Tag Archives: inspiration

How I Knew What I Wanted To Do

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Blog 4

Childcraft, Volume 2, circa 1949

Not long ago, a colleague of mine brought his daughter to visit the office. She was about seven.

A confident little girl, she walked into my office and immediately engaged in conversation.

Then her dad encouraged her to tell me what she wants to do when she grows up.

“I want to write children’s books,” she said.

How at the age of less-than-ten does she know she wants to write children’s books? I mean, she is a child.

For me, I’ve known I wanted to write children’s books since I was a little girl too. It wasn’t that I wanted to simply be a writer; I wanted to be that specific kind. But why?

I suspect is it had a lot to do with coming under the influence of a certain book. (I know you have a “certain” book too.) For me, this book was Childcraft, Volume Two, Storytelling and Poems, copyright 1949. It was part of a 14-volume set my grandmother had purchased originally for my mom and her sister when they were little girls. Volume Two was filled with poetry by Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg, among many others and a stunning variety of illustrations by exceptional artists. My mom kept the set intact in the hall closet of my childhood home for years, but somehow that precious Volume Two vamoosed to WhoKnowsWhere.

Over the years, I thought about Volume Two. It may sound silly, but I longed to see those images of Miss T. dining with her grandparents, an elephant on the telephone, the dancing potatoes, the tiny black kitten curled on the blue rug. And I wanted to read those poems again. Those amazing poems. The combination of art and rhythmic words was like an incantation. So powerful. So magical.

I am happy to report I finally found Volume Two online and it is now at my house. Sure enough, seeing it again took me to the same place of contentment and delight that made me want to write for children, even while I was a child myself.

My little Snickerdoodles, let me encourage you to reread beloved books from your childhood. Not to study them, but because they are dear to you and can help you remember why you do what you do.  It’s not about recollecting, so much as it is rekindling. Sure, when you reread childhood favorites you may be surprised by how out of step they feel with modernity or wonder what on earth attracted you to this book when you were a kid, and that’s okay. But, there will still be that certain book that has built a cozy blanket fort in your heart. Get your flashlight and a box of animal crackers and enjoy it again. Experience the magic and it will motivate you to write some incantations of your own.

Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WONT’S
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me-
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be

~Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends

 

give-a-quote & enter-a-giveaway!

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Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen


If you’ve ever visited Frog on a Dime, you know I’m a sucker for a crackerjack quote. (I include one with every post to make sure my blog is inspiration-fortified.)

Now through Friday, August 15, visit Frog on a Dime and leave your favorite quote as a comment. You’ll automatically be entered into a drawing for a keen package of fun, schlock-free writing supplies, hand-picked to inspire you. Trust me. You’ll like it–I’ll have a hard time parting with it.

Now, hop to it!

Hold fast to dreams/For if dreams die/Life is a broken-winged bird/That cannot fly. ~ Langston Hughes

meet enid, muse extraordinaire

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Not "my" Enid!

Not “my” Enid!

A Bohemian earth mother or a wee-winged sprite whirring through clouds of opal pixy dust. That’s how other writers might describe their muse. My muse is, well, she’s not like that. I was going to say she’s indescribable, but that would make for a mighty short post, now wouldn’t it.

Meet Enid, my extraordinary muse. Rain or shine Enid wears a double breasted camel coat with a Union Jack pin on the lapel, a hat that you can roll to jam into a suitcase, dark support hose and Crocks. She’s instructed me to let you know that she’s foregoing the ankle bracelet in 2013 and that she’s swapping her orange Crocks for green. Ever the fashion plate, my Enid.

And then there’s the bulging book bag. Enid’s packing PW, the 2009 Writers Market, Levenger’s catalogs, an autographed John Grisham novel (don’t ask), Hershey’s miniatures, one of those fancy wooden box of assorted tea bags, her PBS travel mug and a paddle ball game. (She likes to play with that when she’s getting impatient with me.)

I didn’t always have a muse. For the first few years of serious writing attempts, I had to be self-musing. Enid came into my life after the writer she was bemusing moved out of state and Enid opted to stay here to be closer to her grandchildren. (I know. I had no idea muses could have grandmuses.)

Enid typically pitches me ideas right before I go to sleep or when I’m in the shower. I understand that’s standard MMO (Muse Mode of Operation). She caught on early that there was no point in giving me a lot of detail when I’m in bed. Her ideas evaporate by morning. If I’m showering, I’m too soggy to capture anything on paper. So, mostly she gives me titles or character names and lets me dig for the rest. But it’s a start and that’s usually the toughest part.

Yes, Enid is a no-nonsense gal. Lest I give you the impression she lacks a sense of humor, I have heard her laugh. It’s more like a nasally, smirkish chortle. I typically hear it when she’s waiting for me to do something with an idea she’s pitched. She’ll go sit on an overstuffed stool in my office, reach into her bag and pull out a crisp copy of The New Yorker. Enid does love her snarky cartoons.

Has she ever laughed at anything I’ve written, you ask (meaning the stuff I’m intending to be funny). Yes and no. Once I saw Enid’s shoulders spasm as she covered her mouth to stifle a laugh. She was reflected in my computer screen as she read over my shoulder. Oh, please don’t tell her I saw.

But better than a laugh is an Enid smile. Enid is one of those eye smilers. You know the ones. The corners of their mouths turn up or down ever-so-slightly and 99 percent of the smile comes from their eyes. She has violet eyes. No, not violent. V-i-o-l-e-t eyes. Like her laugh, an Enid smile is a rare treasure. I work for those.

What’s that, Enid? You think I should blog about Heather?

Do you really think anyone wants to read about my Inner Critic?

What if I . . . (Oh, no. She’s going for the paddle ball game.)

No Enid smile today.

What about you? What does your muse look like?

Following my muse has worked out pretty well so far. I can’t see any reason to change the formula now.~Chris Van Allsburg