Family

So, I made it home today! Exhausted and refreshed all at the same time.

The New England Writer’s Conference (NEC) was everything I hoped it would be. Writer’s, agents, editors, learning, networking, brainstorming and FUN! (And if anyone hears that I was naughty and a little wild on our “off” time… don’t believe ’em!) Everything I needed to perk me up and help me to push through to the end of my novella.

The keynote speakers at breakfast and lunch were Susan Wiggs and Suzanne Brockman. Both, incredible writers and awesome speakers who were very inspiring. There were so many successful writers at this convention that beyond these two women, I couldn’t possibly name all the wonderful writers who took time to do workshop presentations that were both informative and confirming for my own writing journey.

And okay, I’m going to admit this … I find some of it a little, well … daunting. No matter where you sit or who you speak to at meals, there were writers who have made the NYT best seller list.

Not every writer wants this … some are truly happy simply sharing their stories. That’s not the case for me. I want to write. I want to publish. I want to sell … A LOT … I want to make a living from my writing … and I want to be on the best seller list. And I want it … NOW!

But of course I am reality oriented. Very few writers have the joy of overnight success. Almost all talk about the difficult years of carving out writing time … of the numerous rejections before publication … or the horrible sacrifices they made to get their book published … and even now, when they’re well known … the rough patches they hit and still push through. Building a career takes time.

*sigh*

So, I’m sitting here counting the minutes until DH’s plane arrives (because it’s been a loooong week without him). Then it’s off to bed for a good night sleep in my own bed snuggled up to my man! And tomorrow I’ll type until my eyes cross and then pick up Little Boy Blue.

At that point I can happily proclaim “we all survived hell week”! and focus my attention on my writing and meeting that deadline.

Wish me luck!

UPDATE: Everyone’s home. Suitcases litter our front hall and clothes are piled high in the laundry room. My fingers are flying over the keyboard and my novella is unfolding. Now, if I can sneak in a couple naps and catch up on some of this sleep… all would be good!

So I woke up this morning with my feet hitting the ground and my muscles already working my legs in a dead run. *sigh* It’s one of those weeks in my life that I’d just like to wish away and that’s just an awful thing to say. But, come on … it’s happened to you too. 

Baby girl celebrates her 19th birthday this weekend which means shopping and wrapping gifts and dinner out (around work schedules) and cake and ice cream. Which would probably be all right if I had a clue what to get her for her birthday. Shopping today … party tomorrow.

I’ve also been invited to a last minute bridal shower. My opportunities to socialize are few and far between and though this will be fun, it also is happening today. I still can’t decide if I’m going to go. That will be a last minute decision!

DH leaves Monday for a rare trip away for a work related convention. (Rare as in … he’s done this maybe one other time.) He’s going to Long Beach, California where I’ve never been and I’m a tad jealous. That aside, this means making sure he has all the work clothes cleaned and the shampoo and toothpaste and that kind of stuff we share. Plus there’s the whole traveler check/cash/banking kind of stuff that needs to be done.

In the middle of all this we need to get the week’s groceries gathered since I can’t do it by myself and I need to shop for comfortable outfits for myself for my own trip away. Because at the end of next week I’m headed off to my very first writing conference. It’s 7 hours of driving from my home … 5 of which I have to do by myself (booorring!) before hooking up with other writers for the tail end of the trip. 

At the same time Little Boy Blue is getting ready for a five day trip to New York with the high school band. So there’s the whole getting him ready this week as well. And I won’t be here to put him on the bus at 5 am and DH will still be in California, so Baby Girl has to get him there which makes me feel guilty beyond belief.

This week I came really close to cancelling out of the writer’s conference. I’ve never been and so I don’t know what I’d be missing. But I do feel the need to do some schmoozing with editors, agents, and other writers, so I stopped thinking of that as a possibility.

Anyway, all this is just overwhelming me. If only any one or several of these things wasn’t happening at the same time. There’s was a time when this stuff happened and I just took it in stride. But with the MS it is just about driving me over the edge of insanity! Shopping kills me. I’m good for about 40 minutes and then I schlepp back to the car. And it takes at least an hour or two to recover and be able to walk again. Urr! It’s all so darn frustrating.

Now, don’t misunderstand … I am married to an amazing man who is totally wonderful about my disability. Normally, he does the grocery shopping, but the birthday stuff … well, I’m a mom … I want to do that. And he certainly can’t buy clothes for me! LOL!

I feel like it’s finals week in college and the papers are due and the test schedule is stressing me out. But there’s no way around this week. I’m not going to wish it away because life is too short to do that.

I’m pulling myself up by the proverbial bootstraps and putting one foot in front of the other. (Hear the trumpets sounding!) Charge!

I’m not very shy about voicing my displeasure with Maine winters. They’re cold, messy, and loooong. But I gotta tell you. There are some days, like last Saturday that even a cynic can enjoy.

The sun was out, casting blue shadows on the pristine snow. It was practically balmy at a very comfortable 25 degrees farenheit. So daughter, hubby, and I donned our very warm winter gear and climbed on the snowmobiles (called sleds here in northern Maine) and headed out into the woods.

Now, let me explain. Where I live, winter begins somewhere around the end of September and ends about a week before Memorial Day. Winter sports are a religion here (that and basketball… but that’s a blog for another day). Snowmobile trails are highways often times maintained better than some roads. They come complete with stop signs, curve ahead markers, route numbers, and signs pointing the way to local eateries. People can go most anywhere on a sled in northern Maine. One is just as likely to pull up behind a sled at the gas pump as a vehicle.

Needless to say, the ride was fabulous. Green firs weighed down with snow and deciduous trees with the last remnants of copper leaves hanging on their branches surrounded us. I was enjoying the solitude and the beauty… until of course we got lost. Lost men on sleds aren’t any better at asking for directions than men in cars. Now, in fairness to DH, the number of gas stations with bathroom facilities and friendly service attendants (both of which I could have used) are few and far between, but still… when you know you’re lost… stop, turn around, and go back to where you lost your way. Don’t keep driving into the depths of the northern woods hoping you’ll recognize some landmark. (That’s the stuff of news headlines!) Thankfully, we happened upon a lovely woman on snowshoes walking her dog, who smiled kindly and directed us off her property and back onto the trails.

So the answer is no, I didn’t pack up Santa and my Christmas tree, but I did manage to plot Meghan’s story. You see, it’s not exactly quiet on a sled, but there’s really nothing to clutter your mind, no television, no music, no voices calling my name (not real ones anyway), just me and my characters working to tell a story. So, like the nice lady on the snowshoes, Meghan showed me where I’d taken a wrong turn, pointed out some plot holes and now I’m working to find my way back and finish up her story.

Sometimes I actually enjoy winter!

Are the holidays really over? The drooping branches and growing pile of pine needles beneath my poor Christmas tree claim that its glory has come and gone. Of course the lights, still on a timer, happily twinkle on beginning at 3:37 pm and click off promptly at 10:12 pm. 

The stockings that hung with care are now strewn hap-hazardly about the couch, their contents half in and half out. *sigh* So today I will be pulling out the whip and megaphone and putting those slaves children of mine to work. Despite their vehement protestations and complaints we will pack up those ceramic angels and stuffed Santas, beg them not to multiply over the dull months ahead (as they always seem to do) and tuck them neatly back into the dark corner of my basement. Be gone you harbingers of time-sucking activities!

You see, the holiday season ate chunks of my writing time, nibbling away bit by bit until my productivity dipped lower than the Maine temps. But no more. I’m putting my foot down!

As 2008 rears its head and proclaims that another blank page of a year lies before me, available to fill as I choose, I have decided it’s time to take back my house–from the forlorn Christmas ornaments and the bored college students still on holiday. I will boldly forge ahead and stake my claim on the family room which is also my writing sanctuary and declare that it is once again off-limits during writing hours!

Yes, today I will pack up Christmas, dust off the keyboard and jump back into my writing schedule that has been tilted off its axis.

Oh, that feels better already! I am so happy the holidays are over and I can get back on track. I am ready to reclaim my home and my writing time… right after I put another load of laundry in the washer, do up the sink full of dishes, cheer at a swim meet, join dear hubby on a snowmobile ride, restock teenager devasted cupboards, and…

I love the look of Christmas. The snow weighing heavy on the trees. The lights twinkling. A cozy fire burning in the hearth. Wrapped gifts under the tree. Smiling faces of children staring at Santa in awe. It’s beautiful. 

I want that.

But then reality rears it’s ugly head and shows up at my house! The first week of December I beg my man to drag the boxes and containers of Christmas paraphernalia up from the basement. *click* See garland spilling from boxes stacked in front hallway.

Then we bundle up and head over to the local boyscout troop Christmas tree lot and pick out the perfect tree to adorn our living room. *click* See Charlie Brown tree sitting forlornly in stand sans lights and bulbs, loosing needles faster than Santa can make toys to put under said tree.

By mid December I can proudly say, all boxes are back down stairs, Christmas decorations adorn the house, the tree is no longer naked and *sigh* it looks so purty… for about a day.

Then the Christmas shopping begins. We live essentially in the middle of nowhere, so our shopping consists of one major day at the big “city” and in one fell swoop–it’s done! *click* See bags and bags of unwrapped gifts sitting under Christmas tree. *click* See living room doors shut so teenagers can’t see purchases and mother can’t see beautiful decorations.

Now the rolls of wrapping paper lay about. In the next few days, children will schlep home from college. *click* See downstairs bathroom stacked with all the clothing they own. *click* See dishes piling in the sink as wrapping gifts takes precedence over all other household chores.  

You know, my Christmas may not be the Currier and Ives versions of the holiday, but it’s mine none the less. And in reality, I wouldn’t change it for anything.

So what kind of snapshots describe your holiday?

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