Monday, April 30, 2012


This weekend I ran my very first marathon. Yes, THE marathon. All 26.2 miles of it. It was hot. I wasn't as prepared as I wanted. I feared my knees would give out, my mental strength would buckle, or a hundred other issues would impede my progress. But I pushed through the heat and the boredom and the mental uncertanty and finished, earning my little metal and the bragging rights of saying I'm one of the 1% of Americans that have finished a marathon.

Did I win? No! Came in 3822 out of nearly 4000. Did I get any money from it? No, and in fact, spent nearly 1/2 a paycheck in racing fees, hotel accomodations, and food. Am I in better shape? Hardly. With blisters on my pinkie toes and exhausted legs, I'll be wincing for a few days. SO WHAT'S THE POINT?

In this life, we are tested by many outside sources: schools, parents, coaches, teachers, governments, bosses, etc. When we pass these tests, the world tells us we are "worthy" in that area. But when we start to rely on validation of ourselves from outside, we become hollow. A "praised pinata" so to speak. We begin to doubt that we really are worthy. We begin to think that we have everyone fooled but inside we know better. One good "whack" and everyone will be able to see how empty we are inside.

To overcome this hollow feeling, we need to test ourselves. Running is one way to do that. You have to train your body to find the right stride and the right cadence, which is hard work, but not nearly the bulk of the test. It's your mind that tells you to stop. That you're not up to the test. That you're weak, not able, or worthy. Overcoming that mental block is the key to knowing you are better than what the world thinks. That there is something wonderful and marvelous about you that no one can see.

But God can see it. And once we love ourselves, we can accept God's love at a deeper level. We can understand that God sees the whole person, not just the outside that the world praises, but the inside that we have tested and made stronger. Once we accept God's love, we're more willing to share it with others and to test ourselves in spiritual ways, so that we can be a strong example to the world of what it means to be a Christian.

So from now on, when faced with a challenge, I can say to myself, "If I can run a marathon, I can ___"

Now I challenge you: find your marathon. Whatever it is you've always wanted (or now suddenly want) but for whatever reason haven't been able to attain. Go after it with all the physical and emotional and spiritual strength you can muster. Your friends and family may support you but don't let their "yay" or "nay" be your support. Run your own race. Be a whole person. And you'll be amazed at what you accomplish.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Metaphors and POV

One of my nephews and I got into a discussion about how some teachers delve into the "deeper meaning" of stories and novels so far that the piece is turned inside out in a literary (not literal) way. I agree that some people skew their favorite stories to their own point of view whether or not the author originally intended that meaning. But I do disagree that there are works with NO second meaning whatsoever.

Now, wait a minute. Sometimes a duck is just a duck! Yes, but we're wired to understand the world in metaphors. Everything is relatable to everything else so we can learn based on what we've learned before. You wouldn't think that playing the violin has anything to do with teaching computers, but trust me, the metaphors I learned from practice, patience, and persistence are paying off in the teaching.

But what if the author didn't mean anything? Sometimes, many times, authors don't consciously put in certain elements into their work. It just kind of appears. For example, in my novel, I saw it as a cool story. My readers have seen it as: my manual for raising children, my inner personalities duking it out for dominance, and/or my opinions on religion and politics, etc. I didn't start out meaning that, but when I went back and read it from their point of view, they were right. There WAS a deeper meaning, especially for people who knew me.

So point of view is not just in the perspective of the story, it's in the perspective of the reader AND writer. Isn't it amazing that we understand each other at all?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Writer's Treasurehouse!

Today as my husband and I were sifting through his parents' old dishes and whatnot, I found a box of old journals. They belonged to my husband's "uncle" who was really more of a cousin, but some of you know how complicated family trees can be these days! In any case, I started flipping through them and found a treasure trove of cool tidbits of information: maps with detailed suggestions/information, grocery lists, clipped in newspaper articles, minucia of everyday life. They date from the 60s through the 80s and are in tiny books the size of an adult's palm. His handwriting is tiny and his language is sparse, so it's not going to be easy reading. However, I'm excited to see life from his point of view when he was an young man. Maybe I'll get a story or two out of it. Maybe I'll find some steamy family secret! Who knows?

Monday, April 23, 2012


One of my favorite sessions at the MWG Conference was on Point of View. The presentor was Christie Craig, a romance novelist, author of over 3,000 magazine articles, and who just got a book listed on the New York Times Best Seller list. (Go Christie!)

The biggest revelation to me in that class was that point of view doesn't just mean which eyes are viewing the scene. It means which background is looking. From what emotional standpoint. How are all the senses involved in that point of view? A sweet little girl will describe a china teacup in a very different way than a NFL star. When a writer ties emotion and background to point of view, it deepens the connection between the writer and the reader, something all readers want to achieve.

This next week I will be putting this new idea to work as I re-write my novel's first two chapters from 1st person to 3rd. Why? One of the agents agreed to read it if I did. So now the pressure's on!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Clarion, Conference, and Collapse

How long has it been since I've updated my blog? Too long. Here's to new beginnings. Again.

I ended up not sending in pieces for the Clarion workshop. I'm disappointed, however, the stories were nowhere near ready. I didn't want to spend that much money on something I knew I wouldn't get because the writing was still in its 2nd or 3rd draft. Next year, I'll be ready.

I just got back from the 2012 Missouri Writers' Guild conference and am ready to focus on my writing career again. I had lost focus, and courage, and this meeting really bolstered both. Yet again I was asked by an agent to send chapters to read (yay!). I came away with two writing awards for my stories (double yay!). The workshops I attended seemed to highlight where I'd gone wrong this year AND how to fix it. Plus, I got to spend the weekend with my dear friend MB who is a kindred soul in the writing and living business. We laughed hard enough to burn several hundred calories!

So now it's time to go to bed and collapse, go to work in the morning, and come home to my REAL job, that of becoming a semi-famously published author.