# 35 - The Art of Letter-Writing

The art of letter-writing is practically extinct - and I'm just as guilty as anyone.

I decided it would be fun to write letters to my kids and send them every few days over the course of our trip. So I was at Wal-Mart the other day, shopping for stationary.

I was amazed to find that they don't sell any stationary. None. Seriously. That is a really sad sign that nobody writes letters anymore.

I have a book called "Letters" by Marjorie Pay Hinckley. It contains a lot of the letters she wrote to her husband when he was away, and to other people throughout the years. As I read them, I was thinking how sad it is that everything is done through e-mail these days.

I'd like to see a raise of hands by those who love to get letters in the mail. Every time I go to the mailbox, I have this moment of anticipation. What's going to be in there? Maybe a package. Maybe a letter. Maybe a card. 99.9% of the time, all that is in there is junk mail and bills. Sad.

Now, let's see a raise of hands of those who love to write letters and send them in the mail. Particularly, hand-written letters. Hmmmmm... That's what I thought.

So, I've decided to make a goal to write at least one letter to as many of my friends and loved ones as I can. Please don't feel bad if you don't get one, as I might miss some of you, or fail to meet my goal. In fact, if anyone who is reading this is disappointed when they don't get a letter in the mail, go ahead and send me one. I'll be sure and return the favor. :)

Anyone else up to the challenge? If you can commit to writing at least one hand-written note to at least one person, leave a note in my comments. I'd love to start a revolution. ;)

# 34 - The Slow Lane

I'm really enjoying life in the slow lane.

There's a lot of hype about the fast lane, but I've learned in the last few weeks that it's WAY over-rated.

I've always gone about 10 mph over the speed limit. I've had my reasons for believing that you will never get a ticket for going 10 over or less, and in my 15 years of experience, I have never been pulled over for doing any less than about 13 over, which reinforced my belief. It may or may not be true, but it's my perception, so there you go.

Well, I got pulled over by a gold SUV a few months ago. (As an aside, I think it's awesome how cops are starting to go undercover. There are a lot of people who only slow down when they see a cop. You'd never think the gold SUV behind you is a cop until it's too late.) I was going 10 over, but I was in a hurry and every time I'd look at the speedometer, I had pushed it up to 15 over, so I'd try to slow it down, but I was living right there on the edge, and it really made me mad at myself when I got pulled over.

After that, I tried to be more careful, but I was still driving in the 10-over range.

Well, I decided a month or so ago that I would try an experiment. I started driving 5 over and I was absolutely, jaw-droppingly amazed at how much less stressed I felt as I drove around town. I coupled that with a serious effort at leaving for things early and I was so very excited at my new-found knowledge that I could actually slow it down a bit and not feel like I had to stay right on the tail of the guy in front of me.

A week or two into the experiment, I was talking to my dad about it and it hit me - if I felt that much better slowing it down to 5 over, what would I feel like if I actually drove the speed limit? I was afraid to try. I didn't want to be that car that has a million people piled up behind them, cursing them for going so slow and making everybody late.

But, I decided to try it and the most amazing thing happened. It seemed like the whole world slowed down, almost as if everyone was in slow motion. When I drive the speed limit, I feel like I can just lean back against the seat-back and breathe. Nothing bothers me. I accelerate a lot less vigorously now, and I start slowing down for lights long before I used to, rolling to a stop instead of screeching to one.

Now, I'm wondering what all the hurry was about. I get everywhere I need to go in almost the exact same amount of time I used to get there in. I have to admit, I do feel stressed when I'm going 25 and someone gets on my tail and there's no way to pass. I speed up to about 5 over at that point, but then I tell myself not to let them bully me into speeding. So I try to just breathe deep breaths, force myself to relax, and go 5 over until they're past.

In 6 days, I'm about to take my slow-down experiment to the next level. I'm actually going to move out of the slow lane and park my car on the shoulder. My husband and I are going on an 11 - count them, 11 - day vacation. 11 days and 10 nights of absolute, blissful freedom. We'll be on a cruise for 5 of those nights. Talk about parking your car on the side of the road. We'll be pulling our beach towels out of the trunk and setting them up right there off the side of the freeway - figuratively speaking, of course.

I'm going to miss my kids like crazy and worry about them, but it is going to be soooo nice to go snorkeling off the coast of Mexico, ride roller coasters at Six Flags, make out whenever I feel like it, day or night. *blush* Did I just say that? At least most of you have probably stopped reading by now. :)

Seriously, I don't think I've ever done anything half this exciting and fun in my life. DH and I never even had a Honeymoon. The closest thing to this that we've ever done is a 2 day, 1 night trip to Victoria, BC for our 10 year anniversary. That was just a small taste of what this vacation is going to be like.

Back to the original point of my post - I highly encourage everybody to just slow down and relax. In this fast-paced world, we all need to relax a little bit. You don't have to go to the spa to get pampered - pamper yourself right on the freeway by relaxing on your way to your kids' next soccer game.

# 33 - Naming Posts

I'm getting a little tired of naming all my posts "Confession #XX"

So, that's my confession for today. :)

Actually, I think I'm going to keep it up because it presents a kind of challenge for me to come up with an opening sentence that sounds somewhat like a confession instead of just giving each post a catchy title and plunging into it without much thought.

#32 - Critique Group

I'm now part of a critique group.

Part of me has been longing to join a critique group for a long time now, and part of me was scared. As the date approached for our group to meet, I just about backed out. I can't really say what I was so scared of. It's not like I've never had my work read and critiqued before. I attended a class called "Boot Camp" at the last two LDStorymaker conferences where we all go around to different tables, read each other's work, and critique it.

I guess it was just the commitment of knowing the same people would be reading my work over and over that freaked me out. It wasn't just some random strangers who would change tables in 20 minutes and I wouldn't have to worry so much what they thought of me or my writing.

So, last night, our group met for the first time. I just have to say that it was awesome! If there are any writers out there who aren't part of a critique group, I'd strongly encourage you to get into one. It was so fun to read each other's work and have them critique my work.

Plus, I feel like this is going to help motivate me to stay on task and keep writing. Knowing that I'm going to have to meet with them in 2 weeks and have something more to show them is putting a fire under my derrière. After we introduced ourselves and I had to admit I've started a few different books and never finished one, they told me one of their goals is going to be to help me finish a book. I'll keep you updated on how that goes.

# 31 - Harnessing My Creativity

I'm having a hard time harnessing my creativity.

I haven't been writing again lately. I just have a hard time keeping my focus. I keep coming back to this idea for a book I want to write that I think could be really great, but I have no idea how to write it.

Basically, I want to write about someone who has lost touch with reality. The story I want to write is much deeper and more complex than that, but that is the real issue I need to tackle in order to have a chance at writing this book.


My husband and I just watched a movie called "The Fountain." I looked up some information on the movie after we watched it, and it is supposedly a story that interweaves the distant past, the present, and the far (and I emphasize FAR) future. That's not what I saw when I watched it. What I saw was a man who went crazy because he was on the brink of discovering a cure for his wife's fatal condition right when she dies. I saw him having delusions, thinking he was in the distant past trying to save a queen from dying, and at other times, hallucinating about trying to save a dying tree in a very warped and strange kind of world. While watching the movie, I felt that it portrayed psychosis solely from the perspective of the person who is delusional. While very interesting and thought-provoking, I felt it was just too hard to understand. Yes, that leaves the viewer/reader to draw their own conclusions and is very artistic and everything, but I don't think that is the most effective way to tell the story.


I have actually experienced a time in my life recently where I completely lost touch with reality and had to be hospitalized. That's all I'm going to tell you about my personal life, but I tell you that to say simply that I feel I can write on the topic of psychosis from a perspective of personal experience.

My original thought was to write the book in a fully omniscient point of view, but I've scrapped that idea. Although it does let the reader see everything that's going on at once, it's just too detached. There's just no way to get the feeling of the characters and really delve into their experience that way.

So here's the question - how do you write it in a way that portrays what it's like, while still having it make sense enough to the reader for them to get something out of it? I don't think writing it solely from the psychotic person's perspective would be the best way to go because it's just too darn confusing. Although, I think it could be very powerful if I could pull it off. "The Fountain" was very confusing, but after watching it through to the end and talking it over with my husband, I felt I understood what was going on. My interpretation wasn't at all like the writers had in mind, but maybe that's the best kind of art.

If I were to write it from any other perspective, I couldn't get the true feeling of what's happening inside the main character, and therefore I would lose a lot of the effect and meaning of what I'm trying to portray.

One option is to tell the story in the William Faulkner fashion. "My mother is a fish." is the chapter that comes to mind. Each chapter contains the thoughts and perspective of another person in the story, so that all the different characters' thoughts, perspectives, experiences, and beliefs can be shown. Unlike the 3rd person limited omniscient viewpoint, Faulkner actually writes each chapter in 1st person; each character gets to talk in their own voice in their own respective chapters.

The most conventional way to write the story would be to use limited 3rd person, where the character whose "head we are in" changes, but the story is never told by them in the "I" fashion; it is always in 3rd person. I just don't know if I could really tell the story this way without it sounding too modern and mundane.

I don't know; I'm just rambling at this point. If anyone has any thoughts or advice on the subject, feel free to pipe in. Hopefully now that I've dumped some of my thoughts on the subject out on the page here, I'll be able to get back to work on my other projects and finally finish a first draft.

# 30 - Tag

I've been tagged again.

Danyelle tagged me with this Wild, Wacky kind of a tag. I hope you don't mind my stealing your picture for my blog, Danyelle! It is now my duty to share with you seven random, weird things about myself. Brace yourself. ;)

1. Hardly anything makes me laugh. I can sit through an entire episode of Seinfeld with a completely blank look on my face. I can watch a movie that is raved about as being "the most hilarious movie" and wonder what on earth is so funny about this completely stupid movie.

2. On the other hand, when something does tickle my funny bone, I can't stop laughing. For the next few minutes after everyone else is done laughing, the word or phrase that got me going will keep popping back into my head and I'll have to stifle another laugh here and there until I finally get control of myself.

3. I can't stand to be a single minute early to anything. Okay, that's not entirely true, but it's actually, sadly, pretty close. I will be all ready and have the kids all ready to go somewhere, look at the clock, and think, "Oh, I don't need to leave for five more minutes," so I'll dink around and lose track of time and end up being five minutes late. Hmmm.

4. I can't stand to drive a single mile an hour under the speed limit. That's changing, but I'm still having a hard time with it. It goes along with not wanting to be early to anything, and then when I end up late, I'm tense and I drive too fast. But I'm working on it. Stay tuned for a future blog on this subject. :)

5. I eat food off my kids' plates. Ugh! I know, I shouldn't. I'm on a pretty strict diet which I'm not following at all lately. :D But when I did follow it, I got better about just throwing out that 1/4 of a PB&J sandwich on the baby's plate.

6. I'm a disorganized mess. Come look at my bedroom if you don't believe me.

7. I buy sugary cereals for myself, but I pretend they're for my kids. In fact, I blame a lot of things on my kids. Memory loss / airheadedness. Messy house. Lateness. I could go on. :D

Now for the rules of the tag.

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Here are the seven lucky people I've chosen to tag today.

1. Melanie
2. Annie
3. Heather
4. Lindsay
5. Amber
6. Heidi
7. Joy