Tag: writing

Fast-Draft Your Memoir | Frat House Reads

Fast-Draft Your Memoir | Frat House Reads

My favorite nonfiction books are about writing — the craft, process, style, and the authors’ stories about their writerly ways. All of these books are dear to me, but there are some that rise above the rest, some that would be on my Favorites Shelf.

Fast-Draft Your Memoir by Rachael Herron tops all of them. No joke.

Let me start by saying that this book is absolutely not exclusive to writing memoir. This gem of a book is slam-full of writing process advice that pertains to any genre. I can not sing its praises highly enough (nor would I want to subject you to my singing… I like you too much to punish your ears with such a heinous assault).

Rachael Herron instructs in such an easy, funny, conversational style that I didn’t realize how much I was learning while reading. I highlighted the heck out of this book… my Clippings and Readwise accounts should have enough to keep them busy for quite a while! I read through nearly the entire book in one night, and have since read it again more closely and taken copious notes.

Rachael walks the reader through the entire writing process, from getting ideas, tackling self-doubt, and getting words on the page consistently, all the way to editing and publishing. The exercises are fun and highly informative, and the advice is practical and truly easy to implement. I now feel empowered and well-informed enough to even vanquish my mortal writing enemy… Editing. You’re going down, Editing.

For the first time, the thought of actually publishing a book feels doable. (Oh, I’ve written plenty, but editing and publishing knock me on my arse every time.)

Additionally, Rachael Herron distributes a writing newsletter and has a writing podcast called How Do You Write, in which she talks about practical writing advice with various authors. Both are wonderful weekly writerly treats.

If you’re even considering writing anything, regardless of the genre, regardless of your doubts and fears, grab this book. Seriously. My entire outlook on writing has been dramatically shifted because of it.


She Did It Again (Field Notes Fauxdori from Jennifer Harvey)

She Did It Again (Field Notes Fauxdori from Jennifer Harvey)

Brown Distressed Italian Leather.

Small size (3.5″ x 5.5″).

Holds up to six inserts.

Yeah. She did it again.

Show Jennifer some love in her Etsy shop. Here’s the direct link to this little piece of notebook heaven.

(Edited to Add: Jennifer made this one a little differently than the others. This notebook usually comes with one elastic inside, one insert, and your choice of whether or not you want the clasp to hold the elastics. She has a ton of optional modifications to all of her notebooks in her Etsy shop, so be sure to Message her through Etsy when ordering to make sure she knows exactly what you’d like.

Jennifer also told me she only has a little bit of this particular leather left, so, if you want one of these beauties, get in touch with her on Etsy quickly!)

The Stopping and The Looking

The Stopping and The Looking

Before you read any more of this post, take a few minutes and go read this one; without reading that post, this one might not make much sense.

My husband and I don’t disagree on much. Before we met we’d both been through horrible relationships. We knew what we wanted, and we definitely knew what we didn’t want, in a marriage. And we do NOT want to have a cookie-cutter marriage. (We certainly don’t have one. If you’ve met my husband, you know what I mean. The man is Crazy — the best kind of Crazy.)

I am blessed that he always tells me he loves me. He always tells me I’m beautiful.

If the one person in this whole world from whom I want to hear it gives me that lovely input on a consistent basis, then why don’t I feel it?

There are things he sees in me that I simply don’t — can’t — see. I disagree with nearly every compliment he gives me (not aloud, so much, anymore, but always in my head). Why can’t I agree with him on these things?

It’s because of The Stopping. And The Looking.

If you read the article I linked above, then you know what I’m talking about.

My husband says he sees beauty in my laugh lines and wrinkles. He’s touched by the five-person-exit that is my c-section scar. He’s accustomed to busting into whatever room I’m in, door swinging, Kramer-like, and shouting, “You’ve got a great ass, Harling!”

Yet I can not agree with him.

And now I finally know why. Now, it seems so incredibly simple.

I harbor the constant thought that I Can Not Live Up To That.

“That” is the idea of female perfection that is thrust upon all of us, everywhere, all of the time. It truly is inescapable. And it truly is bullshit.

I feel like I’ve fought for my boys’ brains their entire lives. I’ve railed against what the world has told them a “real woman” is, because the world’s idea of what a real woman is couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve tried to instill in them an appreciation for people’s actions over their outward appearance, and I’ve done all of this with a ferocity I honestly didn’t know I had. (One son’s huge lesson in how much a person’s actions speak to how much they love you: I chased a guy who had pulled a gun on my kid about five seconds before I pulled up to pick him up. Yeah. Fierce. Don’t mess with my kids. And don’t try to mess with my kids’ heads, either.)

If I look at my boys’ actions and listen to the things they say, I think I’ve done a decent job of teaching them what a real woman is. But, how can I know for sure? I mean, look at what we’re up against here. Too many people, men and women alike, think:

  • A woman’s worth comes solely from her partner’s opinion of her.
  • Women don’t deserve equal pay.
  • Women owe men their bodies.
  • Women are weak.
  • Women need to be perfect in every way.

Now, most men don’t understand why women feel this way. They don’t understand it because they don’t think like that, and I could never say enough about how grateful I am for the many, many men who do not engender these kinds of ignorant thoughts.

However, as Dan points out…

Guys, when you Stop, and when you Look, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve told the woman in your life how beautiful she is or how much you love her; every Look completely negates every compliment you’ve ever given that woman and replaces it with negativity and pressure. Guys… read that line again. Seriously. You may not believe it, you may not understand it, but it is absolutely True. Every lingering glance at digitally-created perfection on a magazine cover, every click on a pretty actress’s Google image listing, raises the bar in that woman’s head to the unattainable standard that society has set.

And pretty soon, as Dan eloquently points out, a guy can find himself in the horrid predicament of not being attracted to anything that is real.

How to fix this? I can’t pretend to know, really, except for two things:

  • Women: you are Real. You are amazing. You are worthy. Find that worth in yourself and stop depending so much on needing that input from the men in your life.
  • Men: make your actions match your words. Try to overcome the falsified societal pressures of what Beautiful is. Make sure you aren’t accidentally taking away every positive thing you’ve ever said to that woman in your life with the habit of Stopping and Looking.


ChicSparrow Notebook for Class Notes & Journaling

ChicSparrow Notebook for Class Notes & Journaling

Before you watch this… click over to ChicSparrow on Etsy (the brainchild of Jennifer Harvey) and have a drool at all of the loveliness. I understand completely. Then come back and watch this video!

(Edited to add: Because so many of you good people requested the exact same notebook from Jennifer, she has so kindly named it after me. 🙂 Here’s the direct link:

Leather Traveler’s Notebook – “The Carie Harling” )

Applause Before 8 A.M.

Applause Before 8 A.M.

In order to tell you what I really want to tell you, I have to give you a little insight into what a Frat House Morning looks like on a school day.

In a nutshell, I get six kids to four different schools every school day, with a toddler in tow. While I only drive two of them to two different schools, I do make sure everyone is awake, fed, and presentable before they leave for the bus stop or the Frat Cab, whichever is their mode of transportation to school.

Every single school morning, at 7:30, I drive Jack to his elementary school, which is about six blocks from our house. I realize we could walk, but, if we did, I wouldn’t be back home in time to drive the next Frat Boy to his school, so we drive.

Every single morning, Jack gets out of the van, I watch him walk into the school, and I pull away to circumnavigate the other half of the rectangle of roads that will take me back home.

And every single morning, the same dad rides my bumper for three blocks until I make my left turn.

(OK, it isn’t every morning. That is to say, he isn’t necessarily riding my back bumper every morning, but he’s always tailing someone within my view way too closely. We’re all there at the same time driving the same cars in the same direction, every school morning, so he’s hard to miss.)

Bear in mind, every road within a 100-mile radius of my home is an Ice Rink of Death right now and has been for months. We all need to be careful, especially when there are kids approaching from every direction, on foot, trying to get to school.

This morning, I had to wait for oncoming traffic before I could make my left turn and escape the chaos that is The Morning Drop-Off. Bumper Boy (yes, he’s been so annoying for so long that he has earned a nickname) had been on me for his usual three blocks, following so closely that I couldn’t even see his headlights in my rear-view mirror. I had actually watched the front end of his SUV dip three times when he rode up so closely that he had to slam on his breaks to avoid hitting me (quickly followed by immediately riding right up my back bumper again. Can you say, “unteachable?”).

Then something amazing happened.

Something astonishing.

In the words of a mom who saw it and texted me afterwards, “That was beautiful!”

Right in the middle of the stand-still traffic, I put the Frat Cab into park and got out.

Bumber Boy and I were going to have a chat. I had had Enough.

I didn’t have far to walk as he was, as usual, right on my rear bumper. And none of the traffic was moving anyway. As I approached his window, he cracked it a bit.

Mustering all of the patience that a mother of seven could possibly contain, I calmly, firmly, as-nicely-as-can-be-done-through-gritted-teeth said,

“You’re following way too closely. You do it here, in front of a school, to everyoneevery morning. Stop. It.”

I turned around, walked back to The Frat Cab, continued to wait for the traffic to move so I could make my left turn, and finally made my exit.

Bumper Boy didn’t move until I was gone.

As I made that left turn, the kind woman who left a gap so I could go (a mom whose son goes to school with mine) put her window down and applauded.

The man in the car behind her did the same.

Before I got home, I had three texts from parents and two from teachers, all of whom were in that tangle of traffic with me, and all of whom have dealt with this man’s apparent lack of depth perception since August when the school year began.

I wonder what the morning drop-off will be like tomorrow.


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