Becca Wilhite Blog

February 4, 2017

I though I knew what Busy was

Filed under: emotion,goals,musings,priorities,publishing,writing — becca @ 8:34 am

Once upon a time I was a high school student with a full load of challenging classes and a job and family responsibilities and I thought I was busy.

Once upon a time I was a college student with a full load of challenging classes and a job and no social life to speak of and plenty of food to cook and I thought I was busy.

Once upon a time I was a young mom with four little kids running in at least seventeen directions and I thought I was busy.

Once upon a time I was serving in a Relief Society presidency/Young Women presidency/Primary presidency in my church along with all the wonderful family things, and I thought I was busy.

Then I got a full time teaching job. And kept most of my other things. And I was pretty busy, and I learned how to be okay with sandwiches or pancakes for dinner (because, after all, sandwiches might be my love language, and pancakes are undoubtedly Kid 3’s) and a clean-ish home, and significantly less awesomeness in pretty much every aspect of my life: I still do all the things, I just don’t do any of them very well.

I miss naps. Wait. How did I take naps back in the day if I were so busy?

I miss small kids on my lap for story time. Wait. I had time to read books out loud back then when I was so busy?

I miss making bread. (Blessing: our congregation meets at 1:00 on Sundays now. Huzzah! Bread last Sunday! Cinnamon rolls the week before!)

I miss writing whenever I feel like it. Instead of its being a casual fling, I have to make time for the writing. We have to make a date with a beginning and ending minute. I have to get SERIOUS about this. And do you know what? I think it’s making me like it more. I have more respect for this thing that requires careful planning. And I have to think that’s a good development. It requires me to be grown up about it. As if, perhaps, this were a job. Which – well, they’re paying me, right?

I am in a place of perspective today that allows me to recognize the probability that I don’t know what busy is. And that it’s likely to arrive someday on my doorstep. And I want to be able to embrace it – that thing that life may bring me – wholeheartedly and generously. And I want to keep pressing forward with the other important things. And to do them better, more graciously, more gratefully.

June 7, 2015

Nourish and Flex

Filed under: character,goals,musings — becca @ 8:39 am

My words for the summer: Nourish and Flex.

Physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, spiritually. This is what I want for me this summer. Nourishment and Flexion.

I want to nourish me, but I also want to nourish other people. Specifically the ones who live in my house, but also other ones. A friend of Kid 2’s came for Taco Tuesday last week, and it was fun to hang – all of us – around the table for an entire hour for a dinner that could have been eaten in fifteen minutes. It was nourishing to eat the food (he told me I make the best tacos in the world, and Kid 3 laughed at him and said, “You make the taco,” and she was totally right), but it was maybe more nourishing to tell the stories and to laugh together and to Be There.

I need to recommit to being flexible. This is a thing I have previously used to define myself, and somehow I’ve lost the ability to bend in some of the ways. So I’m giving it another try, out loud, here and in my heart.

December 30, 2014

Breaks

Filed under: goals,priorities,word count,writing process — becca @ 8:37 am

I love my Christmas vacation! (Look! An Exclamation Mark! Many Marks!) I have my whole little family home, and we do a lot of relaxing, some eating, some visiting, some movies, some reading (we all got books for Christmas, natch), some laughing, some playing, and some of us (totally not me) even get to do some skiing.

I also have been doing the writing. I have this goal that I’ve been meeting for a whole week now about writing 1000 words a day. Once that was my normal. Once I did that every day. In less than an hour. Then I got a job and an increased blood pressure and a fear of failure all at once, and I sort of cut away at all the things that Didn’t Matter So Much. Writing my 1000 words a day fell by the way. The blood pressure normalized, and I realized that – although I missed it – writing was not essential to my life. Then. I’ve kind of decided that I want it to be essential to my life again.

Here are some things I’ve noticed: * Writing 1000 words is not hard if you have something to say. Dialog can go on for pages and pages and pages, if there’s subtext and romance and sadness. If, however, you’re trying to describe getting a heavy box into a locked house, it can take a really long time to make those sentences stick to the page. Because WHO CARES is why.

* Seeing the word count grow at the bottom of a document is a total rush for word nerds like me. Total rush. RRRUUUSSSHHH. (Don’t you hate how that doesn’t really say a word anymore?) It’s kind of like the feeling when the numbers go down on a scale, but the opposite in direction and SO FAST.

* I don’t need this story to be a book. I have arrived at the place where I’m writing for the sake of writing. If I manage to make this a Real Story, and it lives to see itself Revised and makes it through Edits and I like it well enough to Submit, it still may not be a Book. And that is totally okay with me. I’m having fun with Greta and Will and Mac and Marigold and Julie the Librarian.

* This is a story that I’ve been pecking at for a long, long time (that’s calendar pages long, not consistent fingers-on-keys long), and it’s fun to see how things change in that time. Characters have grown depth and flaws and dimensions. Some things I’ve been certain my main character wouldn’t do (because they’re stupid) I’m letting her do (because they make good Story). It’s easier to teach that than to actually let it happen.

* Rejection still hurts my ability to create, even though I’m old. I have to deliberately focus on the fun of creating, the joy of drafting, and not consider how it might feel if this manuscript goes the way of the last one. Even though I’ve decide to write for the gift of it, sometimes my brain slips backward into the muck of disappointment (in myself, in bad communication, in frustrating relationships) and it’s hard to write my way through it.

* One thing that seems to help is to write the Vomit Draft. Maybe Real Writers (you know the ones – they have OUTLINES) don’t need to vomit out scene after scene, but I need to allow myself to do just that. It’s an act of discovery. I am throwing up words here, and I am okay with that. Today, this month, this year it’s okay to write words that won’t stay. Once (or maybe over and over) I told writer class attendees that Writers Block is nothing more than the fear of being less than awesome. I don’t have that fear any more, because OF COURSE THE FIRST DRAFT IS GOING TO BE LESS THAN AWESOME. That’s why God invented Revision. So I don’t have to feel blocked, because it so doesn’t matter (today) what I write, as long as I write. This will not always be the case. But I’ll embrace it today.

I’m loving this Christmas break, and the huge amount of family time it’s bringing. I’m enjoying the gift of writing time (and I really, really hope I can be a champ about it when I have to get up at 5:00 to do it) and the gift of watching my manuscript grow and the gift of seeing my characters become Something. Maybe I needed a break from daily writing to recognize that I really like it. Not like I like Breathing, necessarily, but maybe the way I like something else that’s good, like popcorn or snowshoeing or reading novels.

I hope the things you love are the things that fill your days as we stride toward the finish line of this good year.

October 11, 2013

Trying Something New (Surprised?)

Filed under: anxiety,goals,losing it,NaNoWriMo,priorities,writing — becca @ 11:33 am

Is anyone interested in trying a little thing with me? I’m at the knife-edge of my wits these days (I know that is in no way hard to believe) and I actually think that if I manage to squeeze in 30 minutes of writing time I may increase the will to go on. (I’m not suicidal. I don’t need an intervention. Just a nap and possibly a wife, but that’s a post for another day.)

Here’s the thing. I have 2 half-done manuscripts that require way more than I can give them right now, time-wise and emotional-investment-wise. SO instead, I’m going to try the thing my husband has been doing since July: A story a day. It can be a really short thing (ala Hemingway’s famous short story: “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”) or a longer thing, or a fragment of a thing, but I want to write from my guts without worrying that it’s not increasing my word count or manuscript output. Anyone want to get in on this with me? A practical flexing of the muscles, as it were. (And I promise to never say “as it were” again.)
It’s sort of “Romancing the Words” — a no-commitment, rediscover-the-joy, dive in and splash around in the puddles of creation activity. Starting now. Ending at the end of the month if you’re one of those NaNoWriMo pros, carrying on longer if you’re like me and unable to commit to 50,000 words in a month.
As far as craziness like planning goes, I’m not actually doing any. But I did think that I could try a few genre-based experiments: One day, write something funny, or sad, or scary. Another day, historical. Or, dialog-only. Setting based, fantastical, child-focused, nonfiction, like that.
So now that I’m putting this onto the internet, I’m all in. Write on.

April 23, 2013

Recalculating

Filed under: goals — becca @ 10:14 am

I just read a lovely post by my virtual friend Annie (who writes lyrical and pointed prose and gives perfect recommendations on how to spend a couple of afternoons in New York City) about a podcast she recently listened to. Much loveliness there, but the thing that spoke to me most was this, in my non-poetic retelling: My GPS unit is a role model for me. She (my GPS is a lady) knows where she’s going and how she’d like to get there. But when I get it wrong, she doesn’t pitch a fit. She simply recalculates. (Is it only me, or does your GPS say “Recalculating” more often than anything else?) I would like to be like my GPS in the manner of patient, gentle recalculating. In the course of a day or a week or a month, there are ample (that’s me being gentle) occasions to recalculate when we get off course (usually when someone else is doing the driving), and how much happier would we all be if I were to simply say, in my elegant British accent, “Recalculating.”

Oh. You chose to sign up for that class? That wasn’t in my plan. Recalculating.

You’d like to play how many sports this summer? Recalculating.

The job I’d love is full time, not part time? Recalculating.

Wow. Look at your hair. Recalculating.

Did you just say those words in front of those people and expose me for all my idiocy and there’s no good place for me to hide? Recalculating.

My Plan is not The Plan? Recalculating.

—-

(On a side note, months ago Husband and I were joking about what it would be like if I were to be the program voice of the GPS. It went something like this: “Get ready to turn left. Left. It’s the one to THE LEFT. Seriously? Did you not hear me? I said TURN LEFT. Why do you ask if you aren’t going to listen to me? Forget about it. Find you own way to the bowling alley. Sheesh.” *muttering* “Some people…”)

December 27, 2012

Do you ever think?

Filed under: goals,gratitude,priorities — becca @ 9:49 am

I know you do. I meant, do you ever think you could do something amazing? Like… do you ever think you could, with your very own small life, write a memoir that someone would READ? Do you ever think that — years from now, when you’re gone — someone will think of you? Do you ever think that right this second, someone out there is thinking only about you? Do you ever think you really, really matter? Well, amigos, I hope you do. Because it’s true.

You matter. I matter. The guy over there shoveling a sidewalk (while the snow is still falling) matters, and what he’s doing — even if it looks needless and futile and ridiculous — that matters, too. The people who write internet comedy that keeps my kids up too late, falling over each others’ laps laughing? Those people matter to me. The girl who sent a fan letter this week? She matters. And so many more people. every day.

So that’s what my Big Plan is for 2013. (I resist the idea of resolutions. I’m irresolute by nature, you see. so I have to get around it all in my own way.) But my Big Plan is to say it out loud — to tell someone, every day, that what they’ve done, that who they are, matters to me. In person. Virtually. In a letter or a note or out loud. People I know, strangers, people who change me.

Want to join me? (It can only end well, you know.)

August 19, 2012

Overheard

Filed under: familyness,goals — becca @ 3:52 pm

At the end of last school year, I taught a bunch. I told you about that when it was happening, it seems to me. So one day, this thing happened, and I have been thinking about it over and over and over for MONTHS now. Let’s discuss, shall we?

All right.

So I was in a classroom full of Kid 1’s peers. One of them, in a casual moment of small-group discussion, asked me something about her. I may (possibly) have praised her. A lot. I am sure the words, “she’s amazing” and “I like her a whole lot” came out of my mouth. A different kid in the room, a few feet farther away from me, said to the kid beside him, “My mom would NEVER say something like that about me.”

I immediately felt horrible. Not that I had praised my Kid, but that the boy who overheard me would respond that way. And I hope he was wrong. I really do. But if he’s wrong, what’s up with his mom never saying things like that  (or other nice things) about him in his hearing? And if he’s right? Isn’t that even more sad?

So here’s what I think. One of my goals for this school year (which, despite my best efforts, is right there beginning on THIS week’s calendar lineup) is to not only say nice things about my kids, but to let them overhear those nice things now and then. And to speak to and about my kids so that they will never doubt, never wonder, never question what kinds of things I might say about them when they’re not in the room.

January 3, 2012

New! New! New!

Filed under: goals,irony,lists,rambles,spring is coming — becca @ 8:33 am

I know, right? It’s a new year, and I’m already trampling all over my Exclamation Point Embargo. Hey, you know what? If a girl can’t throw down a few exclamation points, what’s the point of anything?

Okay. Sorry. I got carried away.

But it IS, in fact, the sort-of-beginning of a new year, the Kids are back at school, the Fat Loss Program is two weeks underway, the halls are bare of vinyl-pine needles, and we don’t have a lick of snow on the ground. In fact, the average afternoon temps from the last week hover right around 50 degrees. So, what I’m telling you is, Spring is Coming.

Oh, wait. That’s not what I’m telling you.

It’s the New Year. That’s what I’m telling you. And new things are good things.

Also, I am a terrible resolution-keeper. I think some of you knew that. But this year, I decided not to wait for January to set goals which I probably could not keep. So I started in December, and so far, so good.

Pound a week. Check. (Only through April. Not forever. Neither of us needs to worry.)

Speak and behave more kindly to my Kids (and other people, but somehow that’s just naturally easier, because I am wicked or something). Check.

Remember how to Get Over It. Check-ish.

Write. Wellllll… Um. It will come. I’ve been on vacation, remember? Vacation from my PROBLEMS.

Also, I’m Taking Back the Budget. I’ve always been a pretty good budgeter, but lately, I’ve been lazy with the grocery budget in particular. So, starting today, the weekly Wilhite grocery budget is $60. Plus a once-a-month trip to Costco, coming in under $150. Look at me go, putting it all in writing and stuff.

So, what’s new with you?

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