Why Writers MUST Write

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“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
Anaïs Nin

Here’s what a lot of people don’t understand when it comes to being a writer.

The cadence of words, they way they are communicated from keyboard to screen–to us, it’s lovely. It’s a kind of delicate dance with many missteps.

Many people write for fame and glory. Many people fail.

But those of us who write to remember will always have a reason to rejoice.

The recording of life’s seemingly insignificant moments takes them from ordinary to extraordinary. We are the historians.

If I take a moment to write about the surprise snow day when my son was ten, it ties this moment to both our hearts. If I describe his joy as he ran around in the front yard before 7:30 in the morning, glorying in the ease of the wet snow’s ability to form dozens of snow balls, it won’t be forever forgotten. If I mention how I put a coat on over my scrubs and followed him into the yard for a snowball fight under the treehouse, it matters. And, years later, when my boy is no longer small (he’s 6’5″ now) and the treehouse has been long gone, it won’t seem sad, but precious.

If I don’t note the exact day my  baby girl lost her first tooth, who will? Who will give this moment the importance it deserves? And, years from now, when my daughter has gone gray and visits me at the nursing home, how else will I be able to remember? How else might I carve these memories in my heart, press them to my soul?

Memories fail, but the pen does not.

 

 

5 Mistakes College Freshmen Make

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Hello there! It’s your favorite professor! I noticed you signed up for my composition class and that you are a freshman. Welcome! I want you to be successful! I want you to like school! I want you to thirst for that fresh water from the Fountain of Learning!

But–I have my worries. I’ve seen it before. Sadly, many of you (as many as a third of beginning students) will not make it past this semester.Why do some students thrive in the freedom college presents and others simply sink? I have a few theories I want to share with you. Here are 5 students who will probably not survive their first semester of college.

  1. Students who don’t understand financial aid. This is a huge problem, especially among first generation college students. The FAFSA (the federal financial aid form) is long and complicated, and it’s difficult the first couple of times. The solution: ask for assistance from your financial aid office, or better yet, from someone who has filled out this hellish thing. It’s really important to get it right the first time. Best case scenario if you make a mistake: you have to submit a correction and then wait approximately 100 years for the government to correct it. When you’re waiting to pay for classes, every day counts. Don’t fill it out half-heartedly.
  2. Students who are unprepared for the amount of study time needed. Many students simply do not set aside enough time to complete assignments and to study. College is NOT high school–most students can’t simply absorb the information in one sitting. Good students know that each class needs prep time, study time, and homework time. It’s a lot of time. This is just how it is.
  3. Students who are late or miss too much class and get behind. For the first time, Mama isn’t there to wake you up–it’s all up to you.Sometimes, that bed is so comfortable, so inviting–and before you know it, class time is over. Missing even one hour of valuable instruction can be enough to cause you to be behind for weeks–even the whole semester. I tell my students to think of college as a JOB. Not just any job, but a job they care about. You wouldn’t be late or miss work because in the real world, you would be fired and out the door.
  4. Students who don’t understand social graces. Many students who wouldn’t dream of being rude to their pastor or auntie don’t think twice about sending a rude email or texting through class. Manners matter, and impressing your professor with being polite and respectful might mean a letter of recommendation later on when you’re competing for a job, internship or scholarship. People matter.
  5. Students who don’t talk to peers or the professor. As social media explodes, our world is becoming increasingly isolated. Many students don’t want to leave their comfort zone and talk to their fellow students. They don’t want to open up to their professor when they are struggling with the material. Instead, they suffer in silence and quietly give up. They stop attending and fail or drop. It’s sad! I force my students to talk the first day of class. I make them introduce one fellow student, and I have them  exhange contact information with their neighbor. I pair them up frequently so they get used to one another. Studies show that successful students network. They work together. They form study groups.

I’m really glad you’re in my class. Put your phone away and look me in the eye. Let me help you get used to academic writing, surviving in college, and how to interact with others. Welcome to college! Let’s do this!

 

Article in Southern Writers Magazine

Please enjoy my article in Southern Writers Magazine:

How to Write About the South (Especially When It’s Not Cool to Write About the South)conference3

How to Throw a Successful Book Signing

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You published a book, yay! Now what? Of course, the next step should be to put together a book signing. Book signings are different from book release parties, which are usually less formal. A book signing is imperative to getting your name out there into the public eye.

Read more on Freelancewriting.com:

http://goo.gl/y31dFW

#Nanowrimo Yes, Writers, You Need A Mind

Bob Mayer probably doesn’t remember that he gave me advice that got me published. It happened, ok?

Jerkwads and 1st World Problems

 

This guy.

I’m a reasonable person most of the time. I don’t have a record. I pay my taxes. I buy 2% milk and take vitamins and never litter. I follow the rules.

But when I see stuff like this…well, I feel a little like a vegan trapped at a Texas barbecue. That’s CRAZY.

Why do people think it’s ok to do stuff like this? And what’s more, when I put it on Facebook, a friend of mine responded with “Yeah! I saw that guy there LAST WEEK DOING THE SAME THING.” So this guy is a repeat offender! GRRRR!

I guess I just don’t understand this kind of entitled mentality…someone who says to himself, “You know what? Even though parking spots are rarer than a Longhorn fan in Razorback country, I DESERVE two spaces for my brand new, untagged vehicle. I JUST DO.”

I would NEVER double park my giant truck in front of a popular sushi restaurant! That is unacceptable; only the biggest jerkwads would do that! (My dad, who never cursed, would call people jerkwads.) I might have used another harsher term under my breath.

But wait. Am I REALLY complaining about having to search for a parking spot? Is this the worst thing I’ve had to endure today in my cushy world? Wahhhhhhhh!

Whenever it dawns on me that I’m just as bad as Rude Truck Guy… I’m ashamed.

I often hear people joking about “First World Problems.” That’s really a catch phrase for entitlement. I’m guilty of this, without even realizing it. If the lady at the drive-thru at Starbucks doesn’t immediately come on to take my order, I get miffed. Every second that ticks by I get more annoyed. What’s taking so long? I’m BUSY. I have classes to teach and minds to ignite with knowledge! I can’t be expected to work my magic without my triple capp frapp! THE HORROR. There are people going through serious health issues, mamas grieving their children taken too soon, children going hungry. These are the real tragedies.

How spoiled I am! Here I am, on my way to have dinner with one of my sweetest friends (you all know her as Leigh Ann), at my favorite restaurant that is NOT cheap. Minutes before, I was watching Oklahoma with my Mancub, cuddling with my chihuahua, listening to the rain fall softly on the window of my cozy house. Hours before that, I finished up my first week of my dream job teaching students the joy of writing. I have so many things to be thankful for, but what do I post on Facebook? My outrage at this guy.

Forgive me Jesus.

Thank you for my cozy house that I have the privilege of taking care of. Thank you for my sweet hubby who puts up with my crazy ideas and my obsession with writing and literature. Thank you for my beautiful girls laughing in the kitchen, giving each other a hard time. Thank you for Mancub, who is transforming into a Godly man right before my eyes.

Thank you, Jesus, for these and many more blessings. Soften my heart and show me the ones in need you would have me help.

But listen, while I have you here, could you maybe send a little smiting Jerkwad’s way? Just the smallest smidge of smiting–like a giant bird doo on his precious window. If it’s not too much trouble. Amen!

 

Do you have a First World Pet Peeve you’d like to vent about? Go ahead! I’m with you, Sister!

Like this blog entry? Want to see more? Subscribe to my blog by clicking the button at the top of this page. Please and thank you!

 

 

5 Steps to A Great Essay: Teacher Tips

Maybe it’s been a while since your last writing class, or it might have just been last semester. Whatever your situation, it’s never too soon or too late to gain some knowledge about writing.
1. Know your professor’s expectations regarding the assignment. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times this step is skipped. Writing a long essay when a short one is assigned is not going to get you extra points. Many students only skim the directions, rushing into the assignment half-heartedly. Make sure you put it in the proper formatting.
2. Know your topic. Do some research so you present a valid argument.
3. Know your audience. In most cases, your professor is your audience, so writing an essay entitled “Why College Writing is a Waste of Time” may not be the best choice.
3. Try a fresh take on an old topic. For example, instead of writing about your favorite football player, why not write about the coach?
4. Take the time to do at least one draft. Don’t put it all together in one night and hope for the best. Trust me, your teacher will be table to tell, and your grade will reflect it.
5. Turn in your best copy. Don’t submit a paper that the dog stepped on (even though the paw print might be cute). Make sure it’s a clean copy, and not something that printed crookedly. Presentation matters.
6. Go to the Writing Center. Don’t know where it is? Ask. It should go without saying that your content and writing should be your best and a tutor is a professional reader.
Take a deep breath, dear student. You’ve got this!

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