Spring Back into Writing

Spring is here in Utah! I always think of my grandma during this time as she loved tulips and fancy Easter tea parties. She got all her grandkids giant chocolate eggs filled with buttercream, raspberry, or caramel. Our names were written on the top with blue and pink pastel frosting. I always picked caramel. It was a beautiful treat, that you almost didn’t want to eat, but that didn’t last long. When I start to ponder moments with her, I also remember the very last thing she said to me. One that has stuck in my core. One that quite often I remind myself to do and need to be reminded often. “Don’t forget to follow your dreams. Please take care of my girl too,” she’d said.

My grandma knew me very well and she had seen my love for taking care of those around me. She adored that, but she worried to know end that I would always put myself last. I promised her before she passed that I would make myself a priority and follow my dreams. That, seven years ago, was the day I began taking myself and my writing seriously.

Now, that we’re a few months into 2018 sometimes goals and motivation start to lag, and we need to be reminded to keep going. Follow our passions. Push through what feels to be impossible. Show yourself what you’re made of and write all those beautiful words.

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Each day throughout April, write a quote on an index card and post it somewhere so you can see it, or you can read it out loud, if you’d rather. Let’s spring our writing forward with motivation, inspiration, and allow ourselves to see where we’re growing, not where we’re falling short. Here’s a selection of quotes to get you jumping forward.

  • Write with confidence because your opinions count—Chloe Henderson
  • One of the key joys about being a writer is that everyone seems to do it slightly different—Marcus Sedgwick
  • Keep your writing time sacred—Chloe Henderson
  • It is a delicious thing to write, to be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creation— Gustave Flaubert
  • As soon as you start to pursue a dream, your life wakes up and everything has meaning— Barbara Sher
  • The prerequisite for me is to keep my well of ideas full. This means living as full and varied a life as possible— Michael Morpurgo
  • As is the case with anything that requires hard work, the more you do it the better you will become. Write as often as possible, and don’t feel you need to carry on from where you left off-you could write a scene that appears later, then you have the exciting puzzle of how to get from where you are to that scene—Chloe Henderson
  • Enjoy the process of writing and what you learn about yourself—Chloe Henderson
  • The secret of getting ahead is getting started— Mark Twain
  • I write only because there is a voice within me that will not be still— Sylvia Plath
  • I admire anybody who has the guts to write anything at all— E.B. White
  • Break routine occasionally and surprise yourself by doing a new activity or exploring somewhere new. People-watching can be very inspiring to a writer. Imagine the stories people must tell, where they are going and what their dreams are—Chloe Henderson
  • Dream your idea into being. Don’t force it—Chloe Henderson
  • One must be drenched in words . . . to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment— Hart Crane
  • If you want to write, you can. Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent, whatever that is— Richard Rhodes
  • Even the great writers admit to poor first drafts. You’re in good company—Chloe Henderson
  • I’ve found it helpful to spend time with my writing project like it is a person rather than a thing— Gilmore Tamny
  • Use your own experiences both good and bad—as fuel for your writing—Chloe Henderson
  • It’s better to write something imperfect that you could improve on later, then stare at a piece of paper (or a screen) waiting for “the muse” to inspire you—Deborah Nam-Krane
  • You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you’ve got something to say— F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Like life, your characters will need to go through highs and lows in order to appear as real as possible to the reader, and so that the reader will root for them and be interested enough to know what happens to them—Chloe Henderson
  • Look inside yourself, then beyond yourself and see that everyone has a unique story to tell-what’s yours—Chloe Henderson
  • I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means— Joan Didion
  • The good writer seems to be writing about himself, but has his eye always on that thread of the universe which runs through himself and all things—Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • If you have an idea just before going to bed, write it down or text/email it to yourself- because you won’t remember it in the morning—Chloe Henderson
  • Allow yourself to make mistakes—Chloe Henderson
  • Look for inspiration in your own work—seek out small clues in your writing that you can develop—Chloe Henderson
  • Don’t just celebrate your big wins. Celebrate for your failures, losses, and every little step you take that leads to the big steps. They’re all important in your personal journey—Lauri Schoenfeld

Learn from the rainstorms and remember they help to make things blossom! Keep writing and finish those stories. People are waiting to hear yours.

_____________________________

Lauri Schoenfeld’s first love is her little clan of three silly kidlets and her wonderful hubby, Andy. Writing is a close second. She began writing poems at the age of nine, and her love for literature and music developed into composing thirty songs.  In 2014 her short story, Christmas Treasure, was featured in an anthology called, Angels from their Realms of Story.  Her favorite genre to write is anything dark, psychological, and suspenseful, but she enjoys expanding her horizons and dipping her feet in other genres as well.  Lauri teaches summer writing classes for kids and mentors teens throughout the year. She’s a Child Abuse and Scoliosis Survivor. Lauri runs a group for teen girls with Scoliosis called, The S Squad. Their motto is Strength, Support and Self Confidence.  She’s been known to dance around the house with a spoon as her microphone and sneak toppings from the ice cream bar. Lauri’s taken online classes at the Institute of Children’s Literature and was the President of the League of Utah Writers, Oquirrh Chapter for two years.  She’s a member of Crime Writers and International Thriller Writers.

Pain

We all go through it either psychologically, emotionally, or physically. A lot of times it can end up being all three. No one shares their agony exactly in the same way as another because of our different personalities, upbringing, experiences, and perspectives. But, we all deal with pain. None of us are free from it.

As you’re writing, your character or characters will always have something in one of these areas that they’re striving to get through. Trying to understand and process. They may be searching out who they are, and maybe because of their upbringing, or culture, this search causes them a great deal of affliction, going outside the grain of figuring those pieces out. Maybe the loss of someone they love has greatly affected their worth, will, drive, or purpose for existence. Or physically, an illness they feel is so intense that even getting up to take a shower is too much to handle. Each area can weaken your characters spirit and heart.

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Readers want to keep reading because pain is a universal thing, even if they don’t completely relate to what that character’s dealing with. They want to root for them. The readers feel the agony and have empathy on how much this space hurts the characters deeply and they want to be there to push them forward.

The hero’s journey for our characters is constant movement within that anguish. Getting to the next step which can be more intense, scary, hard, and worse before it gets better. Our character will want to leave, but they’ll have to make the hard choice to face it and keep going through the storm. By doing so . . . some answers, lessons, and moments will define them.

Here’s a few examples from some of my favorite books. There’s no spoilers on endings!

The character Hazel Grace Lancaster, from Fault in Our Stars, is a seventeen-year-old who has thyroid cancer. It’s started to spread into her lungs, so to breathe properly, she uses a portable oxygen tank. Hazel feels suffering day in and day out. She wants to be understood. To appease her mother, she decides to attend a cancer patients’ support group and meets a teenage boy named Augustus Waters. They begin to build a friendship and she finds out he had osteosarcoma, but had his leg amputated and is cancer free. With their friendship they’re able to help each other with the struggles they both face.

In Shutter Island, Teddy Daniels, is devastated by the loss of his wife which took place in a fire. The grief he feels messes with him both emotionally and psychologically, sending him spirally to look for answers about his wife’s death and his own sanity. He wants truth and answers. The story makes you question the depth of this man’s sorrow and wonder where his heads at, but you’re rooting for him to figure it out.

In Wonder, August Pullman, also known as Auggie has “mandibulofacial dysostosis” a rare facial deformity. Surgery is not uncommon for him as he’s had (27) of them. Auggie’s been homeschooled by his mom for eleven years, so when he’s enrolled to go to 5th grade, in a public school, pain and fear of being different sets in. He wants to be accepted and liked. Auggie goes to school anyways and faces the unknown each day.

What hardship is your character dealing with?

Is it physical, mental, or emotional? All of them?

What would your character/characters have to do to face that pain? The next step forward?

What is one thing that your character really wants and is in search for?

  • Hazel wants to be understood/friendship.
  • Teddy wants truth and answers.
  • Auggie wants to be accepted and liked as he is.

For fun and research go through some of your favorite movies and establish what the characters ultimate affliction and want/need (goal) is. Or, even think about your own life story, a friend’s, or a family member. How has their pain/ struggle made them tick? React? How have they handled it?

Now, go write that novel. Bring all the raw emotion in so the reader is sucked into feeling it all right along with your character.

_____________________________

Lauri Schoenfeld’s first love is her little clan of three silly kidlets and her wonderful hubby, Andy. Writing is a close second. She began writing poems at the age of nine, and her love for literature and music developed into composing thirty songs.  In 2014 her short story, Christmas Treasure, was featured in an anthology called, Angels from their Realms of Story.  Her favorite genre to write is anything dark, psychological, and suspenseful, but she enjoys expanding her horizons and dipping her feet in other genres as well.  Lauri teaches summer writing classes for kids and mentors teens throughout the year. She’s a Child Abuse and Scoliosis Survivor. Lauri runs a group for teen girls with Scoliosis called, The S Squad. Their motto is Strength, Support and Self Confidence.  She’s been known to dance around the house with a spoon as her microphone and sneak toppings from the ice cream bar. Lauri’s taken online classes at the Institute of Children’s Literature and was the President of the League of Utah Writers, Oquirrh Chapter for two years.  She’s a member of Crime Writers and International Thriller Writers.

Road Trips & Other Journeys

I just read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, coming home from a road trip, wondering why I’ve never stumbled upon this book before. But, I’m insanely grateful that I’m reading it now. I’ve needed a new perspective, a different outlook, and his words are music to my heart. I feel them. They resonate with me. And I’m better for them. My highlighter can’t go fast enough as I’ve colored page after page of some of my favorite paragraphs. Ones, that I will no doubt come back and read again. I’m not sure if he knew when he was writing this book, that it would have the impact that it does, but it changed me!

In my personal life, I always have a plan set in motion, knowing exactly where I’m going to go. I can see it, feel it, and even breathe the excitement of the next chapter. Until, life happens and a bump in the road leaves me flying on the asphalt. I promise you, that’s never in my agenda for my story as I know that’s not in yours either. That’s the thing with life – much like writing a book – it never quite goes the way you start out planning it to be.

A lot of times as writers and creatives, we get discouraged that this section needs to written, once again. It’s a cycle, the rewrites of life as you will. But, somewhere along the many edits and revisions, our story transforms and we grow along with it. We learn new ways and techniques that we wouldn’t have seen before, if we hadn’t changed our perspective and tried again. We sit down at the desk after long hours of re-working a scene, and keep going even when it’s tough . . . because deep down we know that we’ll come out better for what we’ve written. It won’t break us. Even when it feels that it just might. It won’t. There’s something deep within us that longs to write this story, and even through all the tough parts, we know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. A purpose for the shifts that we must make. There’s moments, we need reinforcements to come in, and help guide us to a place that demands some love and attention, so we can progress and grow.

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Isn’t that what life’s all about? Hitting the ground and asking ourselves, “How are you going to create your story now?” It forces us to either stay put, or to stand up and get back in. To re-write that book that you we’re so sure about. Only this time, to have grace in understanding how it really needs to be written to gain the most clarity, for ourselves and the readers. We must be willing to always be teachable, to listen to our inner voice, and draw from those around us whom we trust and know have our best interest at heart.

Our stories in life and writing, are ours. There’ll be bumps, shifts, changes, tears, and much doubt. But, every step will lead us to the writers and humans we need to become. None of our experiences are the same. That’s the beautiful thing. We create the chapters. I’m excited to read yours and have you read mine. What will you make of your story?

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Lauri Schoenfeld’s first love is her little clan of three silly kidlets and her wonderful hubby, Andy. Writing is a close second. She began writing poems at the age of nine, and her love for literature and music developed into composing thirty songs.  In 2014 her short story, Christmas Treasure, was featured in an anthology called, Angels from their Realms of Story.  Her favorite genre to write is anything dark, psychological, and suspenseful, but she enjoys expanding her horizons and dipping her feet in other genres as well.  Lauri teaches summer writing classes for kids and mentors teens throughout the year. She’s a Child Abuse and Scoliosis Survivor. Lauri runs a group for teen girls with Scoliosis called, The S Squad. Their motto is Strength, Support and Self Confidence.  She’s been known to dance around the house with a spoon as her microphone and sneak toppings from the ice cream bar. Lauri’s taken online classes at the Institute of Children’s Literature and was the President of the League of Utah Writers, Oquirrh Chapter for two years.  She’s a member of Crime Writers and International Thriller Writers.

Finding An Agent

A few months ago, I finished my novel. After multiple revisions and edits, I felt confident about moving on to the next step. Time to find an agent! The excitement to be in this new stage of the writing journey, was both exhilarating and completely daunting.

Now what? Years of working on my craft, and now, in a sense, I was starting all over again in a new space. Where I had tools in my pocket for plotting, character development, dialogue, writing description and more, I didn’t feel like much of a girl scout on “finding an agent.”

  • Was there a right way to do this?
  • How do I find an agent that loves my work?
  • How many agents should I query at the same time?

The unknown of the new process brought many unanswered questions and concerns for me, much like giving yourself a diagnosis from google before going to the doctor. I wanted to find an agent that would see my potential, love my work, and would pursue it. One that would fight for the stories I’d send them.

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How do you go about getting that agent?

1. Figure out what genre you’re writing. This is super important, so that you make sure you’re sending your story to an agent who’s actually looking, and wanting your style and genre of work. This also helps to allow you to lower your search down some. If you’ve written a mystery, don’t send it to agents that aren’t interested in mystery. Even if you think it’s the most amazing story next to Sherlock Holmes, DON’T DO IT.

2. Go to conferences or workshops. A lot of times, there are opportunities to do pitch sessions, manuscript evaluations, and to speak one-on-one with an agent. If you get that opportunity, take it. Not only are you able to build confidence and talk about your story, you get to know the agent, and they get a feel for who you are. Seeing someone’s personality and if you click, what you like about them, even how you feel around them . . . a good start. This allows you to pick out different things you’d want in the future from an agent as far as personality, work ethic, and mannerisms. It’s nice to know that your working relationship could be a good fit.

3. Social Media Sites. We live in a world where you can get to know a lot about publishing companies and agents through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The things that they post show you as an author who they are, what they like, and who they represent. At conferences, when you meet agents, make sure to get a business card with their info, and give them one of yours. This is a great way to make a connection, so you both can find each other online.

4. Online websites. There are so many resources you can find that will give you a list of agents, and what their specific needs are.

  • Querytracker.com
  • Manuscriptwishlist.com
  • Writers.net
  • Writersmarket.com

5. Books are a great tool as well. Writers Market puts out multiple additions every year with updated information on agents and publishing companies. The two books I typically get are Guide to Literary Agents 2018 and Writer’s Market 2018. They’re available now through Writer’s Digest. They have multiple additions with articles on how to write a query letter, what an agent does, and writing a synopsis.

6. Once you find agents who are interested in your specific genre, make a list and research each one even further. Go to their websites. Read everything you can about them. Check out their company motto, what’s important to their business, and what their main focus for authors is. Visit the submission guideline section. Get acquainted with what the company and agent would like you to send to them. Read up on foreign rights, who they represent, and news on what books or movie rights they’re selling. The more information you have about each agent, you can more fully find the best fit for what your author and story needs are.

7. Ask friends in your writing community who represents them and what they like about the company. Pick their brain about the market, questions they asked their agents, and things they’ve learned along the way.

Enjoy this new stage in your writing journey. Remember, the only way you move forward is by taking the first step.

_____________________________

Lauri Schoenfeld’s first love is her little clan of three silly kidlets and her wonderful hubby, Andy. Writing is a close second. She began writing poems at the age of nine, and her love for literature and music developed into composing thirty songs.  In 2014 her short story, Christmas Treasure, was featured in an anthology called, Angels from their Realms of Story.  Her favorite genre to write is anything dark, psychological, and suspenseful, but she enjoys expanding her horizons and dipping her feet in other genres as well.  Lauri teaches summer writing classes for kids and mentors teens throughout the year. She’s a Child Abuse and Scoliosis Survivor. Lauri runs a group for teen girls with Scoliosis called, The S Squad. Their motto is Strength, Support and Self Confidence.  She’s been known to dance around the house with a spoon as her microphone and sneak toppings from the ice cream bar. Lauri’s taken online classes at the Institute of Children’s Literature and was the President of the League of Utah Writers, Oquirrh Chapter for two years.  She’s a member of Crime Writers and International Thriller Writers.

Roadblocks in Writing

Trying to write this article the past few weeks, has been a struggle. I usually have so many things to say, but I kept drawing a blank. I’d done my usual walks, and went people watching. Normally nature and my surroundings guide me to the page, but not this time. I just kept waiting. Finally, I had something to write. Getting to the point of sending it, my computer had some issues and I’d lost it all.

Disappointment and anger gripped me. I now was also behind on getting my article sent in too. The happy camper had left the building.

Doubt’s been knocking at my door a lot lately, and I’ve let it. I’m the only one who can allow a trespasser in, and tell myself that they’re a guest. A guest can stay for a while, if you don’t give them a time frame of how long they’re welcome. An extended stay has been invading my mind space.

We can all choose to make something happen, or sit and wait for it to come to us. I’m typically a very proactive, go getter. But, I was getting comfortable in what felt familiar. Really comfortable. The bean bag was forming to my body with how relaxed I’d become.

I’ve started a new process the past few months and it involves the art of querying agents. Where I’m super stoked about this new stage, I’ve also had the discomfort of knowing that I have no idea what I’m doing. It’s all new compared to the projects I’ve been brainstorming, writing, editing, and revising about a million times for the past few years. I’ve felt lost and that’s taken me away from the thing I should be doing.

Writing.

I’m over-thinking, and in turn that’s not allowing my creative juices to flow as freely.

Inspiration does happen. There are moments of it that come streaming in like lit sparklers. You feel the excitement and surge of this brilliant writing piece you’re creating, and building. But, not always. There are going to be times that nothing comes to you at all and you have that doubt setting in, but you still need to show up. Nothing moves forward . . . ever, until you make the decision to get to it. Even when you feel like there’s not much to say, or you don’t know what to do . . . keep trying. Sometimes, you need to let go of the old comforts, and allow yourself to try something new. It’s not going to be the same as what you’ve been working at, and it shouldn’t be. Starting again, means there’s more learning, experience, and opportunities for growth. Ones you might never learn without restarting.

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One of my favorite quotes is by Will Smith. “You don’t try to build a wall. You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say I’m gonna’ build the biggest, wall that’s ever been built. You say, I’m gonna’ lay this brick, as perfectly as a brick can be laid, and you do that every single day. Soon, you’ll have a wall. It’s difficult to take the first step when you look at how big the task is. The task is never huge to me. It’s always one brick.”

Show up.

Be gentle to yourself when things are new or when there’s a unexpected roadblock.

One step at a time.

And, be open to see the silver lining of how your bricks are the stepping stones to your fortress.

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Lauri Schoenfeld’s first love is her little clan of three silly kidlets and her wonderful hubby, Andy. Writing is a close second. She began writing poems at the age of nine, and her love for literature and music developed into composing thirty songs.  In 2014 her short story, Christmas Treasure, was featured in an anthology called, Angels from their Realms of Story.  Her favorite genre to write is anything dark, psychological, and suspenseful, but she enjoys expanding her horizons and dipping her feet in other genres as well.  Lauri teaches summer writing classes for kids and mentors teens throughout the year. She’s a Child Abuse and Scoliosis Survivor. Lauri runs a group for teen girls with Scoliosis called, The S Squad. Their motto is Strength, Support and Self Confidence.  She’s been known to dance around the house with a spoon as her microphone and sneak toppings from the ice cream bar. Lauri’s taken online classes at the Institute of Children’s Literature and was the President of the League of Utah Writers, Oquirrh Chapter for two years.  She’s a member of Crime Writers and International Thriller Writers.

Lessons from A Bookstore

I just started working at a bookstore, a few times a week. My first day was more than I’d imagined. As a kid, I dreamed of being surrounded by books, as that felt like home to me. Now decades later, I stepped inside the store, and was home in a sense. Turning in every direction to see stacks and rows, of somewhat chaotic and neat aisles, gave me sheer excitement. Oh, the adventures I would have here, in the center of many brilliant and creative minds. The smell of books, well . . . it’s quite amazing! If you haven’t sniffed a book lately, you should. Bliss.

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Carefully placing these masterpieces on the shelf, seeing writer friend’s books on display, and sharing my favorites titles and authors with customers . . . a dream. I had thought about these things, and how it would be to work at a bookstore for months before I started my job. I didn’t think about my absolute favorite thing though, as I wouldn’t have understood it, or the magnitude of it, that I do now. It’s filled me with a whole new sense of appreciation for my craft and myself as I create, but for readers as well.

My manager had told me stories about “regulars” who came in once a week, on a Monday, at the same time everyday. I anticipated seeing this.

The following Monday, I got to work, ready to greet this lovely couple into our store. They were an elderly couple. Visiting the bookstore, came after paying bills, a trip to the post office, and grocery shopping. Once their errands were done, they would have a few hours to come in and take time, buying a book for each other. This couple, put thought into their purchase and stayed for two hours, walking every aisle, laughing, giggling, and reading the first page of multiple books. It was an experience, to buy a treasure for one another. Not something to rush through because they knew this new book would become a close friend. They held hands, and walked to the register. Leaving with new books and a promise to come back the following week.

Everyday book lovers come in with a smile, and leave with an even bigger one. I got a giant hug from a woman who desperately wanted to find, Voyager by Diana Gabaldon, for her book club read. She’d been three places and it was sold out. We happened to have not only that one, but the whole series. She squealed and thanked me repeatedly. A older gentleman called to ask me for every single copy I could find in hardcover of The Hardy Boys, starting at sixty-six on up. When I told him I had sixty-seven in the store, and could get him the rest, he laughed with such heart and excitement. His inner child held found memories of this collection. A lady in her mid-twenties, came in to discuss with me her passion for philosophy and the power of the mind. We had a very in-depth heart to heart conversation about religion, the world, and our views on mind-set. She left with ten books that day, all by different authors. A mother of three sat in the picture book section for an hour, reading page after page, with a smile, a tear, or a laugh out loud moment. She couldn’t pick just one, and with that bought twenty books. So many lovely people, have talked to me about their favorite characters. Even mentioning to me, that they think about what that character would do, when faced with a tough decision. This is what it’s all about.

Writing.

It makes a difference.

Readers love the books they hold in their hands. Valued treasures. Friends. Most of the time, they become longtime friends.

No one is every asking me for the same title. EVER.

Western American History.

Gritty Horror Fiction.

Humorous picture book with a pig.

Vegan cookbooks

Mystery in space for a 8-10 boy.

How to build confidence books for young girls.

Some customers know exactly what they want and need. They know their section and dart straight over to it. Others, want to experience the store. Many times I’ve heard, “I didn’t plan enough time today. I’m going to come back when I have more time to enjoy myself.” It’s not just a purchase when you’re buying a book, it’s an adventure. A time to escape, and enjoy the moment of finding a new gem. I have a whole new list of books to read that cherished customers have recommended, and I gave them recommendations on books I adore and cherish. They also have left with the characters I’ve fallen in love with over the years.

Sometimes, as we’re writing, we forget what we’re doing it for. What’s the point? When we feel exhausted, overworked, unappreciated, and it becomes too heavy . . . remember this. Readers are waiting for your stories. They ask for different genres. They love all types of characters. Readers want characters they can relate to, that reach them to the very core. A world that takes them somewhere else. Emotion that brings feelings out, that they didn’t even know was there. This is what we do.

It is important.

It does make a difference.

You make a difference.

If you forgot this, go to a bookstore and take time going up and down the aisles. Smell the books and touch the pages. Pick some off the shelf and hold them in your hands. Think about why you write. Think about the messages and thoughts that stir in you, that want to be heard. Sit on the floor, and be the reader. Allow yourself to feel, to escape, and to enjoy the journey with the character inside the book you’re holding.

Promise to come back and visit again. And, go home. Sit at your computer, and write, but . . . write for you.

_____________________________

Lauri Schoenfeld’s first love is her little clan of three silly kidlets and her wonderful hubby, Andy. Writing is a close second. She began writing poems at the age of nine, and her love for literature and music developed into composing thirty songs.  In 2014 her short story, Christmas Treasure, was featured in an anthology called, Angels from their Realms of Story.  Her favorite genre to write is anything dark, psychological, and suspenseful, but she enjoys expanding her horizons and dipping her feet in other genres as well.  Lauri teaches summer writing classes for kids and mentors teens throughout the year. She’s a Child Abuse and Scoliosis Survivor. Lauri runs a group for teen girls with Scoliosis called, The S Squad. Their motto is Strength, Support and Self Confidence.  She’s been known to dance around the house with a spoon as her microphone and sneak toppings from the ice cream bar. Lauri’s taken online classes at the Institute of Children’s Literature and was the President of the League of Utah Writers, Oquirrh Chapter for two years.  She’s a member of Crime Writers and International Thriller Writers.

Be Present & Enjoy Your Writing Stage

My kids have grown. They’re my babies and always will be, but we’re past the diapers, toddler story time, bottles, learning to count, tying shoes, and nursery rhymes. I loved that stage. I felt happy in that space. I understood it and was comfortable. Where it wasn’t easy, and it had a lot of days full of chaos and meltdowns, I knew the routine and what my children needed in large part. And I enjoyed it. I loved getting down on the floor and playing games with them, having a little buddy at my side, and someone to laugh with. Goofy was always a must. Dress-up’s? Yes! Farting contests? I admit, we had those too, and it was hilarious.

School started and my little people are gone now. I sent them off this morning with a hug, a positive thought, and a wave goodbye. My little man, Peter, just started first grade. He sent me off with, “Mama, how will you be okay without me? Wait, how will I be okay without you?” He paused and hugged my leg. “Mama, I miss you already.”

Did I cry? You bet I did. I had a long cry, and then I did affirmations in my car about what I had to look forward to.

You’re probably wondering how this relates to writing. Hold on. I’m getting there.

Over the summer, I really wanted to make a point to embrace every moment I had with my kids, before they went to school. At first, I wondered how and when I would have time to write, but decided I would figure it out and enjoy the now with my children. I would cherish the stage of life I was in. To be present. I spent the day with them, and at night, I sat with my computer for a while nurturing my words. For two weeks, I turned off Facebook and all social media sites. That was a pretty radical move for me, but I was present with my kids and everything around me. And when I had writing time . . . I wrote.

Present.

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To be in the moment of where you are, who you are with, and to just “be.” The dictionary states that it means current, existing, and to occur now.

A few weeks ago, we went to the zoo. This lady sat across from me at the splash pad. She had dark hair, and a red bandana tied up on her head. Her eyes were only on one thing . . . her daughter. You could tell by the way she looked at the little girl, that she was this woman’s whole world. It was a hot day, but the lady wore long pants, and a tank top. Colorful caterpillar tattoos covered her right arm. On her left side, she was missing her other arm. I couldn’t help but wonder about her story. What she’d been through, and who she was. What was the meaning behind the colorful caterpillars all up and down her arms?

That’s how it started and then a story began. A character that intrigued me, that I wanted to know more about . . . awoke. If I’d been on my phone, I would’ve missed this strong character, with beautiful confidence and vulnerability. When I turn off the noise, look at my surroundings, listen to the conversations my children have, or take a walk and view nature . . . inspiration hits, and my creative fire ignites.

Writing comes in stages, just as life does.

We’re all going through it at different paces. We’re learning, and growing, struggling and trying to figure out the next step. None of our stories are the same. None of our lives are identical. We’re the protagonist and antagonist in our own lives. Sometimes, at the same time.

I’m in a new stage of life. I will experience things differently than my next-door neighbor, or a long-time friend. I’ll express openly. Maybe, some people are cheering that their kids are in school, and others feel like they’re lost on what to do now. Even if you don’t have children, we all understand letting go in some form. It can be, both tough and invigorating. This is where empathy comes into play toward yourself. There are seasons for every one of us. We may wish that our book is done, to have a novel published, to create a new story, or to be able to write hours at a time. There are moments this will indeed happen, and you’ll be on a roll, but at other times, it will be a slower rhythm than what you want. In those moments, be present, and focus on what you have done, not on what you haven’t accomplished. Keep going and don’t compare your journey to someone else.

The raw emotion behind your struggles, pain, joy, vulnerability, and personality, drive your characters to the page. Your stories awaken when you experience life, people, and the world. When you pause, get out of your comfort zone, and turn down the noise, you get to hear one voice . . . your own. Stop looking at what you don’t have, and really look at where you are, and how far you’ve come.

Most of all, be gentle. Go at your own pace. Send yourself a positive thought before you propel forward, and wave goodbye as you move to the next stage.

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Lauri Schoenfeld’s first love is her little clan of three silly kidlets and her wonderful hubby, Andy. Writing is a close second. She began writing poems at the age of nine, and her love for literature and music developed into composing thirty songs.  In 2014 her short story, Christmas Treasure, was featured in an anthology called, Angels from their Realms of Story.  Her favorite genre to write is anything dark, psychological, and suspenseful, but she enjoys expanding her horizons and dipping her feet in other genres as well.  Lauri teaches summer writing classes for kids and mentors teens throughout the year. She’s a Child Abuse and Scoliosis Survivor. Lauri runs a group for teen girls with Scoliosis called, The S Squad. Their motto is Strength, Support and Self Confidence.  She’s been known to dance around the house with a spoon as her microphone and sneak toppings from the ice cream bar. Lauri’s taken online classes at the Institute of Children’s Literature and was the President of the League of Utah Writers, Oquirrh Chapter for two years.  She’s a member of Crime Writers and International Thriller Writers.