Friday, November 26, 2010

Moderation, and Other Mythical Animals

A writing-oriented blog, as there hasn't been one in a while... I've been revising the 45,000 word middle-grade novel, and am nearly done, and then stalled with the general duties of my day job. Shifting writing to the office was a good move, when it works. When my day job actually needs more of my day to do it, though, it seems like I should be up at some ungodly hour of the morning writing or something, but that hasn't ever worked very well for my sanity and therefore our family schedule.

So, revisions stalled, but I'm trying to see that as a positive thing. At the point where they stalled, temporarily of course, I was tempted to rush to end them. By having a break from the process I will aim to be more patient on returning to it. Meanwhile, I'm strongly tempted to dive off and get back into work on the dystopian YA novel that has me utterly interested in it. I keep promising myself it'll be the reward for finishing the revisions on the other.

And yesterday when I checked my email there was one from an editor asking for another non-fiction piece for a national magazine, which I'm very happy about. I think juggling short-term rewards like magazine writing, which goes to publication comparatively quickly, with the longer-term rewards of novel writing, is a good combo.

But already I wonder how much writing time I'll manage to carve out in the near future. I tried the "staying up until all hours because art demanded it" and that just doesn't work for me as a maintenance plan for productive writing, given the aforementioned day job, and the fact that I am a much better mother when I don't have dark and forbidding circles under my eyes. I'm loaded up on a full-time teaching schedule, which includes a graduate seminar, next semester. I have an intern, which should mean "helper," but actually means a lot of supervision. And a visiting international scholar from China for whom I'm the official mentor. It's a paying gig, which is awful to say, but really the only reason I take on extra duties at the moment in order to save up for an upcoming sabbatical.

So I need to think longer term all the time! Maybe it'll just be maintenance writing until the summer next year. Or maybe I'll figure out how to work in an hour or two of an evening, and go for moderation. I'm a boom or bust kind of person, so that's a challenge. Still, I'm reading up a storm, which these days counts as "pre-writing," so it's not all wasted!

It's been a luvverly week in London, not least for having time to think about such things, but I'm looking forward to getting home and back into the fray, and the magazine assignment.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Don't Play a Playah

Me, to Son: See if you can sweet talk your father into putting up the Christmas lights on the house while I'm away.
Son: Okay. Dad, mom said I had to try and sweet talk you into putting up the Christmas lights.
Me: Heyyyy!
Hubby: That's right! Us men have to stick together!
Son: Yep. But for that piece of information, you're gonna have to let me stay up late tonight.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mother of Godot

Daughter: I've been waiting eight days for this!
Me: Waiting for what?
Daughter: Eight days.
Me: No, for what?
Daughter: Eight days!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Things That Make You Go ... What is That?

Daughter, to her delight, won two raffle draws at the school carnival. The adult XL tee shirt she has wisely decided will work as an art shirt. It came with a gift certificate to a local florist, so it wasn't a bust for her. Still, she was happiest with this little guy. She has named him... Little Jake.

Oh, sure. He looks cute enough in his freckles and coveralls.

He even looks kind of dopey, if you like Precious Moments memorabilia, which I don't.

But in dim light, he begins to resemble another little doll. Someone I don't want wandering around my bedroom at night:

Because, imagine waking up to this:

Quite seriously, I had to remove him and shut the door.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Why I Love "Fall Back"

Because with that precious extra hour, we:
  • played at the park. Really, for some reason it takes creating an hour that wasn't there before to discover the time on a Sunday to do that.
  • had this conversation. Hubby, to kids: What do you want for breakfast? Daughter: Oh, a giant bowl of ice-cream, with chocolate sauce. Son: And this time, dad, we mean "literally."
  • made and ate pancakes instead.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


The children are in very different places emotionally at the moment. Son is very grounded, and utterly happy in school. Comments from him tend to be like this one, at bedtime last night and after I'd spent a long time chatting with him:
Son: Sit with me longer.
Me: That'd be nice. But I'm going back to watch my show now.
Son [laying it on thick and with humor]: I'm a kid. That's more important than your show. And your knitting, don'tcha know.

Whereas Daughter is in this frame of mind [sobbing]: I don't know what perceive means!

If only a dictionary superhero could solve all of her problems...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tricks and Treats


  • To the kids, for coming up with several great costumes, and rotating them through several Halloween events over the past few days;
  • To the people who build a "fire house" every year, transforming their charming two-storey into a house full of fire and a mandatory stop on our trick or treat route;
  • To all the folks who sit on their front stoops, in costume, and make our kids' Halloween night fun;
  • To the students who run Safe Trick or Treat on campus every year, and give our kids props for their costumes;
  • To the places you go to paint and carve pumpkins, ride haycarts, and drink hot cider;
  • To the weather gods, who allowed October 31, 2010 to be a balmy mid-70s in the not-usually-so-balmy midwest.


  • To the folks who stole our friends' yard decorations, even those made by their kiddoes;
  • To the folks who make pumpkin smashing an annual sport;
  • To grandma's candy-ometer, for deciding that a pinata for two kids is "not that much candy";
  • To the students who think that 5-7 pm means packing up your booth at 6.20, because you all have some other place to be;
  • To the folks who decided that two separate field trips by bus on one day, followed by a party and a parade was both a good school day and an appropriate amount of turmoil for first graders;
  • To the parents who let them do it (yes, we take our share of blame in this too).

Okay. We'll do it all again next year.