And I choose bed

Oh, how I want to stay up and blog. Oh, the stories that have been tumbling in this little head of mine…in the shower, during my runs…like puppies who need to be let out! But alas, life is a series of trade-offs and I look to the clock and it tells me, Go to Bed! I turn to my husband and he says, “Go to Bed!” I turn inward and my brain shouts “stay up and write!” but my eyes betray me as they shut on their own accord. And my muscles, who have been through a lot today (8- 400′s at the track in 100 degree heat, to be exact) roll over and play dead.

Alas, I am going to bed…more another day.

um, sorry?

It is with trepidation and reserve that I approached my blog today. In a strange on-line world, I don’t know who I am approaching – my blog, or the handful of readers that return to the site. Really, who – or what – it is that I am approaching, is my own voice – the voice that has ‘eh-hemm’ed’ me to death over the last few months. The voice that tells me stories while I am in the shower, itching to get them on paper, but which is quickly forgotten with the flick of my towel as I run off to the next ‘thing’. The voice that urged me to start a blog so that I would have a space for her – her own grounds…like a big yard in a new country home – her place to roam and ramble. And the roaming and rambling was good, but I just have not made time for the country-side as of late.

I was afraid that when I when I went to log-in today that I would be rejected. I half expected a pop up message from my blog saying, “so you think you can just log back in like nothing has happened? Push ‘Yes’ if you are really that kind of person” and my only other option would be to cancel. So, any clean slate, any new beginning needs a good apology, and I am sorry – here is my apology to the universe – for not holding to my own intentions, and perhaps inconveniencing a few good friends who have been checking the site, always empty. I’ve had a few eh-hems from them too.

My children have a book called “Leonardo, The Terrible Monster” by Mo Willems, you may know it…and one of the pages is filled with text, being wailed by a little boy in answer to the question of, ‘why he was crying’. As a tribute to this fabulous idea of getting it all out, and to my inner screaming child who doesn’t really want to apologize because not writing ‘is not her fault’, here’s my wailing tale of why I have not written in the last 3+ months and really, not much since the beginning of the year:

FIRST MY SON HAD HIS FOUR YEAR OLD BIRTHDAY PARTY AND HIS BIRTHDAY IS JANUARY 3rd SO IT’S RIGHT AFTER THE HOLIDAYS AND I CAN’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT UNTIL, LIKE, THE DAY BEFORE BECAUSE THERE ARE WAY TOO MANY OTHER THINGS TO THINK ABOUT AND PLAN SO I GOT MYSELF THROUGH THAT BY THE SKIN ON MY TEETH (THANK YOU PUMP IT UP) AND THEN MY DAUGHTER STARTED AT HER MONTESSORI PROGRAM AND WHILE I LOVE HER SCHOOL, SHE WAS 20 MONTHS AND OF COURSE I WONDERED IF I WAS STARTING HER TOO YOUNG AND THAT TOOK A COUPLE WEEKS OF MENTAL PREP AND SEVERAL WEEKS OF TRANSITION FOR US ALL TO GET COMFORTABLE WITH THAT AND THEN I OFFICIALLY STARTED LOOKING FOR A JOB BECAUSE THAT WAS MY INTENTION FOR THIS YEAR BUT I ONLY WANTED TO WORK PART TIME  – SO I STARTED NETWORKING AND SEARCHING BUT NOTHING WAS REALLY SHOWING UP AND THEN MY HUSBAND GOT SICK (THOUGHT IT WAS THE FLU) AND HE ENDED UP IN THE HOSPITAL FOR 4 DAYS WITH SOME RARE FORM OF TOXIC SHOCK (YES, RELATED TO THE ONE MENTIONED ON THE TAMPON BOX, BUT NOT THAT EXACTLY) AND SO HE AND I RECOVERED FROM THAT AND ALL THE WHILE LIFE KEPT HAPPENING AND I HAD THE WORST ALLERGY SEASON OF MY LIFE ALL SPRING AND THEN HE WAS GONE FOR MUCH OF MARCH AND THEN WE GOT TO GO ON A FABULOUS SPRING BREAK TRIP TO UTAH AND ON THE TRIP HOME I LOST MY SON FOR ~3 – 5 MINUTES IN THE AIRPORT AND IT WAS THE SCARIEST 3-5 MINUTES OF MY LIFE  AND IT WAS ABOUT THIS TIME THAT MY FRIENDS AND I DECIDED TO START A COMPANY TOGETHER SO WE SPENT WEEKS TRYING TO NAME OURSELVES AND OUR HUSBANDS STARTED TO BE REALLY ANNOYED THAT IT WENT ON FOR AS LONG AS IT DID AND NORMAL KID LIFE- WE HAD ILLNESSES AND URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS AND STUFF LIKE THAT  AND THEN JUST AS I GOT MY FIRST WORK PROJECT SUMMER STARTED AND WE’VE BEEN MANAGING KID SCHEDULES THAT CHANGE WEEKLY AND WORKING AND TRIPS TO VISIT FAMILY AND ALL THE STUFF THAT MAKES LIFE CRAZY AND EVEN THOUGH NONE OF THIS IS DIFFERENT FROM ANYONE’S TALE, REALLY, IT ALL HAS CONTRIBUTED TO ME NOT TAKING ANY TIME TO POST TO MY BLOG!!!!

That’s why.

Aaahhhhh. Much better.

Coming Soon: Bumpkin to Buddhist hits Germany! My family is heading to Germany for 6 weeks starting this Sunday, so my plan is to do some blogging on the road! Until next time…

Write a novel? That is so last month.

There is a scene in one of the Seinfeld episodes where Jerry and George are at a party in a women’s apartment watching the NY marathon out her window. In the scene, they are debating who is the king idiot between the two of them, given the recent screw-ups they have both had, and then the owner of the apartment yells out the window, “You are ALL Winners!”, and George quips, “ah, but there is another contender”. Well, I am a winner of this sort. The kind where “we are ALL winners!” –  please note the 2009 NanoWriMo Winner banner on the side bar. I could not resist. Yes, this means that I completed the 50,000 word novel within the 30 days. If I may pat myself on the back, I even finished 5 days before the deadline. My prior relationship with deadlines (see former post) was, effectively, blown to smithereens. It was definitely an adventure. I have not re-read my ‘piece of work’, which is what I am deeming it until I deem it anything else, e.g. ‘piece of art’ or ‘piece of ca-ca’, but intend to do so. Strangely, I am having more trouble finding the time to read it than I did finding the time to write the whole thing. I thought I would share a few of my learnings from having taken on such an adventure. This way, you don’t actually have to do it yourself. Or you still can so that you can tell me that my learnings are also a load of ca ca. It might be worth noting, that I started this document in my 4th week of the novel adventure when I was doing some heavy-duty procrastinating. But I recognized that, so I left this behind and finished the novel instead. Now I share…

The first thing that I learned is that writing a novel is hard. A LOT harder than reading one and somehow, after reading so many novels, I thought that perhaps writing one would also be sort of easy. In fact, after some novels, I would turn the final page and think to myself, ‘huh, I think I could have written that’ (these were usually novels I did not care for so much, so I was not actually giving myself too much credit here). Now I realize that I probably could not have written any of them – not even the bad ones. Even the bad ones are one person’s original creative work, so I could never have recreated that. And even beyond the creative originality, I have to give every published novel writer credit for having gotten that far – because it is just not easy. I was stumped on day one just trying to figure out what narrative to write in. I could not start typing until I decided, so I literally spent my first hour browsing some of my favorite novels, figuring out if I should use first or third person. As it turned out, all but one (The Kite Runner) were in third, so I settled on first, and dove in. It just felt more natural. And it worked for back-ground and set up, but as soon as I got into present and things had to happen, then I switched to third. I never really decided and the novel flips between 1st and 3rd several times. I hope this gives you an idea how rough this first draft is.

As mentioned in my prior post, this is my first foray into writing fiction, so this has been much like learning a new sport – using muscles I didn’t know I had – and it was often times painful. And it’s not just making stuff up, but making stuff up that is interesting, and more importantly, making stuff up about different characters that is both interesting and has to tie together in some relevant way. My “novel”, while I don’t want to demean my work, but this first draft really can hardly be called a novel – that would be an insult to the genre – is very, very simple. It lacks both characters and action.  Writing words has never been my problem, as you might expect after reading my lengthy blog posts. The reader gets to know every thought, in detail, that each character is having. But I really had a hard time making anything happen. I feel like I have 50, 256 words spread out over 5 months – the length of time that passes in the novel – and yet there are only 3 or 4 significant moments where anything actually happens. For me, writing dialogue and looking into a fictitious characters brain has been fascinating and a great exercise, but I have a feeling someone reading this might end up banging their head against a wall, waiting for something to happen. Much like ‘Waiting for Godot’, actually. See – this was not even original.

The second thing I learned is that worrying about writing something good will, indeed, hinder all writing. The “instructions”, or guide, that went along with this exercise said to check the “inner editor” at the door. The inner editor, in case you are not familiar, is that voice that tells you, while you do something, “oh, that’s not good. Oh, that’s not right. Your spelling is like a 3rd grader. You know, you are not very interesting, so what makes you think you can write something interesting?”, etc. etc. And it was true – whenever I did feel stopped in my writing, it was because I was worried about writing something good. Worrying and free-spirit creativity don’t really get along very well. So while I think I might have a handful of good ideas or sentences in this draft, overall, it is not good nor was it meant to be. Now that my inner editor has been unleashed, she can’t wait to get her hands on this thing and rip it to shreds. She has been pent up and is now gnashing her teeth, clenching her fists…ready to tear into the story with all her razor sharp words of judgment and good sense. She will leave a trail of blood and tears. I think this is why I am not finding the time to actually sit down and read it.

Many people are interested in what the novel is about, so the summary is this: 29 year old female takes 5 months off from her advertising career to go on a ‘spiritual journey’ to India, a trip lead by her French friend/spiritual guru, Francois. But Francois ends up being diagnosed with Cancer so the group chooses not to go on the trip without him. Our main character then decides to head to Paris first to help care for Francois and then head out on a ‘spontaneous journey’ after that with her remaining time. BUT in the airport on the way to Paris, her mom calls and says her father has been diagnosed with Leukemia (which had been in remission since he was in his 20’s) and that it is not a good idea to fly to Europe. So then, because her father is sick and she has no place to live (she had sub-let her San Francisco apt), she returns to her small home town to take care of her father. Francois ultimately dies toward the end of the novel, and so does her father. So she ends up having her ‘spiritual journey’ anyway, through the death of these two characters. And before you think it’s all gloom, before her father dies, she starts a romance with a guy who is staying in the Bed and Breakfast that her parents run (if you don’t know – my parents run a bed and breakfast – clearly the parallels between the main character and my own life are pretty tight – a phenomena that, I have heard, happens with everyone’s first work of fiction). It is light – the romance – due to the turbulent time in her life, but it provides for the glimmer of hope, the ‘life goes on’ message in the book.

Since I checked my inner editor at the door at the beginning of the exercise, I am going to release her now for just one moment to let you know all the things that are wrong with this novel. 1. Way too wordy without enough actual description. Somehow I made it to the end of the book without describing almost any of the characters, physically 2. Too few characters – with my first journey into tying people into a story, I didn’t venture out very far. The main character has parents, one set of grandparents, one sibling, one friend and one semi-romance. I introduced characters in detail like they were going to be a part of the story and then they never show up again. There’s a woman she meets in an airport that I swore was going to reappear somewhere, but it turns out she flew off to Paris and we never saw her again. She had one single friend (and an ex-boyfriend) in San Francisco, but we never hear from her again once she leaves the city – not a very good friend evidently. 3. Not enough action or conflict. The only noticeable antagonist is death. The main character sort of wanders through the novel, experiencing a few things, dealing with some heavy feelings, and that’s pretty much it. I’m even amazed that I churned out this many words without anything going on, just proving once again that, anything is possible.

And there you have it – the learnings, the synopsis and the review – all in one tidy-ish document. This document contains 1,629 words. This is ~ 37 short of the daily quota, just to give you a feel for what 1, 667 words / day feels like.  And so to fairly check the daily quota box, I would write 37 more and then I sing a little tune, “fa la la la la la la la la”.  What? La is a word. In French, anyways. And that is how one gets to 1,667 words per day. 1,678.

Thank you and good night.