Fifty Reasons Why I Write

After attending and participating in the 2018 Kweli Color of Children’s Literature conference and reflecting on my time there in this blog post, I found my biggest takeaway was hearing why writers—published and unpublished—feel compelled to write. Anyone can do it, in the sense that you don’t need a degree to buy a notebook, find a pen, and start writing. And while there are strong similarities across the writing, editing, and publication processes, the reasons behind why a writer writes are as numerous and varied as the writers themselves.

On my way home from the event, I started making a list of the reasons why I’m compelled to write—in less than 30 minutes I had nearly 40 answers! After some further reflection, I compiled a list of 50 reasons why I write that are not related to making money. The list is a combination of quotes, lyrics, and reasons that range from the universal to the specific. Please enjoy!

  1. “Without struggle there is no progress” Frederick Douglass
  2. For my mom and dad—the people who have given me everything
  3. For the kid I was and the kid I am
  4. It’s an unparalleled feeling
  5. No one’s gonna tell my stories or my story like I will
  6. To thank friends and family in my dedications
  7. To become a better composer—writing is writing, it feeds itself.
  8. “The best way to get ahead, is to get started”
  9. To see my name in print on a cover of my book!
  10. For the dual book launch with my good friend and fellow WNDB intern, Julie
  11. To not disappoint the people who know I want to do this and are patiently waiting for me to finally do it
  12. To give my mom bragging ammo
  13. To let the inner demons walk around a bit
  14. To be like Lin Manuel Miranda
  15. To be heard
  16. For the reader I am
  17. To be remembered
  18. “You are living in a poem” “[Writing] is an act that preserves you, energizes you…[writing] is an immediate experience” -Naomi Shihab Nye
  19. Because it’s difficult
  20. To become a stronger writer
  21. Because I can do it!
  22. Because I love characters
  23. Because I love language and words
  24. To give all of the notebooks and pens I buy a purpose
  25. Because it’s easier to struggle through it, than it is to give up
  26. “Don’t let the world change your mind” –Be Ever Wonderful, Earth Wind & Fire
  27. I’d be great at school visits
  28. To inspire and be inspired
  29. To meet new people
  30. It doesn’t cost me anything
  31. To share what I love with others
  32. Because I owe friends books of mine
  33. Because even when it’s the hardest thing to do, I enjoy it
  34. so when people ask how’s the writing thing going, I’ll have an answer
  35. To make myself laugh
  36. To connect with others
  37. “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep” I found this quote on the title page of  In Her Hands, LEE & LOW BOOKS
  38. Because making stuff up is fun
  39. To give shape to my many thoughts and emotions
  40. Because when I’m productive in my writing, I treat myself to life’s treasures: pens, journals, books, and almond croissants.
  41. To keep record of everything that matters to me
  42. “A goal is a dream with a deadline” -random journal
  43. To get invited to book-related events
  44. So that I don’t have to commute to/from Manhattan for the rest of my life
  45. To go to the Oscars! (Long shot, but you never know…)
  46. to wear pajamas while I work
  47. to escape
  48. Because I enjoy the physical act of writing
  49. Because it employs my strengths and challenges my weaknesses
  50. “There are no limits, there are only plateaus. But you must not stay there. You must go beyond them.” Bruce Lee

 So those days when I don’t feel like writing or doubt why I do it, I read through this list until one or all of these reasons helps be overcome the Resistance, and reminds me why I do this.

What are some of the reasons you write? Feel free to share in the comments below!

The Amazing Story Generator

amazing-story-generator-coverI came across this awesome title at the New York Public Library Store on Fifth Ave about two years ago. It’s called The Amazing Story Generator and yes, it is amazing.

Inside this spiral notebook are three sets of pages. The top page supplies a setting or inciting event, the middle page provides a protagonist, and the last page presents a conflict or obstacle. You can mix and match the pages however you want to generate enough stories to last a lifetime. The layout of the book is great because if you open it and like the setting and conflict you’re given but not the protagonist, you can skim through the top pages until you find one that jives. This works for all of the pages.

I’ll be using this book to stretch my writing muscles by tackling different prompts and exercises which I’ll post to this blog (of course)! What books or websites do you like referring to for writing-prompt material? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Frankenstein Fish

Blogging is like having an aquarium, but without lives at stake.

Let me start at the beginning. You decide to get a fish tank. Why? Because you like fish and you got mad fishy-ideas! You’re ready for the world to see your awesome fish-abilities! You pick out a tank that suits your needs, you get a fish, drop it in your tank, and BAM! You’ve got an aquarium!

You’re excited! You’re bustin’ out mad fishy ideas and next thing you know you’ve got six fish in your tank!

But then you hit a wall.

Well, not so much a wall as a hill; a Hill of the Mind. And suddenly, adding new fish to the tank becomes difficult and unenjoyable. You change tanks thinking maybe a new design will spark your enthusiasm and help you generate new fishy-ideas but it doesn’t. Bottom line: aquarium maintenance -–much like blogging -–is not a joke.

If my blog really were a fish tank my fish would be belly-up in the murkiest water. All summer long my blog felt like a burden.  I’ve been unfocused and then felt guilty for not posting content. To be honest, I read in a How-To-Blog article that if your blog’s not providing a service or information then it’s an online diary. Appalled by this notion, I took a few months to come up with a new game plan. I tried to write posts which would provide a service to readers, but soon I realized I don’t know enough about writing and publishing to be able to drop post after post of knowledge.

After an unproductive summer, I reread my earlier blog posts in the hopes of rekindling my love for blogging and remember why I started a blog in the first place. While these early posts did not provide much guidance there’s an honesty behind them I want to get back to. When providing a service, it’s important to acknowledge what you know as well as what you don’t. I acknowledge that I don’t know a lot, but my experience as a writer working in children’s book publishing is material I want to share and will hopefully be enough for interested readers to learn from; or at least be amused by.

That said, I’m cleaning out my fish tank, plopping in a cool pirate ship, and Frankenstein-ing my fish back to life!

Feel free to check out some of my older posts by clicking here and here!

Also, for all (two) of you Friday Floetry fans interested in seeing more unedited poems inspired by observations from my commute, I will be bringing Friday Floetry back in 2017!

True or False: I am the only person who finds blogging difficult?……. FALSE! Share your biggest blogging obstacles and/or advice on overcoming them in the comments below.


NaPiBoWriWee 2016 Day 1

It’s May, and that means it’s National Picture Book Writing Week (Napibowriwee)! Woot Woot!

Created by children’s book rock star Paula Yoo, Napibowriwee runs the first week of May, during which time participants aim to write seven picture books in seven days! I know it sounds like madness, and it is. But the goal is not to have seven polished and perfect stories by the end of the week; it’s to counter procrastination and get those pesky, diamond-in-the-rough ideas down on paper!

My goal for Napibowriwee is to develop five original picture book stories complete with named characters, a plot structure, and developed dialogue. I’ve got three ideas locked and loaded ready for my attention. Paula proposed the theme “music” for this year’s Napibowriwee, so I will use that for my fourth story. I’m leaving the fifth story idea up to the muses; giving myself some freedom to improv!

I’m using Day 1 as prep! I’ve got my first few story ideas sketched out, my notebook is ready to go, and a good night’s sleep is in the forecast. Like many other writers, I’m balancing a full-time job with my writing conquests so most of my Napibowriwee work will be executed on the commute to and from work. This leaves little time for blogging so please follow me on Twitter @whatsticks for updates on my Napibowriwee adventure!

Will you be participating in Napibowriwee? What writing goals do you have for this week!? Leave a comment!


Favortie First Lines

If you’re not on Twitter and following me you should be because occasionally I have  moments of brilliance.

What’s the latest moment you ask? Oh nothing much, just an idea of epic proportions sure to sweep across the nation and blow everyone’s mind at once!!!

Okay, maybe it’s not that epic, but it is a great idea I hope you’ll take part in. Let me start from the beginning… *throat clears*

*dramatic music*

In a world filled with children’s books, words run rampant igniting all forms of chaos!  Yet amidst the fires of literary anarchy there rose a hero. Well, not so much a hero as a hashtag. But it wasn’t just any hashtag, it was the only hashtag powerful enough to restore order to the immensely unsettled literary lands. That hashtag was know as: #FavoriteFirstLines.

It’s soul purpose (Yes, I said soul purpose not sole purpose because this hashtag’s mission is rooted deeeeeeep in its very being.) is to be a means through which literary enthusiasts can share their favorite first lines of literature.

The first line of a story is the most responsible collection of words in the entire piece. It is burdened with setting tone, scene, and pacing of a story. If the story’s title is the address of a house ,then the first line is the front door. It’s that line’s job to give a potential reader the gist of a house they no little or nothing about, and convince him/her to cross the threshold. No easy feat.

As an aspiring children’s author and avid reader I’ve become a curator of first lines. Those stories with original, character-revealing, scene-setting, curiosity-poking first lines tend not to disappoint. It pays to pay attention to these lines and identify what makes some sizzle and others fizzle out.

I will be joining the other members of the social media universe in using #favoritefirstlines (because apparently this hashtag is already being used and I did not make it up as I thought I had a few minutes ago before I searched and found it on Twitter… *sigh* is there nothing new under the sun??) to share and collect my favorite first story lines. Please feel free to share your favorite first lines with me via Twitter @whatsticks or in the comments below!