Tag Archives: writing

I’m Relocating!!

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But just online… 🙂

I’ve been handing out business cards with a new website URL on them for several months, so it’s high time I got it set up, don’t you think?? So, here it is…

www.SeeLaurieWrite.com

The new website is a .com, which looks a little more legit than a .wordpress.com site (in my humble opinion), and now that I’m getting my freelance business off the ground, I thought it was time. I considered leaving all the old content here and starting fresh there, but then I thought I may as well carry all my building blocks with me. Some of my older posts here are pretty rough (who knew visuals made such a difference!?) and I’ll continue to improve my content and style as I go along, but a little history never hurt anybody.

If you are signed up to receive notices via email when I post a new entry (You’re awesome! Thank you!!), it looks like those connections did not transfer over to the new site. Please visit me at my new site, take a look around, sign up to get updates, and feel free to let me know what you think of the place. I still have a few tweaks to make… curtains to hang and ottomans to pick out… but it’s mostly done.

Onward and upward, friends!!

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The creative muse I’ve never met.

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I’ve had a story rolling around in my head for over a year now. It started as a few really vivid images from a dream I had that stuck with me for several days. After talking through them with my husband, it was clear they needed to be turned into something other than an interesting dream. At least a short story, and maybe a novel or screenplay.

So, I sketched out an idea for a story, and even did a little research on the time-period and location I have in mind. That was last year, and I haven’t really done anything with it since then. Until today. Today, John Mayer became my muse.

He’s muse-worthy, don’t you think??

I’m sure that when a musician releases a new cd they hope that it inspires some listeners. They would be happy if it provides a bit of a soundtrack to someone’s day, or even a special event, or a break up, or some other emotional moment. I am confident they hope it means something to some people. When I started working on this story idea, I was listening to The Civil Wars‘ cd, Barton Hollow, a lot, and the sound of that music seemed to fit perfectly with the mood of my words.

Lately, I’ve had Mayer’s new release, Paradise Valley, on repeat on my Spotify feed. I’ve really been loving his lyrics and kind of rediscovered him after not listening to much after Continuum was released in 2007.

Okay, this is where it gets odd…

Sometimes, I talk to myself. In fact, I have conversations with people that are not only not in the room, but are also no one I have ever met or will ever meet. I chalk it up to my highly creative mind. I swear I don’t do drugs. When I was in my early 20s, I imagined entire conversations with Prince Andrew. (Before he met Fergie, of course.) And today, I chatted with John Mayer in my kitchen.

For today’s break with reality, we were both traveling through Europe and met at a hostel somewhere in Bavaria. I was cool when I met him, not letting on that I knew he was a famous musician who dates gorgeous young things. We chatted about meditation and why we’re on the road in Europe. He told me he was taking some time to himself after a break up and I told him about a book I’m trying to write. He made me promise not to write about meeting him… because that would kind of blow the whole anonymous traveling thing. Makes sense, I was fine with that. So, as I described the synopsis to John (who was listening with rapt attention, of course), I had a breakthrough about my main antagonist.

Now, I’m not saying that it was John who brought this creative brilliance on… I mean, it probably could have just as easily been Dave Matthews, Viggo Mortensen or Johnny Depp. Okay, maybe not Johnny Depp… he seems to shy to be much of a conversationalist. But John just happened to be the guy on the patio with me in Bavaria… in my kitchen.

   

The bottom line is that I was chatting with John Mayer(‘s pretend self) and I had a creative breakthrough. That makes him my muse, right? I can list him in my “Thanks” notes in the book jacket, at least.

Works for me. Thanks John. 🙂

Being a Grown Up

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“When adult life becomes so overwhelmingly frustrating, I almost feel like I want to be able to remove the skin I’m in and step out of it, taking on a new reality just as I change duvet covers when the seasons change. I don’t itch, not in a physical sense… it’s like a psychological itch; a discomfort that almost, but not quite, allows me to understand why some women simply walk out the door and leave their home and family behind when the challenges of life are piled on top of them.”

I wrote this paragraph a couple of weeks ago. For the life of me, I can’t remember the precise details of what was stressing me so much that I needed to capture these feelings. Obviously, it was intense. And, just as obviously, it worked itself out and I’m still happily married and devoted to my children and husband. I think sometimes the collision of Things I Can’t Control and Things That Don’t Go As Planned just creates the perfect emotional storm, you know?

Do you ever experience these feelings of wanting to just lock the door behind you and walk away? What makes you stay? I think I may need to investigate a little deeper and pull a book idea out of this…

The Universe is a BULLY!

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The word “bully” has a negative connotation… so I guess I should use a different word to describe the way I’ve been treated by the Universe. In reality, recent changes are very positive, and, in fact, I’m grateful for the shove. I didn’t fall down so much as just get moving. The Universe was that kid behind you when you’re standing in line for lunch and get distracted by the pretty pictures hanging on the wall outside the art classroom… it had to get my attention. Had to say “HEY!! It’s lunchtime – go get some FOOD!”

Okay, that’s enough allegorical description, don’t you think?

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago it became very clear to me that I needed to stop talking about being a full-time writer and creator, and just do it already. So, I did. I resigned from my very satisfying yet predictable job with a local organization that I am passionate about and that does amazing things in our community, and became a new person. This person is eager to get out of bed each day and tackle that day’s to-do list. This person happily tidies up the house as she goes from task to task, and spends quality time with her son after school. This person went grocery shopping and was actually excited about the idea of planning meals!

I know, it’s ridiculous. But there it is. I am so excited about the prospect of getting projects knocked out during the week rather than having to cram as much as possible into my weekends and then go back to work exhausted, with half-completed projects waiting for me until the next weekend. I’m not saying I’m thrilled about having to cancel the housekeeper we had coming every other week (oh, how I loved the way the house smelled every other Wednesday!!), but being home more during the day means I can keep things looking presentable with very minimal effort. I really don’t mind cleaning if I can do it along with the other things I want/need to do. It’s only frustrating when I have to do it in the evenings after a long day at work, or on weekends when I’d much rather be on a river, or my patio, or a road trip.

My garden is celebrating with me…

White Iris

 

But, alas, I’m not married to a Rockefeller, so I am not allowed to be an idle woman. Not that I would be happy being idle anyway… I have already lined up one free-lance writing job locally, and have been putting out feelers with other connections I have. I’m confident that I will be able to replace my income with my writing and my creating, I just have to make it happen.

And just a note on that… over the last year or so I feel like I have been able to create some fantastic relationships with others in my area who are making a living from their artistic or creative endeavors. Artists, other writers, bloggers, and “slashers” who cobble together several of their talents into a career that suits their family, their experience and abilities and still allows them to live the life they are comfortable with. I’m so grateful for those people in my life – and the family I have who supports me.

Five years ago, when I got the job I just left, I was eager to embark on a new adventure – working as a fundraiser and communicator for a non-profit organization. Four months later, my beautiful mother was diagnosed with brain cancer, and the people I worked with became my support system, my shoulders to cry on… I was exactly where I needed to be during the year she was ill, and the years after she died. Now I’m headed down a different road, and again I am confident that it’s the one I need to be on. My mother always encouraged my creative pursuits, and was one of the biggest fans of my writing. I guess that’s a mom thing, right? I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s the one encouraging the Universe to bully me. Thanks mom. For everything.

My creative mom.

I love this picture of my mother working on some kind of craft. She taught me so much about living creatively.

 

My word!

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That reads as though I’m exclaiming… “MY WORD!” in some kind of Downton Abbey, upstairs-at-the-manor type accent. But really, I’m just talking about a word. My word. One Little Word.

LISTEN

That’s my word.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a post on Facebook about a year-long project called One Little Word that is a project-based way for participants to incorporate a word into their lives on a daily basis in an attempt to live a little more intentionally. (Are you as tired of the phrase “live more intentionally” as I am!?) The project is done through a workshop available at Big Picture via Ali Edwards, a blogger, scrapbooker, and blonde.

The group of ladies I’m doing this with are all bloggers, and many of us are not scrapbookers, so there was some discussion of whether or not it would lend itself to being creative and thinking outside the box that is full of die cuts and washi tape. We agreed that there are plenty of ways to utilize our own creativity, even if it’s just letting our word guide our blog posts for the months ahead. So off we went.

For me, the word listen rang out pretty quickly – but of course I then had a hard time creating phrases around the word to focus on each month. Words like Open, and Create, and Move, and Joy seem much easier to jump off of. So I’m not done planning my year yet, but that’s okay… I think working to come up with additional phrases is going to be a good part of the exercise for me.

I pulled out an unused journal to help me brainstorm, and made a pretty first page…

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And then I started listing. So far I have four focus points to use as I create and write about this project:

Listen to my family

Listen to my heart

Listen to the universe

Listen to those who know

I’m looking forward to seeing how those come together for me, and how they impact my career, life with my spouse and children, the way I spend my free time, and the pursuits of my “alternate career” of writing and creating.

For the creating part of this project, since I don’t scrapbook, I also jotted down a few ideas for how to make something else that can give me time with my hands focusing on my word. I came up with a couple of ideas. One was to create quilt blocks that apply to the lesson for each month (the lesson I learn, not the workshop lesson). I’m not a quilter, but it would be a free-form kind of thing so I wouldn’t worry too much about perfect stitches. That would be my excuse, anyway… 🙂 Another was to make a chap book at the end of the year out of pages I make using photos, ephemera, and writings that were impactful for each month. Haven’t decided yet.

So, what do you think? Have you done the One Little Word thing before? What did it mean to you, and what suggestions do you have? Keep up with my lessons and ideas here… and feel free to share your own!

Badassery, thy name is Lela.

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The first time I met Lela Davidson I decided pretty quickly that probably the only thing we had in common was that we both have uteruses.  She had perfect hair and perfect clothes and is petite and cute… kind of the opposite of how I see myself 362 days a year. I mean look at this woman:

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Not only that, but she said something mildly off-putting about thrift-store shopping. If you know me, you know that sealed the deal. I felt sorry for her, really. Bless her heart.

A few months after our first brief meeting, I attended the annual weekend conference for the Arkansas Women Bloggers where Lela was the keynote speaker. She’s a blogger-turned-author, which is one part of her life, unlike the petite cuteness, that I’m making an effort to emulate. (Let’s face it, I’m never going to be petite.) Her session was called “The WHY of Blogging”, and it was exactly what I needed to hear as I was experiencing a bit of a personality crisis in terms of my writing.

I learned a lesson that weekend… one that I have to be reminded of regularly, unfortunately. We humans, and maybe especially we female humans, share a lot more similarities than we have differences. Lela was self-deprecating, funny hilarious, candid, and stuffed with good information about being a writer, finding your voice, and being “authentic”. Well, as stuffed as a cute, petite little person can be.

Because Lela and I are now the dearest of friends *cough* on Facebook *cough* I have had the good fortune to review her latest book, “Who Peed on My Yoga Mat?” If I didn’t already get the lesson of same-ness and girl-power from that conference, I would have figured it out reading this book. I was laughing out loud as I read it on my Kindle.

That’s right, Lela, I bought a kindle JUST TO DOWNLOAD YOUR BOOK!

Actually, I asked for it for my birthday. Same diff.

Lela shows no fear in her writing, which is a trait I envy with every green bone in my body. She says what she thinks, about everything and everyone, and doesn’t seem to care who wants to punch her in the face. The beauty of it is that she insults, cusses, calls bullshit, and uses phrases like “hang down titties”, but she still manages to be adorable. But one of my favorite things about her is her parenting style.

In the essay called “Red Light, Green Light, Shut the F*#k Up” Lela rains down condemnation and self-righteous anger on the idiotic rule her child’s school instituted that called for children not to speak louder than a whisper to each other during their lunch break. I have eaten lunch with my son on many occasions and am also prone to rolling my eyes when they do the *clap – clap – clapclapclap* thing to get the kids’ attention and tell them to be quieter. I get that it’s loud in the lunchroom…but that’s kind of part of the deal with kids though, isn’t it? Make them be quiet in class, but for crissake, let them sing show tunes at lunch if that’s what they need to do to let off some steam. School is stressful! How are they going to build meaningful relationships with kids who will then teach them important life lessons when they turn on them in 6th grade if they can’t carry on a simple conversation over chicken nuggets?

In “Promises to My Teenagers” she quotes Nicholas Cage from the movie Peggy Sue Got Married:

“What’s the point of being a teenager if you can’t dress weird?

This is absolutely one of the most treasured bits of wisdom that my mother ever passed down to me. Just as Lela promises her kids in her essay – my mother let my siblings and I do whatever we wanted with our clothes and hair, because she knew that we had to go through the right of passage of “dressing weird” to figure out what normal was for each of us. My mother used to line us up before we headed out to concerts to record the moment on film. Now, mind you, it was the mid-80s, so there was some serious costumery going on. (Much of it scavenged from local thrift stores!) We were going to witness the brilliant showmanship of The Thompson Twins, Adam Ant or Boy George, and there was an expectation of outrageousness attached to that kind of show. (Is it obvious I spent my teens somewhere other than Northwest Arkansas?)  And now I share the same attitude with my own kids. Color your hair, wear makeup in colors that are not found in nature…  but don’t make decisions that will stick with you forever until you’re a little more certain who you are going to be and what you’ll be doing when forever gets here.

Here’s where I bring it home: With chapter headings include the subjects of motherhood, married life, neighbors, being 40-something,  “Who Peed on My Yoga Mat?” would make a great holiday gift for the women in your life. As long as they don’t mind cussing and talk of titties, botox and orgasms. 😉 I haven’t finished reading it yet, but one of the things I love about a collection of essays is the devotional-like quality of them. I can read one or two while waiting for my son at piano lessons, or just before I go to bed, and get something out of them without having to rush back to the book later because the arc of the story hasn’t been completed. This is also a great feature of having a Kindle with a sweet orange case… it’s cute and petite, but it might contain some naughty words, just like Lela.

Let’s talk about sex!

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Okay, not really… I’m actually going to talk about books that inspired me. But there will be sex involved, I promise, even if it’s only literary.

I recently found a new blog. More accurately, I discovered a blog that has been around a while, but that I hadn’t seen yet. You know what I mean. The author of the blog, Roni Loren, is actually an Author… soon to be published, award winner, etc… (no, I’m not jealous. Shut up!! I am not!!!!)

Anyway, as I was saying before I was rudely interrupted by my conscience, Ms. Loren wrote about books that she read as a youth that influenced her literary interests and adult reading habits and, ultimately, her writing. I had never thought about how what I read growing up might have informed my writing. I mean, yes… I have heard from professors, articles and books about reading probably 847 times that if I want to be a writer, I need to read. But that was after I decided to write. I never put the pieces together to connect what I write now with what I read before I turned 18.

So, let’s take a look… (I know, you’re sweating with anticipation).

As many kids do in the U.S., I read a lot of Dr. Seuss books when I was very young. My mother read them to me and I learned to read with them. If they influenced my adult reading preferences, I’d say it’s in the area of language. I love words – especially words that challenge and increase my vocabulary. I suppose Dr. Seuss also inspired some fantasy appreciation; my desire to think about my world imaginatively. I loved to build forts and create small worlds in terrariums and doll houses. Certainly, a quick glance through a few Seuss books opens up a world of color and texture possibilities, not to mention the imaginary creatures that become very real through those books.

In middle school I read “Island of the Blue Dolphins” and “The Boxcar Children” series and was again fascinated with environments that were far from what I was used to in suburban Little Rock. In addition, the way that these books portrayed children close to my own age living on their own, foraging for food and shelter – and in the case of the Boxcar series, solving mysteries –  was fascinating to me. Still today I consider the challenge of survival in a wilderness of some kind exciting. I would love to be dropped off in Alaska or be a part of the Amazing Race.

I should say I am still figuring out who I am in terms of writing fiction. I am all about personal essay and creative non-fiction, but have struggled in the process of creating characters and plot lines for short stories or novels. I tend to feel I just don’t have those skills in me, but the more I think about what kind of books I have enjoyed reading I wonder if I need to just focus more on those early influences to help me get started.

Heading into junior high, I discovered Judy Blume, and eventually got my hands on a copy of “Forever”, which was the first book I ever read that had references to romantic eroticism. It was a YA novel, so I wasn’t reading anything Susie Bright would be editing, but it was definitely eye-opening (and mind-blowing) to my 13 year old self. “Flowers in the Attic” was another one that stretched me a little. Or perhaps it was “Petals in the Wind”, the followup to Flowers… I think there was some allusion to incest as well. Quite an education.

I grew up feeling fairly comfortable with my sexual side, and wonder now if it was the books that led me to be curious about that subject, or the curiosity that allowed me to enjoy and seek out the books? Hmmm…

“Thornbirds” was a high school read that was passed along from my mom, as was “A Rose in Winter”. It was really the only time I saw my mom reading for pleasure. She went through a brief romance novel thing. Kind of like when she decided she needed to invest serious time and money in Tri-Chem fabric painting… it passed. Those books talked about “male members” and passion, and as a budding teenaged heavy-petter, they reinforced my belief that the things I was learning in Sunday school about dating and the opposite sex were most definitely not the only options.

“Cannery Row” has to be mentioned, not for the sexual references, but for the way I learned to appreciate even more the foreign environments and, especially here, dialect. John Steinbeck has been a favorite author ever since reading this book in high school English class, and in a similar vein I also love Maya Angelou’s writing for the way her characters are created in large part by their language and the local speech patterns and slang they use.

I’m an admitted narcissist, which I suppose is a good thing when considering my desire to write essays and memoir pieces. But based on this little trip down my literary memory lane, I’m thinking that the idea I had many years ago to write erotic short stories should be revisited. Now, the big question: Pseudonym? Or go bold and just use my real name??