Monday, August 16, 2010

Which comes first?

I'm sure you've all heard this puzzling question: Which came first? The chicken or the egg? If you're silly (and stubborn) like I am, then you know that this innocent question can devour mountains of time as you try to sway your audience to your point of view.

As I struggle with my next writing step, I can't help but think about a similar question. Which comes first? A great story or the craft of knowing how to write well?

I believe I have a good story. Although what aspiring writer would say otherwise? I have been typing away, plunking down words for my story and I'm making progress. Slow progress in my opinion but progress nonetheless. Out of nowhere I think of this brilliant sub-plot that will add conflict, intense action, romance and it will help me avoid the "saggy middle" syndrome. Which if I'm honest, is where I was headed.

However, using my wonderful new plot requires that I go back and rewrite almost all of what I have already written. I am one of those people that loves to see the word count on the bottom of my screen climb higher and higher. Starting my story over and completely depleting my word count is very hard for me to commit to. And yet I know I need to make the changes so that my story is as good as it can possibly be.

Which brings me to my next question. Would knowing how to tackle this rewrite make it any easier? I've heard that you're not supposed to do rewrites until you're finished with a first draft. Do I "waste" my time writing a story that I'm ultimately going to change or do I stop now and fix it? I'm sure I can find these answers in the handful of writing books that I recently purchased but I seem to be three chapters in on each one of them and getting nowhere fast.

So here I sit. Staring at my computer screen and completely unsure of where to go next. Do I read all of my books first so I know how to proceed? Do I keep writing and edit later? Do I start over? Do I give up entirely and do laundry?

I'm sure there are many out there that say a good story is the most important element for a writer but at the moment, I'm wishing I had years of experience and know-how.

Which do you believe is the most important: the craft or a good story? Which is easier to overcome?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Love Stories

I am married to the biggest sports fan ever! Chris will play and watch anything (with the exception of soccer. According to him, soccer is not a "sport" but merely a game. For those of you that may object to this...don't shoot the messenger.) Something is always on the TV at our, football, baseball, golf, UFC, poker (is that even considered a sport?).

He is such a nut that before we got married, he had me memorize all 32 football teams, with the San Francisco 49er's being at the top of the list, of course. After our wedding, he slowly began to clue me in to the fact that he had boxes full of memorabilia stored under his parents' home. Now when I say "boxes", I mean many many many boxes and containers...anything that could hold items and came with a lid was stuffed full of autographed baseballs, footballs, jerseys, jackets, stat cards, newspaper clippings, pictures, sweaty towels from basketball players, bobble head collections, every issue of Sports Illustrated Kids from it's inception on and even a hunk of grass from a favorite football field. His collection is astounding. If his parents ever insist that we remove all these boxes from their home, we would either have to buy a bigger house or rent a storage locker.

I am sharing all this silliness with you because this sports craze has led up to a very important experience for my husband. For years, Chris has been planning to attend the ceremonies for Jerry Rice's Hall of Fame induction in Ohio, which just happened this weekend. I am so glad that he was able to attend the event that he has been dreaming about for as long as I've known him. However, that has left me alone with our three little ones for 5 days! I'm tired. And I really miss him... Thankfully, he'll be home tomorrow.

After I got the kids in bed tonight, I sat down on the couch to veg with the TV for a bit and I stumbled onto one of my favorite movies, When Harry met Sally. I hope you have all seen this's so much fun. Naturally I did what any lonely wife would do when watching a romantic movie by herself. I made some chocolate chip cookie dough (no, I didn't bake it) and I enjoyed this movie all by myself. One of the things I love about this movie is that it shows clips of married couples sharing their love stories. Here's mine...

Once upon a time, I was teaching a preschool Sunday school class at our church when in walks this very handsome stranger. He proceeded to walk behind the counter (which prevents the kiddos from escaping) which immediately clued me in to the fact that he was my "helper" for that particular Sunday. My first thought was "No, God, not here." Jumping around with puppets and using my little kid voice was not exactly how I wanted to impress this very attractive man. But I had no choice. I lead music and circle time with as much maturity as I could get away with...which wasn't much. Something must have worked though because we got to know one another after that Sunday.

Seven months later, he surprised me with a very adorable proposal. Once again I was teaching my Sunday school class, when one at a time, each of my students began to bring me one long stem red rose and some little memento from our dating relationship (one was a napkin from the restaurant he took me to on our first date, another one was a ticket stub to a basketball game we went to). Prince charming was the one to bring me rose number 12 and with fifteen 4 year old's looking on confused, he proposed to me right where we had first met. AWWWWW!

I love romantic stories and sweet beginnings! Please share yours with me too!!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Preschool Days

Today is the first day of preschool for my little munchkin, Ava. We originally had her enrolled at a different preschool (the one her brother attended). I'm beginning to realize that not all of our decisions as parents get to be "cookie cutter". Bummer!

Chris and I agonized for a long time about where and when to enroll Cody in preschool and knew that since he was more timid socially, he would grow and benefit more in a large classroom setting. Turns out that's not the case for Ava. She doesn't struggle socially but we feel she'll benefit more from a leg up in the academic world.

We found a wonderful little preschool run by a lady that attends our church. She offers a more structured curriculum and after many questions and tours and requests for more information and hours spent praying and deliberating, my husband and I decided it would be the best fit for Ava. I'm disappointed that she won't be attending the same preschool as her brother did but I'm excited that she'll have her own independent experience, one tailored just for her.

I'm experiencing a mix of emotions right now; awe that she is almost four years old and ready to attend preschool, motherly pride that she is just as cute and perfect as she can be, selfish sadness that she will no longer be with me every minute of every day, excitement that she gets to experience new things - make new friends, learn new lessons, and a smidgen of guilt for being slightly relieved that I will have time to write during the day. (Did I just admit that out loud?)

It's hard to imagine that in one week, when Cody starts Jr. Kindergarten, I will only have one child with me at all times. Where did the time go? I have a very distinct awareness that the time Chris and I have with our kids is fleeting. Knowing that makes these milestones in their lives bittersweet. I want to savor every second I have with them...soak up as much of their "baby" years as I possibly can so in ten years I have no regrets when I look back.

In the future, when they're grown and gone, I'd like to be able to say that I was fully present, fully invested and fully appreciative of every moment we had together. Unfortunately, there just aren't enough moments to satisfy this mommy.

What emotions do you feel when you think about your kids growing up? If you're a stay at home parent, how do you plan to occupy your time when you have more of it for yourself?