Friday, November 30, 2012

A Career

That's what's on my mind this morning.

Do I want to have a career someday, too?

Huh. Tough question. I had a career, and I was very good at it. Sometimes I miss it; sometimes I don't. Nowadays I feel a little too lazy to have another career. I've been spoiled by being able to do what I want with my time, whenever I want. I don't know if I'll ever be able to fit back into the schedule of the workaday world.

On the other hand, what I mostly have now is a vocation. I have motherhood. And, boy, is it a lot of work. I'm very good at that too, and I spend the majority of my hours on it. It doesn't pay well, but it's important anyway.

Like writing. Whether writing pays money or not, just the act of doing it matters. It's a practice worth having in life. It makes the world richer, and lets us taste life twice.

But I can only write for a few hours each day max. After that, my brain is fuzzy and my attention span is shot. So I have plenty of time for different work and still being a writer too.

Perhaps when I am not so busy with my vocation, I will have more energy and motivation for a career. I don't want to just sit alone in my house typing and doing errands for the next 50 years. In just a few brief years, when the girls are old enough to be independent, I will have much, much more time available to me. Even this morning, I realized anew that it takes about 2.5 - 3 hours EACH DAY just to drive offspring to and from schools. When they can drive themselves, I will have enough extra time right there to write three novels each year!

I am so very close to being a professional writer. My products are good; my output not very consistent. I'm too quick to do other things with my time. Although I'm writing now, not sleeping which I was going to do, so at least that's something. Do I want to kick it up that extra notch or two to where I write every day and really try to hit the markets? As soon as I have a few more manuscripts in hand, I could make the rounds of the writing conferences and find an agent, which I think would be the next essential step to a truly sustaining, enduring writing career.

Do I want to re-invest myself into my grant work? I do enjoy it, and I've had a refreshing hiatus for the last few months, the first real break I've taken in four or more years. I can start 2013 with a renewed focus and a devoted daily schedule. Is that the career I want?

Or do I want to go interview, maybe even train, to do something more daily and permanent? Gee. I just don't know. While I would like to earn more steady pay, part of the deal is that I'm pretty darn busy every single day right now. So I never really feel a gap where time weighs heavy on my hands. Au contraire, for me time flies by and I feel like I have to make tough decisions every hour between competing activities to do next.

No, it's the guilt that's getting to me. The feeling that maybe I should be spending my time differently. Or building more carefully towards a certain future. I don't even know what I want my future to be anymore. That's part of it. At least now I believe that I'm going to have a future. That's a step in the right direction! :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Memoir Writing

Okay, so I was thinking this over this morning while I read the writing lesson for the week and waited for my friend. Writing for me falls into levels of difficulty. Among the genres I commonly write in, there's a clear heirarchy of challenge for me. Listed below, in order from most difficult to easiest:
Proposals and Applications
Blog Posts

Probably, memoir is easy for me because most of my blog posts essentially ARE memoir. Just little outputs of words about my life and thoughts.

The assignment for this week is a bit tough. We have to practice writing Memoir based on Time Connections. So I have to think of two completly separate moments in my life - moments that changed me in some way - that are connected despite a big time gap between them. And then draw some reflective lesson from that.

So far, I am completely stumped. I can think of lots of moments. Lots and lots and lots of moments. So far, no two disparate moments are springing up on the slot machine of my mind as a MATCH. Ding ding. Somehow connected across time to give me a lesson. Hmmm.

See how tough that is?

I suppose I could take any two moments and create a connection between them. Obviously there will be some kind of Venn Diagram overlap. But I'm waiting for something to suggest itself.


I got my hair cut an hour ago, and now it's all swingy and shiny and fabulous. I took a risk at my last appointment and gave up a good bit of length for a new style (which is actually back to my older style). After several years of having longer, straighter hair, I like the fluff and motion.

Yesterday, I paused after doing my makeup and before going out for my errands. I took a long look at myself in the mirror, and was quite pleased with what I saw. Even though I'm older, even though I have lovely wrinkles and have gained weight, I feel the most beautiful I've ever been in my entire life. I don't often look deeply into my own eyes, but when I do, the fire is still there. The spark of knowing that sets me apart from most of the others, the depth swirling below the amber-gold-green smoulder. The sum of my experiences shines out from me; that's where the beauty comes from.

Countdown to Christmas - Giving Day Three

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I met my lovely friend for coffee this morning. Between the rain and a child-emergency that came up, she was running late. An accident snarled the freeway, and her texts got more frantic.

I called my hairstylist and pushed back my appointment. Then I told my friend to take her time, and waited patiently, writing happily in the warm cafe.

When she arrived, I gave her the untouched half of my breakfast sandwich, as well as my love and attention.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Countdown to Christmas - Giving Day Two

Tuesday, November 28, 2012

We just spent four days with my brother, his wife, my 3 year old gorgeous neice, and my year old adorable nephew. Along with my parents, in an open rented house on farmland tucked away on a hill in Arroyo Grande.

I like my sister-in-law a lot, but she seems to struggle to find her balance in life. From my point of view, she has so many blessings, but she always appears to be overwhelmed, exhausted and unhappy. Caring for two children is a lot of work, so my heart goes out to her.

Since I know that I'll enjoy and benefit from giving for the next month, I thought perhaps a nudge towards generosity might help her as well. My gift today was that I ordered her a copy of the book that got me started: 29 Gifts - How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life. I know this book probably won't resonate with her; it will probably be a seed falling on barren ground.

But you never know. Sometimes you just have to cast the seeds and tell yourself that at least you gave it a shot. You tried your hummingbird-best.

And really, that's all any of us can do.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Countdown to Christmas - Giving Day One

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

When I pulled into my favorite section of the Target parking lot, I noticed that I had parked next to my good friend's minivan. I scribbled a quick hello note and stuck it on her windshield, and sure enough, we crossed paths in the store as well.

Thirty minutes later, we were both at school, picking up our daughters. Her daughter wanted to come over so I agreed. I just had to go pick up the take-out Thai I had ordered for lunch. Then my friend said that she would come over too, and hang out until the next pick-up time. So I called the restaurant and ordered more food.

My friend took the girls to my house, while I scooped up the hot rice, soup and other goodies. Then, back in my kitchen, I spread it all out on the center island and we had a mini-Thai buffet. Our older daughters joined us after school and it was like a small party.

It wasn't my plan to have people over or to feed them, but it worked out to be a lot of fun.

Seems like I got a few nice gifts today as well.

Exercise 5 Comments

"Okay, no beating around the bush. I’ll just get right to it. This is, hands down, the best memoir piece in the group for this lesson...
Awesome work, Marie!  A huge “thumbs up.”  I’m really happy that you wound up being a part of this class."

I'm not trying to brag here. What I'm doing is capturing my mentor's comments to remind myself to keep writing -- that I have both reasons and talent, and that if I make the space, I have things to say.

It never fails. If I take a class, I WILL sit down by Monday and type out something. No matter how reluctant I am, no matter how I wish to be otherwise engaged. With a deadline, I meet it. Without a deadline, I push it off and don't get to it.

And the stuff I produce under pressure, even with low motivation and not feeling particularly fired up, is usually pretty darn good.

The piece being commented on was a depiction of a family member and our interactions at various points in my life. I liked what I wrote about my aunt so much, and it brought back so many wonderful memories, that I'm thinking of expanding it out and sending it to her children for Christmas.

I guess this is today's gift to me.

Tuesday Quote

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.~ Anais Nin

Monday, November 26, 2012

Reflection on Happiness

On the whole lately, my life has been looking up. My great good news is still sinking in for me, and, wow, is that something to be thankful for!

It's funny to me how quickly and easily I've adjusted to "normal" life -- mostly, because my life was always mostly normal all along. Finding freedom has been like throwing off a huge, heavy, invisible cloak of sadness that was dragging around behind me and hampering my every move. I've had no qualms whatsoever about slipping that cloak off, folding it up, and leaving it laying alongside the road with not a glance backward. It's much lighter and freer without it.

Still... though... I've had some moments of real misery lately. Moments where I questioned everything in my life -- who am I, and what am I doing here, and is this the right place, and should I have chosen differently, and what will I do next, and what do I want to do/be/have/avoid -- all those sorts of existential questions.

I had a bit of insight this week, coming at the end of a vacation that was truly glorious in both its uncomplicated flow and its overall harmonious shift from the day to day dealings of my life. It was a true respite in that all my usual cares were gone, and I was able to think beyond daily survival matters to the big picture. I realized that I have become entirely too dependent on external factors to make me happy. I've fallen into the trap of thinking that if only I had such-and-such, or if my husband were more so-and-so, or if my kids were, or if my house were cleaner, or when I am thinner/healthier/shinier or when I make more money/work more/have fame, etc. etc. etc. THEN I will feel happy.

But that's not true is it?

Either I'm happy or I'm not. It comes from within me. Nothing outside can really create it, or take it away. So if I want to be happy, I simply choose to be so. And then perhaps those other things will follow from that. Or perhaps not. But in the meantime, I will be happy. Contented. Satisfied. Loved. Safe.

In honor of that, and also because I really enjoyed the energy it created this summer, I am going to begin another cycle of giving. If I'm doing my math right, I'll start tomorrow and give every day for 29 days, ending at Christmas. This time I'm talking about it as well as writing, and inviting others to join along with me. Would you like to give for the next month, and see how it feels?

I'll be writing daily about my gifts (at least, I'll do my best).

Friday, November 23, 2012

Exercise 4 Comments

"You absolutely took the lesson ideas to heart, and this turned out well. It’s just what I was looking for in this exercise. But I think you can take it even further. I’m thinking you have a marketable idea for a nonfiction article here, since most readers won’t know much about rats."


Yep. That's what I was noticing too. It was an easy 2000 words, and I have plenty more to say. I guess I should take this advice and try to expand it out and sell it.

Seems vacation is ending, and it's back to writing for a living next week...

Tuesday Quote (a bit late)

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. ~ Scott Adams

Tuesday Quote (a bit late)

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. ~ Scott Adams

Monday, November 19, 2012


1700 words about Phoebe Blue in just over an hour. Yeah.

Monday - Family Travels and Writing Tasks

It's Monday, and we're on vacation.

For the first time in a year, I didn't teach yoga this morning. Feels a bit weird, and like today is still Saturday or Sunday. I suppose time always blurs somewhat when you're traveling around and staying in a new place.

It's been a busy few days. Mostly nice though. We made the drive in the fastest time ever, and I feel that this year is the most mellow vacation that our family of four has ever had. The girls are old enought to be self-responsible and able to travel well. My parents are aged and slower than before, and my brother's family is still all the wacky fun and drama of getting together with two toddlers. Case in point, the one year old threw up at lunch today, in the restaurant. Boy, I do not miss those days!!

So, pretty much par for the course.

It's surreal to do the same things year after year, and yet still do them differently as well. I don't even know what I feel this year. less exhausted and stressed out than in previous years, I suppose. I'm more calm and balanced. But I'm not as excited to be here either. Maybe just because I've done it before, or maybe because my own usual life is pretty much this fun. One more year we've cruised through every city along the coast. One more year of Santa Barbara and the tunnel, the vineyards, the hills rolling into the distance and dotted with cows. Betteravia Avenue again with the old, abandonned white house on the hill by the freeway and wondering what it's story is and if I want to try to write a story about it. Watching the girls play with their cousins, and watching the rain fall, the fog roll in, and today, the sun shine on the glinting, moving ocean.  This rented house is on a farm, and white board fences are sloping away all around the property while a breeze blows in, lifting the curtains of the room where everybody is napping or reading. My dad is snoring softly, which is cute, and the only other sounds are my fingers tapping at the keys, the occasional turning of a page in someone's novel, and some distant lawnmower noise from a few farms over.

I would be reading too, but I have a piece to write for my class, due tonight. So I'm taking advantage of the lull to get my thoughts going. I really don't want to be writing it at 11:00 pm when everyone else goes to bed, something I've done before.

Today's topic is Love. Any kind of love. Write about one of the stages of love (beginning, growth, challenges, end), how you felt, your life at the time, physical descriptions and dialogue, and your perspective now. I haven't decided yet what to write about. So I thought I'd just sit here and type while my unconscious mulled it out.

My family? My brother, since he's here with me? Who or what else do I truly love? My children, but that seems awfully obvious. Maybe a hobby or interest. Reading? yoga? Writing seems too cliche. SAme for work - I don't think I want to write about the past. I haven't loved many partners and I don't think I want to do anything with romantic love anyway. I could write about a pet? Or a friend? Usually I like my pets, and I'm fond of them, but I don't adore them and become inseperable. But I probably could do a good piece about Phoebe, my rat. She truly is adorable and I haven't written about her yet.

I don't know. Is that weird? I get some ideas there of how I could structure the piece. I'd start with the beginning, seeing her photo online from the breeder, adopting her, wanting to write about her. Talk about bringing her home. Yeah, I like it. It's fun, it's not heavy or depressing. It captures a part of my life, and it helps me to think about her to support my other stories. Okay, my pet it is.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Just the Usual Tasks

I just don't have much to say lately.

I'm in one of those cycles where I'm super busy, so I'm literally ticking through 20 and 30 item to do lists each day. One daughter's on vacation all this week, so it's been fun to have her with me. She's a good, quick helper as I try to get errands done.

I've been working with the two other bridesmaids to pull together a quick shower for our friend. It's taken a lot of time to find the location, plan a theme and get invitations made. We're all caught up though and on a good track now. December is booking up fast. In addition to this shower, I'm invited to two others, plus a big dinner party, plus hosting a dinner party and that's just two of the weekends in the month.

We're traveling this weekend and I'm trying to get everything ready for the trip, as well as leave the house completely clean so that we can come back and move right into Thanksgiving. We're cooking for our families as usual, so I have to even grocery shop for everything before we leave.

I also take the Christmas presents for my brother's family, so I've been working to bring those out of storage and get them sorted out and wrapped, along with gifts for my father's birthday, and our small family celebration, all of which we'll do this weekend as well.

And I've been making sure the car is ready. Got it washed, fixed the alignment, rotated the tires, that kind of thing. There's a lot of errands in day-to-day life.

Also, I went through all our credit cards and got updated amounts, and figured out how to shift some balances around for optimal stability as we pay those down. And I had to find all the recent home sales in our section of town and send a report on that to the bank as part of our effort to refinance. The appraisal on our home came back surprisingly low, $50,000 below the actual October selling price of the identical house behind us, so I'm trying to see if they'll re-evaluate that. Otherwise, no refi.

Sometimes I'm really not sure if I work in writing or finance. Depends on the day I suppose.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Memoir - Exercise 3 Comments

" I really do enjoy your work, Marie. You’ve probably figured that out by now. This is an excellent exercise." -

Just the kind of validation that my mind particularly enjoys...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Yes, Yes, Yes!!!

I just got off the phone.

First of all, my longest term client said that they love working with me, that I'm a great value, and that they definitely plan to continue throughout 2013. Good!

Second, my old boss called. She has a massive new client coming on board and totally wants me back working with her. As long as all goes well with them, I GET MY JOB BACK! Yay. Double YAY!! It really sucked being laid off, and I was totally depressed. Plus I missed collaborating with M every week.

Looks like I'll be entering 2013 with viable employment and the ability to help support my family.

It ALWAYS turns out like this when I sign up for a writing class. It's like Magic. No sooner do I make the commitment to push my skills forward then new opportunities open up.

Hmm, I'm Not Sure if This is Helping...

So when I have a lot to do -- in other words, every day -- I like to make to do lists. It helps me relax and focus if I get all the items out of my mind and down onto paper. It's almost a way of releasing them from my thoughts.

On paper, I can see the scope and range of tasks, and I can sort items by priority, time-sensitivity, and ease of completion. I usually make a numbered list in three or four big categories, like Work, Home, Finances, Other, then go down each list in order getting stuff done.

Typical, right?

So this week, I've had so much on my mind, I just keep making to-do lists. I have five, yes five, separate lists sitting on my desk now. They all contain pretty much identical items, with maybe a few outlier tasks here or there.

It's so funny. I don't even know WHICH of the lists I'm supposed to be following.

So the first thing I have to do today? Make a new collated list that incorporates everything, and throw the others away. Hmm, no wonder I don't get stuff done.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


An interesting day so far.

I went out with a good friend last night, more for the sake of putting the effort into nurturing the friendship than from a real need to be out. Since she lives 100 miles away, it meant driving 50 miles through the dark to meet for dinner, then 50 miles back later than my usual bedtime. I was tired, but glad to see her. But sad that her life isn't better. It felt weird to drive alone at night. I am hardly ever alone. It's odd for me to know that this is how some people's lives are all the time. I try to imagine that, but it's hard for me. I'm sure it gets tiresome and lonely, but sometimes it seems sort of restful from my point of view.

Anyway, because of the late night (no alcohol though), I was dragging this morning. I really didn't want to go to the Grant training I had signed up for. I wanted to go back to sleep. Or maybe do laundry. But I didn't. I got dressed up and then I drove 30 miles and found the location.

Then I sat in my car. And tried to convince myself to go in. A little voice in my head said, You could just turn around and go home. It's not too late!

A more sensible voice said, Well, if you were going to do that, you should have just stayed home. It's silly to waste an hour of driving time.

I sat there with my eyes closed. For a few more minutes, I breathed deeply and gathered my strength. Then I pushed myself forward and went into the class.

A turning point.

Experience has taught me that usually, even if I don't want to do things for my own good, they reap rewards and later I am glad that I made the effort. It's all part of my strategy for making my own luck. Creating opportunities in my life by showing up ready for them.

And I think I probably did. The training itself wasn't very good. The presenter was nice but disorganized. I picked up a few tips that made it worth my time. More important though, is that it gave me another opportunity to network. I volunteered to help write grants for a nonprofit that helps nonprofits. It will give me experience, exposure, more contacts. Also, with any luck and skill, it will lead to them paying me over the long run.

All part of making more business for myself. Like I said, usually you have to get out and make your luck.

I think I'll write about that moment in the car as a turning point for my memoir assignment this week. I have the feeling I will look back on it and know that it was yet another moment when my life slightly altered its course. The turning point that is still in progress.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Poison in the Candy

Halloween's come and gone again. And with it, a blizzard of corn syrup-based treats that no one really needs to be eating. We have bags and bags of the stuff crammed into our cupboards, but mostly we're ignoring it. I think intuitively your body knows that it doesn't really want to eat that much candy. Oh sure the incredible sweetness and the orchestrated flavors beckon to the tongue. But it's just crap. It literally poisons you.

Just like the Siren in the waters, or the fairy cavorting in Spencer's castle, the candy draws you near. You think you want it; you even think you need it. But it's just a disease that feeds other diseases. It just leaves you worse off than you started.

Fool's Game

The trap of wanting more and seeking more

Another of the Things I Am Free to Do

Good morning, world!! It's another beautiful day here, at my green writing desk.

Welcome to this little journey I like to call the ongoing saga of my life. Another day, and it continues forward. What will the next hours bring?

The election is behind us, and now we go forward in the direction chosen. While I am personally quite, quite pleased with the results, I am sensitive to that fact that half of my fellow Americans aren't. I think, more than who are leader is, the challenge before us is to come together in dialogue and understanding, to compromise and move together instead of to continue to demonize each other.

Sure, it hurts when others don't agree with us, or see things our way. But I think we can do a lot better than pointing fingers and calling names. And buying into so much fear. No matter what, we're going to be okay.

I am absolutely thrilled just to have voted and been a part of something so historic and interesting. It's nice to play a role, even a tiny one.

Wednesday here, how about for you? Just sitting here at my desk fills me simultaneously with peace and dread, so that's always a potent mix. It makes it hard not to opt for Target instead. Target trips are always easy for me; they're straightforward -- follow the list, get the stuff, enjoy the browsing, appreciate the clean, bright, colorful atmosphere, go home with a task satisfactorily completed. Writing and work is nothing like that. I'm never sure what I'm doing. I'm never sure that what I'm doing is what I'm supposed to be doing. I have no clear direction or target and it's hard to choose among equally good goals of blogging, storycrafting, proposing, and research. So I tend to fill a small swell of panic rise up, and I usually just want to run, run away, run away to something more comfortable.

But there's lots to be gained in simply sitting with discomfort. And, so, here I am.

My brain's been extra needy lately. Chemicals drained down by busyness, stress, and whatnot. I find myself looking for those quick boosts - a little sugar, a little online connection, exercise. Haven't actually been shopping much which is a usual mood booster for me. I must actually be concerned about our finances. Gasp.

One thing I've noticed is that my web habits are not really giving me the returns I'm looking for. I need to find a community of people where I can get a social boost by clicking to them. Or some consistently compelling sites to read. Something. It's been a letdown to look for something satisfying and not find it.

I think I'm pulling myself back together though. After a while of searching for answers outside of me, I'll turn inward. Find my own satisfactions. Write my own words to read, just for myself, readers aside. there's a lot of power in that, in being able to feed yourself when you're hungry. The trap of wanting more and seeking more is just a fool's game. (Note to self - story idea).

Today, though, today I am rebuilding my contentment. I am having peace and sunlight, dappled through the bush outside my window. I am counting my blessing, practicing gratitude. And next, I am reaching out to loved ones to make good energy. Time and time again in my life, I have made my luck, made my opportunity appear, by reaching forward in faith. It's happened again this week. No sooner did I start a writing class, simply committing my energy to improving, no sooner did I complete the first assignment, then I got an unexpected email from my old boss. The one who laid me off two months ago. She wants to phone conference on Friday, and she said she has good news. I'm hoping that means that work has picked back up and that she needs me back in some capacity!

Also on the good side, I'm busy planning the bridal shower for my friend whose wedding I will appear in during January. Her other two bridesmaids and I are in a flurry of research and emailing, trying to select a venue for 20 ladies to celebrate this joy. We hope to settle on plans by the weekend and get the invitations out for an event date of early December. Yay, yay. Plus potential new friends that I haven't met yet!!

I'm not even trying here. You know that right? I am simply being, simply being as honest as I can as I move from topic to topic. Trying would look really different. Trying would probably work. I don't want anything to work. On a related but different note, I was browsing the magic section of B&N (yes, they have one) and thumbed through a book of love spells. In my opinion, most love spells are wrong, wrong, wrong! Trying to compel someone to do or feel something, particularly by magic, is a misuse of energy and potentially harmful to all. Only through their own free will should people enter into love or other craziness, not because you ground something up and put it in their drink. Such a violation of physical and emotional boundaries!! Yuck. It's so distasteful to me.

When I write, I feel that my soul is slowly expanding. It is as if I were settling down into the calmest, most peaceful and contented part of myself. It's a powerful practice, even if I don't say much of anything in particular. I enjoy it, that's what matters. Maybe money will come; maybe not, but in the meantime, it makes me feel looser, happier, and more hopeful.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Exercise Comments

And the final sentences are:

"It’s so good to be reading your work again. Nice job with the lesson, Marie. Great narrative voice and a good look at an accomplishment."

Ahh. See that's not bad at all. I picked an accomplishment that didn't hold that much emotional power for me and so it was a bit of challenge to write about. Sometimes you're just not in the mood to share the Big Stuff. But I think I handled this competently, and that's what matters a lot. It's fairly easy to write the powerful stuff -- the mundane is much harder. (And it's what I need to do well as most proposals aren't particularly emotionally compelling to me.)


I feel impatient with my day today. It's 1:30 and I haven't yet started "to work."

And yet that's because I have been involved with things that are both important and involving. I've accomplished dozens of small tasks already today. I fear I'm not giving myself enough credit for them.

Among the tasks: breakfast, lunch, dishes, trash, drop off, pick up, drop off (again), check on polling place, clear daughter's absences, ortho appt, lunch date, texting sick friend, texting other friends, dinner plans for tomorrow, registered for grant training, called about refinance, and so on.

The best thing I've done by far today is pick my daughter up from school and take her to get her second and final set of braces. Another two years, another 22 payments, and our kids are done. The newer car we probably should have bought by nowis in their mouths, but I think it's worth it. A lifelong investment in beauty and health for their best interests matters more than daily transport. Also, even though I have tons of things to do, I made time to take her out for a special lunch before I took her back. You're only 11 once, and you only get braces once, and I will always, ALWAYS have a long list of things waiting for me to do them. That time together is precious and my first priority.

I've been feeling a bit blue lately, and confused. I know it's from having so much on my mind. It's become clear to me as I work with this refinance process - which is looking very dubious right now - that while I may have attained legal freedom, I still am not free financially. Au contraire, I am very, very expensive! (Get it, it's a finance pun. Ah hahahaha...) I meant, I am quite committed. We are in almost over our heads with costs and debts, and I will have to work very, very hard in the next few years if I want to turn that around. Ah well. One hurdle at a time. At least now I'm free to find better work options. And there are a few bright lights on the horizon...

My comments just came back from my writing teacher on yesterday's memoir submission. I think I'll read them and (hopefully) encourage myself. Good day.

Quote by Hart Crane

One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them,
to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment.
 ~ Hart Crane

Hi Blog!

I miss you, blog!!!! I had all these great posts in mind... and now I can't remember any of them. There's so much in my mind it feels like my ability to think has turned into a big bowl of mush. Sleepy mush.

Warm golden corn mush drizzled with honey and a pool of melting butter. Mmmm...

"Goodnight, mush. And goodnight to the old lady whispering hush..."

Monday, November 5, 2012

Speed Writing

I forget, when I'm not taking classes, just how quickly I can write when I AM taking a class. And have an assignment due.

I started my memory of an accomplishment last night and finished today. A cool 1000 words jotted down in between CBTL and lunch at the sandwich shop. Total time working - probably less than 90 minutes. And it came out pretty well too. Once I had my topic and got a good start, the rest of it came together with a nice focus.

It just surprises me that I can write several pages so quickly. I mean I know I write fast on this blog. But this is just a blog. It's top of my head, when I have something to say. The posts don't have to hang together or have any consistency, or even any point.

I got to thinking about that. If I wrote just 500 words per day, I'd have 150,000 words easily over the course of a single year. That's a good size novel or nonfiction work. Just one single hour of writing for the same goal each day and I would be churning out submissible items. Hmmm. When writing is really so accessible to those who know how to do it, you have to wonder what's holding the ones who could do it but don't back?

For the love of God, or at least the love of writing, we should all be nicely saying to ourselves: please, please write something more. Let those words out there into the world!

The Keeper of Cares

[Stream of Consciousness Post - Deleted] of consciousness often isn't that coherent. Nor is it necessary.

My problem is I've gotten very used to posting to this blog. To the point where I don't feel that I've processed something unless I've written and posted it. Usually that's just fine. But occasionally I have thoughts that are not public (shocking, I know) and that I want to express simply for my own good. Then I have a bit of an issue. I dance along the line of private-public expression anyway, on my best days.

But I particularly like the title of this post, so I want to keep it and remind myself to write something around it.

I've been immersed in fairy tales lately. I've always loved them and as a girl I read thousands of them, countless anthologies worth. Lately I've been reading some updated versions as well as netflixing Once Upon a Time with the family. There's something so elemental about fairy tales, something very basic in their narratives, their tropes, and in the broad human struggles that they depict in simple terms.


By the time I get to my desk in the morning, and sit down and write a list of all the different things that are crowding around in my mind, calling out to me to take care of them today...

I am already tired out!

Sometimes the sheer amount of work that I have waiting for me to get to it is simply overwhelming. And lots of it isn't even what I consider my "real" job. The majority is little life tasks that I must do. Like on today's list, I have 10 items related to house, family or finances -- that will be five to ten hours of work today right there. Plus I teach on Mondays, another job that I don't really count as my "real" one, more of a low-paid indulgence for me. A good deal of the work I do is tasks that must be done over and over again. Cooking meals, doing laundry. Dusting. Sometimes it's like running around on a hamster wheel, just cycling back through the same places. But it matters. And that's pretty much a metaphor for life in general, so...

Oh well. I just tell myself to take it one task at a time, one step at a time, and to try to enjoy the process all along the way. I have a grant application that I've been stuck on for a looooonnnnggg while. Today I'm going to try to just answer one question at a time, one paragraph at a time, and then leave it and move on to something else. There's like 20 questions, so I should be able to have it done by Friday.

On an upbeat note, I think I'm going to enter into two consecutive energetic cycles. After the tremendous drain of October, I feel ready to devote some energy in an intentional way again. So I think from now to November 27, I will do 22 days of  cleaning and clearing out. Each day I'll get rid of some clutter or disorder that is weighing me down.

Then from November 27 to December 25, I want to celebrate all the blessings in our lives with another 29 days of giving cycle, with a focus towards Christmas charity and cheer.

(Is my math right on those? I counted them out this weekend, but I'm too lazy to go check a calendar right now.)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Memoir One

I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again -- writing memoir is not as easy as I think it will be. Geez, there's a lot of work that goes into this!! I can see how the revision process is endless.

I always think memoir will be a piece of cake, because it's only my own experiences and memories but it's so hard to get the scope of the memories right. How much time to spend on each detail, what to put in and what to leave out -- it's just tricky.

I'm working right now on my first assignment, since I joined the class a week late. We have to write about an accomplishment. The teacher says to cover four steps in showing a reader something big or little accomplished by you:
1. Why did you have that goal?
2. Show the process
3. Disappointments and Surprises along the way
4. Achievement and how that changed you

I'm trying to write about learning to speak French, and eventually even earning French friends and a social group with my language skills.

But, again, it's not easy to get all the way from high school to my 40s and keep it narrative as well!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Writing Support

One joy of having a bit less on my mind is that I find myself turning my focus back to my writing. I'm picking up the pace in my work routines; I'm enrolled for a class in Memoir, which should be a great fun trip over the next month; I'm plunging ahead with my new children's stories; and now, best of all, I can pull out all my previously written work and finally, finally!, get it into an aggressive submission cycle under my preferred pen name. Yay and double yay!

Don't know if you've noticed but I like to support my writing by keeping up with current trends and topics. So, the bloglist on the right was updated about a month ago, and now includes a nice smattering of sites with ideas and comments about living with writing as a lovely companion. Just if it interests you, reader. But I know that most of you do enjoy writing, or you wouldn't read this blog. : )


With the hullabaloo of Halloween fading away, my mind can turn even more to my present and future hopes and plans. I awoke this morning overjoyed to be in November - although I loved October well - and found the world wrapped in cool, soft mist to carry in the season.

It is such a relief to wake up happy and not anxious or depressed. Just calm, and a bit curious to see how the day unfolds. I still have plenty of errands and such to occupy me, but work is pretty slow right now, which I think is a blessing, all things considered. I know I haven't had much dedication or focus lately, but I also haven't screwed up with any clients thanks to the lull.

My husband and I have found time for some good talks, as we work out what all my new-found freedom means. He's just slightly apprehensive, and understandably so. For the first time in 15 years, I do not HAVE to stay married to him! He asked me the other day, "So you're not going to run off and start a new relationship, are you?" in an only slightly joking manner.

"No, honey, I am not going to run away to a new life. I like this life - and you - and I'm going to stay here."

While the fanatasy of fleeing everything and all may sometimes be a comforting emotional concept, in real life, I have never seen that work well for anyone involved! Relationships have a way of holding on to people, and not being so easy to escape.

I went on to restate my preference. "All I want now is just a good friendship with D. I mean, in effect, we already are friends. But I'd prefer it that all three of us shared a friendship in a good, healthy way."

And my husband looked at me and said, "You keep talking about friendship. But you have to understand something. I have no idea what you mean by that. I mean, think about it Marie. I don't have any other friends -- all I have is you."

And that floored me. It is absolutely true. My husband really doesn't know how to have and keep a friend. Sure he has co-workers that he is friendly with, and he has my friends, and the girls' friends' parents. But the longer term people in his life -- his parents, his relatives, his old friends -- they have all faded away. Wow.

He continued, "Besides D and I really were friends. Once."

Poor guy. I forget that he's not me. Lost in my own head, it's easy to overlook that he is quite a different kind of person.

But friends. Friends are the seasoning that add flavor to life's meals. Friends are the people you can count on long term to care for you and to give and take with you. To be a friend is no small mark of honor and shows tremendous trust. In the past, for D and me, we could never figure out a way to be what the other wanted and needed, what the other deserved. Trying to do so was only crazy-making and painful. But a friendship celebrates the long term relationship between two people; it honors their care for each other. It recognizes that there are simply people in the world to whom you have entrusted a part of your heart, and that you believe that you hold some portion of theirs as well.

So you try to hold it carefully. And with good intent.