Category Archives: Writing

Be Ever So Careful What You Wish For

Perhaps I should have specified. I didn’t really want to feel unwell in order to have some downtime.

I simply wanted some time to myself to relax and reflect. To regroup my thoughts and spend some uninterrupted time working on some rewrites for my novel, without the hassle of having to get out of bed or to cook or clean or shuffle kids here or there. Not in the least, to skip having to go to that pesky, time-encroaching day job.

It was a fleeting fantasy and I quickly realized that everything I’d neglected would probably be there waiting in a big, looming pile upon my return to the real world anyway. <sigh>

So, guess where I’m posting this from? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Just take a wild guess.

You’ll never guess.

Bed! That’s where! Laid up. Down for the count. And not even with anything remotely useful, like a sore throat or the sniffles, where I could at least be indulging in a guilt free chocolate milkshake or some sodium-laden chicken noodle soup.

Nope. I threw my back out. And not even by doing anything remotely exciting or strenuous, like mountain climbing or hang gliding. I was bending over to check my daughter’s backpack before school.

I bent. I stood up, empty handed. And then WHAM! It felt like I’d been kidney punched. I nearly passed out from the intense, sudden pain and had to grab hold of the table to remain relatively upright. And once I finally stopped wailing, my 8 year old asked (from the safety of her bedroom) if I’d been shot or stabbed and then begged me not to die. Apparently, she either has a very active imagination or we live in a more dangerous neighborhood than I ever realized because I was alone in the middle of our kitchen when said injury occurred.

I was a trooper though. I delivered all the kids to their destinations and arrived at the day job, on time I might add. Once I finally could call it a day, I headed home to the comforts of my bed where my husband has offered a massage and to make dinner. I should be doing some rewrites but that might be ill-advised on account of my creativity being jacked up by the muscle relaxers and pain relievers. I’m afraid that might result in only more needed editing.

So, next time, when my brain starts devising ways for my body to catch a break, I’ll try to be more specific in my fantasies.

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I Think I’m Coming Down with Something

I was watching TV with my 8 year old daughter the other night. And because it’s sometimes just easier and I was only half-watching anyway, she had control of the remote. I was relegated to watching an age-appropriate kids’ channel–an episode of one of her favorite programs I’ll probably have the pleasure of seeing at least another half dozen times.

Remind me why we ordered the DVR feature again?

Anyway. The mom in the show had the flu. Her hair was a mess, she was dressed in a grungy robe, looked like she hadn’t showered in days all while coughing and hacking with every other strained breath. She looked miserable and her acting actually had me convinced she was really sick.

Nobody wanted to be in the same room with her for fear of catching it.

The story went on with the mom hiring an older neighbor boy to help watch her younger son (about my daughter’s age) and to run his “errands” with him. While she’d paid the 14-ish-year-old to escort her little boy around town for the day (busy Chicago, none-the-less) to get his haircut, buy some new “slacks”, among a myriad of other to-dos, (predictably) they ended up ditching the entire list laid out for them and spent the day at a baseball game instead.

Equally predictable, they ended up on the big screen at the televised game, where the bedridden mom caught them in the act, since she had nothing better to do in her invalid state than watch ESPN.

I actually envied her.

Really?

Yes. For a brief moment I thought: If only I had a couple days downtime to myself. How much writing could I get done in that time? Would life go on, seamlessly, without me for a few days? My husband would have to handle school transportation and meals and laundry. Dishes and homework help and straightening the house. Maybe no one would even notice if I were bedridden. I could even call in sick to work. Sure, I could do that.

I was even beginning to feel somewhat feverish and maybe a tickle in the back of my throat.

Then reality hit. Trust me, it didn’t take long.

I realized, that once I was fully functional again, there would likely be a pile of paperwork at my day job when I returned. There would still be a load or two of dirty clothes to be attend to and dishes left undone. And, although my family might have survived during that time on Ramen noodles, I would rather have something with a little more sustenance. Perhaps something in the vegetable group.

Suddenly, I was feeling much, much better.

And, really, would I have gotten all that much writing done anyway? Probably not.

 

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Afternoon Delight

A light rain pattering on my windowpane, a glass of sweet, red wine close at hand and my trusty laptop, ready to accept everything my mind can pour into it.

Now, excuse me while I get back to writing. This book ain’t gonna finish itself!

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Write Now

If you read my New Year’s post, you’d know that one of my goals is to “be more present in all things.”

I should heed this sound advice in my writing as well.

Over the course of developing my first two manuscripts, I found that if I immerse myself in the present writing, it comes out much more fluid and with a considerably less amount of effort. On the other hand, if I try to look too far ahead, try to gauge the outcome of a story before its had time to take its own shape, I get frustrated.

That’s when negativity sets in and takes up residence in my brain, overstaying its welcome like an annoying relative during the holidays.

I start to feel like it’s been all for naught. Like what I’ve written so far is complete garbage not even fit for the recycle bin.

I have to learn to trust my instinct and intuition more, to hope that my characters will lead me in the right direction and let the story unfold in the here and now.

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A Book by Any Other Name

Do you ever pick up a book and read the back cover, simply because you liked its title?

Can you judge a book by the cover, or, in this case, the title?

Can a title make or break a book? I often think so. That’s why it seems so important for me to choose just the right one for mine.

I’m pretty satisfied with “Autumn in Vermont” for the name of my first novel still in editing stage. However, my second manuscript, which is a work in progress, is–I gotta say it–another story.

I’m only about halfway through my first draft, yet I feel a need to “name” it, at least temporarily, until I find out what it will become in the end. Kind of like giving your unborn child an in-utero nickname like “the Alien”, or “Jellybean.” (For the record, I never felt compelled to call my own children anything other than “the baby.” As far as my writing goes, “the book” just doesn’t do it for me.)

For my drafting purposes, I’ve temporarily been using “Sawyer’s Bend” because that’s the name of the town around which the story centers. It’s serving me well enough now, but I’m not resigned to it for the long haul, by any means. In fact, I can see this novel growing into a sequel or even a trilogy, and then “Sawyer’s Bend” would no longer fit.

Still, part of me wishes I could have enough foresight to give it a more permanent name while I’m still in the midst of creating it, or at least some ideas. I’m coming up with nothing.

Perhaps that’s the wrong line of thinking, though. Maybe going into it with a title stuck in my head now would shape my story into something it was never meant to be in the first place. It would be like stubbornly sticking to the name “Sue” after finding out you had a ten pound baby boy. Sure, it could make a catchy line in a country song, but how will it shape his future?

You’d have to be open to change somewhere along the way.

What about other writers out there? Do you have a title in mind when you start drafting a new book? How often do you stick with the same one when it’s all said and done? I’m curious, so please post your comments here.

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Pressing Issues (or ways I’m distracting myself from writing)

Last week it was preparing myself for my first mini-marathon. The week before, maybe it was Halloween or my oldest daughter’s school trip to Washington DC.

Whatever the reason, I seem to be finding more and more things to place in my own way and to not write. It’s not that I don’t have the time. Right now, time is the one thing I do have. More eye troubles and another recent eye surgery have forced me to take a time-out, in fact.

No running, no work. No bending, no lifting. No cleaning. No sleeping on my right side. Surprisingly, I am allowed to drive, but seriously, where would I go and what would I do with all these restrictions and a black eye? Until Wednesday, at least, there’s tons of things I can’t do.

I can, however, sit for seemingly endless hours at my leisure while life goes on around me, not entirely uninterrupted, but as close as it’s gotten to it in a very long time.

So, what am I doing with the hours between sleeping and eating and checking in with the family every so often?

Reading mostly.

My spot on the waiting list at our local library for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson came at a very unopportune time. I’m halfway through the nearly 500 page story and I’m hooked. I also have the next one in the series, The Girl Who Played with Fire, waiting in the wings. I only hope the third one is available soon after I’ve finished with the other two.

Larsson was a brilliant writer who died shortly after delivering his three manuscripts for publishing. It’s unfortunate that he was unable to realize the full extent of the brilliant writing career that he so deserved. It makes me wonder if he, too, ever put off his writing in favor of other things. Or did he keep at it, day in and day out, until he was finally able to present something worthy of catching the eye of the right person at the right time? Something every writer dreams of.

So, what’s stopping me from realizing my dream? That’s a big question.

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It Slipped Through My Fingers

A random thought. An idea. Inspiration.

It came on quickly; just a flash, and then it was gone again before the next breath. But it was there. And I have to trust that if it existed once, it will present itself again, in its own time. Maybe not in the same form. Maybe better, more solid.

For now, I’ll keep my notebook and pen beside my bed, at the ready, waiting for inspiration to revisit.

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