Jun 3, 2010

Act Like a Kid Again.

by Kari Diane Pike

I'm afraid I haven't been devoting much time to the writing craft this week. I mowed our half acre of lawn, went for walks with our 22-month-old granddaughter, became reacquainted with zany Dr. Seuss and introduced to the quirky kid songs of Eric Herman. Did you know that a pirate without a treasure is like a monkey without a spatula?? In yoga class we did the laughing baby pose and played with our toes. Last night we built a fire and ate s'mores until we felt sick. I am grateful for the restorative effects of getting in touch with the inner child in me. Hopefully, I will rediscover the creative part of that inner child.

Our missionary son shared a thought from his zone conference upon which I have been pondering for over a week. The question posed was, "Are you willing to do anything for the cause of Christ or are you willing to do everything?" Doing anything refers to your willingness to do anything you are asked to do. Doing everything refers to the idea that you are willing to take the initiative and not wait to be given an assignment. You see that something needs to be done...and you do it.

I've been thinking about how that applies to writing. What does it mean to you? While you ponder on that, play with your toes. Your inner child is wiser than you think!


  1. No conclusions here, just ruminations...

    As an unpublished novelist, anything vs. everything is problematic. My attention to details probably makes me the Queen of Tweak, and I often feel like screaming, "Stop me before I revise again!" But maybe that's a quality that will make it easier for me to work with an editor when my manuscript is accepted. To say I'll do anything to get my book published might imply selling my soul to the publisher who'll buy it. In another sense, anything could mean going to any extent of research to achieve accuracy. In my book I had characters who were attorneys and characters battling cancer, and I knew nothing about either of those subjects, so I had to find the resources to make it sound real.

    Everything could mean tireless attention to details, following publishers' guidelines to the letter and not expecting to be treated like an exception to the rules. Publishers' guidelines are a separate issue from the rules of writing – grammar, punctuation, etc. I've always been a stickler for rules, but I've also taught my creative writing students that you can break the rules once you prove that you know how to keep them. You find plenty of best-selling fiction riddled with incomplete sentences, which has always been one of my personal bugaboos. I've set certain challenges for myself as well. I rarely begin a sentence with "the," and I never put a question mark at the end of a rhetorical question. These are just my own little stylistic quirks.

    You can do everything possible to meet the requirements of writers' guidelines, and everything possible to write a brilliant story, but there isn't anything you can do about market trends. A writing teacher once told me that if my writing is good enough, it will find an audience, and I believe that. Most writers I know aim for a specific audience, but I've always simply tried to be a good storyteller. Naive? Probably, but I just want my stories and characters to be memorable. I'll do anything and everything to achieve that.

  2. I love these ruminations, Pam!

  3. I've spend thirty years doing anything for my craft - taking and completing mundane and inconsequential writing assignments for the sake of the paycheck and the roof overhead.

    Finding myself past the midway point and time ticking quickly I know that now I must do everything for the sake of the writing. I can no longer afford to see intrinsic value in paychecks or roofs.

  4. We can try to do everything for our writing, but there are so many priorities whizzing around us--callings, family, education, temple work, other talents that need attention. We give everything all the time. No wonder we are exhausted!

    This week, I've squeezed a little writing between watching grand babies. :-)

  5. The word that popped into my head as I pondered these words of wisdom and read the above posts priority...what is the everything we should do?! It take the Holy Ghost to help us figure that one out.

  6. Oh I love reading all your different insights...all well said! I am very grateful for the special gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us in these decisions!

  7. Great post. This led me to think in three different ways.

    First, am I willing to write anything for the cause of Christ? Yes, as long as the writing is true. Am I willing to write everything for the cause of Christ? There, I'm a bit more hesitant, and that's only because I'm not sure if all the stories I want to write further Christ's cause. They might indirectly, but is that really furthering Christ's cause?

    Second, am I willing to do anything to write well? No, not if it means compromising my standards or covenants. (For example, if a writers conference is on Sunday, I won't attend.) Am I willing to do everything to write well? Yes, as long as I keep my priorities straight (as mentioned above by another commenter).

    Third, am I willing to write anything to get published? No! Am I willing to write everything to get published? No. I think we have to be careful as LDS writers not to get sucked into the fame and glory game that's been set up by the Adversary. I'm not saying it's wrong to seek publication. Not at all. I'm only saying that publication is not the be-all and end-all of our existence as writers.

    After all, we weren't given this talent for our own aggrandizement...we were given it to better serve our brothers and sisters.

  8. Years ago we had a fireside about education and the bishop asked me to talk about my experience of returning as a married homemaker to finish my education. I had 7 kids at the time and was taking two classes a semester to get it done--a very slow process. (I allowed moving and baby number 8 to stop my progress completely and I have not yet returned.) Anyway, I said in my little talk that I've known of mothers who do sign up for full class loads, who often must also work to provide for their families at the same time, and they just go and go, putting in long hours, and get it done. I said I have a name for them--I call them graduates.

    Everyone has to make choices and priorites for their own lives, but if we really want something or the spirit is whispering to us to complete a certain task, we must do EVERYTHING to accomplish it. Not just a random anything, but everything.

    Thanks for this message, Kari, and that question that makes me think about writing as well as how I live the gospel.


Thank you for visiting. Feel free to comment on our blogger's posts.*

*We do not allow commercial links, however. If that's not clear, we mean "don't spam us with a link to your totally unrelated-to-writing site." We delete those comments.