Today I wrote the final 2,000 words to Throw Away Kitten, a children’s book I’ll publish under the pen name Candy McMudd. As any writer knows, these moments are special. It’s time to celebrate. Another draft is completed.
Throw Away Kitten was inspired by my youngest son, the cat lover. He’s always preferred cats over dogs, but many of the chapter books he’s read are one-sided. The majority of the stories involving kittens have female lead characters whereas puppies have boy characters. Well, being a cat lover, that didn’t sit well with him, so he asked me to write a story about a boy who owed a kitten.
Names. Our characters need them, but where do we find them? I’ve searched dozens of sources looking for perfect names, ones readers will remember easily and relate with. Often times I do find unique ones that suit the characters, but not always.
Sometimes my adult brain gets in the way of finding a great name. Perhaps I should start letting my kids pick them. They seem to have a knack for discovering the perfect name that describes a character, is unique and memorable. Their names – which are mostly gender neutral – for their pets stand out and make visitors smile.
Words are powerful. They can drag us to our knees, fill us with joy and boost our spirits when we’re depressed. But words can also be powerless to the whims of people who believe they are doing right by dictating how we should use or view them.
Over the past fifty years, several words have become tarnished by misuse. These words, that were once useful descriptive words, are now banned or restricted.
It may be hibernation season for some. Others might curl up with a remote and surf the television channels. In my house, we dust off the sketch books, sharpen our pencils and start creating.
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. Many times I’ve sketched characters or created maps for my stories. For me, writing and sketching go hand and hand. I’ve passed my love for drawing onto my children.
I knew it would arrive sooner or later, but like digging out dreaded Christmas decorations, I had put it off for as long as I could. Then one morning I downloaded my messages and found the request sitting there, like a cat with enlarged pupils, ready to pounce.
An editor asked for an updated headshot to accompany my genealogy column, Roots to the Past. I had to face the music . . . er, the camera. After all, I couldn’t write forever with a picture taken in 2005, could I?
About a month ago, I decided the family needed a change. I wanted to shake things up a bit and in the process, stir up some inspiration dust. I also decided my kids needed pets to hang around, but it wasn’t going to be your standard guinea-pig-in-a-cage pet. It was at that time, I began to understand why some folks look at me and wonder about how many crayons are in my Crayola box.
The kids and I first used this term to describe people who drove on the highway with half their vehicle in one lane and the other half in another lane.
Lately, I find myself being a straddler when it comes to social networks created by technology (not social networks where people meet face to face: writing groups, community groups, Girls & Boys Clubs, etc.). When used for good, technology-created social networks rate somewhere between mediocre and great.
A few weeks ago, I was struggling to meet a deadline. Everyone else in the house was doing their thing: chatting, playing games or watching television. I was at the computer, forming sentences, creating paragraphs and editing to get an article completed.
The commotion in the kitchen – where my make-shift office is located – was more distracting than usual. It was a no-school day, so all the kids were home. Blocking out noise, refereeing arguments and serving meals are the disadvantage of working at home.
My kids don’t go to a babysitter’s or a daycare on a no-school day even though it’s a work day for me. They can sleep in, we can stay home and if we want, we can take a day trip to a museum, beach or visit with family. Storm days, sick days and any other stay-home day are a breeze because I’m already home. That’s the advantage of working at home.
But on this day, the day I struggled to meet a deadline with the noise level continuing to rise, working at home with kids in the house didn’t seem like an advantage at all.
For a moment, I sat back in my chair and took a deep breath. I knew I’d eventually finish the article – I’d done it many times before under worse circumstances – but that day, it just seemed like more of a challenge.
That’s when my youngest, only seven years old, crawled onto my lap. He’d been bugging me earlier about finishing the back cover for the book he’d written and I thought he was going to ask about it again even though I told him I didn’t have time until later. But he didn’t. Instead, he looked at the computer and gave me a big hug. Then he looked up at me and said, “I’m glad you’re a writer.”
He gave me a sweet little smile, jumped off my lap then raced off to play with his older brother. As I watched him go, I couldn’t help but smile, too.
My energy renewed, I returned to the keyboard to finish the article. I was happy, too, that I was a writer and had a deadline to meet and that my kids were at home with me.