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#TuesdayTruth – Be real with your kids.

#TuesdayTruth – Be real with your kids.

The best antidote to the distance you feel from your tween or teen is truth. Lie and that distance will grow exponentially. 

Straight outta the 70s – a photo of me as a kid that’s filtered

My youngest daughter is thirteen. Last night she told me some stuff. I guess I should put “stuff” in capital letters. When she was through talking, she said something I will never forget. And I thought I better pass it along to as many people as possible.

Her exact words were, “Mom, you’ve always been authentic with me and that’s why I can tell you anything.”

Yes. I’ve told both of my daughters the truth. Sometimes they’ve asked about it. And sometimes it’s just felt right to share. They know about my uglies and mistakes and personal bloopers. And no. I’m not going to share my stuff with you. 🙂

I was raised to be real. Thanks to my father, Gary, one of my biggest role models,  I am rarely filtered. And when I became a parent, I watched other parents with admiration and scrutiny. Park visits, malls, school events, and friendships – like NSA – I was always watching. And what I noticed is that many parents weren’t real with their kids. Their children asked them questions and parents didn’t answer honestly. I was struck with how destructive that could be to their relationships. That’s when I set my intention to be real. If my kids asked, I’d be open and upfront. 

My unfiltered self has been well-catalogued on my thirteen-year-old’s social media threads. And her friends think I’m goofy and crazy. And yet, her friends hug me when I see them at school. They sit in the backseat of my car as I’m driving them places and speed-gossip loud enough for me to hear. 

Recently, kids at my daughter’s school have struggled with depression and they’ve talked about it in earshot. And I’ve found myself sharing some of my stuff with them, too.

Those are important conversations. These are important people. And they deserve to see the people they love and respect in bright, glaring lights – not as perfect adults that were perfect, law-abiding, parent-obeying, abstaining teens. 

And I’ll leave it at that.

As always, I love you and hope you have a kick ass week.     – Jennifer

 

 

Worst Writing Advice Ever, EVER!

Worst Writing Advice Ever, EVER!

 

pink pencilAs if writing isn’t tough enough, sometimes the hardest part about the craft is filtering out the bad advice you’ve received over the years. And, man we’ve gotten some awful advice haven’t we?

The single worst advice I ever got is to outline. As a fiction writer, the curse of death to a lively, authentic journey propelled by characters is the outline. Having a specific structure in mind before your characters set out on their adventure is like tapping nails into the coffin that is your novel. The key to great stories is to know your characters as well as you know yourself, drop them into a situation and then take notes as their adventures unfold. The outline has no place in fiction writing. Save it for nonfiction writing only, please.

Another doozy of a tip is to write naked. Yep, you read that right. Nude. Birthday suit. The idea is that you will block out all of your internal governors , the ones that inhibit your writing by writing in the buff. Well, unless I’m standing up and sucking in my tummy, naked and seated isn’t a pretty sight, folks. It’d make my inner governors rise up and shout. And they’d be yelling things like, “Three hundred situps now!” I’m guessing the writer of that particular piece of information was a resident of a central California nudist camp. Clothes on or clothes off, you decide. But, if, like me, you prefer clothing – makes sure what you don is comfy so it doesn’t distract you from your work.

From a fun blog post by David Louis Edelman, bad writing tip number three is, “Show, don’t tell.” He says, “News flash: writing is tellling. It’s a completely linguistic art form. There’s no showing involved, unless you’re writing illustrated books like Dr. Seuss.” Mr. Edelman makes an excellent point, though I appreciate the sentiment behind, “Show, don’t tell.” To peruse the rest of his post click here. 

From copyblogger.com, question the advice of countless old-school English teachers who trained us to write lengthy paragraphs with a topic sentence and countless supporting sentences. It’s. Not. How. We. Write. Anymore. The modern world relishes short paragraphs that have varied structure. Write like you speak and you’ll do just fine. For more helpful tips from copyblogger.com, click here.

And finally, as much as I realize it might lead to me being egged the next time I venture outside, I’ve just got to say it. (bracing myself here) If you have a great idea for a novel, don’t, and I mean DON’T, join a writers’ group. New to the craft? You are better off reading some excellent books on writing, my favorite being On Writing, by Stephen King. Or take a novel-writing class at your local college, or hire a local author to share a glass of wine with you every other week and pick her brain. But, writers’ circles are a huge drain on positive energy, their backbone is criticism. You already have enough inhibitors crammed inside your head that you are going to have to learn to ignore. Don’t add to the crowd of negative voices in that fragile writersphere, please.

Oh, and one final piece of bad advice I’d like to debunk…the notion that you have to write everyday for a set amount of time. I understand that writing is a skill, like many others, that requires dedication and training to build endurance. Training yourself to sit in one place with your blank journal page or computer screen is imperative, no doubt. But, everyday? Really? Yes, write regularly. But, don’t forget to get your butt outdoors to experience life in real-time. Living is the fodder of all good writing. So, don’t guilt yourself into screen time, when what you might need most to inspire you is a walk in the park with a friend.

So, tell me. What works for you? What did I miss? What have I got all wrong? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add it to the list.