Get The Behavior You Want Without Being the Parent You Hate

I totally never read parenting books.

Ok that is a lie. I read What to Expect When You’re Expecting cover to cover when I was pregnant with Eddie. It was like my Bible.  And then his birth and everything was absolutely nothing like what I was told to “expect” and I chucked that book. I also bought a book about sleep training when Eddie was a baby who wouldn’t sleep (because colic and crazy baby!) and I wanted to stab the author, so I chucked that book too.

And then I stopped reading parenting books.

I may have parenting book PTSD. Whatever.

I do, however, love my friends with medical/nursing degrees. I try not to abuse our relationship by constantly texting or messaging them about ailments I or my family members may have. I’d like to publicly thank them and apologize to them for the pictures I’ve sent of rashes and/or the gross descriptions I have typed out.

Anyway, one of these friends happens to be the internet-famous Dr G. I call her Debi, but she Dr. Deborah Gilboa, MD. to you, and she wrote a book called Get the Behavior You Want…Without Being the Parent You HateAnd I read it…and LIKED it.

Continue Reading…

Rare Bird by Anna Whiston-Donaldson

I must be in a memoir and memoir-style mood.

After reading the fictionalized memoir of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, I read a very real memoir by a good friend who lost her 12-year old son Jack in a freak accident.

Anna is the writer behind An Inch of Gray who wrote about life and refurbishing old furniture until the day her son was swept down a raging river and her world changed.

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First I need to say that this is NOT a grief book, although I was afraid to start reading it when it arrived.

I felt a mixture of fear and guilt as it sat next to my bed waiting to be opened. The evening news and Law & Order: SVU trigger my anxiety about losing my boys so I had stopped watching them. I couldn’t imagine voluntarily reading about a little boy who drowned and how is mother had to pick up the pieces after that.

On the other hand, I had two happy, healthy little boys. Anna doesn’t have any little boys anymore. Who was I to not read her book because I was afraid? Plus she is my friend.

Tenuously, I opened the book.

Admittedly I have a hard time reading some of Anna’s blog posts about Jack, but I had no problem reading her book. While it was about him in some respect, it was also about what happens to a mom…and a family…when a piece is suddenly missing. While it is sad, it was not hopeless.

Anna is extremely honest and it is refreshing. She writes about things you would expect (not feeling like living without Jack being alive), but she also brings up things no one else talks about (like feeling out of place at church).  She questions her relationship with God, but not in the way you would expect.

This book is extremely hopeful, if a book about losing a child can be hopeful. I think it’s Anna’s wit and sense of honesty about her life–the way it was, the way it is, and the way it will be.

I think I expected chapter after chapter of “now it’s winter and it sucks. now it’s Christmas and it sucks.”  I couldn’t imagine a book about the death of a child being anything but, well, depressing.  But Rare Bird is not that at all.

While there are stories of the pain of doing things as a family of three that had always been done as a family of four, Anna wove her own personal journey into it.

The book is not about Jack’s death as much as it is about Anna’s journey through it. It’s about the struggles, but also about the realizations, epiphanies, and opportunities for hope in something that is terribly messed up. While Anna holds tightly to her faith in God, it’s not necessarily a Christian book either.

I believe her feelings are universal to any mother experiencing the loss of a child.

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You can purchase Rare Bird on Amazon in either Hard Cover or for your Kindle.

This is not a sponsored post. I received and advance copy of  Rare Bird for review and I am happily and voluntarily participating in this blog tour.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? By Maria Semple

Over spring break Cortney and I took Eddie to Chicago. We went to some of the typical fun tourist things like Shedd Aquarium and the Lincoln Park Zoo. While Eddie was swimming in the hotel pool (on the top floor), Cortney noticed a little new/used bookstore a couple blocks downs from our hotel. The next night, after dinner–and a few beers–Cortney suggested we walk to the bookstore. And then he bought us each one book.

ONE BOOK!

How do you decide on just one book when you are standing in an old, creaky building filled with words?

So I scoured the shelves.

I picked things up. At some point I had 10 books in my arms.

In the end, I chose Where’d You Go, Bernadette? I really didn’t know anything about the book other than I saw on Facebook that a group of friends had read it and discussed it and they liked it.

And the cover looked interesting.  Sometimes it’s just that simple.

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I’ve heard people say this book is funny.  That is not entirely accurate. If you are looking for fall down giggle-fest, you will be disappointed.  This book is witty and smart.  Yes, you will chuckle, but it’s not a “humor book”.

The story is told mostly in a series of emails and other correspondence that 15-year old Bee put together with some of her own narrative in between. Together, they paint a portrait of her mom, Bernadette Fox, a former award-winning architect turned recluse and the series of unfortunate events that lead to her disappearance.

The title is about more than just the main vanishing act in the book, though. It also refers to where Bernadette goes mentally. She was once a stable, successful architect, but now she never leaves her house other than for school drop off and pick up. The book reads partly like a mystery, partly like a narrative, and partly like a scrapbook of letters and emails.

It’s a very quick read; I think I picked it up on a Friday night and was done by Sunday before bed. Bernadette’s character fascinated me because I found myself being able to relate to her reluctance to leave the house, talk on the phone, or do anything that involved dealing with people. I also found it disturbing that I related to her so well.

If you’re looking for a quick, entertaining read for a weekend, this is it.

We Are Water by Wally Lamb

I love Wally Lamb.  I fell in love with his writing in She’s Come Undone. In fact, I absolutely couldn’t believe it was a man writing that well for a female character.  Then I read I Know This Much Is True. More fabulous writing.  This is also when I realized that Lamb could weave a pretty messed up tale and talk about some truly difficult subjects, but do it so well that you want to keep reading. A about four years ago ago I picked up The Hour I First Believed.

And now I’ve picked up his latest, We Are Water.

The reviews on this one were mixed, but I knew I had to read it. While I really loved The Hour I First Believed, I felt like it was super long and maybe could have ended before it did, so I guess I expected to enjoy the book, but maybe not LOVE it.

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The novel is set in the United States, mostly in New England, during the first Obama administration. The story’s main character is Annie Oh, a middle-aged mother, wife, and artist, throws her family for a BIG loop when she leaves her husband for her lover, Viveca who is a wealthy art dealer living in Manhattan. Annie plans to marry Viveca in her home town of Three Rivers, Conneticut where gay marriage is legal. The upcoming wedding brings out all sorts of past secrets out of the Oh family.

I’ll admit I love a good “screwed up family” story. It’s why I love Wally Lamb to begin with. He can weave messed up stuff into seemingly normal lives effortlessly. Plus I love the slow uncovering process of a book like this. Events are foreshadowed and clue dropped, but until the plot twists, you don’t know exactly how it’s going to turn out.

We Are Water is told from the points of views of Annie, her ex-husband Orion, and her children Andrew, Ariane, and Marissa. For the most part. The way it flips points of view and uses a lot of stream of conscious narrative reminds me a lot of William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury only WAY less confusing.

There were a few people who told me they had to stop reading, so my caveat to this book is that there is definitely disturbing topics that are broached and detailed. I don’t want to give anything away, but if you are afraid it may be triggering for you, just ask me and I’ll let you know.

I know a book is good when I put it down and I start sorting out when I can sit down with it again…or when I start dreaming about the book. This book did that for me. Hard to put down, even with the difficult content.

I’ll also say that my next book choice is a lighter one to offset the heavy this book left on my brain.  But it was a good heavy, if that makes sense.

It’s the kind of book where you realize that every single small detail added to the climax of the book and you almost want to go back and re-read so you can pick out the hints along the way.

Almost. And then you realize your To Read list is elbow deep, so you move on.

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

I’m not sure if you noticed, but there is always a story as to how I came to reading each book that I decide on. I had Orange is the New Black on my To Read List for some time, and because I am a book nerd, I wanted to read the book before I started watching the series on Netflix.

Then I found out I get to meet Piper Kerman this summer when I go to San Jose for BlogHer.  Let’s just say the book moved right up my To Read list onto my READING list!

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Just in case you don’t know, in Orange is the New Black Piper Kerman tells the story about her involvement with the drug smuggling business and how it finally caught up with her almost a decade after she got out of the “business”. She details her year+ stay in the Federal Correctional Institution of Danbury, Connecticut where she did most of her sentence at the minimal security Camp.

If this book hadn’t been turned into a hit show on Netflix, I’m not sure I would have thought to pick it up. I like memoir, but reading about a woman’s year in prison doesn’t sound like something that would be up my ally.  Of course, I would have been wrong.

Kerman’s style is so conversational and so candid; it reminds me of the story-telling abilities of Jen Lancaster or Laurie Notaro without as much of the funny. Not that Kerman isn’t funny at times, but it’s a different kid of wit.  She mixes her compelling personal story with startling statistics about prisons and those who are incarcerated. Her story is one that I think a lot of people can identify with too: rebellious youth gets in over her head, thinks she is done with it, and then her past catches up with her.

The book was definitely an eye-opening read about the prison system, the justice system, and incarcerated people. While I feel like I learned a lot, the book was a page-turner. Kerman fills the pages with stories of discouragement and courage, of failure and success, of distress and joy.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to cue up the first season on Netflix.

Carrie by Stephen King

When I was a senior in high school, I went to a youth group conference called Genesis. It was a big weekend conference where we all got to stay in a hotel and attend fun session and do singing and stuff.

My roommates were two of my best friends, and since there were three of us, they gave us a room with one king-sized bed. To be honest, I don’t think any of us had ever seen a king-sized bed before because we kept giggling that this hotel was so weird; it had rooms with a three-person bed in them!  SO WEIRD!

Anyway, I remember one of the nights–probably the first night–my friends fell asleep first while we were watching TV. I suck at falling asleep in a new place with people around me, so I was wide awake watching whatever was on TV. I was not in the middle of the bed (nowhere to turn away from a person…eek!), so I kept the remote on the floor and just kept flipping channels. That is when I found Carrie. I watched it from beginning to end wishing I wasn’t watching it at all.

I hate horror films, but this wasn’t a horror film like I was used to. It didn’t have some freak like Freddy Kruger or Jason ripping up all the people and having no plot line to speak of.  This movie screwed with my mind. It was troubling and awful and just so good.

But I was horrified and I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t even kick a foot out of the sheets like I normally do. I was too afraid of that hand coming to grab me.

I was seventeen then. I’m thirty-six now.  I just read the book this winter.

I was actually planning to read King’s 10/22/63, but while reading On Writing I got the itch to read Carrie since he constantly used it as an example. I kept picturing the movie as I read, and wanted to be able to picture his words as he described how he came up with them.

I pulled the book from my shelf and read it in less than twenty-four hours.

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For those of you who don’t know, Carrie is a story about a teenage girl who lives with her crazy, fundamentalist mother who keeps Carrie sheltered from absolutely everything in the world that might be remotely “sinful” including discussions about sex and puberty. Carrie is an outcast in high school; she is homely, chubby, and weird. The boys avoid her and the girls relentlessly make fun of her.

The weird about Carrie doesn’t stop at her home life or looks; Carrie has telekinetic powers that come out when she is extremely distraught or emotional.

Carrie ends up getting her period in gym class and has no idea what is happening to her, so she screams and cries. She believes she is dying. This does not help her status as the weirdest girl in school and the other girls in the class mock her by throwing tampons and maxi pads at her. The gym teacher tries to help Carrie and stand up for her by getting the ring leader of the “mean girls” suspended from the prom.

Carrie is the ultimate “mean girls” book with a twist of horror. When students take the joking too far and dump pig blood on Carrie at the prom, the entire town pays.

I”m not normally one to go for horror or gory details, but Carrie  is a little bit like a guilty pleasure. It’s scary without being too scary and it’s filled with just enough weird.

And of course King’s story-telling abilities are ridiculous to the point that you feel like it could actually happen…even though you also know it couldn’t.  Could it?

Even though I can’t stand horror, fantasy, or sci-fi, I do love me some Stephen King, and Carrie is the book that started it all. Definitely a great beach (or pool) read for the summer.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

This summer I am all about reading. I say that every summer, but I let other things get in my way. This summer I have almost no other projects on tap which means if there is down time, I am reading!

The first book I read this summer is The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. I happened upon it when I was browsing the tables at Barnes and Noble. I’m sort of a nut for the 1920’s and the ex pat writers, so a fictional novel told from the point of view of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley, about their time in Paris as ex pats when Hemingway was just getting his footing as a writer hooked me immediately.

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I read the little blurb on the front of the book and I was sold.

In full disclosure, I am a bit of a Hemingway  nut.  Not like obsessed or anything, but I did take a Hemingway class in grad school that was 7 of his novels in 7 weeks. And yes, that included For Whom The Bell Tolls. It was insanely awesome and I learned a ton…and fell harder in love with the ex pat writers than ever.

One of his works that I adore is his memoir, A Moveable Feast, which was published posthumously. He details his years with his first wife, Hadley, while they lived in Paris. He talks about his friendships and encounters with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein among others. The Paris Wife is like reading this memoir, but from Hadley’s perspective. I loved it because McLain stayed true to Hemingway’s “character” and used the same events and even some of his exact quotes, but it had the femininity that Hemingway could never achieve with his own characters.

If you’ve never read Hemingway, I still think you can fall in love with this book.

The novel begins with Hadley and Hemingway meeting in Chicago, their long-distant courtship while she had to move back to St. Louis, their marriage, and their move to Paris while Ernest struggles to build a name for himself as a writer. The Hemingways struggle to fit in with the alternative, hard-drinking lifestyle of the other American expatriate writers. In fact, they are the only “traditional” married couple in their circles of friends.

Hadley shares her perspective not being a modern woman in a highly modern society and being married to an artist who struggles with self-esteem and depression.

It is a beautifully written tribute to Hemingway’s first wife and greatest love.

Oh and guess what! I am the July Host for Moms Reading, a virtual book club, and I chose The Paris Wife! We will be discussing some questions I come up with on July 30 at 9pm EST, so grab the book, read it, and come join the discussion!

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Oh, and one more thing…follow me on GoodReads to find out what I am currently reading, what I’ve already read, and what is on my To Read list!

Hannah, Delivered by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

I am the last person you would think to find reading a book about natural home births and becoming a midwife.

In fact, part of the excitement about getting pregnant again is that I will get to go to the hospital and stay for three days and be waited on. I was in love with the epidural from my first birth. I have had two C-sections. Basically I am the poster child for hospital births.

Yet, Hannah, Delivered  by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew completely fascinated me.

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Hannah, Delivered is the story of Hannah, a receptionist in a St. Paul hospital who happens to help the hospital midwife one night. After assisting that birth, she develops a fierce desire to help babies with the work of being born.  She travels to New Mexico where she does her midwife apprenticeship and meets many unconventional people and questions what she is doing to her life. Eventually she moves back to Minnesota to practice midwifery in her own illicit practice.

The novel is written in first person narrative, almost as a frame story, although the reader is never told the frame. We just know that Hannah is telling her story to a presumable mid-wife wannabe.

I remember watching birth videos in school, and while I never thought they were gross, they looked incredibly painful. In fact, while watching one while I was pregnant with my first, I almost passed out. Again, not because I thought it looked gross, but because I realized I would have to find that sort of strength in me.  I just didn’t believe I had it.

Then I remembered the two pregnancies that did not make it to full term.

My OB, a HUGE advocate of things progressing and happening naturally, had recommended that I “pass” everything naturally at home. The first one sucked. The second pregnancy was further along and it was full on labor. My body knew exactly what to do, but I thought I was going to die. Just at the point that I thought surely things were not right and I wasn’t going to make it, everything passed.

I expected birth to be the same way, however my oldest son had other plans.

My OB let me go far longer than most do with pushing, but it became very unsafe when my fever climbed to over 104* and my son was pretty stuck with a very low heart rate. He was out via C-section less than 30-minutes later.

My second was a C-section too, but that had more to do with my  mental wellness. My OB would normally advocate for a VBAC, but he also is very good at knowing his patients and together we decided on a Csection for my second.

While I read Hannah, Delivered, I thought about all the birth stories I have read and heard along with my own four deliveries. While I am very comfortable in a hospital, my sister-in-law birthed her youngest at home (and will birth her newest at home too) with a midwife.

Birth is pretty amazing, and how we are born matters.

Hannah, Delivered is intense, but it is also uplifting. It is a beautiful portrait of women and birth.

Six Must-Read Teen Novels

It’s been awhile since I reviewed a book, so I thought I would go all over-achiever on you all and talk about SIX books!

Why six, you ask? Well contrary to how little I have been posting about books, I have been a reading machine. I’ve read something like eleven books so far in 2014 and six of them were books that my seniors are currently reading for their Book Clubs.

All six books knocked me right out with how awesome they are, so I thought I would share in case you need an awesome read, that will be quick, yet keep you hooked throughout the whole book.

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The Fault In Our Stars by John Greene

The_Fault_in_Our_StarsAlmost everyone has heard of or read this book already, but if you have not, here is the quick version:

Hazel is a 16-year old living with cancer. Her parents force her to go to a weekly support group so that she will socialize and “make friends”. She hates it. Until she meets Augustus Waters. Augustus is a 17-year old ex-basketball star who is living without a leg thanks to cancer. Sparks fly. Things are funny. Things are devastating. Things are awesome.

I had girls gasp in delight when they realized this was a choice. I had guys quietly write this as their first choice because they had loved ones with cancer. This book changes your heart.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Perksofbeingwallflower1Again, this is not new to most people, but if you haven’t read it, you need to.

In a series of letters to an anonymous “friend”, 15 year-old Charlie pours his heart out about his fears of starting high school, his concerns for his sister, and his difficulty meeting new people. The letters start shortly after one of Charlie’s only friends commits suicide. Then, in his quest to “participate” more and be “normal,” Charlie meets Patrick and Samantha (Sam) who help him to learn what real friendship and love is.

A lot of my quiet kids signed up for this because they thought Charlie sounded like he was a lot like them.

 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

curious caseThis one has been on my To Read List for quite some time. I have picked it up and set it back down a THOUSAND times in Barnes & Noble, so it was great to finally read it. And it was even better than I thought it would be.

Christopher is a 15-year old boy who lives in England. He knows all the countries of the world and their capitals, He can do math like a whiz, and he detests the color yellow. He has autism. When he finds his neighbor’s dog murdered with a garden fork, he decides to do some detective work which leads him to “be brave” in ways he has never had to before.

This book is the most advanced reading of all six, and it’s the most complex to understand because the reader is limited to what Christopher tells. The interesting thing is that the reader also understands events more than Christopher does. I was happy to see that my highest readers were attracted to this book showing that if you give students a choice, they are usually not going to go with the easiest, but what seems to fit their interest AND ability.

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

downloadI had never heard of this one; it was suggested to me by our media center specialist who knows her stuff. It was a hard read. Really hard. Not because it wasn’t amazing, but because it made me so incredibly mad and sad.

Set in on a cotton farm on the Mississippi Delta in 1946, Mudbound is told through the eyes of the characters involved: Henry McAllan who has bought the farm; Laura his city-bred wife, and Florence and Hap, black sharecroppers working on the farm. As the WWII ends two other characters appear – Jamie, Henry’s younger brother, and Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of Hap and Florence. Jamie and Ronsel’s experiences in Europe during WWII challenge the racism they were brought up with, so when they come back re-adjusting is almost impossible.

I didn’t have many kids interested in this one. I think because it’s historical fiction and they didn’t immediately see connections to themselves in it. The kids who were interested in it though were my history buffs and my activists. It will be interesting to discuss this one with them and to see if they are as moved by it as I was.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

truediaryI’ve read other books by Alexie and love him, so this was a fun read and very quick.

Native American fourteen-year-old Arnold Spirit, Jr (also known as Junior) is a budding cartoonist who lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation. He also has several disabilities and is made fun of and beat up by almost everyone on the reservation. On the recommendation of one of his teachers on the reservation, Arnold decides to attend an all-white high school off the reservation in a nearby town. This book is unique in that it includes 65 cartoons that serve as punchlines, but are also parts of the plot of the story and reveal Arnold’s character.

A lot of my guys jumped at this. Especially because Arnold is a basketball player. It’s a very “dude” book.

It’s Kind of A Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

funny storyThis was another one I had not heard of (apparently it’s also a movie), but it might have been my favorite of the group.

Craig, who is 15 years old, lives in an upper-middle class family in Brooklyn. He attends a super elite prep-school that he studied hard to get into, however once there the academic pressures really start to get to him. The stress causes an eating disorder, pot use, and suicidal thoughts. He quits taking his meds and when he is on the verge of suicide gets himself admitted to a mental hospital. There Craig meets Noelle, a girl who cuts her face with scissors as a way to cope with sexual abuse. Isolated from the world, and with the help of Noelle, Craig confronts his anxiety.

This was hands down the number one choice of most of my students. I felt so sad that so many of them felt like they thought they could relate to Craig, but so happy that there was a book that so many of them really wanted to read. As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, I found myself in Craig too. It was unsettling and comforting at the same time.

I absolutely cannot wait to get back from break and sit in on the discussions my students will have about these books. I can’t wait to hear what their favorite quotes are and what they connected with and what made them mad, sad, happy.

I will say that all of them have strong language, sexual content, drug content, and/or violence. I am sure most, if not all, of them would be “banned” or “challenged” in many districts. I know I am lucky that I get to put these important books in the hands of over a hundred teenagers.

Soon I will tell you about these Book Clubs and a HUGE curriculum change I am piloting with my students. YAY!

So tell me, have you read any of these? What did you think?

On Writing by Stephen King

I’m probably one of the last people on earth to read this book, and nothing I will say here will be new. However I like to get down my thoughts for posterity and if there is a chance that you write and you haven’t read this book yet, well here you go.

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Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference (74).

Even with all of my writerly friends telling me I have to read this, it was never high on my To Read list because I don’t believe I will ever write fiction. I just don’t want to.

A few months ago, my friend Leigh Ann told me she had an extra copy and would I like it? It showed up a few weeks ago and due to lack of space on my book shelves, it sat next to my bed.

Since I have been plowing through books this year already (seriously, as I type this it’s January 6 and I am on book #3 of the YEAR already!), I ended up grabbing it since it was handy. I’m so glad I did.

You see, my idea that this book would only be useful to those who want to write fiction or write novels was totally off-base.  It is  geared toward a newish fiction writer crowd, but King’s advice and anecdotes can be applied to any kind of writing, really.

The book is five parts, the first part, “C.V.” being King’s writerly memoir. I enjoyed this part so much because it’s always so interesting to me to see where writers “start”. What makes them writers and what was their life like? How much of their life is in their writing and what is behind all those successful millions of pages written and published?

I already knew I loved King’s writing and intellect about writing (and reading), but–aside from the love of science fiction–I never knew how much of myself I would see in him.

On the surface we are no where near comparable, but under all the differences he and I share a love of words and language.  We also have something extraordinary in common: the unconditional support and love of our spouse. His wife doesn’t just support his “dream”, she believes in it.  That is how Cortney is with everything I do.  He is my biggest fan.

stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t fee like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re doing is managing to shovel shit from a sitting position (77).

King’s honesty is also refreshing. He never, ever makes writing sound like an easy job. And he never ever makes it into something that every person has it in him to do.

Which–as controversial a stance as it is, especially for a writing teacher–is something I believe too.

I don’t think everyone is cut out to be a great…or even good writer. Just because you have something to say, doesn’t mean it will sound good in writing. I believe everyone has a story. I believe every can write that story down. I do not believe everyone can be a skilled writer.

Writing is an art and it takes an artist to do it.

I don’t really consider myself a “great” writer, but I think I’m a good writer and I believe it’s a talent I was born with. I want to be better, but most days it feels like I am “managing to shovel shit from a sitting position.” But I keep trying.  And reading King’s words are like reading Anne Lamont’s words about keeping at it. About constantly writing.

Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page (106).

The next part of the book is called “Writing Is”. It’s brief–only 5 pages–but it defines how writing should be viewed by the writer.

After this King has the “Toolbox” section where he discusses vocabulary and grammar. My teacher heart loved this part. Naturally.

Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life (147).

The fourth section, “On Writing” is where King talks about the process of writing. Even though he relied on examples from his own creative process for writing fiction, there were so many things I could apply to my own process.  The big two that I really need to let myself do more of are 1) Read more and 2) Write more.

It sounds easy, but it’s actually easier for me to put all the other things in life ahead of this.  Things that make my life less happy and more tangled up. And since I vowed to disentangle this year, I need to take these tips to heart.

So much of his process could work for me (write first with the door closed, find an Ideal Reader, etc) that I am excited to get on making it happen. Even if nothing comes of it but more “good” blog posts.

Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life (249).

His last section, “On Living”, recalls the accident in 1999 when he was struck by a van and almost killed.  I immediately remembered the news reports from when this happened as I read the details of his journey from taking an afternoon walk to almost killed and on through a long, painful recovery.

The story is used to illustrate that the will to get back to writing (and the love and support of his wife) is what brought him through such a tough time.

How many of us can relate to that? I know I can. I know I was nodding my head along and thinking about all the tough blog posts I have written because I was trying to “live through” something awful.

I am not really sure how I went so long without reading On Writing, but I feel like my reading it now is for a purpose.

That makes me excited.

It also made me go pick up my copy of Carrie, but that is another blog post.

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