Wednesday, March 28, 2012

egg carton art

I was greeted this morning with "mom, can we have donuts?"

"No, honey.  We don't have any donuts."

"Well, then can we have pancakes?"

"We can if we have everything we need to make them."

"Okay mom, you better get in there and check."

So I did.  And we did . .  barely.

As I cracked the last egg in the house, I absentmindedly said, "I bet we can make something out of this egg carton."  You really need a filter around three year olds.  Nothing gets by them.

I was then reminded of that exact statement 54,002 times.  Before lunch.

There was no getting out of having a craft day.  So here is what we did:

I cut the egg carton up into several sections of varying sizes.

I lined them up and let the kids decide what each section should become.



Oakley pointed at the four section egg carton and said "that looks like a Caterpillar" and so it became a Caterpillar.




She looked at the three section part and said "oh, you know I meant to color the lights."  Right away I knew she meant traffic lights.
A tiny background story:
Oakley has become quite the backseat driver always telling me to "go mommy" or "catch that truck in front of you mommy" or yesterday, "get going mommy, that light is green!"  I of course gave her a giggle and she giggled back.  Then she got really serious and said, "you know what I should do when we get home?  I should color those lights."  Which we got home and forgot to do . . . until this morning.
So the three egg section of the carton would become a traffic light and the top of the egg carton a short section of a road.


Finally, the one egg section was quickly pronounced a turtle.


our supply list:
egg carton
 pipe cleaners
 small and medium fuzzy balls
 eyes
 acrylic craft paint
 egg carton
 scissors
glue
and a cup of coffee in my "shhhhhhhh...mommy's not coherent yet" cup.
i love keeping a bag of eyes around - easy way to bring a project to life

my coffee cup - too bad the kiddos can't read

The rest was pretty spontaneous - Oakley decided on color schemes as we went and we discussed which supply would make the best legs, antennas, spots, eyes etc...  I cut holes for her to stick legs in and cut a slit in the top of the egg carton to stick the traffic light in, you know the "big people stuff".  But, really, she did all the work.

I love the intensity of her concentration when making crafts
she would do this type of stuff all day
she even painted a pond on the paper for her turtle to swim in (the green/black thing at the top is a lilly pad)

Oakley loves her little projects and has been pretty busy playing with them while I write this quick post.



this ambulance had to "rescued" when it was in danger of falling off the short section of road -
gotta love their imaginations!
For the record, Truman agreed with all her choices. If you read the robot art blog post, and are wondering what we did to keep Truman in a better place. No worries, he recently became a fan of the dvd player. He even knows how to say "dvd pease". I'm not necessarily proud of his young love of the dvd, but it is pretty cute and it does come in handy in times of need.  And I think he looks super manly sitting at Oakley's pink picnic table by himself.


I would love to hear and share more kid projects!  Please feel free to leave a comment or email me at traciedavis@tinybydesign.com

make it an artsy day,
td

Monday, March 26, 2012

introducing tiny story boards

A painting that tells a story.  So simple. So fun. So pefect for tiny by design.

The idea came to me early Sunday morning.  Like all good ideas it came out no where (I would say, "it just felt right" but I say that about everything:)  so it's getting kinda old)  But it did feel just right, for the record.

I was on one of my long runs and thinking about doing another alphabet painting for a little girl.  I have been wanting to do something all castle and princess related.  Some of the letters were tricky (the typical scoundrels like x and z).  I was running and thinking and running and thinking when the sentence "Angels looked over the castle" came into my head.  This led in to "they watched over a boy named Ben" which led into "who craved a crown for his crazy hair".  You get the picture.  Images came into my head to illustrate each part with all the letters in the alphabet.  The story changed a bit (from angels to king Arthur) and it became a  full a-z story about a boy named Ben and his amazing adventures trying to get into the castle!

Here is a tiny snippet:



the dragon - my personal favorite


More to follow in a couple weeks as I get this painting on a giant 30x30 canvas.

this canvas - the size of one large weimaraner and one large three year old

This then inspired my launch of a new line for tiny by design:

tiny storyboards

I will offer an entire line of original alphabet story paintings for boys, girls and families.

Custom story boards will also be a big part...imagine one giant canvas outlining an adventure for your little ones.  Entire families can be included - kiddos, moms, dads, dogs, cats, favorite aunts, the family cow - really, the sky is the limit!  Illustrated family adventure that provides fun decor, a good story and some alphabet learning all in one!

Then comes the possibilities for children's books.  AHHHHHHHHHH, the future is bright! 

More details and ordering information coming soon!

please send me a message if you are interested traciedavis@tinybydesign.com

happy days (not the show, just happy days),
td

Thursday, March 22, 2012

celebrating and the worm

Next year is the big year.  The big four oh.  I guess that makes this year . . . well, sort of, SPECTACULAR!  Okay, so I am one of those suckers who loves New Years Eve, just for the feeling of starting fresh.  I also love birthdays for the same reason.  We all make statements like, "when I was 31, I . . ." or "your not going to believe what I did when I was 22. . ."  The way I see it, every year is a brand new chance to make decisions that will shape that year and, in return, shape your life.  Ahhhh, I could just pass out from all the excitement.  Then throw in the fact that each year impacts the decade and each decade impacts the life - you get it.

this cool cake was made by those sweet people at pink cake box.

So, yesterday I celebrated my 39th birthday.  It's a big one.  First of all, I am still super young cause I can still say that "I am in my thirties!".  More important, however, is that I have one more year to shape the list of "In My Thirties I . . ."  I feel if the year were ending right now I would be happy with my list, maybe even proud.  Certainly prouder than in my twenties where I would include things like:

"In My Twenties I . . ."
. . .learned the dangers of drinking while break dancing (the worm) at a bacholorette party and lost a tooth. (I actually just got the permanent fix for this tooth yesterday...should I add that to the thirties list?)
and more stuff like that - I won't bore you

I couldn't find any proper pictures of people doing the worm on the web . . . so I am including a video. Of me. Doing the worm.  Maybe I shouldn't write this blog while celebrating!  It is truly just a snippet.  I had my three year old daughter take the video - so it's a bit rough.  And it took about 80 takes so I got tired of worming.  My son thought it was hilarious.  Now, my daughter is trying to teach my 18 month old son how to do it...what have I done?  I hope my dentist doesn't read this, he probably wouldn't be too happy.  Although, at least I haven't been drinking.  You'd be surprised how much safer sober worming is.

video

So today I gave some thought to how my "In My Thirties I . . ." list is shaping up.  Off the top of my head, here is where I am:

"In My Thirties I . . ."
met my husband (a huge accomplishment for a shy girl like me),
got married,
had two beautiful babies,
quit my job (still gives me the chills),
 ran a marathon  (still makes me tired)
started a business.
and finally, I put a video of my 39 year old self doing the worm, on the internet for all to see (not everything on this list will make my mom proud)

So, I have one more entire year to add to this list.  I really want to make it a humdinger so, hmmmm.  What shall I do, what shall i do? 

A few things I know I will add to the list (wheels are already in motion!) are:

run another marathon (why? I honestly don't know)
write a book

And then there is the beauty of the mystery of it all.  What amazing things are in store for a country girl like me?  What amazing things are in store for you?  Leave me a message!  I would love to hear from you!

happy history making to you,
td

Thursday, March 15, 2012

wicked witch of the...wow

I am no historian.  There, I said it.  Good to get that off my chest.  However, points in history have always kinda hung out in my mind as interesting.  That's about the extent of it.  Some points in history just hang out in my mind, doing nothing except making me think every once in a while.  So, when I actually had the initiative to google the Salem Witch Trials (one of those interesting points) I was kinda blown away with what I have read.  I can't help but wonder...why did these crazy events need to take place?  What was it like to be an accused?  For that matter, what was it like being an accuser and knowing that so many innocent lives were lost because of your claims?  WOW.  So, here is my very own general synopsis of what took place in the late 1600's leading up to and including the Salem Witch Trials. 

one popular image of the Salem Witch Trials
What I didn't know about the trials and what I find to be so interesting is that there was a group of girls, from 9 to 12 years old who, more or less, started the whole thing.  Not to be misleading, the thought of witchcraft, accusations and trials had been around for a while.  The famous Salem Witch Trials, however, were fueled by these young girls.  Wow, people have power, no matter their age.  This group of girls accused people of all ages (62 total) - from 71 year old Rebecca Nurse (didn't even know people could live that long back then) to 4 year old Dorcas Good.  There is also evidence that adults may have influenced the girls to identify some of the so called "witches".  In other words, the girls were the puppets and the adults were the puppet masters.  While they may have stood out from the mainstream population, the accused were generally good people with no evidence aside from the story of these girls.  One of them even claimed to see the image of one of the accused witches to be sitting in the rafters of a barn holding an egg.  AN IMAGE (not to mention, even if she was sitting the rafters holding an egg - so what?  to each their own!). . . the insanity of it all.

The next crazy thing that I can't quite get over is the allowance of spectral evidence.  What is spectral evidence you ask?  It is evidence in the form of visions and dreams.  Not witnessing the physical act of doing something, but visions and dreams.  Holy cow, I think of some of the dreams I have had and I could accuse some people (especially myself) of doing some pretty random things.  So to put this in context, let's say a person has a dream of their neighbor sacrificing a chicken.  They could press charges and claim that their neighbor sacrificed this chicken, in a dream, and did so as a part of their practice of witch craft.  That is how easy it was to ruin someones life.  In fact, when poor 71 year old  model citizen, Rebecca Nurse was arrested, it was due solely to spectral evidence.  She was tried and found innocent.  Due to the outcry from the families of the accusers, the judge asked the jury to reconsider the verdict.  They came back with guilty and Rebecca Nurse was hung (or is it hanged?).   Either way, so obviously unfair.



There are so many people involved, from the accused witches, the accusers, the judge and jury to the towns people. I don't have the time or the expertise to get into all of them but two stood out to me.  One was an accused witch and the first person executed during the Salem Witch Trials.  Her name is Bridgett Bishop.  She has pretty detailed biographies all over the web (click on her name to read more).  I am interested in a few aspects of her life, like the fact that she liked to wear color instead of the traditional black and white, the fact that she did not submit to her husband and how she opened a tavern in her house to entertain travelers and sailors.  Now, she sounds like the kind of girl I would like to hang with.  Just (kinda) kidding.  But, she was herself and quite a colorful character for her time.  Although her behavior landed her in trouble (and ended her life), I can't help but admire her for being her, despite the conservative environment in which she resided.

Bridgett Bishop
The other person I found particularly interesting is Ann Putman, one of the accusers.  She is the only one who came forward to publicly apologize for her actions.  She did blame the devil and it seems to me like there wasn't a whole lot of personal accountability, but at least she had the courage to come forward.  What is most interesting to me is the way her life turned out.  She was only twelve at the time of the witch trials.  There is speculation that her parents manipulated her actions.  Her parents died some years later and she was left to raise her nine brothers and sisters.  She also died young at age 37, never having married.  Hmmmmmm...maybe a bit of Karma coming into play?!
So, maybe you are wondering why I am choosing to write about the Salem Witch trials in this blog.  My book is growing every single day and the story unfolds during this time period.  While I have no intentions of using real biographies or even attempting to provide a historical account of what happened, it is a significant period for the story I have to tell.  I think that the moral dilemmas and lessons learned during this time will assist me in setting up a story of the evolution of the human spirit.

so . . . my Caroline was born.

Caroline’s eyes welled up with tears.  To her it was simple.  A woman needed help and the Gooding family had the means to take care of her.  It didn’t feel right to leave this woman in danger.
“Caroline, I need you to trust me.  Helping that woman would put her in more danger.  We would also put our own family at risk.  We are poor.  There are no means to protect ourselves.  We must stay out of her business.  Do you understand?”
There was something so frightening in her mother’s voice, Caroline could only reply with a nod.  Although it broke her heart to do nothing, she knew that her mother was truly afraid.  Fear won this battle on this day, but Caroline vowed to never leave another person behind again.

disclaimer:  this snippet will certainly undergo no fewer than 400 revisions before the story is done...in other words, some things might change
have a day of gratitude...we live in a time where the only thing hurt when calling someone a witch is feelings,
td

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

youth hunt

It's early morning as the two sneak across the dew covered grass to their special place.  The anticipation they feel is heard in their breath as they try to hold back their nervous giggles.  She is carrying the youth sized bow, he the bag with three small arrows and they are both dressed in over-sized camo.  They come to the woods and carefully pick their way around fallen branches and trees.  Without a word, she helps him to stand after he trips on a tangle of tree branches.  He feels his bag to make sure the arrows are still in tact before breaking into a run to catch up with his sister.  As she turns to him, he can see the irritation written on her face. 

"Shhhhh, we don't want them to hear us" she says in a whisper. 
"Sorry" he answers.
She responds with another menacing "shhhhhhh" that stops him in his tracks.

They continue with their journey, giddiness growing by the second.  Wearing huge smiles and having troubles holding back their excitement, they finally reach the clearing.  She simultaneously puts her right hand back to stop him from advancing and raises her binoculars with her left.  They are breathless as they take in the sight before them.  Pure magic,..


Okay, so the story and the sketch are little rough.  But I have to say they get me a little excited!  I love thinking about all the adventures these two are going to have together.  They both are fanatic about the outdoors and go crazy over everything hunting.  They both love to climb into daddy's lap to watch hunting shows on TV.  Oakley has already been on two pheasant hunts and Truman loves everything camo.  I have a feeling this exact scene will be played out in life. 

In the meantime, this sketch is my next painting project.  It will likely take me a long time to finish, as I plan on using it more as creative escape than anything.  When I need a break from writing or I just have that overwhelming need to feel the stroke a paint filled brush against a canvas...ahhhhh.  I plan on doing this painting on large wood surface so I can really capture the tiny details:  the camo in their clothes and the wrinkles that show how little the kids are in the over sized clothes, the bark in the tree, individual leaves in fall colors that hang off the tree, grasses that make up the field between the kids and the big bucks. . .

The best part of this whole project is that Oakley found my sketch and said, "Hey, that's us!  Me and True!"  It made me smile and feel all warm inside.  That is until she turned on me in a way only a three year old can.  She started out yelling at me for not including our dog, Vladdie.  This quickly escalated into screaming "where is daddy? and what about you?", her chubby little finger pointing in my face.  All of this was followed with stomping out of the room, hands up in the air, yelling "I can't believe this".  We are working on anger management over here.

Despite the way it ended, I was just excited that she knew it was her and True. 

have a magical day,
td


Monday, March 12, 2012

who let the dogs out???

The other day, I wrote a post on "running in the dark".  As it turns out, I was focusing on all the wrong fears.  Apparently it was running in the light that I should have been more weary of.  Have you ever had something near tragic happen and realize how good things really are?  I don't meant to be dramatic, but some of life's events really make you stop and take note. 
The last few weeks have been tough to fit in runs.  Between sick kiddos, being sick myself (how's about a little bronchitis anyone?) and an amazing trup to Texas to visit my friends (without kiddos...can anyone say whooo whooo!), I have been stretching myself too thin to fit in all my training runs.  I keep telling myself that I have time to get back on track, but concern was creeping in and I knew there could be no more excuses.
This Sunday, I was scheduled for a 15 mile run.  Since I missed the 14 mile distance last weekend, I made this one a priority.  The wind was scheduled to die down (big plus), I was mentally ready (bigger plus) and I picked a route that I have wanted to run for years  (huh, maybe not as big of a plus as the others).  Let me explain...
So, I started my morning running east.  I felt so lucky, watching the sunrise and enjoying the stillness of the morning (i.e. no wind).  Yay!  Bronchitis still heavy on my chest, I contemplated shortening the distance.  I knew I had to get back on track and the conditions were perfect, so instead, I let my mind wander and took in the magic of the morning.  There were several points where I longed for my camera to capture the beauty of the day.  The horse standing, head over fence, silhouetted against the sunrise.  Or, the deer peaking out of the woods as I snuck by.  What about the babbling brook reflecting the delicate sunlight as the morning began?  How about the sunlight peaking though the leafless trees and casting shadows on the dirt road in front of me?  Paint a pretty enough picture?
Okay, how about the three dogs that attacked at mile nine and a half.  Just dramatic enough to spell out the numbers.  I had just turned toward the west and realized that the "non-existent" wind had actually been wind at my back.  Ugh...I was at the point of the run where it was impossible to shorten it and any way I chose to get home would be against the wind.  So I pressed on, wind in my face knowing that I would soon circle back to the beauty of the wooded road and the perfection of the Gatorade I stashed on my way into the loop.  I heard the dogs before I saw them and had the typical moment of anticipation.  I then saw them headed at a dead sprint toward me.  I got a bit nervous, but being a bit of an optimist thought, "they are running kinda fast, but they are some one's pets.  they won't do anything!"  When they surrounded me, I began to suspect that I was wrong.  When one grabbed my pant leg, I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was in trouble. 

this is how it looked, only the dogs were bigger...and I wasn't wearing a suit, and I wasn't a man. but, just like this!
Somehow, in all of this I had the amazing sense to grab the phone out of my pocket and pause my workout.  Heaven forbid anyone interrupt my super slow pace, right?  Okay, so surrounded by three growling, angry pups, workout paused, I began to shout.  The dog whisperer was in my brain as I thought, "Use a low menacing voice, be the alpha dog".  Did I mention I had bronchitis...two days ago, I barely had a voice and coughed fits when I tried to yell to my children (I would NEVER yell at them).  Here I am in the middle of the road yelling in a "deep" voice "GO HOME".  This was quickly followed by a series of "HELP" as I realized how close that little mutt came to grabbing my skin...besides, it was tearing holes into my FAVORITE  running pants...you little...  But, much to my amazement, two of them did go home.  Including the one with the balls to sink it's teeth in to MY FAVORITE PANTS.  (the all caps is to represent the pitch in which I was yelling...that's right, I watch American Idol, I know all about pitch)
Now, let's discuss the white one...that little F-er continued to follow me as I walked backward (so out of breath from yelling that I didn't know if I could run anymore) about a quarter of a mile to my next turn.  There were times when it got close to me again and I had to throw a rock in it's direction.  I couldn't bring myself to throw directly at it at this point - I didn't want to hurt it, certainly didn't want to antagonize it and truthfully, I blame it's dumb*** owners, not it.  So finally, with the help of the rocks and the yelling, I turned the corner.  The dog sat there for a minute and I thought I was safe.  I started to run again...now directly into the wind.  But, worth it, to put distance between me and the white f-er.  I glanced behind me at one point and noticed it was cutting across the cornfield, head down, in my direction.  I scoped the landscape for a potential escape plan.  I also pulled out my phone to have Dane come and get me...I couldn't keep going with my stalker in tow.  Then something wonderful happened.  Maybe it's a-hole owners came out to see what all the shouts of "HELP"  were all about (I doubt it. Since they didn't bother when I was right in front of their house) or maybe it just decided that cutting across the cornfield to get me just wasn't worth it...I don't know, but was happy to see it finally trotting away from me.
So, wind out of my sails but feeling grateful, I continued my run.  I contemplated the beauty of the day and not taking anything for granted.  I never ever anticipated such a problem popping up.  I was more worried about Malachi and tree werewolves...maybe time to rethink a few things.  I did decide to carry a can of mace with me in the future (yeah, I know I should have been doing that all along).  I will also probably stick to routes that I am familiar with...but the beauty of this route...I don't know.  I might just have to see if it can be altered.  In the moment of crazy, I realized how close I came to having my favorite pants ruined, my legs mangled and, and...let's just say things could have been much much different.  Ahhhhh, the beauty of perspective and the joy in realizing that things are always much better than they could be.

have a safe day
td

Friday, March 9, 2012

running in the dark

"a test of reincarnation for a soul coming to earth is the conquering of fear in the human body"
- Michael Newton, PhD
Journey of Souls

If this statement is true, then my soul must have come to earth to get over a fear of the dark.  Or at least a fear of being outside in the dark.  I'm not sure if it was "Children of the Corn" that did it for me or the countless times we played the game "Bloody Murder" as kids.  (Seriously who named that game???)  Either way, I am a self proclaimed scaredy cat.  That's why, when I decided to do the two things I said I would never do, run a second marathon and train in the winter, I knew I must have lost my mind.  I got hit pretty hard by the addiction they call the marathon. So hard that I suddenly found myself willing to run in the dark.

First things first, I had to feel safe.  I decided that becoming a head to toe reflector should do the trick.  The reflective gear industry had record sales the day I ordered everything I could find.   Next, I decided that I wouldn't go without my over protective puppy dog (you now, the one who sprints at the sound of another dog barking).  So, I got back online and outfitted him in reflectors.  So, now we are visible.  Time to tackle some inner demons.

doesn't he look like he can't wait to be drug out of his nice warm bed out into the freezing cold?


Allow me to paint a picture for you.  I live in the country were it is dark.  Not neighborhood street lamp dark, but DARK DARK.  Many of the good people of the country have mercury lights, which help the cause.  However, sometimes there are several miles without houses and therefore, no mercury lights.  I don't know what it is about the dark, but my imagination completely runs away with me.  I could have sworn I saw an actual werewolf man running through the woods the other day (it was actually a stationary tree), and I just know Malachi is living out there somewhere.  We are, after all, surrounded by corn fields and they have to live somewhere, right? (Please tell me you have seen the worst horror movie of all time.  Otherwise I am just talking nonsense here).  Let's not forget about the road kill that appears in an instant, out of the darkness, often leaving little time to step around it. ooohy.

Malachi from "Children of the Corn"...scary, right?


So far, we have fear of werewolves and fear of Malachi.  Let's add to it the yipping of the coyotes in the air.  What if they are really, really hungry?  Oh, the horror of it all.  I know I am placing a lot on the shoulders of Vladdie, you know, protecting me from the werewolves, Malachi, the coyotes and all.  But in Vladdie I trust and off we go together to be swallowed by the darkness.

this is how I imagine I look after a run with a full moon

The first time out was a full moon.  LOVE the full moon - thank you God for turning on the lights and making the first time out easy!  My confidence grew and I started to realize that werewolves don't exist, Malachi is just a character in a movie and the coyotes are not habitual people eaters. I do love my logical brain when it decides to make an appearance. There is something so peaceful in the silence of the night.  Being a part of the dawn and the sunrise is nothing short of bliss.  Sure, there are still a few moments in the dark that I need to calm my mind. Deer crashing suddenly through the woods make me jump about a mile and cause Vladdie to break out in a sprint.  Also, for some reason, many people don't think it necessary to turn off their brights for a runner.  It's a tiny bit blinding and when I think I am maintaing a straight line, I am usually running off the road and into ditches.  Thanks, early morning drivers, for the cross country experience.

So now, just as sunrise is starting at a reasonable time, daylight savings is going to come along and push it back.  Oh well, I have learned to crave the peace of the morning.  I am so grateful for the silence, the alone time and the thinking that take place during these dark morning runs.  Having irrational fears also keep my mind busy so the runs fly by.  Besides, there is a sense of accomplishment about being up and productive before the kids wake for the day.  It's also one less thing to have to fit in when chaos takes over.  So, call me a vampire, but I am really starting to love (or maybe just kinda like) the dark.

my puppers, enjoying a run on our country roads in daylight


let's make it a fear conquering day,
td

Thursday, March 8, 2012

art in a box

These might be the cutest art projects I have ever seen!  Oakley likes to do her daily coloring, painting and crafty stuff.  When I decided to cash in my pampers points that I have been saving for three and a half years, I thought that something crafty would be nice.  I had no idea how fun these little projects, made by Alex Toys, would turn out to be...

the kit is made by Alex - thank you Alex

First of all, every project included in the kit comes in an individual bag.  Everything you need is contained in these bags.  The instructions are illustrated and so simple that my three year old daughter can figure them out by herself.  It also comes with a chunky glue stick that is surprisingly strong enough to hold the projects together.



Seriously, how cute are these?


my daughter named this bird "Kevin"
after the bird in the movie "Up"
My husband is a self proclaimed non-crafty person and he had voiced concern over what projects to do with Oakley while I was away.  They had so much fun with this kit (and we still have 5 projects left to do!)  These kits are great for the non-crafty person or the artsy type looking for something different.   I know I have wasted money on art kits that looked cool on the box, but turned out to be a bunch of junk on the inside.  Or have been so difficult to do that it wasn't entertaining for anyone.  Plus they were free (ish) from pampers points.  Which, by the way, I no longer collect.  As cute as this is, three years is a long time to wait!

Want to check out some Alex products - click here.  Alex has an amazing website.  There are literally hundreds of arts and craft kits available, print and color pages, a free "moody monster" app and so much more.

I would love to hear about other craft kits that you think are worth the time and money!  I also look forward to sharing more ideas for projects done with things we all have lying around the house.  Up next for us are flowers made out of toilet paper rolls, bamboo sticks and tissue paper...so cute.

have a creative day!
td

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Stephen King and me???

Every life has defining moments.  The day you meet a future spouse, the birth of a child or a crazy idea that you just know will change your life. Ten years ago, on a sad and lonely business trip (this is a poor me statement if I have ever heard one), I picked up a book in an airport book store. Knowing me, I was probably wandering aimlessly, dreaming of doing great things with my life and knowing that it didn't include my current gig.  Always being an avid reader I would frequently browse the bookstores in airports, often picking up random titles in hopes of actually learning something. A book by Stephen King caught my eye, and without thought I picked it up. 


Okay, so this is the part of the story that needs a little background filler.  I will try to be quick.  I have always enjoyed writing.  Some of my classes that required writing were my favorites.  Pretty much I like to make stuff up and find creative ways to put it on paper.  It has always been in the back of my mind that I would one day like to write a book.  Not enough to major in English or actually pick up a pen during the eleven years of pharmaceuticalling (I know that's not a word, but it gives me the giggles).  But always in the the back of my mind, nonetheless.

Imagine my surprise when the Stephen King book I picked up was titled "On Writing: a memoir of the craft".   I think I actually saw clouds parting and heard angels singing, "ahhhhhhhhhh".  All the old dreams I had about writing came back and I felt that rush of adrenaline.  My surge of motivation left as quickly as it came, when I boarded my plane and decided to be a workaholic instead of a budding author.  Over the last ten years, the writing dream has made appearances.  However, in the midst of overworking myself, leaving my job to raise my kids and starting tiny by design, I simply kept it warm on the back burner.  The book, On Writing,  has moved with me five times and has survived dozens of "clear out the clutter" projects.  I would pick this book up, turn it over in my hands and swear I would read it one day, before dusting it off and placing it back on the shelf.  Well, to make a long story short, I now have actual stories in my head.  These stories are rattling around up there, making more noise than both of my kids put together in a room full of "singing" toys.  They won't leave me alone until they are on paper.  When I picked up "On Writing" a few weeks ago, I knew the time to read had arrived. 

During my eight hour journey to visit two very dear friends (1,459 miles away to be exact), I read 90% of "On Writing".  I learned so much from this book and can't wait to apply it.  The book was informative and Mr King is honest and candid about his approach to writing.  It gave me some tangible things to work on including writing style and grammar.  But, more important, it gave me courage to just write the story.  Before reading "On Writing", I was trying to do all my research, come up with a plot, an outline, all the character details . . . the list goes on.  Stephen King is a true master story teller, and I believe him when he says that those fore mentioned ingredients will lead to a bad book.  The best thing that a writer can do to write a good story is to sit down and write the story.  Characters will develop, themes will become apparent and everything will fall into place. 

A few points that stood out and applied to how I would like to approach my writing:
  • to be a writer you have to read a lot and write a lot (What a great excuse to start reading fiction again!  See ya later "i don't have the time" excuse!)
  • dialogue more than description will define characters - "use only a few chosen details that will stand for everything else".  Let the reader's imagination paint the physical picture and the words of the character will bring alive who they are. (Okay, so vulnerable moment here...I am admitting out loud that I have little to zero experience writing dialogue.  There's a first time for everything?  But, I think, I totally get this point!)
  • pay attention to how people around you behave and then tell the truth about what you see.  (Well, let's just say, I have a lot of interesting people around me!  Don't worry, I will change the names to protect those who I love.)
  • simply tell the story and then, if necessary, add the bells and whistles later (oh, man!  I do love my bells and whistles)
  • draft one: write the story as it comes, putting down exactly as it is in your mind and write with no outside help - then let it rest for a while.  Mr King recommends 6 weeks.  (This one will be tough, as I am known for reaching out to people on what color of socks I should wear...all the decisions are mine alone??  Good thing there is a draft #2)
  • draft 2 = draft 1 - 10% (what if I am an adder inner?)

  • write for your ideal reader...your I.R.  I wish I could say this person is my husband, Dane...I literally tell him everything.  However, in this case I am going to try to keep the story to myself, to the best of my ability.  My ideal reader is my first love, my dad.  He reads more than anyone I know and he loves a good story.  Period.  (I broke this pretty bluntly to Dane...and he took it well.  As usual, he knows.  Besides, he doesn't really read this blog so to get a commitment out of a book . . . might not have happened anyway.)
Okey Dokey, so there are at least 400 other points from this book that I could touch on, but I cut out 10%.  Ha, just kidding.  There are so many other points and I have plans for a re-read.  I couldn't put "On Writing" down so I read it all at once.  On a different day, different advice might stick with me.  As it stands today, these are the ones I intend to run with.  The main point being...just get writing.

On a parting note, my close friend Kim (author of the wildly popular Design Thoughts Blog) had a recent post that has truly impacted me.  Kim, I am ready to "Burn the Boat".  If your curious about what I mean...click here.  If you love interior design...click on any one of the links in this paragraph and be prepared to fall in love; Kim's Design Thoughts is fun to read and full of great design and life insight.

happy day - may you have a life changing moment today
td





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