Writer’s Devotional: Actions Yell

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:5-9

When my oldest son was about three, he was getting dressed with my husband one morning. He said, “Daddy, I take off my shirt just like you.” He then removed his little t-shirt in an exact imitation of his father. Before that moment, I could not have told you the movements my husband makes when he removes his shirt, but my three year old could. My husband was floored. He knew our sons were watching him but he had no idea how closely they watch every little thing we do.

When the Lord gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites in the desert, He told them to put the words on their hearts. They were to think of them every moment of every day. They were to talk about them with their children. They were to be such a part of their lives that they were like the air they breathed.

God asked this of them because He knew two things, denying yourself and living for the love of God and others is contrary to our nature and thus it is hard. We fail often. Secondly, He knew that their children would be watching.

The Israelites were surrounded by people whose cultures were different and contrary to their own. There were many other people their children could learn from. It was not enough that the parents taught their children the words themselves, they had make their actions match the words.

Love the Lord. Love others. Simple words. Complex actions. Actions our children watch us perform everyday whether we succeed or fail.

For you:

In what area do you find it a challenge to line up your actions with the things you teach your children? Where do you fall short of the love God and love others command?

For your characters:

If your character has/had children, what would they want to pass on to them as fundamental truths about life? Are there things they say they believe, but their actions do not line up? Is there a moment where they realize their hypocrisy and do they take steps to rectify their behavior?

Changing the Process

Yesterday, Ann Aguirre wrote a post about how her writing habits have changed, for the better, and how she has become so prolific. Her post-apocalyptic YA series that starts in Enclave is fantastic. In her post she says this:

Process is not a permanent, indelible thing.

This statement, while I am applying it to writing, can be applied to any work process. It made me think about how my process has changed over the last ten years and that we should be examining our processes periodically to improve them.

When I had an office job, my writing process involved sitting down in my office, closing the door, cranking music, and hacking away. No one interrupted me (well, sometimes) and I could write until I was done with that thought, post, or article. At the time, I did not understand the blessing of interrupted time.

When I needed to write something longer than 1k, like an article or when I wrote my Library Technology Report, I needed whole chunks of time to think and write. I needed to be able to spread out my research and papers in a large area that would not be touched. I needed music.

I left my library job to become a mom and many things in my life changed, but my writing and working process did not. This caused much anxiety as I was writing Mob Rule Learning, which I did in about 5 months. Because I thought I needed those large chunks of time, which you do not have as a parent of a small child, I was only able to write when someone else could watch the Bairn. Since that was not always an option, I started writing while he was playing on his own, which is only in small chunks of time. Sometimes very, very small chunks.

After finishing Mob Rule Learning, I decided to tackle the writing project I have always wanted to do. I wanted to write a book of fiction. With two small kids, instead of one, I had to reassess my process.

It was hard and at first I was more frustrated than anything else. I would write two sentences and be interrupted. A scene would just start to form and then there was whining and crying, usually mine, as I had to feed, change, or console one of the boys.

With a detailed plot outline in hand, I found I could work in smaller amounts of time. My boys are allowed to watch no more than 1-1.5 hours of TV a day and I usually use that time to write. I used to write with headphones and music blaring. Now, I write to the music of Dinosaur Train, Sesame Street, Justice League, and Iron Man. I still wear headphones, but I can only wear one earbud, two if I do not turn it up too loud.

I find those small cracks in the day to write. Some days, I am lucky and will have two hours of mostly uninterrupted time. Those are the days I can churn out 2-3k. Other days, I am lucky to turn my computer on at all. I have learned to accept and take what is offered, but I make time when it is there.

It took me a year, mostly because I was doing some learning about writing fiction verses nonfiction, to write the first book. I have been working on the second one for a month now and the first draft is halfway done.

The difference in my pace is due mostly to the fact that I changed my process. I taught myself to write in smaller segments. There is always something we can improve in our process, whatever your work may be. We just have to brave enough to peer closely at our own habits and pull the weeds holding back our garden.

I still prefer to sit alone for 2-4 hours with music blaring to churn out words. I revel in that, but I do not need that anymore.

–Jane, some weeds are pretty and harder to remove

p.s. I wrote this with Dinosaur Train on the TV and Mumford and Sons crooning quietly in my ear.

This Moment

This first year of motherhood is overwhelming, joyful, and stretches you beyond your limits. Eventually, the children learn to amuse themselves, though they still need you for many, many things. Once Bairn4 turned one, I started writing again. I wrote a book, Mob Rule Learning.

It was an interesting process, writing non-fiction. I found through the process that I preferred writing non-fiction in the length of articles and blog posts, not books. The process did give me the confidence to try something new and different.

Then Bairn1 came along and I was again in the throes of high maintenance motherhood. The youngest Rochesterling has achieved the ability to amuse himself and thus I have again been writing. All the free time I could squeeze out has been spent working on a new project.

I wrote a novel, a fantasy romance, that has been bouncing around in my head for a very long time. Unlike the non-fiction experience, it was exhilarating. I am now polishing up the manuscript for submission. That part of the process makes me freeze with anxiety and fear. I have determined that one step at a time is the best way to tackle the anxiety of the submission process.

I have begun, in the past year, to drop my ALA committments and disengage from libraryland. Oh, I still follow mostly librarians on Twitter, though they are starting to be outnumbered by editors, publishers, and writers. I will still be presenting at Internet Librarian in October. I loved being a librarian and I may be one again, some day, but my heart’s desire is to write more. Now that Bairn4 and Bairn1 are older, I can write more here, there, and everywhere.

Being at home means I can juggle writing in between quiet time, preschool, and PBS Kids. I am going to use this opportunity to see what I can do.

That is where I am at this moment. A once librarian (and maybe again some day) stay at home mom who wants to write stories with kissing in them.

–Jane, happy with her place

Mob Driven Giving

There are many ways that the mob can change their organizations and communities. I stopped at Sonic a couple of weeks ago and saw that my cherry limeade had an advertisement for a charity drive that Sonic is conducting this month called Limeades For Learning.

For a third year, Sonic is helping teachers and schools raise money for materials and projects with the help of the public. According to the website, there are three ways to participate:

    Anyone with a valid email address can go online and vote for their favorite teacher’s project once per day.
    Get two extra votes with any SONIC purchase. Vote codes are provided on the bag sticker.
    Vote online 10 times and get two extra votes. Vote codes will be sent via email.

Projects with the most votes will get sponsored by Sonic. Individuals are also encouraged to give money to projects they like. You do not have to purchase items from Sonic to participate which I think is fabulous.

Sonic is working with an ongoing charity called DonorsChoose.org which uses the concept of mob funded charities to help teachers and schools year-round. Using the power of the mob to fund the future of our schools and the future of our kids is a great idea. Using this method of charitable giving means that people can be connected with the needs of others, no matter where they live, to make a difference in a community that needs the help.

–Jane, it is a feel good mob rule kind of day

Curious George Is No Monkey

This not a new controversy, but it still has been bothering me. One of the Wee Bairn’s favorite books is Curious George Feeds the Animals. In this book, it says that George was a curious little monkey.

Any first year Anthropology student can tell you that all monkeys have tails and Curious George plainly has absolutely no tail. Curious George is, in fact, a chimpanzee which is a primate.

George is actually a curious chimp.

I have already explained all of this to the Wee Bairn and I am positive that he understand the structural difference. Next we will have to have a talk about the difference between Old World and New World monkeys.

–Jane, can’t let the young ones be led astray