It was an honor and pleasure to be interviewed by Debbie Gonzalez for her podcast. Debbie inspired me through her inciting questions about love, loss, and celebrating life. More so, she suggests that I was chosen for my path, an incredible thought. Here’s to all who have guided and supported me on my journey. You were chosen as well.
In the Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh reflects on her life and her roles as a wife, bereaved mother, mother to five other children, and writer.
I’ve read this treasure numerous times, gleaning something applicable to my life at the moment each visit.
Mrs. Morrow Lindbergh shared her meditations from a little cabin by the sea in Captiva, as she temporarily stepped away from the responsibilities of her life.
Simply put, she retreated. She reflected. She wrote.
I’m doing the same, and I need to for my own health and well-being.
I told my daughter Kyle on a visit in March that I was feeling anxious about the numerous appearances, events, and presentations that filled my calendar early-April through May. I admitted that many of these activities are out of my natural comfort zone.
She responded, “You’d never know that.”
Revelation: at my core, I’m still that shy, not-so-confident girl from a small town.
Life has forced me out of my shell, just like the little hermit crab who resided in the channelled whelk shell Mrs. Morrow Lindbergh discovered.
As my girlfriend Gayle offered, “we’d never know that because you do all that you do so well. But I get it…and since it’s not within your innate nature, it takes all the more energy from you.”
There’s more to the story too. Let’s just say that sometimes being an author of nonfiction for young readers can be challenging.
I find myself questioning who I am, and who I should be as a writer.
As Mrs. Morrow Lindbergh offers, this is a time in life when I should be “shedding shells,” shells of pride, self-ambition, one’s mask, one’s armor. It is a time, particularly as a woman, to find our “true center.”
I ask for your support as I reflect, retreat in my inner shell, and continue to discover purpose as a writer.
My heart is filled with hope that as I pull back and within, as I escape to my own waterside haven, that the universe reveals where my “true center” is.
When asked what I do, I used to rip off a litany of roles I’ve served.
Wife, mom, founder of Claire’s Day, former council woman.
Now I simply respond; I write.
The next question is the obvious. What do you write?
And I say, children’s books.
Usually people are pretty stoked about that and assume I’ve written picture books of renown.
That is not the case, but most people are still impressed when I tell them about my books, all of which have been traditionally published.
Usually the conversation ends there, but every now and then someone asks me the same question I find so fascinating about other writers.
How do you write?
The simple answer is I write nearly every day, at my desk, in my home office.
But, to be very honest, a writer’s life, or at least this one, is so much more than that.
I’ll start by offering that I am blessed to have the emotional and financial support of my husband. I’m not yet at the stage that I could be self-supporting on my income. Many writers aren’t. I’m amazed by those who work full-time at another job, and just as much as a writer.
In my case, my goal is to get my derriere in chair by 10 a.m. every morning.
I take care of my non-writing responsibilities in the morning. I watch the sunrise while having a cup of coffee and hanging with my husband and 3-year-old Labrador Retriever, Luna.
Then I drink a magic potion consisting of kale, spinach, avocado, almond milk, and frozen fruit. It’s green, but it’s yummy, I promise.
Luna, known as Lunatic when she was a puppy, usually whines at the front door if I don’t have my tennis shoes on by 7:30. We high tail it around a golf course for 45 minutes, give or take a few if we visit with the golf professional or groundskeepers, then home.
Correspondence, social media, laundry, groceries, housecleaning all fall in the category of chores before 10 a.m. My local librarian and grocer are used to seeing me with a ball cap on.
Then, with the help of my magic potion and Pandora, I’m at my desk by the bewitching hour.
Then I stay there until 4:30, writing, creating, musing, meeting deadlines, both contracted and self-imposed.
But, and here’s the trick for me, I’m not glued to my chair.
Between my walks in the morning and breaks from my chair, I’m easily wracking up 10,000 steps daily.
If I get stuck, I get up.
I dance. (Although I can only listen to so much Michael Jackson, otherwise my response to the question as to what I do would be that. I dance.)
I get back in chair.
So, as simple as this all seems, it is.
And, I am so happy to be able to answer the question as to what I do, simply.
I just finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. The subtitle to this work by the author of Eat, Pray, Love is Creative Living Beyond Fear.
I really wanted to enjoy the book for several reasons. One, it was recommended by my friend and editor, Michelle Houts, and two, anything that suggests Big Things will happen just by setting aside our reservations has my name all over it.
But, other than an occasional twinge of inspiration, the book fell short. Allow me to explain.
Big Magic, according to Ms. Gilbert, happens when we let go of thoughts of incompetency or lack of confidence and just dig into our creative souls. By doing so, we let the universe in and karma take over.
I get that. I’ve experienced the incredible burst of writing energy where conscious thought goes out the window and the spirit moves me. And, I have to say, it’s pretty darn awesome.
However, there seems to have been too much focus on those fleeting Big happenstances and barely mention of those many smaller moments that make a Big difference in our creative lives.
Let’s call them Little Sparkles.
This year has been filled with them for me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I certainly had my share of Big Joyful moments and Big Sad moments in 2017.
The ones that stick with me the most though are those tiny nuggets that really encourage me to move forward on my creative journey.
Like when I met a mom and her daughter at the Cincinnati book festival. The young girl had written a report about Virginia Hamilton this past year. I’ll never forget her shy smile as I personally signed a copy of my biography of this amazing author to her.
Or when I spoke on Virginia, and friends showed up just in support of me.
I swear magic dust lines the paths on the property of the Highlights Foundation. It was there that my picture book biography of a little known, historical sports figure took root and grew. I can still recall sitting across from my mentor, Rich Wallace, the former senior editor of Highlights magazine, as he offered his words of encouragement for my project.
Kirkus reviews are anonymous, so I will never have the chance to thank personally whomever gave my book the coveted starred review. His or her incredible praise of my work lit up my world for weeks.
I saw Little Sparkles in the eyes of one of my little kindergartners I read to weekly when, after asking what I did other than read to him, told him I write children’s books. I feel like his newest heroine.
Little Sparkles happen with every kind word about my writing, every nudge from my husband to revisit stories that sit half-finished on my hard drive, every bit of pride expressed by my two children. And, always, I feel the energy from my late daughter, my little reader gone too soon.
The greatest lessons these Little Sparkles have taught me is that I have the power to reflect all this kindness back to others exploring their creative lives. Just think if we all waved our wands filled with sparkles on to each other, how much brighter the universe would be. That’s where the magic lies.
Here’s hoping your holidays and New Year are filled with tons of Little Sparkles.
I can’t wait to see what you do with all of them. And I can’t wait to see what happens with mine!