Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Where is Your Writing Seat?

(I'm endeavoring to get back to business. More about writing, less about personal. It seems since my vacation over a month ago, my mind has been unfocused and full of cob webs and it's flowing into this blog. Time to clean those suckers out!)

I remember reading that Stephen King mainly wrote in an office in his home. Once he became well published, he bought a very expensive and heavy desk. He didn't like it. I think this was in the middle of his affair with drugs. He got rid of it. Then, more recently and after his accident (where a truck ran him down while he was out for his daily walk) he wrote in a side area of the laundry room. He needed his wife close by.

I tend to write wherever the heck I am when I have the time. That's a function of being a parent and a writer, I am sure. It can be in the car while my daughter takes her riding lessons, in the car while she takes ballet class (if my son is not with me which rarely happens), at my desk in the kid's playroom (only really works when no one is home!), at the kitchen counter when the playroom gets boring or at one of my local coffee shops.

Most are pretty productive places but honestly, I prefer the legal pad at the coffee shop. I am more productive when I am not at home because there are no undone chores calling my name. My favorite spot right now while the weather is nice is outside a cafe on Main Street that I can walk to where it is unlikely I will not see someone I know.

Today a stranger asked me why I had no child in my stroller (well, mam, because he is at school). I had walked my daughter to her elementary school, my son to preschool and myself to get some joe. Can't get better than that! The long haired coffee guy even loaned me a pen. That's the only drawback to writing on the go; forgeting your favorite pencil!

If my husband and I ever make it back to Amsterdam, I will definately do some writing at one of their many qaint cafes like the one pictured above!

Where is your favorite spot? What places provide the best environment for your productivity? Do you require a silent atmosphere or caotic? A comfy chair or a harsh one? Are your kids running around or do you only write while they are at school or napping? Do you prefer ultimate comfortable clothing (like my uniform of yoga pants and flops) or are you showered and professionally attired? If you're showered and attired, you're admired. :) (Couldn't help myself)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Welcome, Little Nephew

It's been a while since I have posted anything and I'm feeling rather guilty. But, I just haven't had anything to write about. Does that happen to other people? My mind has been so wrapped up in my WIP that I haven't been able to make it think of anything else.

Then, and this is a great excuse, I became an aunt for the first time! My favorite and only sister had a boy on Thursday evening. She called at 2:30 a.m. to say she was heading to the hospital. She had been having contractions for 24 hours at that point. She'd even went to school that day to teach. I slipped on some comfy clothes and headed out the door to Winchester, Va. which is about an hour away. 20 hours later, my little nephew took his first breath and I was in awe. Of many things.

Of my sister and her determination to have a natural childbirth. She never really bit our heads off, not even her husband. Well, there was one time when he was trying to get her to not push and he put his finger in her face, telling her to "blow out the candle". She swatted at him telling him to get it away.

Then, after about two hours where her husband and I hardly took a potty break because her contractions were so fierce and close, her nurse told her she was only 7 centimeters. I thought all three of us were going to ask for drugs!!!

She simply said, "IWantDrugs, IWantThemAll, GiveThemToMeRightNow!". She got an i.v. first to see if that would take the edge off before she completely gave up. When that did nothing but make her loopy she yelled, "IWantAnEpidural, GiveItToMeRightNow," The nurse responded, "He will be here in just a minute," to which she replied, "NoRightNowIWantItRightNowGiveItToMeRightNowICanNotTakeThisAnyMore!!" as her possessed head moved from side to side as another damn contraction came!

The best part were all the cell phones lying on one of those tables that is supposed to resemble one you would have in your living room. Cell phones didn't seem to be as prevalent 7 years ago when I had my first. But, so many times, I would be providing updates by texting or talking with a family member or perhaps one of my sister's friends and she would begin a contraction. She would yell, "Get off the phone and help me, please!" She was so polite, saying thank you and please.

This was pre-epi. Post-epi, she was the one talking on the phone and saying, "Oh, yeah, why, I am having a contraction right now. And, look, it seems to be a big one. Ha Ha."

I'm all for the natural way. In foods, clothing, aromatherapy, etc. but when it comes to your first childbirth, bring it on, baby!

After what I think was almost 2 hours of pushing, that little head came out. And, my sis helped pull him out and lay him on her belly. After the entire day of struggling, then hours of pushing and coaching and cheering, the little buger was there. And, it was the best thing this side of pregnancy, I can ever imagine witnessing. To see your sister, your best friend, bring a child into the world, a child you will love and know and help raise, a child who will be your children's best friends (and who they will inevitably corrupt!) can not be explained. At least not by a novice writer as myself.

His little body, his small but strong cry, my sister's expession of love loaded with relief that he was perfect and beautiful, my brother-in-law's tears and my dad's pride will never fade from my memory. And, my mom. Who had been there for the entire thing even though she still has little strength from her liver transplant. Who was determined to see her grandson's first breath after witnessing both my kids' first. My mom who had almost left us when that little stinker was only 3 mos in the uterus. He had been with us, in my sister's belly, when we all were at UVA pulling Mom through the worst thing in her life. Mom looked at her newest grandson and said and I quote,

"Oh, what you have yet to go through in your life! God help you," and then she balled!

And, I got it on camera! What a great shot!

I say to my little nephew, "Oh what wonderful things you will go through in your life. What trials you will put your parents through. God help US! :)"

Because isn't that the irony of childbirth? They put you through hell to only smile and make you cry with joy!

Here's to you little nephew. I can't wait to see you grow!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why Does Football Have to Ruin the Fall?

As football season officially began yesterday (at least for my household!)with the loss by the now very disappointing Redskins (please don't let it be another year of this!), I thought I'd post a column that I wrote which ran in my local paper, The Fauquier Democrat some time ago.

Win One for Me, Coach Gibbs, Please!

Autumn is here. The best season, in my opinion. Our area boasts unparalleled scenery at every turn. The apple orchards are ripe for the picking. My pantry is stuffed with all the spices for making apple butter, applesauce and apple pie. The weather is crisp, perfect for a cozy sweater and a fire. The best time of year.

Except, it’s football season. And, if your husband is a football fan, and you are not, it can be a challenging season. And, if your team is not winning, it’s going to be a depressing one. Monday mornings after a Sunday loss, oh please honey, work is calling you.

The entire week is spent looking forward to Sunday. But, it doesn’t start on Sunday. Oh no, it begins on Monday! Sonny Jergenson and George Michael meet with Joe Gibbs. What went wrong the day before? What will they do to win next weeks’ game? Who was injured, who was benched? Why did this play fail, Coach? Then, on Saturday night, it’s the Redskins Report with the same two sports critics but add two, Michael Wilbon and John Riggins. And after that, it’s the Joe Gibbs Show.

By Saturday, I’m exhausted. Even an ex-high school cheerleader who knew nothing about football can now name at least 5 players. I’m eager for Sunday just to get it over, but alas, it’s only Saturday and college football will be on today. All day.

Before my husband and I got married, my husband’s grandmother told me I should learn to love football. She took up the hobby when she married. I tried. But, who can sit and watch as two teams fight over a ball when there is laundry, lunches to be made, kids to bathe, dinner to make or just a good book sitting on your bedside table? Unfortunately for my husband, not me.

However, fortunately for my husband, he now has our two-year old son. I think the little tyke was screaming for a Redskins victory while still in the uterus. He owns three Redskins outfits, one being his favorite. Each morning, his first words are “can I wear my Ridkins outfit?” This is uttered as I am walking into his room before he has gotten out of bed or had his diaper changed. When I reply that no, he cannot wear his Redskins outfit again today, he is not happy. He repeats the question numerous times.

The inquisition does not stop until I have managed to coerce him into getting dressed, in regular clothing. Then we must choose a hat, not his own Redskins hat, but one of his father’s four team hats. Which one will my son chose today? Not sure yet. It’s a fifteen-minute debate.

And, then there is the outside world, full of Redskins paraphernalia. Let me say, I cannot go into any of the grocery stores without my son yelling, at the top of his lungs, there is a Redskins balloon within his sight. Now, everyone turns to stare at the cute kid who loves the hometown team. But, they get to leave the store. I have to stay and for the entire visit, it is all about that balloon. Or, perhaps there is another patron doting a team shirt. Well, if my son could eject himself from the shopping cart, he would stalk that person and try to convince him the shirt was his.

Recently, while in the express checkout lane, my son asked the customer behind us if he could have his Redskins hat. “Can I have your Ridkins hat?” Well, the gentleman took it as a compliment until my son immediately let the gentleman know he was not pleased that he could not have the hat with his team on it.

So, if you see my son and I in the store and you are doting our teams’ logo, I suggest you run for it. If it is game day, you’ll see us coming a mile away. He’ll be wearing that polyester Ridkins outfit with matching socks and cap and yelling, “go Ridksins!”

My husband did not do this to my son. He is enjoying it though. Except, on Sundays when my son asks if the Redskins are going to blow it again. I cringe, because I know there is that possibility and Monday morning will not be pleasant. So, please Coach Gibbs, pull out a win. And, make it a good one. Do it for me. And, to my future daughter-in-law, I sincerely hope you are a fan.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Did You Read Over the Holiday?

It's review time. I have been reading constantly but can't seem to keep up with the blog reviews! These books were recently released:

You Know Where to Find Me is Rachel Cohn's newest YA novel. It's a great story centered around a character drawn to be a misfit of sorts. What she turns out to be is the tough heroine who knows she is not going to follow in her cousin's path and take her own life. Not a particularly uplifting tale and yet I instantly became entrenched in Miles' life. She is edgy, witty and sarcastic. On her blog, Ms. Cohn describes her book as a "warm, uplifting book about grief, suicide, depression and DC statehood." I'd say that just about covers it. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

The Goodbye Time is a middle-grade novel by Celeste Conway. Anna is graduating 5th grade and there are many other changes happening in her life all at once. She and her best friend are straddling those awkward years between being a kid who plays with toys to worrying about what boy you think is cute. Ms. Conway handles this hurdle very well.

I'll be checking out these authors previously written works! Hope everyone had a nice holiday.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I Vow to Love My Writing Until it is Finished

I am beginning to think writing is a little like marriage. Currently, I'm working on a project I am calling The Companion. I found what I believe to be a great story idea and character. I met that character at a party. Baby shower to be exact but there was plenty of wine flowing so I'd say it was a party.

She and I talked for several weeks until I decided I couldn't be okay without her. I couldn't and didn't really want to push her from my head. So, I commited to tell her story.

I began researching and developing the story and I met all her family and friends. I began writing a few opening paragraphs, testing the waters.

Then, I got cold feet! Now, I think she's mad at me. I started to question whether I could handle this story. Was I capable of telling her story and doing it justice? I didn't think I could go through with it and I began doing everything without her.

I started editing Homer and Rosie, AGAIN! I began piddling around, not focusing and running around on her. Now, I'm feeling really guilty. She's a great character and she has a great life story. I need to tell it. But, I can't find her. She left me and now I'm unsure how to find her!

Any advice?


Down and Out
My character is lost!