"Sometimes while I'm talking to God, He'll show me something about myself in such a way that I have to laugh at my own humanity and how funny I must look to Him." - Donna

Donna...just found your blog...I absolutely love it! And I love your singing! I'm at work right now and it was just exactly what I needed to hear to help me make it through tonight! Thanks for your ministry here!
- Robert

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I Can’t Be Inspired in Dirty Clothes

*For something different, I'm including a few posts on writing. I have a lot of readers who write, too!

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” – Matthew 5:14-15 niv

I attended the Chautauqua 2007 Writers’ Workshops in July. I had always heard if you ever went to anything the Highlights Foundation sponsored, you would never be the same. And it’s true.

At the opening banquet, I spotted Kim Griswell. Kim edits poetry for Highlights Magazine, and is one of my dream editors. We talked about life and kids and got to know each other. Before the week was over, she critiqued some of my poetry and commented that, while I have a good sense of humor and it comes through in my writing, I’m not letting go and having fun with it. She advised me to re-write several poems, and submit.

During the last morning session, Kim shared a piece she wrote highlighting the events of the prior week. Writers, and according to the good folks at Highlights, that’s what we ‘officially’ became that week, all over the auditorium brought out tissues to wipe away tears.

As she summarized her comments on that final day, she said, “If you go home, and on Monday, do laundry, you’ve missed the point.”

I understood what she meant. If we cannot be inspired by an entire week of focusing on nothing but writing, and hearing some of the best in children’s literature share their journey, we have chosen the wrong endeavor.

But then again, as I talked to those around me, I discovered that very few enjoyed the luxury of full-time writing. One very talented writer I met, Ruth, is a psychologist, another - Artie, a professor at Ohio State. I met teachers, a real estate developer, a newspaper photographer, and a ranch owner.

So while it would have been nice to sit at the computer all day on Monday, you can guess what I found myself doing – laundry. As I worked around the house, catching up on chores (hadn’t anyone done dishes while I was gone??), something interesting occurred. After such a hectic, jam-packed week, it felt good to let my mind rest. But not for long. As any writer knows, it worked its way back to writing. I carried my recorder around, making notes and figuring out ways to make my children’s poetry sparkle.

Most of you reading this write, too. Most of you have another job, or two or three. Yet, we still manage to get words down on paper or into files on our computers. While we wipe noses or sort whites from colors, our minds work the same as those blessed few privileged to be full-time writers. If you’re like me, you take a recorder with you in the car, blurting out phrases and ideas at red lights. Or you scribble notes and hope you can read your own writing when you get home.

I thank God for my time at Chautauqua. The entire week seems rather like a dream now. For seven full days, I was a full-time writer, and it was heavenly. Kim’s closing prose was so beautiful that I now realize how much more I need to improve. Kim, you inspired me. Perhaps one day, I’ll be blessed to give up my other jobs to write full-time. But for now, I’m writing and writing – but in my nice, clean clothes.

Next Week – Tips on Writing for Children from my Chautauqua notes.

Visit Donna on the web at: http://www.donnajshepherd.com
If you want to comment on this post over on the Master's Artists Blog, click HERE.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Highlights 2007 Fall Founders Workshops

Are you interested in writing for children? Here's a link to a .pdf with information about the Highlights 2007 Fall Founders Workshops. Jane Yolen will be doing picture books in December. Debbie Dadey is scheduled for a new offering entitled Reluctant Readers. Special guests at the popular Crash Course in Publishing run by Clay Winters will include Lindsay Barrett George and Susan Campbell Bartoletti.

I attended the 2007 Writers Workshop at Chautauqua and had a wonderful experience. Click HERE for more information on the Fall Founders Workshops.
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