All kinds of writing

The last two days I’ve been writing, but not fiction. My children’s dance teacher, who had been an important part of all our lives for more than a decade, died last week after a long battle with cancer. I have been writing the obituary. It’s the first one I’ve written in a while. I guess the last ones I wrote was when I was working for the newspaper in the early part of the 2010s. The last one I wrote that wasn’t work-related was my sister’s in 2009.

So I’ve been working on the full and brief versions of this obituary for two days, talking to the family and sending them drafts for revisions. I’ll be sending it to the local newspaper this evening, and then the others will be submitted in the coming days. In the meantime, I’ve been working on my new manuscript, reading and revising, and creating a few new words.. I went to my writing group on Saturday afternoon. Church was cancelled due to paint fumes on Sunday, thankfully, because it gave me more obituary writing time. Then we went to my husband’s family’s home for the Superbowl, and the ladies all went to the movies (The Greatest Showman, by the way, was AMAZING). Then more obituary writing.

Today’s co-op day, so I’m with the rest of the homeschool moms, manning the greeters table while revising the obit and talking to the family.

And blogging.

And working on SCBWI Oklahoma blog parade details and publicity for the upcoming conference. And helping to sell snacks as a fundraiser for the senior class, lol.

I’m thankful, though. I’m thankful this family trusts me enough to allow me to write the obituary for them. I’m introverted and awkward sometimes, so I don’t know if I’m the best person to lean on in a time of grief. I’m not good at knowing when to hug, or when to bring a meal, or when to say something. I am good at writing, and being able to use that gift to help the people I care about is something I’m very grateful about.

Whistlepig day

I’m sitting at a tea shop about thirty minutes from my house right now. It’s Feb. 2. Groundhog’s day. My cousin’s birthday. Yesterday was an important day for me too, for different reasons. It’s not something that I need to share, but I did want to commemorate it for myself, if nothing else. I can at least say that it’s the day that started me on the spiritual journey I find myself on every day now.

Turns out one negative of having a spiritual journey is sometimes you can’t write as diligently as you used to. I haven’t written in my old way for two years now. Before Feb. 1, 2016, I wrote a lot. I was writing every day, pretty much. Weekends I gave myself a break and only wrote fanfic, ha ha. But after that date, when things changed, it was harder. I wrote one chapter of a fanfic for Valentine’s Day that year and never took it any farther, even though it was an amazing, stellar idea. Since then I’ve written so much less. I worked on a novel but I really didn’t do anything like I wanted to. And I didn’t finish it. I still want to. I also wrote the first three chapters of a proposed write for hire project. And I did rewrites on my finished novels and wrote new scenes. I suppose I have blogged as well, but it’s sporadic. I’m even posting on social media less.

So here I am at the tea shop, hoping that a chance of pace will get me back at it. I started an amazing idea in January and got 5,000 words on it. Not enough, but a reasonable start. My friend Kim (who my oldest daughter referred to as her mom’s book friend) will be here in a bit. She’s very kind to try to help me get my groove back.

So that’s about it. Ready for this to be the year. The year of everything.

And now I need to work on the manuscript instead of procrastinating any more. At least I don’t know what the wifi password is here (and I’m too inverted to ask, lol).

Balance

Finding balance is something that seems to keep eluding me. I used to have no problem getting my books written and handling the rest of my life as well. I mean, it wasn’t easy, but it was doable.

It’s harder now. I finally thought I found a solution, and went to a relative’s unoccupied house for what was supposed to be several days. I did a lot of plotting and wrote more than twice what I consider enough for a truly “successful” day. But the next day, my family needed me. They then reassured me that they had everything under control, but I couldn’t write anymore. I couldn’t just sit and write and selfishly take all that time for myself when my family was crying out. So I drove the three hours home and didn’t write any more.

Now it’s several days later and I’ve still to write more. I’m currently in my regular writing spot – a couch in the corner of our TV room while several other family members watch TV. Sometimes I use headphones while I do this, but I haven’t seen them since I took them to my aunt and uncle’s anniversary party (I wrote words on the long car ride).

Anyway. Going out of town proved to me that I do still have the ability to write, and to write a lot of words and write well. But I still have the issue that when other matters press down on me, it stifles my creativity. That’ the balance I’m looking for – how to take time for myself and do the project I want to do, but also to care for the ones I love in the way I need to.

Also, I want to encourage you all to visit my friend Sonia Gensler’s blog today and learn about how to find community at an SCBWI conference. It’s part 2 in our blog parade, leading up to our SCBWI Oklahoma spring conference the first week of April. Check it out!

SCBWI Oklahoma Spring Conference Blog Parade

blog parade banner 2018

I am so stoked to announce the 2018 SCBWI Oklahoma Spring Conference Blog Parade!!

blog parade blogger picsWe have a great lineup of bloggers this year and I am honored to be the first out of the chute. Our other volunteers are Holly Abston (hollyabston.com), illustrator of two children’s books (Mila Denton’s Worst Week Ever! and The Night the Mice Sang); Sonia Gensler (soniagensler.com), award-winning author of young adult and middle grade novels (The Revenant, The Dark Between, and Ghostlight); Jennifer Latham (jenniferlatham.com), author of two young adult novels (Scarlett Undercover and Dreamland Burning); Valerie R Lawson (valerierlawson.wordpress.com), who writes young adult and middle grade, volunteers as social media coordinator for SCBWI Oklahoma, and runs the successful twitter chat #okscbwichat each month; Mariana Llanos (marianallanos.com), award-winning author of six books for children (A Superpower for Me, No Birthday for Mara, Tristan Wolf, A Planet for Tristan Wolf, The Wanting Monster, and The Staircase on Pine Street); Barbara Lowell (barbaralowell.com), award winning author of three nonfiction books (Daring Amelia, George Ferris: What a Wheel, and Engineering AT&T Stadium) plus nine forthcoming books for children; Gaye Sanders (gayesanders.com), author of one picture book (The Survivor Tree) which debuted in 2017; Doug Solter (dougsolter.com), author of young adult novels (The Gems: Spies Like Me, Skid, Rivals, Legends, Champions, and My Girlfriend Bites); Kim Ventrella (kimventrella.com), whose debut middle grade novel (Skeleton Tree) was published in late 2017; and KJ Williams (booklover1blog.com), author of a forthcoming children’s book (Camp Not Allowed) debuting in February 2018.
blog parade blogger names

Each one of these fine bloggers will be taking a turn writing about our conference through the beginning of April (see sidebar with the specific dates for each blogger).
You can see why I am honored to be part of such a great group!
Make sure to stop by each bloggers site and keep up with all the information about this year’s spring conference (which will be held April 6-7 in Oklahoma City). You can also find out more about the conference by visiting our website (oklahoma.scbwi.org) or checking out SCBWI Oklahoma on facebook, twitter, or Instagram.

 

About SCBWI:

Founded in 1971 by a group of Los Angeles-based children’s writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is a non-profit, 501 (c)3 organization which is  one of the largest existing organizations for writers and illustrators. It is the only professional organization specifically for those individuals writing and illustrating for children and young adults in the fields of children’s literature, magazines, film, television and multimedia. Several of the most prestigious children’s literature professionals sit on the SCBWI Board of Advisors.

The SCBWI acts as a network for the exchange of knowledge between writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, agents, librarians, educators, booksellers and others involved with literature for young people. As a unified body, the SCBWI acts as a powerful force to effect important changes within the field of children’s literature, promoting new copyright legislation, equitable treatment of authors and artists and fair contract terms.

There are currently more than 22,000 members worldwide, in over 70 regional chapters writing and illustrating in all genres for young readers, making it the largest children’s writing organization in the world.

Thirty Days of Gratitute 30

So I never go around to finishing this. And now it is halfway through January. But I have a blog post to publish about our amazing SCBWI Oklahoma Spring Conference Blog Parade (!) so I guess it’s time to wrap this puppy up.

So without further ado:

What talent or skill do you have that you are grateful for?

Writing, I guess. I mean, I know I’m thankful for it. I’m thankful for other skills too, but I suppose that’s the numero uno. It should be, right? On a writer’s website?

It’s been hard lately. I haven’t felt the muse for about two years now. I don’t know how to get it back. My super-smart published author friend Kim says I need to keep writing, and it’ll lift the fog I feel in my mind these days. I’m sure she’s right.

And I keep plugging away. I’m not as far into my new novel as I’d like to be, but I’ve gotten good feedback and when I read it, I can see that the skill is still there. It’s just not as easy to do at the moment. I’m still thankful for it, though.

What do you do when your creativity isn’t flowing easily? Ideas?

NaNo Days 6 and 7 and 8

I wrote exactly two words before midnight on Day 6, in an effort to write something every day.

I didn’t write anything yesterday, and I doubt I will today.

In my defense, I did have a lot of stuff going on yesterday – two appointments and critique group. So I had to drive to the city early and then come home and get everything ready for critique group, plus deal with the small people that live here, and then I had to go to the city again in the evening.

Today…didn’t have as much to do. But I’m still having a hard time getting back into writing. I haven’t been able to write very much since early in 2016. I want to get back into my work but it’s just not working. My mind is other places – sometimes good, sometimes less so.

I’m still planning on writing tomorrow. Even though I have to take the smallest one to an eye doctor appointment and then there’s probably some other stuff that I’m forgetting.

NaNo Day 5

Okay. Today was a little harder. Only got 203 words. I was actually on a roll when I wrote those but then I got interrupted by family and never got back on track. Then came more family distractions. And then I got all overwhelmed with another thing I tend to obsess over in my spare time.

And then I decided that I should be thankful for how many dang words I got. So in the last five days I’ve gotten more than 1,000 words. So that’s cool. Not the speed I want, but if I keep going at this speed I’ll have enough words by next summer. Which actually sounds hideous but if I had done that last year I’d be done with this novel by now.

Tomorrow’s going to be an issue because of our homeschool co-op. And then Tuesday I have two appointments in the city. But I can still write something. I’ve written something every day. And that’s a good thing to focus on.

NaNo day 3

So I only got 419 words today. I also had to go to the chiropractor and I went out with Ben, but still. Not the 1600 and so I’m supposed to be shooting for.

I don’t know whether I should force myself to do better, or if I should be proud of myself for writing at all. Conundrum.

NaNo Day 2

Day one went okay. I didn’t meet goal but I wrote about 530 words. That’s not great but it still beats 0. Plus, this is a hard spot in the novel (which is why I got stuck, obviously) so I’ll gladly take what I can get. I feel more positive today. Maybe I’ll even reach goal and make up what I missed yesterday! (This is doubtful, because 2,000 words is usually my max (although I hit more than 8,000 one time) but who knows, right? Anything is possible.tumblr_n6svkplOxC1r34qiso1_500

Thirty-eight soooo great

So in 2009, before my sister died and my life changed forever, I had a livejournal, and I tried to post there regularly. Sometimes I did well, sometimes not. One thing I tried doing was 100 journal topics that I found on this old angelfire site.

I did all right posting those. And then my sister died. And then I kind of stopped doing anything for a while. I tried to resurrect the 100 in 2010. Then, when I was getting this website going and really getting things happening with my big superfun wannabe author career, I did them again.

And now I want to get back into this blogging thing, I think, so get the creativity flowing again or whatever, and so I’m going to give it another try. Because I can’t just post about my regular life or where my mind is lately. Because it’s just too freaky deaky and I’m not ready to just blare that all over the place.

So. Presenting number 38 in the 100 Journal Topics project.

38. Did you ever know someone who had “everything?”

No. Ha ha, done.

Seriously, though. I don’t really think so. I mean, surely I had some jealousies about things other people had when I was younger, but I never really thought someone had everything. Oh sure, my neighbors to the north had HBO, back when it was actually called Home Box Office and was its own separate thing, not part of a cable package…and my neighbor to the south had horses, and a three wheeler, and a pool, but we had a pool too. And we had our ponies. And I had a sweet fort thing in the middle of a stand of mulberry trees, and like two hundred My Little Ponies, and the coolest swingset known to man. I didn’t have a treehouse, and that grieved me, but I still had it all right.

In high school, I had a car. Not the best car or the newest car, but I had a car. So again, yeah. I had it all right. Not the richest kid in school but not the poorest either. Not by a long shot. I had friends, I had reasonably cool clothes, I had parents who were pretty understanding and lenient. Things were all right.

You guys, this is basically what my car looked like and it was so big and old and flippin' sweet and I'm still a little peeved that my sister wrecked it. Its name was Tiger and it was such a good car. <3

You guys, this is basically what my car looked like and it was so big and old and flippin’ sweet and I’m still a little peeved that my sister wrecked it. Its name was Tiger and it was such a good car. <3


But I’ve always been like that. I’ve always been basically satisfied. Sure, there’s better stuff, and that would be nice, but at least I’m not starving or homeless or whatever. I’m a long way from that life.

Nowadays, I suppose I could look to my writing friends and look at what others have. Sometimes I do; I’m not gonna lie. But I still think that if I’m patient and cool, my time will come. It’s kind of fun enjoying my friends’ successes anyway. Like my friend Kim…her amazing book is coming out this month and I’m so excited for her! Yes, it’d be cool if I’d gotten there too already…but I also believe that all things happen for a reason, and there is divine timing. If I haven’t gotten published yet, it’s just because the time isn’t right. And that’s okay. I just have to keep trying so I’ll be ready when the time is right.

Anyway, when you get right down to it, I guess I personally have everything. Okay, see, I wrote this thing back when I was in high school, where we had to say what our life would be like so many years down the road. It was for our journals, for our English class. I said that I would be a writer, living in a two story old house, married with children. And there it is. That’s what I wanted, and that’s what I got. So I should be pretty dad gum satisfied. And I am. I still want more, you know, but I’m content with where I am right now. The future will surely hold all kinds of surprises, and that’s cool too, even though I don’t really know what they are. I’m thankful. Thankful to God, thankful to others, thankful for basically everything in life. It’s a pretty sweet place to be.

happy-unicorn-rainbow

So…that’s my step back into my 100 journal topics. Maybe this time I will do more than two before lapsing again. Here’s hoping!