Spring 2007 Contest--1st Place Winner!
Lauri Griffin has three children, one husband, one dog, and a variable number of guppies. She works with gifted children and manages a literacy program for struggling readers. She also writes regularly on the subject of family fun at http://www.families.com/lauri/. Visit her blog, Lauri’s Reflections for her thoughts on writing, creativity, motherhood, and fun websites that catch her attention. She is working on several writing projects.
WOW: Lauri, major Kudos to you for your 1st Place Win! How does it feel to take the top spot?
Lauri: Winning is fun! I like it! I'm still a little stunned. I had to look at the site a few times before I really believed it said I won.
WOW: I’d bet you’re not the first winner to double check the site. Now that reality has set in, could you tell us what inspired the idea behind “It Would Mean a Lot”? Was there anything from real life inside your story?
Lauri: I mulled the prompt over for a couple of days. I wanted a good surprise of an ending. We've had some good friends divorce so the emotion is true, but none of the circumstances in the story are from real life.
WOW: But your writing makes it real. You obviously have experience. In fact, in your bio you mention that you’re working on several writing projects. Would you care to share your favorite one (or more than one) with us and our readers?
Lauri: I've got two short stories that I'm currently submitting with ideas and starts for lots more. I'm revising two novels. One I've worked on for years. My writing friends are starting to yell at me to send it out. Deadlines are good for me. Otherwise I keep tinkering with things and getting ideas for making them better.
WOW: Yes, tinkering is wonderful for a while, and then every writer needs to determine that critical “breakaway” moment to leave their work alone. You’ve brought us to a good point for encouragement. By the way, have you found any books or authors who you deem more helpful or encouraging than others for your writing?
Lauri: Early on I couldn't have kept writing without Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. She very honestly pegs so many emotions and weird mental stuff that go into writing. I remember laughing wildly the first time I read the book. My own copy is highlighted, underlined, and lent out a lot. The book I don't lend out is A Writer's Book of Days by Judy Reeves. The book has great daily prompts for writing, but also lots of encouragement and ideas for bringing all the senses into writing. The Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass is also a favorite. He takes writers through all kinds of exercises designed to make characters multi-layered, to connect themes, and to build tension. He's very big on having tension on every page. I know my writing has grown a lot due to following the exercises in the book.
WOW: Isn’t it great to have mentors, even when they exist in books? They help us directly or indirectly with our focus and our goals. Do you have specific long-term goals?
Lauri: I have so many goals. But I also have children who tend to get in the way of getting things done. Most of the time that's okay. I consider myself a mother first. As it is they are all growing up way too fast.
WOW: They do that, don’t they? Way too fast. Time spirals out of control the older they get, and this is one great reason for writing our thoughts down, to keep track. You mention your Blog, LauriReflections, for your thoughts, creativity, motherhood and fun. Has your Blog motivated any of your writing projects or ideas?
Lauri: Blogging has helped boost my confidence level. Getting comments from people all over the world is so fun. I love knowing that my thoughts or even just cool websites I've found have helped someone, or made someone think, or prompted them to get out that journal or notebook, or just smile. It's also led to some paid non-fiction writing on parenting and education.
WOW: Congratulations for getting paid from Blogging. Payment also helps boost confidence and I bet you, in turn, boost a lot of kids’ egos. You mention in your bio that you manage a literacy program for struggling readers. How did you get involved with such a worthy cause?
Lauri: Even though my twins are quite bright and we had done everything "right" they struggled with reading. So I started to read about literacy and theories on how the brain learns and works. I was also looking for a part time job with family friendly hours. I happened to meet a woman at a class on brain theory who was leaving this position. I love helping kids learn to read. And our program’s goal is to actually make the kids love reading, not just be good readers.
WOW: A love of reading is a key to learning. I’ve been involved with classroom reading skills, and it’s so important for growth. On a side note, is your literacy program inspiring for your writing? I refer, actually, to the children in the program.
Lauri: I would like to say that it does, but if anything it hurts my writing. Not only does it take time, but also a lot of mental energy. I'm always trying to find the answer for each child. So I read up on dyslexia and different learning disabilities and theories of things. I think that teaching and working with the literacy program use up the same mental energy as writing. So instead of letting my mind daydream about a character, I'm busy wondering if a certain program or another one will work better, or I find myself thinking about books they would like.
WOW: That’s understandable. I think many parents and teachers can completely understand your position. But your devotion to the children is commendable. Speaking of devotion, do you have any final words for everyone in our devoted audience?
Lauri: Give the WOW contest a try. When I thought of a story idea for the prompt I thought it must not be original or it wouldn't have just popped into my head. And I thought for sure that anyone reading it would see the ending coming from a mile away. But people told me the ending surprised them. I'm very glad I gave it a try. It's hard to judge your own writing. I'm incredibly fortunate to have a marvelous online critique group and several local writing buddies. They inspire me with their writing and encourage me with my own. Finding people who support you and believe in you is crucial.
WOW: That’s a great perspective to leave with everyone. Thanks so much for sharing your time and yourself. We wish you the best of luck in your future writing dreams!
If you haven’t read Lauri’s winning entry yet, check it out here: Spring 2007 Contest Winners.