Archive for June, 2013

ImageThere’s a saying I keep on my bulletin board, the place where all the schoolwork fit for display is hung.  It says “When you’re a parent, the days pass slowly, but the years fly by.”

I’m not a ‘quality time’ parent. I’m in it for the details, not the days at Disney World (although those days have been pretty fine too).  I’m in it for stolen minutes stretched across my daughter’s bed, listening to her talk; for playing catch at the pool or beach with my son and marveling at his reach; for long car rides and afternoon walks and any time I can get them alone and just be.

Summers are the best days for that. Summers are the breath between school and sports and work, the long slow exhalation as we throw off a schedule that’s too tight. I’m off to long hot days, to sticky Popsicles that stain tongues blue and green, to water gun fights and wiffle balls and hermit crabs and fireworks. To sunburns, to too much sand, to chlorine scented hair and water-wrinkled feet. To all the tiny moments that make up these days, to treasures I can hold on to when another year has flown. Because after all this time together, my kids are still some of the most interesting people I know.

See you in September.


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IMG_1402If I squint, I can just see the end of this book I’ve been working on for such a long time.  It’s there, misty and unformed, but close enough to touch — hopefully sometime in the next few weeks. After I’ve written those blessed last words  — The End — I’ll take a week or so off, and then start in on … revisions.

Yep.  “The End” doesn’t ever seem to mean the end.  It just means the beginning of the next stage. I always find it helpful when other writers share their processes, so here’s what I’ll be doing:

1) This novel has multiple POVs, so I’ll pull each one out, make it a single document, and work on making that voice as strong and consistent as possible. (See more here.) Starting my revision this way has the added bonus of making the manuscript seem fresh and new to my eyes.

2) I’ll put the manuscript back together and face down the abyss with the help of Elana Johnson, who gives my go-to advice on revising here. 

3) I’ve been sending the manuscript to my awesome first reader in chapters all year, and she’s been sending it back with comments. The proper response to anyone willing to help critique your manuscript is a big fat “Thank You!” but sometimes advice is hard to read. So I stick comments I might question in a separate folder and let them simmer there. I’ll do one last read through that folder, and be amazed at how much great advice she’s given me. That means another round of edits.

4) Time to send it out to my regular reader (if she’ll have me) plus a fresh pair of eyes.

5) Repeat.

That’s my summer vacation — what do you have planned?

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After umpteen months, I can finally see the end of this novel. It’s there, just out of reach, perhaps three chapters away. I’ve been writing those final lines at baseball games, at dance rehearsals and while grocery shopping, carving them out of the air, inscribing them on my mind. But I haven’t put them on paper yet.

Why not?

Some of it, of course, is the time factor. It takes time to get in the zone, to set up and immerse myself in a world that’s not this one. But there are plenty of people with much busier schedules than mine who manage to write a book or more a year, so it’s not really a valid excuse.

And then last week I was scrolling through my Facebook feed (see how much time I have??) and Vaughn Roycroft posted a link that caught my eye. It was by Steven Pressfield, and it talks about how resistance is secondary to the dream.  Resistance only exists because of the dream. If you are blocked or stymied when you are writing, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. You just need to see past that resistance to whatever dream is on the other side.

This makes sense to me. As writers, there’s so much angst surrounding what we do. Writing is so subjective, and we’re always worried — is it good?  Will an agent like it? Will an editor like it? Is it good enough to publish?  Good enough to sell?  What if it’s not? Can I rewrite it?

Remember the movie Bull Durham? I love that movie.  It’s filled with great quotes, like this one: “”This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.”

Unfortunately, writing isn’t like baseball. You can throw, catch AND hit the ball, and sometimes you still lose. So you have to be in it for something else. And that’s the dream. The dream of writing well, of creating a world so perfect and true and believable that while you are there, you can forget, at least for a moment, that you created it. You can forget all the noise outside (is it good?  will it sell? what will people think?) and just exist in that world for a while. You have to get out of your head to get into it.

Or, as Crash says, “Don’t think. It can only hurt the ball club.”


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It’s spring in New England, at least for a little while. Summer vacation is right around the corner. I have a lovely craft post all planned — you’re really going to like it — but between baseball and soccer, baseball and recitals, baseball and concerts and more baseball, I haven’t actually written it yet. (Also, the deadlines. I think of Douglas Adams and his quote “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make when they fly by” often at this time of year.)

But do not despair! I bring you something else. I went for a hike today with a friend (totally necessary for my sanity) and after I stopped by one of my favorite gardens and took pictures. I am sharing them with you, because next week this garden will look totally different. The peonies and the irises — two of the best spring flowers — will be gone, replaced by other, more heat tolerant plants that are lovely in their own way, but don’t share that sense of sheer, exuberant joy, as if they could not wait to burst open. Or maybe I just feel that way because their life span is so brief.  Either way, here:



And here:


These are for you.

Did you know that irises are one of the sweetest-smelling flowers? The name comes from the Greek word for rainbow, and the flower signifies courage, faith and hope — the epitome of spring in New England.


As you rush through your own busy days, remember to breathe. Preferably someplace where you can smell the flowers.

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