Diggy Diggy Hole: February 2020 Month in Review

Earlier this week, we began construction on an addition to our house. Short term, it means a new office for me, and a sunroom and deck for the family. Middle-to-long term, it will help with resale when the time comes to move my little band of mischief-makers.

There are a lot of unknowns, unexpecteds, and uncontrollables.

What I do know is that it will be worse before it gets better. It starts with plans, then big holes and piles of dirt. There’s a lot of digging and noise as, piece by piece and in the correct order, things are built. The only thing absolutely guaranteed is that there will be delays and problems that must be dealt with in a timely fashion and without panic before the work is done.

Oh, eagle-eyed reader, you see where I’m going with this.

Hole with some weird cool reflections from inside the house.

My already thrice-revised plan was for my book to be in a beta reader’s hands was early June. I’m now pushing that off to the end of August for a few reasons. First was that February saw the flu decimate my family…not all at once, but one at a time. There were sick people in my house from mid-January until, well, still today. That pulls focus, to say the least.

Second, I have some holes to dig and some foundation still to pour in the work. I’ve been trying to build a house on tightly packed sand and it’s not holding. Also, while I have a solid story, I have some structural issues, pacing issues, and character issues that need to be addressed before I can slap a coat of paint on the thing and call it done.

I could use one of these for editing and/or toddling around town.

While I’m discouraged that I’ve hit the point where people are saying, “Oh, you’re still writing that?” I like knowing what needs to be done. It’s hard work and it’s painful to face the deep dives and likely rewriting of entire swaths of the book in the months ahead. However, I’m optimistic the book will actually get done sooner rather than later. Maybe the final “The End” will be written in my new, beautiful office.

Or, barring that, here:

Meanwhile:

February Highlights.

  • It hasn’t been much of a TV/movie watching month, as I’m trying to read and knit during my precious down time, but I am glad Better Call Saul and Last Week Tonight are back on. Also impressed with The Windsors series on CNN. These days, though, I’m falling asleep the second the kids trot off to bed, so not a lot to report on.
  • It has, however, been a good month for reading. I’m in the middle of many books right now, three or four for research for my novel, either writing guidance or historical background for plot. That’s a little crazy. I try to have one audiobook going at any time that I listen to as a “reward” when I do housework.
  • Last month I listened to and enjoyed very much Brene Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability. She’s hilarious, engaging, and brilliant, as evidenced by her ability to present her research in clear, easy-to-understand, relatable terms. There were times I had to turn off the audiobook because I was crying. I’ve never had what Oprah called “Aha moments!” but there were shit tons of them in this one. I am definitely parenting differently (better?) because of this book, and am treating myself with a lot more kindness than before listening. Can’t ask for much more than that from a six-hour audiobook.
  • I finished Philip Roth’s intense The Human Stain. The writing, as per usual with Roth, is gobsmackingly good. Also, as per usual with Roth, the characters are generally unlikeable and it felt as though Roth was working through a lot of his own personal shit through his characters. But *shrug* I get that more and more these days. It’s brilliant, the type of book that makes me wish I’d started writing for real back when I was in my early twenties. Perhaps by this point in my life I’d be…better? Further along? Less neurotic? Good? Less self-conscious about the whole process? Eh…now I am sounding like a tertiary Roth character.
  • A weird thing happened when I read How to Bless the New Moon (a beautiful book of poetry by Rachel Kann). I found a passage that I want to have read at my funeral. My husband side-eyed me when I, perhaps too-excitedly, shared this with him. The passage, profoundly how I want my life summarized, also functions as a sort of compass for how I want to live it as well. I won’t put it here (no spoilers!) but you’re all invited to the big reading…hopefully many years from now.

  • And to end on a thematic note:

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