Sunday, October 28, 2012

Gearing up

Have you ever felt spent, exhausted, drained before the starting gun fired? You probably know what I mean - you wake up and are already ready for bed or you look at clock, sure it late afternoon only to find it is barely past noon. I think we have all had these moments. I am not sure why they hit so hard but when they do, they make for tough times.

When I find myself overly tired, I notice that it hits me as hard mentally as it does physically. I can't focus as well, my patience grows short(er), and I am more forgetful than usual. On these days I feel like I need a sick day to rest my body and my mind. As a mother, wife, and teacher, however, sick days are often in short supply.

So why am I rambling on about my personal ills with being exceptionally tired? Well, there is actually a point hidden in here. We all experience these trials and tribulations - I am not pretending to be a lone martyr here. The key is in how to muddle through and keep moving. The infamous quote from Finding Nemo comes to mind. Sometimes we have to "just keep swimming."

Whether you are exhausted (my reference), stressed from work, or struggling with some other emotional issue, we can all get through it as long as we just don't quit. The same theory applies to the many frustrated writers out there, myself included at times, that often wonder if they should keep trying, in spite of the rejection letters and endless waiting. Life can get hard but it will get better.

So tonight as I sit here exhausted, having to type and re-type this in an effort to make sense of my thoughts, I am also reminding myself that tomorrow will be better. And if it's not, if I am still pooped, well I'll set my sights to Tuesday instead. No matter what, I'll keep swimming!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

in 6 little words

Recently, I was asked to explain my life story in 6 words. Yes, just six little words. I looked this up, thinking there had to be a back story and sure enough, there is!

Apparently people have been writing six word memoirs for the last 5 to 10 years, and it has become quite popular. There are several published books on this topic. The original, however, goes back much further. The premiere 6 word memoir has been linked to none other than Ernest Hemingway's, whose six-word story read: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” He wrote his as a bet, but many others who have followed suit write theirs as a testament to their lives.

So after much thought, here is mine: "My scars make the best stories." That's all folks!

Monday, October 22, 2012

My current book

I have been working my way through Arthur Frank's The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics. The book was recommended to me by two friends who strongly feel Frank is the top writer in medical memoirs. It is one of those books that is challenge and a blessing on so many levels.

Much of the text is written from a highly technical and scholarly point of view. I often find myself feeling like I am back in graduate school, working my way through an endless chapter of a textbook. In simpler terms, it is a heavy book. I often have to go back and re-read passages to better digest the information. Frank's work is his second of this type. His first, At Will of the Body, is a more personal account of his own battle with cancer and a heart attack. I have not read this book yet and perhaps this could be part of my confusion.

Frank has a unique perspective to write these medical memoirs - he is both a survivor and has met with thousands of survivors through interviews and presentations. While it is clear that he understands what it means to be wounded and need a voice, I am still struggling with the technical nature of his work. It is very structured, formatted, and categorized - none of which I expected when I purchased the book. This is not a bad thing or a criticism, it is just not what I anticipated, therefore causing me to move slowly through the text.

At the beginning of this blog post, I noted that the story has been difficult yet fulfilling for me at the same time. Frank's story, while often heavy with citations, is all about the journey of the ill in their quest to share their stories. Franks is magnificently able to capture the raw emotions that come with the loss of self, the need for telling the story, and the struggle to maintain normalcy (whatever that looks like). I appreciate his willingness to openly explore this topic - it is not an easy one. The afflicted need a voice, especially as we look to create a new self in the wake of diagnosis and chaos. That said, I am thankful for the story.

Photo Credit: University of Chicago Press

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What moves me

Recently I have visited so many blogs it has made my head spin. I have truly enjoyed some of them. Others have left me more confused than anything else. I started my blog on a whim, partially on the advice of several friends who write more consistently and also because I thought it would help motivate me to write more.

In all honestly, I am not sure if my blog has found it's home in my heart. I designed it to be primarily about books and the writing process. While I do want it to be about this, I keep running into roadblocks. My writing is mainly about things in life that move me. I don't write much fiction, I never write paranormal, and I have never written a whimsical romance. While I have read some great ones, these are simply genres that I  either struggle with writing or simply have no interest in. I keep trying to stretch myself to write new stories but my heart is not there.Those story attempts usually end up in the trash rather quickly and that is probably for the best. I envy those more creative than myself that can create such magic on paper!

The more I write, I realize that my writing is part of the self-induced therapeutic process. When I observe or participate in something powerful, I feel compelled to write about it. When I struggle with my illness, I write about it. My inadequacies as a parent, wife, teacher, whatever - I can put that on paper and work through it with words. This works for me and as time passes, I am getting better at accepting this. I may never be a famous published author but I am saving a fortune on therapy!

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Friday, October 19, 2012

In my spare time

So when I am not mothering, teaching, spousing (yes, I know that is not a word but you know what I mean), writing, and the other everyday activities, I find a few other activities to get involved with.

Check it out:

 Go Red - Passion Committee

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Anthology News

    The anthology featuring my story "Pump" is coming out on December 1st -- I am so excited! This is my first published work so it is a pretty major deal for me. Our publishing company, High Hill, is busy with the editing, layouts, cover work, etc. right now. They released the cover art, and I have included a photo of it.  The majority of the work is completed by Missouri authors which I think is very cool. There is so much talent in this area, and I take great pride in being chosen for publication. 

Photo Credit: Saturday Writers

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bella Art Fair

    Earlier today I helped at our Saturday Writers booth at the Bella Art Fair held at the Cultural Arts Center in St. Peters. I really enjoyed talking with many of the artists, writers, and creators that stopped by the table. During some down time I wandered around to various booths and checked out the artwork. There were some amazing creations on display. It is always fun to see and hear about the projects other people have in the works. It helps motivate me to keep working. What keeps you going?

Photo Credit: Saturday Writers 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Twitter me this

    I finally took the Twitter plunge tonight. Seems like I have been taking all sorts of these plunges lately! I have never been a Twitter follower - until today I had never even visited the website. I joined Book Blogs and they recommended Twitter so I gave in against my better judgement! I am starting to worry I am biting off more than I can chew in an attempt to connect with other authors, network, and broaden my writing horizons. I will have to see how it goes. And in case you need it: my twitter handle: @karenguccione

Monday, October 8, 2012

Why I Go Red

    I try to keep my posts limited to books, writing, and the like. On occasion, events pop up that spur me to post about something a bit unrelated. Today, I received an email from the St. Louis chapter of the American Heart Association, of which I am an active member. Members were encouraged to share their stories with Rosie O'Donnell through an account she established after becoming affiliated with the organization. For those of you who do not know, she recently suffered from a heart attack, had a stent placed, and is recovering well.

    Like so many other woman, Rosie had previously been largely unaware that heart disease impacted women. Prior to her heart attack, she did not know that heart disease is the number one cause of death for women. I listened to her story, then I took a minute and shared my thoughts on why I Go Red. It is short but hopefully, the message is clear. I hope you might take a minute to read it as well.

Dear Rosie, 
     I Go Red for myself as an eight year survivor of two forms of incurable heart disease. I Go Red for my four children, in hopes that they will enter adulthood healthy, informed, and prepared for their future. I Go Red for the many young and active women like myself who find themselves diagnosed at an early age (I was only 23), totally unaware that heart disease is a disease for all ages. I Go Red for the all mother's who need to be healthy role models for their children.  I Go Red for my students, who need their teacher in the best shape she can be in. I Go Red for you, to help you realize that you are not alone in fighting heart disease. I Go Red today and everyday in an effort to end heart disease. 
- Karen Guccione-Englert, survivor

Sunday, October 7, 2012

What have you been reading?

     I just finished a wonderful memoir by Jeannette Walls called The Glass Castle. The book spent over a year on the New York Times Bestseller List and after reading it (in less than three days), I am not surprised. Written in chronological order starting at the age of three, Walls takes you through her personal journey of resilience by recounting events of significance.
     Growing up in a deeply troubled and dysfunctional home, Walls and two of her three siblings are able to break free from her parents. Walls creates an amazing life on her own yet still feels tied to her parents, especially her father who affectionately refers to her as "Mountain Goat." Despite the parenting, or lack thereof, all of the children suffered through, they shared a loyalty to each other that served as a catalyst for change. The Walls children knew they could count on their parents for nothing, but they could always trust in each other.
     While the story is troubling at times with vignettes of neglect and emotional abuse, its message of personal strength and redemption is beautiful in itself. I would highly recommend it!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Taking the plunge

    I have decided to commit to Nanowrimo next month. November is National Novel Writing Month. What a perfect time for me to take the plunge and finally start mine. For those of you who have never heard of this, Nanowrimo is a website where people write, collaborate, and muddle through the process of writing 50,00 words in just one month. Yes, you read that correctly - 50,000 words in one month. That equates to approximately 1,670 words per day.

     I am going to give it a go while working, parenting, etc! The more I read about it, the more motivated and excited I feel. I think it will be really good for me to force myself to commit to my writing instead of coming up with excuses of why I can't do it today (you know, laundry, walking the dog, organizing the spices, etc). If you are interested, check out the link and see if it is for me. Maybe you have some Namowrimo in you too!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Runs in the family

   My youngest daughter, age 10, just entered her first writing competition! She was very excited about the idea and looked up the competition on her own. I am not concerned about her winning or losing- I am proud of her hard work and effort.

   She wrote a 1,500 word story and went through numerous revisions. As most of us know, that takes a lot of time and dedication. I hope she sticks with it as she is pretty creative. It was a lot of fun helping her edit her story too.