Write in the Past, Live in the Present, Dream for the Future

I was reading a blog post over at The Art of Simple, and it caused me to think about all the states we find ourselves in- the present, past, and future.

I don’t know about you, but I find myself in a constant tug of war amongst these times. As a writer, one of my first lessons was about which tense to write in. For some reason, as a storyteller I naturally recount stories (fact or fiction) in present tense. I think I try to help the listener/reader feel like they are there, in the moment. In manuscript form, it actually becomes quite distracting. So I learned to write in the past tense. It actually helps when I am trying to integrate ribbons of my own memories into my stories.

Trying to effectively balance the present and the future is more challenging. Everyday I try to fully enjoy my blessings – my children, my home, a good run, my family, my friends, something I read or saw that made me laugh. But I also need to dream. I look forward to future events – whether they are finite (like the next time I will have a visit with my parents), or those with no specific date (like when certain goals will be met, or places I’d like to go). Dreaming of the joy of these future events sometimes helps me get through the bad parts of my day. I can’t get so caught up in the future that I forget to take the steps to get there, but I can spend a few minutes letting their sweet wisps dance through my brain.

So enjoy your day. I hope today is all you want it to be, and each day gets even better from here.

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It’s a Probability Game

I was catching up on The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon (one of my favorite shows), and his one and only guest for the evening was Bruce Springsteen. I’d never heard The Boss speak, so I was pleased to find he was extremely knowledgeable and articulate.

One of his comments really stuck with me. Jimmy asked him how he continues to come up with such great music, and he answered that you just have to keep writing. He said that 90% of what you write is no good. So if you can turn out 12 good songs every 2 years, you can imagine what you spend the rest of the time doing.

I think his comments really apply to anything in the creative process. It certainly feels like an accurate commentary on writing. You may have heard similar comments from successfully published authors such as Jane Yolen commenting on how many manuscripts they have sitting in a desk, unpublished.

There was something about how he said it (sometimes I can hear the same thing multiple times, but just say it a different way and it may finally click with me). It means that even highly successful artists and creative people fail. Repeatedly. And that for the creative process to succeed, we have to keep going. We have to keep learning, trying, and producing.

So I figure that if I keep writing (which I love, anyway), keep revising, and keep submitting, something will click. My success may not be as breakthrough as Born to Run, but a girl can dream right?

Review: Emily Brown and the Thing

ImageEmily Brown and the Thing

Written by: Cressida Cowell

Illustrated By: Neal Layton

Orchard Books, 2007, Paperback Edition

Target Audience: Ages 3-8

Genre: Fiction

Theme: Bedtime

How We Discovered This Book: My kids and I absolutely loved That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown, another book by Cressida Cowell. You can check out my previous review. I had heard there were other Emily Brown books, so at Christmas time I went searching for them. I discovered 3 more! In addition to Emily Brown and the Thing, there is Cheer Up Your Teddy Bear, Emily Brown, and Emily Brown and the Elephant Emergency.

Summary:

Emily Brown and her trusty stuffed rabbit Stanley are trying to sleep. But the Thing has other plans. He makes all kinds of noises, and the only way to get him to be quiet is to help him. He needs his cuddly, his bedtime milk, his medicine… will he ever go to sleep?

What I Liked:

This resonated on a variety of levels, for both me and my kids. Emily is not scared of the Thing. She is brave and in charge (as always), taking on each challenge with a smile. In the end, she even tucked him into bed (under her bed, no less). The whole story reminded me of my children, and the “needs” they come up with to stall going to bed.

What Did My Kids Think?

They thought the book was funny and creative. They love Emily’s imagination- she didn’t just find his medicine, she put on her special glasses, climbed through the Witches’ Cavern, and told the witches stories in exchange for the medicine. And her answer to the Thing when he says his leg itches is just priceless (and familiar?)

Resources:

Hatchette Children’s Books has free activity downloads for Emily Brown, including a door hanger and idea prompts.

Happy 2014!

fireworks

Happy New Year! It’s that time again – a time for resolutions, new goals, a fresh start… whatever gets you excited to take on 2014. Whatever the new year means to you, I hope you make the most of it.

I’m not a believer in resolutions, or unrealistic goals that set me up to fail. I try to set 5 to 10 do-able goals for the year in 4 main categories: Me, Family, Writing, and Projects.

I have goals related to running (part of the “Me” category),  things I’d like to teach my kids, projects I’d like to try, and ensuring I make time for adult fiction reading and some writing craft books.

My big goals this year are related to writing. I really want this to be the “Year of the Agent.” (Doesn’t that have a nice ring to it?) My first novel is just a few hours away from being ready to send out for consideration. Watch out agents, here comes Amelia’s story! I also have some new ideas for my picture book manuscripts, so I’ll keep working on and submitting those.

What are your goals for 2014?

Thank you to all of you who have read our blog in 2013. We hope to keep posting interesting thoughts and information about the world of reading and writing. Best wishes to each of you for a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2014!