Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I No Like That!

Courtesy of imagerymajestic
So, Little Man is approaching 3 years-old and he is no longer the cuddly, snuggly, giggly, bundle of toddler joy that once pitter-pattered through the house. He is tall and losing the "baby" look and he is sure footed, fast and able to reach things he shouldn't reach. He has also developed an opinion. Mainly his opinion is that he doesn't want to do or eat what we want him to do or eat. The happy, clapping, smiling angel has turned into a crying, stomping monkey. His favorite phrase has become "I no like that!"

A prime example of this occurred this weekend. Little Man wanted pizza for dinner. Pizza is/was one of his favorite foods. So, I made him pizza for dinner. I let it cool off so it wouldn't be "boo boo hot." I cut it and served it on his favorite plate. He came eagerly to the table, climbed in his chair, took one look at it and SCREAMED! "NO! I NO LIKE THAT!" Sigh. I have learned that the best way to deal with this is to just pick up his plate and put it aside. When he gets hungry, he'll come back for it or ask for something else. Basically, I ignore his outburst. It is short-lived and he does return to the funny Little Man he usually is.

I don't know what prompts him to have these sudden changes. Perhaps it's just a matter of his growing and changing. Perhaps he's testing me and his boundaries. Eventually, he will like something again. But truthfully, isn't this something that we do as adults? Without the tantrum, of course. Don't we look at our home decor and say, "We need a new sofa." Or, look in our closet and say, "I have nothing to wear." Or, stare into the refrigerator and say, "There's nothing to eat in the house." We may not use the exact words "I no like that," but the sentiment is the same. Perhaps we are growing and changing too. Perhaps we don't know exactly what we want at the moment and need more time to think about it. It's normal.

I'm experiencing this with some of the writing I've been doing. I go back and read something and "I no like that." I know that's part of the revising and editing process and I'm okay with that but still, I find it funny and ironic that something that was so dear to me a few weeks ago is now dissatisfying in some way. It's good. I'm growing and getting better and so is my writing.

When I get to the point of having an editor look at it I fully expect to find lots of red lines and circles and lots of "I no like that." That's what I want, I want to know what doesn't work so I can make it the best that it can be. So I can be the best I can be. In the meantime, I'll just eat the Little Man's pizza. I like that.

Friday, April 26, 2013

What Is It?

Photo by David Castillo
Ever been thinking about someone and suddenly they call? Or have you ever been somewhere you don't normally go and run into someone you haven't seen in a long time? It happens to me all the time. We call it coincidence or serendipity.

Paraphrasing my 1980 American Heritage Dictionary, coincidence is a series of events that appear to have a relationship and serendipity is the ability to make lucky discoveries. Personally, I believe that there's more Fate involved than events just appearing to be related or just luck. But then that's me. I prefer serendipity because it is active - you do something - whereas coincidence is passive - it happens to you. Serendipity is also more fun to say.

Recently, through coincidence, or serendipity, or fate, I have reconnected with an old friend, made a new friend and have met someone who volunteered to help me with editing my novel! Throughout my life coincidence, serendipity, or fate, has played a major role in bringing into my life wonderful people and experiences including my husband and if I go back far enough even the fact I exist is due to serendipity on my parents' parts. And that holds true for all of us.

William Shakespeare
Authors use serendipity in their writing to move along their storyline. The detective who stumbles upon that important clue, the heroine who meets her knight in shining armor or her finds her perfect career or her magical gift. Shakespeare wrote an entire play using coincidence, A Comedy of Errors. Which you must see performed to appreciate the physical humor.

How has coincidence worked in your life to move your storyline? What do you believe? Is it Fate? Coincidence? Or Serendipity?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Watching Grass Grow

Sometimes things seem to take a loooong time to finish. I don't know it it's a matter of actual time passing or if it's the interest the task holds. Like doing laundry. It doesn't take any time at all really to sort or to load the machines. But folding and putting it away seems to take an eternity during which Little Man plays "ball" with the eggs in the refrigerator or manages to download apps on my cell phone. Really, folding and putting away laundry takes only 5 to 10 minutes per load. It's nothing. Still, it seems like it takes a long time. Like watching grass grow.

Aside from raising our Little Man, our biggest project is fixing up our fixer-upper house. We've been in the house a year already and it seems like we haven't gotten enough done. Truth is we've accomplished quite a bit. And the house is livable so it's not like we're camped in the garage waiting for it to be finished. This month has been "Dining Room" month. We've hung crown molding on the lower ceiling and in the upper tray. We repaired dry wall, sanded and primed the walls twice. We (my husband) caulked the crown molding. Next we'll (he'll) install the medallion and paint the ceiling. Then it will be my turn to to take over and paint the walls and trim. It's exciting to think about the finished project and having our first dinner in our new dining room! It just seems like it takes soooo looong to get each piece done. Like watching grass grow.
Side yard after all the work.

We're also working on the outside of the house now that it's spring. We desperately need to improve the curb appeal. The BIGGEST eye-sore on the house (visible from the street) was the side yard. I wish I had a "before" picture. Picture if you can vines of various and unknown kinds tangled together, a privacy fence falling down, over grown mint, bulb plants planted haphazardly with no intention or plan and apparently handfuls of wildflower seeds strewn across the area. It took 2 weeks to weed, dig out stumps and bulbs and roots, and take down the fence. It was a veritable archaeological dig in which we found reading glasses, broken solar lights, bricks, brick edging and rail road ties. Finally, we raked it out and put down grass seed. So we are actually watching grass grow.

The thing is, that it's okay to take time to do things if you are doing things right. It's okay to take time to fold the laundry and put it away. That way it's not getting wrinkled in a pile or left out out all over the place. It's okay if it take a couple of years or more to get our home finished. It will be our home with our touches on it and done the way we want it. And it's okay if it takes time to get the gardens and yard looking good. When it's all said and done, we'll just sit back and watch the grass grow.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Breath of Life

Inspiration n. 1. Stimulation of the faculties to a high level of feeling or activity. 2. The condition of being so stimulated. 3. An agency, such as a person or a work of art, that moves the intellect or emotions. 4. Something that is inspired, as an idea or action. 5. Theology. Divine guidance or influence exerted directly upon the mind and soul of man. 6. The act of breathing in; inhalation. *

*American Heritage Dictionary 1980

Courtesy of Master Isolated Images
 Inspiration is something we all experience whether you’re an artist or a writer or a chef or an ordinary person. We may wake up with a GREAT IDEA for a new project or story or recipe or way to organized your closet and be eager to get started on it. It’s a great feeling. It’s a joyous feeling! It makes us gasp *gasp* with that aha moment.

What I wonder is where does inspiration come from? I can be reading a non-fiction historical novel and a paragraph will ring in my head as something I must save as an idea or jumping-off point for a fictional, futuristic novel I will write (it’s currently number 4 on my list). Or I can be wandering through the grocery store and spy an ingredient that will suddenly make it onto my grocery list and become the main entrĂ©e for dinner that night. Still, where does this inspiration come from? What makes that passage ring or that ingredient become necessary?

Courtesy of www.Humanityhealing.net
Because I have a strong faith, I’m going to suggest that inspiration is indeed Divine guidance, the breathing in of God’s breath. Inspired comes from the Latin origin of in spiritu. For you Catholics, you know this; you hear this every Sunday mass – in spiritu Sancti – the Holy Spirit. Perhaps our inspiration is God speaking to us, giving us joy, leading us to our purpose, filling us with His Holy Spirit. If you are a non-believer, then perhaps inspiration is an intellectual spark of connectivity – firing neurons. A spark that makes us say, “I get it!” or “that would work great!”

 Wherever inspiration comes from it is something we cannot ignore. It must be answered and fulfilled. It is our driving force, the impetus for us to get moving. The artist must break out the paints or clay searching for the correct medium, the writer must stare at that blank page forming the opening sentence, the chef must begin chopping.

For me, some days I stare at the blank page inspired but struggling with a beginning. Other days I’m inspired to do laundry or finger paint with my Little Man. What is your inspiration? What is your breath of life?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Almost Isn't A Bad Thing

So, looking around at my home (inside and out), my writing calendar, my hobby bag, and my chore list, I'm pleased to announce I almost got things done. I seem to have difficulty meeting deadlines these days and I'm not sure why. After all I am hyper organized and I make my lists of things to do, checking the tasks off as they are done. Still, most items remain in the "in progress" stage - almost done but not quite finished.

I am almost done knitting my sister's sweater. I have the back completed, the right front completed and I am 4 inches into the total length of 38 inches of the left front. I just haven't had an opportunity recently to sit and knit without sticky fingers wanting to touch it or dog fur flying around or an active toddler wanting to "help" knit. I will get it done and it will be beautiful and I know that if nothing else, it will be a sweater my sister's cats will sleep on. But right now it remains almost done.

I almost made my word count on the novel I'm writing now. I picked up the novel I interrupted to write Murder at the Primrose Inn, reread it and started breaking it into chapters. I have 35,000 words to it already and my goal was to read it, do the chapter breaks, and crank out another 1000 - 2000 words on it. I will get to do it and it will be a good story when it's done (I like it better than the other one anyway). But for now, it remains almost done.

The gardening that we were doing this weekend is also almost done. There are a few vines that need to be cut out and a little more weeding that needs to be finished and then we will need to rake out the area and toss down grass seed. It would have been finished yesterday but we called it on account of the rain and a broken shovel handle. It remains almost done.

Our fixer-upper house is always in a state of almost done. The family room is almost done - the cable box and DVD player need to be put on a shelf and the cords tied up. I believe the hubby is holding out for a larger TV so he'll know where to put this shelf. We are working on the dining room. And we actually finished hanging the crown molding! And my husband actually finished mudding the walls. It is almost in a state where it will be ready to paint and have the furniture moved back in. It will remain almost done until we get a new chandelier. I'm holding out for a crystal one. We have big-ticket-item-itis.

As far as my chores go - I did manage to get the grocery shopping done. This will give me a few days of peace before the males start opening the refrigerator and pantry and telling me there's nothing to eat in the house. Or as Little Man says "I no like that." But the straightening didn't get finished and the laundry didn't get started. But it almost did.

In the past, I never had a problem meeting deadlines. Term papers were on time, deadlines at work were met, and tasks I set for myself were completed. Then again, I didn't have a husband I wanted to share a glass of wine with at the end of the week or a Little Man who'd crawl into my lap to cuddle.  The important thing is I will finish that sweater, even if it's with Little Man in my lap. I will finish my second novel and I'll start a third. The house is something we are building together and that's what makes it a home. So maybe, almost isn't a bad thing.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spring Break?

Courtesy of koratmember
Here in Augusta, Spring Break coincides with The Master's Golf Tournament. Schools release and families flee the area to get away from the traffic. Some will rent out their houses for a little additional income. Having lived in the Orlando, FL area for close to twenty years, tourist traffic is of
no consequence to me. In fact, the "traffic" that these people refer to is NOTHING in comparison to Orlando near the theme parks.

What Spring Breaks means in our household is that Little Man is not in school and I have him for the whole week to entertain and keep busy and out of trouble. We have found a ton of things to do. Our week started with a play date with a new friend for both him and me. It was great fun to see him run and climb with a new
playmate! For me it was equally fun to talk with a mom who is closer to my own age, ahem, over
thirty-five. Even better, we share a similar background - being transplants to the area, growing up in the northeast, having been teachers, stay-home-moms now, later-in-life motherhood.

Courtesy of feelart
It's Master's Week so the area does provide a number of fun activities for the residence who have stayed and, of course, the visitors. The park down the street from us is hosting concerts at the amphitheater all week. Yesterday during the day was Family Fun Day and we walked up to play on the rides and see the activities. Last night we chose to stay home and watch the fireworks through the trees from our driveway. Or, as Little Man calls them, boom stars.

Courtesy of nappasinw

This is also attempt number 3 at potty training. This time I'm using the pants-free-zone method utilized by my sister-in-law. Yes, there have been a few accidents, but not many and not bad. He is at least making the connection between what he's doing and needing to be on the potty, even if it is an after thought. Little Man won't be 3 until July, and his school next year - which requires him to be potty trained - doesn't start until August so I still have 4 months to get it done.

The crown molding arrived so we can do more work on the redo of the dining room and on Saturday the dumpster comes so we can tear out the over growth in the yard. Yes, I will have to go outside. But I'm looking forward to the yard, at least the front yard, looking better.

It hasn't seemed like much of a "break" but then again, it has been fun. And by the end of the week, we will have accomplished more than I expected too.

What about my writing, you ask? Well, I'm still on break from Murder at the Primrose Inn before I start my editing. I am rereading the novel I have going with Emily and Bill and the psycho stalker (still untitled) so I can get back to writing it again, I have organized my writing notes and calendar and future ideas (even making notes on a novel that is germinating but still a ways away.) And editing for a couple of friends. I will finish those up before the dumpster comes. Enjoy your Spring Break!

Monday, April 8, 2013

What If...

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost
Courtesy of Papaija2008
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.
This has forever been one of my favorite poems. I guess because I have often wished I could travel two, or more, paths at the same time and I have always had a curiosity about the choices we make and the roads we take in life. Every day we face choices we have to make. Mostly these are the easy ones to make - toast or Cheerios, regular or decaf, stick to the diet or blow it off. Other times we face more difficult choices and we pause to think about them before making a decision - buy this car or that one, get a pet or not. And then there are the other life altering choices that we make - take this job or that one, move to another state or stay put. With each decision, or crossroad, we choose to take our lives in a certain direction. And for fun, because I'm a geek, sometimes I think about the other road. And because I'm a story-teller, I think about the life I might be leading had I made the different choice.
I have no regrets about the life I have so this in no way should be taken as a question of regret. I love my life and every decision I've made has put me on this path for which I'm very glad because I have a wonderful husband and a beautiful Little Man. Still, as a story-teller I can't help but to be a little curious. What if I had gone to a different college? What if I majored in something else? What if I had bought a different house? What if I had taken that vacation? What if I had gotten a different dog? What if I had taken a different job? Curiosity is a wonderful thing! And such fun!
Courtesy of thanunkorn

Then I start to think about a really cool story I could write about parallel universes and other cool things that take literary license by me and suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader. Sci-Fi isn't my genre but it would be such a fun exercise to do it. Maybe I will. Maybe I'll take this path. Or maybe not and I'll just think about it for a while.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I'm Done! No, Wait...

My novel!
So, on Tuesday, April 2nd at 6:34 PM I finished my novel Murder at the Primrose Inn (working title). So what does it mean to be finished? Does it mean my story is ready for print? I don't write anymore? My characters just disappear into the night? I go back to cooking and cleaning? Well, actually, no.

Now that the rough draft is done, it is time to begin revisions which means there will be additions where additions are needed and subtractions where subtractions are needed. There will be rewording, moving of sentences and paragraphs. Basically, rewriting the story in a cohesive, organized form that reads like a story rather than random thoughts. After the revisions comes the editing. Then Beta readers. Then revise and edit again. And then, maybe, it will be ready for print.

I am taking some time off before beginning to work anew on Murder at the Primrose Inn. I have to get away from my characters for a while. I miss them. Now that their story is told, their voices are quiet (okay, not so quiet. One of them keeps shouting "don't forget to add this!!"). It's bittersweet to just close the book on them, so to speak. During my break from this work, I will do some edits for a couple of friends, yes Amanda Harms and Allison Silver I promise to get to work on your stories! And, I will reopen my story of Emily and her BFF Bill and the psycho stalker that she doesn't know she has yet. I may put out a short story in there somewhere, I haven't written one in a while and I have a good one.

My characters, for the most part have gone on with their lives in the land of Make Believe. One or two of the minor characters may resurface in other stories. I have grown fond of them, after all. My main character, Walter Martin, will be a fixture in other stories and that's for sure. During the writing of Murder at the Primrose Inn I learned that Walter is indeed a complex character and he has at least four more stories to tell. I'm excited about those!

As for cooking and cleaning.... Well, I do like to cook, and eat. The cleaning part I never really did anyway so that will remain as it is. Why start something you have no intention of finishing? Why do anything that will just have to be redone again and again and again?

It's nice to say "I finished writing my novel." But I'm not really finished. As far as the other stories that need to be told.... I have just begun.