This month I’ve been bouncing all over the place, searching for a topic for my January post. First, it was everything I’ve learned about the complexities of American English from my work as a literacy volunteer. There was also the househunting show I saw on HGTV with the woman who needed a fancy office to write her first book. And then I thought I’d talk about coloring books. Or the online writing workshop I’m taking with Margie Lawson and how anal I am about her color-coded EDITS system. Until I walked into our TV room, where my husband was working with a power tool, and it occurred to me how sexy he is when he’s home-improving.
What does any of this, other than Margie’s workshop, have to do with writing? Well, they’re all inspiring my work…except the woman searching for the perfect office. Snort.
Last fall, I decided to do something I’ve been thinking about for years, volunteer as a literacy tutor. After two meetings with my ESL literacy student, I’ve decided that anyone who can learn English as a second language is truly gifted. My student asks question that force me to think about the precision of our words and choosing the correct one(s). For instance, our phrase, “the other day.” For me it can mean anything from a week ago to a couple of days ago. For others, it might mean two weeks ago or longer. I finally decided that if someone says “the other day,” specificity isn’t important. Oh, and the phrase, “I’m sorry.” We say it to apologize for mistakes we make, but we also use it when someone experiences a loss (of life, health, property) even though we’re not responsible for that loss. Weird, huh? It never occurred to me how odd that is or how confusing it can be, until my student pointed it out. Cardinal and ordinal numbers? When to use which and when you can use either? Yeah, I’m dusting off some brain cells.
After creating a map for the town in my new series, I realized how much I miss coloring. I hadn’t done any since the kids outgrew it. Sooo I’ve joined the adult coloring movement. My daughter gave me two books for Christmas, and I’d already bought the crayons (the 152 box with the sharpener) and colored pencils (24 count). (After experimenting with both, I’ve settled on colored pencils. They blend and go on the paper better. Just in case you’re wondering.) Coloring frees my mind and jump-starts creativity. Bonus, it’s soothing and has fewer calories than alcohol.
Margie is helping me empower the emotion in my manuscript. In fact, she’s been doing that since she spoke at a LERA conference in 2011. While that one day with her certainly benefited my writing, I needed a refresher and more depth. The class began January 1, but I didn’t register until January 15, so I’ve been playing catch-up. After six lectures and peppering Margie with questions, I’ve finally figured out her color-coded EDITS system and stopped obsessing over choosing the “right” color. My plan is to work up to her Immersion Master Class.
And my sexy husband? Well, he’s always an inspiration for my heroes and a wonderful resource for things I know little about: physics, programming, hunting, power-tooling, beer, dimples. He’s not only sexy when he’s home-improving, but he also rocks it when he’s hunched over the computer paying bills and even more so when he’s hunched over the computer resolving a technical issue for me.
As a writer, I absolutely need inspiration and new experiences and I need to improve my craft. These things aren’t optional.
So the question of the day is what do you absolutely need to keep creating…other than time and the perfect office. 😉