I Write What I Can

And I never think about what I’m doing until afterwards.  I write the stories I can write.  This is paraphrasing Katherine Paterson again.

This makes me feel so much better.  I often think how writers infuse deep meaning into their works but I just can’t ever seem to sit down and do it.  I just write and follow the thread of my characters and see where it leads me.  There is really no planning to it.  Then I wonder if I’ve said anything at all relevant.

Now I know I will write my stories how I see them.  Someone else will write something completely different.  That’s what makes us unique.  The meaning will come of itself.  No one can steal your novel from you–you can only write yours.

Time after time, writers stumble blindly upon the very secrets that will serve to unlock the story they are currently struggling with.  (Katherine Paterson).  This is true for me.  I get ideas that just pop out and end up right where they need to be.

If you let living people into a story, they will move each other.  If you put in constructed characters, you’ll have to do the moving yourself.  The reader won’t be fooled. (Katherine Paterson)

Writing is a form of self-judgment.  See truth that cannot be observed directly.

My job is to write.  Your job is to get meaning out of it.

What is there in the psyche that prevents you from writing something for years, and then suddenly, without any warning, tells you that the time is ripe?  A writer must write about what impinges on her own life, not try to guess what will be important.

The gift I have been given is a limited one.  We must be true to the gift God has given.  We must try to give back something of what we’ve been given.  And a writer has no life to give but her own. (Paraphrasing Katherine Paterson again)

It’s Not JUST About Getting Published

I’ve been reading a lot lately on the value of books and what makes a book good.  For the longest time, I’ve just been concerned about getting published.  Now, I want to have my best work published that says something of value that will last for generations.  It’s not just about me anymore.

I do care what my children read.  This is why I pick out a majority of their books and read what I want to read to them.  Most is just not garbage.  I don’t want my books to be fluff either.

Reading fluff is better than not reading but there’s more to it than this.  Kids need to learn and think and reflect on characters and situations in order to learn and grow into productive members of society.

Many think Harry Potter and Twilight are fluff.  I disagree.  They are great books.  But I think they get miscategorized into fluff due to their popularity.  I want my books to be wildly popular as well.  I think you can be popular and be profound at the same time.

“Art is a controlled fury of desire to share one’s private revelation of life–to give the best that is in us to the audience that lives by what it feeds upon.”  Frances Clarke Sayers

Great stuff.  I would add it’s a desire placed by God within to share one’s revelation of life.

Now, I just have to figure all this out.  Easy, right?

The Healing Power of Books

Katherine Paterson said, “Books can help make peace within a child’s troubled heart.  We must be brave enough to give children books that have the power to heal.”

I LOVE this.  I believe this is one of my goals in writing books.  I deal with difficult subjects and portray characters who come through it.  My books are full of hope and I think kids need more of that these days with every thing that society throws at them.

The books that make the most impact on our lives are those whom we can identify with the main character.  Why do we identify with them?  Because we see ourselves in them.  This is what makes books great and gives them lasting endurance.

Bogged Down in the Details

I’m wondering if other writers do the same thing I do:  write at a frantic pace on their main points and then get bogged down in the details.

For the last week or so, I’ve been writing at every possible free moment.  Now, I’m forcing myself because I’m entering into boring explanatory details.  If it’s boring me, then it’s probably boring others.  I’m finding every other possible thing to do right now.  Sad really.

This happens to me every time though.  I hate editing because it’s detail work.  I’m more of a big picture, high action thinker.  Yet, I know how critical the details are.  I guess this is just not the fun part of writing for me.  I like to get my point/theme across and be done with it.

Whew!  Who know writing to be such a high demanding job?  Yet so rewarding at the same time.

The Greatness of Dogs

I can always tell couples who don’t have kids by examining how they treat their dogs.  If you don’t have kids, your dogs are your babies.  I know because I used to be one of these people.  Once kids come along, however, dogs disappear into the background.  No more long walks or endless games of fetch.  You just don’t have the time anymore.

For quite a while, my poor dogs got ignored–extensively.  My first two kids are only 16 months apart so I had no time there for a while.  Yet the great thing about dogs is they are loyal to the end and take what they can get.  My dogs still loved me every bit as much as they did before kids.  Yeah, their lives weren’t quite as exciting as before but they didn’t care.  As long as they had their owners, they were content with life.

Then I read “Marley and Me” by John Grogan a few years ago, which really awakened me back up to the importance of dogs in my life.

Yeah, they are old and just one more thing to do on top of the endless chores of taking care of babies.  But I love them–love them to the day they die and beyond–and so do my kids.  If you even mention how our dogs are close to death, my oldest gets upset.  She defends her dogs to the bitter end and since she has never known life without them, she wants nothing else.

I am definitely not looking forward to the day we all have to say good-bye.  I think the whole family will be down in the dumps for quite a while.  But it will be a good life lesson–for all of us.  How you should cherish the days of your life before one day you are gone.  How you can live in the moment, content with whatever you have and whatever you are given.  “Creatures of Being” as Eckhart Tolle calls them.

I firmly believe all dogs do go to heaven and I tell my kids that.  They may be gone for now but they will be in heaven waiting for us just as loyal as they were on Earth.  I’m sure we’ll get a huge tail wagging and licking when we arrive.  Maybe even we’ll be able to talk to them too and they can tell us what they really think (scary, huh?).

So this is for all the loyal dogs out there who can’t imagine life without their owners and their owners who can’t imagine life without their dogs.

Letting Go of a Work

Always when I begin a new project, it becomes my sole focus.  So much so that my other works drop off into oblivion and I could care not if they were published or even picked up.

I can’t shut my mind off from writing.  Just now, I closed my computer and am back at it not 5 minutes later.  Sleep is my only rest but even then I have strange, listless dreams.  New projects consume me.  They take hold of me like a polar bear to its prey, determined not to let go until the deed is done.

I kind of wish a literary agent would be a polar bear in terms of my work.  Or even better: maybe an audience?

Pshaw!  I’m writing again and feeling alive again as I create.  I wonder if all artists feel this way when they are emerged in their medium?

My projects are not forgotten, just on the back burner.  Their time will come when my new project winds down (as most of you know, I hate editing so I’m sure I will resurrect these as a procrastination technique).

Time to get back to work!

Seven at One Blow

Ever since I started homeschooling, I have read hundreds of books to my kids (this is just since November) and have really gotten into the great kids books and stories out there, most of which I’ve never read since my mom didn’t have the time as a single mother to read to us.  I’ve even had to restrain myself from putting books on hold at the library because there are just so many good ones out there (I now have a running list of hold books–sad isn’t it?).

Anyways, one story that we’ve read lately has really grabbed my kids’ attention.  It’s “Seven at One Blow” by the Brothers Grimm.  I love classics and love reading the classics to my kids but this one was just one I grabbed off the shelf at the library.

It’s about a common tailor who kills seven flies at one blow and that becomes his mantra.  He decides he’s better than a common tailor and sets out on adventures using his seven at one blow mantra to prop him up.  Most people think he’s killed seven men or giants at one blow and not flies.

The version we are reading is by Eric Kimmel who writes in his intro:  “The tailor is one of the most appealing characters in Grimm.  There is nothing heroic about him, but because he possesses such supreme self-confidence he inevitably becomes the hero he pretends to be.  As the saying goes: whether you say you can or can’t, you’re right.”

I love this.  The guy so believes in himself and his ability to accomplish even the most daunting task, that it happens.  He does it.  He finds a way.

So, I’m going to begin believing I am a writer and a published writer at that and soon enough, the Universe will open up, God will step in, and it will happen.

Good Writing Quotes for Inspiration

Occasionally, I like to post good writing quotes for inspiration for those of us who often need it as we try to break into the publishing industry.

Here’s one from Katherine Paterson, author of Bridge to Terabithia:

“The challenge for those of us who care about our faith and about a hurting world is to tell stories which will carry the words of grace and hope in their bones and sinews and not wear them like fancy dress.”

Do You Pause to Give God Credit?

How many times have you paused lately to give God credit for events in your life?

I know I try, especially on Sundays in church, but I’m bad at giving him credit for the little things:  like today for a perfect bike ride with my son where we saw frogs, pelicans, geese, birds, and squirrels–His creations all around us.

I’m bad at giving him credit for the big things too such as my new novel idea (I always say a prayer of thanks but continually giving him praise is hard for me) or for maybe getting us out of this apartment through a nice couple that may sublet from us or for my husband’s new job that is allowing us to go vacation for the first time in at least five years, for us to get our teeth cleaned, and for us to visit the doctor without worry of bills to come in the mail.

I’m reading Daniel in the Old Testament who continually gave God credit for everything despite being exiled in a foreign country his entire life (Babylon).  It’s amazing how far faith can get you.

I do know in my heart I will write the novel that will find the perfect literary agent and an audience as long as I keep following God’s word and his word in my life.

So I will endeavor to pause more to thank God for his little blessings (and his big ones) as I continue on my life’s journey.