Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Where Have I been? Why haven't I written?

I’m so appreciative for the support I get for my blog. A number of friends/readers have asked me what I’ve been doing instead of writing the blog. I’ll get to that in a jiffy.

I know that MacGyver sent an e-mail to you all regarding our finally publishing Charlottes Restrained. For your support I am forever indebted. This book entered the gestational phase on Little Mac’s third day of First Grade. After two long days of cleaning, grocery shopping and running errands I realized that my life needed to be more than this. I love taking care of my family, but I really needed to feed my soul. With little to no hesitation, I opened my laptop and started typing.

Where did the story idea come from? Mac and I were regularly watching Inside the Actors Studio. Clint Eastwood was being interviewed, as many actors are, he is multi-talented fellow and I just thought, “How cool would it be to have dinner with him?” Somehow on the day I opened my laptop and started typing, this idea morphed with another strong need, which was to write strong women characters. No Damsels in distress. Often a line from Pretty Woman wanders across my psyche:

“So what happens after he climbs up and rescues her?”

“She rescues him right back.”

I started writing the book long before I started blogging. The book was somewhere close to the end of the first round of edits and I knew that it was rough. My daughter’s fourth grade teacher handed me a book by Ann Lamott, Bird by Bird, after chatting about writing and I read it. This recommendation was one of the greatest gifts I’ve received. I’d learned while studying Landscape Architecture that good design doesn’t happen by accident. That one has to develop technical skills, acquire knowledge, and accept feedback and criticism with an open mind, with the goal of creating a better product. Writing is very much like that.

Both require asking oneself a simple question, “What do I bring to the project?”

The simplest answer I can give you is that I love a great story. I love hearing them, I love being a part of one. Life is a great story. It can be told in many formats; words, textiles, food, flowers, exercise.

So, the dust bunnies accumulate, laundry is a little more hit and miss, we sometimes don’t have milk. Yet we’ve all survived. I think I am a better person and therefore a better mom. When we showed the kids the book on Amazon, they were “Oh, cool.” No wild dances of glee (from them). Was I disappointed? No! I felt enormously successful. Achieving my dream didn’t surprise them. Somewhere in their core they believe that dreams are attainable.

So, on to what I’ve been doing other than writing my blog.

For a few years I’ve had a great idea for a book. A short story, hoping to keep it close to 50 pages, knowing it was more likely to turn into a 100 pages. After chatting the storyline over with my dear friend Thea, I embarked upon writing the short story… this would have been September 15th. As most creative endeavors do, this story took a life of its own, and now sits at around 375 pages. It has so completely engrossed me that when I type I feel like I’m watching a movie. I think I have a solid 100 pages to go. My goal is to have it ready for my reading group by early spring. At the rate I’m writing, it could be much sooner. Don’t worry, I’m sure they will help me revise and thin it down.

The current working title is Venus Rising. It may change. As I write, re-read, edit, particular passages catch my eye and I think, “Oh that might be a better name.” However, it isn’t often that ten words equals a catchy title. Besides, it fits. (An identical feeling to when we named our children. When we heard the name, we knew it was right.)

One of the many wonderful aspects of writing a book is that you don’t miss the characters you’ve written. You know what their storyline is after the final page. In this case, it is a bit true, because from Charlottes Restrained comes Kathleen’s Undressed (which I will go back to working on when Venus Rising is in the editing phase).

If I thought getting Charlottes Restrained published was a challenge, marketing is truly the biggest challenge. A handful of you have helped publicize my book, talked me up, given me sound advice! So, I am now open to all kinds of help and feedback. I shamelessly throw myself at your feet and ask you to read it. To tell me what you really think, help me become a better writer. If you have any suggestions, I’m open. Someone already suggested a housecleaner.  (If you’re curious, I’ve created a Pinterest Board with photos of the real places that Charlotte and friends travel to.)

I find myself giggling at odd times. A few days ago I was in the car with the kids and started laughing.

From the back seat, a slightly nervous voice asked, “Mom, what’s so funny?”

“It just seems so odd to contemplate that someone right now could be reading a book I wrote. It makes me laugh, it makes me happy.”

Okay, I must return to unfinished business. I had plans of writing a series of entertaining blogs about my student exchange program. So many interesting, hilarious, life changing moments occurred on this journey. In the last blog I promised to write about a series of things. Today I am going to stick to one short story.

Four of us rented a car to drive south from Liverpool to the Cotswold’s’. None of us really wanted to drive. In the end, it turned out that all four of us drove at once! No, it wasn’t a circus trick, it was a requirement.  Pam was willing to get behind the steering wheel on the right side of the car! I shifted gears. Lori was stationed in the right rear passenger seat, it was her job to read the road signs and figure out how to navigate the road. It was Dana’s job from the rear left passenger seat to read the map and get us to where we were going. Along the way, it is possible that we bumped into some things, which we might have disguised ingenuously. (I think someone donated a black shoestring to resolve a missing trunk cord.)

So anyway, we’re driving through the Cotswold’s’, Pam and I have switched seats, and I am not enjoying being behind the steering wheel and I doubt Pam was in love with shifting gears, but she needed the break. So, I’m driving down a road that is five feet wide, and since no other cars are in sight I am occupying as much of the road as I want. Remember that I am sitting on the right-hand side of the car. The windows are down. The warm spring breeze is wafting in, life is great! Ideal, in fact.

Pam says to me, “If you get a little closer, I can pick some flowers!”

As always, thanks for reading. Every time you do,  my dream comes true.