So school started today. If you have children you know that means … back to the routine of lunch money and homework; soccer practice and PTA meetings; school dances and fund raisers. There’s a nice rhthym (okay, and sometimes … insane scheduling) that ebbs and flows through the house when the kids are in school.
But this year is just a little different …
Little Boy Blue is a senior. *sigh*
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those moms who followed the school bus to the elementary school in tears. On the contrary, when Little Boy Blue stepped foot on that yellow bus with his two older sisters I grabbed my purse and headed to the nearest Starbucks for an hour or two of sipping lattes and enjoying the knowledge that I had a few blessed hours to myself. (Okay, not quite like that … we don’t have Starbucks and I worked fulltime, but you get the idea. 😉 )
So my reaction to the youngest child heading out for the first day of school surprised me. The last first day of school … ever. We did the whole picture taking thing, because that’s a tradition in our house. But no more children will stand next to the tree, backpack in hand (because I want visual evidence for their chiropractors) and fidget while I work to get the camera focused and the picture framed just so.
Yep, there’s going to be a lot more lasts this year.
– last time filling out registration paperwork
– last open house
– last parent/teacher conferences
– last Christmas/Spring band concerts
– last of each sporting season
– last senior year events
– last … well you get the idea
I’m happy for Little Boy Blue. He knows already what he’d like to study in college and even where he’d like to go. It’s the way it should be. Children gaining their independence and making their own way in the world. And I’m happy he’s moving in that direction … really.
It’s just that the last two senior years didn’t quite affect me this way. There was someone coming up behind. But this is making me a little sad.
To think I’m closing the book on a HUGE chapter of my life. It’s just a little odd. And I’m not sure my heart’s ready for it.
I want to write.
I wake up in the morning and remind myself that this is my primary goal. When I’m making my sandwich, my current story still not having seen the light of day (despite spending the morning at the computer), I remind myself the afternoon will be spent putting words together to make sentences and create a story. When I get up in the late afternoon because both the dog and Little Boy Blue are looking forlorn and a little malnourished, I tell myself, right after dinner I will open that manuscript and write. Because I still haven’t stopped posting excerpts or working the Internet or whatever else I did for 4 hours that afternoon. But you know full well, when I fall into bed at 10 PM, I still have not accomplished that goal.
Part of it is my inability to structure my day. I’m a little anal … okay, family stop laughing … I’m a lot anal. In college I knew how I would roll through each day (including scheduled naps and play time) and it all worked for me.
Where have I gone wrong?
I know part of it is my own fear. Fear that I’m not going to find a good plot to carry my story. Fear that the cursor will blink incessently and I won’t hit one key and type one word. And when I do begin typing, fear that the words are so awful and run of the mill that I’ll have to scrap them anyway. So I don’t open the manuscript.
But I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. I think lots of authors have this feeling. Or that their next story won’t live up to the praise of the others. It’s a weird place to be.
Add to all this … MS. Now, I’m not trying to make you feel sorry for me, it’s just a new fact of my life. Where once time really didn’t matter because I could just keep piling on the things and plug away at them until I was finished or exhausted … whichever came first. It seemed I got so much done then.
Ennnnh … (Hear loud gameshow buzzer.)
Now, the very act of showering and dressing wipes me out for half an hour on some days. Now that’s a pain in the @$$! There are some days my fingers don’t really want to type at all and they do this queer spasm thingy. That’s frustrating, I gotta tell you. But it’s something I need to work around and I gotta stop fussing and worrying about it.
Now you’d think, after three years of writing, I’d have figured out some kind of schedule for both my time and my energy. Not so much. And balancing my family in there? Let’s just say I’m glad my kids are grown up and my husband works late hours. Because I haven’t got that whole thing figured out either.
And I shouldn’t even complain. I dare say 90-95% of writers can’t support themselves on book sales alone and they work! Sheesh, I can’t imagine what I’d do if I had to squeeze that in too!
So, I’m just wondering … how do you do it? Writing, parenting, working, elderly parents, children … have you figured out how to balance your life? Please, let me know your secrets!
This week I’m organizing what’s left of my summer. I’m so sad the first month is nearly over. So here’s a list of 13 things I need to do this summer.
1. Attend my chapter meeting of RWA. Out of the whole summer I only get to make it to one monthly meeting. 🙁 That makes me so sad. These authors lift me up and recharge me. I’m so happy I can at least stay in touch over the Internet.
2. Go to the fireworks. I wouldn’t miss them. I’m like a little kid. I love the sparklers and I oooh and ahhh at every single one of them. My favorite fireworks by far were the year I got to see them in Washington DC.
3. Finish edits for my novella, Blue Moon Rising, in the Furry, Fluffy and Wild shifter anthology from Liquid Silver Books.
4. Attend the Highland Games in Nova Scotia. Oh, yeah! One of the few weekend trips we’re taking that don’t involve family at the other end. And who wouldn’t want to spend the day watching men in kilts throw, chop, and muscle things?
5. Take an online writing course. I always enjoy learning new things about writing. There are so many good ones out there, sometimes it’s hard for me to choose. But this particular class promises to push my writing to the next level. Well … only if I work really hard.
6. Spend time at Sommes Sound near Acadia National Park. The Maine coast is beautiful and there is nothing more peaceful than Sommes Sound early in the morning when the fog is hanging just over the surface and lobster boats are meandering their way to the ocean. *sigh* Just right for finding my writing muse. I may not be able to hike the mountain trails any longer, but swimming in the ocean and lazy on the rocky shore is just what I need to recharge my batteries.
7. Drop Little Boy Blue off at Engineering Camp. He is so excited to give this a try. It’s for those going into their senior year who are trying to figure out which type of engineering is the right avenue for them.
8. Visit my sister and her family at the beach. (Are you sensing a theme here … my family loooves the ocean.) I am so excited. For a month my older sissie comes up from Maryland to stay in Maine. I heart my sister. She’s one of my very best friends. I can’t wait to see her! And the answer to your unspoken question … no I didn’t always like her. She got me in trouble A LOT!
9. Visit husband’s family at the lake. We have the best time staying up late playing cards and having bon fires. Drinking too many margaritas and just plain hanging around having fun. But this will be a short visit due to number 10.
10. Getting Little Boy Blue off to school. Here in northern Maine the kids start high school when most teenagers are still making the most of their summer. This is due to a three week break they have in September to harvest potatoes. For real.
11. Finish the sequel to Blue Moon Rising.
12. Visit my mommy. She lives really far away from her children. So she spends a month in the summer here in Maine. I love visiting with her. Of course it doesn’t hurt that she lives at the beach when she’s here!
13. Relax and enjoy the season. Riiiiight!
Mother’s Day. I love this holiday.
I have a trunk full of all the cards and little goodies my children made for me when they were little. My son’s hand pressed in plaster hangs from a pretty ribbon in my bedroom, right next to the clay mask my daughter made of her face when she was in second grade. My bureau is strewn with the gifts of weaved baskets, clay pots, and a wooden treasure chest … all gifts my children made and gave to me on Mother’s Day. They are more precious to me than all my gold jewelry.
Now that they’re older, my children give me gifts of words. Hallmark cards scrawled with a little note at the end, loving words from the heart that make me cry.
Today, I will call my mothers. Now that I’m married … I have two. One who gave birth to me and another who called me daughter long before the ink was dry on the marriage certificate.
And as I age I appreciate their experience and wisdom more with each passing year. These women make me realize that being a mom doesn’t stop when your child walks out the door and marries another. It just means your joys–and worries–are doubled. I live very far away from both of them, so the flowers and cards have already been sent. The hugs will just have to wait until the next time we are together. Though I’m terrible with the phone calls, I hope they both know how much I miss them, especially on a day like today.
This holiday also marks the anniversary of when my husband, sexy college jock, with nothing but a car to call his own, asked me to be his wife. It wasn’t the proposal of news programs… but it was sweet and romantic and is one of the best days of my life.
We told my mother-in-law she was finally going to be a grandmother on Mother’s Day.
And my first ever agent call came on Mother’s Day. Though it didn’t work out, I will always remember the incredible feeling of talking with an agent for the first time.
I am truly blessed.
This day won’t be about gifts from the store, but the gift of time and love from my family. And I wish for you a wonderful mother’s day … one that will be filled with love and family. I hope you will get to spend it doing something you truly enjoy … and that this day will be one for the memory books.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!
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.
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!
Okay, so for those of you who don’t know … I live in the deep woods of northern Maine. It’s beautiful. It’s quiet. It’s remote. It’s still winter! The joke where I live is that we have four seasons: Almost winter, Winter, Still Winter, and the Fourth of July. I didn’t grow up here. In southern Maine where I grew up (5 hours south of here) winter is icky, but not horrible!
For nearly twenty years I’ve lived here and endured. But this winter we broke all snow records. I think in the end we got 16 feet (488 cm) or so. And then to add insult to injury we broke temperature records the first Monday of spring with a record temperature of -14F (-26C)! Aren’t we the lucky ones? So today are thirteen reasons I’m sick of winter!
1. Swim lessons are going to be really chilly.
2. I’m tired of grocery shopping with the dogsled. I’d like to take my van.
3. This is the machine that caused sooo many problems over the last few months. It’s time to put it away and keep me safe!
4. I’d like to have running water again!
5. The poor kids are climbing the walls. (Little boy blue is 6′ 5″ … this will give you an idea of how much snow is on my front lawn … do you feel bad for me yet?)
6. I can’t remember what the paint looks like on my walls:
7. My aquarium needs to thaw.
8. I’d like to drive on tar again.
9. Because this is so wrong:
10. I want to see my front lawn again.
11. Let’s face it … I’m just tired of seeing white. A little green and some colorful flowers would be welcome!
12. Because even the birds are tired of the winter.
13. I think my neighbor said it best…
Okay, so obviously all these pictures didn’t come from my yard. (Though the bulk of them are the actual snow sitting in my yard.) But you get the idea. Pray for me … snow and rain are expected to come in this weekend.
Okay, but I won’t be here. I’m heading south to Boston for the weekend where I hear rumors of green grass and budding trees. Oh, one can only hope!
Okay, get your head of the gutter. The mounds I’m talking about are paper… tons of it. Okay, so maybe not that much, but A LOT!
It’s everywhere in my house and all of a sudden it seems to have taken over. It’s stacked unceremoniously on the kitchen counter and the dining room table. (You mean I’m supposed to eat at that table?) Anyway, I got so tired of it because I wasn’t dealing with it… so I moved the bulk of it in here to my office (but still didn’t clear off said table) on the coffee table. It’s sorted in piles to a certain extent, but now it’s taken over that horizontal surface.
Now it’s staring at me. Taunting me to deal with it.
Where did it all come from? Most of it is mail, but some of the stacks include receipts for small items that I’ve learned over the years I need to save. (I actually have the monthly debit receipts in an envelope… yay, small victory.) And I keep plugging away at it, but it never seems to completely disappear. I file and recycle and shred and still… there are stacks.
I know I’m not the only one… the other morning on a news program while I sipped my coffee I dutifully listened to an organizational guru talk about how to deal with the baskets and piles of papers the anchor had stacked around her house. It seems this is an epidemic!
In a day and age when we should be concerned about our forests it seems the amount of junk mail and unnecessary paper waste is incredible. What happened to going electronic to save trees?
Oh yeah, they did that too… they call it spam.
So stop me if you’ve heard this one…
The sun glistened like diamonds on the new snow. Whisps of white filtered across the otherwise flawless canvas of the sky. And DH says, “You ready to go for a ride?”
What? You’ve heard this before?
LOL! Oh, no, sometimes I do stoopid things (okay I do a lot of stoopid things), but I’m not brain dead. I did not get on a snowmobile this weekend! The man and I went on a road trip in a very safe car to Little Boy Blue’s basketball tournament.
It was a fun day and the boys’ drive and determination to win each game made me think of my own journey to publication.
In this tournament you played until you lost, then you were out. What impressed me was how these young men, even when they were behind kept pushing for the win. The second game for Little Boy Blue’s team was nerve wracking. They had several hours to stew over how they were outmatched.
But from the opening whistle they came out playing hard. The game was separated by a point or two through three periods, each team sharing the lead at different times throughout. But our home team fell apart at the beginning of the fourth period. The opposition scored several unanswered baskets until the team was 8 points behind with two minutes to go.
But did they give up? Nope. The coach rearranged the players and they stepped up their game, pulled it together and brought the score within 5 with a minute to go. Another basket and now they’re a 3 point shot away from a tie. But the opposition has the ball. With everything they have, they press the offense and steal the ball with 2 seconds left on the clock. They manage to tip it to one of their shooters and he goes up for the 3 pointer. A beautiful arcing shot that hangs in the air as the final buzzer sounds. Breathless, the crowd comes to their feet as the ball bounces around the rim, but doesn’t go in.
They lost. A hard fought game, but a bummer none the less.
So why do I mention this?
Writing and especially publication is a difficult journey to take. The decision to sit down and write a novel is one that takes years for some people to complete. Others, like me, fall into it.
It can seem so daunting to take the nugget of an idea and turn it into a complete story with twists and turns and characters that keep the reader turning the pages, but you persevere. Then you enter several contests and the judges have less than stellar comments about your novel. The score isn’t in your favor.
Back to the drawing board. Shuffle the players and send them out there again. You final in a contest, but receive your fourth rejection in a month.
It is so easy to give up and let the “other” team win. After all, they’re ahead and you feel the time slipping away. It would be less painful to slide those manuscripts under the couch and let them collect dust.
But how bad do you want it? Because as long as there’s time on the clock… you have a chance to achieve your dream. Keep pressing, keep believing… keep writing.
I’m proof that determination and perseverance helps you reach your dreams. One book published, two more under contract, but is the game over? Nope. I still want to hold one of my babies in my hands. I still want to have a booksigning. I still want to have a best seller.
I’m still in the tournament, playing hard to win. How about you?
To the Emergency Room we go! Sing with me! Oh yeah!
So, the story starts (as it has for the last three weeks)… The weather was beautiful; a balmy 20 degrees F with the sun hanging in a cloudless cerulean sky, fresh snow powdering the evergreens and DH says “how about a snowmobile ride?” How could I refuse with those baby blues batting at me?
Several minutes of negotiations later we’re heading out on the marked trail to a destination even I know and oh what fun!
30 minutes in we slam through a foot and a half deep ditch someone has snowblown in a field on private property. (It’s private… they can do whatever they want.) Somehow (and neither of this can figure out how or why) my body compresses really weird and my knee turns into a flaming ball of pain. 2 seconds. The whole thing was over in two seconds! Of course DH is unscathed and for one stupid moment, as I’m standing on the side of the trail… I think, I’m fine, let’s keep going. But as the knee gave way when I put more pressure on it we both think… nah. Home it is.
And you guessed it. Home means back on the sled and through the woods (now a 45 minute drive because he can’t go fast).
Can’t go to the ER and have someone looking at the backwoods winter wool of hair on my legs so I hobble into the shower and do a quick shave. Shampoo my hair (and yes, at this stage in the game forego the usual styling and makeup routine) and head off to the hospital.
3 1/2 hours at the ER, x-rays and lots of waiting, we find out there are no broken bones, but a severe sprain that requires a knee immobilizer for at least the next week. Which also means hobbling around the house with a walker. (Now standard equipment in my injury arsenal.)
I know. I’m sitting here thinking the same thing.
Next time… just say NO!