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.

I Wish I Would Have Said This…

How many times have we thought this?

I think this is why I enjoy writing so much:  because I’m a horrible speaker but when I write I have time to think what I want to say before speaking.

I wrote yesterday about the lady who was inconvenienced by my screaming 2 year old at the library and had to be rude about it.  Well, I am reading, “The Invisible Child” by Katherine Paterson which is in essence a compilation of her speeches.  In one, she talks about The Little Princess by Frances Hodgeson Burnett.  It quotes  a passage from the book that I would have LOVED to have told this lady.  Here it is:

“You don’t know that you are saying these things to a princess, and that if I chose I could wave my hand and order you to execution.  I only spare you because I am a princess, and you are a poor, stupid, unkind, vulgar old thing, and don’t know any better.”

This was great!  So apropos!

I’ll have to remember this for next time.

When Did It Become Not Okay to Follow Your Passion?

I think so many of us get caught up in the hub-bub of life.  I know I do.  Between running my household (3 kids, 2 dogs, and 1 husband) and all that entails, I do get bogged down in doing “stuff”.  Filling my life with one thing after another that doesn’t mean much in the end.

I was reading Mandy Hubbard’s post (click here to see it), asking the question “When Do You Give Up On a Project?”

Here was my response:

I would add when you lose the passion for your work, it’s time to move on.  I have two novels that I would love to see picked up.  My YA is currently being edited.  This is the one I can take no further myself.  I have done all I can.  But my hands are tied on this one.  I’m at the mercy of my editor before I can continue with it.  The former one (women’s fiction) is one I’ve reworked countless times.

But now, I’m on to my next YA project where my passion now lies.  It’s not with the other two.  I spend all my spare time writing my next project rather than querying my former two which I’ve finally concluded is okay.  It’s okay to put something down for a bit and return to it later with fresh eyes.  What makes your heart sing is where you should go, not what you think you should be doing (i.e. finding an agent to get on the road to being published).
Nor should you feel guilty about it either.  Life is short.  Spend your time wisely.  Follow your passion.
I believe this with all my heart.  When I sit down at the computer and create people, events, situations, emotions, feelings, things, I never want to be doing anything else (ok, so maybe I’d like to be writing on a beach in Hawaii).  Everything else vanishes around me and I am sucked into this amazing world I have created, one I want to share with the universe.  I can think of no better way to spend my time than in the pursuit of my life’s passion.
It’s okay not to feel pressured by society or believe “it’s just a pipe dream” or feel like I should go out to get some mundane job in order to earn a little cash on the side instead of writing.

When you know what your passion is in life and you know God and your family is behind you every step of the way, then you should let nothing stand in your way of doing everything possible to fulfill your life’s calling.  Not society.  Not friends.  Not extended family members.  Not yourself sometimes.  Not what you ‘should’ or ‘should not’ be doing in your mind’s eye.  Nothing.  Period.

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.