Hang On

My older son was born with a desire to get off the ground.

IMG_6520coleropeFrom toddlerhood on, Cole has climbed. And climbed. And climbed higher.

When he was two, we transitioned him out of his crib in order to pass it on to his younger brother Chase, who spent the first couple months of his life sleeping in the pack-n-play. The boys are twenty-one months apart, so sharing furniture, beds, and toys was (is) a way of life.

The first night we moved the crib into Chase’s room, we put a gate in Cole’s bedroom doorway to block Cole in his room. My memories of that first night aren’t clear–probably wiped away from a lack of sleep.

But I do remember that one gate wasn’t enough to restrain our first-born.

Determined to teach Cole to stay in his new bed, we used two gates in his bedroom doorway the second night. We left a couple inches between them, and six-eight inches of daylight above the doubled-up gates. Either way, the gate-wall was at least six feet high.

Trev and I breathed a sigh of relief and settled in for a movie, or maybe an exciting evening of laundry and quiet. It didn’t last. The distinct pitter-patter-clunk-clunk-clunk then pitter-patter, pitter-patter of small feet carried from the hallway. Seconds later a grinning toddler rushed out of the hall and into our great room.

Cole had conquered his first warped (gate) wall at the age of 2 (leaving both gates intact).

He just turned fourteen, and still loves climbing. In fact, we discovered a local gym that offers parkour for kids and adults, and we go often, especially in the summer.

I don’t understand my son’s passion for climbing playground equipment, trees, gazebos, and buildings, but it’s probably the same thing that drives me to create characters and write stories.

 

During our last visit to the parkour place, Cole struggled to get up the biggest warped wall. We hadn’t made it to the parkour place often during the school year; instead he’d been doing different types of workouts at home.

But he set his mind to conquer the fourteen-foot, six-inch black wall and (after four tries), Cole finally made it. Once his fingers found and gripped the top, he hung there for a couple of seconds, relief loosening his taut frame.

IMG_6524cole3Once his grip was secure, the climb up proved easier than the journey to the top.
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All the desire in the world will only get him so far up that daunting obstacle. Cole must prepare beforehand to experience success on the big wall. Had he not been working out and rope and tree climbing in our backyard, he never would’ve made it.

Writing World Parallels:

  1. To reach the top (multi-book publication & readers who beg for more stories), years of preparation are necessary. A burning desire to climb higher with stories is a great foundation, but it takes…
  2. Words. Lots of words. I’m currently writing my seventh manuscript. While a couple of those aren’t fully edited, clean stories, they’re written (birthed during NaNoWriMo). Once I learned the basic foundation of story, POV, entered a few contests, exchanged chapters with critique partners, attended writing conferences, pitched {poorly} to agents, and heard positive feedback from other (respected) writers, I then needed to…
  3. Study the market and learn it not only takes a unique story with strong, clean writing, but also a great hook. What’s the heart of your story? One of the hardest things to grasp and create is a gripping hook.

    What is a hook? It’s the tempting morsel of your story you hand out to readers that (hopefully) draws them closer, for more.

    Readers are like fish. Smart fish. Fish who know authors are out to get them, reel them in, and capture them for the rest of their seagoing lives. But, like any self-respecting fish, readers aren’t caught easily. They aren’t about to surrender themselves to the lure of your story unless you’ve presented them with an irresistible hook. – K.M. Weiland

    IMG_6529 (002)Cole4. I used to wish this journey to publication was shorter. Easier. Less traumatizing and skin-thickening and rejection-gathering. But the <long> period of preparation is the exact foundation we need to climb up the publishing wall and hit that red button of victory.

    Writers, hang on. Keep practicing. Don’t give up! 

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Habits: the Good & the Bad

Habit [NOUN]: A settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.

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Habits.

We all have them. Some are good, others are bad.

A couple of mine? I pick at my lips and stay up waaay too late.

One of my sons never, ever, ever closes drawers. And my other son is a dirty clothes artist–aka, he leaves his school clothes in rather artistic piles… always on his bedroom floor.

❤ (But on the flip side, one of them gives warm, fuzzy hugs regularly and the other reads whatever and whenever he can.) ❤

Often, we agonize over breaking bad habits.

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Recently my younger son stumbled into our bedroom at 2am. He’s eleven, so unless he or his brother are sick, they’re tucked in their beds between 9:30pm and 7am.

If you’re close to me, you know that I’m 95% human and 5% beast. My beast mode kicks in between midnight and 7am. No joke, my sister had to {carefully} wake me up on Christmas morning when we were kids. I do not do mornings unless provoked and/or coerced.

Anyway, Chase stumbles into our bedroom at 2am. “Can I sleep with you guys?”

“Grfghrgrlk?” We’ve never been big on the boys sleeping with us. As babies they did occasionally, and during illness as toddlers, but overall we keep our bed ours.

He tries his dad, who thankfully remains human in the deep, dark hours of the night. “Can I sleep in here?”

“Did you have a bad dream?”

“No, I just want to sleep in here.”

My wonderful human husband climbs out of bed, guides Chase back to his bedroom (which he shares with our older son), and lays down with him for several minutes. Thankfully Chase remains asleep and the night continues as normal.

Until the next night.

And the next night.

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“Waking up at 2am has become a habit.” I mention gently on the third day. He nods in understanding. He didn’t want to wake up, but couldn’t help it anymore.

At bedtime on the fourth evening, I asked about bad dreams again. None, he reassured me. We prayed and they got an extra long back scratch. Just as my hubby and I walked out, Chase unraveled from his blanket cocoon.

“Can you lay the clock down? It’s too bright and when I wake up it reminds me that I’m sleeping.”

Ah. The proverbial lightbulb flashed on.

A few days earlier, I purchased a small silver alarm clock for the boys’ room. Huge green letters filled the screen so that Cole could see it on his bookshelf, from his bed (his eyesight isn’t great, and he takes his glasses off at night).

So I laid the clock on its back, and sure enough, Chase slept through the night. And again the next night.

The bad habit was broken.

The situation got me thinking about habits. Bad ones, and good ones.

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NaNoWriMo 2017 has begun.

For those who don’t know, it’s a write-a-thon set during the month of November. “National Novel Writing Month.” Thousands of writers across the country (world?) pound out 50,000 words of a story by November 30th. You don’t have to finish the story, just the 50k words.

Some make it, some don’t. The point is to Write. Every. Single. Day.

I enjoy the camaraderie on social media and the internal & external incentive to get words on a page. NaNoWriMo always readjusts the good habit of writing every day.

{NO EDITING ALLOWED}

If you’re on this NaNoWriMo journey, best wishes on adjusting to this new, good habit. Figure out what helps you write better and faster (plotting beforehand, writing at night when your house is silent, consuming nine cups of coffee & an entire bag of M & M’s, etc…)

Then write. Because writers write.

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YOU. CAN. DO. THIS!