Connecting

Woman and boy working on homework togetherI spent the last three weeks making connections. Very temporary connections with very young people of various races and cultures. I, a total stranger, stepped into their classroom and walked them away to another part of their school’s campus to read tiny stories, ask questions and do brain-related activities. They all came. The vast majority stayed with me the 35-45 minutes it took to do the assessment–they all had the option to refuse. They didn’t know I checked out okay with the Arizona Department of Public Safety and passed a security check performed by their school district. I said, “Come, please.” Their teacher said, “You go.” Children are very trusting.

view detailsI learned a little about each child in our short time together. One boy with long braids wanted to learn more about creatures (insects.) I knew right off that a little girl was too scared to stay for the assessment. She was very withdrawn, more than shy, like something scary was going on at home. Some kids were reserved until I showed them a page of 30 lines of small pictures of puppies, soccer balls and coffee cups where they were to circle a certain arrangement of the pictures. Often, their eyes widened at the seeming enormity of the task. I said, “Dunh dunh dunh…” in an ominous way, and they smiled and embraced the task. That made it fun for me, too. I liked seeing their reactions.

One little kindergartener slipped her hand into mine as we walked back to her classroom. How sweet! That was like the highlight of the three weeks for me. Somehow, we touched hearts in a way we probably can’t explain and won’t remember. It was special though, and affirming.

view detailsI also reestablished a few connections made in the fall when I did this job then (field research with Harvard U. and U. of Michigan.) And I made some new friends. Some of us connected on Facebook as soon as we got home!

I used to be a very shy person. I could walk into a room and be totally unnoticed. Quiet, overweight and ignored, it’s a good position to observe people. Beware, the quiet ones are watching and listening… But that kind of treatment confirmed my self-talk that I was an uninteresting bumbling dork, condemned to life in a society that didn’t acknowledge my existence, let alone my worth.
Businesswoman hiding
I credit writing for bringing me out. And maybe middle-age. As a writer wanting to improve, I reached out to a critique group and organized write-ins for NaNoWriMo and ScriptFrenzy. I’ve met writers and others online I wouldn’t hesitate to meet in person. Talking about my writing lights me up and gets other people excited, too. People express awe when I tell them I wrote a novel.

Following this dream, accepting and using my God-given creativity has given me a new door to life. A wide French door with a beautiful view of people, ideas, emotions, dreams and experiences. And a door I can also close for awhile to create alone, as most writers do. That’s a time I still crave and cherish. Each fuels me for the other. It’s a glorious thing.

How do you connect with people? How do your personal giftings help or hinder forming new and improving old relationships?

The end is near–if only I could write it

I have until Sunday night to finish my book, Another Place on the Planet. I just have to hack it out to get it done. I don’t have a flair for snappy endings. Heck, I’m not even sure I have a flair for decent writing, but I try.

Another Place is an alternate ending to my first novel, A Box of Rain, which I wrote for my first NaNoWriMo in 2008 when the the writing bug bit and I became infected. I think some parts of the story were good for my first attempt, and I had some nice compliments from my critique group, (Glendale Writer’s Critique Group) although none of them liked the main character’s love interest. It had an ending. But as I thought about it, I wasn’t satisfied. After all, it’s a romance and all the ending promised was stability with a nice guy. As escape material, I thought, “Boring!”

So, I had the MC meet another potential love who was a bit more interesting. And I liked that and hopefully had the reader wondering who was going to get the girl, the MC. But then I took it one step beyond and Another Place on the Planet was born and has grown and grown and…

I have enough material for at least three books. I started last May and spent almost a year writing scenes, rewriting a few, taking different twists but couldn’t get it all focused so this summer I said, “Trilogy!” We’ll see what a publisher, if any, says.

But first I have to write the end of the first book. Then I have to revise and see if it all makes sense and where I can improve conflict and sexual tension, etc. I have to focus on the unseen details that make it tight and readable, that make it flow. It’s quite the learning process. Not as much fun as devising new situations for two characters I’ve come to love. But any good writer knows that most of writing is rewriting.

I’ve been finding if I get bogged down and can’t move the story forward I need to take a short break from it. Maybe work for a day or two on my current screenplay or watch a few movies or read some fiction or a combination of all of the above. I do have a couple of Netflix I’ve been looking forward to viewing, Precious and Through a Glass Darkly. So, maybe I’ll do that tomorrow. Also must edit my critique group submission for this week and critique the submissions from last time.

My free time is rapidly drawing to a close. I went into my smelly new classroom today and filled up my desk and put a personal-type bulletin board up where I hang important papers I need often and things the kids give me. I’ll have 90 kids this year instead of 70. Besides Science and Social Studies, I hear they’ve tacked on Writing, so I’ll have 90 kids to read for. Hmmm…I’m not going to let it cut into much of my writing time. Keep it short, stupid. KISS.