Category Archives: Month in Review

Just Focus on Doing the Next Thing — September 2019 Month in Review

*Peeks head out of hole*

Did we make it?

Are we in October?

*looks around*

Ah. Greetings, you apple-pickers, you plaid-wearers, you imbibers of spiced coffee drinks.

We made it.

Shoo, September, you summer wanna-be, talking out of both sides of your mouth. Oh! Fresh beginnings – many of them, and you’re already behind! Oh, it’s fall! Still 90 degrees out, but now you can’t necessarily prance about in a bathing suit for some reason.

Come into my warm embrace, October! Bring your slight chill, your moodiness, and your utter dearth of seasonal optimism. I shall enjoy your Halloween and its ample irony and nougat.

I tell the kids throughout the September grind to “just focus on doing the next thing.” That’s what September is. Thirty frenzied days of focusing on doing the next thing. October loosens the strap.  We’re in a sort-of groove and/or have begun to KonMari that which just won’t work.

September makes me feel like a grump. October…also makes me feel like a grump, but the alignment is better. Grumps in September are vilified. Grumps in October receive the emotional equivalent of the trucker wave. We hold grumpy space for each other.

(Grumps go into hiding in December.)

I’m finally able to really focus on the writing again – summer is a bust for the necessary shedding that is writing/rewriting/editing. Summer was better for research and requisite self-flagellation over not writing.

I’ve been eyeballs-deep in research about fascism, which is a part of my (dark, yes?) comedy novel. It’s been upsetting and imparted a sense of urgency to the work.

The final phase in research and prep before cracking open the draft and skinning it alive is sitting down with my characters and finding out what makes them tick.

As this is the first time I’ve written a book, I am simultaneously trying to figure out the book itself and also how to write it. Probably for the next go-around, I will outlining and fully develop characters before launching into a draft. (Planner v. Pantser: Planner Victorious), but I don’t consider what I’ve been doing for the last year to be a waste of time or ineffective, which is more merciful than I usually am with myself.

My characters are weirdos and I love them all in their glorious pandemonium. I love my Wicca artist-activist. I love my smart-assed radio producer. I love my passive-aggressive, dumb-dumb neighborhood nemesis. I love my completely power-ravenous antagonist. I love my awkward, screwy, self-sabotaging, self-conscious yet reckless protagonist. Getting to spend time with them every day is a joy and a complete pain in the ass. I’d hang with them IRL.

I should probably work on cultivating more real-life friendships, though, because I prefer to fill a booth when I go out with friends, rather than a seat at the bar.

My biggest fear is that the writing won’t be at the level it deserves, that, in a weird way, I won’t reach my potential. It can be paralyzing, but something that is tamed by rolling up my sleeves and going one paragraph at a time, one writing session at a time.

And embracing the inner grump.

*pops back down into hole*

Highlights from September

Succession is about as far from Biggest Little Farm but both are worth your while if you like to cringe and laugh and cry.

Speaking of cringing and crying, this article about young girls’ insecurity is a must-read. 

October is my favorite month of the year, and I hope yours brings you lots of things to conquer, hugs, and a need to get a booth when you go out with friends.

And nougat.

Ice Cream, Tom Cruise’s Face, and Other Melty Things — August 2019 Month in Review

June melts into blissful firefly nights. July is sticky freedom.

August? August is reflection and anticipation: Did we do enough? Have the kids been appropriately bored? Were they given enough freedom to make terrible yet harmless choices? Did we use our time well, including not using it at all? Did we chase the ice cream truck enough? Are they happy?

What makes my kids happy and what makes me happy often swerve and loop towards and away from one another, although my kids’ happiness overall contributes to mine and vice versa. We’re a family after all and love makes happiness contagious. Also, there’s the chestnut that you’re only as happy as your unhappiest kid at any given moment, so there’s that.

Overall, 2019 provided us enough adventure, learning, and laziness to satisfy everyone’s pallet, although definitely not enough ice cream truck chasing.

The goal, as I told the kids before school started up again, is to keep the summer sense of adventure and play throughout the year. To be sure, this is markedly more challenging without large chunks of empty space in our daily calendar, which makes it all the more necessary.

This summer, I read two books about immortality  –  Circe and Eternal Life. Then I read Almost Everything, which deals with mortality. All three good reads in very different ways. The common bond among the three books is the message that mortality is good. Deep stuff for summer.

Olio Live, performed selections from the Pulitzer-Prize winning Olio, is a brilliant, challenging, and thoroughly satisfying listen. I hope to get my hands on the book and experience the complete works in print form.

Also got to read along with my youngest as she tackled Harry Potter. She needed some guidance with the Britishisms and keeping track of minor characters. We sat side by side and read to ourselves, with her asking questions as they arose. The introduction into the magic of that world is truly one of the things I love most about parenting. I had the same experience with one of my twins several years ago. The other twin never took to Harry Potter, although he appreciates it. This is the same way I feel about Shakespeare, which is near heresy for an English major and former English teacher.

We watched a few of the Mission Impossible movies again, starting with the most recent (not great) and working backward (better). We’ll probably watch the remainder of them in coming weeks.  Watching backwards is not really prohibitive, and prevents viewer disappointment. Plus Tom Cruise’s face grows more normal.

I
Go from this…
Image result for tom cruise mission impossible ghost protocol
to this!

 

My writing clicked along. I learned I might have aphantasia  which means I don’t see images in my mind, and certainly don’t create mental movies when I write. It makes things harder, especially writing description. I’ve always skipped over long descriptions in books because, well, they seemed kind of pointless. Just say they’re in a dungeon. I get the general concept. Move on. I don’t need to read about every nook, bat, and drip of water. That means nothing to me. Writing a novel forces me to approach description with care. I think my lack of a traditional mind’s eye can actually be an asset, a pipeline to keeping description adequate while moving the story along.

Here are some highlights of what I liked on the internet this month:

Some changes to the website in design and content coming in the next few months…looking forward to it all!

Happy September!

Ready to Burst — July 2019 Month in Review

Buried under ketchup-smeared faces and the haze of multiple applications of sunscreen is the suppressed sorrow of July’s end.

August, once a time of overheated laziness, is still a time for yes, but the yesses now feel pushed by impending schedules and starts. There is a preemptive nostalgic ache for idle moments, although they’ve not come to pass. Continue reading Ready to Burst — July 2019 Month in Review