On defining myself as a writer {and am I ever going to write that ebook?}

one day

When I think about writing, I vacillate a lot about what kind of writing I want to do, and what I actually do as well. I've always wanted to be a writer, from as long as I can remember.

In college, I started out as a journalism major, and that writing style was ruined for me by one bad class and a professor I didn't like. But I also realized I didn't just want to report the facts. I like adjectives and creative syntax and exclamation points too much.

I never even considered English Lit even though my high school English classes were among my favorite. I think my adolescent rebellion kept me from pursuing English (because that was my mom's major in college and heaven forbid I follow in her footsteps), although in retrospect that may have been the best path for me.

In the end I went with another favorite subject, and it turned out to be a great fit for me. I studied Modern Languages & Literature and developed a real passion for language and linguistics and wrote a ton about Spanish, Latin American and even French literature.

But now that my passion for those subjects has waned a bit, I find myself going back to my roots of just wanting to write. My background and experience would make nonfiction a good fit for me, although I don't feel called to write about a certain topic, and writing a novel has always been a dream. Lately I'm most intrigued by memoirs although I don't feel like I have something particularly memorable to write about right now.

Reading Shauna Niequist is inspiring me that I don't need one Big Thing to make my life book-worthy, but maybe just a lifetime of ordinary bits of beauty is enough. Reading Cold Tangerines feels like the word version of 10 on 10 and I'm loving it.

Right now, I'm in the trenches of motherhood, and while some women successfully juggle that career along with a writing one, I don't see myself as being that disciplined or motivated. So I'm taking my time right now. Over the next few years my goals are to hone my craft a bit, maybe narrow down what my actual writing goals really look like, and seek out what God would have me do with my words. And just write.

Oh, and that ebook I've mentioned. I really do want to get going on that and actually release it later this year. Finding the time when I actually feel motivated and my kids are occupied or taken care of is challenging though. Writing the Sewing School eBook is not going to fulfill my writing dream per se, but I do feel like it's a great first step.

 I've been reading through Self-Publish by Erin Ulrich and Teri Lynne Underwood and it's been a really practical and inspiring guide. I feel like I really don't know what I'm doing in the self-publishing realm so it's nice to feel like I have a couple of coaches walking me through the process.

This resources of course provide babysitting, but I figure if I can find myself more equipped and motivated then maybe I can steal time here and there to get the project done. I'll keep you updated as I go, and maybe a little accountability (i.e. writing about my goals here) will also serve to inspire.

 I know some of you are writers or have writing aspirations. I'd love to hear what some of your goals are and how you're working toward them. Maybe that will inspire me or help me define myself as a writer a bit more.

What I'm Into...

Magazine readers I can't seem to stop sharing good things with you. It makes sense, because for all the years that I've been subscribing to Martha Stewart, her Good Things section has always been the most fun part of the magazine for me.

And I'm trying out another new (to me) linky, since I had so much fun with sharing what I learned in June. If I keep going with both of these memes, I suppose I'll need to differentiate them a bit, but for now, bear with me if this post seems a bit reminiscent of my last one. So without further adieu...

Read and Reading

I came to a realization last week. I'm not really in a good season for fun fiction, as I like to call it. I have this problem where I get so immersed in a book that I can't really think about anything else until I finish it. It's --ahem-- not very conducive to running a household and taking care of kids.  So, I might take a break from reading so much fun fiction. I'm in love with memoirs right now, and they read at a pace where real life seems to be within reach between chapters, which seems sorta important.

Yesterday's Tomorrow

yesterdays-tomorrowI think this last book I read was what really did me in. Yesterday's Tomorrow was intense and there was really no way I was going to drag out reading it over a period of days or weeks. With a father-in-law who served in Vietnam and an interest in journalism (I almost majored in it), I was drawn into the story basically couldn't put it down.

Author Catherine West did a wonderful job developing her characters-- they were very raw and real. Their relationship intrigued me and the complications they had to overcome surprised me. The wartime setting made the book an obvious page-turner, but it was also the characters that made me want to read more, to watch them grow and change and experience life, love and a deep sense of God's sovereignty. This may not be a relax-on-the-beach type of book but I wholeheartedly recommend it to fans of adventurous romance stories.

Vietnam, 1967. Independent, career-driven journalist Kristin Taylor wants two things: to honor her father’s memory by becoming an award-winning overseas correspondent and to keep tabs on her only brother, Teddy, who signed up for the war against their mother’s wishes. Brilliant photographer Luke Maddox, silent and brooding, exudes mystery. Kristin is convinced he’s hiding something. Willing to risk it all for what they believe in, Kristin and Luke engage in their own tumultuous battle until, in an unexpected twist, they’re forced to work together. Ambushed by love, they must decide whether or not to set aside their own private agendas for the hope of tomorrow that has captured their hearts.

Thanks to Litfuse for the review copy.

IMG_5934

Currently Reading

Been working on these a while now: The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald), Desperate (Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson), Toujours Provence (Peter Mayle), Nurture by Nurture (need to pick this one back up!); recently borrowed from a friend: Cold Tangerines (Shauna Niequist); picked up at the library: Food Rules (Michael Pollan).

TV

Can't stop watching Hart of Dixie. Sad to be almost done with Season 1 because Season 2 is not on Netflix yet. Still working our way through the new Arrested Development-- I still see it as a darker version of the original, but we're enjoying it nonetheless. And of course, the Dodgers are a constant in this house. You've never really experienced baseball unless you've watched/listened to Vin Scully call a game.

The kids and I are now obsessed and in love with Olive Us (thanks, Melissa!). I can't recommend these adorable short videos enough. It has also inspired me to get back to editing our own little home videos that have been waiting patiently in the recesses of my computer for the last couple of years.

Movies

We haven't watched much of note lately, although last weekend I watched What to Expect When You're Expecting with a girlfriend and enjoyed it-- wasn't expecting (no pun intended) the sweet adoption storyline. Seeing Dennis Quaid (who I normally love) play a jerk was a bit of a shocker though. I always love movies with a million little storylines that eventually converge (is there a name for that kind of movie?).

Music

Do you ever get overwhelmed with the prospect choosing something out of pretty much all the music in the world? (I'm talking about Spotify of course.) Sometimes I just don't even know what to listen to. But lately, I can't seem to get enough of Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, and Joao Gilberto. My username is nicoleakagidget there.

Also of note, while not technically music, is a fun podcast I started listening to on our recent road trip: Spilled Milk. Just think a dude and a girl (both married to other people, both quite funny), exploring various food topics. David and I did the shared-ear-buds thing (which was very romantic until he had to turn his heads to change lanes) and listened to a few of them together on the drive.

Things I love:

~ The Honest Company. I think I'll write about this more later but if you are looking for quality disposable diapers (i.e. not chemically-laden), these are an adorable option. I'm loving everything I try from Honest so far (including their sunscreen and I'm a stickler on that one).

Hallee's Bummis

~ Bummis swimwear. I was sent this adorable swim outfit for Hallee to try out and I just love it. The velcro swim diaper is easy to get off and on and doesn't store tons of water like some other reusable swim diapers do, she actually keeps the hat on for a while and the rashie is nice and thick which I know means good sun coverage (and less sunscreen to apply!).

~ Staying with friends on road trips. Enjoying other people's hospitality and having so much quality time with friends is such a treat.

~ Seeing David with his buddies from the days of old like happened last weekend. Wish we could live closer to all the fine folks we visited.

Gigi and baby Charlotte

~ My baby nephew and my baby niece who are both equally squishy, cuddly and just plain cute. I can't wait to hold them again!! (But no, I don't want any more babies of my own). ;)

Molly and me

~ Instagram friends who become real-life friends. My brother can back me up here. Meeting the lovely Molly and her family was such a fun treat, she is a true kindred spirit!

Sparklers!

~ Sparklers!! This is a pretty novel thing to me because home fireworks are not legal where I live (fire hazard anyone?), but they are super fun, and our kids loved experiencing them (Gigi was a little unsure but warmed up a bit).

In the blogosphere

Back in the day you could "share" things on Google Reader and that was how I kept track of inspiring blog posts I found elsewhere. That's been gone quite a while and now Reader itself has gone the way of the buffalo. I'm reading blogs in Feedly now and will try to stay more up-to-date on sharing worthwhile blog posts on my Tumblr page or occasionally on Facebook.

Yesterday I had my monthly post on Simple Mom, where I shared how to make the adorable yo-yo earrings that I often get compliments on. It's a quick and easy project!

What are you into?? 

Linking up (eventually, I'm a bit early) with Hopeful Leigh.

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh
This post has affiliate links in it. Thank you for clicking them and supporting my work here. xo

Where I find myself these days

My Women's Summer Discipleship group just started up for the season. Our church transitions out of weekly co-ed community groups and into men's and women's groups and all-church beach nights for each week of the summer. It's already my favorite season and this shift in how we do life together with our church family is just the icing on the summer cake. This year, we're reading a book on Biblical womanhood which is redefining for us what that term means and helping us to see ourselves as created in the image of God, uniquely reflecting different characteristics of Him than men were created to do. So far, between that and our inductive Bible studies that we're training our groups in, it's been really rich.. and we've barely just begun.

me

{David took this photo on Mother's Day.}

The question came up in our discussion about where-- other than in Jesus-- we find our worth and value. My first inclination was to give a superficial answer of living up to cultural standards. And while that may be true to some degree, it's incomplete.

The truth is, the deeper I dig in my own heart, the more I see myself finding worth in whether I feel included by my peers.

This effects me in many areas of life, but I feel the rub a lot in blogging. Sometimes I just want to throw in the towel because I don't feel that successful or popular enough (ugh, here I go, back to high school).

Blogging niches feel a little like various in-crowds to me. I don't identify with a super specific niche per se, so I feel a bit like an outsider, standing outside of a variety of circles but not quite included.

Sewing is one of my passions, but I rarely have time to do it, let alone write about it. I'm not a fashion blogger, although I'm interested in really figuring out my personal style. I'm by no means a food blogger but I love to share recipes with you. I don't write exclusively deep thoughts on my faith filled with poetic language and tangible analogies (although I'd love to write like that more often).

writing

I'm trying to be at a place where none of that matters, but it's still hard on some days. The idea of fitting in is a constant struggle that I'm trying to stamp out with truth. I'm trying to see myself as me enough, even if I don't feel green enough, creative enough, deep enough.

I'm reminding myself that God was intentional in crafting my renaissance soul. This is who He made me to be and maybe not fitting into any particular box is a good thing.

And as for writing, the more I write, the more I think I will become who He made me to be as a writer, because I know He's the one who created me with words that spill out of my heart and make their way to my little corner of the internet.

I'm experimenting a bit with my writing and blogging. The times when I can get on my computer and compose tend not to be my most creative, inspired moments (usually that "free" time coincides with my exhausted-and-want-to-veg-out-moments), so I'm going to try going a little old-fashioned. If I write my inspired thoughts down on paper when they come to me, maybe I'll end up publishing a few more blog posts... it's worth a try anyway! ;)

Patching a hole and preserving a bit of time

patching a hole

I don't think I'm the only mom who feels the rub that comes from packing up one size of clothes and moving on to the next. Their clothes aren't just that which covers their body, but often grow to become part of their identity, who our children are.

So many of my own childhood memories actually stem from photographs and I think that's one of the reasons why I love documenting life so much.

A simple tank top that I love, isn't just the cheap shirt that I got on sale at Old Navy anymore, now that she's been wearing it for a year. When I see it, my mind flashes back to images, photographs of her wearing it, and what was going on at the time.

patching a hole

When I see this shirt, I think of the photo on our fridge and of her going to VBS last year at the church where she would soon start kindergarten (where her charter school meets), a five-year old on the precipice of Something Big.

So instead of just tossing the hole-y shirt into the giveaway pile, I took a few minutes to put a simple patch on it, knowing that it would bring a smile to her face and preserve her wardrobe, and maybe time, a bit longer.

patching a hole

Just a bit of Heat'n'Bond cut in the shape of a heart, pressed first to the wrong side of a scrap of fabric (that was, I might add, a mama-made dress Gigi wore as a baby).

patching a hole

Heart cut out, paper peeled off, and then adhered over the hole, pressing cloth/mat to protect the glitter and sequins...

patching a hole

a simple 15-second press job and the heart is on.

patching a hole

A quick zig-zag for security...

patching a hole

A beloved shirt and a bit of childhood preserved... for now. :)

P.S. Ten-inch long braids sit on our counter, chopped and waiting to be mailed in by donation, happily given up by my sweet girl, who doesn't miss the tangles, and who saw first-hand the difference hair makes after her granpa went through chemo and beat leukemia. I heart my girl.

P.P.S Relaunch giveaway still to come this week!

UHeB-leaderboard-728x90

What creativity looks like for me... when I'm not crafting

Written by editor Nicole Bennett of Gidget Goes Home.

We've been talking about creativity this week... first I shared my goals, then Emily wrote about carving out time to be creative, even if it's just small slices of time.

I love to create and really do feel that we were designed to take part in the creation process in our own little ways. But sometimes traditional arts and crafts just aren't in the cards.

Many times, I am simply prioritizing other things during free time-- checking email, writing a blog post, reading a few pages in a book, dusting the piano, washing diapers. Leisure time (or lack thereof) and life circumstances certainly have a lot of control over when we can create.

It's funny-- I started writing this post, and then realized that my friend Andrea was doing a year-long challenge that spoke directly to what I was feeling.

Sometimes we(I) pigeon-hole ourselves into thinking that “creating” is all tied up in a perfectly styled tutorial, complete with pretty pictures and plenty of pins.  We forget that we have the opportunity, and often do in fact create every day, several times a day.  A freshly organized closet, a twist on a classic family recipe, a simple after school craft project with the kids; these are all ways that we in fact create a life and a home, and memories for our family. ~Andrea Howe, fortheloveof.net 

I love to create with my hands and my heart-- I love sewing, doing embroidery, scrapbooking and many other crafty things, but I really want to "create a life and a home and memories for our family"-- that can happen every day, whether my fabric has been unpacked or not!

So here's a short list, off the top of my head, of ways I've been finding creative moments in orthodox ways lately...

  • reading good fiction, which inspires me dream of stories and writing
  • planning new ice cream recipes inspired by other yummy treats
  • incorporating creativity into my homeschool day with my daughter
  • slowly unpacking my crafty supplies, and thinking about what I'll tackle first when my work area is ready
  • reading inspring blogs, when I have a few spare minutes at the computer
  • flipping through my stack of unread magazines and planning for future homemade gifts
  • getting inspired by how others fit creativity into their days
  • playing with my new espresso machine and savoring my creations (mmm...)
  • settling in to my new home, creating new vignettes and arranging old favorites in pleasing ways

Soon (I hope) the fabric and thread will come out of hiding. :) What do you do to feel creative when you're not crafting or DIY-ing? If Andrea's project appeals to you, join in this month on Instagram with the hashtag #52weekstocreatejan.

A Tuesday poem~ Fleeting

IMG_1641 When infants, our babies seem to be inexplicably ours.

We nourish them, protect them, house them...

And then suddenly, they are kids

and we realize, we remember,

what we were told, what we knew to be true,

before we held them

naked on our chest,

fresh on the scene,

but we maybe forgot

as we diapered and nursed them and soaked in their unhindered newborn struggles.

We remember

that they are not truly ours,

but His, and

that we hold them for a while,

but that He holds them for eternity.

We are raising them to leave the nest,

to stretch out wings

and test their flight worthiness,

and fly the coop

to someday raise their own brood, Lord willing.

We are not raising them 

to keep them to ourselves, 

but to send them out.

And then we'll hope that the time we spent

pouring into them rather than filling our own selfish cisterns

was time well spent, time enjoyed, time not just survived but time intentionally lived out

day by day, minute by minute.

blogging: where I'm at

I've been blogging for a while now. I'm approaching my 2-year blogiversary for Gidget Goes Home and have recently hit the three-hundred mark for post count. That's a lot of my opinions, my photographs, my words. Thanks for bearing with it all. :)

I'll be honest. I sometimes still feel a little like an insecure high schooler in the blogosphere.

Comparing myself to others. Their writing, their humor, their creativity.

Their comments.

My bloggy friend Brooke recently posted on this same topic what could have been my own personal thoughts.

I've heard about people closing comments on a post or indefinitely. Sometime it's to avoid an argument on a somewhat-controversial post. Sometimes it's simply to direct traffic elsewhere.

Comments can appear to be such a gauge of popularity, and for me, when I receive a comment it really makes my day. It's a sort of reinforcement that what I'm doing has some value to those on the other side of my computer. {Thank you so much to those of you who have and do comment!!!}

And so, on the other side of the coin, when I don't receive comments, it can be really disheartening. I wonder if anyone is out there. If google analytics is lying when it tells me that people are visiting my blog.

I know I shouldn't worry about all this. And most of the time I have no trouble really finding my identity in Christ, not worrying worrying about popularity or any of that, but sometimes insecurity creeps in.

I remind myself that I'm doing this for myself, in part It's good writing practice, and often therapeutic to write the hard stuff. But I also do it because I love to be able to encourage others. To bring them something yummy or inspiring, to share something I've learned/read/researched, to give pretty glimpses into my life through photos and to be a blessing to them when they're going through something I've dealt with. I love the reciprocal nature of the blog community, how we help each other, encourage each other, spur each other on.

I myself don't comment as much on blogs as I used to. I know there's a time factor there. I want to soak up as much good stuff from the blogosphere in the limited time I have to read. Reading gets prioritized over commenting. But generally, I'm much more of a commenter than some other readers. Probably in part because I have this insecurity that I don't want others to feel.

One of my favorite things about guest posting or writing over on Simple Organic is that I know a conversation will ensue after my post ends. It sometimes takes me a few days, but I love personally responding to comments and seeing how others can add to the discussion or offer their viewpoints or experiences.

This post became much longer than I intended to, but I just wanted to get real. Sometimes I wonder if I should keep going.... and then a real life friend mentions that one of my posts really inspired/touched her, or something happens in life and I can't withold that familiar feeling of oh, I've got to blog about that... :)

The thought has crossed my mind to close comments on this very post. But the truth is, it would really feed my soul to hear from even a couple of you. To know that you're out there reading. I'd love to have a little delurking today and "meet" one of you who's never commented. Or if you want to get deep, share with us one of your insecurities and let's get a little conversation going.

I've really put my heart and soul into this little blog. I love writing it, designing it, and mostly connecting with other bloggers and readers.

Thanks for being here and for reading. <3

xo, nicole