Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hey, Yoda! I Beg to Differ

Okay, so I was teaching my third graders about chemistry (I know!!) and one of my students brought this in:

Could it be any cooler?  No.  It could not be any cooler.

Anyway, I was reading it (and cracking up!) when I discovered that on the bottom row are the elements :
Do (do) and Dn (do not) and Tr (there is no Try) and I thought, "Now wait a minute, Jedi Master."

There IS a Try.

Because sometimes we start things that we aren't even certain if we can finish them, so we challenge ourselves.  Is it the not knowing that makes the challenge all the  I mean, if I knew I could do something, and then I did it, well, that would be wonderful, right?  But what if I didn't know if I would be successful, but I threw myself into it anyway, wouldn't that be even more risky?  And wouldn't the pay-off be (maybe) even more wonderful?

Perhaps because I lead a fairly safe life, I test myself by taking risks in my writing.  I start things that I have no idea how to finish.  And sometimes, I have not finished them.

But other times, that Try turns into an accomplishment.

With that in mind, I am going to Try my own twist on NaNoWriMo--NaNoFiMo.  I will be attempting to finish a book.  I am about halfway there.  

But even if I don't make it, the cool thing is that I will  be a lot closer than I was.

Take that, Yoda.

(Or "That you will take," for those who understand Yoda-speak.)

Who's with me?  Who else is going to Try something this November?


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Running, Writing, and the Hardest Part

So, I started running.

Oh, not far.  I don't run very far.

And not very fast, either.

I mean, I was just kind of bored with the rowing machine in the garage and craved fresh air as I attempted exercise, so I started running 13 days ago in the early morning darkness.  And I have run every day for 13 days.  It's kind of like a personal challenge, just to see how long I can mange it--running every day.

And 13 days in a row is nothing, NOTHING in the big picture of fitness. But I feel like I am doing what I can.

And that will just have to be enough.

But I was telling my husband about my pitiful distance (can't even record it here, I don't have numbers on the keypad small enough) and he said, "But you're doing it!  That's the hardest part, the getting up and starting."

I thought about that as I ran. Is the hardest part really just putting your mind to it and starting?

As I rounded the first bend (and the grade increased and a Hummer pulled out of the driveway in front of me), I realized that starting is the EASY part.

Not stopping?  That is the hardest part.

The will to keep going, in running and writing, is the battle I wage against myself most days.

Beginnings are lovely and beautiful and the adrenaline is pumping and Man-o-MAN is this ever going to be good!  I breathe the cold air into my lungs in large drags.  I write freely and wildly, because these are the first words and it doesn't matter if they are perfect or not because if I don't like them I can start again.  Starting is easy.

But continuing--laying word after word on paper, foot after foot on the rough pavement--this is what makes a runner into an athlete and a writer into an author.

So...don't stop.

(As if it were that easy...)


Friday, October 21, 2011

Crud...Where Did the Week Go?

Pick the best excuse for the week that just disappeared:

1.  A herd of angry, runaway camels stampeded through the week, leaving only its dusty remains.

2.  Someone in a time machine (perhaps HG Wells himself) time-traveled and actually stole the week and took it back to another century.

3.  It's like when you lose that hour with daylight savings time, but with a week.

4.  I am part bear and I hibernated a little early, then woke up when I realized it wasn't even close to winter.

5.  A tiny mouse with a locket borrowed from the late Harry Houdini hypnotized me into thinking that a week had actually passed when in fact it didn't. (Which means that the week didn't really disappear, I simply perceived that it did.)

6.  Stephen Hawking did it.  (I am not sure what he did...but he probably did something since it involves the space-time continuum.)

7.  The Force Was Not With Me.

8.  I fell asleep in a meeting* and woke up centuries later, kind of like Rip Van Winkle, except that I have to re-experience everything like Bill Murray did in Groundhog Day.

9. I fell asleep in a meeting* and woke up centuries later, kind of like rip Van Winkle, except that I have to re-experience everything like Bill Murray did in Groundhog Day.

10. (did you get what I just did there^?)

Okay, seriously, I have no idea what happened.  It seems like I just blinked and it's Friday.  Don't get me wrong.  I love Friday!!  But come on!  I'd like to remember the rest of the days, too!

And, before I forget, I just want to say that my third grade class is loving this book:
love, love, love, love, love
It is written by the wonderful RL LaFevers.  It is just so perfect for my third graders.  They love the interesting vocabulary and everyone just adores Greasle.

Teachers, this is an awesome read-aloud.

Okay...back to find what is left of the week.

Oh, I did get to hear Elana Johnson, Kirsten Hubbard, Jessi Kirby and John Corey Whaley  talk about their books on Thursday night.  I really wished I could have hung out with such coool authors for a while, but alas, the mommy chauffeur service was in high demand.


*this part may or may not have actually happened.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Making a Difference

Not too long ago, this appeared in my inbox.  It is an article that tells about young people planting trees and making a difference in the world.

And they did this, too:

The students took turns reading passages from “Somewhere Today: A book of peace” by Shelley Moore Thomas before helping pat dirt around the new tree, which will soon boast a plaque commemorating Peace Week.

I could not be more touched.

When the youth of today take action in their world, it inspires others to do the same. That was the whole point of the book.  And I cannot tell you how much it means to me that, 13 years later, the message from my little book is still out there, getting read to new ears and new trees and hopefully influencing new people to make decisions that change our world for the better.

Still in print.  

Thank you, students from Santa Maria, Orcutt, and Guadalupe for letting me be a part of your amazing Peace Week.  (About 450 of the 700 people that participated were students!  Go awesome young people!!)

I challenge all of you reading this to do one thing this week that helps the world--big or small--it doesn't matter.  What matters is that you put thoughts and words into action.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

When Hungry Gargoyles Come Calling

Over the summer, my daughter, Noel, went to Paris.  (I know!  Lucky!)  Anyway, she asked me what I wanted her to bring back for me.  At first, I didn't want her to have to lug anything back.  I just wanted her to study for her classes in France and to come back safely.  (And I didn't want her spending her hard-earned money on me.  The  exchange rate was horrible in July.)

But then I thought of something I really wanted:

Notre Dame.  Could it be any lovelier?
I wanted her to take a picture of a gargoyle at Notre Dame Cathedral (in black and white, for I like black and white photography best) so I could put it above my desk.

Yes, believe it or not, in addition to Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones, apparently I've got a thing for gargoyles.

Noel accomplished her task well. However, I had completely forgotten about printing the picture and getting it framed until the other day when I saw gargoyles at Target.  (I love their Halloween gargoyles!  Might have to add a new one to the collection.)  So I rushed home and opened up the file in my computer.

The problem?

I can't decide which gargoyle!

This is the fierce, eagle gargoyle!  Listen, you can almost hear him shrieking.

The dog-gargoyle twins.  I have named them Fred and George.  Notice the mis-shapen ear?

This little beauty is ready to pounce!

This guy is totally trying to eat that tree, poor little hungry thing.

So, which gargoyle will get to live in the antique retro-looking (or perhaps shockingly modern) frame above my desk, frightening off all distractions?

Help me decide.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Things I Might Have Done This Week

1.  I might have ordered an In-N-Out burger without the spread.  And I just might have liked it.

2.  I might have finished all of the edits I needed to for a while, which means I might get to work on my WIP.

3.  I might be totally afraid to open the document.  (Of course this means I haven't opened it...what if it is lame???)

4.  I might have encouraged my students to make origami hats out of a math page that made no sense. (Not sayin' I did, just sayin' I might have. Besides, there are better ways to assess mathematical knowledge than worksheets.  Everyone knows that.)

5.  I might have forgotten to do laundry.  (Okay, I did.  I'll just admit it.)

6.  I might have sorted my class into Hogwarts' Houses (then switched the houses to Star Wars ships, just to change things up a bit.) 

7.  I might have gotten to see a draft of my cover for The Seven Tales of Trinket.  It might be totally awesome.  (Actually, it IS totally awesome.)


Sunday, October 2, 2011

The End is Near

Well, the end of the copy-edits are near, I think.  (A copy-editor would probably say "is near" in that last sentence.)

Doing the edits hasn't been that bad, just finding the chunks of time in which to do them has been hard!  (And getting over the embarrassment of some of the silly mistakes I the occasional forgetting of a WORD!  An essential word!  A word needed for sentence sense!!!  So, um, yeah, glad I don't have to look the copy-editors in the eye right now.)

But I am struggling with a capitalization issue.  It deals with the Gaelic spelling of a creature in Celtic folklore. I seem to be capitalizing this word all of the time...and according to my copy-editors, I don't really need to.  So I started thinking, "Well, self, why are you inflicting capitalization where none is needed?"

No easy answers, of course.

But I thought, maybe, just maybe, I was subconsciously copying an old folkloric style.  Perhaps, long ago, such words were always in caps and I was inadvertently doing the same. So I pulled out a bunch of old Celtic folklore books (got Celtic folklore questions?  I'm your go-to-gal.) to have myself a look-see.

But I got distracted from my search when I found this poem by Irish poet Arthur O'Shaughnessy (who supposedly wrote poetry while working for the British Museum.)  This is part of a larger poem called "Ode", this part is an ode to writers:

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams.

World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world forever, it seems.

And after than, I really have no other words.


P.S. I love when I am searching for one thing but find something even better!  (I guess I did have a few other words.)