Mix a little foolishness with your prudence. It’s good to be silly at the right moment.
Mom likes to laugh. Mostly, she laughs at me. But she also laughs when she reads picture books.
She says, “GAH! That was hilarious!” and “Some stories are just SO funny.” and “It’s a bike rack. How can you possibly be afraid of a bike rack??”
Making humor in her books is part of Mom’s job. It’s important to make her readers laugh, while not looking like she’s trying too hard. …even though she’s really trying very, VERY hard. Mom says, “That’s what I call a smile.”
and “I love a dog in a shopping cart.”
and “It’s always a delicate balance.”
Don’t I know it!
Some books that made Mom smile lately are: Gaston, Pardon Me, Monster Chefs, Shoe Dog, I Hatched, Zombie in Love, How to Babysit a Grandpa, Little Santa, and about a million others.
She also gets a giggle from me in my Halloween witch costume.
And my tutu.
Did you laugh today?
“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
I like lunch. I don’t officially eat lunch, but Mom does. And once in a while she shares it with me. I’m not allowed to beg, but sometimes (every single day), that rule accidentally gets broken and Mom says the word, “No human food” just before she gives me a tiny taste.
I do not believe there is a huge difference between human food and dog food. Yummy and delicious is yummy and delicious, no matter what the container looks like.
Mom likes to use “short, easy words” just like Winnie the Pooh. And most of the time, that’s exactly what she uses when she writes stories AND when she talks to me. She says, “Sit” not “Ensconce yourself”
and “Down” not “Move towards a lower position”
and “Fetch” not “Pick up and deliver.” I understand these small words and they do the job well…. except when they don’t.
In stories, it’s not about the size of the word. It’s more about what the word really says and whether the word needs help from another word to say what it needs to say. This is especially true with verbs, which I think are something like burps. Better to say, “Trudge” than “Walk slowly with head down” and better to say, “Chomp” than “Eat quickly and noisily” and better to say, “Whisper” than “Speak softly in hushed tones.”
So in an effort to keep things short and precise, I would like to say, “Gimme some!”
Every first draft is perfect because all a first draft has to do is exist.
Mom said the word, “Thank God!” about this quote. In her 12×12 in 2014 challenge, Mom writes a new first draft every month. So far she is keeping up, staying ahead, and getting it done.
She says, “This is cute.” and “Almost finished.” and “It needs some work, but that’s for another time.”
Recently, Mom took me to the bagel cafe to have breakfast at the outdoor patio.
Last summer, we tried this, but I went berserk. I kept trying to pull Mom’s arm out of the socket and kiss the waitress, I was afraid of a motorcycle zooming past and people window shopping across the street, and instead of drinking from the water dish they gave me, I sat in it.
This time, I was better.
I sat on my Park It Mat, watched people and cars go by, and didn’t beg….
…. too much.
Mom said, “You did it.” and “Good job.” and “This still needs some work, but that’s for another time.”
Are you going to finish that….?
Visualize this thing you want. See it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blueprint and begin. Robert Collier
Visualizing is an important part of a writer’s journey. Mom always visualized opening a letter of acceptance. She walked herself through every bit of how it would feel. The envelope – the weight of it, the uncertainty – that wiggly feeling in the tummy, the zipping it open – the rough edges, and the finally knowing – somebody said yes. Over and over for years and years, she saw it, felt it, and believed it. But guess what. When her first story was sold, no letter came. Her publisher called her on the phone and left a message! That being said, Mom still visualizes getting an acceptance letter. Over and over. Every detail. Every single day. She says, “This will happen.” and “It can’t hurt.” and “What is going on in that tiny brain of yours?”
What time is dinner?
I visualize, too, of course.
What time is dinner?
I see and feel and believe in tons of treats, piles of toys, long walks, and playtime that never ends. My mental blueprint shows how I will get onto the table, into the garbage, out the window, and through the door. My brain may be tiny, but it’s busy all the time. Visualizing…..
What time is dinner?
Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.
Mary Kay Ash
I would like to fly. Sometimes, I fly around my house – from the floor to the bed and from the ottoman to the sofa and from the chair to the door.
But I’m not allowed to fly outside. If I could, I’d fly up into the trees to catch birds and squirrels.
They are up there laughing at me, so flying would come in handy to put a stop to that.
Mom writes picture books. But sometimes, she goes outside her comfort zone to write other things. Once she wrote a non-fiction story, but she hated it – ALMOST as much as she hated doing the research for it. She said, “This is too much like work.” and “I dread writing time.” and “You cannot climb a tree – you’re a dog, not a bear.”
Last weekend, Mom wrote a song. Her friend needed a little pre-k song for graduation, so Mom made it up and sang it out loud to herself over and over and over and over and over. She said, “That was easier than I thought.” and “I didn’t know I could write a song.” and “You cannot climb a tree – you’re a dog, not a bear.”
Sometimes we need to go out of our comfort zones and TRY to see what we really can do. Mom is no Paul McCartney, but she wrote a song. I may not be a bear, but if Mom would unclip my leash for 5 seconds, I think I can climb a tree. After all, bumblebees fly….
Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.
Moments matter – Every single one of them. I try to use each one wisely.
This past weekend we lost 60 moments of sleep for daylight savings. Well, the humans did. I got those moments back in spades 60 times over.
Mom uses one hour of moments each day for work. And by work I mean she sits there and types on the computer and talks out loud to herself. Sometimes the Creativity visits her during that hour. I love visitors. I’m not sure I’ve ever met the Creativity Visitor, though. Maybe tomorrow…..
If the Creativity doesn’t visit at that exact work time, Mom still works. Each month, she makes a new story and fixes up an old story (or two or three) for her 12×12 Challenge. She also reads books about writing books, and reads books like the books she writes. Wait. What?
Writing time is not for blogs, not for Facebook, not for email, not for Words With Friends, and not even for TV.
It’s just working on stories in one way or another – writing them, reading them, fixing them, thinking about them, submitting them to agents and publishers, and giving me cuddles and treats…. (See what I did there?) If the Creativity doesn’t come – Oh well. Maybe tomorrow…..
We’ll be ready.
All the effort in the world won’t matter if you’re not inspired.
Experiences inspire ideas. Mom has completed her PiBoIdMo challenge with 35 inspired ideas for new stories.
Some of her ideas will become picture book manuscripts. Some will become poems. One of them might become the elusive Book #2 or eBook #2. Some of them stink so bad that they will stay in her phone and rot. But somewhere, somehow, all of them were inspired for a few minutes by an experience during the month of November.
At her author visits, students or teachers often ask Mom if she ever has writer’s block. She says, “Never.” That’s because as long as she has a list of ideas, even if one story gets stuck, there are a bunch of other stories just waiting to get started.
I was inspired last night, so I started playing the piano with my paws…
…and my face.
Mom came in to see what was inspiring me. Was I a genius and she was just finding out? No. Did I suddenly get skills that no dog in the world ever had? No. Would I play at Carnegie Hall and be famous? No. There was a fly in the house. And I wanted a closer look at it.
*Not actual fly
The fly disappeared after my concert, and later he met with an unfortunate end. Rest in peace, little fly. I think you would’ve been delicious.
*Not actual fly tombstone