The Neurosis of This Writer

Recently, I was stressed (again). So I listed all I’m doing (on a daily, weekly and monthly basis). Then I listed all that I wish I were doing and all that I wish I weren’t doing. Then I listed my priorities. If I had a few more days to kill, I’d add to my already existing lists (what to blog list, how to save $ list, bucket list, fix-it list, grocery list, to do list, to read list, to watch list, to learn list, to write about list). Then I’d add lists within my lists: all the people I want to call (many of you are probably on that list), all the prayers I want God to answer, all the places I want to visit before I die… you get the point. I have a lot of things on my mind and I like lists.

The Go Go’s (and I) sang a song in the 80’s, “I am the girl of 100 lists…” Yup, that’s me, to a “T.” Lists help me feel organized and in control, except when I have so many lists, I can’t keep track anymore. I think I’m getting to that stage. Maybe I’ve gone beyond.

So why do I make these lists? Well, it is a form of writing for this writer. But I suppose there’s a deeper issue; I don’t know? Maybe you can help me here? It’s stressing me out to just think about it. I’m tempted to list the possibilities.

For now, the bottom line is this: God created me this way. He created a passion in me, to want to experience much. Often this feels like a curse; I’ve become a Jack-Of-All-Trades and master of none, a jumbled mess of wants. But more than a curse, I am trying to see it as a blessing. And to write helps me go there, to go to God with the swirl of thoughts in my head. And to live in eternity gives me time to do it all.

The key is to do things for the right reasons (for me, it’s to glorify God), prioritize, and relax. There, just a list of 3. I’m getting better already.

Picture Book Review: Ferdinand is Still Fiercely Good

Some spoilers ahead.

One of my top 10 favorite picture books of all time is celebrating its 75th birthday! The Story of Ferdinand was written by Munro Leaf, beautifully and comically illustrated by Robert Lawson.

There is something endearing and timeless about this well-told story with a universally common theme. I know this, not because it was first published in 1936 and is still a best-seller, beloved by countless generations, but because kids (and adults) don’t tire of it. I know I want to read it over and again; and when I haven’t read it in a while, I itch for it and have to get my Ferdinand fix.

So if you happen to be one of a handful of people who have yet to read this delightful tale, here is the lowdown… Ferdinand is a bull who is different from his peers. The repeating phrase, “But not Ferdinand,” shows just how unique he is: he doesn’t run, jump or butt heads like all the others. He is wired differently, to enjoy other things. So when an untimely sting causes Ferdinand to act atypically, he is tagged as “Ferdinand the Fierce.” He is carried off to the bull fights, feared by all the bull fighters. But Ferdinand stays happily true to who he is. Others become frustrated in their desire for a good fight… but not Ferdinand.

And if you know this story and haven’t read it in a while, perhaps it’s time to pick it up again, share it with your kids, whether they’re 18 months or 18-years-old. See new ways to apply age-old truths. Find in Ferdinand: the environmentalist, nature-lover, peacemaker, a reflective soul, a big scary guy with a kind heart, one who appreciates the simple things in life, and an individual, secure in who he is. (And when you find more, please share.)

If nothing else, pick up the book at your local library to simply enjoy a good old-fashion story.

Happy reading to you! And happy birthday to my old friend, Ferdinand!

Later publications by Scholastic

Writing Journal: Rejected Rhino

Recently, my first short story submission was rejected from a children’s magazine. I won’t say which one, but it’s very well-known and rhymes with “this bites.”

Honestly, I’m not bitter. I knew going in that I would have to send in 100+ submissions before getting my first acceptance; so I have at least 99 more to go. Still, this rejection stings. And I’m sure every single one thereafter will also.

Everyone gets rejected: from a choice college, a job, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a loan… Unfortunately, I’ve entered and love a field where rejection is the norm. I am (or trying to be) a fiction writer for children. And as such a writer who is finally trying to get published, I must psychologically evolve into a rhino, thick-skinned and always moving forward.

Though I’ve written for newspapers, I feel like I’m learning to write all over again. The children’s book writing world and the business around it has its own unique challenges. And I am learning.

So as I prepare to send my work to agents, I ready my rhino dermis and resolve. Right now, I am a children’s writing nobody and maybe always will be. The glimmer of hope is in knowing that other writers believe in me and in what I’ve written so far. And maybe one day, just the right acquiring editor will also believe in the works I produce.

In the mean time, I try to remember why I write: because God gave me this passion, it glorifies Him when I do it, it feeds my soul because that’s how I was made, and the stories that bubble within are worth sharing.

So bring on the rejections. It’s part of the life I’ve chosen to embrace. I consider it a privilege to enter the arena with masters who have gone before me, who were rejected more times than they can count (J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Herman Melville, George Orwell, Judy Blume, Beatrix Potter, Madeline L’Engle, Dr. Seuss…) They continue, if still alive, their rhino-like efforts to keep doing what they are good at and love and so will I.