just a mom figuring it out one day at a time

Blog Hop: Why Do I Write?

Recently I was asked to participate in a blog hop through a lovely writer whom I’d recently met, Vanessa Rouse. The focus of this hop is on writing, so if you are a writer or curious about my process read on!  For ease, and because I am a very type “A” personality, I’m outlining and answering in the steps which were outlined.

Step one: Acknowledges the person & site that involved you in the blog tour:

A big thanks to Vanessa Rouse who invited me to participate in the blog tour.  Here is a link to her post: http://mamabearbedtimebooks.blogspot.com/2014/02/blog-hop-why-do-i-write.html

Step two: Answer 4 questions below about your writing process:

1)    What am I working on?

Last April my first book, The Missing Pages of the Parent Handbook, came out.  Since then, I have focused much of my time on activities related to the book’s launch and to maintaining my MomEvolving blog.  This week I am participating in SPARK art from writing: writing from art where I exchange work with an artist.  I will give her one of my written pieces; she in turn will give me a piece of artwork, or an inspiration piece, to work from. We then have 10 days to generate response pieces to the inspiration pieces given.  I’ve done it before and the process is amazing.  In addition, I am playing around with a possible young adult fiction novel—but that is in its really early stages.

2)    How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The Missing Pages of the Parent Handbook was written to acknowledge the gaps people encounter as a parent. Parenting has a funny way of handing you curveballs; the challenge then is how to handle them well. Over the years I found that some of the best guidance I’d received was not from formal childrearing books, but rather from other parents.  I wanted to capture that experience for parents and construct a book that was more like having coffee with a good friend. The book I wrote is not a guidebook, or a formal counseling book, but rather a compilation of real-life wisdom from parents who have lived in the parental trenches and come out wiser.  I wanted to offer the reader wisdom, but also support because parenting can sometimes feel like such a lonely proposition. There is comfort in knowing that another parent has felt the same, had the same doubts or made the same mistakes you have.

3)    Why do I write what I do?

I love words. I love where stories and the written word can take me. I began writing when I was young and it has evolved, much like me, over the years.  I believe we are all a work in progress and can learn volumes from our mistakes, and each other, along the way.  To a certain degree this is reflected in The Missing Pages of the Parent Handbook where the stories are intended to offer wisdom and support for others facing similar challenges.  My blog also carries a similar theme of “just a mom figuring it out one day at a time.”

My fiction work is a bit different. Fiction is my escape and allows my mind to wander into different parts of my brain.  Sometimes my stories carry veins of reality, other times they are completely manufactured.

4)    How does your writing process work?

My writing process varies depending on the type of writing that I am working on. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to focus on which direction I want to go—I call in popcorn brain. I have tons of ideas; the biggest challenge is narrowing them down into a singular focus.

When I wrote the book, I tried my best to honor the stories, wisdom and sentiment shared with me. I was so grateful for the heartfelt honesty of those interviewed; I wanted to make sure that I did their stories justice.  My blog is also similar in that I want to capture reality, not a picture perfect version of life.

With my fiction, sometimes it’s as simple as seeing something, having an experience or reading an article.  The triggers vary, but each work in the same way. The switch turns on and then I start to see characters or a storyline play out in my brain and I know I need to write about it.  Many times I will jot down a few notes but then will play with the story in my head for a bit before really writing down anything. Recently I described it to a friend like the scene from Minority Report where Tom Cruise is flipping things around on a virtual screen.  That’s basically what I do in my mind.  Eventually I hit a point where it’s time to get it out and then I sit at a computer and start to transpose the story that has played in my mind.  To avoid editing myself, I will often type the story out with my eyes closed.  As crazy as it sounds, it almost feels like the story is flowing from my brain out through my fingers.

Once it is all written, I go back through and revise, revise and revise some more.  Eventually I have to finish it, and finishing is often the hardest thing for me to do because I always feel there could be one more tweak—but at some point you have to say “the end.”

Step Three: Say who is on next week:

Next week I have tagged the following authors.  Take a look and check them out on February 24th! To make life easy, I’ve inserted hyperlinks to each of their websites with the site’s name appearing in a bold, black font.

The authors:

Catheryn Brockett (Yes..full disclosure, she’s my husband’s cousin)- Catheryn J. Brockett is a writer, actor and comedian who has performed theatre, improv and sketch comedy in New York and L.A. She has read her original work at spoken word venues all over Los Angeles. Formerly co-producing the monthly show Lip Service.

She has appeared in over a dozen commercials – and is particularly proud to have worked with Sydney Pollack (yes – he shot a commercial!), Spike Lee and a very surly kangaroo. Her television appearances include Desperate Housewives, True Blood, Criminal Minds and can be seen getting punched in the face on The Mentalist.

Originally from Maryland she graduated from St. Mary’s College magna cum laude with degrees in history and theatre (which is pretty much good for the yellow pie wedge in trivial pursuit). She worked for several years in the artistic hotbed of government industrial films before moving to New York to learn to become a real actor – which she found out involves wearing lots of black and not being able to afford to eat fruit. But that is not why she moved to L.A. She moved to LA in pursuit of the perfect sitcom role (and affordable fruit.)

Her book ,The Dysfunctional Family Funbook!, provides a great way to survive your dysfunctional family. The Mega Mini Kit is also tremendously useful. She is currently working on a book and a show about her recent experience with breast cancer. Check out the blog – CancerCation.

David Hazard– In 2007, David Hazard founded Ascent, an organization that develops and hosts creative-growth training schools and workshops from coast to coast and internationally.

In Ascent’s Writing Program, David wanted to use his skills both as a writing coach and a product-marketing developer to help authors shape their thinking and writing into saleable books.

“You can find coaches and editors everywhere — what today’s authors need are publishing specialists with the whole range of skills Ascent’s Guided Writing Program and its coaches offer them.“

A published author, David has helped to launch and develop the careers of nearly 250 writers during his 36 years in the publishing field. His success in coaching writers comes from his method of training, which engages the whole person, mind and body:

“First, open the writer’s mind and give them means to develop their creative consciousness. This helps a writer locate the fires of their own creativity and sharpen their mental focus. Then you give them great writing techniques. Together — these are the skills that make for a strong writer.”

David has worked as an author, publishing consultant, and writing and creativity coach since 1979, developing bestselling lines of books for numerous publishers. He has authored more than 35 books of his own, including several award-winning and internationally bestselling titles. His 1984 book, Blood Brothers, led to three Nobel Peace Prize nominations for its subject, Dr. Elias Chacour, and is now published in 28 languages. More information can be found on the Ascent website.

Sharon Rainey Sharon created an online network for her local community in 2000. In 2003, she expanded into other communities throughout the Washington DC Metro area, and today it is known as myNeighborsNetwork.com. She also started a 501c3 nonprofit foundation, Neighbors Foundation. Its primary project is sending care packages to the troops in Afghanistan.

In 2011, Sharon published her first book, Making a Pearl from the Grit of Life. Her book leads us through the inner steps that lead to peace, contentment, and successful living by connecting to a “community of spirit,” with a life rich in deeper friendships.

Before running her own companies, Sharon taught 8th grade English in Northern Virginia. She spent a few years working in a Hallmark card store as well, where she probably spent more money than she earned, but she did learn how to giftwrap. Sharon lives in the Northern Virginia area with her husband and three Cavalier King Charles dogs. Their son attends college in Richmond, VA. Her passions include writing and educating the public about Lyme disease (proper diagnosis and treatment). Her interests are reading, needlepoint and knitting.

Sharon believes, “Collecting data is the first step towards wisdom; sharing data is the first step towards community.” She maintains the blog, Lyme Savvy ; the myNeighborsNetwork; and the Neighbors Foundation Website .

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