Tag Archives: help

Writers Write: You Want to Blog #mywana

If you’re a writer, you want a blog. If you have something to say, something you want to share with the world, you want a  to blog (the verb is what’s important, not the noun). If you want something amazing and wonderful to look back on one day–something that captures life’s little and big moments–you want a blog.

I hear a lot of writers say they can’t handle a blog. That makes me think of those girls who complained about 20-page papers when we were in classes for our MA’s in English. We’re writers. Words are our thing. They’re what we do.

Blogs train you to write short. They teach you to have a central focus. They help you connect with others. They give you a voice. If you’re an indie author, they connect you to readers.

my blog connection mapDon’t believe me? Check out my blog map. It’s stunning how people from all over the world have connected with me here. Okay, it’s also a little scary, but it’s mostly awesome. (Hi people checking out the blog!)

How cool is that? How neat is it that as writers we can reach people all over the world simply by clicking Publish?

So back to the beginning. If you’re a writer, find a way to connect with people. It’s essential.

If you think you don’t have anything to blog about, do this exercise I do with my students: Take out a piece of paper. Fold it hotdog (horizontal), then hamburger (vertical). Now, it’s a little square. Put on some music and start writing words the music makes you think of. Not sentences, words. Choose one of the words that reminds you of something you could write about maybe. (Don’t worry about doing this wrong. There are no firing squads. No one’s going to give you an F.) Flip the square over and write words or phrases connected to that word. If nothing stood out, keep going with your list of disconnected words.

If you’re a writer, by the end of the two small squares, you probably have at least 10 ideas. If not, don’t freak out. Just keep going with the list. Flip the square inside out. If you have your topic use this blank square to start writing details about the topic. Specifics. Maybe pieces of dialog. Maybe scents from the event. Maybe words that fit together and make your soul sing with their rightness. Writers, you get what I mean by that.

Flip to the next side and continue.

By now you probably have hundreds of ideas. Shoot, you might be ready to write the next bestseller. If so, you’re welcome.

Writers write. Blogs are a great place to do that writing.#

edited at 8:36 a.m. to add: as with most things, there are no absolutes. 🙂

A Tough Lesson

I thought I understood poverty.
I was a Welfare mom. I made my way through school and got past that stage of life. I took the classes to explain how students of poverty think and feel. I’ve been to the workshops on how to help kids see past their present to try to find hope in the future.
I’ve given money and food to the homeless. I support United Way.
I’ve taught for almost two decades.
Like I said, I thought I understood poverty.
And then ON came to live with us.
The first week she smacked me across the face with the truth of poverty.
Her face and body were bruised, but that was nothing compared to her heart and soul.
That first weekend I prayed over and over for her to see we could be an escape. We could help her. I wanted to demand “STAY WITH US!” but I knew that wasn’t the answer. It had to be her decision. After three days, it was, but only with a caveat.
She told me after her first day at Rider that she’d never be like DD. Never have friends like that because she hated them. When I asked like what, she told me she didn’t want to offend me, and not to take it personally, but friends like us. “Rich people.”
I didn’t take her words personally, but they did hurt. They hurt because I saw us through her eyes.
I’m a school teacher and DH owns a lawn care service. I’ve never looked at us as rich, but she did. And by rich she meant judgmental and rude. Big eye opener.

That first week we just wanted her to focus on finding a way to get back in school.
Her old counselor someone I’d talked to in the past, was willing to do whatever we needed to get her on my campus.
We thought she’d be there for a few weeks tops before moving to the alternative campus to graduate early and move on with life in a safe way, whatever that entailed.
When her transcripts came in, the Rider counselor told me the grades were impressive. Despite constant truancies and moves, she was an A-B student.
It shocked me. How could an A-B student be a drop out? How can that happen?
Another shocker. In my world, kids with good grades stay in school and go to college. In hers, grades were no big deal. In hers, college wasn’t an option. In hers, the life plan was written and it was going in a direction where grades made ZERO difference.
An educator I respect says First, Do Not Deprive of Hope.
Until then I didn’t understand what exactly that meant.
When educators (including ME) say “I’ve got to hold these kids accountable or they’ll never learn” about kids like ON, we’re missing the point. They don’t care. We can’t make them care. Our world, our gradebooks, our lessons, DON’T MATTER. Their hope for something different is gone. Our “accountability” statements are the equivalent of the two minute showers we get every once in a while in the midst of this god awful drought.

It’s been months now. ON reclaimed her hope. In large part because of the amazing teachers on my campus. One, Cleveland Wallerich, reached out to ON almost immediately.  He never treated her like a child of poverty, a child with no hope. That’s probably important. He made her feel like every other kid in the class. Those first weeks when she was quiet and sick and bruised, not sure she was even going to stay with us, he didn’t let her become invisible even though that’s what she seemed to want. He treated her like a normal person. He spoke to her every morning when we walked through the door. He teased her about me. He established a connection and made her laugh. That didn’t happen all that often at first. Today she laughs a lot. Today, she’s different, but the same. A child with hope. A child who’s survived.

We bought ON’s graduation announcements and cap & gown this month. She took the SAT. Once ON reclaimed her hope, everything changed. She wants to go to college. She’s graduating from a traditional high school. She has a job. She has friends who have plans for life after high school. She hasn’t been sick in months. The bruises on her face and body are gone. I know the ones on the heart and soul still exist, but they’re healing…BECAUSE of hope AND prayer. We prayed a lot, our small group prayed with us and reached out to ON, including her in everything we did this summer. AND ON’s old school counselor called this month to check on her. When she heard about ON’s new life plan, she was overjoyed. I told her we’d definitely send her a graduation announcement.

I talked to an older teacher at a conference last week. He told me about his experiences with poverty as a child. He said it still hurts to remember how he was treated. His voice cracked with the 50-yr-old memories. He was different because he was poor, and his peers never let him forget it. BUT he made it. He broke the cycle. ON will too. And as she does, I’m going to be paying attention as a teacher and an aunt.

Poverty destroys. It sucks away hope. Schools can do the same if we’re not careful.

Back to the Basics

Last night in small group God smacked me upside the head. Not sure that was the intent, but it happened. We’re doing the John Ortberg study: God is Closer Than You Think.
I’m having this tough year, not just at school but outside the classroom as well. Spiritually, physically, emotionally. It’s like I’m in battle. Nothing like when I broke my ankle where there was so much evidence of the issue. Nothing like when I had that newspaper year where the only person who wanted to work was the editor. It’s more a constant pinging. A constant Really? You’ve got to be kidding me! No freaking way kind of year.
Anyway, we’re sitting there watching and reading and it’s like God is yelling: Look at David. Look at Solomon. Look at Habakkuk. Look at Job. Look at Mary. Look at Paul.
You just THINK you’ve got it tough. They know tough. And what did they do? They turned to Me.They said I will praise your name on high. I will lift my voice to You. I will turn to YOU even when I feel alone, when I don’t feel Your presence. I will faithfully believe You hold me in Your hands because YOU are God and I am human and I can’t do this alone, but You’ve got this.
I started this year determined to embrace those words. And then all this stuff happened. Stuff that had me all confused and researching and asking questions and listening to sermons, not for their messages but for what I might or might not hear. I totally forgot the whole point of the Word.
At first I prayed. Then I prayed for me. Then I quit praying.
And in the last six weeks as I grew more and more frustrated, I didn’t turn to God, I turned to myself. BAD IDEA!
Last night, though, as we shared the verses found in the second chapter of the Ortberg study, I realized what I’d done. When we got in the car to leave I told Brian it was like God spoke in those moments. He said HAVE FAITH. I realized then that giving everything to Him is just that. EVERYTHING. I’ve got to give it to Him and trust Him and obey Him and believe He’s got this. It’s not a 50-50 split. It’s an all or nothing.
So here I am. Giving it ALL to God. My job, my writing, my health, the spiritual battle I’ve been dealing with, the ministry I’m involved with. ALL.
God help me to remember You’ve got this. You are in control. And even when it feels like I’m alone, I’m not. You are worthy. You are mighty. You are God.