Ashley Franklin

Love yourself and your writing.

pexels-photo-261749.jpegWho do you write for? Do you write for yourself, or do you write for your audience? Maybe it’s a little bit of both. Either way, I’m sure you have expectations for your writing and the minds you hope to nourish and engage.
Now here’s a question: What are you doing to nourish yourself?
(Think about that as you continue to read.)
It is common practice to tell writers to write every day. I don’t agree with that. While I do believe that you should write often, I think that writing every day is overkill. Take some time to let ideas bloom. Take some time and have a new experience. After all, it’s always great to be able to pull ideas from your very own experiences.
Instead of watching my kids play yesterday, as tired as I was, I skipped with them. We had a foot race. We drew in the dirt. Think of how much better my descriptions would be describing those things now than before I actively did them. Even beyond helping me to writer better scenes or descriptions, I had fun! I was living in the moment.
At this stage in my writing journey, I’ve found that I’m always trying to live beyond the moment. Sound weird? Here’s what I mean: I am always fretting about my next move.
Maybe I should do another round of revisions. Will I need another critique of my WIP? Who should I get to critique it? Ooh, I wonder if that idea I had this morning would sell well with a wide audience. I wonder if my topics are too niche and I need to branch out.
This means that I am usually glued to my phone in some way, full of angst. I am malnourished. I have not been doing enough to nourish myself.
So, back to our question: What are you doing to nourish yourself?
Hopefully, you’ve struck a better work/life balance than I have. However, if you and I are in the same boat, let’s paddle out of this situation by seeing what we can do:

  • Unplug! If it’s weekly, biweekly, or monthly, have a tech-free day to help reconnect with our surroundings.
  • Pamper yourself! Go fishing. Have a spa day. Put on fuzzy slippers and binge watch your favorite show.
  • Write yourself a note. It doesn’t have to be long. Let yourself know that you are proud of yourself. Save it for a cruddy day.
  • Big or small, have an adventure. Go on a road trip. Try a new ice cream place. There’s nothing like the excitement of a new experience. Bottle it up until the next time you unplug.

Just as you promise to make time for your writing, promise to make time for yourself. I will do the same.
 

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Don't be the post-election troll

I am an online instructor, so I know a thing or two about online discussions. Job aside, I also have my own Facebook account. Fortunately, students quickly adjust to the different expectations. I have only had one occasion of someone trolling a discussion board in one of my online courses, and I was able to quickly kill that noise.
Social media trolls, on the other hand, are monsters in a caliber all of their own. We’ve all experienced them before. We recognize their extremely disagreeable nature. We roll our eyes at their name calling. We smack our heads at their inflammatory remarks. We walk away from our computers at the sight of their willingness to spread misinformation if it’s in the name of what they believe. More often than not, it’s best not to engage with a troll. Doing so is not for the faint of heart or short on time.
Here is yet another post-election request that I have:

Please don’t become the troll.

Each of us can easily slip into destructive rhetoric when our passions are high, our souls are weary, and our agreeable temperaments are tested. Feed your soul; don’t be the troll. A troll cannot compromise your character and what you put out into the world unless you become the troll. That’s something to consider.

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What now? Promise to keep pushing!

I’ll get right to it. Many of us are upset or downright distraught over the election results. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. We have that right. Here is my only plea:

Let’s not become paralyzed in our fears or frustrations.

Continue to do what it is you always do, but be more mindful. If you’re a writer, write the world you want to see. Write the normal that you wish for and make it the new normal. Strive to get marginalized voices out of the margins.
If you’re a parent, help your kids to recognize the beautiful array of people and cultures and lifestyles that call this country home.
Overall, everyone can show compassion. Show love. Let’s keep it real. If you honestly dislike a group of people, find out why. Could it be that you don’t really know any of them as individuals? Could it be that you fear what you don’t know or understand? Could it be that you fear change?
I find it a good practice to check myself. Maybe that’s something each of us can do. Let’s check ourselves. Check our biases and fears. When we learn and accept more about ourselves, it may be easier to love and accept others.
Keep pushing to be great, and as a collective, we might just achieve that greatness in America that we seek. I promise I will do my part. How about you?
 

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To my son, on your 1st day of pre-k

I thought I’d be doing nothing but happy dances when you finally went to school. Boy, was I wrong. It’s the night before your big day, and I’m an emotional disaster. Today lots of people were tweeting #IStandForDiversity in support of diversity in literature. Clearly, there are many who feel differently. How truly ugly the world can be, that’s what I saw today. Someone said she received a death threat. A death threat? For promoting diversity.
Son, I have to be honest with you. I’ve lied to you. I’ve constantly told you that you can do anything. That’s just not true. You can’t make people like you. You can’t make people be your friend. It’s important that I tell you this because you’re Black and your Muslim. I can’t step in to protect you all the time. I realize that more now. It scares me.
I’ve always asked that you be a good boy for mommy. What happens when someone isn’t good to you? I don’t know. I hope that I’ve taught you something that will help you to still be a good person–to not be bitter or rude. I want you to be open to new friends, but more importantly, I want you to know that it’s okay to be you. It’s more than okay, actually. I want you to be proud of who you are. I want you to walk with your head help up high. I want you to know that it’s okay if you don’t look or act like everyone else. I want you to know that that’s perfectly fine. I also want you to know that as free as you are to be yourself, others are free to be who they are. Never make someone feel ashamed for being who they are.
And the most important thing I want you to know is that I love you-every minute of every day. Always know that you are loved.
I want to tell you all of these things. Instead, I’ll just tell you to be kind. Be the kind of friend that you want to have. Oh, and have an awesome first day of pre-k. Mommy loves you.
 
 

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