Stepping Stones Blog

Sunday Salon: July 13, 2014

I am posting this a day late because we decided to take an impromptu trip out-of-town:  no place special and yet extraordinary.

We went to Springfield, MO known for the original Bass Prop Shop and boyhood home of Brad Pitt.  It is less than an hour away from Branson, a vacation destination for those living in the Midwest who desire to shop outlet stores and attend live musical reviews.  But Springfield itself is not unlike any other average city except….

sheldon-1We visited the Wild Animal Safari (officially in Strafford, MO … but only about twenty minutes from Springfield) and had an AMAZING time feeding the animals and lovin’ on Sheldon, the giraffe.

I anticipate writing more about this adventure in a Travel Tuesday post, but felt the need to share my excitement (and excuse for tardiness) this morning.

Reading:   I’ve heard of writer’s block… is there such a thing as reader’s block?

I am struggling right now, and I’m not sure why.  I am very excited about the prospect of reading.  I have more than enough material from which to choose.  I have time (after all, I am retired) and yet… the reading does not get done.

I have an idea for how to progress with MG fiction (possibly audiobooks?!) … but I still need to work on the other genres.  It shouldn’t be difficult:  a couple of travel essays a week; a memoir before bed…

I am frustrated, but I refuse to give up.

Writing:  I am working on two pieces with a deadline of July 24th.

I am taking a class through the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, Writing About Nowhere, that meets July 26-27.  I need to bring one piece (no more than 10 pages!) for a classroom critique.  The prompt is:  Imagine you are asked by your mayor to show a dignitary from another country your city.  Find a spot, position yourself, and write the portrait of your home town.

My artist date this week helped me prep to write the piece (see below) and I will continue crafting these notes into an essay over the next few days.

The second assignment is the Sketchbook Project – a memoir based on the prompt:  Because of… This is also what I am working on for Camp NaNoWriMo.  Officially, the project due date is August 1st, but since I will be in class the weekend before, I have set the date of July 24th.

Because the subject matter is so personal (the death of my mother – and the lessons I have learned), I have struggled with how to start.  After numerous free-writes, I think I have a loose structure from which to begin.  Hopefully this will gel over the next few days.

Blogging:  I have come to the conclusion that this blogging schedule is a form of discipline for me.  There are times when it is a bit overwhelming, especially when I know no one else cares or would even realize I missed writing a post.  But I would.  And in this transitional phase between calling myself a teacher and a writer, I need this kind of personal accountability.

Artist Date:  As I mentioned above, my Artist Date this week was a research project.

I decided to go to the Plaza – one of the quintessential Kansas City tourist destinations.  For a shy, reserved, introvert, however… this was a major accomplishment.

First, I hate to drive in the city.  I am a suburban girl, and city traffic (not to mention the one-way streets) causes me great stress.  BUT… I chose to overcome fear and drove myself without incident.

Secondly, I hate to eat alone in public.  I feel so conspicuous and “hear” those around me saying, “Oh look at her… she is alone… she must not have any friends.”  Silly, I know… and I am determined to overcome this irrational fear.  So… I ate at an outdoor cafe, The Classic Cup Cafe, which gave me a perfect view of the Plaza’s activity.

I took lots of notes and have a good idea for the essay’s structure.

I had so much fun, in fact, that I plan to return for this week’s Artist Date to take pictures for the essay.  I plan to arrive early in order to avoid the harsh light and vast crowds.  I may enjoy a classic breakfast at the same outdoor cafe before walking the streets in search of photos to help illustrate my story.  It should be fun!



  1. cathyensley

    Not sure if you can’t read fiction for the same reason I can’t, but for me it has something to do with the fact that reading fiction is “for pleasure,” and. well, my personality tells me I can’t do that. Actually, any kind of reading falls fairly low on the priority list, unless the book promises to solve a problem for me–give me needed knowledge or insight. That’s generally in the realm of nonfiction.

    I don’t like being this way, but I like even less feeling I could be making better use of my time by writing my own books instead of reading others’ books. Writing my own books is a far more engaging and enjoyable use of my time than reading others’ books.

    When I read back cover copy, I feel that’s all I really need to read. I do read a lot of back cover copies! It’s enough to “get” the story. If I do read a book from cover-to-cover, it’s only to find out how the author developed the story line, compared to how I would’ve done it myself. That’s the only intriguing thing I find in reading the type of fiction (inspirational romance) that I write.

  2. I applaud you for driving into town and dining alone. I used to feel subconscious eating alone but not anymore! Love it. Always have a book or journal with me.

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