Inside the soul of a writer

Words, Words, and More Words

Words are a vital part of what we, as writers, do, so I thought I’d write about all the things they could do today. They are the smallest part of our craft. Words create sentences which create paragraphs which create pages which create chapters which create books. But they can also make us feel things. They can make us feel happy, sad, angry, disappointed, strange, bored, interested, encouraged, discouraged; the list of emotions goes on and on. They help us sharpen our imaginations by forming pictures inside our minds. If I read a book where the author has written a good description of his setting, I can imagine myself there and feel like I’ve traveled to a place I might not ever get to go in my lifetime. They are also a method of escape for me when I read as I can escape from whatever real life is throwing at me to enjoy the imaginary world of a book. In other words, words are the basic building blocks of everything we do in a society.

Written words are not the only words that are important though. Spoken words might be more important than written words because a lot of our communicating is done face to face. They can bring joy in one instance and then turn right around and bring sadness. From when we can first understand the spoken word, they help us form our concept of self. If the first words we hear are words that affirm us, we start on the path to becoming a productive person in society. But, if we hear words that demean us, that tell us we’re not any good, it doesn’t take much time for those words to take root in our inner being and become what we believe about ourselves.

So, words have power, power that I don’t think we realize sometimes. We realize when we are physically hurt whether we are ill with some kind of sickness or whether we’ve had some kind of accident like a broken arm or leg. Those hurts are visible and can be seen by whoever we come in contact with. But, words have the power to hurt us inside where the hurt is not as visible to the rest of us. We’ve all been hurt by words whether unintentionally or by bullying, and we’ve all been careless with our words and caused hurt. Words can form scars, but words can also heal. When I think of how I want to be with the words I speak or the words I write, I think of a verse of Scripture from my Christian faith.

Psalm 19:14 states, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Hope everyone has a great day!

Thinking through My Fingers

I saw a quote by Isaac Asimov earlier about writing, part of which I decided to use for the title of today’s blog post. Here’s the quote. “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”

This quote intrigued me, and I knew I had more I could say about it. For me, writing is thinking through my fingers. It is easier for me to think of things to say when my fingers are next to a keyboard than it is when I am in the middle of a conversation with a person. Sometimes things come out of my mouth I don’t mean to say, but when they show up on my computer screen, on paper, or in my journal and I realize they would be the wrong thing to say, I can correct them before I send the email or send the letter.

When I think through my fingers, I also have an easier time apologizing for something I’ve done wrong. In person, I tend to stumble over my words especially if it’s a person whose respect I would like to have and think I’ve messed up on having. But, if I write an apology letter, I can put my thoughts on paper, and they show what’s on my heart clearly.

I can also tell my stories when I think through my fingers. Stories from my life and stories from my imagination are brought into existence and can be kept for future generations when I think through my fingers. There are people who are good at telling stories orally, but, unfortunately, I am not one of those people. My stories are clearer and more honest when they are on the computer screen, on paper, or on the journal page than they are when I try to tell them out loud.

My prayer life has improved markedly since I started praying through my fingers in the last few years. When I write my prayers down, I have an easier time remembering who and what I need to pray for, and the conversations I have with God are more heartfelt. I can see how I’ve grown in my faith life by looking at the prayers I wrote down a year ago versus the prayer I wrote down yesterday.

And finally, I am able to do a better job of encouraging people when I think through my fingers versus when I talk with them out loud. In fact, it surprises me when someone says they have been encouraged by a conversation we have had as more often than not, I’ve been told how much a message or a card has encouraged someone in something they were going through.

Hope everyone has a great day!

Beginnings and Endings

Today is the last day, the last day of homeschool for 2015-16. You might wonder why homeschool educators mark last days and first days in our homeschools especially since we’ll probably end up doing some work over the summer. (which the flexibility of homeschooling allows us to do) The answer is simple, really. It allows us to mark endings and beginnings. We take stock and see how much improvement there has been from the first day until the last day. And not just for one kind of growth either. We mark academic, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual growth. All of those kinds of growth are important to us.

And, for my younger son, who is the only student I’m still homeschooling, there has been plenty of growth this year. Some of the growth has been the usual growth you would expect from a sixteen-year-old. Physical growth and growth in academic ability. As his mother and his teacher, I am proud of all the strides he has made.

I am most proud though of the strides he has made in other areas. I am proud of how he has learned to navigate life without his older brother who started college this year. I am proud of the kindness and love he displays to other people. I am proud of his willingness to help with what needs to be done even if it’s something he’s not sure he can do. I am proud of how he stuck with a difficult situation and difficult people this year even though it wasn’t pleasant for him or pleasant for me to watch. And I am especially proud of how he has let his Lord and Savior direct all his efforts. I’m looking forward to a great summer with him and his older brother. But, first, the final call for this school year. #honorGodaboveallelse #Godhasblessedus #GreatjobJohn #sophomoreyearisover #herecomesajunior #soproudofmyyoungman #character

Hope everyone has a great day!

Blogging from the Ballpark

It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these posts. It’s been long enough that I only have one son playing baseball now instead of two. Things have changed a lot in one way, but have remained the same in other ways. My first son is in college now. As a matter of fact, he’s almost finished his first year. I’m so proud of the young man he has become. He’s done things this year I never would have expected him to do. But, that’s what growing up is all about, and as a mom to this young man, I wouldn’t want him to do anything else.

My other young man is growing up too. He’s sixteen and a sophomore in high school. We are in the middle of baseball season now, and I have spent Sunday afternoons and Wednesday nights for the past month watching him play. That is what hasn’t changed. The rhythm of the seasons hasn’t changed. Spring always comes at the end of every winter, and with spring, comes baseball. Even after my younger son is done playing, I think my husband and I will continue to be involved with the sport even if it’s just going to watch a game.

Last week, our old coach visited, and my husband invited him to guest coach. We’ve known him for four years, and I have appreciated the influence he has had with both of our sons. He coaches for the love of the game and for the chance to be a positive role model for young men. In the years he coached our sons, I never heard him belittle a player or favor a player. He gave all of the boys a chance to work hard and do their best. Yes, he liked winning. Everyone likes to win. But, to him, there were things more important than winning, and he imparted that to each of the boys he coached. I wish there were more coaches like him. If there were, I believe the state of youth athletics, college athletics, and professional athletics would be different from what it is today.

So, is there a way to change things? Is there a way to impart the best a sport has to offer instead of the worst to the youth of today? I believe there is, but it will take each of us making the choice as to where we put our money, who we look up to, and the attitudes we have about sports in general. It will also take those who are involved in youth sports making the choice to be kind and decent people and to coach for the right reasons and not just to win games.

Hope everyone has a great day!

Why I Write

This is my first attempt at completing one of Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction writing challenges although this week does not involve fiction strangely enough. It’s been a topic I’ve been thinking about recently so when I saw the prompt, I thought I would take a stab at it. First, the prompt.

That’s it. I wanna know why you write. What it is that makes you want to tell stories and write them down. What drives you? Something biographical? Something internal? Dig deep. Be thoughtful. Write it out like the bad-ass that you know you are.

My writing journey began as a teenager, and it began with writing fanfiction before I even knew the term existed. I would fill notebooks with further adventures of my favorite television characters. These were characters I had been inspired by in one way or another. Usually, they would be people who would try to do the right thing, and I would write about the journey they would take to get there. I used their journey to help me with my own journey as I grew into a young woman.

Along with writing fanfiction, I also kept a journal. I would use this place to write down many of my deepest secrets, things I didn’t want anyone else to know about. I asked the questions that no one else could answer and told the stories no one else could tell. It was my way of making sense of my world.

This theme would continue in subsequent years. I received my bachelors in psychology and my master of arts in teaching, but I kept going back to writing, my way of making sense of the world. I could never figure out how to make money from just my writing though so I began teaching and gradually stopped writing because I was busy being an adult or adulting (as one of my friends likes to say). I got married, gave birth to my boys, and eventually quit teaching to stay at home with them.

In subsequent years, we moved several times, and my boys grew. And, as those of you who are parents know, as they grew older, they were able to do more for themselves, and I was able to do more that didn’t involve directly caring for them. I piddled with writing a little bit, but it was not anything serious, and it was like I had forgotten everything that used to mean so much to me.

All of that changed in the year 2009, six and a half years ago. We began the year having discussions on whether to move back to our home state to help care for my mother-in-law who had not been doing well. We decided to do so in February, and looking back it was almost as if God had given us the promptings to move. Because, two months later, she passed away suddenly. I was heartbroken. We were all heartbroken. In the midst of settling her affairs, I pulled out a notebook and started writing. That writing grew into a crescendo as the calendar made its way through the summer and into the fall. It wasn’t long before the rest of my family became used to seeing me take a notebook wherever we went.

The following year I heard of something called National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. It happens every November, and many words are written all over the world. The goal is to write a 50000 word novel during the thirty days of that month. I decided to participate. It turned out that my husband needed surgery so, on the very first day of that month, I was feverishly writing while sitting in the hospital waiting room. I didn’t know it at the time, but my family was about to go through more change. I finished my first 50000 word novel that month while my husband was recovering. He ended up losing his job through that set of circumstances and started looking for another one. 2010 flowed into 2011, and I continued to write as I coped with all the change. He couldn’t find work where we were so we ended up moving to Birmingham, Alabama. Moving here was fortuitous as there were so many more resources available for writers than there were in my former home town.

But, of course, change and life continued to happen. I miscarried our third child in late 2011 and went through some dark and black times during the following year. I continued to write, but it was almost as if I was doing it through a fog. I finally realized at the beginning of 2013 that I was suffering from depression. We had begun visiting the first church we had gone to in eight years, and I had come back to the Christian faith I had as a teenager and young adult. The pastor of that church offered to counsel me, and we began talking. It didn’t take long for him to get clued in as to how I coped with the world, and he suggested I journal what I was feeling. I did so, and the fog started lifting. I had a place where I could be completely honest with myself, and it was a place I didn’t have to share with anyone else.

Since that time I have filled many journals and written blog posts and stories. None of my stories have been published yet, but I know that is only a matter of time. I am very grateful to all of the people who have encouraged me along the way, but especially to my husband and to my pastor who every so often asks me if I have written it down when I start to tell him something.

Have a great day!

Family Traditions

Families all over the world have different traditions related to their culture, holidays, and how they live their lives. Today, I want to tell you about a family tradition we started for the Fourth of July when my sons were very young, and we have continued it into their teenage years.

In 1996, a movie premiered the week before Independence Day that my husband and I decided to go and see with some friends. I was pregnant with our first son at the time. Of course, since it was June, and we were living in South Carolina, it was quite hot. We had a great time at the movie, which, ironically, was entitled Independence Day. It was everything we liked in a movie. Action, adventure, aliens invading the planet, heroes emerging, that kind of thing. This movie, and movies like it, were movies we had enjoyed seeing while dating, and the tradition had continued. I think my husband was thankful that romantic movies were not my thing.

A few years later when my older son was a preschooler and my younger son was a toddler, we were looking for something to do in the cool of the house one July 4th. My husband pulled out our Independence Day DVD and said, “Why don’t we watch this?” I agreed, and we all sat down together. The boys were fascinated by the ships and the aliens, especially the air battle where Captain Hiller, Will Smith’s character, makes the alien’s ship crash in the desert. They also laughed at a lot of the funny lines in the movie. It was just a nice afternoon where we enjoyed being with each other.

That started the tradition. The boys grew into their elementary years, and we pulled out the DVD every July. We all began to be able to quote lines from the movie before the characters would even say them. And then the boys grew into their teen years, and they would be the ones to remind us to take out the movie. It had come to mean as much to them as it meant to us, and whatever else we would be doing on that day, we would still remember to take time to watch the movie.

Family traditions are special–on holidays and just in general. I’m glad that when my older son graduates from high school this year, he will have fond memories of growing up and having our own family traditions.

Time for a Writing Prompt – Summer Activities

I was able to find a writing prompt book for my Kindle that holds a lot of promise for keeping the creative juices stoked. When spring weather comes, it’s a prelude to summer which is when I generally have more time to put more words down on paper or on my computer screen. It’s my favorite time of year. So, you’re probably asking where’s the prompt. And I would say to you, right here.

“One of the best parts of summer is going to see a big blockbuster movie on the big screen at the theater. What kind of movies do you enjoy and why? What movie snacks would you eat during the most exciting moments of the movie?

I have so many memories of going to see big blockbuster movies as a child. When I was a child, the movie premieres tended to be around the Memorial Day Weekend. I remember specifically being at the premiere showing of the first Star Wars movie on May 25, 1977. I was fascinated by the commercials for Star Wars, and as an 11-year old girl, I was particularly fascinated by watching a girl go on an adventure. My favorite television shows at this time were shows like The Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, and Star Trek, and I was so excited to see Star Wars. It didn’t disappointment me at all, and it was at that time I realized I was different from the other examples of women I was seeing in my daily life. My interest in these shows poured over into my reading and writing, and helped form me into the kind of person I am today. The words geek and nerd were not words that girls wanted to be called back then. They were considered derogatory, and if people considered you a geek, you didn’t fit in real well. That was hard as a teenager. It’s not hard anymore for me though. As I told someone at church last night after a discussion of how his daughter liked Captain America and Iron Man, I wear the title of geek proudly. He said his family wore it proudly too.

Fast forward to today. In the last few years, I have seen such movies as all the movies in the Hunger Games franchise, Divergent, Captain America 1 and 2, Thor 1 and 2, Iron Man 1,2, and 3, and the first Avengers movie. I am also a big fan of The Flash, The Arrow, and Agents of SHIELD on television. I have watched all of these shows with my husband and sons, and they are something we have been able to enjoy together. I am looking forward to the premiere of the second Avengers movie at the beginning of May. It is a special weekend for my family. Not only will Avengers: Age of Ultron premiere, we will also celebrate my older son finishing his senior year at our church on that Sunday. So, as you can imagine, I am doing a lot of reflecting in the time leading up to the premiere. Going to see this movie and seeing my son and his friends honored will be one of the highlights of this year. At the movie, I will enjoy popcorn and soda and sit on the edge of my seat. I will also reflect on the strong and confident woman I’ve become by acknowledging who I am and not falling into what society wants to make me.

Hope everyone has a wonderful day!