Listen. Think. Speak. Write.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Building Support

Everything built requires support. Beams, posts, trusses, footings.  I probably should just quit with this analogy now because I don't actually know anything about construction, but the general principle applies. Without the appropriate support, structures fail.  It can take years.  It might lead to a minor crack or total devastation.  

As I get deeper into the novel querying process again and as the end of the semester nears, causing my students to scramble or to go numb, I'm struck by the important lessons regarding support we can learn from home improvement shows.  A solid foundation is hard work, but the lesson of the day is: plenty of help is available, but you probably won't find it unless you seek it out.

When I think about it, I bet in most situations where I feel most alone and afraid it only takes a few clicks, a phone call or even a smile to start building a support network.  The most challenging part is that when we are most vulnerable is when we have to make the effort to reach out.  I know my insanely busy students probably feel like the world is about to cave in on them, but there are tutors and friends and family would be happy to help hold up the walls if only they were asked. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mentee Bio Post

That awkward moment when you realize you haven’t posted to your blog in 6 months.  Yeah, so hey!

This year, I’ve sent out my application for the Brenda Drake’sPitch Wars.  It works a little like the Voice.  An editor, intern or an author who is already published or agented picks an un-agented writer to mentor (SOMEONE LIKE ME FOR INSTANCE!). Feedback is given on both the manuscript and the pitch (HOW ABOUT MINE?) in order to get ready for an agent round.

Mentors posted these amazing bios, and some of the hopefuls have decided to create mentee bios as well. 

A mentee, bio?  What I lovely idea, I thought.  Then I opened a few, and immediately developed an inferiority complex.  What the heck do I say?  Should I be funny or all serious author business?

After staring at the screen for a bit, I decided my current life is probably best divided into three areas:  family, work, and writing. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Comparison Epiphany

So, I had an epiphany.  Okay, fine, not really because this isn’t something I didn’t already know but hey, reminders are always good.
Remember how in my last blog I talked about how my friend told to get over my competitiveness in regards to running races because “Someone will always be faster?”

Well, duh!  That means I will probably always be faster than someone else, too.  I admit that at first the competitive monster in me rejoiced.  I win! I win! I win!
Then, my husband reminded me of these words from the Desiderata:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


“And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun.Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”

Fine, I’ll admit it. I’m in a writing slump. Maybe it’s more of a writing motivation slump. In other words, I have none. For a long time, I’ve claimed it’s just physics—loss of inertia. But the reality is, there is something deeper here. Have I mentioned that I might be a bit competitive?

Remember all those lists and goals?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Keep It Simple

It’s hard to believe another month has past, and I haven’t blogged.  I haven't been writing much at all, actually. In general, life has revolved around work, changing our diet at home, and my girls’ dancing.  Everything I'm doing is more immediate.  Make bread.  Go to dance class. Grade papers.  Go to dance class. Read food labels. Go to dance class. In many ways, life is less complicated.
Well, except for that whole guilt about not reading and writing as much thing.
Ah speaking of reading and writing, though my list of books read in 2013 is relatively short, I particularly enjoyed a couple.  I already talked about Eleanor & Park in the importance of place.  The other is Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The more things change

A few weeks ago, I talked about transitions and how to pay attention to both the monumental and the subtle changes.  Clearly, people are capable of change. 

On the other hand, I think there’s a pretty substantial part of all of us that is just fundamentally never going anywhere, and it probably shouldn’t.  Once, my husband I were talking about our kids’ futures, and he said, “It’s impossible to tell what they’ll be into as an adult and what kind of a career they’ll want.” 

I’m not so sure.  When I considered what each of us wanted to be when we were little, what our dreams were growing up, not much had changed.  Probably somewhere in this house, there’s a journal from when I was around eleven with “Write a bestseller” at the top of a list of future goals.  So many people hold on to that childhood goal either as a career or a hobby, or at least there’s some core characteristic that forges their paths.  My husband wanted to be an architect, and he’s a civil designer, fork in the road but not a different highway altogether.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The importance of place

I just received feedback on one of my novel pitches that said (among other things) that he wanted a greater sense of the setting.  Ah yes, that old nemesis, setting.  It’s not really news that it’s important, and I sit here pondering the last several books I read, I can instantly recall aspects of time and place.  In fact, I think one of the reasons I loved Eleanor and Park is because it was situated in such a perfect way to make me feel like I had gone home.  Of course, place can be more than a town or a place, but it should lead to a state of mind.

I’m not writing this blog just to lament my writing weakness.  I find myself contemplating the importance of place in general, and I wonder if we’re discounting it a bit too much as a society.  In Popular Culture in the Media, we talk about “mass culture” and potential homogenization.  Simply put, between mass marketing/media and national chain stores and restaurants, there’s far less local culture than may have historically existed.  This probably truest in suburban America where no matter what the title of the city is, you can find the same Targets, Kohls, Olive Gardens, McDonalds, and Starbucks.  The uniformity and sameness is comforting in a way.  It saves time. Need  Tylenol?  Back left corner of Walgreens. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, I sent my Interpersonal Communication students off to take a personality test.  I was bored waiting for them, so I pulled up a Myers Briggs test and clicked away.  I’ve taken this test many times over the years.  It used to be that after a brief pause, the letters, ENTJ would flash across the screen.  Go ahead and look it up.  Suffice to say, they are leaders who like to be in charge.  They also use logic and reason to make decisions.  Several years ago, I took it again and to my surprise, I ended up an INTJ.  I couldn’t quite wrap my head around that one.  How could that happen?  Then, last week, a new set of letters:  ENFP.  Whoa.  Now, that’s a change. 

I loved this description of the ENFP: "They live in the world of possibilities, and can become very passionate and excited about things ...They can talk their way in or out of anything. They love life, seeing it as a special gift, and strive to make the most out of it."

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Where are the fireworks?  Brass band?  No fanfare for my return to blogging?  Okay, fine, I'll just write then.

Recently,  a friend posted this article on Facebook.  It was interesting timing because I'd been pondering some related concepts for a while.  The article examines the relationship between being happy and leading a meaningful life.  Utilizing social and psychological research, it identifies some interesting but probably not surprising conclusions.

First off, it notes that Amercans are actually happier than they've ever been; however, fewer people see themselves as leadering a purposeful, meaningful life. Perhaps, we spend too much time being happy and less time in the pursuit of happiness.
Leading a happy life, the psychologists found, is associated with being a "taker" while leading a meaningful life corresponds with being a "giver."