Finding Time For What You Love: Guest Post by Author Renee des Lauriers
Check out her book on Amazon!

A good writing buddy is precious. It's the rare combination of a sympathetic ear, a cheerleader, and a friendly but firm kick in the pants. Renee has been that for me and more. The other day I called her up and we chatted about our lives and writing and how we both wish we lived closer together. She was about to get on an airplane when I asked if she would like to do a guest post for my blog. Like a boss, she wrote this on the plane and sent it to me a few hours later. Behold, the life of a published author:

It started on a purple couch with a dream, caffeine and a blank computer screen. It continued with fierce word wars, the pattering taps on keyboard keys with loud coffee slurps and furrowed eyebrows. It was the birth of my first novel. A novel that was more than just a novel. It was the dream that survived from childhood-the dream of a dyslexic girl struggling to prove that she was as smart as everyone else. A girl who had entire landscapes and characters and worlds to share if only she could get them out of her mind and on to the blank page.

How do writers write? How do they do it? I know that I can't speak for everybody but I can certainly say that I wouldn't be able to do it without my writing buddies, Naomi des Lauriers and Laurel Nakai. There is something about hearing their fingers moving across keyboards, a sound as many and plentiful as rain that really lets me know that I need to get moving already.

Now that I am on the other side of America, figuring out what I want from life on the desert sands of Las Vegas, I find myself stuck. So begins my writers block and a settling in to non-writing.

"it's so easy to forget what we are made of and what we can do when we are drowning in life's minutiae."

It's not that dreams die. They just get buried in responsibilities- those everyday things like shopping for food and paying the electric bill so that the power won't get shut off and keeping lint off the carpet. It isn't that those things are more important than passion, it's just that it's so easy to forget what we are made of and what we can do when we are drowning in life's minutiae.

There's something so necessary about having supportive people in your life. I was blessed to have the best sort of friends-the sort who believed in my dreams and supported me in the day to day fight not to give in to trivialities and time wasters, but to instead give to those things that I believe in and want most.

Stuck in the day to day grind, it's easy to forget what writing has added to my life. I shot my first gun so that I could know what it felt like and capture the experience accurately in ink. I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and made Dunkin Donuts employees vaguely uncomfortable all in the name of art. It was all in order to accurately capture the spirit of the zombie apocalypse.

I remember when Hurricane Sandy hit in fall and the power went out, Naomi and I lit up hundreds of candles and started writing through it. I remember writing on line at the bank, on buses, in hot tubs, in food courts at casinos. I wrote on Laurel's couch so often that I sincerely hope that she never sells it as so much of my sweat and passion and coffee spills have seeped into the fabric.I am writing these very words above the clouds on a Spirit airplane.

"whatever it is that you love to do, do it."

Writing is an act of creation. It is taking something intangible from the hidden recesses of the mind then ripping it forth into the real world and down upon paper. I know that writing is not for everybody. For others it could be cooking, jogging, photography or gardening. I just hope that for every person out there, whatever it is that you love to do, do it. Do it every day, even if it's just for five minutes. Even if it's just for one. Because having that something adds a spice and a wonder to life that wouldn't be there without that individual take on the world. It makes me not merely exist, but live. So, from far away I'm holding on to my writing buddies and holding on to my dreams one word at a time.

Renee des Lauriers is the author of The Oxygen Factory (Sunbury Press, Inc.) She resides in Las Vegas, where she teaches high school English and raises chinchillas. 

Lessons Rereading Books from my Childhood

On a whim, I started re-reading some of the books I remembered from my childhood. I just finished Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli.

I honestly didn't remember much about the book. I remembered that Maniac was an orphan and homeless, and that he ran...a lot, and I remember the character Mars Bar, but only for his name. That's about it. I remembered almost nothing about the plot. After all these years, what I remember most, is not what happened in the book, but how the book made me feel. I remember sadness and triumph, and that feeling of magic and fulfillment at the last page, when you think, "Yes, this is how the story ends," and yet it doesn't really end, because those feelings stay with you.

It was a joy rereading it as an adult. I could see what fascinated me as a child and also better appreciate and grasp its many redeeming qualities, like the magical realism, the themes of separation and belonging, of race and family, and the subtle but perfect narration.

I was a slow reader as a kid. It wasn't till second grade that my parents and teachers realized I needed glasses because in elementary school they only tested for near-sightedness, and I'm far-sighted. I had trouble looking at a page right in front of me. I would have to close one eye, and use my finger to read the words, because I also had tracking problems (my eyes would skip to the next line before I was finished reading the first.) I remember being frustrated in school, and anxious whenever we had to read something to ourselves in class. I almost never could finish the paragraph or passage within the time the teacher gave us to read it. The pressure of having to read something within a time constraint made me anxious and also embarrassed. I learned how to fake it. I would read the comprehension questions first and then go back and skim through the paragraph just to find the answer. I had to do this, otherwise there was no way I would finish. When we had to read a paragraph in class and then answer questions out loud, I just prayed the teacher wouldn't call on me, as I continued to try and read without her noticing.

But I liked reading for myself. I liked curling up in my room and delving into a story at my own pace. Eventually, armed with my new glasses, I was able to like reading in school too, or at least be able to do it without the anxiety, because the more I read, the faster I got.

All of this is to say, that at seven years old as I squinted to see the chalkboard, I would have never imagined that I would get a degree in English and be working on writing my own books. It's good to look back and see how far we've come. We can't change the past, but we can appreciate it in a new way, just like rereading a childhood book as an adult. It gives me inspiration too,  knowing that even now when I feel stuck or frustrated, I just might not be able to see where I will be ten or twenty years down the road. One day at a time.

Winter's Wrath, a poem inspired by my SAD

Winter’s Wrath
by Laurel Nakai

The darkness came first.
Descended like a curtain, slowly, day by day,
until suddenly
we had to turn our lights on to eat dinner.

We went to bed with slippers,
thinking we could trap the warmth,
ration it for the days ahead.

The winds snapped frigid branches and thoughts
bitter and broken
on the shivering earth.

The winter’s wrath is the impenetrable depression,
and soon we were buried.

A layer of ice lies between
the ground and fresh powder.
There was life here once...

Water soaking into soil
sprouting stems and grass
leaves and petals
hope and apathy.

The ice covers all our happy memories.
Desperate longing for something just out of reach.
I can see them if I brush away the snow--fingers
stinging with cold and spite

I can see them, through
distorted glass
the same place where Spring began

All my shovels are broken
the salt pail empty.

There is no chipping away.
only melting
only waiting
only believing, in the languid thaw.