The Joys of Research

I love being a writer. I’m currently in PA having a private “horse camp” with my sister. We’ve ridden every day this week–and I, Cheryl-who-is-afraid-of-large-animals, have groomed three very large and intimidating horses. I’ve also directed them to walk, trot, stop, and trun in the round pen; and afterward, these large critters followed me around as if they were puppy dogs.

Very *large* puppy dogs!

What does this have to do with writing? Lots and lots of notetaking. Because percolating in the back of my mind is the story of a girl learning to ride a horse and falling in love with them the way I am.

I think the best stories are all love stories at heart.

— Cheryl :-)

PS: that’s Sweet Thing, my horse for the week, until her 11-year-old mistress returns from camp. She’s a sweetheart!!!

Filling Your Tank

Two weeks in arrears, I’m here to tell you about a writing retreat and a sign from the universe.

Two weeks ago, I attended my local SCBWI’s summer retreat at the lovely Franciscan Center in Colorado Springs. There I had the chance to reimmerse myself in a new writing project while surrounded by flowers, wildlife, and–best of all–friends.

Sometimes a big block of time is the precise presciption to get me rolling on a piece of writing.

The sign from the universe? That came in the form of a toilet tank that intermittently refused to refill. Usually for the same person, one of my roommates. Seems a message about the importance of refueling, don’t you think?

Luckily, she was at a retreat, the perfect place to do so.

— Cheryl :-)

Use it or lose it!

Last night, I discovered a very important truth about voice: if you practice using it, you’ll be ready to use it when it counts.

I was biking home from class in the dusky light just after sunset and almost got hit by a speeding 4 x 4. I knew the light made me harder to see, so I was (thankfully) paying close attention as I crossed 28th, the busy street that borders campus on one side. It’s one of those four lane plus turning lane roads, but the intersection is a little more complicated because there’s an access road that parallels 28th with it’s own traffic signal only a sidewalk’s width from the main signal. This means that cars traveling toward me on the road have to get through two traffic signals instead of just one.

Theoretically, since this is a short signal, they might speed to try to make the turn onto 28th. Where, after waiting dutifully for my walk signal and waiting for the rest of turning traffic to clear, I was trying to cross.

What does this have to do with voice? Well, obviously, I didn’t die or even get hurt…and I believe that was only because I was “practicing” using my voice as I biked, singing a tricky little tune from the Pirates of Penzance. With voice in use, it was an automatic shift to yelling “HEY!!!” at the top of my lungs at precisely the right moment. The driver heard me and swerved; and I’m here today, musing about voice.

The incident provided me with multiple valued reminders–besides the obvious ones about helmets and bicycle safety. When I’m using my voice–when I’m in practice–then I’m prepared to use it when it matters.

Maybe not everthing I pen will be beautiful, witty, or marketable–but it all has value, because it hones my voice for those times I really need it.

— Cheryl :-)

Computer Woes

Man, do I take my technological aids for granted! The past few weeks, I’ve been beset with computer woes–and they’ve completely disrupted my life. One dead laptop, a virus-infected desktop machine, a complete household network overhaul, and a living room rearrangement later, the end is finally in sight.

I feel exceptionally fortunate to be married to a guy who’s not only a sweetheart, but is also a card-carrying computer geek.

On the plus side, 1) we’ve managed to recover almost all the files from my bucket-kicking laptop, and 2) the computer/network upheaval has resulted in the closest thing to an office that I’ve had in a long time. We purchased a lovely little desk off Craigslist (defintely the best furniture supply store for the cash-strapped writer) and a big piece of privacy lattice from Home Depot, and voilà! My living room corner transformed into a cozy writing nook!

Now that I have a working computer, blogging will be a whole lot easier again. iPhones are great, but they aren’t as good for blogging as a plain old computer!

— Cheryl :-)