Last week, Mom left me. She was gone for hours and hours. She gave me my special see-you-later-be-a-good-girl-no-cuckoo-behavior-cookie, and disappeared in her car.
She said the word, “School visit.” and “This will be fun.” and “No barking while I’m gone.”
Usually, Mom visits schools to talk about being an author…. and where to find ideas and how an idea becomes a story and how a story becomes a real, live book. But this one was different.
Since Mom’s book is about a blind boy in a sighted classroom, she was invited to speak about Disability Awareness and how important it is to accept differently-abled people in all situations. I stayed home and had some situations of my own…
Mom drove miles and miles. I cruised around the house checking the floor for crumbs.
Mom met some new people. I hung out with some new toys.
Mom talked to 400 kids and sold a bunch of books. I yelled at the mailman…
…and took a bunch of naps.
I never want to be left alone again.
Mom is going to another school visit next month. Gah!
Mom said, “I love school visits.”
I hate school visits.
Mom bought me something new.
It’s an IQ toy that helps me be smart. I learned all my old IQ toys…
…so now I am studying my new one. It has blocks, a spinning layer, and TREATS hidden inside. Sometimes new things are better than old things.
Sometimes they’re not! My old snowman used to look like this.
Then he looked like this.
Less awesome snowman.
And now he looks like this.
Worst. Snowman. Ever.
The new snowman has no rock buttons (that looked like cookies), no stick arms with twig hands, and no carrot nose. He’s barely a snowman at all.
These days, Mom is working on some old stories…
.. and some new stories.
She writes her new story for a while, then she yanks out an old story and punches it. I mean punches it up. She adds in some new things, takes out some old things, and moves some things around.
That’s called punching. ….Up. It makes old things new and new things old – till they get punched up too.
Mom says, “What was I thinking?” and “This sounds SO much better.” and “GAH! Toy squirrels are everywhere!”
Things change. Change is what makes the world keep spinning and not come to a stuck-in-the-mud-stop.
Today’s five words are about changes.
1. Joining - Joining a class or taking on a challenge makes things different. Last month, Mom became a ProMember at Rate Your Story. That means experts will look at her work and give her tips before she sends it out to a publisher.
2. Color - Mom’s friend gave her a color change umbrella. It’s white when it’s dry…
…and when it rains, this happens.
Colors make everything happier. It’s like when Mom edits a story. It’s plain when she starts, and comes alive when she adds colorful characters, interesting word choices, and unexpected plot twists.
3. Bowl Games - For SuperBowl Sunday, we started off watching the Puppy Bowl,
but then we had to change to the Human SuperBowl.
4. Bravery - Bravery can change. I am afraid of a LOT of things. So when the little girl upstairs built a snowman on the front lawn, Mom was sure I would be terrified. But I suddenly became brave, and didn’t bat an eye when I saw the snowguy.
I even tried to eat his buttons which looked like cookies….
…but turned out to be rocks.
5. Point of View - Mom tries to see her work with a different eye, and make changes. She looks for an unusual point of view or a new spin. I help her see life from my point of view when she puts her GoPro camera onto my Fetch harness and we go walking in the snow. Maybe she should clip the camera to herself and then work on her stories.
Whenever Mom mind-writes, she starts in the middle of a story. An idea pops into her brain, and she goes gangbusters from there.
Sometimes I start in the middle of my toys…
and fight my way out with the favored toy of the day.
Mom says, “What a mess!” and “I guess it’ll be MY job to clean up.” and “I wish I had a delete key for naughty behavior.”
When Mom sits down to write (and ignore me), she starts at what she THINKS is the beginning. But that first sentence or paragraph or page doesn’t always make the cut as the REAL beginning when the story is finished. Writers are like that. They can’t get too attached to their words because sometimes they get the delete key. Nuthin’ personal…
I got the delete key from the laundry basket when I tried to go along for the ride to the laundromat last week.
I was in,
I begged to stay,
but I got tossed.
I wish there was a delete key for the mailman. He thinks I can’t hear him sneaking around the hallway. But I hear him out there plotting to kill me.
One day, I will delete you, you lunatic!
There would be no point to sending out stories if Mom didn’t believe somebody would love her work and will publish it. She believes like crazy. Part of the fun of setting goals and striving to get better at your craft is believing. She says, “I believe this is one of my best stories yet.” and “I believe this is the one.” and “I don’t believe you can’t find a better place to sit!”
Two pieces of tissue paper. Perfect place to plop down and snoopervise.
Believing doesn’t mean dreaming (not that there’s anything wrong with dreaming), and it doesn’t mean that nothing will ever go wrong. Sometimes things go wrong.
Things that go wrong are called Rejections. They’re also called I’m-Stuck. And Where’s-the-Conflict. And What’s-the-Point-of-This. When these things go wrong, Mom revises, switches to a different project, adds in a new problem for her character, or takes away some paragraphs and starts in a spot that makes the point clear.
Then she sweeps the broken glass off the floor and throws away my tissue paper bed. Go figure.
It’s that wonderful (terrifying) time when we look back on what’s been accomplished in the year past and set some new goals for the future. Today, we are counting down about resolutions.
Mom made a ton of resolutions last year. Some were successful, some went bust. ‘Nuff said about those clunkers.
Mom’s 2015 Resolutions
3. Read 200 more picture books and rate them on Goodreads.
2. Revise and submit 12 manuscripts that she’s written recently.
1. Draw and color 100 pictures – hopefully some will be pictures of me!
Mom did NOT draw this one….
She drew this one… Ugh.
My 2015 Resolutions
3. Develop a relationship with my toybox. In 5 years, I have never taken a toy out of my toybox (That’s been Mom’s job.). But last week, I decided to see what this toybox thing was all about. Guess what! It really is filled with TOYS!
2. Meditate. Sometimes when I’m walking with Mom, she tries to make me walk into areas that scare me. I usually turn to stone and refuse to move. Sometimes she picks me up and carries me. This year, I will turn that paralyzing fear into a meditation. I will hear babbling brooks, the wind in the trees, and the sound of birds – not the words, “Come on.” or “Let’s go.” or “Heel.” or “Keep moving.” or “COME ON!” Meditation is good for my soul.
1. Grow taller. Being tiny has its advantages when it comes to hiding. But when it comes to stealing food, it’s a problem. I can’t reach the table, the counters, or the garbage pail.
I can only hope somebody forgets to push in their chair or doesn’t notice I am a few inches away from the gingerbread house on the coffee table.
Start before you’re ready.
When you’re an author, getting started can be tough. Blank screen. Blank mind. Blank look in your eyes.
Blankness happens to me a lot. It also happens to Mom when she’s starting a new story. She’s never REALLY ready to write. So she has to take Steven Pressfield’s advice and start anyway. She doesn’t start at the computer, though. She starts in her head. Mom always lets ideas sit up there inside her brain for a while before she starts something new. Mind-writing.
She mind-writes while we’re walking,
while we’re cuddling,
while we’re decorating,
and she even did some mind-writing while we visited Santa.
Mom says, “It’s not about how you start.” and “It’s not about when you start.” and “All that matters is that you start….and finish.”
And I say, “Maybe we can just mind-write a little more…”