Tag Archives: children’s writing

NaMoWriMo and a Nonfiction Author

I sat on the edge of my bed at 5 am checking my emails because that’s what retired people do, right? I noticed some information from my local library about events for National Novel Writing Month in November (NaNoWriMo). I quickly moved on. Not applicable.

An hour later, after I completed my exercise routine, washed the baby bottles and baby toys the dog had mouthed, and had my first cup of tea, I jumped into the shower, vowing I would be quick about it. No hair washing as I have a hair appointment at noon and she will wash it then. The people with whom I volunteer as a conversational English tutor will just have to look past the flat spots in my less than perfectly coifed hair.

Let me randomly add here that I usually wash the bottles and clean up on Tuesdays after my granddaughter leaves from her ten hours with me. For some reason I was more exhausted than normal after chasing my 11-month-old angel.

 I have ignored whatever has crossed my visual path about NaNoWriMo this month as I am a busy, NON fiction author in the midst of the trials and pains of marketing a recently published book. I have also never, I repeat, NEVER aspired to writing a novel.

Years ago, I began writing a picture book about a chipmunk, of all critters. I also began an early readers’ chapter book as well as a memoir picture book for children. I had considered writing nonfiction children’s biographies. No adult novels in the works at all.

I like to believe I do my “best thinking” in the shower. There’s something about the warm water washing away the nighttime stiffness that frees my mind. My thinking in the shower is actually random and all over the place. It might be considered brainstorming. If you are into bullet journaling you might call it a brain dump.

The problem with my wonderful shower thoughts is that once I am dressed and excited about writing down whatever I thought about, the finer parts of the thoughts seem to have gone through the exhaust fan with the steam. I can’t remember that wonderful first sentence or the details of the brilliant idea that made it most brilliant.

This particular morning, my shower thoughts happened to focus on NaNoWriMo although I think it might have whirled around my head more like “Namo Rhino” or “Rambo Nemo.” I really had some great thoughts! While the finer points have wafted off like steam into space, two questions were circling around in my head and still are.

One. Should I, who never considered writing a novel, try writing a novel in a month? At least there wouldn’t be years wasted. Just thirty days. What on earth would it be about? Well, since I have been immersed for three years in autism maybe it could be a fiction book about a family who has a child with autism? It took almost three years to write the book I have written. And that was mostly other people’s words! How could I even write anything in one month? So funny, right?

Second. Could I just use the month as a motivation to actually write anything? Should I post something to one of my blogs every day, something just for the sake of sharing my thoughts? I would take a break from checking book sales and web stats for thirty days. I would not think about appropriate use of titles, first sentences and headings to maximize SEO. I would not think about the ideal blog length. These thoughts all stifle any creativity I might or might not have.

And, by the way, I wrote this in twenty minutes. Twenty minutes a day for thirty days. Hmm.

Moment of Truth: (Added to the original twenty-minute piece write before posting.) I allowed myself twenty minutes to write so I would have enough time to get to my volunteer job. I finished in twenty minutes. Perfect right?

Well by the time I grabbed my purse, decided on a coat, etc. I was too late to go anyway. I had to bail. I love my volunteer job (sad face). I’m glad I didn’t wash my hair! That would have been a waste.

Any thoughts out there? What should I do with NaNoWriMo? What are you doing?

I have only one more day to decide.


Retirement Aspirations


When nearing retirement age most people begin to consider what life will look like post-retirement.  For some, sadly, retirement only means escape from a job that requires more energy and mental stamina than they can muster.  They do not think of what comes next, of what they may enjoy doing.  For many, retirement means an opportunity to try new things or to travel.  There are those who think about things they have been wanting to do for years but couldn’t fit into their working schedule.  Some people begin to think about their “bucket list”*.  Several months before I retired I found a little metal sign in one of the dollar bins at a craft store.  The message “Follow your dreams and explore your new reality” became my retirement motto and was even written on the sheet cake at my retirement party.  Long before I retired I had many ideas about what I might want to try in retirement.  I will share a few of the more ambitious thoughts.

For years before I had a retirement date in mind I began to consider retirement possibilities. One of the things I considered was opening a teashop.  When I was in my twenties I developed a taste for tea and began searching out stores where I could be buy assorted loose teas.  I recently subscribed to a tea magazine.  I felt I could almost open a tea store with the variety of teas that filled two shelves of my cabinet, with overflow of my daily favorites on my counter top. I began to research tea organizations, suppliers, and conventions.  Several years ago I even considered going to the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas to learn more about tea.  When I finally retired several of my friends asked me if I was going to open that tea shop I had talked about it so frequently.  It seems I had customers lined up and waiting!  By then, however, I realized that having my own retail business involved more hours and weekends then I was prepared to invest.  I knew I wanted more freedom in retirement.

When I was teaching, I took a “writing workshop for teachers” class offered by my school district.  As a result of that class I have several partial or completed drafts of children’s books that I considered editing and trying to get published someday.  I felt particularly interested in writing chapter books for children who are early readers or a children’s story about selected events of my childhood. (My author mentors are Donald Crews and Cynthia Rylant for those of you who know about such things or such people.)  After taking part in a three- year history grant which included traveling with peers to the Smithsonian Institute and following the Civil Rights trail through Memphis, Birmingham, and Atlanta, I also thought it might be interesting to write biographies for children.

When I first retired I dabbled in writing. I began a collection of some short anecdotes of teaching experiences that I felt might make interesting reading for adults.  I started this blog because writing a blog for adults was something I wanted to try. I purchased a text and DVD from the “Great Courses” series and did some writing for that.  I found this challenging as the course assigned writing tasks for no audience but myself and I craved some feedback on the pieces I wrote. Writing is still on my list of things to pursue.  I need to decide  which genre I really want to pursue first.

For each of the last eight years of my teaching career, I hosted a student teacher in my classroom.  I enjoyed mentoring these young people and learned from them as well.  It seemed like a natural move for me to work with students in the university setting. About three years before I actually retired, with no certain retirement year in mind, I began networking with people at the universities attended by my student teachers.  I updated my resume and sent it to my Alma Mater after talking with the Dean of the School of Education.  The universities prefer hiring experienced teachers who are newly retired as adjuncts in their education departments and people who secure these positions keep them for years. There were no openings available before or after I retired but I had so many projects and activities to keep me occupied the first year that I set the idea aside to think about at a later time.  Spoiler alert…I received an unexpected call late last summer regarding an adjunct position. I taught last fall and will again this fall.

At, this point, two years into my retirement, I still embrace some of the same large and small goals that I set for myself.  Now that the wedding is behind me and the basement on the path to recovery I am feeling motivated to once again tackle writing.  Hence, I am once again posting to the blog.  I also began a short course on writing memoirs at the local community college.  We will see how that progresses.


*In case you’ve wondered, according to the Wallstreet Journal (http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-origins-of-bucket-list-1432909572) the term “bucket list” was coined by screenwriter Justin Zackham  in 1999.  He composed a list of things that he wanted to do before he “kicked the bucket.” Looking for a shorter title he called it “Justin’s Bucket List” which eventually led him to write the screenplay that starred Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.  The term has become a part of our language and now represents any list of things that someone wants to do, without the thought of dying even considered.