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Gustar

Something I have NOT done in years is write poetry.  I enjoy prose more, but I used to write poetry almost exclusively.  Here’s one I always liked.

Gustar

I’d like to free the night

And walk on the ocean

I’d like to touch the rain

As it drips from the sky

I’d like to hear a whisper

Carried off in the wind

I’d like to see the air

Resting all around me

I’d like to smell the moon

As it sails through the night

I’d like to taste the sun

Setting slowly at sea

I’d like to pick a yellow rose

And never let it die

I’d like to feel you with me

When you can’t be by my side

-Terree L. Klaes-

1993

How Do You Like Me Now?

I am now officially on the verge of fame or infamy.

I finished writing my first book two years ago.  Then I worked on editing it and researched publishing it (sort of).  The world of publishing is so confusing these days and I was overwhelmed, so I really didn’t do much at all, but sat on the book for two years.  Fear of the unknown and rejection kept my book buried in the files of my computer.

No more of that.  I yanked that proverbial bull by its horns and I self published the darn book yesterday!  Was that the right move?  Who knows.  I could have searched years for an agent and still had to figure out how to self promote it with no guarantee that anybody would buy it.  Electronic publishing seems to be the wave of the future, and so I published it with kindle direct publishing through Amazon.  When I checked this morning, I’d already had two people buy it (and my I don’t think my mom even knows it’s up there yet)!

Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages is really geared towards preteen readers, but if you grew up in the 80’s/90’s cusp, enjoy sarcasm and humor, give it a read.  It’s fiction based on my middle school reality, but in case you knew me then, very few characters are actually modeled after anyone specific, and I love making stuff up or exaggerating it.  That’s storytelling.

Curious?  You can check it out here and even read the first 10% for free.  If you like it, buy it, read it, and tell your friends all about it.  And just in case you’re thinking, “I don’t own a kindle, so forget it!” you can download a free kindle app for your Mac, your PC, or pretty much anything that’s an i or “smart”.

Happy reading, and please let me know what you think.  You can also “like” my author page on Facebook at Terri Klaes Harper (the author page).

My Toolbox has been Empty

In a twist of irony, I recently rediscovered a book I began reading but misplaced somewhere years ago (and with only about an eighth of it left to read). I started my career of teaching about then and I didn’t have time for reading anything like that anymore, so it got shoved in a drawer of my nightstand.  Here comes the part that makes that ironic. On the back cover of the book, Stephen King’s writing memoir On Writing, it reads, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”

See the irony now?

My true dream since ninth grade was to be a writer.  My English teacher discovered I had this talent which had previously just been something I did because it was fun, with no realization that I was any good at it.  After all, I suffered from the common ailment of adolescence, low self-esteem.  Once I had my teacher’s push and support for writing, I became passionate about it.  And my parents encouraged me.  Everyone around me encouraged me, so I kept it up… until college, when I no longer had time because I was working the low end of full-time hours and taking a full-time load of classes, all while maintaining steady A’s and B’s.  My deep down dream was to be a famous and rich writer, but the realist inside of me knew money for writers was hard to come by and I would need a day job.

My “day job” then invaded every moment of my life, leaving me in exhaustion in the tiny bits of “free time” I could muster.  About all I ever seem to have energy for after a day of teaching, planning, communicating with parents, grading work, and on and on, is crashing on the couch to mindlessly watch television.  So, even reading is something I find I have little time for, unless it’s something I’m reading to teach in class or all too often horrendously written student papers (also, I tend to just fall asleep when I try to read-pathetic). According to the above quote, I have no tools for writing, which I guess is all right since I don’t have the time for it anyway.

Grrr!

That’s right, I just wrote a stand alone “Grrr!” and I’m not ashamed.  I am, however, ashamed that I let my dream die.  But perhaps it isn’t completely dead.  I’m trying to shock it back to life. That’s the purpose of doing this blog.  It forces me to write something, anything really (this is more obvious if you’ve read the random and often unrelated posts I’ve been writing).

It took me two summers to write my book.  And it has taken me two more summers to get the nerve to do anything with it.  I will be self-publishing it soon (mostly waiting on my cover art), and I will see if the interest deems the book worthy of a sequel and go from there.

I recently shared that my desire, and what I feel is my calling, is to work with survivors of human trafficking, and now I’m writing that my dream is writing.  I must seem scattered.  Truthfully, I want to work as an abolitionist and help restore those who have suffered at the cruel hand of slavery, but I also feel my ability and passion in writing can work the other end of the problem, which is awareness.  Somehow I can fuse these dreams together.  But I must make time to read, to write, and to research my next moves all while I work my day job, which will begin again in about a month. This school year will be challenging, but my hope is that I will be able to actually set off on my true life’s mission in about a year from now as I use this time to prepare.

For now, I’ll continue my blogging, and I’ll read as much as I can, including finishing On Writing.

GOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL!

I have been reading a book called Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job by Jon Acuff.  (Ok, so I was reading it, but then I had to quit for a while because my day job was taking up all my dream job time, and I just picked it back up.)

I know you’re asking yourself why in the world a high school English teacher would want to give up all the amazing perks of her job (sometimes sarcasm is hard to read, so I’m letting you know it’s here); the answer is simple: I am becoming exhausted, and I do not want to burn out or become one of those ineffective, jaded teachers who just go through the motions of the job.  For now, I’ve still got this, but the day is coming when I know I just won’t be able to do it with a passion anymore. It’s better to prepare for that now than to wait for the breakdown to happen.

Aside from teaching, there are only a few career paths I ever considered following: writer, singer, M&M quality tester.  I’m too shy to sing in front of anyone and am probably best in the car…alone; I’m not sure where the nearest Mars candy factory is; but writing has always been a passion of mine.  I also have recently discovered a new passion: doing something in the way of creating awareness of or helping survivors of human trafficking.

So in this book I started reading again about an hour ago, Acuff talks about the “plan myth” (all references to this book in this post come from “Chapter 5: Wait on the Main Stage”).  We all think we need a detailed plan in order to become successful, but in reality, we first need passion and practice, and then a plan will sort of develop itself.  I’m a planner, so I think before I read this I was overwhelmed by the fact that I don’t even know how to develop a plan of success for these two passions of mine.  Apparently that’s ok, which is good, because I was trying to develop a plan just to develop a plan (which I would probably then color code…).

Examples: Acuff gave an analogy of a soccer player scoring a goal. He could never predict the exact conditions of the moment of the goal.  Sometimes everything just lines up.  The soccer player had the passion and practice, and the rest worked itself out.  Another analogy was of an extreme skier.  He knew he could only plan about four moves at a time because as he got closer to obstacles/choices, exact predictions would be impossible. To quote Jon Acuff, “The conditions of your dream will change as quickly as that mountain face [reference to the skier analogy]. New opportunities will come into view. Unexpected obstacles will arise.  And while your passion will remain the same, your plan has to be flexible enough to accommodate them.”

I’ve always been a believer in writing down my goals.  I heard or read somewhere that when we write things down, we are more likely to accomplish or achieve whatever it is. So, I guess writing down the final goal and waiting to fill in the details of the journey when we can makes the most sense. Depending on where we write these goals, we may also increase accountability.

This blog is part of my practice for my writing passion.  Not only am I practicing my writing, but I’m also declaring that I will work on getting my adolescent novel published in some form as soon as possible.  I am going on a mission trip to Costa Rica this summer to try to get some practice for my other passion of working with survivors of human trafficking.  My true and ultimate goal is that one day my passions can collide.

One other idea from Acuff’s “Chapter 5: Wait on the Main Stage” is that it’s good to start out invisible while we practice our passions.  It gives us a chance to mess up without pressure.  Now I can continue to practice in this blog and not worry about my small following, which does not even include my own mother, because this is my Nebraska phase (read the book if you want to know what that means).