Archive for July, 2014

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Vacation and Writing Work

July 28, 2014

It’s almost August: dog days and vacation close in!

The packing.

The organizing.

The lists.

The shopping.

The remembering.

The bills.

The job.

The dog sitter.

The mail.

The tickets.

Daunting? Oh yeah. I’m exhausted writing the list. Life often spirals out of control the week before vacation. And yet we do it. We take vacation because a week away is worth the work.

Same goes for our writing.

When a writer begins to think of writing as their work, it becomes work.

The outlining.

The drafts.

The thesaurus.

The critique.

The revision.

The late nights.

The early mornings.

The stuckness.

Exhausted? Yes. But it’s oh so worth it. Writing can involve mind-numbing confusion, but the ultimate result? Well, it might not be a piña colada on the beach, but it’s still worth the work.

Keep going!

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Flight to Spain

July 8, 2014

This morning I watched my daughter’s plane taxi from the gate, bound for Spain. Like a bad Julia Robert’s movie, I bawled my eyes out. Ellie’s been gone before, but today felt different, more painful. Maybe it was because Spain is so far from Colorado. Perhaps it was because she’ll be gone all summer. Maybe it was because I have a crazy imagination that plays dirty tricks on me throughout the night. And perhaps, most likely of all, the pain was all mine, simply having a difficult time saying good-bye.

 

Ellie will be 17 next month. She’s ready to find her way. And yet, it’s hard to let go.

 

As I drove home, exhausted and red-eyed, I thought about my writing. The process of my work, putting pen to paper, has always helped me understand my life and vice versa. Recalling my choked good-bye made me remember that letting go is part of the work, both in life and in my writing.

 

Advanced writers craft pages upon pages, only to delete them and begin again. It’s never easy. We love our words. We love our babies. But for the health of the manuscript and the health of our children, it’s sometimes best to say good-bye.

 

No doubt that I’ll get teary again this summer as I think about Ellie, but I’ll have tools to help me cope. I’ll call, I’ll email, I’ll text. And before I know it, she’ll be back. By now I’ve got a tool kit for my writing to help me edit—I’ll scratch, I’ll copy, I’ll delete. And before I know it, they’ll be a chapter.

 

It’s okay to be sad. But we need to let go, words and kids included.

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Why do we Write?

July 2, 2014

Why do you write?

For me, I write because I can’t not write. I realize that’s a cheat of an answer, but it’s true.

I’ve been writing in some form or another my entire life. When I was little, I wrote down my dreams and did creative writing prompts at school. As I moved into my teens, I wrote sappy poetry. I was, of course, the only girl in the world who was having boyfriend troubles and who’s family was driving me crazy. It was fine poetry. In my early twenties I began to write stories but didn’t do much with them. Twenties were a bit of a blur. I wrote professionally in my thirties, and after my kids arrived, I began writing in earnest. My first book, Soul Sunday: a Family’s Guide to Finding Faith and Teaching Tolerance, won seven national awards, and I continued to write articles and essays. However, once I found my voice in fiction, I’d come home. Now, it’s what I do.

In addition to writing professionally, I write for myself. My journal is a kind of therapy. There have been times that I couldn’t write—my brain too deep in a void to find words. Other times were too busy for journal writing. But both of these reasons are excuses. We should never be too busy to take care of ourselves, if we use writing to help clear our heads. The void can be filled with words. Writers should never be too busy to write, even if it’s only a few minutes to capture fleeting thoughts.

I finally know why I write, and so I do. Everyday.

Ask yourself why you write and then ask yourself why you stop. Write anyway.