The Fog Lifts

I finished Waves of Light, the third book in the Sadie series, this past Saturday.

Finish is a relative word when it comes to a book. Once I sort out the tangle of words and plot lines and character on my own, the work has only just begun. Fortunately, I have wonderful writer friends who first jump up and down to celebrate with me after I write “THE END,” and who then gently point out the rough patches that might still require a little work.

I took a risk writing Waves of Light. Instead of creating a rock-solid plot outline to begin, I decided to practice what I preach. I tried letting go a little, playing a little more. I used Scrivener, which allowed me to write scenes before I worried too much about putting them in order. Unplanned scenes popped up and surprised me. And the book is all the better for them.

But while I was writing, I kept thinking of the night I sailed on Lake Michigan in a fog. Every now and again, we’d see lights from another boat, or hear voices drifting toward us over the water, but we couldn’t see past the end of our hull. We sailed slowly, feeling our way through the night, as though we’d slipped into another world. I worried we wouldn’t find our way back, or we’d crash against the rocks, but I also felt oddly calm. I wasn’t in control. All I could do was listen, watch, be present, trust. My book was like this too. I couldn’t see the way forward, more than maybe one or two steps. The fog did finally lift late last week, and I saw the last few scenes. How delightful to be surprised. How amazing to let go enough to travel beyond my own comfortable landscape into new territory.

I can’t wait to share the story with you!


Detective Work

So, I played today. I rolled up my sleeves and dug through old boxes of notes and letters and pictures. Fascinating how these artifacts bring everything back, the feelings, the thoughts, the events.

I was once 12, the age of my character, Sadie. Actually, in lots of ways, I’m still 12. But now, I’m also 13 and 21 and 33, with all the experiences that have come since.

Why was looking at old letters and cards playing? To me, playing is any time I let go and let myself be surprised. When I do something just for fun, without any real plan. Younger Naomi surprised me. She was silly, passionate, and the kind of girl who lost herself in fits of giggles in Algebra class and had to be sent out into the hall. She fussed over running the mile, and lost the volleyball championship for her team because she was too busy dreaming to pay attention. She created a lip sync in which she dressed up as Lucy Ricardo, and her best friend played Ricky. She baked a huge heart-shaped chocolate chip cookie for her crush for Valentines Day. She had horrible 80’s bangs.

You know what surprised me most? Even though this younger self had dreams––lots of them––and plans like you wouldn’t believe, most of her life was full of joy. Friends and fun. I wouldn’t mind having a little more of that in my life now. Minus the bangs of course. Anyone up for a lip sync??

A Blank White Page

I feel much like I do on January 1, after I’ve made at least one very important resolution as the Times Square ball drops. I step into the new morning as though I’m wading into a glassy pond, watching the ripples move across the water’s surface. Where will this new resolve take me? How much will really be different? What can I take with me from the past?

A fresh, new blog. Just as the first two books in the From Sadie’s Sketchbook series are about to launch into the world.

What is this new resolution?

Well, I have to admit. My first blog, The Playful Life, was full of good intentions and very few posts. I wanted to write about my journey of learning how to play. It all began when I realized that though I spent the majority of my time jumping around and being silly with young writers, encouraging them to loosen up and take risks… to play with their art… I didn’t play enough myself. So, I decided I should send myself on an Artist’s Hero’s Journey. And, because I never do anything the easy way, I decided to write and produce a play about the process. You can see the highlights of it here:

Now, if I had just been too busy playing to post on my blog, that would be one thing. But, to tell the truth, that hasn’t been the case. This last year has been stuffed full of busyness. I suppose that’s what happens when you set out to write four books in the span of about a year. But, here’s what I’m discovering. No matter how important whatever you need to do is, coming at the task with a sense of fun, exploration, experimentation, and yes, play, is the only way to truly get it done.

So, here’s my resolution. I WILL play, sometimes just for fun, because that’s where the best ideas come. I will also play for “real,” in my writing, in my work with the Inklings, in my life, and maybe even when I do the laundry. And I’ll let you know how it goes. I hope you’ll try it too, and I hope you’ll let me know how it goes. Because I think the more we can all let loose and play a little, the more joy we’ll spread, the more creative ideas we’ll discover, and the more we’ll be able to make the world a better place.

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