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Friday Interview: Lynn Bemis

Lynn Bemis is joining us this morning as “writer in the guest chair.” Please help me give her a warm welcome.

Claudsy: It’s so good to have you with us, Lynn. When did you begin writing and what was your primary goal when you began, was that goal achieved, or did it change to something else along the way?

Lynn:  2004 … I guess that was when I willingly took off on the journey of working to be a children’s writer… I had the urge to write when I was in my twenty’s… I often imagined myself idealistically being a coffee writer. Sitting with a pen and paper looking ever so smug and important, I’d write the novel of all novels.… I wanted to leave a piece of myself behind for my children and their children… I don’t believe that goal has changed, but it has been tweaked.

In 2008 I found myself floundering … I took four months off and worked through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron… She says fame is like a spiritual drug and it makes us believe that if it hasn’t happened for us yet, it won’t. That fame interferes with the perception that the point of the work is the work.

I bring all this up, Clauds, because it strengthened my goal and clarified in my mind that it wasn’t egotistical to choose to be remembered. For me writing is a personal journey, a legacy, a gift to those I will leave behind.

Claudsy: I think that’s an admirable goal, too. Your creativity and joie de vivre are legendary in some circles, Lynn. Why do you think you’ve maintained that sense of wonder that most people lose as they grow older?

Lynn: *Throws her head back in laughter, sounding like a whale’s blow hole.* Well, in life there are many circles, but what a nice compliment… First let me tell you that I had to Google “joie de vivre” – “joy of life.” My mother had the gift of “joie de vivre.” Our parents’ actions rub off on us, like it or not. As far as my sense of wonder… insanity helps. Six kids lead you there. Yet, it must be Grace that gives me calmness in the storms of life, to be able to stop and collect myself and notice the small things, to appreciate the wonderment of Life.

Claudsy: Do you believe your ability to see the wonder allows you to write for children, or is it your children’s influence that’s kept you putting words on paper?

Lynn: . . . I write and feel the way I do because of how God has made me. It is truly the wonder in the world. I never wrote in a journal as a young mom. If I could say one thing to the your writer mom’s out there, it would be to write… every night or every morning of the events of the day, even if it is just a few sentences… I can’t have hung out with my little tribe and not have all the daily activities pressed into the sub-conscience mind.

Claudsy: I heard that you twice worked your way through the NaNoWriMo crowd to the end. Does that help you focus on your writing more than other exercises, or is it the self-competition that drives you during that month?

Lynn: Now, I have to correct you here, Clauds. I didn’t do Nanowrimo this year. I did do it for the first time last year… I got… 28,000 words on a novel that’s very near and dear to my heart.

I decided to bow out gracefully this year and jumped ship half way through… to do NaPiBoIdMo. National Picture Book Idea Month. It was set up by Tara Lazar. http://taralazar.wordpress.com/

…self-competition – that wasn’t a driving force… it was more the group effort that was exhilarating. I felt that… when we both did NaPiBoWriWee last spring. National Picture Book Writing Month.http://paulayoo.com/content/pibonawriwee-2010/

… I’d wanted to do it the year before, but I was in no way prepared. The second driving force was to just write and force myself not to edit. Ann Gonzalez … constantly massaged our brains to understand that the purpose of NaNoWriMo … Fingers to the keys, rump in the seat and go. Check out: http://www.anngonzalez.com/

Claudsy: You’ve just moved. How much disruption did this create for your writing? What advice would you give any writer who’s contemplating such a task?

Lynn: “OY” I have done five moves since 2001. There is not enough practice in the world… to feel I have perfected this unending endeavor. I still find myself saying, “Ou, nice box.” I now live by the famous words of our friend, Kate, “Yep…I’m gonna die here!”

… I find moving very disruptive… What helped me the most was when I packed all my writing folders and books, I immediately put them in the closet of my new bedroom. Just knowing where they were was my comfort.

I would get my camera and take snap shots of things that seem to spark my creative juices flowing. That way I would feel as if I hadn’t lost writing days.

Claudsy: Aside from this disruption, what do you feel influences your writing the most within the limits of your other responsibilities or life factors?

Lynn: … I work best in the stillness of my life. Like an afternoon when no one is around, especially when the sun is bursting through the window. An evening when the kids are doing homework and my husband is engrossed in a game on TV. I will go to my special room, take my tea, and write.

Claudsy: And if you could write and publish any one thing, what would it be and why would you be so keen on writing it?

Lynn: Gee whiz Clauds, one thing? They tell us to write what we love to read. I love to read Middle Grade fiction… I would love to write books that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. My belief is (that) life is filled with magic, I’m not opposed to tapping into it and adding a gentle dollop of make believe. If I get to add the feeling of “keen” to it, it would have to be about nature, herbs, flowers, and of course God. I think it’s the challenge in learning to write a good picture book.

Claudsy: Given all the time you utilize creating stories and the like, do you have enough time to do all that you would like to with your writing? If not, how does that make you feel?

Lynn: Two simple words, No and Disorganized. The New Year is a great time to set new goals and restructure one’s life.

Claudsy: I can go along with that. Do you have an outside/face-to-face writing group that you work with? If so, does it help you more than other possible aides?

Lynn: At this time I do not. Since we relocated … there is a lot to restructure in our lives. I have seen some ads in the local papers for writer’s groups. As winter passes I will want to check into them. I think it is very important to be involved with a face-to-face group.

Claudsy: Lynn, what did you do before you began writing? And did you gain as much satisfaction from it as you do now from writing and socializing with other writers?

Lynn: … love, marriage and Lynn pushing the baby carriage became my reality. And well, six baby carriages later I became MOM… I was a stay-at-home mom who … home- schooling – six children and held the job of chief barker in the Bemis circus. I could never compare that with where my life is now. Each is highly satisfying. Except now I am both a Mom and a Writer.

I will never under estimate the importance of surrounding yourself with like minded people when it comes to any craft. I love the people I have met through the Writer’s Retreat set up by ICL… The greatest satisfaction comes from the trust you build and the encouragement. As a mom, I would fold up the sidewalk to my house and shut out the outside world. It was my way of survival. So, this is all very new to me.

Claudsy: Thank you, Lynn, for sharing with us today. I know that those out there who are just beginning will recognize some of your issues and take comfort in seeing others sharing their cares.

Short Personal Biography:

Lynn Bemis lives with her husband, John, and two youngest children, along with two dogs and two cats. She continues to learn and prepare for the day she takes on full-time writing. She’s proud of her two girls and their families, as well as her one son, who’s presently serving with the Army Airborne in Afghanistan.

Lynn is a member of the ICL, who has concentrated on Contests so far in her writing experience. She’s written and copyrighted a song for which she did both music and lyrics entitled, “Oh, Righteous King.” She does illustrate, as well, and has some of herdrawings posted on Tara Lazar’s website. This urge to illustrate accompanies her desire to write picture books.

For more examples of Lynn’s humor, thoughts, and writing, go to: http://zebrakitchen.blogspot.com/

I hope all of you have a marvelous weekend. A commentary will follow tomorrow as usual. Take care, all, and God bless.

A bientot,

Claudsy

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  1. Ctnyrene
    January 15, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Clauds – I am just loving your interviews. I can’t wait to see whom you do next.

    ctny

  2. January 15, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Hey I love the blog. I’ve been looking for more information and I was wondering if you have any good tips or pointers? I’m getting ready to move and I need all the information I can get. Thanks!

    • claudsy
      January 15, 2010 at 5:48 pm

      Malcom – Tip: Never underestimate the critical nature of sorting and tossing. This is an exercise in reducing the amount absolutely necessary to your life in the next abode.

      Happy moving day.

      Claudsy

  3. January 15, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Clauds,

    How I did enjoy this interview, as I do all of them. It was intriguing to learn how Lynn deals with the everyday challenges and still fits in time for writing. I especially enjoyed learning that Lynn was the Chief Barker in the Bemis Circus. Very descriptive. And it does give insight as to what a fun writer Lynn is. Its always inspiring to hear of the different ways she faces each day. I look forward to seeing more of her work.

    Lynn,

    This really was enlightening. Thanks for letting us see how amazing you really are. I’m so glad you are pursuing your dream of writing and illustrating. I feel certain that, as you move closer to your dream, the world will be blessed by your efforts. Keep up the good work.

    ~ Yaya
    Yaya’s Changing World

  4. Colorado Kate
    January 15, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Good job, Zeebs and Clauds! I love learning more about my friends. Joie de vivre indeed, and this is such a great line: “As far as my sense of wonder… insanity helps.”

  5. January 15, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Hi,
    Thanks for doing this Clauds. It was fun to see how you made sense of all my yada, yada, yada’s. I’ve been without Internet all the day. I think the squirrels have been chewing my line. It must be their need to get some nuts. And, as expected, I’m sitting at a real life coffee shop. Thanks for stopping by guys.
    Be Blessed!
    Lynn

  6. Marie Elena
    January 17, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Ah, yes! Another of my favorites! Zeebs, I must say that your sense of wonder and humor are contageous as all get out. Thanks for yet another great interview, Clauds.

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