Stepping into the forest of my mind

Stepping into the forest of my mind
Just as every journey begins with a first step, every story begins with the first word.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Intense New Writing Course: Story Genius with Lisa Cron and Jennie Nash

It’s time for a new draft of my memoir about attending college as a mother of five.  I’ve been tweaking and revising the same version, but I think I need a fresh start.  So I signed up for Story Genius with Lisa Cron and Jennie Nash. It’s the science behind story—brain science.
This is an intense 10-week Writing Workshop
…I’m overthinking the application process already.    

            I'm a scene painter.  I enjoy reliving and fleshing out the scenes [the stories of my college experiences] in the memoir.  I think that I am showing the reader my home life, my experiences, the characters who are myself and my family.  I am progressing through college and hope that I am taking the reader along for the ride.  I think I’m inviting the reader into my life at that time so that he or she can experience this journey.

This memoir is supposed to be the insightful, yet humorous, adventure of an inexperienced and obsessive mother with young children trying to navigate the world of academia.  I feel it would help other parents/mothers or older non-traditional people who always wanted to go to college but who might think they can't juggle the responsibilities or might feel it's too much trouble to begin or too late to even try. 

This is my journey of attending college as the primary caretaker of five young children, the oldest being special needs. I had never attended college, knew nothing about how to begin, and worried that my brain no longer worked after being home with those children. I began at a community college close to home when my youngest, twins, started second grade and my oldest started high school. I received several honors and won scholarship to the Ivy League to complete my B.A.

            We had to fill out an application to begin the course.  One of the questions was what’s your book about?  And I wrote this:

Victoria is your average mother of five who never went to college. She always wanted to, though. So when her youngest starts second grade, she jumps in with all her insecurities and a few skills she learned from her children: whining for help from her college-grad husband, falling asleep on textbooks while doing homework in hopes that osmosis works, and peppering professors with questions until her brain wraps itself around a new concept.

Through awards at the community college level, Victoria earns the opportunity to attend the University of Pennsylvania to complete her bachelor’s degree in English.  With this major success, all the insecurities just overcome to obtain her associate’s degrees rush back to haunt her. She wrestles with her belief to never let opportunity pass her by and tries to conceive how she can possibly handle the Ivy League.  It’s not a casual four-year institution a mother of five attends, right? 

Victoria realizes that the only regrets in life are the opportunities never taken.  How can she be content to stay as she is while opportunities flourish around her?  She goes down to the wire, signing up and choosing classes at another university that offered her scholarship before finally accepting the University of Pennsylvania’s invitation to study.  Victoria recognizes that she can’t retreat back into the home and be content with what she has.  Not when the world of academia graciously invites her in to stay a while with scholarships to further enlighten her mind.

            I’m in the second week of Story Genius and all my insecurities are firmly in place as I try to come up with the point of this memoir.  How about: The only regrets in life are the opportunities never taken like I said in my application?  What do you think?  Your insight is greatly appreciated.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Finding Time to Write: Look for Sanctuary at the Library

            How do you find the time to write in your busy day? 

It’s called getting away from the house and children when I can. I hide in the library.  Yes.  I still have my cell phone.  But I’m away from all the other things that call to me at home; phone calls from friends and extended family who don’t realize I’m working. For that’s what writing is.  I need to keep remembering that.  I’m working; I’m working.  Even if I’m just staring at that blasted blip, I’m working.  But the children don’t see that.  Sometimes, neither does my husband.

            But working from home, it’s not just humans who call for attention.  The laundry likes to crowd around my feet and grace the air with its fragrance.  Dishes do this, too.  They clatter all over the house, sometimes.  With seven people living at home, I have five children remember, some chore always needs to be done.

            And, yes, I’m training my children to become competent contributors to the home front.  But for some reason there’s resistance in the ranks.  Hence, I run and hide from everyone and everything at the library and hold out for as long as I can.  

            Once at the library, I hide among the stacks at a table.  I turn on my computer, glue my bottom to the seat, and pretend I’m invisible. I’m not saying I don’t still stare at that blasted blip, but I don’t allow myself to get up and go look for things to do.  Not until I have a huge pile of poop on the page do I allow myself to wander to a window and look outside to give my eyes a rest.  If I’m truly blessed and have many pages of poop after a few hours, I promise myself a quick walk around the pond by the library to let my thoughts simmer.    

            Do you feel the need to hide from both family and laundry to be able to write?  Feel free to offer any tips on how you cope with family, chores, and writing. 

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.  We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.