Tag Archives: ILPC

Love Affair

I fell in love with words a long time ago. I’m lucky enough to share that love with others in the classroom. I hope to one day share that love with readers who buy my books. 🙂
Every year I give a writing workshop at the state journalism conference. I tell a room full of students what it was like to be me in high school: afraid to talk, in love with books and writing, falling in love with news, finding a way to communicate without talking. I look into their eyes and I know they understand exactly where I’m coming from. Back then I thought I was all alone. Today I know that’s not the case.
Sort of like my love affair with poetry. A love affair I almost missed out on because so many of my teachers started the poetry unit out with, “I’m sorry kids, I know you’re going to hate this, but we have to cover it because of the essential elements. blah, blah, blah.”
I didn’t realize I liked poetry until college, and then I thought I only liked the Victorian age. (Slow learner. See former post on ability grouping and my solo red group moments)
All that changed over time though. I took a poetry class and fell in love with a million different poets and their works. William Carlos Williams and his celebration of life even in the little things is my favorite. Andre Breton in his Always for the First Time describes love in such detail, succinctly, honestly, emotionally, I fall in love again or yearn for that feeling every time I speak the words.
Through my love of poetry, I’ve discovered a deeper appreciation for words. The word explicate is my favorite. It just explodes in your mouth when you say it. It’s harsh and soft and full all at once. It’s a word that just makes me happy.
And telling students about that favorite word makes them happy. They see they’re not alone with their love of words. They laugh, but they get it too.
That love of language, its nuances, its fullness, can only help me become a better writer.
I hope by sharing that love, I help my students become better writers too.

Some days

Weigh in: I lost 4 1/2 of the five pounds I gained last week. Thank God! Now on to more losses. 🙂

Today after my workout I walked into the locker room and heard a mom and her teenage daughter arguing. Mom wanted to know why teen daughter bothered coming with her because she never wanted to workout, she just wanted to interrupt mom’s workout. Teenage daughter whined, told mom she was wrong and continued to interrupt.
I know. It sounds like no big deal. But for me, it was HUGE!
I’m always beating myself up for being a bad mom. I mean ALWAYS. This conversation let me see a few things:
1.) DD and I have a perfectly normal relationship.
2.) Teenagers have mouths. They’re not nice all that often. Take advantage of the nice times and hold them close to your heart. Within a couple days it’s back to the norm.

A long time ago my mom laughed and laughed when she realized how hard headed my dd was. She got the biggest kick out of telling me I’d earned this one.
I had no idea what she meant…for all of ten minutes. And that hard headedness doesn’t go away.
But what does happen is I grow as a mother. And as I grow I learn certain behaviors are normal. And I learn to choose my battles. And I have a blast watching dd grow up. DD might be heard headed, she might be what my mother calls a super-duper-strong willed child, but I wouldn’t change her for anything in the world. Not even for the last twenty minutes of my workout in peace.

I’m going to Austin this weekend for my state’s scholastic journalism conference. I’m so excited, but MAN, what a bummer too. Friday I got an e-mail from New York Times UpFront asking me to sit in on the editorial board meeting. They were willing to PAY for my trip to NYC, my lodging, my meals, a Broadway play. Now, while I realize I just got back from NYC, saying no to this was TOUGH! I mean, I had to pass up the opportunity to sit in the offices of the New York Times. Just the thought gets me all hot and giddy. I’m totally not joking. I have the same reaction to newsprint and the scent of ink as others do to chocolate. Okay, so the truth is I have the reaction to chocolate too! 🙂 Of course, I’m sure editorial offices at NYT are NOTHING like other editorial offices I’ve been in. But surely they still have the great newspaper smell I know and love!
Anyway, I had to pass up the opportunity because I already have eight kids ready to go learn and get revitalized for next year and no way could I tell them I was passing. Besides I’m teaching four classes at the conference. That would’ve been a little sorry dog of me. Hopefully UpFront remembers me and invites me back!
One good thing about this: I get to write this weekend. At least I figure I get to write. I usually write at these things. 🙂

Finding the magic

My new WIP isn’t so new anymore, but it sure is kicking my butt. I’ve had a horrible time trying to figure out the problems. I mean, I love the plot, I like the characters, I feel pretty confident about the sexual tension. But everytime I sat down to write, I just couldn’t find the magic. It was driving me crazy. I’ve never been in this place with my work for more than a week or two at most.
I knew the problem centered on my characters. I mean, I write romance. LIKING my characters just isn’t going to cut it. I knew the real problem was something with my heroine. But no matter how many times I read over the work, no matter how many new pages I added, no matter how many times I added to her characterization sheet, I just couldn’t pinpoint the problem. But it was there. Glaring in its invisibility! I mean the story’s moving forward, but it’s all plot. The people aren’t real. They go through the motions to get me from turning point to turning point, but there’s something missing. The hero tries, but with this one dimensional woman I’ve got him on the run with, he just can’t get into the story either.

Then this weekend I took a group of 30 teenagers out of town for an academic meet. I don’t know what about this trip broke the block, but I sat down last night with no Internet access (a-ha! maybe I do know what broke the block!) and just started writing a note to myself. I listed the problems I was having, how I felt about it, all the personal excuses I could have for not moving forward. And then I went back and read chapter one.
And suddenly it was crystal clear. My characters have internal motivation and outside conflict, the plot pushes the story forward, I have scene goals BUT my heroine had no idea what she really wanted or why this story was so horrible for her. She was clueless. I’d set the entire story and her character points up around the external plot and I’d somehow left out the tie to who she was when she’s alone at night. When she’s comepletely honest with herself. When she’s being her most real.
Within ten minutes I’d churned out a short synopsis beginning that points outs all I’d discovered. Now for the hard part. Building this discovery into the character I have on the page. But you know what? It’ll be okay. She’s a real person now. Hopefully I’ll find the magic again.
I sure hope so!