Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I’m not often at a loss for ideas. Usually I’m so full of ideas my hands aren’t fast enough to get them all down.
But my current WIP had me stumped. I knew how it started and I knew how it ended. I had a lot of the inbetween stuff, too. But making the leap from one part to another was driving me crazy. My brain couldn’t process anything other than two melodramatic scenarios that didn’t work. They didn’t fit the tone of the book and they didn’t feel right for the characters. But I couldn’t get past it! Grr!!
Last night in writing class, my wonderful writing friends got me over the hump. Because they’re familiar with the characters, they had definite opinions about who would do what and why. They offered suggestions and unlocked several key points for me. I came home and started typing outlines, crafting scenes and fell in love with my story all over again. Yay!
I’m SO thankful to have found this group of people. Writing may be a solitary profession, but it sure helps to have friends!
Monday, February 23, 2009
As I drove the kids to school, my daughter had her nose buried in a book about planets. Her first grade class has been studying the solar system and she’s been reading anything she can get her hands on about our galaxy.
Suddenly she looked up at me, our eyes met in the rearview mirror, and in that sweet little sing-songy voice of hers, she said, “Mommy, Uranus is beautiful!”
I almost crashed the car I was laughing so hard! She didn’t understand what was so funny, but my son, of course, thought that was the most hilarious thing he’d ever heard.
I’m happy to take my compliments in any way, shape or form…even when they aren’t really intended that way :^)
Friday, February 20, 2009
Sometimes big things happen in small places.
Today the Amgen Tour of California made its way through Solvang. It's astounding to me that part of this major world class event is staged in our little Valley. The riders flew by, about a block from my house. I watched from the bottom of the hill, where they rounded the corner, so close I could have reached out and touched them! I didn't want to get arrested so I kept my hands to myself :^)
The amount of people thronging our streets was pretty amazing. The booths, the groupies, the traveling masses that accompany this race -- it's overwhelming. It's not every day that you see a jumbo tv screen on Copenhagen Drive, towering over thousands of people, each hoping to catch a glimpse of the riders speeding by. Our population seemed to have quadrupled for the day.
One of my neighbors, a semi-pro biker, paid the thousand dollars to ride in the amateur pre-race. Other friends volunteered on the route or helped cook and serve food to the riders. For this one day each year, the town shuts down to accommodate the time trial. We don't get mail, many roads are closed, schools are out and we all throng downtown to see the spectacle.
This is the third year that Solvang has hosted Stage 6 of the race, and the first time I've been up close and personal with it. Already the EZ ups are down, the gates have been loaded and the bikers have moved on to the next place.
And Solvang is back to being a small town.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
My son is the one who got me writing again. I had stopped, for I don’t know how long. When I graduated college I tried to work on a book. I organized my folders, filed away information, then got depressed when the words didn’t flow.
I started working as an editor for the Bureau of Land Management, trying to help bureaucrats sound like human beings. Before long I was working on brochures and pamphlets, designing and writing sometimes. It was a good creative outlet and graphic design work helped pay the bills when I ran away from steady employment.
But during Danish Days four years ago, our local independent bookstore decided to hold a writing contest to celebrate Hans Christian Andersen’s 100th birthday. My son wanted to enter. We decided to both write stories for the contest.
Drew started writing stories before he could write. He would draw pictures and then tell me or his dad the words that went on each page. He would take his books to preschool and the teacher would read them aloud to the class. I still have a huge file of his books of “Scary the Robot and Happy the Boy,” and any other characters his vivid imagination came up with.
For this contest, we had to write a fairy tale. Drew finished his and included a picture. Mine went from being a short story, to a picture book, to a full-fledged novel. It wasn’t a GOOD novel and on my shelf it sits. But it had a beginning, an end, and a lot of stuff going on in the middle. The best part about it was that it reignited my desire to write books.
So I guess when I publish my first book (keep in mind I’m dreaming here!), I’ll dedicate it to Drew. Or, who knows, it might end up that he's dedicating his to me…
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Last night in my writing class we started talking about books we've set aside. Some people have come back to them and finished them. Others have specially organized drawers for books they've never finished.
Like everybody else, I have stories I've never completed. I also have some that I finished that should really just be burned. But I hang on to them, for a lot of reasons.
I started writing stories about as soon as I could write. But the first book I remember finishing, I wrote in 7th grade. It's your typical girl-meets-boy novella. My main character is an ice skater so that figures heavily into the plot. The book is called, "Dreamer" and I even drew the cover art by copying a pose I liked from an Ice Capades program book from a show that my family went to.
The whole thing is handwritten and safely tucked away in a box in the garage along with my college diploma, some notes from high school and an autographed Jack Wagner concert program. *sigh* I don't want anyone to see the book (let alone read it!) but I'm proud of it. It reminds me that I've had this desire for a long time. And it shows me that I can finish what I started.
I'm still a dreamer. I probably always will have my head up in the clouds. But the view's good from up here. And I truly believe that dreams CAN come true.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Today I'm feeling nostalgic. I've been thinking about a writing project I started more than 10 years ago that I never finished. I don't think I even wrote a whole chapter. In fact, I felt completely incapable of the task. I'm still not sure if I'm ready to tackle it.
I am a first-generation American. My mother is from Nicaragua, my father from Jamaica. They met in college in California and spent most of their married life in Ohio. I grew up in a small, all-white Catholic town called Russia. The locals called it Roo-she, so people wouldn't get us confused with our cold war enemies. It's close to Versailles (which we called Ver-Sales) and Houston (House-tun) and, well, maybe we just had a different way of talking there...
My parents died the year I turned 10. In Nicaragua. About a month before Sandanistas stormed the palace in Managua. My family had ties to the Samoza government, both favorable and unfavorable. My parents were getting along better than they had in a while, less arguing, more hand holding.
I know there's a book in all this, it's been begging to come out for years. But fear of painful memories has kept it buried, along with the fear of not being a good enough writer to tell the story in a compelling way.
Last night I finished reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. It's a war story, a love story, a story about American families with foreign roots. It's beautifully told and it touched a chord deep inside of me. I couldn't sleep. All night long these ideas kept waking me, screaming at me to get off my ass write them down.
I haven't yet, but I'm going to try. It's a story that may never be on the shelves of a book store, but it's a story I have to write for me, for my children.
So why am I so scared?