Saturday, August 27, 2016

My Writing Inspiration

After spending the weekend at a local writers’ conference and being inspired by all the great speakers and conference leaders, I am thinking more about what inspired me to write in the first place.  In 2005 when I started this journey, I was “green as a gourd” about what it took to become a published author.  I was fairly good at putting words on paper in a cohesive sentence and paragraph, but that’s where my aptitude ended.  I had no idea about the hard work involved in writing, critiquing, editing, and publishing a story or book.  Approaching an agent or editor with a book proposal was a very scary proposition.  Every conference I’ve attended has increased my knowledge and confidence, but it is still a daunting task.  Even the world of self-publishing is fraught with difficult decisions.  Who can you trust to transform your manuscript “baby” into an appealing book that people will want to read? 

Authors who wrote and published books years before my time also faced many challenges.  The Diary of Anne Frank was rejected 15 times before it was published.  Author, Margaret Mitchell, received 38 “no thank you letters” before someone took a chance on Gone with the Wind.  Beatrix Potter’s story The Tale of Peter Rabbit first debuted as a self-published work since no traditional children’s book editors were interested.

My love for the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder prompted me to read a book about her publishing journey for the Little House on the Prairie series. It surprised me to learn that her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, edited and rewrote large portions of her stories.  The Little House books were written around a deliberate cohesive theme to encourage people during the years of the Great Depression. They promoted the theme of rugged individualism and survival in opposition to government dependency and Roosevelt’s New Deal. I have a personal connection to Laura’s second book, Farmer Boy, about her husband, Almanzo, who was born in my home town of Malone, New York. Life in that farming community hadn’t changed a lot by the time I came along. A few years back, I visited the Wilder’s restored house and barns so vividly described in that book.

Another of my writing inspirations was Eugenia Price, who authored numerous historical novels about the Old South.  I fell in love with her writing when I first moved to Georgia. After her conversion to Christianity she had a new purpose in telling the stories of the strong faith of Georgia’s earliest settlers.  Her first three books–The Beloved Invader, New Moon Rising, and Lighthouse–led me on a journey to St. Simon’s Island off the Georgia coast. Christ’s Church was the setting for her Georgia Trilogy and a beautiful, inspiring place to visit.

Writing an historical novel would be a dream of mine, but I think at this point in my life an unrealistic goal. For now, I am sticking with non-fiction. Charles and I are working hard on completing his life story—Chasing a Whirlwind—that will be a bookend to my memoir, Born Three Times.

Inspiration is defined as “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.”  I believe inspiration is a gift from God, and I am thankful for those writers who have gone before me and inspired me to use my gift to write.  What inspires you and how are you using your creative gifts?  Please post a comment and share it with me.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Time for Temple Maintenance

The closing of a hardware store and a drugstore caught my attention while I was stuck in traffic.  Already the buildings had fallen into disrepair.  It made me sad to think about the no longer used stores and the employees who lost their jobs.  Hopefully, other businesses will move in and restore the buildings to their former glory.

Those stores are not the only thing falling apart lately. I could add my name to the list. This past year has not been kind to my body. Last August a long time pain in my hips and legs became more acute. With too much to do and too many places to go, I kept hoping it would get better on its own. By the holidays I was using a cane and at times a wheelchair to get around. I spent a lot of time in my recliner with a heat pack on the affected areas. Being bored and watching too much TV led to a dangerous addiction—snacking. 

By the time I saw the orthopedic doctor in January, I needed shots and steroid epidural injections to calm the pain. Steroids are not kind to my body and one of the major side effects is immediate weight gain. Then I was off to physical therapy for four months before I could really walk again. No physical exercise and a year of poor eating habits and I was shabby-chic—looking old and worn around the edges.

My late bloomer husband is a fitness nut and he kept encouraging me to get moving again. Long walks made my leg hurt again, so I decided to take the suggestion of my physical therapist and get a recumbent bike. Those black and steel exercise machines at fitness centers really turn me off.  They remind me of medieval torture chambers, but I decided a recumbent bike was more user friendly. After much research, I opened my wallet and bought a bike. My daily rides have gone well so far with no bad side effects. Since the control panel looks like a black metal face and since it blows air to help keep me cool, I’ve decided to name my new friend “Darth Vadorette.”

I knew I still needed to do something about my eating habits. Exercise wouldn’t do the job alone. I decided to take the Bible verse seriously on the subject of temple maintenance.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”  1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I need to feel better so that I can do those things that God calls me to do and glorify Him. Lack of energy makes me sluggish and tight fitting clothes make me want to stay home instead of interacting with others. So I bit the bullet and joined Weight Watchers. It has been a rude awakening to discover how out-of-control my eating has become. It will be a long but very worthwhile process. The new Smart Point online plan and an easy to navigate Smart Phone App make keeping up with my food intake easier than ever. I think I can do this long term and achieve my goal.

As senior adults we can go into a long decline, or we can do our best to get back into the action.  Darth Vadorette and I are on a mission to pedal together as far as we can.  I hope to see you on the road to better health.