Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Can't Have It All

I have come to the rather liberating realization that I cannot have both toned arms and a finished novel. 

Not if I also want to have a full-time job, kids who know who their mother is, an in-tact marriage and a few hours of sleep thrown in.  You just can’t do it all.

Well, maybe you can, but I can’t.

And I need to stop beating myself up about that.  I need to spend less time feeling bad about the things I’m not fitting onto my To Do list and more time being content with all that I do get done.

So, this summer, the first draft of my book will be finished and my arms shall remain flabby and I’m okay with that.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Are We There Yet?

I’m on Chapter Eleven.  A little less than 100 pages in.  Maybe a third of the way.

I’m sticking to my outline and I think I’m happy with how the story is taking shape (although I’m regularly hit with a feeling of total certainty that this may well be the most boring, flat, one-dimensional, pointless story every written).

I try to stay focused on the chapter at hand – better yet, the scene at hand – and not think too much about the enormity of the task ahead. 

Like the marathon runner who thinks about getting to the next lamp post instead of the finish line, or the mountain climber who keeps their eye on the next hand hold and not the peak of the summit, I try my best not to think about how long it’s going to take me to finish this first draft, or how many more drafts I’ll have to do after that, or how long it will take me to write a query letter I’m happy with. I try not to dwell on the fact that even after I do all of that, I may never be able to interest an agent in my work and that, even if I do, I may never find a publisher who thinks it’s sellable. 

These are the things I try not to think about.  But I am very, very bad at not thinking about them.

I try to remind myself that all I can do is write the very best book I can and the only way I can do that is by keeping my mind on my characters and my story and forging ahead – one word at a time.

But on some days – like today – I find myself unable to see the next word because I’m too paralyzed by panic at the idea of running the next 26 miles up a mountain.



Thursday, June 17, 2010

Support? Priceless.

My husband and I celebrated our ten year anniversary a few weeks ago and what do you think he surprised me with all wrapped up with a bow? 










He gave me a candy apple red hp mini laptop that fits in my purse so that I can write on the train during my commute to and from work every day.


How amazing is that?


I was so blown away that I actually cried.  Not because the laptop was pretty and not because it was certainly a more expensive gift than we should really be buying right now.  I cried because of the fact that he supports me, that he understands how important this “writing thing” is to me, that he wants to help me – in any way that he can – get this book written.  That means more to me than anything else he could have ever given me.


Writing is really lonely at times.  And, for many of us, it’s something that few of the people in our lives really understand or appreciate.  I haven’t even told my co-workers that I’m writing a novel.  It’s like leading a double life but without the cool gadgets.  So, when someone - especially someone whose opinion you really value -  shows you how much they support your work and your dream.  Well, it’s priceless.


Friday, June 11, 2010

It Never Gets Easier

I'm on the train on my home from a marketing conference I was attending for work. The conference was good, lots of ideas to take back to the office, but do you know what the biggest thing that I learned during my three days away was? This writing thing never gets any easier.

Normally it's a real struggle for me to find time to write. I work a full-time day job, I have a two hour commute round-trip, I have two young kids and a husband that I want to see when I get home and I still haven't figured out how to avoid activites such as grocery shopping, bill payment and laundry and still keep my family alive and living indoors.

I was sure that these three days away - no commute, no kids, no husband, no grocery shopping, bills or laundry - were going to turn into a little mini writing retreat. Sure, I'd have to go to the conference during the day, but I imagined that as soon as the sessions were over at 4:30 each day, I would curl up in my hotel bathrobe, pull out my laptap and all but finish my novel in the hours of uninterrupted writing time that would lie ahead.

Ya, not so much.

Turns out that the words are just as hard to come up with - for me at least - when I'm in a quite hotel room for hours as they are when I'm sitting at the dining room table with my kids playing "How Hard Can We Hit Each Other Before One Of Us Cries And Runs To Mommy To Blame The Other One Even Though That Was The Game" around me.

It was a revelation for me.

I suppose it's discouraging to learn that there isn't in fact any magical writing spot where the dam breaks and the words come pouring out like water. But it's also nice to know that I'm not missing anything by sitting at my dining room table, struggling through the din of my normal life to find each new word.

Because, in all honesty, those nights alone in the hotel room, my husband and kids hundreds of miles away? They were lonely and awful. And I can't wait to get home, tuck my kids into bed, fall asleep beside my husband and sit down tomorrow at my dining room table, amidst all the chaos of a regular Saturday afternoon.