Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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Can You Find What’s Missing?

Sometimes people ask me one simple question:

How do you find time to write?

And workout? And read an entire book in less than a week? And cook all of my meals from scratch? And spend a large portion of my day just sitting outside, watching birds or gardening or hanging up the laundry to dry? 

Okay, I added all of the others, after the first simple question, How do I find time to write? But I’ve had at least a few people ask me these questions at different times. I really have. And I will be the FIRST to admit that I don’t have a perfect scheduled out system to my life. I forget things, I make mistakes and I do waste time.

Just not very often.

Let me give you a clue as to WHY.

Here are some pictures, taken at different angles, of my living room/dining room.

hey lou, writing, new writer, short stories

Piano and bookshelf

Greg plays the piano ALL THE TIME!!! Coolest thing about it? I grew up with my dad playing this very same piano. My parents recently bought a new vintage piano and gave us this one. Also- this bookshelf is inside the wall. No space is wasted and it is beautifully carved out of wood.

Here’s a close up of the picture of my grandmother, which is sitting on the piano.

My lovely Grandma, Pearl, sitting at her typewriter :)

My lovely Grandma, Pearl, sitting at her typewriter :)

Okay, more pictures. Keep looking to find out what’s missing!!!

hey lou writes, young adult, short stories

“Dining room” and front door

Best part of this picture is the table that my parents bought when they were newlyweds. I wouldn’t buy a new one, ever.

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Christmas trees and music :)

Yes, we keep our Christmas tree up all year long. We’ve had it up since October 31st, 2010, when we bought it on sale at Hobby Lobby. This room is usually filled with band equipment for Wildewood.

Justin Townes Earle, couch, hey lou writes, writing, reading

Where I read!

And there you have it. The rest of the house is similar. We have a small bedroom with hardly anything inside, a laundry room with a computer for Greg to work on music recordings, and another room that stores most of Wildewood’s equipment and Greg’s big drum set. It’s a modest, yet amazingly comfortable and spacious living arrangement. Oh, it’s also on a half acre. Don’t ask me how we got so lucky. But ask me how often I thank God for such a home. Answer: Every single day.

Did you see it? Or NOT see it? Have you guessed it yet?

I can read, write, blog, clean, sit in the warm sun, garden, workout and spend time with my husband ….ALL BECAUSE…

We have no TV. There it is. This is not a TV bashing blog, either. But will I ever own one again? Not for all the money in the world. (Okay, come to me with a million dollars and I might buy one. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be where anyone can see it) 

In our last place, a small apartment, I really tried to evaluate why I was either unhappy (at times), felt lazy or fat (at times), or felt disconnected with the world around me (almost all the time.) I remember this specific moment. I was watching a “reality” show. Maybe it was The Hills? I’m not quite sure. But what I do know is this: I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh. Here I am, watching someone else live their life. How lame. I need to go live my own life!” And there you have it. Greg and I moved into this place, got rid of our TV, and we’ve never looked back.

I know what some of you are thinking. But, Melinda, The Hills is trash reality TV and I watch great shows or the Food Network or the Discovery Channel… I don’t waste time. I learn and laugh and relax after a really long day. 

Well, I say HOORAY for all of those people who do exactly that. I would say in the beginning that I did miss those “good” TV shows. I like watching other people cook. I love a good special on Abraham Lincoln or a newly discovered animal in the ocean. But do I still miss it at all? Does it even EVER cross my mind? No.

In fact, I am still very busy and on the days when I have zero time to relax, I often wonder how in the world anyone has time for TV. I know that most people are on even tighter schedules than I am! Explain that!

Having no TV hardly makes me a hermit, either. We have Netflix and we watch movies on our laptop. Um… we have the INTERNET… so, yeah, it’s not like we miss out on any news. Simply having a twitter account makes me weirdly more informed about the world than I ever wanted to be.

I recently read this awesome blog about budgeting money. It made me think. I may not be the best at budgeting money, but I have become really good at budgeting my time. It’s something I can truly say I’ve grown to be good at, and I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. Here’s what a typical day looks like for the Williams household:

A.M.

Greg and I try to wake up together, and unless he has to work at 5 (yikes!), which is rare, we make this happen. Our usual wake up time is anywhere from 6:00 to 7:00, depending. We wake up at LEAST an hour and a half before either of us have to leave. Why? So we can do this:

-Greg makes the coffee

-I made the breakfasts

-Weather permitting, we sit outside to eat and drink

-We might both spend 30 minutes reading

-We might start chatting, which I always love

-I’ll go for a thirty minute run or do a workout at home

-We talk about our days, challenges we might face, and how excited we are for the relaxing evening to come

MID DAY

Greg and I both work. He works full time and I work part time. (I do, however, spend more than a full timer’s worth of time writing.) If we happen to have a day off together, you can bet we’ve done these things:

-Pulled weeds/gardened

-Gone on a short walk

-Made some more coffee and sat outside (bird watching is our new hobby)

-Read more

-I write

-Greg will practice harmonica/drums/piano

-Whip up a good and healthy lunch

-Do laundry, sweep the floor

-Laugh our heads off at least three times (Greg is the funniest person I know)

P.M. 

This is where life really gets busy. Greg, being in a band, has lots of practices and shows. On a rare evening when we have “nothing” to do we’ll make time for:

-Making dinner together

-Talking about our day

-Getting caught up on life… dishes, putting AWAY the previously washed laundry… etc

-Reading some more

-Writing some more

-Practicing music some more

-Going on that run, if I didn’t get to it in the A.M.

See what I mean? Nowhere in there do we have space or a care to “budget” our time to fit in TV watching. Books are better, anyway. It might seem boring. I’m sure what I’ve just described, as a life being lived, seems utterly unexciting to the untrained eye. However, it is anything BUT. We spend quality time. I’ve learned to appreciate the sound of birds and learning what type they are. I’ve learned to savor each moment of silence I can muster up in a day, preferably with Greg right alongside me. I’ve learned to garden and I actually look forward to picking weeds. I get to be outside, I’m healthy and have a body that’s able, and I am caring for something that will provide me with vegetables and fruit to eat.

One drawback, if you can call it that, is how sensitive I have become to too much noise and distraction. I feel just a tad overwhelmed when I am somewhere with TVs blaring or a hundred different sounds buzzing around my head. I feel as if I can’t even listen to or hear the person sitting right next to me. Even in the car, if Greg and I have music playing, we’ll usually both reach to turn it down at the exact same time, and laugh and say, “I couldn’t hear a word you were saying.”

I guess that means I’ve learned to give my full attention to one thing at a time. Plus, I’m addicted to reading. This past month we got our Netflix DVD in the mail and we put off watching the movie for two weeks because each night, when it came down to it, Greg and I both opted for our books instead.

I’m not saying you should go throw your TV out on the curb today. I realize that for some people, this is extreme. (Like the lady who told us we were practically Amish for not owning a microwave… I think she’d faint if she read this.) But just like my last post about phones, I guess the reason for writing this is to encourage people to follow their dreams and not have distractions from those dreams. IMAGINE what you could accomplish if instead of watching TV for two hours a day, you did something productive… something you’ve always wanted to do. Like…

-get in shape (those two hours could be spend hitting the pavement)

-WRITE (it takes tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime)

-sign up for an art class

-volunteer

-go outside and TAKE A WALK (the most therapeutic thing on the planet, in my opinion)

-or whatever it is you’ve been putting off!!

JUST DO IT! (like Nike says…)

Your brain, body, and family will thank you for it. I promise! Feel free to ask me anything about my no-TV household. It’s a topic I’m very passionate about and I have a LOT MORE to say, believe it or not.

Let me know how it goes, or if you do something similar!

<3 Lou

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Being Patient and Kind <3

I’ve never been a huge believer in giving up something for lent. It can be fun to challenge yourself… but only if it’s just that: FUN. It’s no good to give up something and then make everyone around you as miserable as you are. Am I right, or am I right? I’ve never successfully given up one particular thing for the entire season, which always left me feeling like I didn’t accomplish something I should have.

SO! This year, rather than giving up something, like coffee or sugar or laughter (ha), I decided to add something to my every day life.

Greg and I have been reading 1 Corinthians 13 every single night.

It sounds simple… the “love is patient, love is kind” verse we all know. I have done a lot of thinking on this particular verse of the Bible, and I think that I’ve always passed it over as something that is “too popular.” How ridiculous of me, first of all. We didn’t have it read at our wedding because I wanted to be more original. Again, how ridiculous. The entire chapter is beautiful and meaningful in a way I had never understood until reading it with my husband every night. It’s perfect for a marriage. In fact, I’d say it’s downright required.

I recommend this sort of “every night ritual” for anyone. ANYONE. Single, married, divorced, dating… basically, if you interact with other people at all, this verse could do you some good. Why not try to be patient and kind in all we do? It will only make the world a better place. Why not STOP being envious of other people, STOP being too proud, and start living a more humble and content existence?

I want to be someone who isn’t quick to get angry. Especially before I ever have kids… I’d love to get my temper in check. (not that I have a crazy temper, but we can all use some improvement, I’m sure!) I want to be someone who can forgive and clean off the slate, especially in my marriage. “Love keeps no record of wrongdoing” has been one of the most influential parts of my lent challenge. I’ve let a lot of things go. I want to protect what’s important to me, trust in Greg, never give up hope for our future and persevere through it all. I’m more than three years into my marriage and I can say that I’ve failed in every single one of these and I will probably fail in them again. I’m human. All I can do is try, pray and wake up every day with a smile that we’ve made it this far! Making something real last is worth it.

The result of all this?

I’m happier, smile more often, I feel lighter (in my soul!) and my marriage is in better shape than ever before. If you read something over and over, eventually it takes on a whole new meaning. Each day something different will pop out at you. It’s just like hearing a song and because your life is different than the last time you heard it, the song has completely changed.

I recommend this challenge, and not just for lent. It’s almost over, anyway. I have a feeling that even after Easter comes and goes, Greg and I will still continue to study this passage and I will continue to pray for those changes to stay with me and grow in my heart. <3

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one of my favorite pictures of us!

On a different note, another thing I did in the past month was read one of the craziest stories of my life.

myra breckinridge, short stories, poetry, young adult, hey lou

you will not believe what these pages hold

Ever heard of Myra Breckinridge by Gore Vidal? I hadn’t, either. That is, until my brother-in-law told me I should read it. Let’s just say, I wouldn’t tell anyone under the age of 18 to read this book. It was excellent, but uncomfortable (aren’t most great books at least a little bit uncomfortable?) I don’t want to spoil the ending in any way, shape or form, so I won’t tell you too much. I will say that this book is a page turner, CRAZY, sexual, surprising, and will make you gasp as you read it.

Just trust me.

:)


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Do It Yourself …the art of being a catalyst

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It’s the only way :)

I was recently told by someone I know this: “You were a catalyst for me.”

I looked up the word. It’s actually pretty scientific.

Catalyst-

1: a substance that enables a chemical reaction to proceed at a usually faster rate or under different conditions (as at a lower temperature) than otherwise possible
2: an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action
Therefore… this person thinks that something I did changed something in their life at a faster rate than it might have, had I not done something. Or I provoked a significant change.
At first I was a little bit taken aback. After all, I’d rather be, say, important to someone, or a part of their life, than simply a catalyst for whatever the heck happened or is happening. I felt like I had the word stamped across my forehead. Like I had become this thing, this symbol for someone else’s life. (On a good note, I think the person meant it as a compliment.)
I’ve been thinking lately about my own life. If I’m going to be a catalyst for something, I’d rather it be my own goals. I want to do something that sparks a fast change in my own life. I want to provoke something new and good to happen. I have to keep doing things to make life interesting, because as the saying goes, “God doesn’t move a parked car.” We have to set our own goals and work toward them.
Here is one quote I’ve been in love with lately:
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No Exceptions

I have a magnet of this quote up on my fridge. It really does remind me each and every day to live life to the fullest. There are certain changes I DO want to make, and they aren’t going to happen unless I simply change my actions.

SO!

Think positively.

Visualize your goals. 

Sit down and do the work! (I spend hours a day writing. I’m not perfect, I’m just working really hard!!!)

Choose to support the things you LOVE… don’t spend so much time (and wasted energy)  hating the things you don’t approve of or dislike.

Be patient! 

Don’t let your self be a catalyst for someone else. Be your own!!!

I’ll leave you with yet another great quote:

“To be a catalyst is the ambition most appropriate for those who see the world as being in constant change, and who, without thinking that they can control it, wish to influence its direction.” -Theodore Zeldin, Historian and Author

Because I don’t ever want to feel the word burning into my forehead again… I’d rather it be written on my own heart for my own reasons.
:)


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Finally Ready

 I’m finally ready…

I have my coffee. I'm READY!!!

I have my coffee. I’m READY!!!

The new year is here! We’re 5 days in!!! Five is my lucky number. Perfect timing to get back in the swing of things!!!

I’m finally ready to take on the new year. When the clock actually changed, I felt a little overwhelmed. Does anyone else have a different feeling about this one? When 2011 turned into 2012, I felt almost nothing. Another year. Another time when I felt I knew almost exactly what was in store for me. I felt content and comfortable. This time around? I feel a bit unsettled. It’s not a bad thing, not a negative feeling. Just a bit like something is stirring…like there is a change coming, or something entirely unexpected. When the year changed at midnight and I gave Greg a kiss, I felt for the first time that I didn’t know what was coming for the new year. I have no idea what a year from now will look like.

That’s a very exciting thing to realize.

I don’t know where I’ll be living, if I’ll have a kid… what job I might have. I don’t know if I’ll experience something that will change me forever. Every day, we have a chance to make a change or be changed. I know this. But I also feel that especially now, there’s room to grow.

I wanted the year to start out with an exciting trip. My twin sister Meredith and I planned a two night stay in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We had an amazing, sister-bonding, freezing, and life changing time!!! Sometimes the answers to ALL of life’s questions lie in having coffee with your twin. Sorry for those of you who don’t have one! ;)

writer, new writer, short stories, poetry

Meredith and Me! Walking in the freezing cold!

I jotted down a few new year’s resolutions. Here they are:

Eat Controllably I think this about sums it up. Be in control of what I eat. I don’t feel that I’ve been all that out of control, but after a ton of holiday cheer, it’s definitely time to kick it back into gear with the healthy food!

Move Every Day I know that I don’t have to sweat like a pig in order to get some kind of workout. Some days I go on a short walk or do my [five pound] arm weights… just to make sure I get some movement in!

Stay Positive To go along with this one? Start every day with a smile. It feels cheesy as hell, but when I wake up I make this goofy forced smile, and eventually it turns into a real one! It works!

Give Everyone the Benefit of the Doubt Yes, even that jerk who just cut me off on the highway. They could be having a horrible day. They could be rushing toward a dying family member… you never know! It’s about time I stop judging for good and start worrying about my own self, not what others around me are doing.

Pray More I always need to pray more. When I do, amazing things happen.

Be Patient It is a virtue, after all.

Be Kind I want to be kind all the time!! I might as well start now!

Find Time For Me Discover who I am. Even if it’s just 15 minutes a day- if I sit and reflect on the day, the good and the bad, and take in the present moment, I feel much better. Why shouldn’t I do this every day?

Read and Write Each and Every Day I feel more… ME when I do this. I love to do both. When I neglect this part of my life, I find that I allow small things to stress me out. Reading and writing help me stay on the right path.

Be a Better Daughter, Wife, Sister and Friend There are moments when I’ve fallen short in every way.

This is my first “New Year’s Resolution” list. I think I can stick to it! I’ll let you know! :)

What are your resolutions? Have you stuck to any in the past? Are there repeats happening this year? I’d love to know!

<3

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Maybe I’ll get more in touch with nature, too… ;)


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Drop Everything & Follow Your Dreams

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My second fav thing (after writing, of course)… reading

Here’s my advice:

Drop Everything and Follow Your Dreams

because…

YOU ONLY GET ONE CHANCE TO DO THIS!!!

One. Uno. And it could end at any moment.

Therefore…

Do what James Dean said: “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”

It sounds very cliché. I know this. But I can say that I am living proof that sometimes it is the way to go. Take my story:

I was an English major with no real goal in mind as to what I would do someday. As a little kid I never had a concrete answer. The kids around me spouted out “veterinarian!” “doctor!” “lawyer!” “fireman!” and I sat there and thought… hmm…. I have no freaking idea.

It wasn’t until I decided that a degree in Secondary Education in English would be a little bit easier to justify to myself than plain old English that I made my way toward what my life is today.

I got into the College of Ed, took a ton of classes, and along the way took one very life changing class called Books for Young Adults, taught by the amazing Elaine Daniels. In said class we had many great assignments, but the very last one, due May 9 of 2011, was the one that would change my life as I knew it.

The assignment was this:

Write a first chapter of a YA book. It must be at least 8 pages long.

So I wrote my “first” chapter and titled it “The Zooks Ruined My College Plans.”

(I wrote it in the middle of the night… the night before it was due. Somehow, that always worked for me.)

No joke. The first fiction I EVER WRITE and the word “Zook” is in the title. Zooks, by the way, are aliens. Who I later called Troiqas. And the “first chapter” I wrote is now the beginning of Part 2 in a manuscript called Liberty (which I’ll post at the end of this blog… just a sample), which is 131,000+ words long. (too long for any agent to trust, sadly! Also… a first book usually isn’t the best book a writer comes up with ;) thank goodness )

VERY INSPIRING CLASS.

I showed this eight page assignment to my sister, Emily, and my husband, Greg. Emily encouraged me to keep writing. She said I had something good going. Those were amazing words to hear.

Greg, however, said, “Man, it just got too serious. You should make the Zooks turn people pink or something.” I was not about to make the Zooks turn people pink. But he did say that it was good and encouraged me.

If it weren’t for the college of Education I never would have started writing. And I hated student teaching. Hated, hated, hated it.

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My teaching outfit, which I ONLY ever use for Halloween nowadays…

As it turns out, LOVING to read does not directly correlate into the classroom. I may have dived right into Lord of the Flies (again!!!), but my sophomore English class did not. I am so glad that there are people who are meant to teach. I am not one of them. I was nervous as hell and I never quite got my point across, no matter what I tried. Again- so glad that there are awesome teachers out there!! My bad experience wasn’t all bad, though. I tried to look at the bright side in the end.

I take things like that as signs. I feel miserable student teaching, therefore I must not be destined for a long and happy career teaching. However, I have this book I’m writing and a ton of other ideas as well…. yes, that felt meant to be. It still does.

So I went with writing. I graduated with a degree in Education without certification (which might be even less useful than an English degree) and decided that I would be a writer. In the meantime I also became an assistant chocolatier at a local truffle company, Cocopotamus.

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at good ol’ Cocopotamus!

I am a chocolatier and writer. I’m making money from the first, hoping to someday make a career out of the second, and life has never been better.

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2+ years ago…writing “Liberty” (which took me an entire year to finish!)

Moral of the story? Even if something seems like a disaster, something good might come out of it. I don’t necessarily believe that everything is meant to be, but I think that we can turn a bad situation around. I definitely shifted gears and took a chance in doing it, but I’m so happy I did.

Share your dream with me! Tell an inspiring tale of your own… what did you opt out of in search of something greater? Or have you known since day one you would be ___ and you are ___ today. I want to know!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXCERPT FROM LIBERTY:

 

 

Part II: Present Day (150 T.A.)

My life was perfect. I had no sob story to speak of here on Trajectory. Sure, I had experienced some rough times, but I had good friends, and one best friend, to get me through and a typical older brother who caused me neither grief nor great joy. Everything was normal, mediocre, but to me…perfect. That all changed the day the Troiqas came.

Chapter I
‘There are many mysteries.’ -Mrs. Stillwater
The panic all began while I was sitting in my first class, on the first day of school. I was seventeen and just starting my 15th term. Most kids my age were at that point in their schooling. It was a fairly new system and set up by terms that lasted sixty Lights. This was supposed to be the time of my life, considering I was going to move to Objectify in the fall in order to finish out my upper school requirements. Objectify wasn’t really where I wanted to go but I had no other choice. The moment we were informed of the attack, I knew that was all just a dream which would never come true.
Mr. Pine, the most boring teacher on the face of Trajectory, was teaching our small class the history of our town and making quite a snore of his lesson. His voice was high pitched in a nasally way and his head was always tilted slightly back as if he were peering out at us along the end of his nose.
“Nnn-now class,” he began as usual, “today we are going to learn about the Shuttle Life and the Landers that are our ancestors.”
The lesson might have had a chance at being interesting if we all hadn’t known the complete history our whole lives already. Each one of us had been told the stories since we were old enough to understand words. They’d been around since life began on Trajectory.
“Nnn-now, you may have noticed the shuttle in the middle of town.” Only every time we walk outside, Mr. Pine. It was a massive object, sleek and dark blue. I imagined it had been much shinier when it landed, but now it just looked old.
“It is the one and only shuttle that made it here as planned.” He looked around at us, as if sniffing out who he should target. We were all seated in rows. There weren‘t many students in the class but apparently there were enough of us in order for it to take a lifetime to look at us all.
“Who can tell me the name of the other two shuttles?” Nobody leaned back or averted their eyes in order not to be called on. It just didn’t matter. Only two girls raised their hands. Everyone else was far too offended at being asked such a stupid question and stared back at the teacher with a dull silence. Someone yawned. Continue reading


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Pull the Band Aid Off

Why Listening to Your Gut is the Way to Go

I’ve always been an impulsive person.

My sisters still tease me about the day I texted them all about my boyfriend (in high school) and said, “Guys, I need to break up with him STAT!” Most likely, the day before I was naming our future kids. I just woke up one day, realized that he really wasn’t the one and that I shouldn’t waste my time or his, and broke up with him.

(if you know me then you’ve definitely heard me say this:)

My motto: Pull off that band aid. FAST!

It might hurt A LOT, but it’s sure as hell better than pulling it off slowly, taking hair and skin and time in the process. Just pull the damn thing off. Get it over with. It only hurts for like a split second, I promise. Listen to what your gut is telling you. It’s the strongest instinct we have and we were given instinct for a reason.

I listened to my gut:

-when it came to a boyfriend in high school.

-when it told me that I was not meant to teach, but I was meant to write.(def. more blogs about that…yikes)

-when I bought that awesome scarf at Forever21.

-when I added more butter to the recipe and it turned out to be even tastier….

-when it told me that Greg was the one to marry.

new writer, writing, wedding

My dad and me… I’m hyperventilating …

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Mr. & Mrs. Williams AKA Lou & Lou

-when I quit my first job, and then was asked to work at the same bakery as my sister.

new writer, writing, regret, bakery

I think I’m still in my TEENS in this picture :) ahh.. back in the day

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Meredith holding up a yummy berry bar!! Great Harvest is awesome!

And again when I chopped off all of my hair AND dyed it for the first time ever (you got me, that wasn’t such a great success story, but still… I got past it. It was okay in the end. It grew back.)

new writer, hair cut, mistakes, regret, writing

Yikes times a million. But Greg still loved me!

You get the picture. I’ve lived a life of hardly planning for a thing. When something pops up on my road, I decide whether or not to take it. I decide quickly, too.

OUTCOME:

I may not have tons of money. (yet)

I may not have a job with benefits or retirement plan. (which I NEVER will, if I can help it… and I’m sure as hell happy this way, so it’s all gooood) (also, I quit the bakery in order to become a chocolatier -watch the product video!-… and that was also an impulsive decision!!)

I may have a touch of guilt when it comes to that boy I broke up with because he cried more than I did for no good reason. (but I think we are both happy today- I know I am)

I wake up every day to an existence that I chose and that I’m okay with…that I LOVE, actually…with this guy:

new writer, writing, happy

We’re at a high school football homecome game! Talk about memories!! And regrets!! And being happy we never have to return! ha

I’ve learned from many a mistake, and that’s okay, too

BUT I DON’T REGRET VERY MUCH.

Where does this fit in with writing or reading or anything, really? Well, I guess it comes back to characters again. Think of your favorite character of all time. It can be from a movie, book, tv show, comic strip… anything! (of course, mine is Owen in A Prayer for Owen Meany!) I’m guessing he or she had some sort of life struggle that they went through. I’m guessing something happened in their life that they wound up regretting. Isn’t it an inevitable part of the growing up process?

The thing we can control is how we respond to that regret and how long we let it last. I’m not saying I don’t have guilt. I keep that guilt tucked away until it comes out at the worst times, actually. But at the end of the day, I think that feeling of regret is even worse. Guilt can come along even when you know you did the right thing. Regret often comes from a time when you know you did the wrong thing.

Regret and guilt are often what propels a character forward.

Where would Hester be without the mistake that changed her entire life? The one that led to a daughter and a willpower stronger than she knew? (The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne)

Where would Captain Ahab be if he didn’t regret the day he let the whale get the better of him? (Moby Dick by Herman Melville)

And where, oh where, would Rachel be if she hadn’t made a huge mistake… one that left her feeling guilty for a very long time, but ultimately changed her life for the better? (Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin)

As the main characters in our own lives, it moves our stories along. It’s the mistakes in someone’s life that can really be a part of who they become.

So I hope that if you have any regrets, you are quickly letting them fade.

I hope if you have any guilt, that it passes and your heart is peaceful!

I also hope that if you haven’t read A Prayer for Owen Meany, you so do ASAP!! ;)

 


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Birthdays, Harry Potter and Characters

Characters and Empty Nest Syndrome.

new writer, short stories, twins

my twin!

Let me first say happy birthday to myself, my twin sister, Meredith, and most importantly, Harry Potter. Yes, I share a birthday with Harry. On July 31st,1989 we were born and I think Harry started existing in J.K. Rowling’s head somewhere around 1991. It’s crazy to think that at one point in time H.P. didn’t even exist.

Yup. I know. It’s hard to even visualize, but there was a time.

Being that Harry is one of the most well known characters ever written, sharing a birthday with him is awesome. It’s one of my favorite facts about myself. That, and the fact that I also have a matching scar on my forehead (shaped like a crescent moon rather than lightning, but still!)

I turn 23 today. If you listen to music you might be aware of how profound this age really is. It’s mentioned too many times to count. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing has yet to be determined. I’ll try my best to make that decision by pointing out the honorable mentions of the age here:

Blink 182: What’s My Age Again?

“Nobody likes you when you’re twenty-three….”

+1 because this suggests that we’re still young enough to be annoying…at least that’s what I want it to mean

Coolio: Gangsta’s Paradise (listened to this song a lot in my eighth grade ‘cussing and rap phase’ ay yi yi!)

“I’m 23 now, but will I live to see 24, the way things are going I don’t know…”

-1 because I am so embarrassed to have been such a wannabe white middle school girl listening to what I thought of as gangsta rap

Yellowcard: Twenty Three

“We’re almost twenty-three and you’re still mad at me…”

-1 just because this is sad

Tristan Prettyman: Simple As It Should Be

“I am almost 23, confused with all the lines in between…”

+1 because it’s so cute, my husband Greg and I did long distance for two years and it was one of the songs that helped me, and she makes 23 sound not so bad

Justin Townes Earle: Yuma

“So he was just 23 when he stepped out on that ledge…”

-1 because this is flat out depressing. (Although it’s one of my all-time favorite songs by one of my all-time favorite artists!!! check it out!!)

Blitzen Trapper: Furr

“On the day that I turned 23, I was curled up underneath a dogwood tree…”

+1 because why not? I don’t actually know this song well enough to judge, Meredith just told me about it!

So it comes out even.

I guess I can count how many songs talk about the age. SIX. If you know of more please let me know!

I’ll get out of my rant about my own age and focus again on Harry Potter and characters in general.

So.

Okay.

As fiction writers we do one main thing…we tell a story about a character (or many, many characters). They didn’t exist until we made them.

But are we writing a story about some new person we’ve created or a story about ourselves? I’d argue on both ends. I have written more than 60 different characters. Some are very minor, some are major. It hardly matters. I’ve mothered them, given them the means to exist, coaxed them off into their own world until they could function without me, and then wanted them to return home. I MADE YOU. WHERE ARE YOU GOING? I’ve felt like saying this before. There is a quote that has really stuck with me.

“The moment comes when a character does or says something you hadn’t thought about. At that moment he’s alive and you leave it to him.”   -Graham Greene
When a character becomes no longer “mine” and does this exact thing, it’s a very emotional process. They’re real now. They have lives of their own. It’s as if they’re alive and walking around inside my very own word document (because none of them have made it past manuscript, which is okay for now) and have slightly rebelled against me, but done nothing that can constitute a grounding. I’m not their parent. Some of them I don’t even like. In fact, isn’t that another part of writing?

hate some of the characters I’ve written.

With a passion. As I type their next action I think to myself “Gosh, they are just awful! How could they do that?” And as much as I hate a few of them, I especially love a handful. They are my pride and joy. I am proud of what they do and what they say. They learn from their mistakes. They are loyal. And even if they have some major flaws, I love them anyway.

new writer, short stories, characters

just to name a few…

And last but not least, I am devoted to them all because in a way, they all hold a part of me. Yes, even the ones I hate. Because often times they say something that someone once said to me. Or they hold the same name (yes… many characters are as real as the coffee mug sitting in front of me, whether they are kind, evil, funny, desperate, or …anything else…) as a real life person who I knew in, say, high school. Some of them are family members with names too cool to pass up. I can’t think of characters unless I have had some life experience that has lead to me writing the words that created them. And so many characters exist simply because of a song that I’ve heard.

One example:

Travis in I Looked Over Jordan {will share on blog soon, too!} exists solely because of three songs on a murder ballad CD called Seven Curses  by Jeffrey Foucault and Mark Erelli. Especially songs Ellis Unit One and Sonora’s Death Row.

I was obsessed (and still am) with this murder ballad CD and listened to it for three weeks straight. This story became obvious, as if it had already happened and it was simply my job to tell the story… hardly create it.

When I get to typing I feel as if I am a medium for something that is already there. Writers block is rare, I’m very lucky to say. As long as my fingers are moving the right words seem to come out.

I’m excited for anyone reading this to get to know characters I’ve written…one short story, manuscript excerpt and rambling idea at a time!