Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Heavy Reading

We are all reading nonfiction this week. It's heavy reading. It was quiet at our house last night.
My husband, an elementary principal, is poring over Spencer Kagan's Win-Win Discipline in preparation for an upcoming interview for an administrative position in the district where we live (no more commuting = no more big chunk of the budget going toward gas!). The book is paperback, but it is as large as a textbook and dense reading despite the cartoonish illustrations. My husband is taking notes in his tidy block printing.
My 13-year-old fell asleep last night reading Lacrosse, North America's Game. It's a huge, hardback, coffee-table style photo-illustrated book about the history of the sport he plays. He lugged it into my classroom yesterday after school.
"Did you check that out from the library?" I asked.
"No. Mr. O. gave it to me." Mr. O. is his social studies teacher.
"He saw it at a yard sale for 50 cents."
This morning, before we left for school, Will flipped through the glossy pages to show me his favorite part so far.
It's an excerpt from a Native American origin story about the game.
My son pointed it out enthusiastically.
"This part is really good," he said.
"Stunned and rejected but not giving up on the game, the rodent took to the trees, climbing until he stood on the highest limbs with the eagles and hawks. The birds did not want to shun the little creature, but how could he join the team without any wings? Thinking quickly, the birds cut pieces from the skin on their ceremonial drum and fashioned wings for the rodent....That, is how the bat came to be."
I can tell that my son, small for his age but quick on his feet, thinks Mr. O's 50 cents was well spent.
My 16-year-old is reading Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. After noticing someone reading it on the airplane on his recent trip to New York, Jack was convinced that he, too, wanted to win friends ("Not just make them," he said, "WIN them...") and exert some influence.
"It's been in print for more than 75 years!" he exclaimed. He walked through the house, carrying the small paperback in his hands.
"It says right here that you shouldn't criticize people." Was he directing that toward me? Had I said something critical? I looked around. I guessed he was just speaking in general.
"If you want honey, you don't kick the beehive. That's what Dale Carnegie says." Jack looked at me, his eyebrows raised.
"I'll take that to heart," I told him. He wandered off, his eyes fixed on timeless words of wisdom...penned in 1931.
I am reading Denise Jaden's Fast Fiction, advice for anyone trying to write the first draft of a novel in 30 days' time. Through the Slice of Life Story Challenge last month, I learned about Camp NaNoWriMo and decided it was time for me to get serious about the novel I'd been "working" on for years. Last week, I filled out my NaNoWriMo information page...book title, synopsis. I began writing. I was struggling.
On Sunday, two days ago, I woke up with a whole new idea...an idea I can't stop thinking about. I dreamed about it last night and woke up with a new conflict for my main character. The story is unfolding so fast, and the character is living and breathing on the page and in my dreams. I am more excited about my writing than I've ever been. I AM WRITING A NOVEL...and reading nonfiction that's cheering me on. All the while, I am thinking about a little bat with drum-skin wings and wondering if there is a type of discipline where we all win; and in the midst of it all, I am trying so hard not to kick the beehive.


  1. Such interesting connections...topped off by the exciting news of your novel!

  2. Good luck on your novel. Sounds like all things are now in place to make it happen. How exciting!