Month: April 2010 (page 1 of 2)

Goals? Commitments? I should be Committed.

Another great day in Mrs. Garloch’s classes. If I could teach JUST the honors students? Sign me up. So fun.

But I seem to have made a promise. Or a commitment. Or a goal.

Am I insane?

Probably.

I told these fantastic kids that they could do a galley project for me. That I would get my WIP as close to done as possible and send it in for their feedback within the next 5 weeks. Um? There’s a lot still to do in that there WIP. And I’m going to have to ramp up my writing mojo in order to make my stupid, self-imposed deadline. No that I can’t do it. I can. If I never again cook a meal. Or have a shower.

So here’s the Great Garloch Galley Project:
I’ll deliver a draft, and everyone who wants to read it will promise to send at least one positive and one negative point of feedback.
I’ll receive the feedback and decide which parts I need to change.
I’ll draft again.

Because that’s how we do it.

And really? I love going to schools. I (heart) teenagers who love books and reading and stories and life. What a great couple of days to spend with these remarkable students. Thanks, everyone!

Where Am I?

Yesterday, where was I? At the optometrist’s office, having my retina checked. Because possibly I’m a hypochondriac. Here’s the story: At my last visit, he said, Hey, lady, you have dreadfully strong contacts prescriptions. You should be very alert for the following symptom: if by chance you ever see some weird fluidy floating, light-flashing ripples in your lower or upper fields of vision, you need to come in right away. Because your retina is probably detatching, and if you don’t deal with it RIGHT AWAY, you will be blind. (“Dealing with it” involves knives and surgeons and several days spent on one’s face in a hospital bed.) To which I said, oh, sure. No problem. So yesterday, I worked my little guts out in the garden (which has no snow in it today, but just wait till tomorrow and the next 3 days, ick), doing many hours of inexplicable manual labor. Then I came inside. And got these weird fluidy floating, light-flashing ripples in my lower field of vision.

Are you worried? I was, just a little.

Turns out that thanks to my ridiculously large pupils, he could check me out without putting those manga-inducing eyedrops in, and I’m fine. No retinal detatchment. Just a migrane. Oh, that’s funny. Symptoms can be precisely the same. So as if having a migraine wasn’t pleasant enough, I can now worry that I’m also going blind. I think I should stop doing manual labor. Agreed?

Here’s where I am now: In Mrs. Garloch’s awesome Honors classes Tuesday and Wednesday. We talk books and writing and publishing and creating and reading and eating cupcakes and post-apocalyptic zombie mermaids. We’re having fun. At least I am having fun. Mrs. Garloch loves Shakespeare and at least two of my kids, so she has my eternal devotion. Even though she prefers chocolate to buttered popcorn.

And Thursday? I’m signing books at the BYU Women’s Conference. I’ll be in the bookstore from 11:00 until 1:00, and then I’m going to eat sushi with my friend H. Hooray for book signings! Hooray for H! Hooray for sushi!

(And I need to explain the sugar content of yesterday’s post: I am no longer “off” sugar. I’m half-off. I’m trying to be more a nibbler than an inhaler. I ate just enough of that breakfast-dessert goodness to last me most of the day. Until I had a lemon bar for dessert. And nothing yet today, thanks.)

Where are you?

Breakfast Joy

So I’m not a big breakfast eater. I don’t love milk, and I’m sort of disenchanted with maple syrup. But my Kids (and Husband) get a hot breakfast every morning. And some mornings, like this one, breakfast borders on dessert.

I wish I had a camera. You’d want to lick the screen.

Here’s what we ate:

Caramel Apple French Toast

1 loaf day-old french bread (homemade or not – ours was), sliced into thick pieces
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
2 Tablespoons tapioca (or cornstarch)
4 cups sliced and peeled apples
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cinnamon sugar as desired (because why not?)

Melt the butter and stir in brown sugar and corn syrup. I do this in the microwave in the 9×13 pan (which you’re going to bake it in), so as to not make further messes. Nuke that for a minute or so. Stir in the apple slices and spread them along the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with the tapioca. Mix eggs, milk and vanilla in a bowl. Dip bread slices into egg mixture and place them on top of apples. Wedge them in nice and tight. When that’s all done and the pan is full, pour the extra milky eggs over the top (you know, evenly). Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Cover it up and put it in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 400. While it’s heating, let the french toast sit on the counter. (Because trust me, we don’t want to put a cold pan in a hot oven. No. You don’t want to know.) Uncover it and bake for 45 minutes, or until everyone is drooling, noses pressed to oven door. When you serve it, scoop it out and flip it over, ala pineapple upside down cake. Except for breakfast. And if you’re too healthy for that to be a breakfast food, go ahead and make it for dessert – and be sure to serve it with a scoop of ice cream.

You’re welcome. I love you, too.

Magic Mirror

The Nordstrom at the nearest mall has a magic mirror.

I’m totally not making this up.

The mirror at the end of the hallway inside the dressing room makes me look 6 inches taller and 20 pounds lighter. My legs are long in that mirror. My face, too. I think, in fact, that I look svelte in that mirror. And, trust me, svelte is nothing normal for me.

Magic Mirrors. I want one.

Here’s what happened: I walked in to the dressing room, tried on a pair of jeans (which, by the way, FIT me – I know!), and as I walked out to get an opinion from Kids 1 and 2, I saw myself. I had some trouble holding back a screech. I was FABULOUS. I grabbed the girls and said, “You ‘ve got to try this!”¬†They came in and gaped at their reflections. They twisted and vamped in front of that magic mirror, getting eyes-full of those long, stretched bodies. I knew I’d regret looking too closely, because of the inevitable return to the totally prosaic mirror inside the dressing cube. So I only looked too closely for a second.

*Sigh*

I wonder, if I had a magic mirror of my own, would I trust it? Would I start to believe what I saw? Or would I always know that somewhere, there’s a totally normal mirror that reflects the truth? Would I buy into the image? Or would I know I was kidding myself?

And who cares? If I felt beautiful for thirty seconds every day, would that be worth it?

(The answer is YES.)

And what if I had a magic mirror for my writing? Would I stop being the oversensitive, validation-starved, snivelling doubter I’ve always been if I could, even for a few seconds a day, see the svelte version of my work?

Hm. Methinks there is something to this.

Liberation Thursday

I have goals.

I just thought you’d like to know.

For instance, every day for the past 2 weeks (and no, Saturday and Sunday don’t count as days, duh) I’ve written 1000 words. Some days, barely. But my WIP is growing because I’ve been diligent. (I love me some diligence.) The writing goals are excellent ways to keep me honest.

But, did you know? I have other goals, too. Like to live in a house that resembles clean. To be a good wife. Also to be a good mom (or at least, not an ogre mom). To ponder. To study. To eat deliciousness.

So, yes. I should be working on my story. But today it’s snowing. (Yes, I’m still feeling the tingle from Tuesday’s sunburn.) And there is laundry. And cookies that really ought to be made. Also, I want to finish a book I’m reading, which I can’t actually say I’m enjoying, but I want to finish it. And Kid 4 had major meltdown time while practicing the piano this morning, so I think I should probably help him repeat that when he gets home from Kindergarten (repeat the practicing, not the melting, you know).

And so I’m declaring today Liberation Thursday, the day when I can write a bit, and not look at my word count. I can put a few scenes down (a good system would be: 1 funny, 1 plot-assisting, 1 emotional) and then move on with my day. Numbers, begone. I shall not focus on you today. I shall write for the love, not for the numbers.

Want to get inside my head? Are you sure?

* being the person who takes a shower every day, I walked on the wild side yesterday (when my hair still held Sunday Goodness) and skipped it. I saved 46 minutes of my life for sitting in the sun. It was a good idea.

* how many days can a headache last before it becomes a condition?

* “grandma sycamore’s home-maid” (their typo, not mine) white bread is like candy around here. But all 4 Kids would rather eat actual homemade wheat pita. Success.

* a woman in the mall heard me say to my Kids, “Come, my Minions. We go.” She looked appalled.

* no sugar for weeks. Then cake. Dumb? Oh, yes. See headache reference, above.

* attending an event Thursday evening. Lurking on other attendees’ blogs makes me think I should be paying more attention to what I’m wearing there. Alas, I can’t care.

* once again, I am so grateful not to have a real job. I love to be home.

* sprouting tomatoes (remember from las week? We were at 13?) have reached the number 60. If half those plants each produce one tomato, I will be well ahead of last year’s yield.

* yes, I produced a thousand words this morning. And apparently it ate my brain. These things happen.

* i really like my Husband. I just thought I should remind you. He is good.

* this is all.

Tap… Tap… Tap.

Oh, mercy.

This is going to take forever.

Do you know how there are some days when it all clicks? Whatever it is you’re doing, it just sort of happens? Those days are good, right? I have those days when I’m writing. Sometimes I can bust out a thousand words in an hour. One very memorable not-so-long-ago day, I wrote 500 totally keepable, emotionally-charged words in 20 minutes.

Today?

Not so much.

Last week, when the Kids were on Spring Break, I had a goal for 1,000 words a day. I totally made it, too. And they could be keepers. But something happened by Friday. The words came more and more slowly. Maybe the ideas were dumb. Maybe my brain is drying up. Maybe… maybe nothing. It was just hard. All the writing on Friday was hard. And it continued to be hard on Saturday.

And guess what? It’s being hard today. The words are not there, at the edge of my brain, ready to jump out of my fingers onto the keyboard. Do you know what they call this? This is WORK. I cringe at the confession that I hate to work. I like my words to burst out of me, flow, explode. At most today, they’re dripping. I have no sea of words. I have, at very best, a puddle. I have to really push it today. And it won’t happen in one sitting. I’m going to have to (*gasp*) Come Back to it. Ew. Don’t you know I prefer a job that I can start and finish in one sitting? (This is one reason I don’t sew. Also I can’t follow a straight line.)

So today, being a writer is work. But guess what. I’m still doing it. I’m sitting here, tapping out some words, and going to make muffins for breakfast and tapping out a few more and helping kids practice and tapping out another hundred and getting up to fold a load of laundry. Then I’m coming back. Tapping some more. Leaving again. Getting outside, hello, because suddenly it’s spring (3 inches of snow a week ago, but today? Spring). Having lunch with Kid 4 (because there are only 8 weeks left of the Kindergarten portion of my life, and I resolve to enjoy these weeks) and then tapping out some more. I will keep tapping it out until I make my goal number. And maybe it will come a little more easily tomorrow.

Maybe.

But until then, here’s this little thing we say around here when something is proving tricky: I’m a girl who can do hard things.

Tap. Tap.

Tap.

News Flash: Boys and Girls are Different.

I know. This is breakthrough stuff. But it’s on my mind, so now it’s on your screen.

Once upon a time, maybe ten years ago, I read a book. This is not news. But the book was nonfiction (rare), and about sports (exceedingly rare). It’s called “The Power of Nice” by a sports agent/lawyer called Ron Shapiro. And it was funny. And a little bit brilliant – or maybe a lot, because there are things in it that I still have in my brain, after one reading.

For instance: Boys and girls are different.

Here’s how. He says (please give me some leniency here, I’m memory-quoting after a very busy decade), let’s say, there’s a soccer coach. He coaches both guys’ and girls’ teams at a high school. If that coach were to go into the girls’ locker room and say, “Most of you are doing pretty well, but there is one girl on this team who isn’t pulling her own. She’s getting sloppy. She needs to refocus. Maybe she’s even put on a little weight,” Every Single Girl in that room would say, “I’m the one. He’s talking about me. I need to change.” And then the coach goes into the boys’ locker room and says, “One of you is fine. The rest of you are out of shape and fat and lazy and driving me crazy,” Every Single Guy in that room would say, “Okay, then. At least I’m fine.”

Do you believe it?

I think I do.

I could spend many paragraphs here talking about raising a boy after three girls, and how they are SO INHERENTLY DIFFERENT, but who cares? Nope. Not me, either. So instead, I’ll talk about writing boys. My Work In Progress has three main boys and a Dad (who was once a boy, if you can imagine). Also two main girls and an accessory girl. Plus a Mom. I’m finding out what they’re all like, how they are the same and how they are different. And I’m trying not to go stereotypical, you know, because that would be Bad. But there’s a reason some things are stereotypes: Because they’re frequently true. So if I have an artist, say, who also happens to be an athlete, does he get the attributes of the artist, or the jock? And don’t they sort of cancel each other out? See? That’s how to avoid a stereotype (simple version).

If it’s easier for me to write girls, it’s only because I’ve been one for a long, long time. It’s not because girls are simpler.

And typically, there are things that girls are supposed to care about (home things, feelings, relationships) that boys aren’t supposed to be too wrapped up in. But what better way to thicken up a character than to give a girl a typically “boy” attribute – like a weapons fetish – along with her more consistently “girlie” concerns, like does this holster make my hips look fat?

So try it. When you’re writing something, or making assumptions about a Real Live Human, make some room for the unlikely. It just may make it all more True.