Category: Work

“I finished my book!”

dog love
dog love

Achievement yesterday: wrote all planned scenes in new book.
(Child: “Did you write THE END?” Me: “No, I don’t usually put that in.” Child: “You should!”)
Word total: 83,759.
I note this high water mark only to forget it.

Reality check today: back to the beginning, baby.
From here on in, word count is expected to reverse as I tighten, slash and burn, and sacrifice all of my favourite (aka: indulgent) sentences, paragraphs, and yes, even entire scenes.

Now it gets gritty.

When the kids arrived home from school yesterday, I said, “I finished my book!”

Cool. What’s for snack?

“Now I need to polish it. Then I’ll send it to my agent. She might want me to make some changes. I’ll make those changes. Then I’ll send it back to my agent. Maybe she’ll think it’s ready to go to the publisher. Maybe the publisher will like it. Or maybe they’ll want me to make some changes before offering me a contract. Then I’ll make more changes. Then maybe they’ll want me to sign a contract. Then I’ll start working with an editor. Then I’ll make a bunch more changes …” [note: children no longer listening]

Well. That kind of takes the fun out of celebrating a milestone, doesn’t it!

I should have poured myself a glass of wine instead.

But I had a lot of driving to do last night: older girl to swim practice followed by younger girl to soccer skills (sudden snow squall + commuter traffic = extra-long drive and extra-special driving swear words); home to shovel down supper; back to pick up swim girl, feed her en route, drop her at soccer practice; pick up younger girl and a friend, listen to amusing conversations between daughter and friend (“Watch out — my mom says bad words sometimes when she’s driving! Today she said, mm-hmm mm-hmmm!” [no translation, thankfully] “That’s okay. My mom and dad do that sometimes too.”); send Kevin out for final pickup while putting little kids to bed.

So I didn’t celebrate with a glass of wine.

Instead, after all was said and done, I left the dishes, and sipped a cup of tea, made with mint leaves harvested from our own backyard, and sat on the couch with Kevin and the dogs. It was Kevin’s Valentine’s wish for us. Isn’t he the best?

Today, I renew my commitment to this book.

The Girl Runner!

Long may she run. And may I have the grit, energy, and determination to bring her story into book-shaped form.

Going for broke

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New words written yesterday: 1,293.
Words in book, total: 83,139.
New scenes written: 2.
New scenes written that I hadn’t planned on writing: 1.
Scene left painfully half-done due to the call of parenting (and piano lessons): 1.

Emotions: high.

*

A reader left a comment on yesterday’s post sending me joy, which had been her meditation word for the day. First let me say that I love the concept of a meditation word. I tried it out at yoga this morning. The instructor suggested “love,” (it is Valentine’s Day), but I kept coming back to joy.

When I lay down for my morning nap, I wanted to say thank you, though I don’t know exactly why, to my great-grandparents, only one of whom was still alive when I was born — my great-grandma Ida, from whom I inherited my red hair. She passed away in the month following my birth, but I’m told she held me in her arms and acknowledged the arrival of another red-headed relation.

So as I drifted into sleep, I thought of each of these eight blood ancestors by name, men and women who gave me the genetic code that is uniquely mine. I am older by five years than two of them got to be, though others were long-lived. I thought particularly of my namesake, Carrie Anne, who died in her early 30s. I thought of the difference between my life and hers. I thought of the freedoms that I have had in comparison to the strictures of her life. I wonder if by expressing joy in the life I am given, I am thanking my ancestors for the unknown gifts and sacrifices their own lives contained.

A friend and I were discussing sacrifice yesterday. I said that I don’t believe in sacrificing myself — martyring myself — although I know that circumstances don’t always allow us to choose. But if we have the choice, I think it does nobody any good to behave in ways that are sacrificial. I don’t mean that we should never give of ourselves, not at all. Looking in at those early years with my children, one could imagine a great deal of sacrifice going on — all that breastfeeding, those interrupted nights, those days spent walking blearily around the block. But that was no sacrifice. I chose it, and I loved it, and I received in return so much from it. I was not diminished or depleted by giving of myself.

And so I ask:
Are you doing things that you don’t enjoy?
Can you find ways to enjoy them?
If not, can you change what you are doing?
If not, can you ask for help? Can you find someone to talk to? Can you change one small habit and see what ripple effect it may have?

*

Goal for today: 1,000 words.
Finish half-done scene and explore changing location of final scene.

Smile … and GO!

Just the stats

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my office: picture me behind that window

Words written yesterday: 2,421.
(includes 674 words written last night after I should have been in bed)
Word total for book: 81,861.

Happy dances: 0.
High fives: 0.
Early morning run with friend: 1.

Scenes left to write: 3.
Scenes left to rewrite: 3.

Piano lessons to ferry children to: 2.
Swim practice to ferry child to: 1.
Soccer practice involving husband and son: 1.

Supper plan: ?
a) noodle soup
b) hummus with ?
c) pasta with red sauce

Emotions: clouded.

Because: I’ve been here before, on the precipice of done.
Because: I know that done does not equal done.
And yet: I’ve brought this book this far.
That’s something.

I honour the effort.

Word goal for today: 1000.

And … GO!

Truth, Dare, Doubledare: Woot!

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science presentation, in progress

*

News to report: I have an essay in the just-announced anthology, Truth, Dare, Doubledare: Stories of Motherhood, a book conceived, curated, and edited by Kerry Clare of Pickle Me This, one of my favourite Canadian book blogs. Read more about the deal here. Other contributers include Heather Birrell, Alison Pick, Zoe Whittall, Marita Dachsel, and my friend Deanna McFadden, whom I first met at the University of Toronto in a grad class called Restoration Women Writing. (Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure we took another class together called Victorian Women Reading, which seems oddly symmetrical).

This anthology is going to be an excellent collection of work, guaranteed. I just can’t wait to read it myself. I also suspect the launch party will be memorable.

Now the bad news: The pub date is Spring, 2014, so we’ll all have to be patient until then.

*

Somehow I lost an hour off of my work day, and I’m not sure where it went. Vanished. I was supposed to be sitting down at my desk at 10am, and it’s very nearly 11. I did drive a large posterboard (pictured above) up to the school for the boy who has a science presentation today (yes, I drove the posterboard, not the child). That took up about 14 minutes. There was a load of laundry. The dogs kept wanting to go in and out of the back yard. But I’m pretty sure the time-sucker was email.

Messages replied to this morning: 12.

Book clubs I will be visiting in the next two weeks: 3.

Social outings I attended yesterday: 2.
involving coffee: 1
involving beer: 1

Words written in new book yesterday: 388.
goal for today: 1000.
which would bring the total word count to: 80,000.

*

And …. GO!

The vague urge to slow down

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Woke up yesterday to this: silvery wonderland, trees covered in what I remember being called hoar-frost. I walked the dogs, then came home for the camera. By noon, or sooner, the long white shards had melted off the branches.

*

I had the urge to slow down this weekend. It didn’t happen, but I wondered whether I might find a way to shift my habits and routines, even just a little bit, in order to allow myself to alight in the moment, and rest. I alight in many moments. It’s the rest part I can’t seem to locate. I parented alone all weekend and sprinted from task to task, from must-do to must-do. At one point yesterday, I realized that I was using precious adrenalin to whisk bread dough into greased pans before racing out the door to soccer — it struck me as oddly wrong. The slow preparation of bread, the two long rises, the “simplicity” and genuine goodness of homemade set against my relentless schedule — shoe-horned into my relentless schedule. What is the cost of operating at such high levels of intensity? Is it my health? I definitely feel like I’m aging more rapidly or visibly these days — rogue white hairs squiggling out of my scalp, facial wrinkles deepening.

I laid the bread into the pans and forced myself to breathe deeply.

But, oh, worth it. That’s why I can’t seem to stop. Homemade bread. And a really fun soccer game.

Last night, before bed, I applied a face-mask of yogurt and grains: maybe the sloughing of a little dead skin will help with the rapid/visible aging problem; maybe not. Still, I took the time.

Snow day in Canada

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Yup. It’s a real snow day, school cancelled, library cancelled, extra-curricular activities cancelled, children playing in snow drifts, people walking by in the street because the sidewalks are too messy, snow, snow, snow coming down, down, down.

I’m happy for the kids, who were praying for a snow day, but oh how I really wanted to keep on writing in my new book. Yesterday’s hair-pulling session netted me 1800 new words, bringing the book to 78,000 words, and three new scenes. (Scrivener has handy “project targets” and “project statistics” features to which I am utterly addicted. I do realize that stats mean nothing if those 78,000 words do not work together to move the reader. But it’s comforting to quantify my efforts.) I have about four new scenes to write, plus another six or seven to revise before this draft is complete. I’m not looking for new material, I just need the time/space to write what has already been plotted out in my head. Unfortunately, my current situation is not conducive to scene-writing: two children and two dogs crowded into my office, dogs to sleep, and children to chew gum, sit in dog beds, listen to songs, and generally disrupt the quiet every two seconds with requests, wonderings, and commentary. The smallest is at this very moment stamping his feet for some perceived wrong I’m not entirely clear about. Maybe it’s the typing I’m doing on this here computer.

So … here’s what I plan to do with the rest of our snow day.
* bake cookies
* make yogurt
* make dough for homemade pizza
* shovel the sidewalk since I won’t be running tonight (no soccer skills means that my regularly scheduled Friday run, which I do no matter the weather, is also cancelled)
* pull smallest on sled while we walk second smallest to play date
* put in movie for part of the afternoon and sneak in some writing

For the purposes of reality checking, here’s what I’ve actually accomplished so far.
* chatted with sister-in-law on the phone
* almost finished one cup of coffee (gone cold ages ago)
* fed everyone breakfast, and a few people lunch
* tried to talk husband out of leaving for his boys’ cottage weekend in the middle of this storm (doesn’t seem to be working)
* put in load of laundry
* cleaned up dog poop in upstairs bedroom (c’mon, DJ, if Suzi can go outside, you can go outside!)
* read front section of newspaper
* answered a few work-related emails
* took photographs of snow
* puttered. Really, mostly I’ve puttered.

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