In Praise of the Bookmobile

By Ann Minnett

Janice McCaffrey’s recent post I Love Libraries inspired me to write about my favorite childhood library. The Bookmobile. In the 1950’s, Denver Public Libraries provided olive green, oversized vans lined with books to elementary schools in neighborhoods without branch libraries.

The Bookmobile came to my elementary school every other Friday, parked in the forbidden teacher parking lot, and opened for business one class at a time. Any student with a DPL card could check out up to three books per visit, return them two weeks later, and check out more. I never missed my turn.

I was a hungry reader of Nancy Drew mysteries and Edna Ferber sagas and so many others that I honestly can’t remember now. My iPad holds my personal library now, but I miss the heft of a well-thumbed book, the sometimes grimy pages, and the jacketless books that looked covered in glossy paint.

Sure, those volumes were available at the library, but every other Friday when I climbed the metal steps into the close and comfy world of our Bookmobile, I was transformed. The slightly tilted vehicle swayed when more than a few kids walked the aisles—sometimes I had to grasp a shelf for balance. Most of all, a world of fiction invited me in. I always found more than three books I wanted to read. (Some research today shows we make decisions easier when we have fewer choices.) I’d pare my stack down to three and look forward to the Bookmobile’s next visit.

Happy reading!

Ann Minnett MWW photo Ann

Accountability Partner

Ann Minnett MWW photoBy Ann Minnett

Most people understand that accountability keeps us on track toward our goals, but it can be tricky. Accountability is effective when worked in small bites toward larger goals. Writing is no exception.

Critique groups (I participate in two) keep me accountable for writing quality and volume. Week by week, my critique buddies make me finish what I start. There’s nothing like a deadline (i.e., critique meeting) to make me produce written pages. Of course, agent and editor deadlines also work wonders. The problem? Sometimes our writing goals loom like immense boulders, too overwhelming to address. For example: I will write a novel by the end of the year vs I will write the first scene of my novel by Saturday.

Path Less Traveled

That’s where accountability partners can help, and lucky me, in keeping with the Mother’s Day theme of this month, my accountability partner is my daughter. She lives on the east coast and for the past three months has experienced change in both her personal and professional lives. She’s a planner, so back in January she asked if I would be her accountability partner through her transitions. Of course!

Every Friday we review our individual goals for the week, progress made, and what we propose for the upcoming week. We support one another and make suggestions when one of is stuck. My goals originally focused on finishing the first draft of my third novel (done!), but recent goals have included making time for meditation and increased exercise. Her goals at first emphasized a comprehensive job search but soon included carving out downtime each day.

I encourage you to find another person who will keep you accountable in whatever you chose to do.

Is This the Year?

By Ann Minnett

Spring came early to NW Montana in 2015. February resembled a typical April on our hilltop, and today, only a few snowy patches remain in the forest. The bald ground on which I’m thinking about building a studio asks me, So is this the year you build it?

Potential studio building site

           Potential studio building site

I’ve always wanted a separate studio in which to write, work on craft projects and not have to clean them up until finished, practice yoga, or take a quiet nap. But mostly a place of my own to write. My current office is a lovely space filled with my treasures. It is also the guestroom and repository for furniture and lamps that don’t fit anywhere else in the house.

Why am I dragging my feet on the studio project? The answer woke me a 5:00 a.m.

If I own a writing studio, then writing becomes an official and committed relationship. Having finished the first draft of my third novel just this week, the time is ripe to accept the fact…

My name is Ann, and I’m a writer.

Happy Spring!

A Writer on Fire

By Ann Minnett

I used to set my alarm for 5:00 a.m. to allow a couple of hours for writing before going to my fulltime job. At least one week of my annual vacations was set aside for nothing but writing. I started my first novel over one Christmas Break because I COULDN’T NOT START IT. I became a writer on fire.

What inspired me to stop tip-toeing around the literary pool and jump into the deep end? The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

Artist Way

The book/workbook guides the reader through a twelve week self-study to access the artist within that might have been squelched along the way. Cameron revised the book in 2002 and has since developed a cottage industry surrounding the book’s teachings, but I can only speak for the 1992 edition. Anyone who yearns to paint, write, sing, or create art of any kind should read this book and work through it with a group of like-minded others. An actor and aspiring writer were my study partners. We met weekly for twelve weeks to discuss what we had learned about ourselves, our motivations, and what was keeping us from beginning. Revelations all around!

I’m looking through my tabbed and scribbled copy now. (Buy the paperback book because you’ll write all over it.) What stands out are the written prompts exploring what censors me from expressing myself. I’m thrilled that my notes reveal the extent to which I’ve shed those burdens of self, yet some of the underlying fears of the artist’s exposure still niggle at me. From what I’ve learned, that’s common.

I have no stake in The Artist’s Way, but if you have a desire to create art and feel unable to commit, read this book with others who feel stuck. Discuss what you discover. I guarantee you’ll view yourself and your art with new eyes and hearts.


Burden of Breath Cover - Minnett