Monthly Archives: March 2015

My Gay Story

I belong to an underrepresented population in the world of children’s literature. There are very few books for or about being a gay kid. I was a gay kid. I know what it’s like. I should be able to write something.

I’ve thought about writing a gay themed story since I started writing. The thing is, it’s not that simple. I write when the story comes to me. I can’t force it. No story in this genre had come into my head and begged to be written before. I tried. I did. I’m no activist, but I feel it’s important for kids, both gay and strait, to become familiar with gay topics. Being gay should be seen as normal from a young age. Picture book are a perfect medium for this.

This week an incident from my second grade self made its way out of my pencil. Though not completely my story, it is the most autobiographical story I’ve ever written. I even, for now, gave the main character my own name.

I hope there are more. My childhood was not difficult. Not remotely. But I know not every child has it easy. It would be nice to create something that helps make a child’s life a little easier, safer, kinder.

Time to keep writing.

Go with the Flow

One technique people use when writing a first draft is to just let the words flow. Don’t stop. Don’t edit. Don’t overthink. Just get a rough idea of thoughts and words on paper.

I’ve never worked well this way. My approach is just the opposite. I may write out notes or an outline, but when it comes to writing my first draft, I work very slowly and deliberately. I think about each word, I go back to the start and reread, then add another sentence, then reread again. I change things around, start over, try to get things perfect. This is not what people often suggest for a first draft, but it works for me.

Years ago I worked with an amazing group of singers in Washington DC. Eight of us decided to work through Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. We worked through it all. We had weekly meeting to discuss our progress on our daily pages, artist dates and other assignments. The benefits were tremendous. By the end I was freed, inspired, grateful.

I couldn’t have done it on my own, having the group accountability was absolutely necessary. This was especially true with the morning pages. Every morning I would wake 45 minutes earlier than normal to write. Free flow thought. just write without stoping or editing. It didn’t matter the topic or even if made sense, just keep writing. I understood the purpose was not to write well. The purpose was to clear the mind and give you more consciousness for your day.

Even though I was faithful to the assignment, never missing a day, it didn’t feel right for me. Weeks of, basically, gibberish. I never saw the growth and self discoveries that other people seem to have. Please understand – This is no fault of the theory behind it. It was just against everything natural to me. My brain seems to have its own speed and path and does not like changes.

But This is how the morning pages worked for me. I saw that not everything works for everyone. Everyone’s brains works in different ways. My brain can’t focus without pauses to calm it. That’s my brain. Good to know, especially as I now embark on this journey to become a published author. Know thyself.

Why I bring this up … I was working on an idea this week which I really liked, but I was having trouble fleshing out the story. Even for me, I was having too many breaks. Too much stopping and starting. Too many changes. To much indecision.

So I thought I’d try the flow technique. Just write. Don’t stop. Don’t overthink. I did it. I wrote the story. Beginning to end. It was difficult, but every time I felt myself slipping into my usual writing style, I picked up the pencil and just started writing. If I thought of a change I wanted to make to an earlier part of the story, I’d make a quick note and just keep writing.

Now what do I have? A mess. A crazy convoluted story. There are bad word choices, awkward transitions, and poor plot and character development.

I know many people would argue that this is what a first draft is. But for me it is not any more useful than my normal notes or outlines.

Here are the good thing that came from this:
1.  I got the story out of my head and onto the paper.
2.  It only took me 30 minutes.
3.  I can see all of the things that don’t work.
4.  I can see all of the things that do work.
5.  I know there is a usable story hidden in there.
And most importantly
6.  I better understand my writing process.

For me it is important to feel good about what I get on the paper. That’s what keeps me motivated to continue with a story.

I would love to hear if others have more success with the stream of consciousness approach.


Toot-da-doo – Trumpets

Ka-Booooom – Cannon fire

Ahhh Ahhh Ahhhhh – Choir of Angels

I made it to the halfway point! 6 months. That’s 26 weeks of writing, and now I have 26 first drafts written.

But it’s really so much more than that.

In these six months, I’ve studied poetry, rhyme and meter. I may not write the best rhyming stories yet, but I now know how. I’ve dabbled in a dozen genres of picture books, fables, bedtime stories, adventures, songs, poetry, slice of life, multicultural to name a few. I’ve learned about my writing habits, when is the best time for me to write, what inspires me, what keeps me motivated. I’ve started a website for my writing. This includes a blog (obviously) that hase become a personal journal of this journey.

And I’ve gone beyond first drafts. Several of my stories have gone through my critique group and have been going through revisions. Not all of them for sure, but my favorites are moving forward.

The best part of reaching the halfway point is … I’m not done. By the end I will have 52 first drafts. Along the way, who knows what else I will learn and accomplish.

The decision to do this challenge has been the best decision I ever could have made for my writing. It’s changing the way I write, the way I see myself as a writer, and thus, changing my life.

26 weeks done! 26 weeks to go!