Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
But even more than that, I am "old" down to my soul. I like old-fashioned values. Family. Church. God. Loyalty. Hard work. I keep my eyes open to the modern world, but eschew its influence in many ways. I do not have cable. I often sit in my living room and listen to music while I embroider or read a book. My daughter does the same - though it's usually art or tiger research that she's working on. She plays with her toys and uses her imagination, creating these fantastical worlds where she loses herself for hours.
I take joy in the simple things of life - a cup of tea, a conversation with a friend, a nature walk, a bird's call, playing UNO with my daughter, watching my cat chase a bug or watching my daughter feed the ducks.
I don't text. I don't use my cell phone for anything other than phone calls. I don't have an iPod and when I take a walk downtown for lunch, I open myself to the world around me - all the noise and beauty and wonderment - instead of lifting myself above it and drowning it out with music.
Sometimes, I feel out of place in this constantly evolving world, one where modern technology has often taken the place of a simple conversation using complete words and voices.
I cringe when I see a young kid showing no respect for his elders or when I witness simple manners being replaced by a misplaced sense of entitlement. (I've been cringing a lot lately).
I've come to embrace this about myself. This is who I am - a mixture of old and new. After all, I love the Internet (oh, the old things I have found using it!). I love email. I love modern medicine. I love indoor plumbing!
But at my heart, I am old-fashioned. And that's ok.
Monday, July 27, 2009
I haven't wrote anything fiction-wise for a few months now. Instead, I've been deep into my research and character sketches. The last three days have been quite fun - I am actually reading a book and taking notes, just like I did in high school and college. The information has been fascinating. That's the geeky historian coming out in me. I've found some amazing primary documents that have added an entirely new dimension to things. Finding them on the internet and being able to print them out is sheer heaven! (Sorry, I really geeked out there).
Now, though, I finally feel that I have a good grasp of the historical background for the next novel. I simply couldn't start writing until I had this information in hand. Now that I do, I'm hopeful that the official "start date" of the novel will be quite soon.
I can't wait.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
The next time he nearly lost his life.
I still remember that day quite clearly. We couldn't find him. It was a cold, dreary day, patches of snow covering the ground, and after we looked everywhere, we finally found him curled up beside the house. My husband carried him back to the yard, but somehow, he got out and went into the alley, almost as if he was wandering off to die. We rushed him to the vet and found that he had a broken pelvis. He couldn't go to the bathroom on his own. He had several wounds on his side from being hit (we think by the UPS truck) and we weren't sure if he would recover. The vet said if he didn't heal and couldn't go to the bathroom by himself, his quality of life wouldn't be good and we'd have to think of putting him down. I vowed that wouldn't happen.
It was touch and go for awhile. Since Charlie was an outdoors dog, we put him on an inflatable chair, the kind you use at the beach (the name escapes me right now), and I would drag every morning from the warm garage into the warm sunshine of the backyard. I gave him his meds, cleaned his wounds, and cleaned his backside. Flies would swarm around him, trying to get to the wounds, and despite everything I did, they did their deed. I discovered maggots in his wounds one day (sorry if this is too gross!) and immediately called the vet. He told me how to get them out. Of course, my husband was at work at the time, so I knew I'd have to handle this one myself. And I did. I got those little buggers out and Charlie laid there, so peaceful and calm, never once trying to bite me, never once yelping in pain, but stoic through it all.
I still remember my mom calling me and telling me that if Charlie didn't improve, I might want to think about putting him down. I was so vehemently against this idea that I cried, loudly protested that Charlie would make it through this, and then hung up on her. (Sorry, Mom!).
Charlie continued to improve. His wounds healed. But he still couldn't go to the bathroom on his own. I would watch him through the kitchen window and just pray and pray. And then one day, I saw him struggle to his feet, lift his leg in a corner of the yard, and then I knew that he would be ok.
I've lost pets before, but the grief I experienced with Charlie was unparalleled. I literally felt as though part of my heart was gone. I blogged about this grief and I know it helped me get through it.
That dog was as devoted to me as I was to him. His loyalty never faltered. It was unconditional love on both our parts. I still miss him. I still cry occasionally and today, I've shed more tears. That's ok.
I just hope I get to see him someday. I hope that there is a doggie heaven.
I miss you, Charlie!
Love and hugs from Mama.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Maybe it's because my mom is visiting for the week and we're usually chatting or I'm listening to my daughter play the piano (she just started taking lessons from my mom) or we're watching my cat stalk yet another bug. Basically, I'm doing anything but focusing on the writing. Oh, I went to our university library yesterday and picked up some incredible books that will be invaluble in my research, but I haven't dived into them yet.
I suppose that's ok.
Summer has never been a very motivating time for me. Heat zaps my energy. The long, lazy days make me want to just sit and read a book and do little else.
But when fall rolls around...ah. Bliss! I love that season and that's when I think I am my most motivated - especially when it's too cold to go outside.
Does summer motivate you or are you like me - enjoying the lazy aspect of it?
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Fill in the blank below. It can be as long or as short as you want.
"I wish I was________________________________."
"I wish I was sitting in my grandmother's kitchen, sipping tea, eating Oreos, and discussing movie stars of the 1940s."
And another one:
"I wish I was in Italy with my family, meeting my long-lost relatives, and eating divine Italian food."
Care to play?
Monday, July 20, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
There's an old writing saying that my friend Diane recently rephrased. Instead of, "Write what you know", she changed it to "Write what you want to know." This fits me much more accurately. And oh boy, do I want to know lots and lots of things, and it's usually things that happened years and years and years ago! That history fascination, y'know...
Unfortunately, this "wanting to know" involves a great deal of research. While I enjoy it, right now, my mindset is more of "Enough already! Let me write!" But I can't yet. The research is going to give my bare-bones characters the flesh they need to fully come alive.
But oh...the blank page beckons. I am fascinated by this story, and even though another fully-formed story idea popped into my head the other day, that one doesn't hold the same appeal for me as the current one I'm researching.
Therein lies the rub. While I could work on the other novel "for fun", it doesn't grip me like my main WIP does. Strange how a few days can make such a difference. But that's what the ol' mind is telling me.
Now, I usually keep researching while I'm writing the novel, but I don't feel like I have quite enough research done yet to actually start writing. It's a bit of a rock and a hard spot to be in. So I must keep trudging onward.
Do you write what you want to know?
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
My dishwasher wasn't filling with water like it was supposed to, so after fiddling with it for a bit, it started to do its thing. I went back to my bedroom with my bowl of cereal and started looking up things on the Internet. After about five minutes, I realized that the dishwasher was still filling with water - not a good sign.
When I went out to the kitchen to investigate, I realized that there was water on my floor. Of course, in my hurry to get there, I took a step on the linoleum floor at the very same moment I realized there was an inch of water spread across the entire floor.
Down I went. And I landed on my arm and I think my entire body weight fell on it, too. After a few shocked seconds, I realized I was completely soaked, the dishwasher was still running, and I needed to get up before I flooded my entire apartment.
It took me quite awhile to clean up all the water and I used all my towels, so I had to run a load of laundry. By this time, I figured I was wet anyway, so I might as well take a shower and put on my jammies. I also started laughing hysterically at the thought of my fall. I probably jolted my neighbor downstairs!
By the time I got out, my arm started to ache. And it hasn't stopped since.
I don't know if it's broken- all I know is that I can't straighten it out or I get hit with shooting pain. I suppose a trip to the doctor is in order. If it IS broken, it will be my first broken bone. I've had deep bruises and light sprains, but never a broken bone.
The good news? I can still type... *grin*
Edit: The streak continues! It's not broken (though it still hurts!). X-rays showed a perfectly intact bone. Guess it's just a deep bruise on the bone.
Monday, July 13, 2009
But what about those ideas that creep up on you that do not necessarily follow what you normally write?
That happened to me Saturday. I'd just gotten home from the horse races with my brother (my first time going and it was so much fun) and I'd stopped by Barnes & Noble to grab a few things before coming home. I hit the shower and when I got out, I had a fully-formed novel idea in my head. Lines were jumping out at me and I raced to my computer, got frustrated when the Microsoft Word took forever to load, and then I finally sat down and started typing.
I don't know how long I sat there - it couldn't have been more than 15-20 minutes, but by the time I was done, I had a solid outline, vibrant characters, GMC's, absolutely everything I needed. I couldn't believe it. All those weeks I'd struggled to come up with a story idea and one had dropped into my head with no effort on my part whatsoever.
I toyed with the marketability of the idea, realized it was pretty sound, but then also realized that it is not what I normally write. Since I'm well into the prep phase for my next novel and I'm in the querying stage for another novel, this new novel wouldn't help me build my platform as a debut novelist.
Then I realized that I simply didn't care.
This book will be solely for fun. It requires minimum research and the characters are all right there, so the normal preparations I make before starting a novel really aren't needed. Everything has already been done in that one fifteen-minute brain dump I had the other day.
And if I decide that I want to pursue publication of it someday, well, that's fine by me. But it's not going to be my main focus. Instead, I plan to forget the whole publishing world while I'm writing this story and just focus on my characters and their world.
Which brings up another point. When you move to the stage of your writing where you are actively seeking publication, have an agent, or even a publisher, you necessarily think of platform, brand, marketability, publicity, promotion, etc., for your novel. It has to come into your brain at some point. That is the business side of this crazy roller coaster ride and to brush that aspect of the publishing world aside is a bit dangerous.
Wouldn't it be wonderful, though, if we didn't have to think of that side? If we didn't have to worry about platform and marketing and all the rest of it, but could just write our story? I suppose this is where my old belief of "write the first draft with your heart, the second with your head" comes into being.
Maybe this "fun" novel of mine will find a place on the shelf some day. I'm not discounting the possibility, but neither am I making it a priority. I'm going to write this story blissfully and deliberately unaware of that "other" side to the writing business. It's a freeing mindset, one I'm anxious to explore.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
As you can see below, we took my kitty, Katie, with us to her new home at my mom's farm. Now Miss Katie is used to coming and going as she pleases and she did not relish the idea of being in a cat carrier for five hours. Let's just say that ride was pretty darn eventful and that my car now has cat hair in it. We eventually had to let her out of the carrier because she wouldn't quit meowing. So I held her. And then she'd climb into the back window or sit on my leg and look out the passenger window. We were all relieved when we finally got home and Miss Katie could explore the farm.
My mom remarried this year and she now lives on a gorgeous farm with her husband in western Nebraska. We enjoyed playing badminton and volleyball on her front lawn and my daughter absolutely loved the swing and playing with my mom's two baby kitties. This is the view from my mom's front porch. Beautiful, isn't it?
Here's my brother getting ready to smack the birdie - I thought this was a pretty cool photo.
And you have to have a farm dog! This is Shaggy.
On Saturday, it was softball, softball, softball. My brothers were in a softball tournament and we spent most of the day shuttling between my grandmother's house (which is literally right across the street from the softball diamond) and the fields. My brothers both played baseball when they were younger - my younger brother even played college baseball, so I'm quite used to hanging out at the ball diamonds. It was great to watch them again. (And I forgot my camera, but my dad took a ton of photos, so hopefully I can just get some of those).
And oh, the food! Wow. I think I'm still full!
We hit the rodeo Saturday night. Here's my nephew hamming it up with his friend.
Returning to the city after a trip back home is always bittersweet. I need the sweet, peaceful country air to rejuvenate my body and soul, but I thrive on the energy of the city. I guess I have the best of both worlds! My brother and his family live on the farm (he's the 4th generation to farm it), my dad lives out in the country just a few miles from him, and my mom lives on a farm with her husband. I have three places to get my bit of country! And really, it's a bit of heaven when I go home. I feel like it centers me. Though I probably couldn't live there again, I absolutely love going home and visiting.
Family comes first with me. And I am fortunate to have a wonderful, loving, and supportive family. God truly has blessed me!
Monday, July 06, 2009
Will fill you in on the details after I'm more coherent.
Hope you had a great weekend!
Friday, July 03, 2009
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
While a paycheck is probably the most powerful motivation to get a project done at the day-job and with freelance work, you don't quite have that same motivation when you're an unpublished writer.
So how do you do it?
For me, it's come down to one thing. I have to want it bad enough. I have to want to succeed, whatever my definition of success may be. And my definition is to be a published author. That means I balance my time. I don't spend hours watching mindless t.v. (I don't have cable anyway). I don't spent gobs of time on the internet when I'm at home. I don't spend hours reading a book (this hurts sometimes, especially if it's a good book!).
During the weekdays, my time is pretty regimented. There's the day job from 8-5, then I go work out three times a week, pick my daughter up from daycare, make supper, and then I have approximately 3 1/2 hours before bedtime. I have to devote at least an hour or two to the writing - and right now, I'm in research/plotting mode for the next novel, so that could include reading a research book, tapping notes on the computer, or doing online research. When it comes time to write, I often will make my schedule accomodate a good two hours of writing time during the weekdays.
Do I stick to this rigid schedule? Not always. I allow myself plenty of flexibility. When you're a mother, you have to. And my daughter is my most important priority. If she wants to play a game of UNO, then by golly, that's what we'll do. If we decide to enjoy the unexpectedly cool summer evening with a walk over to the duck pond, we'll do that, too. A shopping trip to the mall on a Friday night complete with a yummy homemade cookie from the Cookie Company? We're there!
Stay balanced. Keep your discipline. Allow yourself off days. And don't beat yourself up when you get off track. That's not good for the motivation! Just shrug your shoulders, say, "Life happens" and get back to your schedule tomorrow. Or, completely throw my advice out the window and do it whatever way works for you. If you want it bad enough, you'll figure out a way to make it work - your way.
I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance! www.melissamarsh.net
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