Monday, April 18, 2011

True Life

True Story:

My daughter has run away twice in the past two weeks.

Now "running away" might be a bit of a hyperbole, but I can't keep the dang girl in the yard. She's five and she thinks she's independent--it's a constant, epic battle of the wills around here. She met a little girl down the street and will pretty much do ANYTHING to try and go down to her house. This wouldn't be so bad, but she's got this damn scooter . . . and well, I swear she like flies when she gets on it.

Tonight, my son was going to walk his friend halfway home--it's like a block and he's almost nine. I think this is a reasonable thing for an almost-nine-year-old to get to do. He and his friend leave out the front door, and moments later, I hear that ominous click that the garage door makes. I head out the front door and spot a little pink shirt flying down the street, AND THEN SHE CROSSES THE STREET!!

At this point, I am mad and scared and a little more mad. I can see her, I know she is ok, but she is all the way down the dang street. So I jump in the car (there is no way I could have caught her without vehicular assistance) and drive down the street to get her. I roll down my window, yell her name in my meanest mommy voice, and get out to load her and her scooter into my car. There was a very docile-looking refugee family standing by their vehicle watching as all this is taking place. I'm sure they thought I was kidnapping her, but they did not call the police.

I drove her home while she cried in the backseat. I have hidden her scooter and she is grounded from dessert. (You have to take away what they love.) We are all safe and sound.

And I know this will not be the last of my battles with her. She is strong-willed, creative, unique, and passionate. She's better than any character I could ever create.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Back in action!

April seems to be the month when I catch the writing bug. In April 2008, I was on the fourth straight day of standardized testing, my best friend was sequestered at home while she endured chemo, and I couldn't grade papers due to testing rules. Locked in my classroom with kids I didn't know, I started my first book. I watched those teenagers and realized how much I liked telling their stories. I started to make up scenarios about the very students sitting in my room. It wasn't hard. I didn't know too much about them, so my ideas weren't terribly tainted with reality. It was all fiction in my head, and I loved it.

I came home from school that day and started scribbling the ideas on a legal pad. I think I wrote about 5,000 words those first couple of days. The story just came pouring out. My first two "real" characters, Anna and Daniel were born. Not nearly as messy as real babies. And I was hooked.

But eventually the ideas slow down. Eventually my family demands to be fed. All productivity slows or even stops.

Those characters are never far away. They talk to me in the shower. They show up in my dreams. I hear kids at the mall make comments, and I think "Anna would say that."

Last week I got to attend a conference in San Antonio and hear Will Hobbs speak. His stories are fun and adventuresome, very different from my teenage love drama, but he said a few things that really stuck with me.

One: He started writing and eight short years later, he was published. It's great to hear a real publishing story. Not the I-wrote-a-book-in-my-sleep-and-publishers-threw-money-at-me story.

Two: One of his characters is based on a former student, he even named her. I will keep making up stories for those kids I see in my room every day. I love them too much not to!

So, off I go. The ideas are here and I must be a good hostess.