I am thankful — truly, completely, and totally thankful — that I did not need to brave Black Friday shopping crowds and the post-Thanksgiving weekend shopping crowds in order to do holiday shopping for my family and friends. I am thankful that I was able to drop my children off at school on Monday morning after such a hubbub, and take myself to a very uncrowded mall, shop, and not even have to wait in order to check out. I am thankful that if indeed I did spend more today than I might have at 4:00 a.m. on Friday (or worse, 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Thursday) I could afford to do so – for the sake of my own sanity and comfort.
I even enjoyed my Philly cheese steak and regular fries at the mall’s food court, where I ate, not rushed, and in peace.
It’s the little things in life . . .
Number five of my homages to Jane Austen and my quest to have certain incomparable truths become universally acknowledged.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that if one leaves one’s husband home with one’s children while going to shop for groceries and run other sundry errands, one will receive no fewer than ten phone calls while one is out: asking where various items in the house are located, when one will be home from said errands, and what types of junk food will one be purchasing to bring home to children who seem to be, curiously, starving to death.
“IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” (Pride & Prejudice)
Gentle reader: nothing would give me, your humble servant, greater pleasure than reading your own truths in the comment area that follows.
As the summer goes on, I begin to lose creativity. I think it might have something to do with being with my kids all day long.
So far my 7 year old has already uttered three “I’m bored’s.”
So, first I had her help me apply flea and tick control on the dogs – the stuff you put in a streak down their back. Then the dogs promptly rolled in the dirt, so now they both have dirty lines down their back.
Then I had her get out some sidewalk chalk and get creative. Of course, she called to me every two minutes to come see what new thing she had drawn.
Then I located a kit of Egyptian hieroglyph rubber stamps, with which she is now creating. Well, with which she is now covering herself with Egyptian hieroglyph ink designs.
Meanwhile, 11 year old has not stopped playing FreeRealms on her computer since she got up at 10:30 or so.
I am trying to write and edit. It’s not going so well.
I wish I’d written this post.
Oh well, at least I can share it with you.
Those of you with or without children, enjoy.
Ah, the family that fiddles with portable electronics together…um…stays together?
I’m waiting on my daughters’ music lessons (one guitar, one piano) and while we wait, elder daughter to my right has her ear buds in and is listening to her iPod; younger daughter to my left is playing Super Dynamite Fishing on her Kindle Fire…while I blog on my laptop. *sigh* What have we become?
I guess if younger daughter were actually READING something on her Kindle, that would be cool. But as it is, she’s playing some odd redneck fishing game. And I guess if older daughter were listening to classical music, or some other brain-stimulating genre, rather than Katy Perry or Selena Gomez, that would also be cool….but, alas…..
And me? What’s my excuse? I don’t have one. At least I’m writing, right? I’ve said before that’s easier to blog than write fiction. I’ve been a funk on the fiction front lately. I’m hoping that when they actually start their lessons and aren’t distracting me I can squeeze in a half-hour of creativity. Hoping. Wish me luck!
(Answer: I can write about it.)
I am home with a sick little girl today. She caught her daddy’s wretched stomach virus. My hands are positively chafed from the extremely frequent hand-washings. I hope that the preventive measures work and I don’t get what they have.
Whenever I can’t find inspiration inwardly in my writing, all I really have to do is look at and engage in the world around me and write it into my work. Like last night, I had a plot vacancy and couldn’t seem to fill it in my YA fantasy, and along came a news story online about a 900 year old saint’s heart stolen in Ireland. Bam! That worked for me. It plugged the hole in my story. I needed a crime and there was a great one; I didn’t even have to pull it out of my imagination. I merely adapted it. Sometimes you just can’t make stuff like that up.
So now as I ponder what to have happen to my characters, and my day is looking to be filled with tending to a sick child, it seems only natural that, in between caring for her, I write about one of my characters falling ill.
There is mention of prior illnesses in the book I’m writing. It occurred to me today that I’ve already mentioned the deaths of three peripheral characters – whoops, make that four. Since my story is taking place in a medieval-esque setting, I suppose that’s not unusual. Surviving to an old age was a rarity, not the norm. But I’ve always been the gal who gets annoyed at popular fairy tales that kill off the heroine’s mother and sometimes father too. It’s too typical, and yet, I’ve gone and done it. I must have had a reason for it. Why is her mother dead? Is her death pivotal to the story, or did I just kill her off to get the heroine on her own, to make for a more exciting read? The short answer is, yes, of course it’s pivotal. The long answer, is, yes, it’s pivotal – and will become much more so as the story moves on. Perhaps even becoming an issue in a potential sequel to the book I’m writing now.
I was so proud of myself. I wrote an outline for this book. I thought I knew the key plot points ahead of time, and I wrote them all down before I began writing. But now? Well now, these characters’ stories have gotten far more complicated. And the plot has become a layering of stories that I hadn’t originally intended, but I like them all the same. So, the people who have died thus far or have died before the beginning of the story, have died not just to leave the main character orphaned and vulnerable, but also because they, in their deaths, have a story to tell that explains key plot points down the story’s road.
And the illness that one of my characters is going to suffer from, will be but a taste of whatever it was that killed those peripheral characters.
Morbid, huh? My daughter’s not that sick. Nor was my husband over the weekend – although you would not have known he was not dying from all the moaning he did. (Doctors make terrible patients, FYI.)
Well, there is my morning ramble. I guess what I’m saying is, even if you’re writing fantasy, write what you know. Infuse your story with bits of reality, things others cannot help but relate to.
In the kitchen windowsill sit two large green plants.
Plant #1 is a sprawling lemon basil that my seven-year-old planted and has tended with me since last Spring. It is doing well and has thrived these many months, even when we nearly killed it at one point last summer. She had poured water onto its base with a little too much force and cut its stem, knocking it over. She thought it was going to die for sure, and shed real tears over it. But I used toothpicks as splints and wrapped it up with scotch tape, and it survived and continued growing. Its girth is held up now with a bamboo cooking skewer and a twist tie. It reminds me a bit of Nearly Headless Nick, still riding, head still (barely) attached, but unlike Nick, this plant LIVES! I pinch off leaves about once a week or so for use in cooking. It adds flavor and aroma to our meals and even just to the air when you walk by it. That lemon basil plant is a blessing and a highlight of the kitchen.
Plant #2 is a tall pepper plant, so tall that it too needs a bamboo skewer-stake. For months this thing just kept getting taller and bloomed and bloomed with no peppers to show for it, save for the first one I got off of it when I got the plant originally, from a friend. I couldn’t recall whether or not it needed to be pollinated with another pepper plant. I tried pollinating its blooms with itself – kind of creepy if you consider that, actually – by rubbing its blooms together. I’m not sure if that did the trick, but eventually a pepper did show up. I hadn’t even known it was there until my daughter pointed it out to me. It had been hiding behind a leaf in the back of the plant. Now, we’re just waiting for the pepper to ripen. It gets a big bigger every day, but the blasted thing stays green! I know that this pepper is supposed to ripen up to red because it has produced one other pepper before. I picked that pepper myself, when I obtained the plant. You would not believe the anticipation that is building up in my daughter and me in waiting for that pepper to turn red!
I compare both of these plants to my writing right now. At times over the past year and a half, since I’ve started this career as a writer, I’ve encountered set-backs, some of which have seemed too daunting to overcome, some just minor. At times the work I produce seems flavorful and a welcome addition to my life. At times it seems, well, fruitless.
Yesterday was a big learning day for me. I learned that my first novel just isn’t ready yet. It’s just like the green pepper – filled with promise, but needs quite a bit of ripening Proactively, I have heard back from agents and other writers, so I know what it needs to ripen, and I have taken all kinds of notes on what to do to make it ready. (It involves much, much pruning and possibly some staking.) Meanwhile, I have learned much already from my freshman novel experience. I have learned better how to connect, and connect faster, with readers. I have learned that each “scene” I write must have an immediate feed into the climax. A novel is like life on miracle-gro. Each moment of a character’s life on paper needs to move quickly and with strength towards its fruitful phase. I have so many moments of blossoms in my first book, and the story demands to be fed to others, so I won’t be giving up on it. I think that it will be easier for me to tighten its story line up and make it a very good novel, than it was to write it in the first place.
As for my second novel, the one I am in the process of creating now, it is benefiting from its “big sister’ – which is how I’m starting to consider my books, like two other daughters of mine. My eleven year old daughter, who some of you may know, is my “beta-reader” for it, is really getting into it. We read the newest chapter last night. I warned her that this chapter didn’t have as much action in it as the one we had read a couple of days ago, and therefore she might not like it. I was prepared to have to go back to the drawing board on it, but, in fact, I think it worked out beautifully. She laughed several times. She was engaged. I nearly cried. I was doing it right. I know this, because in so many avenues of our life, this daughter and I cannot properly connect. I can’t seem to cook the right food for her picky palate. I can’t get her to do chores. (Not surprising, since I don’t really do them either). I can’t always get her to be respectful of me. I have to take her ipod away on a regular basis. I have to turn the tv off to get her to go outside and feed the dogs. She sasses me most of the day. But at night, curled up together in bed, with her looking over my shoulder at my laptop, as I read from the manuscript I am writing, she connects with what I’m trying to say. She is invested in the characters and their ongoing story. She has strategies and suggestions. She is a tremendous help. She helps my book to grow, blossom, and bear fruit.
I cannot garden or write alone in a vacuum.