Becca Wilhite Blog

September 29, 2011

Tell Me A Story

Filed under: events,familyness — becca @ 5:06 am

Did you know that when my first Kids were very small, I used to live in fear of the words, “Tell me a story”? Well, I did. I would read to them all day and all night and love every second of it. (Except for maybe the Cat. I have issues with the Cat.) But there was something terrifying about the very thought of sitting on the edge of a bed and making up a story. All the pressure. My Sure Knowledge that anything I said would not only be dumb, but dumb enough that even a two-year-old (a really pleasant one) would sneer. I had nothing worth saying. I knew it, knew it.

I dreaded that sneer.

But do you know what? Something changed. Obviously. I started writing it instead. And with the writing came a tiny bit of confidence. I couldn’t tell a story suitable for bedtime. I was sure of it. But I discovered that I could tell one that would make a kid laugh. And hey, what better way to go to bed than laughing? (I know. It’s a ridiculous claim. Calm is better. Duh. But we go with our strengths. We make it do.)

And I discovered that sometimes, I could get a good laugh by telling a true story. I could tell the Kids stories about… the Kids. (I know. Genius.) I could tell the story about the “nose-picking light.” I could tell the story about “have you ever x-rayed a chicken?” I could tell about haircut disasters, and tossing a kid into a dumpster, and spinning a shopping cart until the inevitable vomiting. (Those weren’t all me. Just the dumpster one.) I could tell about “baby bird face” and “pots and pans / In a rock and roll band” and chin stitches and “somebody stole my wife” and “the piano is the joy of my life.” I could tell about “Every day, my head gets bigger!”

And when I told, it mattered. The Kids knew that their stories mattered. Because they were the stories we told. Over and over.

So, guys, I have something cool to tell you about.

It’s a story conference.

That’s a little different from a writing conference, but I bet it will share all the best parts. [1] It’s called Story @ Home, and it’s in Salt Lake City, Friday and Saturday March 9 and 10th. Here’s the cool part: There’s a place for you there. Even if the words “Tell me a story” make your teeth sweat. Because it’s made to cater to people with different kinds of interests. Like this:

There’s a Family History track, full of all kinds of genealogy and personal history stuff that looks mighty intimidating to a person like me, until I realize that I AM TELLING OUR FAMILY’S HISTORY EVERY DAY.

There’s a Storytelling track, full of people who don’t even flinch at the words, “Tell me a story.” Who live and breathe story. Who delight in the sharing. And who want to learn how to do it even better.

And there’s a Blogging track. Where we can find the awesome, the crucial, the totally possible ways to tell our own stories (even if they’re not Absolutely True). [2]

So go over HERE to Cherish Bound’s website and take a look (Cherish Bound is the company presenting the conference). Guys, the tickets for a two-day conference are only $79. That is a STEAL. (Not that we approve of stealing, which we Do Not. Just to clarify.)

The conference is on the lovely Temple Square, and is hosted by FamilySearch, the online genealogy experts. That might make you think that this is for Mormons. But it’s certainly not in any way limited. We like to think of ourselves as a welcoming bunch. And there is good information here for everyone. Even you. And even me. But did you know that zillions and zillions of people use the internet for genealogy searches? And that means that as soon as the FamilySearch people release their tickets, this baby will sell out. So I’m here to tell you that you can go ahead and register right now. And I’ll see you there.

And maybe, just maybe, I can tell you a story.

[1] The best parts of a writing conference include awesome presenters giving awesome ideas, and also lunch.

[2] Not that I’ve EVER told a story that wasn’t 100% absolutely true. Somewhere inside the murk in my head.

September 26, 2011

One, Two, Three

Filed under: goals — becca @ 9:40 am

Dear Becca,

You know that feeling? That one where you’re just POSITIVE that nothing is getting done, or getting done correctly, or getting done for the right reason?

Me, too.

So today, I want you to remember this:

Start at the beginning. Get the first thing tackled. Step through it. And when it’s done, or done-ish, take a look at it. Really? Was that so bad? No. I thought not. Now move on.

Get to the next beginning. Step through that one, too. Reward yourself during it, with a song or a treat or a laugh or a massage. (Probably not the massage. It just sounded like SUCH a good idea for a minute.)

Move to the next thing, or the next part of the first thing, or the part of whatever thing that will make you feel like Something is Done Well. Take a little stock. See, note, pat yourself on the back for the parts that have been done. Remember to do this part, because nobody else is going to notice that the laundry IS done (because they’ll only need that thing from the load that isn’t yet) or that the pantry is clean (only that there’s nothing inside it to eat) or that the words are written.

Then, tell yourself this: “I’m baby stepping. I’m doing the work. I’m not a slacker.”

And you’ll feel… like Bob. But without the goldfish. Oh, wait… you still have goldfish. Two of them. So, just like Bob. And how does Bob feel? “I feel good. I feel great. I feel wonderful.”

No? Not quite there? Well, then, you may feel like you can start at one, and go on to two, and even move toward three. And that will do.

You can do it.

XO
Becca

September 22, 2011

Magic Details

Filed under: Uncategorized — becca @ 8:45 am

Remember how I started doing some private writing lessons? Well. I did. And it is SO MUCH FUN. My Toodles (that’s what I’m going to call them, but they don’t know that yet) are so excellent. Our first session, we talked about details and how they tell us so much about a character. So I had them tell me about them, what they liked, what they did, what mattered to them. Then (we were in my house) I said, “Look around. Notice things. Tell me about me.”

And they did.

They noticed and told me this:

My family is really important to me.

Red is my favorite color.

It was my birthday.

I like my kids a lot.

Books are important in our home.

I want my kids to play music.

Music is important.

I’m a Mormon.

I vacuum before people come over.

I like fruit.

My Husband doesn’t bake cakes.

I like Goldfish.

Stay tuned to see what details of my life they used to make these (mainly correct) assumptions.

September 21, 2011

I’m still faithful to you, Emma Thompson.

Filed under: recommendation — becca @ 8:41 am

And also Kate Winslet.

It’s about Sense and Sensibility.

For sure, the Emma Thompson/Kate Winslet/Hugh Grant version ranks among my top 5 favorite movies EVER. Ang Lee’s directorness is stunning (even though nobody goes Crouching Tiger in any scene – not that they shouldn’t, because wouldn’t we love to see that in the Willoughby Confrontation scene?) and the deliveries are all seriously perfect.

But, guys, there is another version that I have to love, too. BBC did a version for 2009 and I just watched it last week and I have not stopped thinking about how very, very much I adored it.

Especially Edward. I almost didn’t put this picture in, because it does not do my new Dear Edward justice. He looks a little snarky. A little cocky. But in the film, he just looks completely Edward. Now, let me say again that I love Hugh Grant. And that his cute, bumbling performances are totally endearing to me. His Edward is adorable. But this guy, Dan Stevens (who has no photo at IMDB, whatever) is so charming and completely, fantastically perfect as Edward that I went all Elinor and got a little giddy myself. From his first screen shot. The one where he appears while Elinor is beating a rug (how embarrassing, I know) and smiles right directly into her/my face.

I was smitten. In Smit. Deep Smit.

The movie is long. 3 hours. It was a miniseries. (Yes. They still do that. I checked.) But the extra hour let the filmmakers add in all the parts of the novel that are missing from the Ang Lee version, including Sir John’s insipid wife, John and Fanny’s horrible son (not to mention Fanny’s horrible, horrible hair which I love), and Lucy Steele’s appalling sister Ann. Also the scene where Willoughby comes back. Which I always hated in the novel, because, eeewww. Stay home with your wretched rich wife, will you? Also, Margaret, who gets the shaft in the novel, shines in this version. She’s adorable and far less whiny than the Margaret in the 1995. Whew.

I didn’t think that Marianne’s illness was quite as emotionally devastating in this version, but that may be because of Emma T’s stunning scene where Elinor begs the unconscious Marianne not to leave her, which is MY FAVORITE MOVIE SCENE OF ALL TIME. I may or may not cry with every watching. Oh, and also, the opening scene is the Willoughby’s Seduction of Colonel Brandon’s Ward moment, which might be stylistically lovely, but I would have preferred for it to remain unstated. Just saying.

And so, though I will always love Emma as Elinor, I have to make room for the new S&S in my heart. And on my DVD pile.

September 20, 2011

Warning: Popularity ahead.

Filed under: anxiety,cuteness,familyness — becca @ 8:45 am

Kid 1 got asked to Homecoming. (Yay! Homecoming!) And the boy is a cute friend, and he asked in a cute way [1]. And she’s so glad.

Then she figured out a cute way to answer him [2]. And she’s so glad.

And at the precise moment that she was answering this boy (who does not share his name with a conveniently purchased product), another boy left another cute thing on the porch of our house.

Ahem.

What? Who gets asked twice?

Um, Kid 1 does. (Did I mention that this is her first official date-dance? Because she just turned 16, and I am some kind of Nazi mother who doesn’t allow dating before that magic birthday? Well it is. And she did. And I am. And I don’t.)

She’s a wreck. Because. She has to say no. To another cute friend. And there’s some concern about the jerkiness of saying, “Oh, shoot. You’re too late. Maybe next time, huh?” But she handled it (quickly and openly) — in a cute way [3].

She may have said, about the guilt/happy-sad/troubled feeling, “this sucks.” I may have looked over at her with my disapproval eyebrows, since that word is Not Ladylike. Then I may have said, “indeed, it does suck, and welcome to popularity.” To which she may have said, “pass, thanks anyway.”

Because, people, what I’m telling you is that My Kid 1 is, above all the things that make her great, Genuinely Kind. She doesn’t want to hurt feelings or offend or any of that Unkindness. And that is a rough road. But I’m glad she’s on it.

[1] So there happens to be a bottled-water brand that is my Kid 1’s name. So he froze his name inside a bottle of “her” water, and she melted it to discover who was asking. We’re so proud of our little Dasani Wilhite. (Just kidding. Aquafina Wilhite wouldn’t think that was funny at all. Oh, come on, Arrowhead Wilhite. I’m only kidding.)

[2] Husband finds my lack of cleverness disturbing, but I am not a huge fan of the cute ask-and-answer. Alas, it is How We Do Things around here.

[3] Beef Jerky ,anyone?

September 19, 2011

Fun Things Happen

Filed under: animals,books,familyness,food,school,writing — becca @ 10:37 am

Here’s why a girl doesn’t blog for nearly a week:

She has a birthday. She spends this birthday doing really fun things. She finds herself inundated by happy b-day messages here, there, everywhere and SHE LOVES IT. (Fear not. I am done referring to myself in the third person. This causes instant distress in all my Kids. The 3rd person, not the stopping.)

Writing group happens. Oh, writing group, I love thee. See, sometimes we redefine ourselves as “eating/cooking/moaning at the goodness of it all” group. But other times we WORK. And work is good, remember that? And I have some great direction for revisions.

There’s also the new gig: I get to be a Private Tutor. This is second only to my lifelong goal to be a Tudor. Okay, that is a total lie. I’ve never really wanted to be a Tudor. Just to dress like one. (Tights and Wimples, rah!) I am teaching writing to the two loveliest young men, as part of their homeschooling. And people, let me tell you this: It is Fun. We write. We talk. We eat an apple. We write some more. We read. We write. We laugh. We write again. I know, right? Am I the luckiest? Yes. Yes I am.

Familyness happens. And that is good. I like my family a great deal. They are lovely. And funny. And usually very nice to each other. And — did I mention — I like them? Well, I do.

And then there’s the revision. It’s going to be a big one. That may take forever. But that’s okay. I have as long as I need.
I can do what I need to do to make it what it needs to be. <— Did that sound like song lyrics to you? Well, maybe it should be.

Meeting with friends. Eating soup. Playing. Teaching. Presentations in classrooms. Making maps of the United States (okay, only one). Planning stuff. Visiting the sick and afflicted. Exercising with the company of the 2010 BBC Sense and Sensibility (for which Edward deserves his own post). Slogging through a novel that I should just put down already, as my TBR pile grows. Laundry. Soccer games. Cooking. Cross-country meets. Dishes. Watching leaves change (that happens early up here in the mountaintops, but it sure is lovely — come and see). Talking to my parents on the phone (which I love to pieces, but is also an adventure — repeat after me “speakerphone is an invention of the Devil himself”). Watching Kid 1 get asked to Homecoming (also deserves its own post). See? These are the things that keep us from the computer, right? The things that are life. And I’m liking these things.

***And now, I really must clean out a goldfish bowl. Yes, they’re still alive. Yes, this is 7.5 weeks. Yes, they’re growing on me. ***

September 13, 2011

Good News: It’s NOT the Worst Book in the World

Filed under: writing process — becca @ 9:07 am

I’m revising.

(Feel my pain here.)

Actually it’s not so painful. I already had my requisite period of “Why am I even trying to write a book? This is the worst book ever written.” It happened during the drafting part. And that is awesome, let me tell you. It’s like duct-taping your hindparts into the chair and forcing out the Totally Horrible Words for hours, only to KNOW, beyond any doubt, that you have just gotten dumber for what you’ve experienced.

Awesome.

But, having gone through the assurance that this is the Dumbest Book Ever, I’m now moving on. Now it’s only the Least Complete Book Ever. And with that, I can deal.

I printed out my manuscript (single spaced, 11-point font). I put it in a clipboard. I added a packet of flags (taped it right down to the clipboard) and a short stack of orange sticky-notes. Brought (but decided not to use) a red pencil. And a blue pen, which, as it turns out, I used A LOT. I drove to the public library and started reading. I missed lunch. I don’t recommend missing lunch. But I do recommend starting the revision process in a place which is not the place you do your drafting.

Why?

Because I’m nuts.

Oh, no, that’s not it. Because Drafting is one thing. And Revising is a totally different thing. A thing for which there might be a better/different spot. If you’re a person who has a laptop, you’re covered, mobilitywise. I had to print. But that’s good too. Because I’m getting a little OLD, and I like to read things on paper. Especially 11-point font things. Also, my little print-and-travel system requires me to note (note only, not rewrite) while I’m in the read-through. You may be surprised to discover that I tend to get a little ahead of myself. And if you are surprised to discover that, well, welcome. You must be new here. I’m Becca and I enjoy a great deal of Ice Cream. Mmmmm. Ice cream. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Getting ahead. I think I want to hurry up and fix what’s wrong. But I need to ponder for a second, so I can make notes (in pen) on my paper copy, and then let those thoughts settle for a minute or a week. THEN I can come back to the kitchen and duct-tape my hindparts into the chair and rewrite and fill in holes. For several weeks.

So, here’s what I wanted to tell you. FIFTH GIFT is not the most awful book in the world. It’s not a complete waste of my time. Dad, cover your eyes. Guys, it doesn’t totally suck. (*sigh of relief*) There are issues. Major ones, maybe. Can I really have a main character wait for the halfway point before he shows his face? Um? Can I? Also, what is the deal with my characters EATING ALL THE TIME? It’s all about the food. Oh, boy. Maybe my next book will be a cookbook. I already have notes for such a thing. Oh, is it possible that I’m getting ahead of myself again? (But, hey – no ice cream. At all. I know. You didn’t think I could write a book without ice cream. Let me clarify – I had ice cream while writing the book. Lots. But nobody in the book eats ice cream. And also, there is much less shrugging than I usually put in a book. I am learning things. About shrugging and ice cream if nothing else.)

Reading, reading. Making notes. Making notes about the notes. Revising comes next. And then, prepare for the wind in your hair, because it’s going to be a ride.

September 9, 2011

Romancing the Education

Filed under: metaphors — becca @ 8:39 am

My dad used to tell me I was really good at starting to get into learning about things. I took that as a compliment. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t. He meant that I was great at cracking open the surface of knowledge, looking at the sparkly center, and then putting it away. I studied several languages… for a year. I read some great books… once. I learned basic sewing, but never got very good at it. In fact, I can’t do it at all now, but that’s more a decision (and fear of zipper placement) than boredom and inability. I learned how to oil paint for a few months. I took some piano lessons, some flute lessons, and even some bassoon lessons (I am so totally not making this up — I didn’t want to march in the band, so I played the bassoon during class, but I still had to march — I just got to crash cymbals instead of making notes and tunes come out of an instrument — and while we’re at it, the middle school band had a rocking rendition of the Go-Go’s “We’ve Got the Beat” directed by Mr. Leon Enneking). I studied Humanities in college (and yes, I got a degree) — and the very definition of Humanities is learning a little bit about a whole lot of great stuff. (Maybe that’s not the “very definition” but that’s my definition, and this is, as you probably recall, my blog.)

Um.

Still there.

I am a romancer of learning. I love to know a bit about everything (or not everything, as you may choose to look at it).

And I’m not alone.

This week, I’ve made friends with Walt Whitman, which is a riot. Kind of like reading a stream-of-consciousness blog. He’s the best. I’m all kinds of inspired. And listen to this:

BEGINNING MY STUDIES
Beginning my studies the first step pleas’d me so much,
The mere fact consciousness, these forms, the power of motion,
The  least insect or animal, the senses, eyesight, love,
The first step I say awed me and pleas’d me so much,
I have hardly gone and hardly wish’d to go any farther,
But stop and loiter all the time to sing it in ecstatic songs.

See? Uncle Walt was romancing the education, too. And look where that got him. He was the quintessential American poet (until Maya — Maya forever).

I got a copy of “Leaves of Grass” from the library this week. It’s the crumbly newsprint copy that holds that old-book funk, making my eyes water and my teeth itch. The cover has a picture of Uncle Walt looking like Santa Claus in his madman’s beard and his suede hat, and carries a purchase price of $1.25 (twelfth printing, 1964). I may be laying all my faults bare today, but I confess I wanted to play with the poems before I committed. I’m ready to commit now. I want to get my own copy. I want it hardbound. I think I’ll buy it for me for my birthday. I’ll add it to the pretty black sweater I bought myself last month and hung in Husband’s closet and the Alice Walker poetry book “Hard Times Require Furious Dancing” which is gorgeous and was 80% off at Border’s last week. And then I’ll stop buying poetry books for myself. And sweaters. And I’ll let someone else wrap them all up for me.

And I’ll revel in the fact that it’s okay for me to romance the education. To peek in. To flirt with knowledge. To date around when it comes to writing style and reading choices and book buying commitments. I can be the jack-of-all, master-of-none, and that is fine. That is me. That is how I learn, how I live, how I love to discover. The things worth working for are there, and they are important, and even crucial, but for me, they all revolve around relationships, not accumulated knowledge.

If it’s different for you, more power, pal. That’s great. I admire the ability and the desire to plumb the depths. And please pardon me while I swim around here in the shallows, enjoying the stunning life in the tidepools, the sunlight playing off the shiny rocks, and the heaviness of the wet sand.

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