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She said: I want to write.

She said-Think left and think right, think low and think high.
Oh, the things you can think up if you only try!
Dr. Seuss

If you were to have a conversation with yourself when you were seven or eight, and you quizzed yourself on what you wanted to do when you grew up – who you wanted to be – what would little you tell big you?

If this were a conversation with a little Aila, she’d probably have had at minimum a half-dozen answers. I wanted to be an astronaut. A doctor. A park ranger. A veterinarian… mind you only the kind who saved doggies and kitties, never the kind who put them to sleep. I even wanted to be a travel agent. (Thanks for ruining that, Priceline.)

Unfortunately, the one thing you probably wouldn’t have heard me say is writer or artist. Looking back on it, it wasn’t that my parents didn’t encourage me artistically or creatively, but I think back then everyone pretty much steered their children away from the arts as a whole. Without explicitly saying it, I assumed there was no way to make a living from it, therefore, it wasn’t worth pursuing. Instead, I did as many creative types do, and I grew up and forged ahead in the working world, suppressing my creative tendencies.

Enter lots of desk jobs that choked my soul.

Luckily for me, I eventually found a path with a creative outlet: culinary school. I will toot my own horn here and say I was really quite fabulous in culinary school and by the time graduation came, I was recruited by several promising employers. The one that broke my heart to turn down was Disney, but that’s a story for another time perhaps.

Allow me to skip a few of the tedious bits and get right to the heart of it. I have a unique job which allows me to do something I love, grants me time to write, but also I work with kids… which surprises me how much I enjoy that last bit.

Not too long ago, a child approached me who was having a rough week. I could see it all over her face before she ever spoke. Her eyes were tinged red, her cheeks a little swollen, her forehead had obviously been creased for some time and she had that telltale red streak across her whole face, like she’d been resting her head on her arm for a while. Poor thing was a pitiful sight for a girl around seven years old.

When I asked her what was wrong, she evaded at first, as kids often do. I don’t have kids of my own, but I learned really quickly in this job that many children are afraid to admit what’s wrong because it is used against them, as a weapon for humiliation. It took some skilled and gentle prodding, but it didn’t take her long to open up. All I had to do was ask her a question.

“So, tell me, what is it you think you might like to be when you grow up?” I asked.

“I dunno.”

“Well, that’s alright, you’ve got a long time to think about it. What’s your favorite subject?”

“Not math.”

I chuckled and showed her my secret weapon. A calculator. “It wasn’t mine, either. I’m sure you’re better at it than I was. I bet you don’t even need one of these things.”

She shook her head and thankfully began to smile. “I like art class.”

“Oh, art was my favorite. And music.”

“I like to draw. I want to write a kid’s book and draw my own pictures.”

And that, folks, is when it dawned on me what was wrong with this sweet child. I don’t get to spend much time with the kids, so I always try to make sure the time I do get to spend with them matters. Now obviously I didn’t downplay the importance of math and science – I happen to find them very important – but I did encourage this child to always keep that spark of imagination alive, to write and draw… and then I practically begged for some original artwork for my office, which I received the next day. In fact, my office is filled with drawings and notes from the kids I work with, some of whom live harder lives than most of us can fathom… and I cherish each and every piece.

Why do we stifle young creative minds? That girl never came out and said it, but I would be willing to bet that somewhere down the line, be it a teacher, parent, grandparent, older sibling, someone had told that child that drawing and writing are worthless.

I have seen with my own two eyes a child give their parent a picture they worked hard on, a smile plastered on their face, only for that parent to crumple the drawing (and the heart and soul of their child) into a ball and toss it in the nearest garbage bin.

What message is that sending?

She said, “I want to write.”

So I told her she can.

 

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It’s me again, Margaret

Hello
“There is no mile as long the final one that leads back home.”
– Katherine Marsh

I know I said in my last blog post that I was going to have to step back because of all the things going on in my life, and it is true… I did have to cut back somewhere to make time for all the things I couldn’t cut out. But it has simply just been far too long since I have made a blog post.

I haven’t been tweeting that much either. (Thank goodness for Buffer!)

Truthfully, my life hasn’t gotten any less hectic, if anything it has gotten even more hectic. But, I’ve missed this. I’ve missed getting really ticked off at myself for not knowing what the hell to write about on a weekly basis. I’ve missed anxiously awaiting to see if someone out there in the world is peeking at my thoughts. (Perhaps that makes me a word exhibitionist and you the voyeur?) I’ve missed it all.

So, hi. It really is nice to see you. Let’s catch up!

[Coming Attractions]

Part One | In my writing life, which is by far the most exciting part, the most major development since last I wrote is that I have started a brand new WIP! Of course, all that has done is take my focus from the WIP I should be working on, but I’m incredibly excited about it. I’m more excited about it than any other writing project I’ve ever assigned myself. 😉

It’s got murder and unrequited love, mystery and… Okay. I know what you’re thinking. “Aila… um, sweetheart… most books have those things.” And you’re right. Anyway, the new thing’s title is “Alabama Rain” and has a split timeline between 1994 and The Great Depression. And a little bit of WW2. My guess is, as much as I am in love with this story, it will be finished about thirty-six hours after I’ve (re)finished Sex, Love and Technicalities.

Part Two | I fell in love with Scrivener and broke up with MS Word. It was awkward at first. MS Word didn’t take the news very well. There were a few tears and some name calling, but all is well now and I am 100% committed to my new boo. I’m working on a post/love letter to Scrivener which I hope to post within the week.

Part Three | I may have been away from my blog for a while, but it was never far from thought. I’m currently obsessing stressing looking for a new layout that will be better for viewing on tablets and smartphones, seeing as how this one sucks majorly for mobile viewing… as well as I made a few, what I hope to be, handy dandy little writing aides. They’ll be going up very soon. God, they’re pretty. I’m proud of those little things. It’s amazing what things are born from insomnia.

Part Four | The most fun I’ve had with this blog so far is when I did the post on success and had so much participation from you guys, so I’m currently jotting down a whole host of ideas that will include you – because, I’m not going to lie… unless I am really screwing up a fictitious character’s life and damaging them psychologically, I’m rather boring. You guys are my bread and butter.

And I’ve missed you. Tell me how you’re doing in the comments below! xoxo