Time to Write

bird against cloud

I feel the ache in my bones

The need to get home

Seconds before

Becoming fully aware

Of what my world

Is telling me

Like the eerieness

Before the tornado siren


Certain details shout to me

Not everything

Just some things

The lone bird in the sky

Too big, too black

Against the too muted

Too bright clouds

Its song amplified

Notice me, it trills

While cars

Move beneath it

Muffled, too quiet


In comparison

With half an eye on the bird

Half an ear, too

I squash the urge

To go home, now

And enter the library

Spooked, knowing

Clutching a memoir

Just finished

Someone’s story

Another one imploring me

To write my own

I keep finding them

Or they find me

Reading them

As they read me

Recognizing that longing

To get it out

Preserve it

A wax man stares

As if expecting me

Already making eye contact

Before I’m even there

Holding it

Without moving

As I go by

And drop that memoir

That someone else’s story

Down the slot

He’s frozen

I know

Just so I will take in

All the details of him

That urge to write


The library, ahead

In slow motion

As I move quickly through it

To the holds

To a book I look forward to

On the shelf, in my slot

Where I’m expecting it

But still a surprise

I take it


As to how it got there

Another memoir

Another somebody’s story

Another person

Calling to know mine

The beep of my library card

Too loud, to me

But no one else hears it

No one notices

Just the one who needs to write

About what

The world is proclaiming today

Making me ache

To commemorate

The details

Take note, it screams

Make note, it pleads

I feel it

It’s time to write my story

But I’ve picked up this book

This book on hold

Now in my hold


Someone else’s story

And so I must decide

Write or read

Read or write

One makes me crave the other

The other has me coveting the first

A poem, I decide

Just for now

Satisfying, but fast and short

To the point

Its end in sight

So I can pick up that book

Get started

Knowing I’ll be moved

To write

My story


Next time.

An Extra Hour of Writing Time

It’s Sunday morning here and I have no commitments until 10:00, at which time I’ll be hiking with a friend.

I awoke, on my own, with no alarm, at 5:56. My first thought was, “Yes! A bit of time to lounge in bed and write.” After grabbing the laptop, I arranged three pillows behind my back, tucked the comforter around my legs, put my fourth pillow on my lap, and put the laptop atop the pillow. The pillow puts the laptop at the right height for typing. More importantly, it keeps my legs from sizzling beneath the heat of that little machine.

I plugged the laptop into the extension cord that dangles over my headboard. (You know you’re a writer when you allow for an extension cord to emit electrical particles into your head all night long, just so you’ll be ready to write when you can, while in bed, early in the mornings, late at night.)

I signed up, last-minute with nary a thought, for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which is in November of each year. I’m not writing a novel, but I want to continue with my memoir. The expectation is to pound out 50,000 words in one month. I’m hoping and praying NaNoWriMo won’t kick me out once they hear mine is a memoir and not a novel. And, I’m not sure what the penalty will be for not making it to 50,000 words. I pray it’s not jail time. Community service seems more appropriate.

Still, I’m getting started today. Two days late. November 3.

I opened my document–Every Other Weekend Mother–and saw that it is 32,767 words long at this point. I wrote most of those words last summer when I was off from teaching.

I started to do what I always do when I open this document. I began reading. I started at the top and read as if I was going to read the entire 60-some pages. I always want to make sure it sounds good. I changed a few words here and there, but mostly I was just reading, because a lot of this is already at the point where I want it to be. I’ve revised it several times already.

“STOP!” I tell myself. “Stop reading! You’re supposed to be writing!’

It’s NaNoWriMo, not NaNoReMo.

True. I’ll never make 50,000 words, or even a few thousand, if I do this every time before getting started.

I needed to do some organizational work here, I determined, before I could effectively settle into this NaNoWriMo challenge. I decided to take this 32,767 word-, 60-some page-, 20-some chapter document and break it into several different files.

I spent a good hour copying each chapter into a new document and saving it as a separate file. After that, I believed, when I opened this baby up to start writing it wouldn’t be as tempting to begin by first reading every chapter that I’ve already written.

Then, I was ready, ready to start! I opened up a NEW document, an empty white rectangle, no words there to read. Words just needed to be added. Written.

I wrote. I got lost, I was trying to do what NaNoWriMo encourages–not think, not revise, not wordsmith, just write. Get it out. Get it on the paper. Of course, I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t stay out of the thesaurus, couldn’t not edit and revise a bit as I went. That’s how writing works for me.

Suddenly, I panicked. Oh my gosh, what time was it? Should I be showered and fed and ready to go by now? It was dark when I started all this. My curtains were pulled. I saw then that it was quite light beyond the plaid window covering.Time Change

A glance at the clock. 8:05. Phew. Plenty of time to write a little more and then get up and get going. Maybe I could write more after my hike.

A few more sentences and then I noticed that the time on my laptop, in the lower right corner, was 7:13.

Confusion, then elation. 7:13!

I forgot! I forgot that the time changed over night, that I gained an hour. I double checked on my cell phone. Yep, it was indeed 7:13.

A whole extra hour to write that I wasn’t counting on. I smiled, amused at what I was thinking. In past years, it was always an extra hour of sleep. The time change occurs overnight and that, in the fall, translates to one additional hour of time passing while we slumber it away.

But this year, this fall, I’m all wrapped up with my writing, and I definitely took this hour as the gift of an extra hour of writing time.

Watch out NaNoWriMo, here I come!

2:00 A.M. Prayer


And who might Neale Donald Walsch be? Neale Donald Walsch (born September 10, 1943) is an American author of the series Conversations with God. The nine books in the complete series are Conversations with God (books 1-3), Friendship with God, Communion with God, The New Revelations, Tomorrow’s God, What God Wants and Home with God: In a Life That Never Ends. He is also an actor, screenwriter, and speaker.

I haven’t read any of his books, but this works for me. I have conversations with God. Usually in the middle of the night, lying awake, knowing that if I use the time to pray I will:

  • calm down immediately from whatever stressful thing woke me up in the first place
  • get in way more praying than I would if I tried to find time to do it during the hectic waking hours
  • gain insight into something (who knows what, but something, whatever it is that God thinks I need at that time).

Somehow this daily writing idea came about when I was talking to God. I was asking, imploring, for ideas on how better to contribute to the world. It had to be something I was good at and something I liked to do. Something I could squeeze into my day. You know, something that wouldn’t be too difficult. I’m not sure that’s the way it works though, that my longing to do something significant will be satisfied with a quick fix, something easy, not too time consuming, something that doesn’t stretch my imagination, require tons of energy, and cut into my own selfish little life.

Okay. Pause. Let me glorify who I am today. It’s not that I’m not contributing. I’m a teacher, and a highly committed and conscientious one at that. I’ve truly cared about every student over the past 22 years. Worked hard every day to make sure every one of them learned to read to the best of his or her ability while in my charge. Laid awake at night when any one of them struggled or was hurting, and there were several every year, it’s just the way it is. Researched, read, thought up and tried new approaches. Perfected my methodology. Wrote two books so I could share what I knew worked and worked well. Hoped to build an entirely new set of expectations for young learners and help teachers discover just how to get children to meet these standards.

I’m also a mom. Proud of the mom I am, as a whole. Not proud of everything I’ve said or done, but pretty happy about most of it. A tireless, completely committed mom. A mom who has always been grateful for the opportunity to parent. A mom who doesn’t want God or anyone, especially her own children, to question her commitment to this incredibly important task.

Of course, I want to write more books. I have ideas. I don’t feel particularly talented with writing, but I do feel that I have ideas to share, ideas that are maybe supposed to be shared, in the area of education. And I like to write. Technical writing is something I’m good at; it comes easily. So, I think, maybe I’m supposed to write another book. Maybe that’s how I can contribute.

Or maybe I’m supposed to write something else. Something that stretches me, that’s difficult. Time-consuming if done even partway correctly. Uncomfortable. Disappointing, even. Maybe just disappointing at first. Until I practice, learn, grow, improve. That’s why I’m doing this. This daily writing, this style that does not come easily. This mess that will always beg for me to come back again, work on certain phrases, break out of the boring, discover, maybe, hopefully, how to lay down words in a way that makes people (how about just me?) feel, smile, laugh, cry.

I read. Man, do I love to read. I’d say I’m a voracious reader, but not a fast reader. I love books too much—sentences, phrases, words, styles of writing–to rush through them, to finish them, to have to put them away and move on. I savor anything that’s well written. Pick it up, cradle it, feel it out, turn it over and over, in my mind, off my tongue. Listen to the beauty of words. Their impact. The way they can change a person’s thinking, even change the person herself.

That’s what I want to be able to do. Put words down in a way that will make people take note. Pause. Think. Find beauty and meaning and truth, all because of the score of the words, the arrangement. I can’t write like this. I’ve never been taught, never attempted to learn. Even shied away from it, since it doesn’t come naturally. I’m only a technical writer. Others may call me a writer, think I’m a real writer. “Oh, she’s written a couple of books. She’s a writer. An author.” But, I know better. I may be a writer of a certain type of book, but there’s more I want to do, more that I need to do. Sometimes I think that if only I could get words down in a way that could significantly impact others, or even just myself, get myself to think and pause and take note, then maybe I could make a difference. A bigger difference. A better difference.

Perhaps I will discover it now that I’m writing on a regular basis. How to write. What my contribution can be. Or maybe I’ll discover something else.

It’s not difficult for me to glorify who I am today. I like myself, for the most part. Sure, I want to be better. There’s plenty of room for improvement. I’m not unhappy by any means; in fact, I’m quite happy. Just always searching, striving to do more. Live more, live better. Use every minute. Contribute. Accomplish. And I really must glorify who I am today. If I don’t, I won’t find the will to try harder. I’ll give up. Give in. I need to feel good, special, worthy. And I do. This will help me continue. Continue to write. Keep trying to get better.

God, pay me no mind, at least not too much. I know my case is not pressing. But I also know you’ll be there anyway. I know talking with you and opening my heart up to you will give me strength. Help me to realize that by focusing on what I can give, that by trying to realize my strengths and then put them to use, that I will have plenty to write about, plenty to share, and contributions to make. I pray that I can find my purpose. I trust you, God. I know you will speak to me somehow, sometime.



I’m Doing It, I’m Writing

Some writing I found in my files from around New Year’s time…

Write a good one

 “Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”   Brad Paisley

Why the comma? I want to delete it, but it’s a quote, so I cannot. Squiggly green line beneath; Microsoft Word agrees with me that the comma shouldn’t be there. And who is Brad Paisley? I’ve heard of him, at least. Brad Douglas Paisley is an American singer-songwriter and musician. His style crosses between traditional country music and Southern rock, and his songs are frequently laced with humor and pop culture references. Thank you, Wikipedia. Also, he’s 5’9” and was born October 28, 1972.

I was six, living in Orange County, California, but soon, before Thanksgiving of that year, to be transplanted to Wyoming, the place I consider home, still, though I haven’t lived in the state for nearly twenty-five years. My dad was a California highway patrolman. Motorcycle cop. I was too young to know much about it, but in later years, when we watched CHiPs on t.v., it seemed that was his former job. Except I’m sure there was real life drama. L.A. in the ‘60s, you know. He recognized all the highways on the t.v. show. I recalled seeing a framed picture of him on his motorcycle. His uniform seemed, to me, identical to that worn by Ponch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Erik Estrada. My dad had been in a couple bad accidents. Bad enough that he needed to retire from the California Highway Patrol. And then he was the new police chief in Riverton, Wyoming, population 7,000, right in the heart of the Wind River Indian Reservation. To me, a kid, it seemed he got the job instantly, effortlessly. But I later learned that he almost, instead, became a manager of a Stuckey’s roadside store in the middle of nowhere (Nevada?). I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like, who I would have become if I had grown up working a cash register in the gift shop, waiting tables, chitchatting with tourists, constantly walking the thoroughfare that, I’m sure, moved plenty of drugs across the country. My dad was also an alcoholic. I’m guessing that wasn’t on his résumé. And so my siblings and I, we grew up in Wyoming. Small town, small farm, riding in the back of the pickup with our friends, my dad doing 75 down the two-lane highway, always with a gun and a fifth of whiskey beneath the seat.

The quote, the tomorrow quote, is at the top of my news feed when I open Facebook this morning. Of course, I was supposed to see it last night, New Years Eve. But I was asleep by ten, maybe eleven. Had to read for a while. Still, it hits me like a brick in the face, about knocking me off my chair. Just what I’d been thinking about for a new year’s resolution. Daily writing, quick daily blurbs, which, if I stuck with it would turn out to be a 365-page something. I won’t say a book. Should I call it a journal? Though I did read the quote quite literally. Like, this page right here really is the beginning of my 365-page book. I wrote “365-page” with a hyphen, I noticed. Makes me wonder if there should be one, a hyphen, in the quote. Two mistakes in one quote? Shouldn’t be posted on Facebook, in my opinion. Unacceptable with even one mistake. But my brother posted it, I’m looking at it, and I know it means I’m supposed to get started. Now.

I type the quote. The tomorrow quote. The one that is getting me going today. I’m doing this. I’m really doing this. I’m writing! I’m not thinking about writing; I’m not mulling ideas around in my head; I’m not telling myself that I’ll be starting soon; I am actually typing. I have written on the first day of the new year.

It was fun to come across this piece of writing of mine in October, ten months later. I stuck with the daily writing for about ten days. It was enjoyable and I didn’t want to stop, but Winter Break ended and I went back to teaching and there just wasn’t time to sit down and write every day. And I think, then, that I was thinking that it was an all or nothing deal–write every day, like I said I would, or write nothing at all. So I kind of gave up on it. But I believe that a seed was planted, for look at me now–blogging! And posting something every day for the entire month of October!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Good Morning!


Sure, there are mornings when I’d rather sleep in

When I’d rather write than run

But I’ve made plans

That I must keep

With my running partner, Dawn.


Celebrate. Or Not.

May 2010

After more than two years of research and writing, I send in a query and eight completed chapters to three educational publishers. I can’t muster the energy or devote the time to finish this book unless someone tells me it’s worth it, to most definitely carry on, that my work is guaranteed to be published.

June 2010

I receive a letter and a follow-up phone call and learn that Scholastic wants to publish my work. We talk about the content, the direction I’m going. I specifically ask about the length of the manuscript; it is already over 200 pages and I still have five more chapters to write. “For now, just keep writing,” the voice on the other end says.

I’m happy, of course, but I’m leery. I now have to “just keep writing” and finish the book, but then what? What will they do with 350 pages?

I don’t celebrate. I buckle down.

October 2010

After spending most of my summer days researching and writing and then evenings and weekends once school starts up and I go back to teaching (and after gaining ten pounds from so much sitting and writing and sitting and writing), I finish the manuscript and submit it. It is 386 pages long.

I don’t celebrate. I’m exhausted. And I need to lose ten pounds.

January 2011

The editor calls me. She needs me to cut the manuscript back to 224 pages, max.

I don’t celebrate, of course. I don’t cry, either, though I feel like it.

I ask for help. “Any ideas on how I should go about this?”

“Cut the research. Your readers aren’t interested in all the research. What they want to know is exactly what it is you do, how you get the results you do with kids.”

It’s helpful. But I don’t want to cut the research. I included all the research so publishers and readers would take my work seriously.

But I get busy, deleting paragraphs here and there and sometimes entire pages.

February 2011

I have cut (erased from history!) nearly half of what took me three years to research and write. I submit the new, slimmer product.

I don’t celebrate. I mourn those words, those ideas that no one will ever read.

April 2011Reading Book Cover

I get a sneak preview of the cover of my book. Wow! This is really going to happen. There it is—the title, my name, and a picture of me teaching on the cover.

I don’t celebrate. This is my second book to be published by Scholastic. Having already gone through the revision process with an editor on the first book, I know what lies ahead.

May 2011

A different editor calls. My book has been reassigned to her. The first thing she needs me to do is cut it back to about 175 pages. That way there will be room for all the inserts I want to include.

Once again, I ask for help. She says she has to read through the manuscript anyway and that she’ll be doing some reorganization of the material and that she should be able to shorten it up a bit in the process.

I could be worried about how she might reorganize my work, what she’ll cut out, how long it will take. But I’m not. I’m glad she’s taking over.

I breathe.

September 2012

A book contract arrives in the mail. I will get an advance on royalties, half of which will be paid soon and the remainder of which will be paid upon completion of the manuscript.

I don’t celebrate. I know there is still much work to do.

December 2012

I get the first check. I haven’t heard anything from my editor for more than six months, but the check must mean that something is happening on their end.

I’m happy to have something to show for three-plus years of work, but I don’t celebrate. I’m still in the middle of this project.

April 2013

After nearly a year, I get an email from my editor with the revised manuscript attached. I know that it did not take her that long to do her initial work. I figure there were other projects ahead of mine or that the marketing department is trying to time the release of this book to best boost sales of my first book.

My task is to read through the new manuscript and make sure it flows, that, with the changes that were made, it will still make sense to teachers.

I don’t celebrate. I get busy.

May 2013

I’m impressed with how the editor pulled out the crucial content and reorganized it by adding in more headings and bullets and charts. I don’t miss the information that was cut from the book, can’t quite put my finger on what’s missing. I return it to her, with a few concerns, but mostly with words of gratitude for doing what I couldn’t.

Though happy with the progress that’s been made, I don’t celebrate. I grieve for my original manuscript and worry that I can’t picture it in my mind, like the face of a loved one who’s not been seen for too long now.

June 2013

A make-up of the book arrives in the mail. This is my first look at how it’s coming together, how each page looks. I have two weeks to read through it and submit any comments. It’s just proofing at this point. I can’t make any big changes.

I return the book after three intense days. Still, I don’t celebrate.

July 2013

There are a few questions about what I’ve included in the references section. I chase down books I borrowed while researching, chase down books I’ve loaned out since then. Details, details, details.

And now the publisher wants to put some of the information we had to cut on their website. Teachers will be able to access these additional resources with a code that is printed in the book they buy. Good news, yes, but now this extra information needs to be revised, organized, and edited.

I don’t celebrate. Instead, I do the work, almost indifferent at this point, and email the editor and ask, “Are we almost done?” I think she knows I’m getting tired.

“Yes, I’m 99% sure we’re 100% done,” she responds. I can’t celebrate just yet.

September 2013

I wait. The book is supposed to be out next month.

In the meantime, I get the other half of my advance. I guess that means we’re 100% done.

When I finally see the book, will I celebrate? I’m thinking not. I know the content is good and I like how it came together and how the editor helped me present the information in such a way that teachers can better access it; but, after more than five years’ work, I’m over it. I’m tired of it. And, I must say, it’s been cut back so much that I’m not even sure what’s in it anymore.

Plus, I’ve moved on to new things!


Written in response to the Daily Prompt: Celebrate Good Times