Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Writer's Life: Storytelling As a Way of Life (Heather)

Ahoy, Lands Uncharted adventurers!

Hope this finds you healthy, full of hope, and finding new ways to redeem your time so that when this period of isolation is over, you will be stronger than before. Have you taken up a new hobby? Have you read or reread that series that you previously hadn’t made time for? Try a new recipe? Organize and decorate? 
I love this sign that my middle daughter made for me!
As today’s ‘Writer’s Life’ guest, I thought I’d give you a peek at my eclectic side. We right-brained types usually have our quirks in areas outside of writing. For me, storytelling began before I set my heart on a professional writing career.
"Home is Where Your Story Begins" is true for each of us, whatever our occupation.
This is my tiniest Gnome friend, a gift from one of my besties that I placed in this funky toy VW Van.
From elementary through high school, for instance, I can remember the anticipation of deciding what I was going to wear to school as I lay in bed at night (my brain likes to kick it into high gear when I lay down to sleep). I loved clothes and fashion and considered each day’s outfit my own personal photoshoot. Was I going for romantic? Whimsical? Vibrant? Though many of my outfits were cringe-worthy—such as my rainbow jersey shirt with my jeans rolled up to reveal my rainbow-ringed tube socks, along with my rainbow shoelaces with an extra one tied as a choker around my neck—I wore them with all the confidence of a runway model in her own personal fashion show. 

We finished our screened in porch last spring and it's become one of my favorite writing spots!
Looking back, I see the storytelling-side of myself being expressed in each unusual outfit. In a sense I was asking myself what story I wanted to tell each day. From a ceramic bowtie (which I still have because it’s just cool) to an Asian inspired outfit with cat-eye liner to help my very blue, caucasian eyes look more slanted, I was the main character in my own little tale that only I understood. Sorry I don't have pictures to share--this was in the 80s before camera phone selfies.

I love my trees and so does this little Gnome who was given to me by one of my BFFs.

When I found this lampshade at a store I knew it was the perfect
pairing for my 60s garage sale lamp base.
It's one of those items I would want to rescue if my house was on fire!
The day I met my future husband, I had an “I Dream of Jeanie” ponytail on top of my head and iridescent, pointy shoes. Guess he couldn’t be too surprised when I eventually had him hang a disco ball in our den and wallpapered our dining room ceiling, right?

Doesn't everyone have a disco ball?

Meet Shadrach, another gift from a friend.
He keeps watch over my den and the disco ball.
As a homeschooling mom of four on a budget, not decorating was never a consideration. From stapling fabric on the walls in rental houses to hot gluing jewels to photo frames, plain white walls wouldn’t survive long when I moved in.
My late father drew these black and white sketches.
He was a very creative man who also loved to read fantasy and science fiction.
My first book is dedicated to him.
Eventually my kiddos would attend a fine arts school for homeschoolers and I would get a job there teaching ballet. My favorite part of the year was choreographing dances for the spring recital. A dance is a story told through movement and its interpretation of the music. Whatever song I chose, whether it had lyrics or was instrumental, spoke to me like a story with a beginning, middle, and end. 

Tumnus helping one of many Lucys to feel safe in Narnia.
My fifteenth and final year of teaching, our ballet department chose to do The Chronicles of Narnia for our recital. Talk about going out on a high! CS Lewis’s books are how I discovered my many ways of storytelling were drawing me to writing. 

One of my adorable Reepicheep ballerinas.
I had the joy of choreographing Lucy going through the wardrobe and meeting Tumnus (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), getting fifteen five-year-old Reepicheeps to dance and ‘fight’ with their plastic swords (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), and helping a dozen children sneak into the castle of the giants (The Silver Chair), Oh, and I had waaaay too much fun getting to play the White Witch in another class’s interpretation of the battle scene in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

And although my house has colorful walls, metal ceilings, and (until recently) a red kitchen sink, I suppose it’s no surprise that once my fantasy books were published, many friends gifted me with gnomes and Bigfoot items—two characters from my Tethered World Chronicles. I’ve had fun fitting them into the decor and adding some touches of my own that remind me of my book babies (octopi and mushrooms, in particular). 

This shelf is full of fun memories, including some Gnome and Bigfoot gifts that I've been given. 
After all, a house is an extension of those that live in it, right? My house happens to tell the story of someone who likes to tell stories. Although my husband is quite the opposite of me…a math-minded engineer who is in construction, I’m super blessed to have his encouragement in all of my crazy endeavors. He used to be an insurance adjuster and spent his days going in and out of others’ houses. Often he came home and said, “I love our colorful house! Most houses I see are full of neutral walls with a few simple pictures.” I guess the Lord knew that I’d probably shrivel up in a house where I couldn’t express myself!

So that’s a look into this particular writer’s life! Like, the whole thing :) Guess I’m comfortable being the oddball. How about you? I think we all have our idiosyncrasies. I’ve just admitted to mine and now it’s your turn!


  1. Melissa J. TroutmanApril 17, 2020 at 12:20 PM

    This was so fun to read! I loved getting to "see" this part of your life (and perhaps a new side to me)! :) I love your Tethered World "shrine" -- I have a similar "writing shrine" at the corner of my desk with momentos of Sean (firstborn novel), my current WIP, and my ongoing brainstorm project. It's fun! Happy writing in your beautiful home!

    1. Thanks, Misi! I'm sorry I didn't see this to respond more quickly. Glad you enjoyed the tour :) You know, Sean made it into my third book as a little tip of the hat to YOU! Did I ever tell you that?


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