Tag Archives: daily writing

Research and Inspiration

Standard

This was a hard week. I had some major anxiety about medical tests for myself and my dad and didn’t feel 100% for most of it. Luckily, we both got some good news. I’m not out of the woods, but what they suspect I’m suffering from is a mild case. This is a huge blessing. I was very worried I had another surgery in my future.

So, this is going to be a quiet weekend for me. I have some things on my to-do list, but mainly I will be doing good things for my body and spirit. We are supposed to get a snow storm tonight and tomorrow which is also a blessing. Colorado has barely had any snow this year, and we really need it. I’m prepared to keep myself busy and warm until it clears or I have to leave for work on Monday.

I have been working a lot on non-fiction articles lately, but am also being called to write picture books again. Picture books can be fun and silly, or educational, however they also can be profound and comment on elements of our world and culture that affect us in deep, intimate ways.

I researched a bunch of picture books that were published in the last couple of years and borrowed them from the library. I love reading as reader, but also as a writer. There are so many lessons on craft on the pages of the books featured above. I have been brought to tears and covered with goosebumps with every title. There is such a captivating relationship between words and pictures that work together to create such a visceral experience.

I will be writing review posts for all of these books soon, but for now, they have been wonderful company on this quiet, reflective Saturday. I am hoping they inspire me to get more of my own words on the page.

Advertisements

Tend Your Garden

Standard

mbm2011through the curtainswtmk

I have thoroughly enjoyed my patio garden this summer. It is much bigger than the garden I tried last year and I have loved every aspect of it. The actual planting was magical. I had dirt under my nails for days, but being in the dirt felt so grounding. I loved shaking the plant free of it small pot and securing it with new soil, hoping that it would thrive in its new home.

I cherished watching the small plants grow and flower. Carrot tops shooting out of the soil. Lettuce leaves and basil. Delicate yellow flowers that would soon be green tomatoes. Crisp bell peppers and sherbet colored zucchini blossoms. Every day, I enjoy sitting on the patio, drinking coffee or tea, taking in the beauty of growing, living things.

A garden, no matter how big or small takes daily maintenance and thought. I have to adjust my watering based on how much rain we got the day before. I pull off dead bits and leaves, making room for new blossoms and growth. I also discovered recently that one of my tomato plants is lacking calcium so it has blossom end rot. I had to research emergency fixes and try to remedy the problem. There is work to be done everyday, but the work also leaves me grounded and in awe of the creative process at work in front of me, in these pots.

mbm2011flower basket augwtmk

It occurs to me that writing is like gardening. Writing daily is a grounding creative practice. Once in the habit of tending a writing practice on a daily basis, you can weed out the dead bits and things that are starting to rot. You can research new methods to try or use a new point of view to bring new life to something. A daily writing practice has been difficult for me to maintain the last couple of years. I finished a novel I’d been working on for almost ten years and got it out into the world. I was excited to start new projects, but I missed the familiarity of my last piece and the world I knew how to tend. New life felt untrustworthy, but I never gave it a shot and my daily practice withered and died.

Because I tend to the garden a little bit everyday, it is flourishing. There is definitely difference in opinion about what a daily writing practice should entail. I’ve learned that setting up lots of rules and routines boxes me in and I rebel by not working at all. I do better with loose rules and it might change per work in progress or change every couple of days. That said, even five minutes of writing a day – blogging, journaling or fiction writing helps me to be more grounded and flourish.

mbm2011basil and tomatowtmk

I sometimes want my daily practice to be more. I’ve tried NANOWRIMO multiple times, but inevitably the large daily word count gets the best of me and I can’t keep up. In reality, a smaller dose is easier for me to handle and as I am learning with my garden, still produces great results. I might have to wait longer for my wip’s to mature and produce, but the harvest will be potent and memorable just like my basil.

Don’t Be Afraid…

Standard

mbm2011Forest sepiawtmk

Up until recently the only prose I’ve ever really written and shared was intended for younger audiences. A couple of years ago, a handful of my works in progress started to take a darker turn and I was afraid to follow my characters into the proverbial forest. I was frightened by what my imagination was capable of. This was the same reason I have avoided horror films and books for most of my life…my imagination made them much scarier once I was at home, alone, in the dark.

Knowing this, one of my best friends sent me an incredible article from Poet’s and Writer’s about earning your violence in art. It gave me a new perspective but I was still too frightened to try. Last summer I devoured Gillian Flynn books. I couldn’t get enough. They were brilliant, dark and violent. I love the Hunger Games series which is also very violent. The violence was not gratuitous. It helped move the story forward and as hard as it was to read, it belonged on the page. I started to understand what the article was really saying, but was I ready to go to that place?

The answer was no, since it has been another year of procrastination. However, I have recently been inundated with a dozen of new short story ideas that feature darker and more subversive subject matter. I’m still a little hesitant, but the stories are winning out. I am more interested these days in the dynamics of family, sexual identity and the vast spectrum of good vs. bad in characters and human beings in general. I am also writing again. I wrote three scenes for a short story I have been revising for a couple of years and I wrote 500 words for a new short today.

I’m learning in my personal and creative life to be more brave. The imagined outcome is riddled with anxiety, fear and doubt yet, if I get out of my own way and try…it’s typically not bad at all.

I know I will come to a scene that will push my limits again, but I’m encouraged that now I won’t be afraid to follow those characters where they lead me, no matter how dark or dire. I’m excited to grow in this way.

Revelation and Inspiration

Standard

I’m still pretty tired. It’s amazing how being back at school is taking it out of me. I haven’t been sleeping very soundly the last couple of days either and that probably has a bunch to do with it too. It’s crazy how easily I can slip back into my old ways of staying up way to late. I had a major power struggle with a student today, which was a bit exhausting as well. It wasn’t a power struggle, per se, because I was very consistent and would not budge with it. I am very stubborn and it actually served me well today. I was calm and firm. It was hard to hold my ground, but he was looking for an inch of wiggle room and I never would have got that authority back. I love him. He is bright and I enjoy working with him every day but he challenges me almost everyday as well. I think the is on the Autism spectrum and he is being observed this month. I am grateful for him because he makes me a better teacher. We are learning from each other.

On a nicer note, two of my 5th grade students finished my book over the Winter Break. One of them saw me in the hallway today before our group and stopped to give me a hug and tell me she had completed it over break. She struggles with reading, but she works hard to improve. She was so happy to talk to me about the book and she asked me when she could read another one of my books because it was so interesting. I said, “Well, I’m still writing it…”

She said, “You better get busy! I want to read it soon!”

That is inspiration and a lot of pressure 🙂

I told her how proud I was of her for finishing it and doing such an amazing job. It was the biggest book she has ever read and she read it in less than two weeks. It was above her reading level and she really pushed herself. She had a huge grin on her face and I knew she felt my pride and excitement for her awesome accomplishment.

I haven’t been writing. I think about it all the time, but I haven’t even tried to write anything other than journaling or Morning Pages in months. Having the students enjoy my book so much and be excited to read what’s next has been a revelation and inspiration to get off my duff and just try to get some words down. I have had little spurts of inspiration with these WIP’s, but mainly a lot of one step forward two steps back.

I resolved to write more again anyway, so time is of the essence!

What inspires you to keep writing and persevering when writing gets tough?

I know I will see that student’s grin in my head from now on when I sit down to write.