Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Monday, November 29, 2021

When Creativity and Parenthood Clash


Several years ago, I wrote a blog post in which I shared my negative comments about a band’s songs on their latest album. I had been encouraged to check them out by fans who were just crazy about the band and their music. My comments about the songs were negative because A LOT of those songs were about sex and also viewing females as sex objects. At that time, I was the mother of a young daughter, so I naturally felt compelled to speak out against it. When I reread the blog post many years later, I wanted to kick myself.


Yes, I posted my opinions about the CD on my blog for the benefit of all those people who encouraged me to check them out. But WHY IN THE WORLD did I have to put it on my blog?? I could have just made my comments to them in private.


I know my blogs do not have a huge readership, but they are still in the public domain. Unless I change otherwise, anyone can read them. Including members of that band.


Of course, my reaction to those songs was understandable, given that I was reacting to them as the mother of a girl and not as some teen fan or whatever. But nowadays, I see things like that, and you know what? I DON’T CARE. It doesn’t bother me as much as it used to, because EVERYBODY has the right to express themselves in their own way, use their creativity in their own way, and share their gifts in their own way. That includes every single musician, songwriter, dancer, artist, writer, filmmaker and anyone else who creates art or some form of entertainment for the public.


Here's the thing: When it comes to creativity, there are no bounds. There are no limits and there are no taboos. It can be ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. And if a band chooses to sing songs about sex or sexualizing girls, they have a right to do that. It's not a good thing, but they did make that choice to put out that kind of material. We can take from it what we will but, in the meantime, we can't start demonizing the band or making them out to be "sick" or "bad people" for having those perceptions about girls. It is what it is. They are how they are.


We, the listeners of that kind of music, can either like it or not like it. That’s ok! Not liking it doesn’t make it “bad.” It’s just an opinion! But I feel that opinion shouldn’t be put onto a blog. WHY put it onto a blog? I mean, it’s not like I was paid to review it, or anything. It only makes that band look bad.


But even so, as a parent, I had to think about just how I would respond to things like this, because my kids would see and hear things like this. I was concerned that that kind of music would encourage impressionable young girls to have sex, thereby escalating the rate of teen pregnancy. Or that they might influence my own kids in a negative way. Well, instead of worrying that something like how a SONG would have that kind of impact on a young girl, why not talk to our kids about teen pregnancy instead? Why not let them know the burdens and expenses of teen pregnancy, and all the things early motherhood would make them sacrifice? It’s not a song’s responsibility to make sure teen girls don’t get pregnant; it’s up to us parents to make sure our teen daughters don’t get pregnant.


And, you know, that’s my whole point. It’s up to us parents to do everything we can to guide and lead and protect our children. There are always going to be songs, dance performances, artwork, books, movies, plays, videos and sculptures, etc., promoting sex. There’s no way to get rid of any of that stuff! What we can do is use our kids’ exposure to those kinds of things as a teachable moment. We can use those things as a reminder to check in with our kids on how they felt about that, any questions they might have, and just talk with them about that particular issue. Open those lines of communication with your kids, because if you don’t, they’ll likely get their answers from someone else or the Internet or start thinking about what they were exposed to in the wrong way.


We have to make sure that the music our kids listen to, the movies they watch and the books they read do not have a negative or dangerous influence on our kids, because they CAN. But it’s not the source of that material’s responsibility to make sure our kids our okay; it’s our job as parents to make sure our kids are okay. We the parents have to make sure our kids will not be influenced in ways that are harmful or immoral. It’s not the musician’s responsibility; it’s our responsibility. The musicians, artists, writers and filmmakers are all going to put out the kind of work that they want to. We, the parents, can take care of the kids who are exposed to all of that.


We cannot stifle creative expression. Every single creative out there has the right to put out any kind of work that they want to. They are not babysitters, teachers, preachers, mentors or “big brother/sister” to our kids. They are entertainers. Maybe their kind of entertainment is not appropriate for our kids, but entertainment is meant to be for all kinds of people, and that’s the kind of audience their work is meant for. If we want to ensure that our kids stay on the right path in life, then it’s our job to talk to them about the things that they are exposed to. It’s our job. Nobody else can do it; it's all on us. We’re the parents, and part of being a parent is to protect our kids, guide our kids, and educate them about the things that are in our world. It’s up to us, not the entertainers.


The entertainers are all going to do their own thing and put out their own work. We may like it, we may not. But no matter what our opinion is, they still have the right to their own forms of creative expression. That includes something that might be sexual. In that event, should our kids be exposed to it, then we the parents can take things from there and have an honest conversation with our kids about it.

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Monday, November 22, 2021

The Dream Forest: My new children's book that was worth the wait


Where do writers come up with ideas for things to write? For me, anything is fair game. I’ve gotten ideas for things to write from my dreams, life experiences, decorations and even other books I was working on.


With my latest children’s book, The Dream Forest, I got the idea for it from a poster. Specifically, a quote on a poster. However, it took several years before that idea turned into a full story.


One day, when I dropped my youngest off at preschool, I saw a poster hanging on the wall that said “The forest belongs to every living thing.” This quote resonated with me so strongly that I felt I had to put that into my writing somehow. It took some time for me to figure out a way to do it!


In fact, it took 11 years.


Meanwhile, I had bits and pieces of an idea of what kind of story it was going to be. I had a main character (although without a name!) and a general idea of what happens in the story. So, with those bits of ideas, I eventually got around to enlisting my young illustrator, Centauri, to draw pictures for this book. At this time, Centauri was 14 years old.


It would be some years until I finally actually wrote the story. In fact, it happened earlier this year. I just sat down one day and the story hit me out of the blue. I hurried to the computer to start typing the words that were running through my mind. I didn’t stop typing until the story was done.


That first draft went through several revisions and then a beta read. Then the day came when I felt it was ready for production.


The only problem was, I didn’t have a title! That’s right; all this time, I hadn’t figured out a title for this story. I had the illustrations and the manuscript, but no title. I realized that I also didn’t have a blurb for this book, which is what I was going to need. So I wrote the blurb and, in doing so, came up with a title for this book. Yay!


The Dream Forest is the title I came up with. Those words from the blurb just seemed to stand out. (The actual blurb on the book does not have those words, however. I rewrote the blurb during production.) That’s what I called the book and that is the book I now have available in print.


It is quite unusual for me to take so long to figure out a story from an idea. My youngest has been out of preschool for years and my young illustrator is now a college student who is selling his very professional artwork. I think the story took so long just because life just got crazy. Or maybe I was meant to write it now and not then. Then, I was an alcoholic. Now, I am sober for over 4 years and I do believe that I am writing better because of it. So, basically, The Dream Forest is my first children’s book since becoming sober. That is significant! Maybe it came at the right time after all.


I really think my writing has improved now and perhaps that is why this story was able to reveal itself to me in all its glory. I had this idea for a project but I didn’t see it to completion at the time. That is what happened with some of my other WIPs; I was meant to finish and submit them years ago but … life just happened and I was a mess. I think the drinking contributed to me being so unorganized and just “touch and go” with everything. I am back to work on all of my books and WIPs now, seeing all of them to completion, and I am doing a lot better now. I am stronger, healthier, and my thinking is clearer. Now I am in a much better position to be a better writer and I am picking up unfinished projects where I left off on them.


I am just glad this is one of those projects that I can now count as “complete” on my list of books. I only hope it is a story young readers will enjoy.     

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Monday, November 15, 2021

Why I Love to Write

Happy I Love to Write Day! November 15th is recognized as I Love to Write Day and it was created by author John Riddle and the first I Love to Write Day was in 2002. You can read more about it here.

I am definitely one of those people who love to write. I don’t just write one thing, either. I write all kinds of things: Stories, novels, books, songs, articles, essays, poetry and even some plays. I write in a variety of genres, too, which means I’m not exactly a good fit with a literary agent because most literary agents want writers who write in one genre or on one topic. That is certainly not me! I write about anything and everything. There are some things I know I don’t exactly “love to write,” such as advertisements, but there is a lot of things that I do love to write. I also enjoy taking on writing challenges just to flex my writing muscles and put my ability to write to the test. They are also a great way to see if there is something else that I will like to write or something else that I even can write.

In honor of the day, I have decided to write about why I love to write.

I love to write because it is one way for me to be creative. I love being creative, and writing is definitely one method for me to express creativity. This is done when I write fiction, poetry as well as flyers (yes, I have written a few of those).

I love to write because it is one way for me to express my thoughts, ideas and feelings. Usually, I don’t talk too much about things I am thinking about, ideas I have or something I am going through. Being able to write about them helps me to figure things out, work my way through them and help me to understand them better. This is done when I write nonfiction, journal entries, and the occasional poem.

I love to write because it gives me a way to talk about things, especially things I have done or things I am working on. Yes, I know that having a blog does not mean people will automatically read it. I have no expectations in that regard. It’s just a way for me to talk about things and discuss topics. Even if no one responds to any of the things that I “talk” about through my writing, it is still rewarding just to have written about it. Also, this is a good way for me to leave something behind for my kids. If they ever happen to want to read about things from the past or read about something I was a part of, they can find that stuff online. This is done with blog posts, writings posted online, Facebook posts, tweets and what other people share online that I am a part of (like if someone tags me, or something).

I love to write because it gives me a chance to contribute to a cause. My ebook about breast cancer stories and events was put together after I did a blog series for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the proceeds from sales of that ebook goes toward supporting a local charity. My poetry book, Remember the Soldier, was published to honor our brave men and women in uniform. And my children’s book, Hunter’s Upcycling Adventures, was written to push the idea of upcycling, since I did not find many books on this topic (let alone one for kids who are curious about what upcycling is). This is done when I write fiction, nonfiction, poetry and essays.

I love to write because it’s an opportunity to write something special and meaningful for a person. I have written many poems for people, especially poems honoring the life of someone who has passed away. I have written articles about things people have done or something they are going through. And I have collaborated on books on topics important to other people. This is done with poetry, nonfiction, fiction, blog posts and essays.

I love to write because it makes me a better communicator in the written word. They say “the more you write, the better you’ll write” and this is very true because writing is a way for us to sharpen our vocabulary, work with words and figure out the best way to construct sentences. Writing helps us to figure out the best way to say something or to express our ideas and feelings. This is done with every single thing that I write – even Facebook posts and tweets! (I have actually deleted then reposted Facebook posts or tweets because I felt they were not written very well.)

No matter what your reasons may be for your love of writing, enjoy that love of writing as much as you can. Don’t ever allow anyone or anything to keep you from pursuing your passion to write. You have the right to write! No one must give you permission to write; you can write if you want to.

Some of us writers feel that we HAVE to write. There really is no way to keep it all in; when we feel compelled to write, then we will definitely start writing! This is true for my case. Sometimes I just feel the need to write about something. I never write anything to get attention, create conflict or to promote some kind of hate campaign. (Yes, I am choosy with what I decide to write!) I just write because I want to write. If something is good enough to get published, and especially if it can help or inspire or entertain others, then I will certainly try to get it published – if it is good enough for publication, of course! But mostly, I write just because I want to write.

Not everything I write gets published, of course. Some things just need to be written just for the sake of writing it. There is nothing wrong with that! Just because you have written something does not mean you HAVE to get it published. Journal entries, for example, do not need to get published. They just need to be written!

Also, it’s a good idea to focus on writing first before jumping ahead and thinking about selling the piece or getting it published. That will come later. For now, just focus on the writing. Focus on the creating. Focus on making your work the best you can before you get involved in trying to sell it.

Finally, when you sit down to write, don’t heap all of these expectations on yourself to write something AMAZING. You are not obligated to write the next national bestseller, the next amazing short story or a Nobel Prize-winning poem. Just write. Push those expectations aside and allow your muse the freedom to write whatever you want to write. And keep in mind that all first drafts are not meant to be perfect; they are just meant to be written.

The best part about writing is that anyone can write. Young or old, rich or poor, successful or unknown, anyone can write anything that they want to. There is no test to pass, no hoops to jump through, no secret wisdom and no qualifications. As they say, if you can talk, you can write. The only difference is that you are putting the words you say onto paper.

So go ahead and write if you want to. Write for fun and write for profit. Write as a job or as a career. Write because you hope to leave something for your loved ones or write because it’s a fun diversion from everything. You can bring writing into your life in any way you want to and use it in any way you want to. Just write! And enjoy the journey.

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