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Writing and Family Life

I didn’t write a blog post yesterday.  I had every intention of doing so, but I also have a great family and they needed my attention yesterday as well.  My two older boys had their first ever soccer practice, the wife and I had to meet with some people to talk about Life Insurance.  Then of course I had to have play time with the kids and cook dinner, and on and on and on.  Not exactly exciting stuff but it all piled up into a nice pile of excuses (valid ones) to not write anything.  No blog post and no story work.  Opps!

My fellow writers out there with kids know exactly what I mean.  So last night as I was laying in bed, kicking myself for not writing, I thought this would be a great topic for today’s post.

Writing with Kids!

When I first started writing for my own fun, I had no kids.  I would write for hours into the wee hours of the night.  I would put down thousands of words a day, easy.  Then my first son was born.  Having a child is one of the best things that can ever happen in your life.  My beautiful wife did all the hard work giving birth to all three of our children.  I was working so she even took care of most of the late night needs of a baby each and every time.  She is an amazing woman.

Well something else happened with the miracle of becoming a Dad.  The days suddenly got shorter.  There was not longer 24 hours in day, I am pretty sure time accelerates.  I would wake up in the morning with every intention of getting all my daily tasks done, including writing.  And then I would eat breakfast, and just like that it was time for bed.  I am sure something happened in between breakfast and going to bed, but it was all a blur.  Two years later, my middle child was born, and two years after that my youngest.  Time had now sped up exponentially with each child.  I no longer ate breakfast.  I woke up, did a bunch of things all related to child care (none of which I remember) and then I went back to bed.

Needless to say, writing never seemed to happen.  Days turned to weeks, weeks to month, and next thing I knew my oldest son was five years old and going to Kindergarten.  I know what you are thinking, I thought it too.  I can write while he is in school!  Well I have a two other sons, who need my time.  And you would be amazed how much of my time they need.

But I needed my writing time too.  My craft was for me, and I needed some me time.  At the same time I had some other epiphanies at the same time and really began to look into writing.  My passion for writing had bloomed, but now I needed to find the time.  The great people of my writer’s group has a lot of great ideas.

Some get up early before the kids and get an hour in that way.  The problem is, I am just to damn lazy to get up any earlier then I have to.  In most cases, laziness beats determination especially when you have three young boys who never stop sucking the energy from you.  So that option was out for me.  It may work for you, and if you want to try it… go right ahead.  I will pass.

Some suggested waiting for the kids to go to bed for the night.  But my wife works twelve hour days and the only time I get with her is after they go to bed.  Did I mention she is a beautiful woman?  So the last thing I want to do is spend time with my keyboard over her.  She is fully supportive of my art and would likely let me write to my hearts content, but I am a man too.  And as a man I want to spend time with her too.

Others simply wrote while their kids play around them.  I am a paranoid Dad.  The second the house in quiet, I panic.  My house is never quiet.  And as soon as they see me distracted they find something they should not have and they get quiet.  They think they can get away with it because Dad is busy.  Well when I write, I can’t have distractions.  The words come to mind far faster then I can type them (and I type at a decent speed).  Stopping every few minutes to put on the black and white stripes to referee the latest toy dispute distracted me to much.

Of course there was nap time.  In the early years that did not work.  When all three kids are asleep I was playing catch up on the house work.  The stuff you don’t want to do around kids because the seem to some how ruin it.  You know the toy the never play with so you pick it up and now they want to use it.  Or the dishes they see you doing, and now they need a snack (three boys always need snack).  And now, my two older boys don’t even take a nap.  So, that takes a lot of work.

Any of these tips may work for you, but not for me.  But I still needed to write.

So what did I do?

The idea actually came from my mom.  As she so often does, she has ideas for everything.  I suppose its her nearly thirty years of Mommy experience.  She suggested that when my little one goes for his nap, I impose “Quite time” to help the older two relax.  So we did that.

It wasn’t to long into this that an idea came to mind.  I should share my writing time with my kids.  I hear you all yelling at me right now.  “YOU IDIOT YOU JUST SAID YOU CAN’T DO THAT!!”  First, don’t yell at me.  Second, I mean to actually share the quiet time as art time.

So, I put my little one to nap.  Then I start the two older children on their homework.  This is when I work on picking up the house, doing the dishes, and helping with my kids homework.  After that we continue quiet time with “art time.”

They color, draw picture and read books.  I write.  For two hours we do this.  We stop and share with each other.  Mostly they show me what they draw or tell me what they read.  But sometimes we work together.  My oldest boy and I put together a children’s story.  And I am working to have it published very soon.  Its like a writing group with my kids.

Share in the passions you have with your kids.  Art is to important and too many kids don’t get it in school anymore.  I have completed a lot more writing sharing the time with my kids, and they are enriching their minds with books, arts, and crafts.  They need the time away from the TV.  You never know what they may become in the future and the art time may be what they need.

Family is always first, that will never change for me.  And it should be the same for you.  But, family time does not have to trump writing time.  It can be shared.

Does this work for me?  Yes.  Your results may vary.

If you have kids you have to fit your writing (or other art) around, please comment bellow on how you do it.  I would love to know.

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Grammar Police

My rant on Grammar Police in Social Networks

I have always found it a bit aggravating to run across the Grammar Police during my adventures on the Social Networking sites I frequent.

First of all, compared to the vast majority of what I have read in status updates and news feeds, the mistakes I make do not come close to warranting the attention of Grammar Cops.  Many of these people, especially the generation coming up behind mine, post words (and I use that term loosely) that are not recognizable as English.

But secondly, and most annoying to me, is that fact that this is social networking.  It is not a college dissertation and type0s are to be expected.  I don’t know anyone that proof reads their tweets, calls in an editor for a Facebook entry, or scrutinizes their Google+ feed.  The fact of the matter is this is Social Networking, it is more about the exchange of ideas and thoughts (and more commonly the way you tell us all that you finished breakfast).  So be happy I didn’t tell you about my last toilet break instead of worrying about my use of punctuation.

Grammar and the Writer

So I can already hear the Grammar Cops saying: “Mr. Flores, you are a Author you should have more respect for the grammar law.”

Well, sorry Officer.  Good grammar is not necessary to be an amazing Author.

I will give you a minute to catch you breaths and pick your jaws up off the floor.

Think about the greatest stories you have ever read.  For me they include many great works by undisputed story telling superstars.  What made those stories good?  Was it the fact that the Author knew the right location for a semicolon?  Or was it the life-like characters, the vivid scenes, the compelling dialogue, and the intertwining plot threads?

If you are any of my English Teachers you probably said the semicolon.  If you are a true fan for reading and story telling, you likely chose the second.

It takes imagination to write a good story.  It takes skillful character building to make them real people.  It takes a skillful world builder to make a planet you have never seen seem like its your favorite vacation spot.  It takes a special talent to develop a plot that does not seem like it was developed at all.  It takes a whole different breed of person to then selflessly hash apart your work to make it reach a publishable word limit.  To remove scenes you are in love with because it doesn’t really move the story forward.  Or to ruthlessly murder your favorite character because his time had come.

The grammar errors can even be put in on purpose, to illustrate a point.  Words may be spelled wrong because as you desperately click away the keys on your keyboard you might miss a letter, or hit the wrong one.  It is part of the writing process.

Grammar Police do have a place

My spelling is not the best, my grammar can always use work.  But, that is why all my stories go though checks by other people.  I even have my own Grammar Cop that looks at my works in progress just to catch grammar mistakes and ignores the prose.  I need them, but when the time is right.

When I have gotten the story just right.  When it is just about to go out to those pesky (but necessary) editors.  I hand my work to my Grammar Cop and she writes me a boat load of infractions.  I pay the fine, fix the mistakes, and send it out.

But when I am on the social networks, writing in forums, or posting on this blog the Grammar Cops can move along.  There is nothing more to see here.

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I have entered the world of Blogging

Well that is not entirely true, I used to blog when I was running for Vacaville City Council in 2010.  But that was a different kind of blog.  It was a kissing babies and bragging about my community involvement.   Of course, I love the City of Vacaville and still remain active in my community both as a Volunteer and in my shopping local pledge.

This blog is my entrance into blogging about those items that come to my mind.  People think the hardest part of being a writer is thinking of new story ideas.  I contest that.  Thinking of the ideas is the easiest part.  Almost anyone can do that.  Taking that idea, turning it into a story, crafting the world in which it takes place, and then getting that all down on paper that is hard.  Getting it in front of an audience of readers, well that is even harder.

This blog allows me to do three things.  Write, write and write again.  Writing is a craft and like any craft it needs practice.  The best way to continue to improve myself is to keep writing.  That is what I intend to do.

Now, if you would help getting it in front of an audience, I would appreciate it.  First, subscribe to my blog by clicking the link to the left.  You can also follow me on twitter and Facebook with those links to the left as well.  Second, recommend my blog to everyone you know.  Sure most of them will just get annoyed at you for sending them something they don’t care about, but a few of them might follow my blog, my Facebook page or even my Twitter feed.  In the end, I don’t think I am asking for a lot.

I hope you enjoy my thoughts and blogs.  There will be sarcasm, things I find funny (but you likely won’t), and of course the topic of writing.

Enjoy, Richard

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