Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Let's Pretend

My family went on a walk the other day through our town. At one point we came to a set of railroad tracks running along a huge grain station and some silos. A weathered For Sale sign hangs on one wall. The weeds have overrun the triangular field next to it, a small concrete rectangle sits out in the middle of the field, and there are mailbox posts still standing near the road, the boxes removed.

The kids and I are fascinated by this run-down piece of property and as we inevitably do, we started weaving plans around it as if we were prospective buyers. It's amazing how in sync our thought processes were.

"Let's make it a train station."

"It could be the main depot. The trains carrying people from (Point A, to B, to C), catering to students and tourists. There'd be a market for it."

"I want to walk up and down the aisles selling treats!"

"I want to work in the ticket office."

"There's room for a small restaurant or cafe."

"Would we use a big train?"

"No, something small to start with. Strictly passenger oriented."

We saw a shiny new building, a cleared parking lot, people milling about, pretended to hear the train whistle as it approached. Padded seats, probably red, inside the train. Excited children standing at a fence, waiting for their turn. The smell of food from the restaurant.

"What should we serve?"

"Hot dogs!"


"Indian tacos!"

"Wait, we need healthy food."

"Fruit. Lots of fruit."

"And carrots."


And then we crossed the tracks and moved away. Now we were passing homes.

"I want a house just like that."


"It has a chimney."

"I love those flowers."

"Don't run through other people's yards!"

"Look, a deer!"

"It isn't real."

"They have a playground."

"This house is cute."

"This grass needs a haircut."

"I want to live in this house, too. It has a rock path."

"I love the trees."

"Ah, shade!"

"A squirrel!"

"Excuse me," to a lady walking outside, "what kind of a bush is this? We love the flowers on it."

But the best moment was on the way back home. Two teenage girls passed us, talking. My five-year old son quickened his step. "Hey, girls!" To us, "Those are my girls." Yelling ahead, "Wait up girls!"

I don't think they heard him since they never stopped talking or looked back. He continued to hurry after them, chattering on about how they were his girls until they turned a corner and went out of sight. He slipped his hand into mine and said, "Mom, I love you."

One of my daughters grabbed my other hand to cross the street. She gave it a squeeze.

I love walks with my family.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Blogging Hiatus

I'll be taking a small two week break from the blog. Thanks for checking in and I wish you all luck with your writing endeavors.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Audience

I've had ample opportunity to think about why I write this past week. I've been doing it for a long time but never thought much about publishing until the past five years. And as I stewed over what I want and why I do what I do, I realized that my main driving factor is sharing my own particular brand of storytelling with my audience.

I used to pound out entire manuscripts in record time, in order to turn around and read them to my family. After all, that's what my mom did. She's a writer, too. I knew my audience back then, what they liked, how to make them shiver or laugh. We'd huddle up on a bed or couch, maybe sit on a hill at a park, and read together. Sometimes I'd make up stories off the cuff as a bedtime ritual. It was nothing but pure fun. And to this day, my family still brings up the stories that stayed with them.

As I grew older, my audience extended out to other people I knew, co-workers, friends, other people who wrote or participated in theater. I partnered up with a cousin to write plays and put on productions for rest homes, hospitals, and youth groups. I shared my manuscripts with these people and began the constructive beta reader process, where they'd give me feedback. I wanted criticism because I wanted to become a better writer. I snuck creative writing into the reports I wrote for other classes in school. My teachers loved them, and I confess, it fostered my love of learning.

The best part about all of these encounters was touching my audience. Sure, I'd run into some people who didn't care for my style or the subject matter. But for those who did, it was like drawing them into my world and our relationship took on a new level.

I still enjoy that part of writing today. My current manuscript has produced a peculiar audience connect. Half of the people who have read it have dreamed about it. Considering the story idea came from a dream, on my part, I've found this development curious and kind of cool. Like many of you, I'm on the reserved or introverted side of the scale. It's also a struggle for me to blindly send out a story to an audience I haven't been able to gauge well. I have moments where I've fretted over apathetic or negative reactions. But the trick is to live for the positive and enthusiastic responses. There is an audience out there; we just have to find them.

So my questions for you: Have you had anything unusual or quirky happen when other people read your work? What's your driving motivation, the part that gives you the most satisfaction, about the writing and/or publishing process?