Saturday, July 30, 2011

Prestigious Jobs

We grow up viewing some jobs as prestigious and others as beneath our notice with many in between. Everyone has their own mental list of where a job falls as to its importance. Occupations such as doctor, lawyer, police officer, spy, and news anchor are usually on the upper end of the list. These are cool jobs, jobs where you can make money or do amazing things. This is a problem because we disparage jobs that aren't cool, but are important to us. What if a prestigious surgeon come home to find a frazzled spouse trying to get dirty children to take a bath in cold water because the water heater isn't working. The sink is full of dishes because in order to wash them well you need hot water. The laundry is half done and the household is in disarray. The next day the repair person comes, works hard and fixes the problem. This person completed an essential task for this family, but his or her occupation is often viewed as unimportant, not as good, and for the less education.

My water heater hasn't been working the last couple of days. I would light it and it would go out again in several minutes. Today a repair man came and cleaned it out and changed a part. Now it works. I'm grateful to him and all those professionals who know how to fix things, clean things, and otherwise do things I can't do for myself. I'm also extremely grateful to the people who clean restrooms in public places. Thank you for doing the less desirable and essential jobs.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

baby steps to becoming a writer

In January I went to a three day writing seminar, Superstars Writing Seminar, given by five bestselling fantasy and science fiction writers.  This is a yearly seminar held to discuss the professional side of writing. Some of the material covered includes: How do you get published? What information goes into the contract? What about independent publishing? This was my first baby step towards becoming a professional writer.

My second step was starting this blog. It helps me be more disciplined in my writing.

I also have submitted one story to a contest called Writers of the Future. This is a quarterly contests for the unpublished writer. If you are looking for a good place to start your own writing career, this is it.

My new baby step is to pick something I have already written and prepare it  to publish online. This I'm sure will take me a while. I anticipate needing to fight my own fear of not knowing what I"m doing and possibly failing. Along with this step I"m going to create a new blog which will deal with writing issues and what is going on with my writing. I'm hoping that in writing this I will be more accountable for my writing and put forth the effort to get these things accomplished. While I'm telling you what I need to get done for my own discipline, I really need to finish my current story. I can't seem to get excited about it and put forth the effort to work on it. So now all of you, my readers, are my accountability partners. I will let you know my progress as I go along. If you are interested in being a reader for me in the editing process shoot me an email at and i will add you to my reading list.

Baby steps to my computer, baby steps to my computer, baby steps turn on my computer, baby steps open up word.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Way of Kings

Several months ago I was working and noticed a book on the shelf from one of my favorite authors, Brandon Sanderson. The cover depicted two men in armor facing each other across a chasm. The colors are striking. The picture seems to tell a story of adventure, mystery, and power. My anticipation grows when I read the title, The Way of Kings. I love saying it, my imagination perks up.

Quite a few weeks past before I got a chance to read this book. I brought it home and just looked at it. It was a fat book. I love fat books. I turned to the end just to see how many pages it had, 1007. I couldn't wait to read it, but the anticipation of reading the book is part of what makes reading so wonderful.
I won't tell you the story here, because you should read this book for yourself. Beware, it will draw you in and you will be a committed Sanderson fan and eagerly await every fat book he can write. When I finished reading The Way of Kings, I felt awed by the scope of the story and the writing skill. I am improving my writing skills and am working on developing a novel. I am reading now not only for enjoyment, but to improve my own craft. I felt small after reading this book, like a child trying to step in her fathers foot prints. I wonder if my writing skill can ever grab a reader and mesmerize him so that he can't put my book down. I aspire to write in a way that when people see my name they get excited and look at my website to see if I have any new books coming out.
I know at this point when my mom reads this she will tell me that she eagerly awaits the new things I write. Sorry mom, you are my mom and you are supposed to think like that. I appreciate your support and faith in my abilities because it is encouraging. 
There is so much creation that goes into writing a good story. I feel like the creatures I imagine are just elephants that are colored differently or cats that have a different name. I want to be able to come up with creatures that are not just a variation of our animals, but something all their own. I want my stories to be fresh and not a remake of great authors stories.
I feel humbled after reading The Way of Kings because of the long way I have to go to become a professional author. I feel challenged to step up my writing, to push myself beyond my current imaginary and technical skill levels. I will never write like Brandon Sanderson. I will never come up with stories like Anne Bishop. My stories will not have the passion of Francine Rivers. However, I will develop a flavor all my own. I'm not a Brandon Sanderson, but I am Kristin Riggs. And as I improve my skills, the writer who is Kristin Riggs will emerge with a style and strengths all her own.

Running in the Rain

Running in the rain is an act that expresses joy. It is different than going for a run while it is raining. Some people go for a run for the fun of running. Most people who run do so to stay in shape or lose weight. Going for a run while it is raining is purposeful and is not the same as running in the rain.
Running in the rain is a spontaneous act. I may be at home going about my regular tasks when a clap of thunder and the sudden sound of fat rain drops splashing against the roof call me to the window. I look out at the rain showering the earth. It calls to me. It says, "Kristin, come out and play. Forget about the clothes you are folding or the paper you are writing and come outside. Come dance with me."
I open the door and peer out. The day is warm and a cold rain drop splats against my hand before I close the door. I kick off my socks, tie my hair back in a pony tail and venture out in the rain. Rain drops quickly soak into my clothes. I raise my face to the sky. My arms raise slowly, my fingers spread. Dipping my left arm I turn a slow circle. I bend the other way and start walking a giant C. Water saturates my hair and drips down my forehead. I lift my feet higher and break into a run. I weave in large S's dipping my arms like an airplane.
Down a dead end street I see a large puddle. I veer sharply to the right and run straight at the puddle. I plant both my feet and jump into the center of the puddle. Water splashes up my legs and sprays out from me. A chuckle slips out. Two small jumps take me to the outside of the puddle. I launch myself back in. I throw my head back and laugh. I play in the puddle for a while, but the rain beckons me on. I run down the street, circle around and come back.
Children stare at me from the dry windows of their houses, wishing they hadn't been prohibited from cavorting in the rain. An older couple sit towards the back of their porch, watch the storm. A large white dog lies at their feet. They look at me and smile. I wave to them enthusiastically and run on. The rhythm of the rain changes as the drops become smaller. A small patch of blue sky allows the sun to peek through. A rainbow glitters across the street. In front of my apartment I turn 3 quick circles, stare up at the sky for a minute and take a deep breath. The world smells washed clean. Thunder booms impotently in the distance. Water dripping from my clothes, I go back inside.
Running in the rain, is reveling in life. Rediscovering the joy that children exude. Jumping in puddles, flying like an airplane, laughing unrestrained. Running in the rain.

This picture brought to you from Shutterstock.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Family Artists

In my family we are artists. I love words and any artistry I have comes through writing. The others in my family paint and draw. This trend started nearly twenty years ago when my older sister began taking a painting class from a family friend. My mom made a comment about how she wish she could paint. The teacher challenged her "How do you know you can't paint unless you try." This began my mom's hobby. She mostly self taught herself and painted when she had time. There were many Saturday afternoons where the five of us engaged in some kind of art. I never had the patience for it. I was allowed to paint using acrylics. I always planned out my pictures and grew very frustrated when they didn't turn out like my mental picture.

Several years ago my mom started printing cards with her paintings on them. Now she has a blog site and posts some of her best work on Fine Art of America. My older sister mostly enjoys drawing. My little sister majored art in college and is making plans to pursue a masters in art. She writes about painting and posts her pictures on her blog. My dad also enjoys painting. He doesn't produce as much, but everything he does is detail oriented and looks great.

It is amazing to me how a comment made to my mom 20 years ago resulted in this artistic trend in my family. You never really know what effect your words will have. Your words could be the seeds that result in greatness in others.