Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Improving Author At Work

Want to know what I love? Well, obviously I'm going to tell you because I can't hear your answer. I love finding a debut novel that is fabulous, but not overly so. Then, as the author writes more books, I can read more of their blossoming talents and gain inspiration. Because if they can write something that will hold my attention for more than five pages, and improve their skills with each book, I have hope for myself.

Wow, that sounds narcissistic. Like, the only reason I like to read the other guys is to compare them to what I'm doing. I hope I'm not that bad. Because I want to be a solo cheerleader silently egging them on to keep up their momentum of self improvement. Support, positive wishes, and appreciation for their efforts--I want to be a part of all that.

But dang it, I'd be lying to myself if I can't admit that seeing others improve gives me hope for self-improvement. Maybe someday, writers will be watching me from the side lines. Sending me blessings of encouragement as each book grows into something better than before.

This weekend, I published the first two Scout and Ellie books: The Birthday Party and The Beauty Pageant, on to Kobo and NookBook. In doing so, I glided over my earliest attempts at writing those fun chapter books. And guess what I found? I like the first one, and each one is better than the last. Yey! Feels good to be getting better at the craft I love. Means there is hope for me yet. I didn't spill out all the talent that I will ever possess onto the first book and then leave myself exhausted of ideas.

Life for this writer will go on. Whew. Close call on that one.

Want to know what else I've gotten better at over the years? I know you are just springing with anticipation. Parenting. I've improved by elephant sized footsteps (get the Ellie reference? Oh, I am so clever). Talking, listening, being present, working with the boys, natural consequences, all those good parent things--I simply rock at. I'm exaggerating, but let me boost my parental self-esteem here. Even if I am lying to myself a smidge.

Okay, so here is the Catch-22. They are fifteen and eighteen now. Their need for my guidance is not as needy as is was in Kindergarten. So, while I got better, they've needed my services less and less. How does that make sense? What god came up with that trick, huh?

So I guess that puts writing on a more sensible path. As I improve, I write more books that people will benefit from. At least one of my two life callings is practical.

But then, someday those kids of mine will have kids. Maybe I'll get lucky and they will ask me for parenting advice. That will wrap up the parent learning cycle into something that makes sense.

Hey, maybe the Universe does have some order behind all the usual craziness we see everyday.

Heather Leigh,
Writing-improving author

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