before starting a new scrapbook project- or even a page- for fear I would fail.  I would surround myself with the amenities- buy all the right stuff like cute embellishments, beautiful paper.  But when I alone had to make it all come together, I froze.  Not permanently, but because I so desperately wanted to be good at it, I was afraid to begin.  It always felt like a leap.  Silly, isn't it?

I was afraid I wouldn't create anything I was happy with, so I avoided creating anything all together.

  In contrast, I found that the more I did it, the better I became at it, and the less frightening and leap-like it seemed.  I am finding the same feelings surrounding me concerning writing.  The closer I get to it, the less I write.  It's so odd - and it wasn't until the other day that I realized I was having the same stalling problem I had before.

  I took a class the other night on "Getting Your Work Published" by Anita Nolan.  It was a terrific class, except for the fact that the things she told us I already knew through my previous year of research.  It was another example of how I would rather spend time gathering facts and getting ready rather than actually doing "the thing"  I'm afraid I'll fail at doing.  I'll read scads of books and articles about writing, go to a class on publishing, scour and love and buy and hoard picture books, but be afraid to look too hard at my own manuscript for fear I'll revise and rewrite and rework so long that I'll never know when I'm through.  Caught up in a vicious cycle of my own design.

  Even doing this- writing about my feelings and fear of failure- is a postponement of what I really should be doing.  At least- praise God - I'm writing!

And now back to our regularly scheduled summer...

Ah. Peace and quiet. A gentle, normal evening at home with just us old folks (my husband and me). The five-day five-night St. Louis guest has gone back to her midwest home. The sleepover birthday bash for my 16 year old saw the final pickup at 11 am this morning. The local carnival's appeal called all my children away from the house for the evening.  What a glorious noise, this silence.  I'm practically mantra-ing.

Hummmmm......Let the stillness settle in.  I sense a purpose, a place for everything and everyone in their place.  Or, at least, their very own bed for once.

My raptured solitude was interrupted by the buzz of my cell phone, set, of course, on silent.  I opened my eyes from my worshipful state to see that my daughter's text read,

"Is it okay if Megan and Caitlin come over tomorrow after work to swim? Oh, and I figured it would be easier if they just spent the night....."

I knew I could count on one of my three children to keep the ball rolling.  Releasing the dove of my relaxed spirit to the God of the never ending summer bed and breakfast, I hit reply and typed back to her.

"My thoughts exactly, dear.  My thoughts exactly."

a summer love

    If any of you read my blog posts from last summer, you read of my supreme love affair with not working (I am employed by a school district; yeah, it has its perks), being home with my three children of high school and college age, and having time to myself to pursue life and God and my own interests as well as the interests of others.

  I am blessed to say the same about this summer.  It's only July 6th and school has been out just shy of three weeks, but I feel like we've packed a boatload of memories into the days since the school doors closed behind me.

  June 20th found my husband and I winging our way across the country to spend 6 days in Ennis, Montana - a speck on the map before that date, and an astonishingly gorgeous piece of land forever etched on our hearts after that time.  I am not even sure how to blog about it, as we felt and saw and were surprised by so many things; almost too many to retell.  But I'm sure there will be a post about it on here somewhere pretty soon. And most of my 700 pictures will be up on Picasa once I get through them all - link to follow in another post.

   We had barely unpacked from that trip when our son's friend from St. Louis landed days later at Philly International and we inherited a sweet, loving houseguest for an extended 4th of July weekend.  We swam, laughed, ate, played, shopped, and s'mored late into the night.   A family picnic, nights of fireworks, and 100 degree temperatures made for a memorable trip.  We loved having her here with us.

  As she prepares to leave today, we celebrate my youngest's 16th birthday which means a trip to the driver licensing center for a permit test followed by a nutritionally packed dinner of pizza and chocolate birthday cake.  Followed by 5 boys descending on our finished garage complete with sleeping bags, soda, chips and various forms of electronic devices and music

  When they all go home tomorrow, I think things shall seem too quiet around here.....