First of all, neither one will ever be completed unless you sit down and do it. I’ve never seen cookies make themselves or a manuscript be magically completed all by itself. You must gather your materials, or ingredients and follow a plan. Or, you can be a panser and ‘wing it’, but it won’t turn out as well as you want it to. From the minute you combine your ingredients, or ideas, you must pay attention to what you’re doing, measure well, substitute ingredients or move around chapters, mix well, revise until it shines (and don’t forget to add a little love). Once all the essential ingredients have been mixed together, that’s when the magic happens. You let it sit, or bake until it reaches it’s optimum potential-and it’s done. Enjoy, submit-repeat.
You have to-you must read this by the fabulous Lynda Mullaly Hunt. ❤
Fish in a Tree is about a sixth grader named Ally Nickerson who thinks she’s dumb. She isn’t dumb, but she does have undiagnosed dyslexia until she meets Mr. Daniels, her new teacher. Ally learns that, although dyslexia poses some challenges, it also has some special gifts wrapped up inside of it as well. She learns to own and respect who she is. Really is.
But this isn’t the very first thing I knew about Ally. The very first thing I knew was that Ally loves her brother, Travis. I mean really adores him. The second Ally came to be, I knew this relationship through and through. Why? Because I knew “Travis” when I was little.
He didn’t look like he’d play the part of someone else’s savior.
His own mother called him a hood. He had long hair, a history of fighting, some brushes with the law, and a…
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and write what you know!! How many times do us newbie, pre-published writers hear this? But it is so true and I was reminded today (again) about it from someone else’s blog. When we do this, we uncover those stories that only we can write and I believe it is how we stay true to self and honor what’s inside. ‘Write what you know’, because that’s where the stories are.The stories that are different, unique, outstanding, crazy, weird, hair raising. Those are (hopefully) the stories that will sell and hopefully the stories that some young high school student will pick up and say, “This book speaks to me. I love this author.” Or, a mid-grade that a seventh grader picks out themselves and says, “I like the character in this story and the setting takes me far away.” Or, a picture book that a parent will see at your favorite Indy bookstore and say, “What a sweet story. My son/daughter will love this book.”
So, after you unload your suv, your mini-van or your vw bug from this long holiday weekend, or even if you’re not unloading from the last weekend of the summer, sit down on your comfy couch with your laptop, or pen and paper for that matter and write. Write the story you know you are meant to write. You are meant to write this story because it keeps nagging at you, the characters beg you to bring them to life-it’s the story that comes directly from your heart, from your soul. And remember- the first draft will suck, so in the words of Winston Churchill,
“Never give up. Never give up. Never,never, never give up.”
I hated my mother. Or did I hate the disease? Growing up I never realized what this demon was who took over my mother’s emotional and mental state. I thought she was just eccentric, colorful, she was a writer. The rage, the false suicides, the lapses in judgement, alcohol abuse, sexual escapades. Why couldn’t I have had a normal mother?
But I’m glad I didn’t. I loved her for who she was despite the disease, but it took me years to be grateful for her and years for her to seek help. After three failed marriages, she was left to raise four children on her own and support herself with her writing while being un-diagnosed for years with her illness. But she fought through it all. She published 25 books in her lifetime. Writing was her medicine and her sanity. Yeah, there were times that were pretty damn rough and not knowing she had manic depression made it worse. She never really found the help she needed. Psychiatrists pacified her, the only meds given were Lithium. (Lithium only treats the ‘manic’ and not so much the depression) We knew she needed additional care, but we were also afraid of dealing with ‘the problem’ because she could be so explosive. I will always wish I could have done more for her.
My point is, people with mental illness are often so debilitated by the disease that they don’t know how to seek help. Sometimes they don’t even know something is wrong. We need to be brave and be there for them to get them the help they need at all cost.
Before I lost her last year, when melanoma took her life, I told her what a fookin’ genius she was. She fired back that I was the fookin’ genius. I thanked her for making me, me, and for being the crazy, fun, yeah colorful person she was. I loved her for who she was. I was grateful I didn’t have a ‘normal’ mother. But I still carry the guilt and pain of not helping her more.
To all who suffer, reach out for the hand that wants to help you-they love you and want the best for you. Peace.
Valentines Day 2014. There are a lot of people I miss today-gone too soon. I tried to revise my WIP to no avail. I felt frustrated becuase I wanted to work on it, but a voice said, “live your life & you will come back to it refreshed.” And that is what I did. I made eggplant parm, I played in the snow-I sat back and was a part of life. I’m back to pg. 93, and I’m feeling the love again. Happy Valentines Day everyone.
It was one year ago that my mom was diagnosed with melanoma-eight weeks later I would loose her to cancer. Life felt completely out of control.
But I kept writing. I felt like I should have been doing something else like some mind-blowing fund raiser to help pay for her medical costs, or take her away to some new age cancer treatment center in the bowels of Mexico, but I couldn’t-she was just too sick to travel. I had to face the fact that there was nothing I could do to stop this ugly disease from taking her life. But she reminded me that there was something I could do. Keep writing-never give up-never. I had to keep this light shining while I was with her. It was a beautiful bond that we shared. I called her a fookin’ genius, she called me a fookin’ genius. She shared with me whatever came to her mind as I sat with her at bedside writing down poems about children and their mothers, or stories about ravens and coyotes. Writing kept both of us alive and sane. While she slept during the day as myself and my two sisters cared for her the first week, I took the time to write about how shitty this situation was.
Thursday, Jan. 17
There is no ‘me’ when someone is dying of cancer.
I am tired. Not much sleep last night. Feeling sorry for myself and feeling that flight response. I want to run away. A pattern like this, human or not, has no place here. Cancer puts everything into perspective. You are nothing. We orbit around my mother and cancer. Be with your heart, be in the moment. That is who you are right now. You are not here to change anything.
The hardest part was leaving her and to return back to my family, to my own life. My body was home, my mind and soul were not. I worried and waited for any news about her, I talked with her daily on the phone, each week that went by she got weaker and weaker.
But I continued to write. I poured my anger, frustration and sadness into a YA novel I started that coincidentally is about her and myself when I was a teenager. I haven’t looked back at that writing since.
My next trip out to New Mexico to see her I thought would be my last. But I made one more trip after she begged me to ‘help her die.’ I did not deny her that. I knew this would be the hardest trip. I began a knitting project, writing no longer held its magic in releasing me from the pain of my mother dying. My sisters and I read her poetry to her at bedside when she could no longer speak. I knew what poems she loved the most and wanted to hear. We played Beethoven for her, Mozart and Bach. My mother passed away to another life at 2:15 on Tuesday, March 12th, 2013. I loved her dearly. She was my friend, my writing coach-my mother. I miss her but what she left me was the greatest gift: the joy of writing.
PEACE to all in 2014
Get it Write this Summer!
Literary Agent Linda Epstein's Yakkety Yakking
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