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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas shopping epiphany

When my son was a toddler, about 11 years ago, his favorite show was Thomas the Tank Engine.  He was mesmerized by the colorful, talking trains. The show was somewhat entertaining too—I would smile at the parade of Mr. Conductors—Ringo Starr, Denny Dennison and George Carlin. I knew these men as musicians and a comedian respectively.  Now my son associated them as teeny, tiny men in conductors’ uniforms.
My husband and I would search many a store for anything Thomas. I was confused by the lack of merchandise for such a popular children show. However, not a book, a plastic figure nor a fluffy beach towel could be found with cheery Thomas’ image.  We couldn’t understand it—how could there not be any type of Thomas toy for us to buy our son?
Back then, there was a significant drought nowadays we are inundated with Thomas gear. It was ironic how we kept running into these items as we were Christmas shopping this year. Of course, our son has no interest in these things now—he has entered the threshold of teenagerdom.    Seeing this shiny merchandise made me sad--regretting we weren’t able to provide these fun items to him back these years ago.
Thinking about it more, I realized that at the age of 3, he wouldn’t have the notion that he needed the corresponding toy to match his favorite TV show. At this tender age, he wasn’t motivated by merchandising-- he simply enjoyed the show.  There was a lesson to be learned here. We hadn’t deprived him of anything-- in fact we probably help his imagination grow.  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dismantling writer's block

Last week I had the opportunity to read a chapter of my book to a teen writing group at the Meridian Library.  They were a great bunch of kids, each had their own stories they were working on and sharing.  One teen had even self published a couple of his books.
After I read my chapter, there was a question and answer period. One of the questions I was asked was what would I do if I had writer’s block?
My answer involved mentioning a famous writer Fran Lebowitz who had writer’s block for 10 years. I had recently seen the Martin Scorsese documentary, Public Speaking, and quickly made the association.
However, the young man wasn’t having any of this example. He asked me again very specifically, ”What would you do if you had writer’s block?”  
I smiled to myself—why bring up someone else when I have my own opinions?  I gave my scenario of writer’s block. At the beginning of creating a story, it can be exciting and thrilling, as with all new things. However, you may find that same story you were sure was going to be a hit loses steam, in other words writer’s block.  I finished with the advice to push through the writer’s block by not giving up the act of writing.  For instance, have someone read and critique your work to spark something new.
Reflecting back on the question now, I realize that I had suffered from writer’s block. After writing Eye of Leomander, I left it in a drawer for years. I wasn’t getting any responses from traditional publishers, and I stopped writing.  I wrongly associated that since I wasn’t published, I wasn’t a writer.  I had shared this story at the beginning of the meeting with the teens and hopefully they’ll remember it and keep on writing.
Do I regret losing these years of writing? Not really, because I believe that I wasn’t truly ready back then. The time is right, and opportunities are presenting themselves. Now I have the confidence and know I’m a writer.