How We Write

I went to a local conference last year where I only knew a handful of people. While getting a bagel (I was so glad there were toasters! I still misunderstand the concept of an untoasted bagel), Jennifer from Bipolar Mom Life introduced herself and said she loved the way I write. While the conference was filled with valuable information, it was this moment, early on, that made the day special for me. Scoff if you will. Our words have power and you never know who is benefitting from something you’ve shared.

Jen tagged me last week in her post How We Write. This blog hop gives a glimpse into our processes for writing and I’m glad Jen asked me if I’d participate. Unfortunately, I tend to say yes and then cleverly forget to tell people that I suffer from yes, but. I say yes, but I am a procrastinator like you have never come across. I say yes, but I give early onset dementia a run for its money with regard to forgetfulness. Worse, I remember and then check in AND THEN FORGET AGAIN. I should really warn people.

All that said, I’m a day late but here’s a look at how I write.

1. What am I working on?

I have so many ideas right now, so many things I want to write about. There aren’t too many things coming out though. I am tired a lot lately. I am drained both mentally and physically and because of those things, my writing suffers. I will sit at the computer, yawn, then walk away. It’s easier to walk away, easier to give in to fatigue. But just like when I drink, I feel worse the next day.

There’s a post I need to get out about wearing my hair natural and one about my relationship with my mother. The latter is a doozy and will likely sit in my computer for many more months before I decide what to do with it.

2. How does my writing differ from others of its genre?

I’m not sure I’m even in a particular genre. I write about whatever I’m thinking about/dealing with at the time: parenting, marriage, finances, politics, food. I would say that I am honest and have a tendency to say what others are thinking but don’t know how to voice. I don’t believe that’s particularly different from other bloggers who write about the same types of things. Perhaps I can say my writing is different from others because regardless of topic, it’s MY experience which will always be different from another person’s.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I started my blog in 2008 because I couldn’t get a job writing. It’s always been my space to say what I feel and think, to share with others, connect both online and off. I write what I do because my words are important, my opinions valuable. I like having a place where I can write what I want and not censor myself for the sake of being politically correct. I like being able to write from the heart one day and about accidentally dropping a tampon in public the next (don’t worry; it wasn’t used).

I write what I do because I like to think I’m giving a voice to situations at least one person in the world was unaware of. For instance, when I mentioned Relisha Rudd’s disappearance in a post a few weeks ago, at least three people messaged me saying they hadn’t heard her story and were now praying for her safe return. That is why I write, why the topics I cover are important. It’s about awareness and like minds and even disagreements, but reasonably so.

My blog is also a time capsule for my kids, to understand me better, to see that parenting is not exact. I hope my words, regardless of topic, give my children a glimpse into who I am as a woman, mother, wife, friend, employee, potential entrepreneur – all the hats I wear – I hope it provides pieces of me that I may not have given freely one on one, for whatever reason.

4. How does my writing process work?

Oh boy. I tend to be unable to simply sit and write. I usually have to have an idea beforehand. I write better in the morning but I am not a morning person. If I’m tired, I get frustrated and lazy. The optimal time of day for me to write then is midday. I can’t write if it’s noisy. I can’t write with music on or the TV or children talking to me. Yet, weirdly, I absolutely cannot write if it’s silent. I am a weirdo. Where is the happy medium here? I DON’T KNOW.

I have a laptop at home but I’m more comfortable on the desktop. I cannot write in bed. No matter how many times I tell myself I’m wide awake and just want to be there for comfort, it ends the same: I’m going to go to sleep. Like Jen, I make notes everywhere, but especially in my iPhone. I have notes dating back more than a year. I have half filled journals with the beginnings of blog posts and short stories that may never be finished. Maybe they will.

If I have an idea and sit down to write, it tends to go like this:

Sit down. Start typing. Hate everything on the screen. Delete. Get up and get something to drink. Sit down. Start typing. Hate nearly everything on the screen. Decide to leave it. Then delete. Get up and get crackers. Sit down. Start typing. Refuse to stop typing. Delete only a bit. Get up and get pistachios. Sit down. Get up and go to the bathroom. Realize there’s laundry. And dishes. And damn the kitchen floor is dirty. And I should really shower now before it’s time to pick everyone up. GO SIT DOWN. Sit down. Start typing. Giggle at something I’ve written but wonder will anyone else get it. Get up and get chips. Remember there’s taffy in my purse. Refuse to get taffy until I’ve written a solid 30 minutes or 1,000 words, whichever comes first. Use taffy as a reward. Write bullshit just to get to the taffy. Complain about writing being hard.

Sigh.

It’s not always like that, mind you. Sometimes I sit down and bang out a piece and love it. Sometimes I sit down and bang out a piece and everyone else loves it and I don’t. Regardless of how long it takes me to get to the publish point, writing is what I’m good at. I’m used to forcing myself to not write, so that’s my own quirk and not indicative of any difficulty in writing. I talk myself out of it, pretend that I have no talent when the truth is I do.

I’m glad Jen thinks so too.

To keep the blog hop going, I’m tagging two bloggers whose words make me happy every time I see their names pop up in my feed: The Kitchen Witch and Mama by the Bay (I should probably have checked that neither has participated yet, but refer to the lazy I mentioned before. It’s real). Hopefully both of them will want to play along and provide their own answers to these questions next Monday (or Tuesday. AGAIN WITH THE LAZY. AND THE MEMORY. Don’t tase me, bro!).

 

Vintage: A Review

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Every person needs a base of people to whom he or she can turn in times of need as easily as in times of joy. We all need a person or persons to share the good and bad with, to express the random thoughts and fears and happiness that both plague and sustain us. Susan Gloss’ debut novel, Vintage, is the story of women united by such needs, united by the commonness of existing. Their coming together though, their mutually unfortunate circumstances, are nothing near common.

In Madison, WI at Hourglass Vintage, Gloss sets forth the story of Violet, the shop owner who believes every piece in her store has a fascinating history. And if it doesn’t, likes to “fill in the blanks with her imagination.” There is April, a younger woman in need of sage advice or just a listener. And Amithi, who seeks a new beginning while questioning her past.  Together, the three woman discover strength they didn’t know they had, or perhaps they did but never had to tap into that reserve, and impart wisdom and guidance unto one another in a way so typical for women bound by misfortune.

It’s not just the clothes that are vintage in this novel. In its basic sense, vintage means classic, traditional. The idea of friendship growing from seemingly nothing — no history, no foundation — but taking root and growing, is vintage. Not old fashioned at all, vintage friendships are the ones that start from nothing and remain for years to come.

Reading Vintage was like catching up with an old friend. Gloss effortlessly makes readers wish Hourglass Vintage was a real store; its quaintness is that appealing. The characters are flawed, likeable, and believable. Each will resonate with you or remind you of someone and you will absolutely cheer for their deserved success. Vintage is sweet and engaging, fulfilling at its end, leaving the reader satisfied and thoughtful long after.

This post is part of a Vintage blog book tour for Listen To Your Mother: Madison local sponsor, Author Susan Gloss. While I was provided a copy of the book, all words and opinions here are mine.

Just Write: Him

[Just Write is an exercise in free writing, no checking of typos or, in my case, sense. I sat down to write and this is what came out].

He asked why he wasn’t in the picture. Where was he? Was he playing with his toys? Was he gone with daddy? Where was he?

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Trying to explain to a four-year-old that that’s his older sister as a baby, that he wasn’t yet conceived, is hard. You weren’t born yet. Where was I? Not here yet. Where was I? I didn’t have you yet. This picture is of Zoe as a baby. But where was I? IN THE KITCHEN, Z, YOU WERE IN THE KITCHEN. OK. And he runs off.

I’ve never thought of myself as the type who’d get bogged down by, let alone sad about, my kids getting older. It sounds so cliche-ish. Oh, now she’s 13. When did that happen? And yet, here I am wondering just how, in fact, did that happen. But, it’s not with the oldest or the middle. It’s the youngest. At four, he’s still young enough for me to call him my baby. And that’s another issue entirely: the baby. He’s the last baby. I don’t have any more chances to get this right from babyhood. I don’t have another chance to nurse and not eat things that make a baby gassy. I don’t have another chance to cradle in my arms a baby I grew. I don’t have another chance to whisper nonsensical things to a baby who can’t respond, let alone understand.

He loves me. He loves me unconditionally. I can’t say that about the girls anymore. They’ve seen me be normal, be a woman first, before I’m Mommy. I’ve told them no to pancakes, eggs, and bacon because fuck it, just make some toaster waffles, I have cramps. He still thinks my thoughts revolve around him, that I’m here solely for him and his needs, his pleasure. That I feed him before I eat anything, that I ask him to go to the bathroom when I’ m hopping on one foot needing to go but refusing to use one of the others because I need to know he’s peed.

I look at him and think I should have written down more about him as a baby. I’m not going to remember him at 4 once he’s 5. I’ve already forgotten him as an infant. I wonder what he remembers about me. Will he be 10 and remember being 4 when I smuggled Smarties to him after Daddy said no more Halloween candy? Will he be 13 and remember that time when he was 4 and I yelled about him whining or rolled my eyes at him spilling juice or said I was too tired to play pirates? I don’t want to yell or roll my eyes or be too tired. I am and do all of those things. I am human. And I hate its normalcy.

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The level of love I feel is indescribable. It seems dumb to try to explain it, almost dumb to feel it, to love something this much, to be this afraid for it, this fearful of something bad befalling it. I shake my head to  make those thoughts go away. He smiles and I’m done. I’m not a pushover, but the smile makes me a nudgeover. He gives random hugs (admittedly, so does the middle girl. But she’s so far gone, in her ten-ness, her unlittleness). I feel like I can still keep him at four, still hold him as little, bend over to hug him, build elaborate cities with LEGO and K’NEX.

He’s talking on a play phone saying I’m sick of your words! Where’d he hear that?

My 10-year-old just said she has cleavage. She doesn’t have cleavage. I DO NOT HAVE CLEAVAGE. Stop talking to me. She goes into the other room and sings Annie’s Tomorrow, with the wrong lyrics, in the wrong pitch. And I love it. I’ve been looking for Annie on Netflix and it’s not there. I found it in Target for $5 the other day, spying it on the belt as I paid. WHERE’D YOU GET THAT? I almost lunged at the woman behind me who was buying the DVD and one pair of underwear. And then I wondered whether it was a replacement pair for the ones she was wearing. Who buys just one pair of underwear? Did they fit perfectly under whatever dress or pair of pants she was wearing? Why just one pair? I remain confused. I bought Annie.

He has a tooth loose. Loose teeth mean continuing to grow and thrive and change. I’m glad each of those things is occurring. I don’t want any of those things to occur.

Stay a baby.

Grow up and learn to love your own children this fiercely.

Stay my baby forever. No matter how big you get, you always will be.

This love is scary.