A Writer’s Field Notes ~ Autumn

My son’s middle school had Open House last week, and one of his teachers told us that, every Monday, he asks the kids to tell him about something beautiful that happened over the weekend.

Note that: something beautiful.

Not, “Tell me about your weekend.”

Rather, “Tell me something beautiful.”

He went on to say, “I don’t want to hear from them, ‘Well, we lost our football game.’ No, that’s a sports report. I want them to come in and say, ‘Well, I threw the ball to my best receiver and that ball, man, that ball soared in this perfect arc, spinning just right, and Denny was about to leap in the air to grab it when some kid from the other team got there first, snagged it and took off, so fast, no one could catch him …’” He smiled at us through a thick, black beard. “Now. That’s beautiful. Right?”

Right on!

What a gift for these kids. Especially in this hard world of hatred and sorrow. Look for something beautiful over the course of a couple of days and then share it with others to kick off a week with positivity, peace, and light.

I dig that.

So from here on out, I’m going to post on Mondays, and I’m going to start my posts by telling you something beautiful (which, in case you missed it, I just did). I hope that it will inspire you to find and share something beautiful, too.

Other notes from the field

COACHING– One of my adult ed writing courses is in full swing, and I’m gearing up for another one, which will begin next week. I love working directly with other writers. As much as I strive to help them develop stronger skills and confidence, they teach me in return. Each student always brings me a new question I’ve never encountered before, and in my search to find the answer, I grow a little bit more as a writer.

So if you’ve ever taken a course, workshop, worked one-on-one with me, or even posed a question here that made me think — thank you for helping me build my skills!

WEBSITE/BLOG – My writer coaching website is almost complete.  I’m so grateful to have hired someone else to do the heavy lifting for me, because half the stuff we’ve accomplished was completely out of my comfort zone. Pretty soon, I will be redirecting this blog to the website. While 4amWriter.com will be history, I hope that my connection with you, my beautiful readers, will continue. (See what I did there?)

I will post every week (unless I don’t) inspirational and helpful blogs about storycraft. I have some ideas about how to offer more value to not only my readers, but also to anyone who is looking for personalized writing help. I’m always open to suggestions for topics, so feel free to add in the comments below. Along with your pizza.

ENRICHMENT PROGRAMS – I am beginning a brand-new enrichment writing program at the local middle school in two weeks. I’m super excited to write with this age group, which I haven’t done in a long time! I have been busy developing new games, prompts, and activities to inspire tweens to write.

My usual elementary school writing programs will begin again shortly—still waiting on confirmation of the schedule.

GARDENING & WILDLIFE – Well, I regret to say I made little progress with my gardening this year. The butterfly garden I started a few years ago needs to be moved because my neighbor’s pine trees are casting too much shade on it. The deer ate my asters–the entire flower and half the stem. They were asters I dug up from my mom’s garden after she had passed away. I normally don’t dislike wildlife, but those deer overstepped their bounds!!

In a Hurculean rescue effort (like, in the middle of a rainstorm and with a broken shovel), I dug up what was left of the chomped-up plant and moved it to the front of the house, where the deer don’t dare frolic because of my guard dog, Ginger.

Don’t mess with a dog in glasses.


Anyway, I moved them to their new location in early August and now look at them:



They came back to life!!


One day, I found this guy looking right at me while I was weeding:



We just had a staring contest for awhile and then we returned to our tasks at hand. He stayed put and I continued to weed.

What have you been up to lately? Any snakes in your garden, either literally or figuratively?

Have a Writerly Day!

0 thoughts on “A Writer’s Field Notes ~ Autumn”

  1. I am so pleased to hear about your mother’s asters, what a lovely outcome! Ours are glorious this year, humming with the buzz of many happy bees.
    Your son’s teacher is so insightful, teaching them a new way of looking at life. I woke up to a text from my uncle discussing his latest painting – he is a much better artist than I am but we always send each other our latest works and he has always encouraged me to draw (and now that he is getting older, I think I am encouraging him to continue painting). That’s my beautiful story – thank you for letting me mark the memory.
    Wishing you a lovely week!

    • The bees and flutter-bies are going insane over the asters. The mums, too. I love watching them. What a great story about your uncle–I love hearing about how family members share a certain talent or love for a hobby and spend time inspiring each other along. What a great gift for both of you. 🙂

  2. No asters for us, although I love them. There’s been talk around here of putting some around the base of the mailbox post, but so far it’s only been talk. Maybe next year…

    I like how the teacher starts Mondays. I do something similar when I talk with some of our elderly relatives who tend to complain all the time. I ask them: what’s new and wonderful? Kind of throws them for a loop, but inevitably I eventually get them to say something good.

    • Asters are certainly a draw for all kinds of wildlife, deer, bees, flutter-bies. They’re one of my favorite flowers, and now that I know how hardy they are, I’m going to get more!

      Haha, I love that tale about the elderly relatives. Kill ’em with kindness, right? The minute we reroute their minds to lovely thoughts, they usually are happy to go along for the ride. 🙂

    • I don’t know many people who can tolerate snakes. My husband is terrified of them, even the harmless garter snakes (which is what that one is in the photo). Gives me something to tease him about, so it all works out. 😉

  3. Yikes, that snake! Great photo 🙂 I wish I was in one of your writing classes. You remain one of the best editors I’ve ever encountered! Good luck with all you’re doing – so much great stuff. (And I love the teacher prompt!)

    • The snake does look like it’s posing, doesn’t it? 🙂 That would be so cool if you could come for a writing class sometime. Maybe one day! You’re sweet to say so, and I feel the same about your beta reader abilities. 🙂

  4. The asters and your son’s teacher are beautiful! My gardening chops are a joke, so I admire other people’s gardens instead. And I frequent our local farmers’ markets.

    Life interuptus happened a while back, and the past several weeks has been a grand push to get my son underway in 9th grade, here at home. (He’s enrolled in an independent study program). Just today I was (still) working on putting together my son’s 9th grade curriculum. Yes, we’re a bit late, but little by little, piece by piece, it’s coming together. And the first subject he’s been working on? Writing! (One of his challenges, along with reading and math). Wish us luck!

    • Honestly, I’m not a skilled gardener. I tend to go with native species because they’re harder to kill, haha. I wish I had a greener thumb, though, I love flowers and trees and all the wildlife they attract. I like to sit out there and just listen to the birds.

      Good luck with working with your son. I know that can be difficult, but you’ve got the heart of a soldier. I have no worries you’ll do just fine! 🙂

  5. Great idea, Kate, and much food for thought! The world right now can be very scary and depressing, especially for children, so it’s lovely to hear that there are people out there fostering hope and change, even if it’s in small doses. As we should know, even small bits, built together, can become something amazing. (It’s the way I think of writing, too: every little sentence helps push the story further.)

    Props to you for saving those asters. And for staring down that snake! So glad it did not come to confrontation! Though, he or she did make for an impressive photo. 🙂

    • Thanks, Mayumi! I’m looking forward to taking the blog on a bit of a different spin with the “beautiful” shares each week.

      The snake and I got along perfectly fine. I think it knew I was only there to tidy up, and it was more than willing to chill out and watch me. 🙂

  6. Looks like your green thumb still has some life in it Kate! I enjoyed this post about positivity and growth. It’s a good time in the world to talk about beautiful things, and I’m so glad you’re evolving with your new website and business. You go girl! 🙂 x

    • I seem to have extra energy at this time of year, so it made sense to do a little bit more than I usually do–before the holidays hit and my blog becomes a ghost town again.

      We all need some extra positivity and good growth in our lives, methinks. And if it comes down to digging up half-eaten plants, then by God, that’s what I’ll do! 🙂

  7. Kate! I’m so excited for you and how you’ve been stretching yourself and helping others!
    I’m encouraged by your commitment to writing. ..certain events the last couple years took a serious toll on me, but I’m starting my ascent back.
    Your blog and progress do inspire me to keep on. Xo

    • Hey Denise,

      what a nice thing to say–my objective with the blog is to inspire others, so you made my day. My week!

      Tough life events somehow kick our writing progress in the arse, and I don’t think there is any one foolproof solution. We have to want it badly enough–that’s usually the bottom line I come to when things are really stressful. Gather your gear and restart your journey. Sounds like that’s what you’re doing, and that’s awesome!

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