April 28, 2021

The "Setting Intentions" Part of the Writing Life

I recently shared an abbreviated version of this essay in the SCBWI-Oregon newsletter. I wanted to share it here, for those outside of the kidlit community. 


The summer of 2016, I spent a girls' weekend at the coast with my daughter, her circle of friends, and their moms, dear friends of mine. One evening, as we gathered around the fire pit, one of the moms, a psychologist, asked us to set our intentions for what we wanted more of in our lives in the coming year. She distributed notecards and markers, and we each wrote our intentions on the cards. 

I wrote "music" and "laughter" on mine. 

It was a brief exercise, and one that seemed minor in the moment. 

When I returned home, I tossed my card on one of the "to-do, later" piles on my desk (confession: there are several such piles on my desk.) I came across it a year or so later while tidying up my desk. Eventually, I tucked the card in the pages of my old-style planner, where I happen upon it every so often, "accidentally, on purpose." Each time I rediscover that notecard, I reflect on the gathering around the fire, and I reflect on how music and laughter have indeed become more a part of my life since setting those intentions. 

It's just a little scrap of paper with a couples of words scribbled on it, but I credit the act of setting those intentions with several important milestones that have occurred in my personal and creative life. Case in point, since committing those two words to paper, I have:

*Published two humorous picture books (Where Does a Pirate Go Potty? and Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?), and I’ve participated in several laughter-infused book events for those titles. To note: my favorite humorous props are a flushable toy toilet and a poo-emoji speaker. 

*Written the lyrics to a love song for my husband in celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary, then hired one of our favorite local bands, The Junebugs, to set the song to music and record the song. 

*Written the lyrics for songs to accompany the book trailers for my Pirate and Cowgirl books, collaborating with two different musicians (Annie Lynn/AnnieBirdd Music, LLC, and Marshall Mitchell, respectively) who wrote the music and recorded the songs.

*Written the lyrics for a companion song for my picture book, Lucy’s Blooms, collaborating with musician, Maiah Wynne, who wrote the music and produced the song. It’s one of the most beautiful pieces of art I’ve participated in making. You can view the animated book trailer and listen to the song here:

*I also had the remarkable bonus experience of sharing stories about my late father-in-law with the modern folk duo Fox and Bones, and they created a beautiful song about his life story as part of the launch for their new Custom Song offering. 

Some might argue that a little notecard with a couple of words scribbled upon it didn’t influence the art I’ve created over the past several years, but I know otherwise. I’ve always enjoyed laughter, but never before written or published humorous books; now I have two humorous picture books published and several more written. I’ve long wanted to be more involved in music-making, but never before acted on that interest; now I have four lyric-writing credits, with more planned for the future. These creative happenings didn’t occur by chance; they occurred largely because I set my intentions for them to do so.  

So, get yourself notecard or two. Start a fire if you must. Write down what you want more of in your life. Then get to work bringing forth those intentions.

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