Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cow Eyeballs and Determination

Today I don't feel much like blogging.  I don't really feel too much like writing at all, as a matter of fact.  And this is really bumming me out because it is Sunday, a day when I usually actually have time to write.

But I just don't feel like doing it.

I know I probably need to push through, because really, when you get stuck in the middle of something, the only way out is through.  The thing is, unfortunately, that you can push through in just about any direction to get out, and what if, what if you choose the wrong one?  I'll tell you what happens.  You end up with the wrong ending.

The wrong ending is not a good thing.

I have, once or twice, made it to the ending of a book I was writing and it was the wrong one.  (I hate this in books that I read, as well--oooooohhhhh!!  When that ending is wrong, it just chaps me!!)  It was painful to go back, retrace the steps and figure out just where I started going the wrong way.

Painful, Shelley, but not impossible.

These are the things I need to remind myself. Painful.  But possible.  What I am doing is most definitely not impossible.  Being in my classroom on Friday while my class dissected cow eyeballs (in order to discover how the eye works), THAT was far more impossible than what I ask of myself when I sit down to write. (And I only gagged a few times during the cow eyeball thing.  My class was awesome. No gagging or puking.  I think there are definitely some future doctors and vets in the group.)

Writing is not only possible, it is all about possibilities.  The very act of writing itself creates possibilities that did not exist until the words live on the paper for the first time.

How can I sit here and claim that I just don't feel like it?

Shelley, that is very lame, if I do say so myself.

So, I am ending this blog and opening the document.  I will choose a direction and create possibilities.

It's not brain surgery, after all--or cow eyeball surgery.

Wishing you the best of luck on getting through whatever mire-of-a-middle you've made for yourself in your writing.

The only way out is through.



Saturday, February 16, 2013

Grand Gestures

     On the day before Valentine's Day, we were supposed to have a staff meeting.  I am not a complainer, but it is no secret that meetings are not something that I look forward to.  Actually, I am not certain if anyone really can say with COMPLETE honesty that they love meetings. Anyway, I went to the meeting, along with the rest of my staff, only to discover that it was a ruse.

     There was no meeting.

     Instead, our custodian had hired, at his own expense, a mariachi band to serenade us for an hour.


     And I was blown away. All of us teachers were, actually.  When asked, the custodian simply said, "Teachers work hard.  Someone should do something nice for them."

     I have always been a believer that it is often the little things that make our lives better, the small gestures of kindness that we show (or not) towards others that define who we are, that define the way in which we want to shape our world.

     But sometimes I forget to consider the big, grand gestures. The impossibly romantic, sometimes futile gestures that are so big, so unpredictable when they touch our souls.  These can change lives.

     I do not need to tell you that there is a difference between what a teacher gets paid and what a custodian gets paid.

     But I do need to tell you that something changed in us all that day, February 13, 2013, in that big, loud, trumpet blaring, violin playing, bass thumping gesture.  We felt so valued by the gift, and when you feel valued, you become more valuable.  Because someone gave something to us, for no other reason that he thought "someone should do something nice for them", we will all do better at what we do.

     That kindness, that over-the-top gesture will live on in what we give to our kids.  We have no choice but to pay it forward, because we were so filled up. The joy just overflows.

Thank you, Manny.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Strong Girls

I recently came across this site

It''s just fantastic.  I wish such a site had existed back when I was a new mom looking for books and such to inspire my girls to embrace their inner strength and greatness.  Because for me, that's my biggest hope for my daughters, that they are strong enough to embrace who they are and to follow their dreams wherever they lead, that they are strong enough to never believe the naysayers (not for very long anyway), and that they understand that strength can come in many shapes and sizes.

Recently, I've been getting emails from moms who have read THE SEVEN TALES OF TRINKET and are pleased to share Trinket's story with their own daughters.  They like Trinket's inner strength and resolve in the face of adversity.  I am thrilled.  But the truth is, I didn't set out to write a "Strong Girl" character.  I just set out to write the best story that I could, and to make Trinket as much of a "Real Girl" as I could  because the truth is: Real Girls are strong.

I think back to the girls in stories that shaped my childhood:  Charlotte in CHARLOTTE'S WEB.
I am reading this to my class right now.  I heart Charlotte. She is just so compassionate and wise.  I give her a slightly southern accent when I read her.  And I am very curious about the book that beat this one for the Newbery.  That must have been "Some Book." (Inside joke.)

This might have been the cover that was on the book I read, way back when.  I remember admiring Claudia's smarts.  Ingenious to runaway to a museum!

Elizabeth's strength, when it finally shows up, is just so hard-won.  Sigh.

There were more of course, more strong girls who helped me realize that deep inside of me, there lurked a mighty girl--a mighty girl who didn't wait for her chance to come along, but instead decided to make her own destiny.  (This is where is ride off into the sunset on my pink vespa or something, except that I have no vespa.)

And, I have not yet posted my February goals:

1. Complete rewrite on a crazy little manuscript that I love. It's just, well, it's too long to be the kind of book I thought it would be, but far too short to be the kind of book it could be. It am sure it will take me more than this month, but I do have a five day weekend coming up...I just might pull it off!  Besides, I need Dingle to set for a while longer before I am ready to revise it, so I might as well start on something I have been itching to do.

So, what are some of your favorite literary Real Girls?