Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I Win

Well, I did it. I finished my 50,000 word novella this month. Nobody else is ever going to read this thing, but it was still useful to me. In fact, I'd recommend NaNoWriMo to just about anyone. Why? Well, for a couple of reasons. Deadlines are quite motivating. If you meet a deadline in one thing, it can inspire confidence in other things as well. It's quite cathartic. If you set out to write 50,000 words in a fairly short period of time, sooner or later, you hit something significant.
So, later this week, I'll get back to a little more substantial blogging. For now, here's a few more things on my list of gifts to be thankful for.

lunch breaks
being a godmother

Sunday, November 26, 2006

More Gifts

Lilacia Park in Lombard
people who comment on blogs
deep fried turkeys
severely beautiful weather
my floral screwdriver from LeAnne
Smokey The Bear
my Nativity from my godmother
mental health days
the bat phone
the balcony
cookie cutters
Jonathan Nathaniel the Bunny Rabbit
wind chimes
air conditioning
days when you don’t need either

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Funny Thing Happened...

I hope all y’all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. In yet another Nano blog, I want to share something said at our house this weekend. It came up that I sleep with my fan on to drown out train noise. The following conversation between my brother & me ensued.
Brian: You need one of those noise/music/machine thingys.
Me: I have no where to put it.
Brian: Well, a relaxing CD you can put on repeat then.
Me: Yes! I want Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major.
Brian: That’s something I’m going to need you to write down.
Me: (laughing)
Brian: Because with what I got from that, I’m likely to get you a canon full of Taco Bell.
Me: (lots more laughing)

If you are keeping count, ths post brings me up to 101 of my favorite gifts.

chocolate chip pancakes
emails from cousins
Christmas ornaments (esp. those with bears on them)
a brother to see them with
“found” money in winter coats
all the Santas in my life
all the people I’m Santa to
being a godmother
inside jokes
the Salvation Army bells
laughing until I cry
people who say “thank you”
people who say “Merry Christmas”
spell check
my thesaurus from my brother
my dictionary from my aunt

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

What a busy week!! I always love this time of year because the Food Pantry I run is busting with donations and we are able to help so many people. We help people with food all year, but it's particularly gratifying to be able to provide a special meal for people. It's humbling to see people who have so little be so grateful. Here's some more gifts I'm grateful for:

“brain candy” TV shows
people who give to those less fortunate
the ability to read
nice neighbors
a great church
gel pens
braided area rugs
Discipleship Journal
blogs to read
a blog to write
Christmas lights
nail polish
babies laughing
Peanuts cartoons
writers’ conferences
cross stitch kits
camping trips
road trips
my hand made afghans
nature conservatories
that I live steps from the library
people who encourage
farmers’ markets

Sunday, November 19, 2006

1000 Gifts

I’m helping Crystal share this idea (I got it from her site). The goal proposed by Christian Women Online is to come up with a list of 1000 gifts that you have, that you are thankful for. Fair warning to those of you who read my 100’s, this is going to take a while.
Sleeping in till noon (did that today)
birthday cards
Christmas family gatherings
fountain pens
my printer/copier/scanner
my computer
my bed
getting my wisdom teeth out
paper, all kinds of paper
hot chocolate
the ability to listen to music
the color periwinkle
Good Samaritans
George Foreman grill
the people I work with
visiting out of state friends
hand massages
shopping sprees
customer service
unseasonably warm winter days
coloring books
chocolate & the ability to taste it
internet access
my cell phone
acceptance letters
my church
getting the giggles
rocking chairs (I have 2)
brown cows

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday Fives

Since I've gotten rid of cable, and since starting NaNoWriMo, I haven't watched much TV. But I do like to get a fix of my favorite shows on a regular basis. My five favorite shows, in no particular order, are:

  • Grey's Anatomy
  • Standoff
  • Veggietales
  • Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends (sadly, this one went away with the cable)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

God Bless VeggieTales

If you haven’t had a chance to catch VeggieTales on Saturday morning cartoons, I highly recommend it. I’ve been a fan of VeggieTales for some time and I was curious to see how the Biblical message would play out on broadcast TV. It’s beautiful. It’s not wishy washy, nor is it preachy. The stories are so creatively and engagingly well done. And the show is just funny.
Where else would you find a Sleepless Knight being defeated in a dual, with true love winning out? I mean, come on. Ok, so this episode hit particularly close to home for me, but they are all that good.
I encourage y’all to check it out. Me, I’m going back to writing as I enter the second half of NaNoWriMo.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Can You Hear Me Now?

As I was plugging away at my “novel,” which is really nothing more than a catharsis of the last three years, I kept batting around this idea of finding myself. I keep muttering to myself that if I keep at the process, I will find my way to the content. I’ve begun to consider that perhaps I’m not looking for someone I left behind three years ago. Maybe I need to discover someone entirely new.
Last night, 22,000 words into this thing, something happened. A sentence and a half into a new scene I scared myself half to death. Something new, but vaguely familiar was there. Perhaps it wasn’t entirely plausible or coherent, but it was there. Even after I got up, walked around the room for 20 minutes, and came back to check, it was still there. It might need a little more coaxing to come out again, but now I know it’s there.
I found my voice.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Fives

I'm trying out something new here. A list of 5 things each Friday. To be honest, this idea came about because I can't think of anything orginal to write. Today's Friday Five is "Peeves"

  1. People who enter a room speaking, oblivious to the fact that conversation may have actually been taking place before they entered
  2. People who don't let eldery folks have their seat on the bus
  3. Power struggles
  4. Poor customer service
  5. People who tell you how they feel without first asking how you feel

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Process & Content

Point of clarification regarding my last post- I don’t think writing is about choosing either process or content over the other option. The writer needs both, of course.
I have simply observed that usually I can get a jumpstart via content as my inspiration. That hasn’t been working for me since I returned to freelance writing after graduate school. I don’t think I have enough confidence in my content yet to create the momentum I need to reach past the obstacles to publication.
So I’ve taken a step back and getting reacquainted with the habit of writing itself. Writers write, consistently. If I write enough, eventually the content will come around. Maybe when it shows up it will bring my confidence with it.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Writing & Counseling, Part II

A couple conversations I’ve had lately have sort of melded together to help me sort out where I am with regards to writing. I mentioned to someone the other day that I have a lot of “noise” in my head that’s keeping me from really getting back to where I was in my writing. As I wade ankle deep into NaNoWriMo, I realize I’m not where I was, I am where I am.
This “novel” I’m writing is awful. It’s myopic, navel gazing, cheap therapy, filled with clich├ęs and excessive adverbs. But another “light bulb” from the world of counseling clicked on tonight.
It’s not about content, it’s about process. What I mean by that is, when someone says something absurd, like vampires are chasing after them, a content response would be to argue the facts. “Vampires are not chasing you.” “Are too.” “Are not.” “Are too.” Doesn’t get you very far.
But a process response addresses the feeling behind the statement.
“It must feel really frightening and unsafe to experience that.” Hopefully, that’ll get your foot in the door.
So even though this novel has pointless drivel for content, tonight I discovered that the process is spectacular. The sensory experience of banging out 1,700 words a day, the sound of the keyboard, the feel of the keys, the rhythmic movement of my hands, the thoughts flowing from my head to my hands to the screen - it feels good and right and healing.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Nano Blog

It’s fitting that NaNoWriMo can be shortened to NaNo because that’s the kind of blogs I’m going to be posting for November- nano blogs. As in small, teeny tiny blogs. So here you go.
Yesterday I went to the nursing home to visit a client. On my way out, I was feeling a little preoccupied, so I decided to stop in the chapel. I got about 7 feet from the doors and they both swung wide open.
For several seconds I literally looked right, left, up, & down thinking “God?” Then it occurred to me that they had a speedier version of the automatic door openers you usually see, so residents in wheelchairs would have easy access to the chapel.
My reaction was probably pretty funny to anyone watching. I couldn’t see what opened the door. But seriously, do the doors of all our churches swing open to welcome people so freely? What if what we really need to see is what keeps the door from opening?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Writing & Counseling

As counselor and freelance writer, I have often been asked about the connection between my two careers. On the outside the answer isn’t obvious because, among other things, I don’t write self-help books geared toward improving emotional wellness or other “mental health’ topics. So how are they related?
The short answer is that both fields are about communication and I’m all about communication. The neat thing I’ve discovered is that each field informs the other. Just as I consider the “felt needs” of my readers when I write, I have learned to address the felt needs of those I counsel. The issues they consider important might not be the ones I’d choose to address. However, it builds trust quicker and the relationship becomes more effective. In the same way that I listen attentively to my clients, I must also “listen” to my readers. Writing isn’t just about me sharing for my own benefit. My goal is to create interactive relationships, to participate meaningfully in the lives of my readers.
I was just thinking about a client who doesn’t believe she has anything useful or meaningful to contribute to those around her. She blocked any attempt to brainstorm volunteer opportunities because she doesn’t buy the premise that she is capable of helping someone. The writing phrase “show, don’t tell” occurred to me. She she’s not going to hear me tell her what her strengths are, she needs someone to show her.
There have been times I’ve felt torn between my two passions. Now I’m seeing how they can coexist and strengthen each other. Kinda cool.