• Bookish,  NaNoWriMo,  Personal,  Writing

    Wednesday Words: on writing

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    November means NaNoWriMo!

    What?

    I’ve gotten that question a few times in the past week. It stands for National Novel Writing Month. It has nothing to do with Mork & Mindy and Mork’s famous tagline.

    The basic premise is that you write every day in the month of November and end up with a novel of 50,000 words. That breaks down to 1667 words written per day which sounds a lot less intimidating.

    The program has been in existence since 1999 so obviously there are a lot of people that participate willingly and have some fun throughout the process. And let me emphasize some when we are talking the about fun part.

    I have watched from the sidelines since I first started seeing it talked about. Sure it sounded interesting but did I really want to do that?

    It turns out that this year was the year I decided it would be an interesting experience. So in the last week of October, I spent time outlining a few different ideas and putting real names and descriptions to the characters I have thought about for years.

    Where will this end up? I’m not sure at all. I’ve been writing everyday and it’s been a fun/interesting experience. I have always loved to read but actually working out your own process makes you appreciate the books you read even more.

    Writing is hard work. It’s also a mind game where your creative brain spends a lot of time making plot pieces fit together like puzzle pieces while the logical side of your brain tells you that there is a missing piece and what a bad idea this was in the first place.

    Remember the some fun part from earlier? This is precisely the some part that I was talking about.

    I enjoy writing so why not add in a challenge to mix it up?

    Why not? I’ll let you know on December 1st.

    In the meantime, I’ll be writing. And when I’m not I’ll be enjoying the books I am reading. Because when you are paying attention to plot structure and characters when you write, you pay even better attention to what a seasoned author has done with their characters and their own plot.

    For me, this alone makes NaNoWriMo worth it because I’m enjoying the books I read that much more.

    As for the rest – I’ll just have to see where it goes.

    Until then, while I write, here are a few big novels to come out of NaNoWriMo in past years:

    Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

    The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

    and Fan Girl by Rainbow Rowell

    … just to name a few.

    Are you participating in NaNoWriMo or have you in the past?

  • Bookish,  Feminism,  mental health,  parenting,  Personal,  Wit,  Writing

    Wednesday Words: The Joy of Syntax

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    Have you ever felt like a second person narrator in your own life? What is a second person narrator? Here you go:

    This point of view is the least common of all three persons, mostly because it’s the hardest to pull off …. You’ll recognize this point of view by the use of you, your, yourself with the absolute exclusion of any personal pronouns (I, me, myself). The narrator is the reader. It’s tricky, but it can be done.

    This sounds like the parenting life!

    The past four years of my life have felt like they happened to me. Multiple situations completely out of my control but demanding every bit of strength I had.

    Severe mental illness, physical assault, death, grief, angry and grieving teenagers, a traveling husband, a third teenager who slipped through the cracks, sexual assault, PTSD/anxiety/depression, police interviews, suicidal ideation, therapy appointments, psychiatrist appointments, loss of a hobby, loss of a passion, being used, disrespect, entitlement, addiction, lost dreams, lost friends, a new school, brighter days on the horizon…

    How are you feeling? What do you need? How was your school day? Your orthodontist appointment is tomorrow. The school called about the assault on you. You have therapy tomorrow. Did you take your meds? Are those boys leaving you alone? You can’t drink as much as you are. You can’t do drugs in our house. It’s time for you to be an adult. You love high school?! You have overcome so much. You are fierce.

    You get the point.

    The definition of the second person says that it can be tricky but it can be done; it’s  exclusively you, they, them. That is 100% accurate and correct; it is tricky.

    The exclusion of  I, me, myself is a dangerous way to live. It happens but it’s not without consequences. You miss what’s happening in your actual life while trying to stay on top of everything else that is moving so fast.

    It took four years but it caught up with me. Don’t worry because I’m ok. I have a great therapist. And a fantastic husband.

    I’m writing again. And in my research, along with my favorite “Ferris Bueller” quote, I found the antidote to living in the second person: change the point of view. Tell my story and flip the script to the first person POV where I can ask for help, I can say how I feel, I can put boundaries in place, and I can tell my story.

    Please don’t take this as me making it all about me. Because every good story has a balance; multiple perspectives and plot lines. And if the book is good, they converge and tell a cohesive and relatable story. But it takes everyone, even the antagonist(s) to create a rich plot. Because without adversity, there’s really no story arc and it results in something flat and boring.

    Our life has been anything but boring. Would I change anything about the past 4 years? Probably not. I certainly have learned from these years and for that I’m thankful.

    But I’m also really, really thankful that what our family wrote doesn’t resemble a horror novel and something closer to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.

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    And yes, I unapologetically admit to being Jeanie.

    Isn’t writing amazing? What surprising thing has it taught you about your own life?

  • Feminism,  Personal,  Wit,  Writing

    Wednesday Words

    No, I’m not on fire. At least not for the sake of other’s comfort.

    Anymore.

    Last night after dinner my husband asked me about taking care of some rather mundane tasks that belonged to other people; other adults to be exact.

    My gracious response was, “I’m not doing it. I’m tired of doing shit other people are supposed to do.”

    No kids or animals were around to hear my sparkly words so at least there’s that.

    His response was actually gracious. Because he is a very smart man. Well, actually he just said, “ok.” But whatever. Still a smart guy.

    However, I do think my abrupt answer speaks to where a lot of women are coming from these days. Especially women with one or all of the following: jobs, families, pets, household responsibilities, personal care, etc.

    We have been told we can have it all and in the process we have set ourselves on fire. Or worse, we have let others set us on fire for their own gain. They have taken advantage of our warmth.

    Now we are left burned. And hurting. Yet life moves on.

    Kids still need to get to school and activities. We have careers we show up for with smiles on our faces. Our homes need to be clean-ish. Our families have this crazy expectation to be fed. Even our pets want treats every time we walk in the door, even if it was just to get the mail. It’s exhausting.

    So Sunday evening, after a particularly trying weekend, the thought crossed my mind:

    What if I just stopped talking?

    I spend a lot of time up in my head with my thoughts but this was a weird one, even for me. It’s now Wednesday and I have finally figured out what that my silence would ideally achieve.

    If I stopped talking, people would see me.

    They would have to look. Forced to make eye contact. Forced to read expressions. Forced to make gestures… some probably not so nice if we’re being honest.

    We don’t see each other anymore. Our noses are buried in electronic devices. Even as we are rushing from activity to activity or chasing the next big promotion, we are texting and emailing instead of seeing the other person.

    And this lack of seeing others; I don’t believe it’s a female specific issue either. But because I’m a woman, this is my own perspective. And because this is me, I’m going to tell you what I, along with most women, long to hear:

    I see you.

    I see your frustration. I see your tears. I see your hurt over the destruction of addiction. I see your worry over your kids. I see the times you clean up messes made by other adults you are supposed to be able to count on. I see your struggles because we all have them. I see the well-intentioned fire you started to keep others warm and I see the harm it is doing to you.

    It’s time to stop the madness. Put the fire out and help another woman put her fire out as well. Because there is more than one way to generate warmth. Community instead of competition would be an excellent place to start.

    Build a different kind of fire. One that illuminates and allows us to see and support each other. We can all do better.

    And one last thing, take a look in the mirror and see yourself. I did that this morning and saw a woman doing her very best, and purposed to keep talking. Without as many sparkly words.

    Maybe…

  • Bookish,  Lists,  Personal,  Top Ten Tuesday,  Writing

    Top Ten Tuesday: Libraries I’ve Always Wanted to Visit

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    Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

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    Photo credit

    Is there a book lover who doesn’t love libraries? The smell alone gets me every time. My husband jokes that we should find a way to bottle that old book smell. He’s a very good sport about my book obsession!

    I know that my fascination with libraries around the world started with a visit to The Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford nearly 20 years ago. This list was easy to compile and I had a hard time narrowing it down to my top ten.

    1. Library of Congress – Did you know that they quit Twitter in January? Specifically, they quit archiving public Tweets. Too bad this didn’t become a trend in D.C.
    2. Hearst Castle Gothic Library – Everything about the Hearst family fascinates me including the books in their library.
    3. Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library – They house many of Margaret Atwood’s original transcripts along with Shakespeare’s first folio.
    4. George Peabody Library – It’s a gorgeous free public library and a music conservatory. Two of my favorite things: books and music.
    5. Boston Public Library – The first free public library in the U.S.
    6. Library bar at Electric House in Notting Hill – a bar and books? Yes, please. One of my favorite things to do is relax with a book and a nice bourbon.
    7. Morgan Library & Museum – I planned on visiting when I was there for work but unfortunately the weather was terrible. One day…
    8. New York Public Library – Obviously.
    9. Old British Reading Room, British Museum – another beautiful library that I would hardly call a “room”.
    10. Seattle Central Library – I can’t believe I haven’t made it to this library considering how many times I’ve visited Seattle. Next time for sure.

    Lastly, it would be very remiss if I didn’t mention my local library. It may not have the same beauty or architecture as the others on this list but I still love it and the contribution it makes to our community.

    Do you have a favorite library that you have visited?

  • Bookish,  Personal,  Writing

    About last month…

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    I have never been a big, “It’s [whatever month] and I’m thrilled!” type of person.

    By writing that, I realize I have an automatic elimination from the PSL (pumpkin spice latte) club and the sweater weather crowd. Not that there’s anything wrong with either because I wear sweaters every chance I get and drink exactly one PSL per year.

    But October 1st, on a Monday, the day before a vacation, after a ridiculous September, and I’m all about a big cheer for October.

    September was a month for de-cluttering our home after reading this book. The book talks about the “magic” that happens beyond having a tidy home. Pounds are lost, money is found, new paths are revealed, relationships change, etc. I was skeptical of it being one of those pseudo-spiritual things but the author was right.

    It’s not an automatic state of enlightenment but what happened for Steve and me, as we let go of our past belongings, we were freed up to turn a page and consider the future.

    1. New boundaries were set that were long overdue.
    2. Relationships changed. And for the better, no matter how you look at it.
    3. Things we thought we needed; turns out we didn’t.
    4. We found ways to save over $1000.00 per month.
    5. I started writing again.

    I’m amazed at what we were able to accomplish in September, even with high stress levels because of situations outside of our control.

    And about the control; I know I’ve written that in large part the past four years have felt completely out of my control. I lost myself. But I feel like I found myself again in the simple acts of throwing away papers, donating clothes, and finding what brought me joy in my surroundings.

    Who knew that I was buried under a stack of papers and in a sock drawer of mismatched misfits? That’s not where I imagined I would find myself because let’s face it, that’s not as adventurous or exciting as going on a solo kayak trip or climbing a mountain eating berries and drinking water from a filtered straw.

    But I’ll take it. Along with the $1000 in gift cards that we found tucked away in cards and drawers.

    So bring on October! The month where we will turn the page, travel, and finish creating a home full of what brings us joy.

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