Monday, September 30, 2013

Finding your Passion

Valerie J. Steimle

We are all writers. We all have families which need our care. We want to take care of both but not sure how.  We know how to take care of our families but we don't always know how to break into writing.

 After all the reading I have done for the last 20 years on writing and writers, there is a specific direction to follow. From Heather Moore's My Writer's Lair blog, there are some fantastic questions we can ask ourselves to get on track as a writer.  Check out her blog as she has an excellent collection of books she has written which are fantastic.  You can read selections of her books and they are heat warming, clean and spiritually uplifting.  As an LDS author she has broken into the secular world of publishing as well and is recognized as a clean romance writer.  So great!!

She is full of  phenomenal insight and here are a few of ideas. My comments are in maroon.

Questions to ask yourself in finding your passion to write:
*1. What are you an expert in?

If you are writing a book on parenting, why not start a blog on parenting tips/experiences and build a readership beforehand? Get articles published in magazines, newspapers. Become that expert.

Valerie: Something I have been doing for over 20 years. Families are my passion so the family is what I write about... all aspects of the family.

*2. How are you different?
This will constantly change, but what set your book, or your writing apart from all the others out there?

Valerie: This is an ongoing process that I'm even dealing with. What do I know or have that not a lot of people know or have.... hmmmm.

*3. Relationship with your readers:

Through blogging, social networking, newsletters, etc. keep growing your platform through contact with your readers.

Valerie: This one is a biggie!!!  Networking is one of the most important writing jobs you have. Whether it's social networking, blogging or networking online through groups--the idea is to get yourself out there with your writing.

*4. Join a group

Which professional organizations relate to your book topic? If you are writing historical fiction, join the historical society in your city. Become a board member. Join writers groups, volunteer to help at conferences. Find internet groups that deal with your subject matter. Become an active participant.

Valerie: Also very important. I have homeschooled for years and wrote a homeschooling book to help other parents.  I still spread the word about homeschooling and it is a great niche to be included in catalogs, speaking engagements and online websites.  Fine your niche.
*5. Volunteer

When you have joined a professional group, volunteer to be on the board, a committee, etc. When I first started going to the LUW chapter meetings, I didn’t know anyone. A year later, I was became the Chapter Secretary, then was the Chapter President. When I joined LDStorymakers, it took me awhile to even get “approved” and I only knew 2 writers. From the group, I’ve developed dozens of life-long friendships, served at the 2008 conference co-director, etc. At the co-director, I was able to work with an agent and a NY Editor on personal basis.

*6. Speak for free

When you are not in demand, you won’t get the big bucks. When you are advertising your availability, note that you are doing so FREE of charge. Until you can build up a demand, you are best off donating your time. You will go through a period of trial and error.

Valerie:  I have done this  myself at homeschool meetings and these speaking engagements not only solidifies what you believe and wrote about, you are spreading the word about your topic. Whether it's clean romance or action adventure, people will listen to what you have to say under the right circumstances.

*7. Platform: You are a writer

Beyond your platform based on the topic of your book, you are a writer. This is a platform as well. You can be the expert on:

            Your writing journey

            How you got published

            The research you’ve done for your book (location, time period, truth uncovered)

            The “how to’s” of writing a book

A couple of years ago, I attended the LUW Utah Valley Chapter meeting. The class was taught by a gentleman who had spent the previous summer attending writers conference across the nation. His teaching topic? Which Writers Conferences were worth the time and money. He gave a very interesting run-down.

*8. Learn to teach/present

            You might be an introvert. I am. The first time I even dared to say “hi” to a boy in the hall at school was in 7th grade. And he had been my neighbor for 7 years! (luckily he said “hi” back). The best thing I probably did was take drama in school, and work in retail in college. I had to greet customers and ask them if I could help them. This was intimidating. When you are doing a book signing, you need to be making eye contact and telling complete strangers about your book in an engaging way. Yes—you have to be a SALES PERSON.

            You’ll have to work on your teaching skills. I went to a Toastmasters meeting only one time. It was amazing. I learned a lot in that meeting, but I was too intimidated to go back.

*9. Create a one-sentence pitch

            In one sentence, be able to tell someone what your book is about. Develop your platform from there.

            In Richard Paul Evan’s book, The Gift, the main character has Tourette’s syndrome. He said, “I also have Tourette’s. The symptoms I describe in the book are based on my own.” As he was on book tour and doing televisions interviews, no one wanted to talk about the story in his book, but about the fact that this best-selling author had Tourette’s.

Valerie: A great idea for any writer with a plan.  I have been asked thousands of times, what my books are about and I can in a few words tell others about what I'm passionate about.  So important.

Heather B. Moore

Find your passion in writing....

Thursday, September 26, 2013

How Writing is Like Setting Up a First Grade Classroom

I haven't been able to write for a couple of weeks now because my daughter, a first grade teacher, got "surplused" (it may not be in the dictionary, but Utah teachers know the term) just 3 and a half weeks into the school year. To be brief, it meant there was one too many teachers at her school and not enough at another, so... since she was the last hired, she got shifted.

That meant another trip to Utah to help her set up her classroom for the second time. I've now helped set up three different classrooms and I began to see certain parallels between this process and the process of writing.

First, in this day and age, much as you may like to write by hand, in the end you can't avoid the technical. Manuscripts must be typed in the end and most submissions are now done online or by email. School is no different. Even though these are only First Graders, this was a Title 1 school and so one whole wall was devoted to computers.

You can't see it from here, but that's a Math bulletin board above the computers. While writers tend toward right brain activities, we can't neglect the business side of our profession if we want to be successful. We have to count sales, deal with sales tax, etc.

Happily, though, our main concern is with words. And words are most important to First Graders as they are trying to master reading and writing. This bulletin board or Word Wall at the back reminded me of my need to avoid repetition of certain words and, instead, search for new ways to express common ideas.

But we don't ask these young kids to read without also encouraging them to take their first real steps in writing. My daughter's classroom has a theme of "Sailing Toward Knowledge," and like these inexperienced first graders, we can sometimes feel "Under the Sea" when it comes to taking our pencils or keyboards in hand and pounding out that first draft.

I might point out, as well, the names of the months above the entire back bulletin board--a reminder that we must write day in and day out, week after week, and month after month if we expect to get better at our craft.

Next is our continual need for resources and research material. She has a whole side of her room devoted to math manipulatives, books, and other educational tools. Likewise, we writers need ready access to the kinds of resources that will enhance our finished product...beginning with a good dictionary and grammar book.

At the same time, both writers and teachers need to establish certain boundaries or rules for themselves and those with whom they are engaged. A teacher needs to outline class rules and consequences for misbehavior, as well as inspire both the children and herself/himself. A writer needs to outline his/her own rules (such as no social media until your writing is done for the day) both for self and loved ones who may share the same roof. After all, though both occupations can be time consuming, teaching or writing is not, in the end, the sole purpose of our existence.

I interview other writers a lot for my own blog and I invariably ask about their "writing space." I'm always intrigued to know what works for other writers and what it may reveal about them. For me, I need some kind of view, something that sends my mind beyond myself. In the same way, First Grade teachers need to set up a happy, colorful environment that will pull in these young minds.

Neither of these women is my daughter. The one on the right is her full-time aide, though...another benefit of a Title 1 school. Sometimes, as a writer, I wish I had a full-time aide and that's where critique groups and writing groups come in. They can help us see the weak links in our work and inspire us to forge ahead. We like to think of our profession as a solitary kind of occupation, but I think we all relish the opportunity we get at writers conferences and retreats to mingle with other like-minded individuals. In the same way, teachers now work as teams more often than not. And my daughter has a terrific team.

In the end, though, it's you facing a blank screen and making a decision about what to put on it. You've got all the letters, numbers, words, and ideas running around in your head. But which ones will you use and when and how?

That's where a clean, orderly work station comes in. Granted, every few months or so I find I have to reorganize and clear away the clutter, but I always write better (and I'm sure teachers always teach better) when the "house" is in order.

When all else fails, turn to a good book. You can't write well if you don't read a lot. And there are times (like after you've just finished one manuscript) when you need to relax and hibernate a bit. Do it with a good book or two. Teachers do the same thing. If a lesson has failed that day, First Grade teachers can always count on an entertaining read to pull the kids' attention back and make everyone (especially the teacher) feel better. "Piggie Pie" will do it every time!

Finally, one thing continues to provide the necessary fuel, whether I'm writing or helping to set up a classroom: chocolate. Let's just say I ate a lot of M&Ms this past week. :D

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Solitary Occupation Improved with a Group Endeavor

Writing is a solitary occupation that requires concentration and dedication - a perfect job for a recluse. Mothers usually don't have this luxury unless they wait until the wee hours of the night, and then they are still interrupted by a child who is afraid of the monster in the closet, the sick baby who needs tending and more. Distractions abound, yet there are examples of successful mommy authors who persevered including ANWA president Janette Rallison and famous J. K. Rowling.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Movies Aren't History

by H. Linn Murphy

I came home from last night's high school open house greatly disturbed. I'd gone to do battle with an extremely confrontational teacher. I came home from that bout feeling like I needed a shower.

I was concerned that the teacher was taking huge amounts of points away from my son's grade for wretched reasons--which is still the case. She refuses to recant on items which are not in any way my son's fault. Apparently, if she fixed his grade, she'd have to fix all the others' (not a bad idea, actually). I wanted to whack her with a frying pan (especially after she called me scatterbrained).

However, it quickly became apparent that her mercenary grading system was not the main problem. What she actually wanted to talk about was why I wouldn't let my son watch R-rated movies (Shindler's List to name one). I told her that we don't allow our children to watch R-rated movies. I indicated that there were far better movies about the Holocaust.
"Why can't they watch THE HIDING PLACE by Corrie Ten Boom or the Diary of Anne Frank?" I asked.
She smirked at me and said, "Welllllll those movies just don't hold enough punch. I want the movies to punch the kids right in the face."

I had to mentally rein myself in by this time from punching her right in the face.
"What if I don't want my children punched?" I asked. "I've actually been to Dachau. I've smelled the stench that still hangs over the place. I've walked between the barracks foundations. I've felt evil so potent it made me want to barf. And I've described all of this to my children. That's as much face-punching as I ever want them to have."
"Well why don't you watch the movie and let me know." Still that smirk.
Condescending much? I thought. "Nobody at our house watches R-rated movies."
"Then how do you know you don't want your children watching it if you haven't seen it yourself?"
How indeed? I couldn't continue. After a point people are past feeling and there is nothing to do but jump out of the plane and hope your parachute works.
I left her with this: "I hope you understand that I will continue to do battle for my children."
"Oh I wouldn't have it any other way," she said. I'm certain she thinks she won. I, however, know everyone is losing.

So now she's warned. I'm taking it to the school board. This is ridiculous. These teachers think that watching a Hollywood version of some story will accurately show how it was then. I say, "Fie on you! Don't you realize Hollywood sensationalizes everything to sell movies?" Everything is sexier, more violent, raunchier, and more depraved. Smut sells.

How long has it been since they did movies without these hooks? It's lucky that Jane Austen's movies have remained fairly intact. It'll be interesting to see how far Austenland goes without the sex which seems to be the only thing they'll show.

I can't count the number of movies I've seen which completely slanted the story or reported absolute lies. Two different movies can slant things vastly different ways. The other day we watched a Snow White movie. Gone was Disney's cute little princess who needed the prince. Gone was the young girl with such virtue and gentleness that all those around her loved her.
This Snow White version had nothing about goodness in it. The dwarfs found nothing to inspire loyalty in the girl. And the prince was such a side note that people found themselves hoping she'd hook up with the huntsman.


So this is what the movie is really selling:
*Violence is good if you're hot.
*It's okay to be a wretched person because someone did something mean to you when you were little.
*Women don't need guys for anything but to admire them from afar and stand around until they're needed.
*Women can fight better than men even though men had to train their whole lives to prepare.
*Fathers and Mothers are an over-touted nuisance and ineffectual at best.
That is just from one movie. I'm certain there are further nuances I missed.

And those are just the entertainment-oriented movies. What lies are the other movies spinning us? It seems to me that the aim is to pick apart the fabric of history and re-weave it into something a real history buff can't even recognize. That, my friends, is called propaganda. It is the deliberate insertion of lies and half-truths in order to change the mindset of this upcoming generation. Ask anyone from an Iron Curtain country about propaganda.

No. My children will not be watching Shindler's List, or any other package of garbage dressed up and primped and pushed on our children in the name of education. If she insists on showing movies of that sort, I will make such a stench that she will think she hit a skunk on the road.

I'm on my way to the Principal's office to see if I can find a better teacher for my son--one who can actually stand children and wants to teach them real history. I'm thinking I won't find that until he comes home to me.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Who's Under Your Bus?

by Michelle Wilson

Writing is like driving a bus. (You ready for this one?)

You've got this great and powerful vehicle that can carry anyone you want to anyplace you want.

With fiction, you can take your reader to, not only new places on earth, but to other worlds. You can open them up to the mysteries of an unknown universe and time, or unlock the secrets of the heart of the woman who lives next door.

As a writer, you are the driver. You decide where you will go and who you want to take.

You also decide who is under your bus.

My mom bought me a t-shirt that says, "Be nice to me, or you might end up in my novel." I've talked to a few writers who have found great satisfaction in killing off an ex-boyfriend in their books. In the novel I just finished, I based one of the (annoying) antagonists on the ex-wife of one of my beta readers. He quite enjoys critiquing my book. Lol.

In fiction it's not too bad to throw people under our literary bus. Sometimes it's fun. And most times it is harmless.

But, non-fiction is different.

You might think you're not a non-fiction writer, but if you've ever written in a journal, a blog post, a Facebook status, a Twitter tweet, a letter to a friend, a talk in church, you have written non-fiction.

 As I wrote my women's inspirational non-fiction book, "Does This Insecurity Make Me Look Fat?" (which is available for preorder now here through Deseret Book, with a release date this December 30th. Excited and unapologetic plug here!) I was careful at not only where I was 'driving my bus,' but over whom I didn't want to drive it over: my kids.

 As moms we tend to commiserate one with another. As moms who write, we do it in print. As moms who write who also network via blogs and Facebook and Twitter, etc, we do it in print in front of everyone.

In my book I shared some stories of the struggles I've had as a woman and a mom, and much of it has been done with humor. But, I've tried to be very cognizant of how much I share and in what flavor I share some of the trials I've experienced via my children. I don't want my children to read anything I've written with embarrassment or regret.

It's important to remember that as we share our lessons and experiences, we do it in such a way that we don't throw our kids under the bus, meaning (quite bluntly) we don't share personal things about our children that will embarrass them, demean them, or hurt them for our own benefit.

Whether it's in a book or on Facebook, we must understand and remember that our children are not little extensions of our lives, but their own persons who have the right to drive their own buses.

I have seen mothers complain, accuse, demean, even demonize, their own children for the sake of venting or sharing. True, most times these moms don't have ill-intent. We love our children dearly--even though they sometimes drive us crazy.  But, they are still people. They have the right to create their own reputations, their own public identity--their own bus, without their mothers telling the world that little johnny is irresponsible, or little molly lies a lot.

I have not always been completely innocent of this.

Just a few months ago I posted a Facebook status about my teenage son that was a harmless (in my eyes) crack about how the house had been so quiet while he was gone at scout camp (with a few other details). My FB friends got a kick out of it. But what I hadn't taken into consideration was that my son was also my FB friend, and he didn't find it amusing. In fact, he was a little hurt that I would broadcast an insult for fun.

I realized I had thrown him under my bus, and I repented.

Yes, parenting is hard--really hard. But, so is being a kid and growing up in this world. Our kids should know that we are their sanctuaries--we are the safe harbor for all their faults and weaknesses. They should feel that we protect them from harm, not run over them with our bus because we are seeking support, validation, or we need to vent, or we just think it's funny.

Of course we can share, generally speaking, our thoughts and feelings- but we should always take into careful consideration how it will make them feel.

 Even our little ones. Someday they will grow up to understand the things that we've said, and written, about them. How will it make them feel about themselves? How will it make them feel about us? How will it make them feel about how we feel about them? (Ask yourself that one ten times fast!)

Writing is a powerful force, a force that brings our thoughts and dreams (good and bad) into reality. We can go anywhere and do anything. We can lift up or tear down. We can spread the love or encourage criticism and hurt. We drive very powerful buses with the words we put out there.

We love our children, and wouldn't purposefully hurt them. Let's be sure we don't do it by accident, either.

Write on and drive carefully!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Back to School means Back to Homework

Hi, my name is Dorine White and this is my first post for mommy bloggers. I am an author of children's fantasy books and have six children of my own. My other blog focuses on children's books, reviews and publishing, so I wanted to join a group that also focuses on the mom aspect of my life.

Today's post is about my ponderings on homework. Every year my children get different teachers with different approaches to homework. My oldest is a senior in high school and my youngest is in pre-school, so I run the gambit on grade levels. I've come to some interesting conclusions over the years, and I thought I'd share.

First off, I don't think homework is for every child. I have one kid that comes home, does their homework and finishes lickity-split. I have another that loves homework and thrives on good grades, and then I have one with ADHD who comes home, can't stand the idea of more school and only finishes about 1/4 of every take home assignment. Unfortunately teachers can't tailor homework for each and every child, it is a whole class or nothing deal.

So, I often run into teachers that believe in homework or don't. Over the years I've gone over to the dark side and now believe in the no homework approach. Part of the reason is because the school day is so long. The teachers have 6 hours to teach my child, and by the time my elementary school kids get home it is often after 4 pm. The day is mostly done, they get a little time to play, watch tv, eat dinner. Adding lengthy homework to the mix is stressful for them. They feel like they don't get a break. I can't even imagine going to work all day, coming home and then doing more business work. My husband does that and it is awful. Kids need to have time too. Plus, if there is an extra activity in your child's life, such as scouts or sports, then the time is completely gone. 3/4 of their day is school. I want those last few hours for them to do the things they enjoy.

I  make exceptions for projects and essays. Those things are take home assignments and as kids go off to college and into the world they'll need those skills. But, I don't think they need more handouts about what they just spent all day studying. If something didn't get finished in school, sure, send it home. But, if it is just more excess, don't burden my child.

For my high schoolers, it is a different story. They do need homework, but just not as much as they receive. Each class seems to think they are the only class in my child's life and sends home an hour each. Hello, with 7 periods that's well into the night. How many of our kids stay up to 1 am just to finish that last assignment? I love schools that have connected teachers that work together to limit homework to only an hour or two each night. As my kids have gotten older, they've often added more things to their plates. They are in school plays, mock trial, band, school sports, etc. I often don't see them after school until the evening because they had practice after school. Then they come home, eat dinner and do hours of homework. Ugh! I feel their stress.

I think back to my days in school and remember the AP and Honor classes that took up my time. How did I fit it all in? As a parent I see my children struggling to balance their time and wish that I could just stamp out some of their homework as unnecessary.

What do other moms out there think? Did I get you thinking? Then I did my job, whether you agree with me or not. And FYI, I did get a degree involving secondary education, so I'm looking at both sides.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Quest Box

Not too long ago I sent away for some free samples. They were a new brand of energy bar, Quest bars to be specific. The flavors sounded interesting, so I thought, “What the heck?” What I got in the mail was an overheated black box containing my (now withered) samples. Yeah, Arizona summers are not conducive to heat sensitive mail. On the outside printed in red and white, in all caps, it read,

 “You say yes when others say no. You rise while others sleep. You are better today than you were yesterday. You do what others will not. You control your destiny. You are intense. You are obsessed. You are not normal. You are on a quest. Never stop.”

I love this box. I have no recollection of the samples from within, my children made short work of them despite their sun stroked condition, but the box is now a permanent fixture of my writing space. 
I am not sure what enamored me to it so quickly, but it is a prized possession. Maybe the, “you are,” statements function as mini affirmations for me each day. It reminds me that even when all I feel like doing is sipping my unseasonable hot chocolate in front of a film adaptation of an Austen novel, I have stories of my own demanding attention, plot holes to be filled and paved, characters that just want someone to talk to. Whatever it is, the fact that there was a company willing me to greatness regardless of what I thought (or didn’t even get a chance to think) about their product endeared me to the packaging.

Perhaps its greatest assertion, “You are on a quest,” is what really piqued my interest. It prods me to ask, “yes, but what kind of quest?”

Am I on a quest to be published? I don’t think so. Having had my first tiny taste of publication and the immense workload it brings, I’m pretty sure that’s not what I’m after. I’m not really comfortable talking about my writing in public forums, it’s such a personal thing. I really try to right for myself, to write the things that interest me. I certainly don’t expect fame or fortune, and I hope to avoid any form of infamy.

I think I might just be on the quest to find the most interesting story, maybe even the one tale that’s missing from my life. My day is so full, so complete in many ways that chasing stories and characters and themes is one of the few avenues of self-discovery still open to me. When the mortgage must be paid, the children fed/dressed/cleaned/taught, the yard weeded, and the billion other things that make up living in America in the 21st century, the mind can become one of the last places for real conquest, challenge, triumph.
Perhaps it is silly, and really just evidence of being a packrat at heart, but I’m not parting with this little box of cardboard. Like another rather infamous article it contains my hope for what writing will be for me: a source of joy, a source of wonder, a refuge from life’s hurts and struggles. Yes, I am on a quest, to never stop.
How about you? What are you questing for?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Day In, Day Out

Three weeks ago, I started a new assignment. For at least until the end of next May (and hopefully for years to come), I'll be teaching a scripture study class to a group of roughly a dozen teenagers. The class goes from 6:00 to 6:45 every weekday morning, Monday through Friday, and is held at our local church building. I don't get paid for this, unless you count the deep peace and joy such service brings.

Most of these kids have learned about our religious beliefs and practices at weekly Sunday meetings and from their parents at home, but none of them have ever studied the scriptures in such depth before. It's an eye-opening experience for them, and I love seeing their faces light up when they learn something new and feel its truth.

I took this same class (called "Seminary") all four years in high school. I remember my Junior year of Seminary especially well. I'd get up at 5:00 a.m., shower and get ready for school, and get picked up by a quiet farm boy who played Varsity football. He didn't say much, but he was there every morning in his father's rusty pick-up truck. I'd hop into the cab and slide onto the vinyl seat, and we'd drive on through California's Central Valley fog until we got to the chapel. 

Once there, a marvelous young father named Rob Falke taught us the gospel. Who the prophets were, what the Savior did for us, and how to find our own answers to life's biggest questions. Brother Falke, as we called him, had a deep love for the scriptures, but he had an even deeper love for the students in his class. Every morning, he looked us each in the eye and grinned, making us feel warm and welcomed. He never blinked at what anyone wore or said. He just loved us, generously and without condition. (And he often treated us to Fail's Donuts, the most scrumptious pastries in town.)

I've thought of Brother Falke often in the past three weeks--I've remembered the huge impact he had on me as a teenager. I knew he would love me no matter what I said or did, and to feel that from someone not related to me was a big deal to me back then. It still is today, thirty years later.

And now I know how he felt. I look into these sleepy faces gazing up at me as I teach, and I love them. Unreservedly. I'd walk miles for any one of them. And I hope they feel that, especially as the newness of the year wears off, and we're in the early morning trenches together. 

I limit myself to one hour per day for lesson preparation, which is difficult. I could easily spend all day, every day researching historical context and the light that etymology can shine on doctrine, for example. But I have to keep a balance, reserving time for writing, housework, mothering, and wifing. I have no desire to burn out. I'm in this for the long haul. 

Seminary is a relentless calling; I must make time to prepare every single day, no matter what. The alternative is to show up before the crack of dawn with nothing to give my students in exchange for the sacrifice of their time and sleep--and that is simply not an option.

So I've made a new routine for myself, and I'm chugging along, day in, day out. It's challenging, like any new routine, and I want to do my best for these great kids. I want to pass on my love and devotion and faith; my goal is for my enthusiasm to spark their own. My hope is that, thirty years from now, these kids will look back on Sister Perkins with fond memories, and will have built their own testimonies and lives on the sure foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If I can play even a small part in that process, I'll be richly rewarded. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Where's my porpoise?

“They were obliged to have him with them,” the Mock Turtle said.  “No wise fish would go anywhere without a porpoise.”
“Wouldn’t it really?” said Alice in a tone of great surprise.
“Of course not,” said the Mock Turtle.  “Why, if a fish came to me and told me he was going a journey, I should say ‘With what porpoise?”
“Don’t you mean ‘purpose’? said Alice.
“I mean what I say,” the Mock Turtle replied with an offended tone.

 One year I read both Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and Through The Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll with my kids.  This is one of my all time favorite conversations between Alice and the Mock Turtle in Through The Looking-Glass.  Not only because it is hysterically funny, but because it had such a great message and none of us have ever been able to forget it.  In fact, with a few minutes time we can all still find the page it is on without a book mark. 

I remember watching Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” when I was a kid and I thought it was funny and I enjoyed it.  I never read the book until I was an adult with several children.  I know the movie never inspired the kind of fun or offered the same messages my kids and I got when we read the book.  The short of all this is that as I was thinking about this blog post, I was so distracted by life, kids, chores, errands, appointments and so on that I just could not come up with any ideas to write about- I was not just dealing with a blank screen or paper, I was dealing with a blank brain.  Then out of the blue, just when I needed it most, this lovely conversation came to me. 

I had tried to begin my journey without a porpoise.  It just so happens that it was also something that I had been thinking about with my current writing projects.  I have been asking myself, “Why is this story important enough to write?”  I am probably doing things in the wrong order- I suppose I should have a plan to begin with.  I have heard many writers talk about being “pantsers” and I suppose I fall into that category mostly.  Generally I do have a plan or a loose outline of sorts, then I let the characters or the story tell me how things go.  The thing that has concerned me most lately, is time.  I believe in writing even if it is only for myself.  The process does something for me, that nothing else can do- feeling words and ideas come out of my mind through my fingers and become visible manifestations of my thoughts is an amazing thing.  Sometimes I have read something I have written and thought- “Wow, did I write that?”  That being said, it also takes a lot of time.  I have very little of that I can lay claim to.

I read a question on a writing group loop, by another author, not long ago asking for advice about how to write when you have little kids and just as your creative juices get flowing you get interrupted’.  My thought was, ‘Yeah, how do you do that?  I have been wondering about that for many years.’  I don’t have any answer.  I wasn’t satisfied with any of the posted answers- nothing against those helpful authors that offered suggestions.  They just didn’t work for me, I have tried much if not all of their suggestions. I have nine kids and the oldest two are only twenty-one and eighteen.  The youngest two just turned three and one. They all get a lot of my time.  I have a husband who naturally would like some too.  My mom is currently living with us because of health reasons and by necessity requires some though she would rather not so much.  I still have household chores, too and neighbors and church and…

My thought, I guess is actually several, all pertaining to the time problem.  The first and most important- don’t begin without your porpoise!  Time will find itself when it is right as long as you have that porpoise firmly by the fin. 

Second, if it really means that much to you, don’t give up even when you want to because you are sooooo frustrated and think you will never get time before you have completely lost your mind and memory and can’t remember what you wanted to write and it was so good!

Third, writing is important.  You do have something worth saying if you truly believe you do and it burns inside you begging to be let out.  If you have a husband and children they are more important.  The kids are going to grow up and leave faster than you will want even if you don’t think so at the moment.  It will be worth waiting to let that burning out.  Maybe if we are lucky, or the stars align correctly or the fates will have pity and someone will come along with a suggestion that will work for us to write more consistently with our kids and our husbands and the other million and one things we need to do.  If not it will still be worth the wait.  Then if it isn’t any good and we have lost our memory we won’t remember it anyway.  “Attitude determines altitude.”  I think that is a quote from Denis Waitley (or some other positive speaker).  “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” David O McKay.  Yes, some things are worth waiting for no matter how frustrating the wait and it pays to smile through the tears of frustration. Porpoises like salt water.

Fourth, read. Read lots and lots. Read things that will inspire you so that when you are facing an unending sea of blank, things will come to you just when you need them most and it will help you smile through the tears as well. Porpoises like sunshine too. Consider reading the work you can do when you can’t write without interruption. When you are reading, things  that inspire you, share them with those you care about most.  Then if you have lost your memory, they can remind you.

My best wishes for many prosperous and porpoiseful journeys!