Monday, November 9, 2015

Pure Writing

What is writing? I'm glad you asked.

In life there are, what I like to call, pure activities. Activities that practically define themselves. For example, running--it's just you and a stretch of land. Or swimming--you and some water. Or meditation--you and the universe. Or my favorite, napping.

Writing is not one of these.

But there are activities that are so maddeningly close to pure that it's tempting to classify them as pure. The one that everyone can relate to is soccer. At its core, it's you, a field, and a ball. And by "ball" I mean any object you can kick. If you have a used food can, good enough. Or maybe you only have an old pair of pants and a roll of tape, no problem. It's not even particular about the size or shape of the field. A quiet street is just as good as an empty room.

In today's age of public education, writing is like this. It's you, something to write with, and some time. That's it. Society has come a long way in the past few hundred years. It wasn't always so easy to write. I love living today!

This is November and National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) is in full swing. I'm participating, and if you have any desire to write, I encourage you to participate, too. Nanowrimo isn't about being a sports star who can score the winning goal in the World Cup. Nanowrimo is about finding a pine cone or a crumpled up magazine and kicking it around.

Write. Just write.

You can work on grammar and characterization and pacing and all the other skills later. Or not. It can be fun just to write just for the purity of it.

* There is a great story in this photo. If you like this one, you should check out Danimurthi Mahendra's whole collection of Indonesian photos. It's great.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Popping the Question

Boy popping bubble

In many endeavors there is the question. The one question that almost everyone asks. For example, if you were a Boy Scout people will ask, "Are you an Eagle scout?" If you answer No, then they will move on. It doesn't matter how many good turns you did, or merit badges you earned, or tents you accidentally set on fire there are no more questions.

When people find out you write novels they ask the question, "What have you published?" They don't always phrase it that way, "What have you written?" or "Where can I get your books?" are common ones. And if you answer that you haven't published anything, the conversation stalls and you find a new topic.

At first, I tried to explain why I love writing. How I've written multiple novels, but I wasn't interested in getting them published. Even now, I risk losing you, precious reader, with my reasons. And so, I learned to just let it slide. I write for my own reasons, and I have reasons for not seeking publication.

Until now.

As my kids grow older, I've started to feel like I should get a story published. I'm not sure if I will go traditional or self-publish--there are so many pros and cons to weigh. But either way, I'm working a story through the last few stages of editing and beta readers.

I'm excited for this next phase in my writing career. I've been writing for over 10 years, and I've learned a lot. Now it's time to share with the world. I'm sure that much of the world won't notice, some of the world won't like it, but I'm hoping there is a small slice of awesome people out there who will love it enough to buy it.

And I'm looking forward to being able to answer the question in a way that moves the conversation forward.

* Joshua Rothhaas either worked very hard or got very lucky to capture this image of a popping bubble--probably both. Either way, it's really cool.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Master of Bear-emonies

The Midwest Storymakers Conference is always a highlight of my year. I get to see old friends and meet wonderful new people. And this year was no exception.

If I had one suggestion for beginning writers it would be to write, write a lot, write some more, then keep writing. If I had two suggestions, the second one would be to go to a writers conference to meet other writers like you and learn from them.

Thanks to our conference partners this year, the Johnson County Public Library and their Read Local committee, we held the conference at the education center of the Antioch branch of the library. I never knew that the library did so many different things in the community. Three cheers for libraries!!!

This year, I wasn't in charge of the Audio/Visual equipment. It felt a little strange, at times, being able to attend classes and not worry about making the rounds to check if projectors were behaving, clickers working, or giving 5-minute warnings to the instructors. It was both refreshing and a bit awkward. I've been doing the A/V for several years, so I always had that aren't-you-forgetting-something-important feeling.

They didn't let me completely off the hook. I was the Master of Ceremonies, and it was a blast! I had so much fun finding humorous ways to make announcements or introduce the schedule. If you've seen me at a conference you know how much I like to interact with people, so MC was the perfect job. I got to meet everyone.

To be honest, it was also stressful to get everything together and figure out how to make a bunch of different things fit together. And there are always last-minute changes that got whispered to me right before I went on. That's just the job of MC. But it was so much less stressful than A/V.

This year, we had a power-packed lineup of instructors: 

I know that's a lot of people in a dense list, but they are all awesome and I didn't want to forget anyone.

Now, another wonderful Midwest conference is done, and I'm already looking forward to next year. I don't know what my job will be, or if I will be given one--won't that be weird, to not have anything to do?

And I'll leave you with a bit of an inside joke. If you don't get it, don't worry. Enjoy.

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* Background image based on Night Sky theme by Ray Creations