Friday, May 27, 2016

Dreams and goals

I've been posting about hope, the future, and the value of dreams over at YA Outside the Lines.

I've been thinking about my own dreams and aspirations, too. Many of the goals I set out to reach at the age of 20 or so, I have reached. Some of those dreams turned out better than I expected; some worse. For many writers like me, publication was a big, concrete goal. I'm glad I reached it, but I find it's not an end in itself. The writing road stretches out beyond it, and I've been thinking about where I want it to take me. That's one reason I've been posting a little less here. I have actually been writing a lot, but in an exploratory way that I'm not ready to discuss yet, because I'm still figuring out certain things. (How's that for vague?)

I'm also reading a lot. That's one ambition that has never changed: to read early (and late) and often!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Carpe diem

I've had busy weekends lately, and the chores I usually do on weekends have been piling up, waiting for me to have a block of open time.

That would be this weekend. I had Friday off from the day job, so it's even a three-day weekend. Not that I don't have plenty of things to fill it up with.

But today was also one of the few days we've had all month of warm, sunny weather. Mostly we have been dragging around here, shivering in the cold rain, forgetting for weeks at a time what the sun even looked like. And tomorrow it's supposed to be wet and cold again.

So after this morning's writing session, I glanced at my long to-do list. I looked outside. And I grabbed my husband and we went on a hike.

Then this afternoon, I took an hour to read on the front porch, which is one of my favorite things to do, and can only be done "in season."

My to-do list is still long. But I regret nothing.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Support your local library

Some years ago, I used to do a blog comment challenge to raise money for my local library, and I got other bloggers to join me. Basically, we pledged to donate to our local libraries for each comment or tweet we got. We used it to raise consciousness as well as money.

That was the heyday of blogs, and I haven't done the challenge since social media splintered into a kajillion different platforms, but I still donate to my local library each spring.

And in that spirit, I'd like to encourage you to support your local library, if you have one and appreciate what it brings to the community. There are many ways to contribute beyond monetary donations. Here are some:

1. Donate money to the library and/or Friends of Library group.
2. Volunteer time at the library, friends group, or library board.
3. Donate books and other materials (but check first to see what the library accepts; not all libraries are able to accept all materials).
4. Write to your local officials (at whatever level of government funds your library) and express your support for the library.
5. Attend local-government meetings at which library funding is discussed and voted on.

And the most fun way: Use your library! Circulation statistics may help demonstrate the need for the library with hard numbers.

We usually think of books first when it comes to libraries, but libraries do so much more nowadays. Including:

Lending movies, music, magazines, ebooks, museum passes, tools, and other objects.
Hosting workshops on a variety of topics (citizenship classes, job hunting, estate planning, history lectures, etc.)
Hosting arts and crafts workshops and "makerspaces."
Having book clubs and summer reading programs.
Providing community meeting rooms.
Showing movies.
Providing free computers and internet for onsite use.
Hosting a community garden and teaching kids about organic gardening.
Hosting story time for kids.
Et cetera!

Monday, May 9, 2016


"It was essential to feel thankful for the few who stopped to watch or listen, instead of wasting energy on resenting the majority who passed me by. ... All I needed was ... some people. Enough people. Enough to make it worth coming back the next day, enough to make rent and put food on the table. And enough so I could keep making art."
--Amanda Palmer, The Art of Asking

In this book, Palmer writes a lot about finding your audience, and how that audience doesn't necessarily need to be (in fact, it probably can't be) every single person. She relies on this conclusion: "Given the opportunity, some small consistent portion of the population will happily pay for art" (emphasis in original).

This is a model that rivals the blockbuster-or-bust mindset. It's about patience, and diligence, and trust, and about asking ourselves what is enough.

Sunday, May 1, 2016


Along with the serious work of writing--the construction of plot, the research, the emotional delving, the observation, the rereading and cutting and rewriting, the double-checking--it's important to keep sight of the fun in it. "Fun" may be a relative term when our subject matter is deeply tragic, or purely informational (like an instruction manual), or when we're racing a deadline.

But writing is creative work, and some of our best writing may come from playing. From word games, fun exercises, creative risks. From asking "What if?" or procrastinating on another project by starting something new. From pursuing the project we want rather than the one we ought be be tackling. Experimenting, trying a new genre or style or medium, mixing it up. Remembering the love of words and stories and characters that brought us to this crazy avocation in the first place.