Thursday, June 30, 2016

Bonus Essay by "Dancing With The Pen II" Contributor Ryan Wu

Today we continue our Dancing With The Pen II blog tour with an exclusive extra essay by young writer Ryan Wu, whose short story "How Earth Came to Be" is featured in the book. Order a personalized copy of Dancing With The Pen II: a collection of today's youth writing here or on Amazon here.



My Awesome Experience With TRACK3R 
 By Ryan Wu 

When I got to my friend Shawn’s house, I was already excited because Shawn had some really cool things at his house to do. When he showed me his TRACK3R, it took my excitement to a whole new level.

It all started when we ate dinner with Shawn’s family. I asked my mom if we could go to Shawn’s house. She said, “Yes, but you have to check with Shawn’s mom.”

So I asked Shawn’s mom. She replied, “Sure!”

I was so happy, my head almost exploded. I love Shawn’s house because it’s spacious, and Shawn has tons of fun stuff to do, such as video games and Monopoly.

After dinner, we went to Shawn’s house. Shawn said, “I have something to show you.”

Shawn is eleven years old, and he is tall and likes cello and basketball. I followed him upstairs to his room. The first thing I noticed was the big obstacle course mat.

“What’s that for?” I asked.

“You’ll see,” replied my friend, pointing at the shelf.

On the top shelf was a brand-new Lego Mindstorms EV3 TRACK3R. It was white with gray and red plating, with tech-looking graphics. It looked like a Mars Rover with treads. The main computer was in the center with right, left, up, and down buttons. A motor controlled the attachments, and wires were woven everywhere.

Trying not to leave my jaw hanging I said, “Oh my gosh! Where did you get that!?”

Shawn explained it was a birthday gift from his parents. He had done nearly every program, and demoed them for me. There was a rotating blade, a claw arm, and a ball shooter. I was fascinated. He said there was one more program left to do, and asked me to help. I never turn down an offer to try something new, so I said yes.

The new program had a hammer attached to the motor. The TRACK3R randomly hits while shakily driving in a circle until it detects movement behind it, turns around, and hits pretty hard behind it. We programmed on Shawn’s laptop using a programming website he downloaded, built the attachment, and plugged in a USB cord connecting Shawn’s laptop and TRACK3R to download the program into the robot. We tested it and we were successful!

“Yeah!” cried Shawn. We then played with it for a while. Later, we went downstairs and played Mario Kart for hours until I had to leave for home. Best day of my life!

I believe that every kid should get the chance to experiment using a TRACK3R so they can learn the art of programming and have fun. I personally liked the experience because it engaged my curious nature. I first got hooked on computers and programming when I went to the Maker Fair, a fair of tech that travels around the globe. I got so hooked I started down my path of coding and programming. My main goal is to become an inventor and patent my own creations. I want to create inventions that help people in their everyday lives.

---------------

Ryan Wu lives in Pleasanton, California with his parents and younger brother. He is ten years old and enjoys playing soccer and four-square, building Legos, camping, skiing, and drawing. He also plays the piano and violin, and loves technology. Ryan has traveled all over the world.





Links: 

Order Dancing With The Pen I & Dancing With The Pen II directly (personalized copies available!) or via Amazon.

Please take a few seconds to "follow" Dallas on Amazon! And, if you have a few minutes and could write a review on Amazon, that would be fantastic!

You can also follow Dancing With The Pen on Facebook. We're featured on Goodreads, too!

Discounted bulk orders are available at the Write On! website: www.writeonbooks.org.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Interview with "Dancing With The Pen II" Contributor Hope Bolinger

Today we continue our Dancing With The Pen II blog tour with an interview with young writer Hope Bolinger, whose poem "Her Eyes Breathe Life" is featured in the book. Order a personalized copy of Dancing With The Pen II: a collection of today's youth writing here or on Amazon here.



What would you like readers to know about you as an introduction? 

I am a nineteen year old sophomore at Taylor University. I major in Professional Writing and Philosophy. I am from Hudson, Ohio. When I'm not writing or going crazy, I like to sing in choir, do theater, copyedit our school newspaper, and play tennis. I am a Shakespeare nerd and have read every one of his plays.

Describe your piece or pieces that were published in Dancing With The Pen II

Dancing With The Pen published my poem "A Paragon of the 21st Century." The poem describes my mother through uses of sensory imagery. The line "her eyes breathe life" repeats several times, indicating even the breaths I take I owe to my mom. I got the idea for the piece from a Carol Shields quote. She states, “Write the book you want to read.” I altered it slightly to declare, “Write the poem you want to read.” I wanted to read a poem about mothers which engages all of the senses. My writing process most often begins with a little spark that ignites in my mind. No matter what I do, I can’t stop thinking about it. The idea can take the form of a psychological situation or a character with an odd quirk. No matter what shape it encompasses, I must, must, must write. Writer Bob Hostetler would describe me as a “pants-er,” or I ride by the seat of my pants when I write. I often let the characters take me where they want to go. I let them speak their mind for the first draft. Then, my editor speaks even louder for the next draft.

Have you been writing for a long time? What do you like about writing? 

I have written for nearly as long as I could read. In first grade, I would write three to four page stories. In middle school, I experimented with stage plays and had one I wrote performed during my eighth grade year. During my sophomore year of high school, however, I decided to tackle a different kind of giant. My close friend wrote novels, and I would often exclaim, “How in the world can you sit down and write 300-some pages? I don’t have that kind of patience!” The next week, I started my first novel.

To answer the second question requires words that do not exist. I like writing because it helps me explore realms I could never encounter. Words place me in the shoes of characters quite unlike myself. Writing gives me a chance to mold sentences with my hands and swirl bits of the unknown between my fingertips. Most of all, I like writing because I need it almost as much as I need to breathe.

What does it mean to you to have your piece included in this book? 

To have my piece included in this book means I get the honor of joining hands with brilliant wordsmiths. Getting in the news certainly thrilled me, and as my Professional writing professor states, “[I] have been bitten by the writing bug.” The chance to take part in a Dancing With The Pen book gives me the verve to keep writing. I don’t recall doing anything to celebrate, but I do remember the poem evoked tears from my mother. She wrapped me in a hug when she read Dancing With The Pen had published it.

Do you have any advice for other writers, or for other young people going after their dreams? 

Never, never, never quit writing. Even if you receive a thousand rejection slips, defiantly force your fingertips onto that keyboard and type. Harper Lee in To Kill a Mockingbird states, “Real courage is when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” Do not deprive the world of your words. They are your words. No one can tell your story quite like you.

Can you share a few of your favorite books or authors? 

Anything by Shakespeare (The Comedy of Errors is my favorite), The Great Gatsby, The Book Thief, and Redeeming Love.

What inspires you? 

People often inspire me. Those who use their weaknesses as strengths or those who laugh in the face of fire. I also owe a thanks to my Lord and Savior Jesus for the ability to write. He is the ultimate Author, and I am grateful He has given me the skills to craft words.

What are you working on now? What’s next? 

Currently, I am editing my latest novel, Lukewarm. In one sentence: In a dream, an indecisive teenager must decide which of his friends lives and which one dies. I also have two other books and a play I plan to write when I finish editing. I want to do a nonfiction piece on ancient philosophers and a contemporary retelling of the book of Daniel. The play will feature the psychological phenomenon known as the chameleon effect.

Anything else you’d like to add? 

Thank you for this opportunity, and I look forward to seeing what the young generations of writers create! For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/therosewoman/

----------

Hope Bolinger has had her work published in two anthologies for Creative Communications and also participates in theater, choir, the school newspaper, and tennis.





Links: 

Order Dancing With The Pen I & Dancing With The Pen II directly (personalized copies available!) or via Amazon.

If you have a few minutes and could write a review on Amazon, that would be fantastic!

You can also follow Dancing With The Pen on Facebook. We're featured on Goodreads, too!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Interview with "Dancing With the Pen II" Contributor Arham Habib

Today we continue our Dancing With The Pen II blog tour with an interview with young writer Arham Habib, whose essay "Dear Mr. Bradbury" is featured in the book. Order a personalized copy of Dancing With The Pen II: a collection of today's youth writing here or on Amazon here.


What would you like readers to know about you as an introduction? 

Hi, my name is Arham Habib. I am fourteen years old, living in town of Danville, California. I love reading books, enjoy playing badminton and my favorite subject is Organic Chemistry.

Describe your piece that was published in Dancing With The Pen II

I wrote this essay as part of the "Letters About Literature" contest to the author who, beyond death, still guides me in how I write and how I live my life: Ray Bradbury.

Have you been writing for a long time? What do you like about writing?

No, I have not been writing for a long time, but it is enjoyable. I find it an extremely relaxing activity.

What does it mean to you to have your piece included in this book? 

It was amazing to realize that I would be in a publish work. It’s both gratifying and a form of motivation for me better my writing.

Do you have any advice for other writers, or for other young people going after their dreams?

No matter how difficult it is to fail, it’s a a thousand times harder to live with knowing you could have tried anything.

Can you share a few of your favorite books or authors? 

The Harry Potter series, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, and pieces penned by Ray Bradbury.

What inspires you?  

I’m personally inspired by brilliant minds of the past: Aristotle, Socrates, Archimedes, and countless other writers, scientists, and philosophers.

-----

Arham Habib is a middle school student with varying degrees of interest for anything but homework. An avid reader, he seeks to transfer the characteristics of his favorite authors’ writings into his own texts. Sometimes, he can even be persuaded into writing about himself in the third person. When he isn’t reading or writing, he is known to participate in speech and debate tournaments, math competitions, and science fairs.



Links: 

Order Dancing With The Pen I & Dancing With The Pen II directly (personalized copies available!) or via Amazon.

Please take a few seconds to "follow" Dallas on Amazon! And, if you have a few minutes and could write a review on Amazon, that would be fantastic!

You can also follow Dancing With The Pen on Facebook. We're featured on Goodreads, too!

Discounted bulk orders are available at the Write On! website: www.writeonbooks.org.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Interview with "Dancing With The Pen II" Contributor Katie Wagman

Today we are kicking off our special Dancing With The Pen II blog tour with an interview with young writer Katie Wagman, whose story "Bobby" is featured in the book. Order a personalized copy of Dancing With The Pen II: a collection of today's youth writing here or on Amazon here.



What would you like readers to know about you as an introduction? 

My name is Katie Wagman and I am twelve years old. I'm in seventh grade and I live in Camarillo, California. Besides writing, I like to read, do gymnastics, and hang out with friends. I'm on a gymnastics team and have been for about three years now.

Describe your piece that was published in Dancing With The Pen II.

My piece is called "Bobby." It tells about a troublemaker student who overhears one of her teachers talking suspiciously. Believing he was up to no good, she convinces her friend to break into his house. What she finds surprises her. Her teacher has been teaching under a fake name. He's looking for a student. His son. But his intentions, surprisingly, were not to do harm. When her principal catches her, things take a turn. But the question is, will it be for better or worse?

I got my idea for this piece after seeing a commercial about families being split up. Parents and children never to see each other again. I didn't know what to think of it. So I got out a pencil and wrote.

Have you been writing for a long time? What do you like about writing? 

I've been writing for about five years, though I've only recently begun sharing my writing with others. I love many things about writing. One thing is that I'm in charge. I can create a world of my own. I'm in control. Because life is like a roller coaster. And sometimes it feels like someone else is operating. But when I'm writing, it's like I'm the one behind the controls.

What does it mean to you to have your piece included in this book?  

When I found out my story was going to be published in this book, I had just gotten into the car after school. When my dad told me, I was a bit shocked. Especially because I had forgotten I'd sent Dallas the story in the first place. That night, my dad cooked. I know it doesn't sound like much but he is amazing with food. In my opinion, better than most restaurants.

Do you have any advice for other writers, or for other young people going after their dreams?

My advice to other writers or people following their dreams is: don't be afraid. Don't let anyone tell you you can't do it (though it would be wise to listen to advice.) Try your best. You're going to make mistakes, it's how you learn from them that matters. Never give up. Do what you love.

Can you share a few of your favorite books or authors? 

Some of my favorite books are:
- The Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett
- The Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling
- Wonder by R.J Palacio
- The Hunger Games series by Susan Collins
- The Matched series by Ally Condie
- I also read MANY stories on an app called Wattpad.

What inspires you? 

People. People inspire me. You don't have to be a super hero to do great things. War veterans, cancer survivors, Special Ed students. All these people. They're the extraordinary ones.

What are you working on now? What’s next for you? 

Currently, I am working on a novella and (hopefully) a full-blown novel. I also write other short stories and poems on the side. I am hoping to publish the novel if possible.

-----

Katie Wagman is an eleven-year-old seventh-grader. She enjoys writing and gymnastics. School fascinates her; she loves learning new and interesting things. Additionally, she enjoys hanging out with friends and family. She particularly likes the stars. They take her to a world beyond our own and get her thinking!




Links: 

Order Dancing With The Pen I & Dancing With The Pen II directly (personalized copies available!) or via Amazon.

If you have a few minutes and could write a review on Amazon, that would be fantastic!

You can also follow Dancing With The Pen on Facebook. We're featured on Goodreads, too!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dancing With The Pen II: a collection of today's best youth writing

Video games. Television. Computers. The Internet. With so many electronic distractions, how can a parent get their child or teenager to pick up a book and read this summer?


Write On! Books has the answer: a series of book written by young writers geared specifically for young audiences. The second volume of Dancing With The Pen: a collection of today’s best youth writing has just been released! The book features stories, poems, and essays by more than fifty young writers in elementary school, middle school and high school, from all across the United States. Their work explores everything from travel to friendship, love to loss, fear to hope—themes that both celebrate diversity and transcend hometowns, backgrounds and cultures.

I founded Write On! Books in 2011 with the simple question: Who knows what kids want to read better than kids themselves? Not only do I want to empower the next generation of writers, I also hope to get young people excited about reading by publishing a variety of dynamic, creative work written by their peers.

I am passionate about nurturing confidence in today’s youth through writing and reading; to be sure, creativity has made a profound impact on my life. I published my first book, a collection of short stories and poems titled There’s a Huge Pimple On My Nose, when I was in fifth grade, and the experience was a turbo-boost to my self-esteem. For the first time, I saw myself as a writer. I felt like I could pursue any dream, as long as I worked hard and believed in myself.


I hope that the young writers published in Dancing With The Pen find renewed joy, deep pride, and lasting confidence. I have no doubt they will go on to do many wonderful things, and feel honored to be part of making a dream come true for them. As contributor Sofia Felino wrote me in an email, "This really means so much and it's amazing -- I've been dreaming of being published since birth!"

This past Saturday, we had a special book launch pizza party for young writers in the Bay Area. It was a magical evening celebrating seven young writers, who read their work out loud to the audience. Among the young writers in attendance were Rosalie Chiang, a Fremont homeschooler, who penned two fictional stories about animals teaching humans lessons in bravery and friendship. Vivek Bellam, from Danville, wrote about a robot battle and Jennifer Huang, from San Ramon, wrote about a young artist trying to “make it big” in New York City. Arham Habib, a high school student from Danville (pictured below) read his essay: a letter to legendary author Ray Bradbury about Fahrenheit 451.


A Southern California book launch party will take place at Mrs. Figs' Bookworm in Camarillo on Thursday, July 21 at 5pm. Young writers will read their pieces and autograph books. It will be an exciting event for the entire community. We would love to see you there!


The response to the Dancing With The Pen series has been overwhelmingly positive. In its debut week of release, the first volume of Dancing With The Pen rose to a #2 ranking on Amazon.com in the "literature anthologies" category. One Amazon reviewer praised, “This stunning anthology is a testament to the fact that magic can flow through the pens of writers of any age.” Another gave the book five stars and wrote, “From short stories to poetry, fantasy to realistic fiction, there's something in here for everyone of all ages to enjoy.”

Indeed, while the book series was originally aimed at young people, adult readers are raving as well. Randy Robertson, parent of three, remarked, "It is a treat for us adult readers to gain an insight into what this upcoming generation is thinking and feeling." And LA Parent reviewer Debbie Glade wrote, "Some of the stories and poems are so wisely penned, I had to double check the ages of the writers in their short bios."

Parents and teachers who are concerned about youth illiteracy can feel doubly good about purchasing Dancing With The Pen. For every copy sold, a new book will be donated to Write On’s Holiday Book Drive to benefit disadvantaged and at-risk youth. Since 2001, we have donated more than 14,000 new books to underprivileged kids across the U.S.

Publishing the Dancing With The Pen series has reaffirmed for me the power of books and reading. I am blown away by the insightful, daring, thought-provoking work being produced by young writers today! I know you will be, too.

Personalized copies of Dancing With The Pen are available at the Write On! website: www.writeonbooks.org.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Reading as a Creative Act

In the introduction to the wonderfully insightful book Genership 1.0, David Castro writes, "The journey of self-discovery involves the possibility of transcendence. The effort to see ourselves changes us. Thomas Mann reminded us that '[n]o one remains quite what he was when he recognizes himself.' We are the sculptor; we are the stone. The strangely transformational search for true human nature belongs not only to myth-makers, poets and philosophers. We experience the quest for our identity as social beings. Through families, organizations, communities and nations, humanity writ large shares the pilgrimage toward the self. Religion, philosophy, art, science and history undertake the same fundamental inquiry: Who are we?"


I love this image of all of humanity in the quest together, asking the same foundational questions, reflecting ourselves in each other. For me, this calls to mind the act of reading: a form of connection, inspiration, newness, delight. I believe that reading itself is an act of creation. The reader brings the writers' words to life uniquely and individually. No two readers experience a book in exactly the same way. Readers create the experience of the book based on their frame of reference, mood, memories, and associations. Words on a page are not static -- they are a conversation between writer and reader.

Malcolm Bradbury observed, "A conventional good read is usually a bad read, a relaxing bath in what we know already. A truly good read is surely an act of innovative creation in which we, the readers, become conspirators." I would add that a truly great read takes what might be viewed as "conventional" and makes it feel innovative. Joseph Campbell famously suggested that only seven basic story plots exist, which we retell again and again; I believe truly great authors are able to retell "what we already know" in ways that are refreshing and newly enlightening.

I recently reread Marilynne Robinson’s luminous novel Gilead, in which she does precisely this. Robinson takes a plot we have all read before—an aged man on his deathbed recounting the experiences of his life—and turns it into a novel that is both profound and original. Further, I was struck by the seamlessness of the narrative voice. Robinson structures the novel as a letter written by Congregationalist minister John Ames to his young son, and after only a few pages I forgot I was reading a novel and began to believe that there really existed an old minister named John Ames, whose own words I was reading. Robinson expertly weaves together memories, insights, and day-to-day observations, capturing not only how John Ames thinks and speaks, but also how he expresses himself in a letter. Ames even addresses this uniqueness of voice in the early pages of the novel: "I don't write the way I speak. … I don't write the way I do for the pulpit either, insofar as I can help it. … I do try to write the way I think. But of course that all changes as soon as I put it into words" (28-29).



Above all, what impresses me about Gilead is how effortless Robinson makes the written word seem, the same way Fred Astaire made dancing appear simple, Monet made painting seem easy, and Roger Federer turns tennis into ballet. The writing and storytelling dovetail so flawlessly into one man’s stirring and lucid recollections of his life that it is easy to forget that John Ames is not a real man, but the creation of Marilynne Robinson. Furthermore, Ames’ words flow so elegantly that it is difficult to imagine that Robinson toiled over them for years. However, upon deeper consideration, this proves Nathaniel Hawthorne’s oft-quoted words: “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

Perhaps the book I read this past year that has most influenced me as a writer is one I reread nearly every year: The Catcher in the Rye. Each time I read this novel, it strikes me as a slightly different book. The words on the page are the same, but I have changed and grown; the conversation feels new. I first read J.D. Salinger’s classic novel my junior year in high school. Rarely has another book touched me in such a raw, visceral way. I wanted to climb into the pages of the book and into Holden Caulfield’s life. I realized that it is possible for a character to draw in the reader and carry the entire story on his back.



People hold an endless source of intrigue and inspiration to me. One of my favorite activities is people-watching. I love to imagine lives for the people who pass by, wondering where they came from and where they are going; what they are thinking and who they love; what they worry about and what their futures hold. However, as a storyteller, I used to think that in order to produce something that will stick with a reader, I had to dream up a wholly new and original idea. I fretted over coming up with a labyrinthine plot unique to anything I had ever come across. The Catcher in the Rye opened my mind to a new definition of what "great writing" can be. I came to understand that what makes an idea unique is that it is filtered through my own life experiences and perspective. Rather than building compelling stories through intricate, convoluted plotlines, as a writer I am interested in exploring the intricacies, subtleties, and contradictions of the human psyche.


E. M. Forster wrote, "I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little further down our particular path than we have gone ourselves." I am grateful to the numerous books and authors who have influenced me, and to those who will influence me in the future, for leading me down my particular path as an ever-growing, ever-changing creative writer -- and reader.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

None of Us Will Have Enough Time

“I need a whole other life not to let this one go to waste.” 
Lera Auerbach, Excess of Being

                                                                  _____________

In a recent interview with the poetry magazine jubliat, poet Lynn Xu was asked, "Why do poets want to publish? What part of the process or practice is publishing?" I love her response:

I don't know. I can't speak for everyone, but I think a lot of us publish because we want to be part of the history of reading, which is often a deeply private thing. 

[...] The book is at once made (the publishing model being one example, which includes the writer) and not made (it seems, so much of its life comes from the spontaneity of discovery, which is streamlined with one's life, where you happen to be, what you are doing, thinking, feeling, etc.)... As a child, it never occurred to me that books were made. They simply existed. And they belonged to everyone, no one. Their peculiar magic was that they seemed to exist at all times. 

To publish, maybe, is to borrow from this spontaneity of being. 


_____________

For the past few months, I've been thinking a lot about the place of publishing in our creative lives -- specifically, in my creative life. I've slowly come to realize that, without meaning to, for a long time -- since graduate school, it seems -- I've been living with this deeply held pressure to justify my creative work somehow, to make it fit into society's structure of money, business, productivity.

But art, by definition, does not fit into neat little boxes.

Maybe that is why it has been such a struggle for me at times to sit down at the computer and put in the writing time: I was trying too hard to cram my creative work into neat little boxes that could be packaged, commodified, sold. I've noticed that, for the past few years, I've muddled through long stretches of time when it feels like I am fighting my writing routine, thrashing against it, moaning to myself about how hard it is, and putting all sorts of pressure on myself. Sort of like a child who hates playing piano but his parents make him practice every day, so he practices for the exact amount of time he's supposed to -- not a minute more. In some slowly building way, writing has become something I have to do, and I lost sight of why I even want to do it in the first place.

Lynn Xu might say I lost my spontaneity of being. I lost track of that peculiar magic that links me to books, to communities, to other writers across time and space.

I found it again in the unlikeliest of places: Facebook.

_____________

I know, I know: Facebook is to a writer's productivity like sugar-and-caffeine-soaked soda is to a toddler's naptime. Not the most conducive. However, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed the other day when I spotted a post by a writer acquaintance of mine. I met her at a conference years ago and, though we have not seen each other face-to-face since then, I have read and admired her work ever since. I especially remember how she treated me with such respect, even though I was the youngest faculty member by decades at this particular conference. She treated me like a peer, and I loved her for that. 

Her Facebook post was short and easy to scroll past, in the blur of cat snapshots and food snapshots and baby snapshots and election-related news articles. But something about it made me pause. What is she up to these days? I wondered, thinking perhaps this would be about a new piece being published somewhere, or one of her books winning another award. 

But no. In this post, just a few sentences long, she was saying goodbye. 

She explained that she had cancer and the tumors were steadily growing, outpacing her chemotherapy treatments, and that she was heading into hospice care soon. She stated, without a trace of self-pity, that she had enjoyed a rich and wonderful life and was grateful for all of the people and all of the love. She even apologized, writing that she knew everyone was hoping for better news.

I sat there, staring at my computer, utterly stunned and speechless and devastated.

This writer has published many beautiful and touching and important works during her time here. And yet, I am sure that she still has many more stories left inside her. Stories she won't have time to tell before her time runs out.

And in that moment, it struck me with force, like a punch in my gut: none of us will have enough time before our time runs out. 

photo credit: Dineshraj Goomany

I could live for a thousand years, and I know I would still die with stories left inside me, ideas germinating in my head, tales left to tell. 

For now, all I have is this day. This moment, here at my computer, translating the scattered thoughts in my head into words on this screen. This moment is all that I have guaranteed to me.

How valuable! How important! 

Why waste a single writing day? Why grumble and groan about how hard writing is? It doesn't matter if it's hard -- it is still a singular and precious gift. And I do not want to squander an hour that I could be writing with excuses and interruptions and chores. No longer. Not anymore.

It is a fact that I am going to die with stories left inside me. So until that comes to pass, it is my task, my journey, my calling, to let as many of the important stories out of me as possible. To share them with the world. To access the magical spontaneity of being that I am lucky to be a part of.

_____________

Lately, I have been feeling so much freer in my writing. I am trying to distance myself from publishing and worrying about readers or the future. Instead, I am sinking all of my energy into the process. For me, I am learning, the work itself is what is sustaining. The work itself is what matters. 

Rather than "clocking in" at my writing desk each day, now I sit down at my computer because I want to hang out with my characters for a bit. I want to listen to what they have to tell me, to discover what they have to share with me -- and to unpack the beatings of my own heart, too. 

I write for myself, and also for all the other writers who are no longer able to write. 

I write because I am part of a creative tradition, and that is a truly glorious gift. 

I write because these words, words that I wring out of my soul and onto the page one by one, slowly and steadily and joyfully and angrily and fiercely and rapidly and tiredly and passionately... these words are my legacy.