What’s On My Mind
Sometimes people say the meanest things. It’s like they don’t hear how they sound. Or maybe they do and don’t care.
I’ve been talking about this a lot with my kids lately. Teaching them that words are powerful. With their words, they have the ability to build up or destroy.
The little boy next door passed a note over the wall to my youngest the other day. In crude handwriting and awful spelling, the boy called my youngest a…well, an offensive term that starts with F and rhymes with duck. The word came out of nowhere. One minute they’re talking and playing, and the next, boom. His feelings were hurt, of course. Now whenever he interacts with that boy, it’s like he’s on heightened awareness, waiting for the kid to hurt his feelings again.
Now, I’m sure that boy had either been called that name, or had heard someone get called that, and was just trying the word out for himself. That’s how kids are, right? But man, that makes me sad.
I told my youngest that I love him, that I think he’s great, to let it go, that he didn’t have to play with that boy if he didn’t want to, but I know how words like that stick with you.
All of us do.
Hurtful words have a way of echoing in our minds long after they’ve been said. They’re like magnets, attracted and clinging to our insecurities, difficult to shake off.
When I was young, one of my friend’s mothers made a comment to my mom. “It’s nice to see Amy’s starting to get pretty.”
Ouch. All these years later, that one still echoes around up there.
The things people say affect us.
The things we say affect others.
Words can build up. Words can tear down. If only we were more conscious of how we use them, of when we use them, and of how they affect the hearer. Think of how we could change the world.
Happy New Year!
How’s 2014 treating you so far? Around here, it’s been swell. I spent the first day of the new year reading, doing some web design work for the Class of 2k14 and counting down the minutes to the new season of Sherlock.
(Did you see it? At first I was like *gasp* and then I was like, AHHH! and then I was like, Whoa. I’ll tell you one thing: between The Day of the Doctor, The Time of the Doctor and The Empty Hearse, I’m emotionally spent.)
Anyway, back on topic. 2014.
With my first book coming out this year and a slew of other writing projects in the works, the word I’ve chosen for 2014 is…
Let’s do this.
Ahhh, here we are. The end of 2013, and the (completely self-indulgent) reflecting back on the year.
In a word, 2013 rocked.
January: A whirlwind trip to New York with my hubby. I visited my publisher, took in all the art my brain could hold, saw a couple of Broadway plays, ate delicious food and skated at Rockefeller Center. Awesome.
February: Another whirlwind trip to Los Angeles to go to the Oscars with my friend Trish. And just a couple of months after the two of us went to the Emmys. We ate at The Ivy, did the celebrity cemetery thing, shopped and, you know, went to the Oscars. Crazy!
March: I experienced my first real deadline. It was…intense. Don’t get me wrong: working with my editor, Katherine Harrison, has been nothing but a joy. But I have definitely gained a new understanding and appreciation for the energy and discipline it takes to revise a novel, and to do so by a specified date. I work best under deadlines (I think), but man do I need a nap afterward.
April: A weekend trip to Sedona with friends, including a friend who traveled all the way from England! Sedona is beautiful and we had a weekend full of laughter and food and fun.
May: Phoenix Comicon!! I made my first official author appearance, participating in a panel on publishing. It was so fun! And Phoenix Comicon is just awesome. If you ever get a chance to go, go! Every year gets better and this coming year is no exception.
June: My Parking Lot Confessional cohorts Stephen and Amy and I met Neil Gaiman!!
July: San Diego Comicon with my friend Trish. Our first time attending. It was mind-blowing. I don’t know that any future SDCC visits will be able to top it. But we’ll see what happens in 2014!
August: I traveled to Los Angeles to hang out with friends at the LA SCBWI conference. Always a blast. Every kidlit writer should attend an SCBWI conference at least once. This year was particularly poignant, as I got to meet up with other Adams Lit clients. Yay!
September: My first experience with copyedits. Wow. I’d heard that copyedits were trying, but I had no idea. My hat is off to copyeditors everywhere. You have a unique gift. I have a new appreciation for sentence structure and grammar now. Going through copyedits took my writing to the next level, for sure. September definitely grew me as a writer.
October: A much-needed vacation, driving through Colorado during the changing of the leaves. Ahhh, this trip did my spirit good.
November: This month was full of fun events. I met Dan Simmons, and Preston & Child at The Poisoned Pen. My family also celebrated the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary, seeing The Day of the Doctor in 3D at the cinema. So cool!
December: Just before Christmas, I submitted the manuscript for my second book to my editor. Then I indulged in all kinds of Christmas celebration, including building a TARDIS with my husband. I don’t think the neighbors know what it is, but that’s OK. In our opinion, we definitely have the coolest Christmas decorations on the block.
And now, it’s the last day of 2013. Looking back, this year just blows my mind. I only hit the highlights here, but in between all of these events were a day-to-day life filled with all the things I love: my husband, my kids, my friends, my writing. Of course there were less-stellar times as well, but overall the good far outweighs the bad. I am grateful. I am blessed.
2014 should be an interesting year. In 2014, my first book, Now That You’re Here, will be published! Stay tuned for lots of news and fun and giveaways and events.
In the meantime, though, thank you for reading, thank you for putting up with this self-indulgence. Here’s a toast to 2013: a wonderful, whirlwind of a year! And here’s to 2014 and beyond. May we all experience joy and peace and love beyond measure.
Happy New Year!
The Class of 2k14 is having a Thanksgiving Blogfest, a time when we take a moment to share what we’re grateful for.
Where do I begin?
It’s a bright, crisp morning. The dogs are outside barking at the garbage man. My children are off to learn at a great school. My husband is away working at a job he loves. My first novel is finished and off to my editor. I’ll spend most of today working on the second book. I have a deadline to meet, which I’m grateful for because it means I’m really doing this gig I’ve dreamed of doing for as long as I can remember. I have an agent and an editor who believe in me. This weekend was full of fun, making memories with my family. This morning a friend of mine is having a baby. In a little while I’ll call my parents to chat with them and tell them I love them. Today I’ll drink coffee and dream up what my characters will do next. I will send emails and make phone calls with friends. We’ll make plans to get together after my deadline, where we’ll drink more coffee and talk about books and life. I have amazing friends, from childhood, from church, from writing, from my community. I am surrounded by wonderful people. Tonight my family and I will have a nice dinner and go see the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special screening in 3D. On Thursday we’ll gather with extended family and share stories and make memories. Next week, I’ll meet with my writing friends to chat about our projects and writing and we’ll encourage and support each other. I’m part of the Class of 2k14, an incredible community of debut authors whose books are coming out next year. In a couple of weeks I’ll turn in my second book to my editor and I’ll start on a shiny brand new book. Or two. In a month, we’ll celebrate Christmas, and then the New Year. 2014. A year full of anticipation and adventure.
I’m so blessed.
And I’m so grateful. For all of it. For this life.
What are you grateful for?
How much of your life do you spend in a state of distraction? How much does being distracted affect your interaction with others?
I recently attended a book signing. I bought a book by the author (who shall remain nameless), and I stood in line to have the book signed. When my turn came, the author was speaking to another person. I waited for the author to finish the conversation, but that didn’t happen. Instead, the author held out a hand for my book. I put my book into the author’s hand. The author signed the book and handed it back to me, all the while still talking to the other person. The author never even looked at me.
I walked away from the table flummoxed and thought, Who does that? Then I got mad and thought, I’m never buying one of [the author's] books again! And then I sighed and thought, There’s a lesson to be learned here.
I don’t think the author was intentionally being dismissive and rude. I think the author was performing a familiar task (signing books) and was distracted. Which is understandable. We live in a distracting world. I mean, I’m not one to judge here. I loathe to think how many times I’ve neglected to pay attention when my husband or kids are speaking to me, telling me things that are important to them, things I’m too busy checking my email to hear. We’re all guilty of such offenses. I’m not saying what the author did was okay, but I am saying I can understand how and why it happened.
But…it shouldn’t happen.
Is being distracted avoidable? It must be. There was a time before we had screens always-on in our faces and noise coming at us from every direction. It’s avoidable if we stay conscious of the present moment.
As awkward and disappointing the book signing situation was, I’m thankful for the lesson it taught me.
That signing was a reminder to pay attention. To be present. To be aware of what I’m doing and who I’m engaging with. Whether it’s my family, my friends or readers who buy my books, they deserve my respect and they deserve my attention.
I don’t want to be the person too distracted to appreciate the people around me, and thereby miss out on a huge part of living life.