Monthly Archives: May 2015

Reading Weekend: Childhood Memories and The Wednesday Witch

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I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read. When I was very little, my father served in the military and was stationed in Germany. Even though they barely had two nickels to rub together, my parents made sure they found books in English and started a book collection for me, some of which I still have to this day. My copy of Dr. Seuss’ ABC has British spellings so I always misspelled pajamas as pyjamas because that’s how it was spelled in my book. Through my very early childhood, I was usually found nose to a book, reading through the Encyclopedia Brown series, the Happy Hollisters and all of the Trixie Beldens. Some kids were jealous of their classmate’s bicycle or scooter. Not me. I was jealous of one classmate’s family collection of Cherry Ames novels or one cousin’s collection of Laura Ingalls Wilder books. This past week, I was on Amazon and decided for the fun of it to look up one childhood book that was a particular favorite of mine: The Wednesday Witch by Ruth Chew. Although my parents saved my Dr. Seuss books and I saved my Trixie Belden books through countless moves, I didn’t save a copy of The Wednesday Witch. I found out the book is coming out on Kindle in August. That made me stop and think for a minute. Do I want to reread the book and see what made it so special for eight-year-old me? Or do I want to retain my memories of what I considered to be a really good book intact and not ruin them by rereading the book? When I was in law school, I decided to indulge in a box of Cookie Crisp (a particularly high in sugar cereal). After all, it was one of my favorite things to eat when I was eight. I almost spit out the cereal after the first bite because it was so sweet (and this from a chocoholic with a huge sweet tooth). Same thing with a bottle of Yoohoo. As of right now, I’m undecided, but no matter what I decide, I’m glad the book will be available for e-readers and is being rereleased. Even though my oldest daughter doesn’t share my reading tastes (how can someone not like Rebecca and Jane Eyre?), I’m glad I’ll be able to share this book with my younger daughter and that The Wednesday Witch has a chance to enchant new readers all over again.

What about you? Have you reread any of your favorite books from your childhood? Let me know.

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Writing Thursday: Why Should I Stay Up Late Again?

I hope you’re having a good week. Mine’s been a little hectic. For instance, last night when I was posting on Facebook, my youngest daughter Cupcake found the can of Pledge and decided her older brother MJ could be a little shinier. MJ yelled to me that Cupcake was spraying him with Pledge. I stopped what I was doing and handled the situation. With two visits to the doctor in the past week for strep tests (one positive and one negative), kindergarten registration, kindergarten assessment, my father-in-law’s seventieth birthday dinner, and various car rides, I’ve had a busy week. Not a bad week, just a busy one. But it begs the question that so many writers seem to ask: how does a writer gather all of her sensibilities together after a hectic day and get the strength to put it all aside for a couple of hours to write?

I admit that I always flock to the writer’s life workshops where other writers talk about how they manage life and writing. I always keep my ear open to try to find out their secret. I’ve listened to authors who have full-time jobs, who are write-at-home mothers, who are retired and are active volunteers, and who have busy lives. Some wake up two hours before the rest of the people in their house and huddle in a corner writing before the stresses of the day weigh on them. Some stay up two hours later than everyone else in their house, using the time to wipe away the stresses of the day, getting their word count in before they fall asleep. Some haven’t watched a television show in years, writing when the rest of the family is watching television and it’s quieter. Some authors type in the car line, waiting for their kids to leave school. To paraphrase what a chapter mate of mine told all of us who were attending her workshop is this: the characters in her books are her friends. We all want to spend time with our friends, and she works hard to make sure she writes every day, catching up with her friends’ lives. Her message, and the message of all the other writers, is the same: they make time for what is important to them, and writing is important to them.

Hearing something repeatedly and putting it into practice are two totally different things. I know I should write everyday, but some days it’s hard to get motivated. What then? How do I put aside a day full of mediating fights, folding laundry, listening to choruses of “Let It Go” from one side of the car along with “It Is Cold” from the other side of the car, and more to do justice to the stories floating in my head?

It’s hard, but I’m learning to write whenever I can. While I work best in a controlled atmosphere with a three-hour stretch of either writing or editing, I’m learning how to grab snatches of time here and there to write. The other night, I was in the living room with one child playing Wii, another child arguing with the child playing Wii, and the third child petting the dog and singing at the top of her lungs. (The fourth was holed up in her room, thankful for high school homework so she had a legitimate excuse to hide away.) I’m on my final run-through of one manuscript, and I had my pen out, making corrections and making sure there was no blood shed. At the end of every page, I’d stop the fight and use my mom authority to ensure domestic tranquility at least for the first half of the next page until the newest crisis began. But at least, I did get five pages edited that way, five pages that wouldn’t have been edited if I didn’t try to get it done.

The inspiration for this post came from another chapter mate’s Facebook post begging for answers for this question. My mind flew through reasons, most of which revolved around approval from others. Finally, I hit upon my real answer. I can’t motivate myself to write for the wrong reasons. I have to find the time to write and the will to write for myself and for my character friends’ stories to be told. There are days it’s flat out hard. And sometimes, I might edit a couple of pages and read a craft book and call it a day. Ultimately, I have to push everything else out and focus on the story and my characters. So I write in parking lots, at playgrounds, in my living room, in restaurants, at libraries, and everywhere else I can, whenever I can.

How do you find time to do the things you enjoy? Let me know.