Why Do You Blog?

Recently I was asked the question, “Why do you blog?”

I’ve thought a lot about that.

For me, blogging is a tool to do what I’ve already been doing, better. For most of my life I’ve been doing stuff like keeping a journal, recording piano and flute improv pieces, making funny tape recordings, drawing cartoons, writing articles and stories. Now I have a place I can put it all. Not only that, but I now have a means to share it, and organize it, and broadcast it.

I suppose I’m a bit of a mutt blogger. I don’t have one subject. I’m an author, musician, dad, (wannabe) comedian, photographer, (hobby) cook, and religious fanatic. I can’t, CAN’T keep to one topic. If I had time to keep 5 or 6 blogs I would (tried it – what a joke).

I’ve fought myself on this. Everything I read says keep a FOCUS. I’ve tried and failed over and over and over. So I’ve finally given up and decided: you know what? This is me. I want my blog to be the real me. I love doing so many things. If that ruins my SEO, so be it. I didn’t start blogging for search engines. I have websites that can deal with those. My blog is me.

My hope is that I can use my blog to connect with you.

So how about you? If you have a blog, why do you do it? What’s your motivation?

I’m gunna be published! Like from a real publisher kind of published!

Don’t get me wrong, I still think of self-publishing as a publishing, and I have nothing against it – but I had no idea how excited I would be when I opened an Email from Cedar Fort at work that said, “We are pleased to inform you that we would like to publish your work… Congratulations!”

What?

“We are pleased to inform you that we would like to publish your work… Congratulations!”

“Holy cr**! This is for real!”

I’m almost embarrassed to say I was giddy. I would have immediately jumped up and done the Myposian Dance of Joy, but at the time I was filming a girls basketball game (no seriously, don’t laugh, that’s my job), and I didn’t want to be mistaken for one of the cheerleaders – especially since my team was losing pretty bad. So I saved the Dance of Joy till I got home.

Just to let you know, too, this isn’t the Mission book (Giraffe Tracks) I’ve talked about on this blog that I self-published already. This is a different book about dating, and since I don’t know what the protocol is for what to share about my upcoming book, I’ll leave it at that for now. So here we go! Let the games begin! I realize it’s going to be a long road ahead, and I know it’s a lot of work and time to get a book from acceptance to on the shelf, but I say BRING IT ON! I’m gunna be friggin’ published!!!

Good Morning, Morning Glory

Here’s a little snippet from my Grandma Curtis’s writings. Remember how I mentioned before that her motivation in writing was to make people happy? Well, I thought this was a fun little example.

This morning, as I noticed the morning glories wrapped around the other plants in my flower garden, I straightened them out a little, so they would fill the empty places with their pretty dark pink flowers, and not choke out more tender plants. I always liked Morning Glories. They grew so easily, and once you got a start, they’d come back every year from dropped seeds.

One day I had been helping my Mom weed her garden. The ground was still wet from the rain the night before. It was soft and easy to walk on, or even to kneel on, and the weeds came out of it with just a gentle tug. Besides, it smelled good, all full of green things growing, and flowers blooming. It was like everthing had been washed new and green.
Mom told me to pull up the stray Morning Glories, but I left a few by the post. She thought that was all right. We were just wrapping them around the post when we heard someone coming down the sidewalk.

He spoke in such a cheerful way. His voice seemed full of smiles and happiness, almost as if he had discovered a treasure of some kind. It boomed out:
“Good Morning, Morning Glory,” he said.

Mom and I looked at each other, and I had to duck my head to keep from smiling because he was looking right at my Mom, like she might be the Morning Glory.
“Top of the morning to you, my dear little Morning Glory,” he went on, “and isn’t it a beautiful day?”

“It is that,” Mom was saying, and she was smiling at her early caller, who by then had come down the path to where we were working. I could see he was carrying a suitcase of some kind, and I knew he was a door to door salesman.

Mom let him talk a few minutes about the products he was selling, then she said what she always did, “I know they must be really nice, and I wouldn’t mind having them, the only trouble is, no money.”

Mom always said it in a way they knew it to be true, so they hardly ever argued. But this was a nice man, even if he was middle-aged and kind of shabby looking. He still had the nicest smile and the cheeriest voice. I remember how he kind of touched his hat, like men did for ladies in those days, as if to show respect, and smiling as much as ever he still said, “But it was a pleasure to meet you, all the same, my lovely, Morning Glory.”

At the supper time that night as we gathered around the table, each of us telling the interesting things that had happened to us during the day, I had to tell our Dad how the stranger had admired our Mom and called her a Morning Glory.

He looked at her. She was kind of blushing, or maybe it only seemed that way, Mom always had pretty pink cheeks. Dad kind of grunted, half-disgusted. I wished he would say she was his morning glory, too, but he just thought it was foolish.

Mom didn’t let that bother her. She told her sisters about it, and had a good time thinking how they could still be thought beautiful even after four or five children, and all the hard life they had been through. Mom said how wonderful it was that a funny little man like that, could still want to make someone else happy.
I thought at the time that he was a pretty smart salesman. Maybe with some, it would work, too. Just get a person feeling happier about life, and just maybe they would buy something.

Since I’m older now, I think like my Mom did, that he didn’t have much himself. Maybe it made him feel happier to give someone a compliment. It didn’t cost him a thing. It made my Mom feel kind of special all day… maybe even kind of special for the rest of her life. Do you know why I think so?
Because many times, in the years that followed, even after she was an invalid in a bed, she’d call out to any of us, “Well, Good Morning!” and there’d be such a note of happiness and cheer in her voice that we knew she really meant it.

Sometimes, just for me, she’d add the rest of the sentence, “Good morning, Morning Glory,” and we’d both smile, remembering.

Sometimes, when you give a gift like that to someone, you just never know how long it will last, or how many lives it will touch. It is a lovely morning.

Writing to Make People Happy

Probably my biggest role model as a writer is my Grandma Curtis. She never wrote a full-length book that I know of, but she did publish a few articles in local magazines and newspapers. I think the thing that influences me the most about her writing was her passion for doing it. The only thing that surpassed her passion for reading and writing was her family. I suppose it was her family that kept her from becoming a professional writer. Some today would have said that her family was a distraction from her writing – and maybe it was. But there are things greater than writing, and things greater than the fulfillment of dreams, and family is one of them.

Anyway, here’s a little snippet from her life history:

On May 7, 1920 my brother David Irvin was born. The Lady that came to help mom, a Mrs. Sorensen, wrote a poem and read it in Sunday School. It went something like this, “The father’s eyes did light with joy… when first he learned it was a boy.” She game Mom a copy of the poem, and Mom read it to everyone who came to see us. She loved poetry. Maybe it was way back then that I first decided I’d like to read and write magic kind of words to make people happy… to be a writer.

At first I didn’t take much note to this, except that it was one of the first times she felt like she wanted to write. Then I re-read the last part. She wanted to write the “kind of words to make people happy.”

That got me thinking about the rest of her writings. Throughout, there is always an element of innocence, of an almost naïve optimism that some today would criticize as amateur and childish. But I’m not sure her intent was to impress the writing community. I think she was living by her motto of writing to make people happy.

What a powerful motivation! What a great approach to writing! I wish more authors wrote to try to make people happy.

Think about it. Why do you write? What is your motivation?

Nano Absence Heads Up

Just a heads up. If I don’t respond to email, Facebook, etc. it’s because I’m writing my head off. November is National Novel Writing Month, so I’ll be typing nonstop for a month. 50,000 words in 4 weeks. Actually, I’m kind of cheating. I have a story that I’m about 10,000 words into that’s been sitting on the shelf for a couple years, and I’m going to finish it. But I’m going to re-write what I have so far to put it in first person. Plus I’ve made myself a deal that those first 10,000 words don’t count for Nanowrimo, and I’ll only track the rest, so that by the end of November, the novel has to be at least 65,000. The extra 5,000 is “interest” for having something of a head-start. Fair enough? I hope so, because that’s what I’m doing.

I’ve been wracking my brain to decide which story to write. I have two that have been calling me for years, and all that time, the plots of both stories have been coming together. Actually, there have been three, but two of them I joined into one. It’s only been in the past few days that I’ve decided for sure which to write. It’s a Young Adult Fantasy book, and since it’s been grinding around in my mind for so long, it’s now the first in a series of at least four books, but probably more.

The one I decided against is an LDS fiction, and the reason I decided against it is because it involves a plane crash, wilderness survival, and a lost ancient culture, all of which will take a great deal of research – which is not ideal for Nanowrimo.

But I am really excited to finally write this one. It’s still intimidating approaching this one, because if it works right, It should have religious symbolic value similar to the Chronicles of Narnia. I’ve been carrying this story in me for awhile, forming characters, places, culture, and plot for a long time, and that’s why I feel ready to write it now.

Actually, another reason I’m excited to write it is that the places, species, and culture are based on stories, tales, and “mythology” that my family has been inventing for over twenty years. To my family who read this, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I mention that one of the pivotal lands in the book will be Yonder. Maybe if the story works, I can get Ria to illustrate it. 😀

Anyway, just wanted to give a heads up that if I seem to disappear for awhile, that’s why. I don’t want family time to suffer, so everything else (except work, of course), might.

See you December 1st!

Nanowrimo 2010: You Can Do It!

It’s that time again! Are you going to go for it this year? Come on – you know you want to!

Have you got what it takes to write a novel in a month? Seriously! A whole novel in a month?!

For those of you who have never heard of Nanowrimo, let me explain:

The word Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it takes place every November. I’ve never been much for contests, but if you love writing, you don’t want to miss it. It’s the coolest writing contest I have ever seen.

Here’s how it works: starting November 1, you begin writing a novel – from scratch. You can have outlines, research, and sources if you want them (many don’t even start with those), but otherwise you’re starting from nothing. Then, for thirty days, you write like mad. Like MAD! The object of the contest is to reach 50.000 words before midnight Nov 30. If you make it, you win! Simple as that. You write 50,000 words between Nov 1 and Nov 30, you win. You don’t have to finish your novel, you don’t have to even “start” your novel, and you certainly don’t have to redraft your novel. Just write, and write like crazy. If you can start and finish your story, great, but it’s not required in order to win.

So, if there’s no judge and no competition with other writers, how can you call it a contest? Well, for starters, you are certainly competing: you’re competing against all your inhibitions (and believe me, they fight hard!), and all your insecurities, and all the things in your life that try to tear you away from writing. And second, you are still held accountable to other Nano writers. Your story is never posted anywhere, but every day (or week, or whatever you want), you copy the full text of your novel into a little box on the Nanowrimo site, which calculates your word count and tracks your word count progress. It doesn’t keep the actual words. In fact there’s no way to save your work on the site. So obviously there is a lot of self-accountability for your work. The system would have no idea if you had the same sentence pasted over and over. But this is not about the site. It’s about you. Can you do it? Will you do it?

If you’ve never done Nanowrimo, you’re probably thinking, “What? Abandon my family, friends, and responsibilities for a whole month just to write a novel?”

That was one of my concerns last year when I decided to do it. But actually, it was all the unimportant things that suffered. I only checked my email, blogs, and Facebook a couple times a week (and even those couple times were used as diversions when I’d start dozing off while writing), and I always did worked on it after the kids went to bed. In fact, it was usually after my wife went to bed. I probably got an hour less sleep every night, but it was only for a month, and the feeling of having pulled it off at the end of thirty days was absolutely exhilarating!

Another thing to keep in mind if you do it – don’t worry about the quality of the writing. DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE QUALITY!!! You have all of December, January, February, etc to worry about that – if you even think it’s salvageable. Just write and write and write. November is strictly about quantity.

If you’ve been looking for an excuse to write that story that’s been dancing around in your head – this is it. If the thought of writing 50,000 words in a month scares the living daylights out of you, then I encourage you to just try it. I fell in love with it quickly – so much so that at the deadline, I was at 63,000 words, and a week later, I completed my 70,000 word rough draft. I can tell you, if you’ve gotten used to writing somewhere between 1,500 words and 3,000 words a day, 7,000 words in a week is nothing.

So are you going to do it? Are you going to live off a keyboard and stay-awake snacks for a month in order to fulfill a dream you’ve always had? Come on, you know you want to!

I

1 Nephi 1:1
I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.

I’m trying an experiment. I’ve found that writing is a form of pondering – a very powerful form of pondering, so I’m going to try reading the Book of Mormon slowly, writing about each verse. I would guess that this is the most widely read verse in the whole Book of Mormon, simply because it is the first verse. If I were going to explore the scriptures verse by verse, trying to get as much out of them as possible, I might start with a few questions about how this verse starts. I ask these questions, either because I don’t know the answer, or in hopes that in exploring the answers I already know, I might learn something new.
Why does Nephi write in first person? As far as I can tell, Moses, Isaiah, and most of the Old Testament prophets wrote in third person. Why then does Nephi choose 1st person for his narrative?

There you go. I’m already stuck on the word, “I.” I’ve just been doing a bit of searching, and so far I can’t find a reason. Any Ideas?