Shannon Dittemore


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My six-year-old insisted on wearing a Spiderman shirt to school today. It’s not his best shirt, but I didn’t put up much of a fight.

Cause I know. I understand.

That shirt makes him feel Spidey strong. Gives him super powers. Convinces him that though most of his friends are in the other classroom, he’s invincible. He can conquer second grade.

See, I have my own secret weapons. Things that possess magical powers and make my life as a writer that much easier. They make me invincible. Tell me I can conquer this work-in-progress. And, though I’m trapped in my head with imaginary characters, with the help of my secret weapons I can pry us all free and release a brand new story into the world.

Secret weapons are that important. Here are a few of mine:

My bulletin boards. I have Jenny Lundquist to thank for this one. When I saw her magical bulletin boards, I knew I had to have my own. I must also thank my husband who transformed them into something special for me. They’re just cork boards covered in fancy shmancy material, but with the help of a sharpie, multi-colored index cards, and thumbtacks, they are transformed into story plotting machines. Different colored cards for different POV’s. Different colored thumbtacks cause it’s prettier that way, and bam! Superhero.

Candles. Now, don’t get all spooky on me, but I have a thing for candles. I like atmosphere. Different fragrances conjure up different moods and memories. The yummy smells are my shield against the nostril-offending dirty diapers and garlicky dinner leftovers that can, at any time, creep toward me from outside my office. Helpful. Very, very helpful.

Fingerless gloves. Unlike Edward Cullen and other such superheroes, I’m not immune to the chill of winter. But, since writing in mittens is impossible, I have these amazing fingerless gloves I bought in Nevada City. They’re a little clunky and I often hit the space bar unintentionally, but they keep the blood moving and you know, I look cool in ’em. NaNoWriMo’s Chris Baty wears a Viking helmet to get him through the rough passages. I’ve got fuzzy gloves.

Blueberries. Fantastic writing fuel. Easy to pop while you’re pounding away at sentences and excellent for bribing three-year-olds. “Don’t you want some more blueberries, baby? Just one more bowl so I can finish this chapter?” They’re like crack to her. She loves ’em. A guilt-free snack for the both of us.

Quiet Time. Now that my 6yo is back in school, it’s just me and my little lady for much of the day. But, I still have to write. So, everyday, at approximately the same time, she goes down for a nap and I write. Sometimes–I’ll admit it–sometimes, I even close my eyes for a few minutes while she’s down. I use this time to ask myself “what if” questions about my story. And sometimes, SOMETIMES, brilliance strikes. It’s amazing what a little quiet can do.

So that’s it. You know all my secrets now. But, be warned, not all superheroes are created equally. Imagine Spidey thinking he could take a bullet like the Man of Steel. Preposterous! My weapons may not work for you. And yours may not work for me, but I’d love you to share them anyway.

Tell me: What silly, superfluous thing has become a necessary weapon in your superhero arsenal?


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