Avocado Lessons: On Writing

Don’t ask me why food is turning me into a philosopher, but bear with me. I promise my late night musings about avocados is worth it. I even have some potential for an Avocado Lessons blog mini-series, but I’ll decide how far I’ll take this at a later date.

For now, I want to share some writing lessons from an avocado.

Last night I was scrolling through Instagram and there was an ad for Best Foods’ Avocado Oil Mayonnaise. Typically I scroll past ads, but I stopped and watched this ten-second ad. They filmed someone slicing open a perfectly sliced, perfectly ripe avocado. Now, unless Best Foods’ ad agency has supernatural avocado picking powers, I guarantee they had to slice through and film dozens of avocados. I don’t know how many avocados I’ve sliced through that are slightly under-ripe or, though seemingly perfect on the outside, are speckled brown and bitter on the inside.

So how could I possibly connect avocados and writing?

Five Writing Lessons You Can Learn From an Avocado

Continue reading “Avocado Lessons: On Writing”

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Procrastination, Painting and Perspective

I have been in a writing funk this whole week. The end of May is swiftly approaching, and I am nine thousand words away from hitting my goal. I have zero inspiration, and it’s looking like I won’t hit 50k by the end of the month. It’s not big deal, but I hate missing goals. I’m a perfectionist and over-achiever by nature and missing goals discourages me. A lot.

I’ve been painting our “office” for the past two days, partly because I want it off my list and partly because I want to feel like I accomplished something. Painting takes physical endurance, not mental, so I was hoping it would clear my mind and allow me to focus on writing again. But, I just couldn’t turn my brain off, and all I could think of was writing more and how fast my deadline is approaching. Continue reading “Procrastination, Painting and Perspective”

I’m Grateful for the Followers I Lost

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Just when I think I’ve figured things out, there is something that comes along to humble me. It’s a good thing, but I won’t say it isn’t frustrating at times.

Last week I wrote about planning. And while I 100% believe that planning is good, there is a huge pitfall for me when it comes to planning. Sometimes I plan, and I expect my hard work, determination, and strategic planning to make all of my plans happen.

It never works out that way exactly, does it? Continue reading “I’m Grateful for the Followers I Lost”

A Whistleblower’s Motivation

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When I’ve shared my whistleblowing experience recently with people in my everyday life, I’ve had variations of the response: “wow, you’re so brave. I could never be that brave.”

But, when I was in that moment when I turned the professors in, I was not brave. I certainly didn’t feel brave when I read the death threats. I didn’t feel brave when people I knew well disagreed with and condemned my actions. I had people question my motives. I second-guessed my decision every step of the way.

To be honest, the first email I sent was a reaction: something wrong (and illegal) was happening, and on instinct, I reported it. I did not sit and mull over that first email, I did not weigh the consequences. I just knew something wrong happened, and my gut reaction was to report it.

My sister, who also was a whistleblower in a different situation, and I discussed why we reported our individual situations. We both said it was a reaction to the situation. It was a knee-jerk response.

So, in writing my novel, I’ve been working on creating a protagonist that would be the type of person to report a situation. It would need to be a reaction, not a contemplated decision. But, there’s more to it than just that. What makes a person get to the point where he or she would respond that way, without a second thought? The reality is that whistleblowing has a myriad of consequences in your career, your friendships, and your personal life. But, the people who are in whistleblower situations like ours never stop to think about those consequences until those consequences start materializing in our lives after the fact.

Are we not planners? Are we risk takers? Do we not care about our image? Do we have nothing to lose?
Continue reading “A Whistleblower’s Motivation”

The Very Incorrect, Non-Planner Planner

I am a non-planner planner/goal-setter. If I have plans and goals, I’ll fight tooth and nail to reach those goals. I don’t miss deadlines. Planning works for me, but I shy away from setting aggressive goals (or goals at all) so I can’t disappoint myself if I miss them. (Silly, right?)

When I started writing my novel, I purposefully set a long goal: nearly two years to complete my first draft. Two years. Someone commented on a post of mine that I could do it much faster than that, and I didn’t believe them. I’m a stay at home mom, after all. How can I take breaks to write when at least one of my kids asks for me every ten minutes?

Two years seems utterly ridiculous right now, and D. Wallace Peach, you were totally right: 100,000 words is attainable by the end of the year. Continue reading “The Very Incorrect, Non-Planner Planner”

Chocolate Milk Lessons

Several years ago, before our kids were born, my husband and I started buying half gallons of organic, grass-fed milk in glass jugs. I loved buying good milk, and I loved the reusable jugs. During one shopping trip, I spotted a quart of grass-fed, glass-bottled chocolate milk. I wanted so badly to try it, but I’m frugal, and that kind of milk is already expensive. The added expense of chocolate was too frivolous. So, I passed it by. A handful of shopping trips later, my husband caught me eyeing the chocolate milk again and told me to go ahead and buy it. We bought it, I carried it lovingly home on my lap in our reusable shopping bag, and put it in the fridge. That night I poured myself a glass, and it was even more delicious than I had anticipated. It was so good that I decided to ration it. I’d only save it for the days I really need a pick-me-up. That bottle sat in the fridge as a little beacon of hope, my little chocolate safety net.

Continue reading “Chocolate Milk Lessons”

When I Get it All Wrong

The moment has come that I have been dreading since the emanation of this project: I’m stuck. I’m really, really stuck. I’ve had blips here and there in the last couple of months, but I could power through them and end up with at least a scene if not two. But, the kids got sick, I got sick, I stopped writing for a few weeks, and the excuses piled up. After just a few weeks of not writing, I am already completely out of the practice. Writing is not just inspiration, writing is work. Hard work. It’s also mentally exhausting at times as you’re trying to dig into character’s emotions and simultaneously working through your own. The last time I sat down to write, I eked out a few hundred words, nothing to cover the looming thousands that I’m behind on.

BUT. Continue reading “When I Get it All Wrong”

Motherhood and Writing: a Christian Perspective

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As I mentioned before, I hit 25,000 words on Tuesday. I managed to squeak in extra writing time during a better-than-average nap time and thanks to an amazing husband who took over dinner time duties. I have approximately a 460-word daily average I need to accomplish to hit my goal of 100,000 by September 30th. When I managed just shy of 3,000 words on Tuesday, I had visions of hitting 30,000 words by the end of this week. It was a lofty goal, but doable if I could keep up my pace.

So, how many words have I written since then?

ZERO. Continue reading “Motherhood and Writing: a Christian Perspective”

25,000 Words

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Short and sweet update:

52 days into writing, and I’m a quarter of the way there! If I can maintain this pace, I’ll hit my goal of finishing by September 30th.

The Not-So-Brave Whistleblower

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I don’t see myself as a brave person. I’m not willing to skydive, I don’t want to dive into the depths of the sea, and I never ever want to orbit the earth. I would like to keep my feet on solid dry land. I’m also afraid of daily life things at times. I’m terrified anytime one of my children runs a high fever, I’m not fond of social interactions full of people I’ve never met, and driving a car makes me anxious.

So, if I’m timid and shy and cowardly in many situations, what made me speak up in a situation that could hurt my grades and reputation in college?

It’s a question I’ve discussed with my older sister who also became a whistleblower where she was employed. We tried to dig through our upbringing and past to figure out what made us brave when we needed to be. (For the record, my sister is a much braver person than me overall!)

All we could come up with was the need for merciful justice. We both stood up in situations where other people were harmed or could be harmed, and deep down, we couldn’t sit by and watch it happen. Things needed to be made right. There needed to be justice.

I have prayed a lot about sharing the details of my own experience on here. In many ways, it is still a raw topic for me, even eight and a half years later. And, while I’m sure most people will never trace this blog back to my experience, nor would some people care, I was instructed to remain quiet by university staff. I am thankful in hindsight that the case didn’t proceed to court because I can speak out. I am under no legal obligation to stay quiet.

It is this experience that has inspired and fueled my novel. I’m creating a fictitious story by weaving my account and my sister’s account of whistleblowing together. The novel explores the emotional ramifications of being a whistleblower as well as the frustration of coming against a university system whose sole purpose is to protect its reputation. There is very little room for true justice in the university setting. Continue reading “The Not-So-Brave Whistleblower”