So much to do, to write about--so little time. For people
who say, "I want to write." I say: write. We are all writers and
if you do it on a regular basis, published or not, you know what
I'm talking about. A not-so-famous author, like most of us,
Mary Heaton Vorse, who wrote in the latter part of the 19th
century about politics and literature, who wrote fiction and
non-fiction during a time when women were supposed to be
doing domestic chores, is quoted as saying: "The art of writing
is applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair."
Well put. Writing is like playing a musical instrument, one must
practice every day. Once we find our voice, we learn some of the
rules and then we know enough about the art to break them
now and again. The result is a personal style. We write to make
sense out of the chaos, and when we get good enough at it others
want to read what we wrote. We are all writers because we go
through every day writing the manuscript of events and
our understanding of them in our minds, like ribbons of text
fluttering in the breeze of our existence.
My Writing Life
As an author—fiction and non-fiction—editor, writing and publishing coach, grant writer, historian, and
artist, I am a woman of many projects. I am forced to organize and prioritize my days. Writing comes
Ten years ago I retired from a full-time education career to focus on literary endeavors . The first
thing I did was write a memoir. Then I joined a critique group and someone said, "Why would anyone be
interested in your story?" I hadn't formed a thick skin yet (critical for any artist), so I put Growing up
Nancy on the back burner and wrote a novel based on the memoir. My back burner might look like
a messy closet to some, but it all makes sense to me. I suggest it's OK to pursue multiple urges and
projects, but do keep them organized and let one inform the other and in the end you can pull the bunny
out of the hat. Maybe you'll have an audience, maybe not, that's up to you.
BOOKS FOR EDUCATORS
Along the way, I wrote or co-wrote two books for classroom teachers, school administrators,
curriculum developers, and educational technologists:
Connecting Students to S.T.E.M. Careers,
Social Networking Strategies
....looks at critical education topics and issues;
provides ideas and resources for teachers on how to
introduce students to S.T.E.M.-career possibilities using
leading-edge technologies to connect to real people
working at careers in science, engineering, mathematics,
technology, art, and design.
In 2009, the second edition of a book I co-wrote in 2004,
Videoconferencing for K-12 Classrooms, was updated and
continues to help teachers around the world find ways to use
video-based technologies in schools to forge community
partnerships; provides guidelines on how to take students on Virtual Field Trips to science centers,
museums, and sometimes to outer space. Without leaving the classroom, students can talk live and face-
to-face, with scientists, engineers, technologists, and mathematicians. Dreams seem possible and they
discover reasons to pursue lessons that otherwise might feel irrelevant and boring. One conversation
with a woman in an engineering field can change a young girl's life.
Please visit my non-fiction page to learn more about these books.
* * * * *
MY THOUGHTS ON WRITING
To write what others might stay up all night to read is to be willing to practice and learn every day. In
my quest to become a better writer, I attend author readings and lectures. I read religiously what
agents and editors have to say about exceptional writing and the complex pursuit of publication. Every
month, I read my copy of Poets & Writers cover to cover, submit short stories to literary journals, and
pay my fair share of writing contest submission fees. I am a member of Backspace, Women in Portland
Publishing, and Willamette Writers.
If you're serious about writing, read and write every day. If it's your passion, this will not be a problem.
Birds must fly, grass must grow, and writers must write. For me, writing a winsome sentence or an
engaging scene is like playing a sonata in the dark, one you've practiced since childhood. It's executed so
effortlessly, you evoke an emotion in everyone who hears you play.
I started writing fiction at the age of eight, and have kept it up all my life. A long time ago, I wrote a
serialized soap opera for the Eugene Magazine: “As the Rain Falls.” I borrowed so much juicy material
from my friends and their foibles, to save my skin I wrote under the nom de plume, La Plume. Since then
I’ve used Camille LaPlume as a handle in all kinds of situations. Now that I’ve exposed my cover, I’ll have
to think of something new should I reinvent myself as a spy.
Then I put the novel on the back burner (someone in a critique
group said I needed a vampire running alongside the car in the
opening scene) and devoted my time to a narrative non-fiction
account of a one-room school born in a chicken coop in my great
grandfather's cherry orchard in 1927. Great Aunt Marion
Parsons committed her life to making the school one of the
highest-ranked in the country. My account of this unique story,
The Brass Bell, reveals why nearly 90 years later those who
were there still reminisce about Miss Parsons and the
outstanding teachers who were part of her team at what
would become a red brick school that grew and grew. To
review the history of this unique project, check out the blog.
How to Purchase The Brass Bell:
Sahalie Publishing Company
photo by: Rachel Hadiashar
Photo by Rachel Hadiashar