Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Heart and Soul

My writing is a direct line into my heart, I don't know any other way to get to the story. 

My writing is a part of me.  Even humor comes from an emotional place.

I've been asked if I am a plotter or pantser.  These two styles of writing consist of: 1) organized plot driven stories or 2) fly by the seat of your pants/character driven stories.  I've always resided somewhere in between, and I think I will call it Heart and Soul style.  I start a project based on a concept I feel is relatable and important.  Research, lists and outlines are completed before I write one word.   It becomes my own, based on the way my characters tell the story.   My first draft is me getting to know my characters, putting them in situations to see how they react.  These characters have their story to tell.  I hope that I have the ability to do them justice.

I have become a writer because of the way I live my life. 

I never gave all this mushy stuff much attention before.  But, on days like today when you are called to reflect upon humanity it becomes crystal clear.  My tribute story explains how writers fill their hearts with memories, emotions and descriptions to later draw from.


My daughter's artwork
Twelve years ago on September 11th the world changed for everyone.  Today the conversations are abuzz about where you were.  I can tell you where I was on that day.  I can tell you the look on the faces of the people who crowded around a small tv- disbelief, scared, anger,and sadness.  The most memorable part was how connected we were.  None of us in that office knew what it meant, none of us had answers but we realized this moment affected all of us.
As the day came to an end I found myself at my sister's house.  Being with family, was where I needed to be.  My niece came home from school, she was scared and didn't understand.  We didn't really understand what it meant, but knew we had to give her hope that everything was going to be okay. 
We found candles, then walked to the end of the driveway and lit them to honor the lives lost.  This simple act made us all feel better.  It made a difference, it gave us control in a time that we didn't know what we should do. Standing on the street with our candles lit, may sound corny.  What happened next was a moment that sticks.  One by one, the neighbors came out to the the street with their candles.  As cars rolled down the street on their way home from work, they nodded and moments later they would join us, lining the street.  The sun sank below the mountains and there in our tiny corner of the world, far away from WTC, our candles lit up the night and we came together.
That day fills my heart with memories.  A simple act of coping opened an area in my heart that is now filled with a personal experience.
I don't know if my stories will ever take me to place where I will write about the attack on the twin towers, or Al Qaeda, or anything political.  What lives in my heart will fuel my characters when I need to feel humanity, patriotism and community.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Attic History

Everytime I visit my mom, the trip ends the same way. 
At the last minute, she says,
"Wait, I have something for you."
Boxes of nostalgia have made their way into my library.  Filling the gaps between all of the amazing books I have spent reading with my daughter. 

Fast forward a year later, I was dusting the shelves of my library, I found myself drawn to Volume 2 of Childcraft, Stories and Fables.  I was transported back to the 1970's.   I would curl up, reading, in my white, pleather bean bag chair.  I not only remember this book, I know it backwards and forwards.  The same stories I've read to my daughter from her updated versions.  But, these stories are mine.  These illustrations are embedded in my head and will always be my point of reference when I hear these stories.

Beautiful Artwork, from the Boy who Cried Wolf

Not from Stinky Cheese Man

I love books.

My Little House on the Prairie books have been read and re-read.  Memories of grocery night at Meijer's, picking up dinner at McDonalds and then home to watch my favorite series brought to life.  Little House on the Praire was a weekly ritutal.  Oh, how I wanted an adopted brother like Albert.  (I settled for the new boy down the street- (Not from Mankato, MN, imagining how great it would be if my parents would adopt him.)
How many times have you read your favorite series?

I rode horses everyday. 
Nice shag hairstyle.

I loved drawing.  Drawing horses was natural.  This book found its way back to me via another delivery from mom.

My reading list was filled with Black Beauty, Flicka, Black Stallion and Misty of Chincoteague. Golden Prize was a favorite equine anthology. 

Around ten years old my interests expanded to:

Humor + Horses + Reading + Cartooning = Love

My experiences have brought me full circle to a life as an author/illustrator for children. Created and nourished by my family filling my days with love and surrounding me with books.

Packing up and saving 40+ years of my history and then handing this gift back to me = priceless