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Archive for November, 2013

I spent 45 minutes in line today to get my turkey, and another few minutes at the garage getting air put in my tires, and I cannot tell you how grateful I was to be able to do both things. Sometimes in the rush of the holidays (shopping! baking! and my ‘favorite,’ cleaning!) it’s easy to lose track of just how fortunate I am. Fortunate to have the time and the money to be able to afford a turkey, fortunate to have a farm down the street that raises birds with care and humane practices, fortunate to have a car that’s safe and reliable to get there and back — the list goes on and on. I’m afraid, sometimes, that if I list all the good things in my life the wicked fairy from Sleeping Beauty will come to curse them, so I’ll whisper the rest of my blessings to myself.

I’m lucky too that both my children’s schools run food drives during the holidays, making it easy to help out others who might not be that fortunate this year.  Demand for assistance is up since a temporary boost in the nation’s food stamp program came to an end.  If you have a moment, try to catch this Diane Rehm show on hunger in America — it is worth listening to. (And if you can’t find it to hear, at least check out the comments listed below the description.) States from New Hampshire to Texas are seeing more hungry people, and oftentimes the biggest sufferers are the smallest — our children.

Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, I wish you a bountiful holiday season.

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We had a chance to take a last-minute trip last week, to Ireland. When we were lucky enough to go two years ago, I had plenty of advance notice. That meant I checked out the six-disc audio book on Ireland’s history, signed us up for online Irish lessons, collected movies on Irish culture, and basically created a home school Irish program with which to torture my children.

This trip, there was no time for any of that, so I tried a quick review.

Me to Boy: What do you remember about Irish history?

Boy to Me: Hmmm. Well, when they weren’t fighting everybody else, they were trying to kill each other.

Me: Good enough. Let’s go!

So with that and a Dia dhuit, we were on our way. And you know what? We had a great time.  Maybe we didn’t see every castle and museum in a 25-mile radius of where we were staying, but we saw enough, and we had fun.

My husband booked a trail ride for me. The day I was supposed to go, it poured. Absolute buckets. So the instructor suggested we do a private lesson inside.  She asked if I’d ridden before (I had) and wanted to know what I’d done.  And about fifteen minutes later, she was saying things like

Instructor: “Okay!  Pick up the canter at the letter F!”

Me: “I haven’t cantered in years!”

Instructor: “That’s great!  Canter now, please!”

And so it went.  Every time I said I hadn’t done something in years, she would give a perky reply and tell me to get on with it, and in no time at all I found myself facing a two-foot jump.  Which doesn’t SOUND very high, but when you are sitting on top of a large animal and you’ve just realized there’s no seat belt, it’s more than high enough.

But here’s the thing:  My brain was making little gabbling noises in the back of my head, but my body remembered.  My body was saying things like “Shut up. We can do this,” and shortening reins and lifting my butt out of the seat. And when I shut down my brain and just moved, didn’t think, everything went surprisingly well.

As writers, we live a ridiculous amount of time in our heads. For me, that means not just when I’m writing, but when I’m living, too — I’m always analyzing everything, teasing apart whatever meaning could be hidden in a conversation, a glance, a silence. This habit can get in the way — of creating, of relationships, of simply living. Sometimes, we need to tell our brains to shut up and get out of the way.  It’s a lesson I need to be reminded of again and again, and when I am, whether by design or by accident, I’m always amazed at how present I feel, how sharp everything seems, and often, how much fun I (and those around me) manage to have.

Tell me — how does your brain get in the way? And what are your tricks for shutting it down?

Tall horse

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Big Mouth

Big Mouth

There are lots of things I keep meaning to do lately, but never seem to get around to actually doing.  That’s particularly true when it comes to my writing community. It seems there’s always something else more pressing (deadlines, soccer games, homework help, actual sleep) or that requires the same financial resources (again, soccer fees, dance classes, dog kibble).

But supporting other writers — and finding that kind of support for myself — is so essential. Before my novel was published, it was amazing to connect with other writers who were struggling to create the best story they could, to find an agent and then a publisher.  And getting to know those writers, watching them launch their own novels out into the world, has been a wonderful experience.  It’s also been pretty cool to get to know some people who have been down this path before me, some of whom I’ve admired for years.

So this month, before the holiday madness truly starts, and my resources start going toward other essentials (like dog kibble, again — the Slobbering Beast can eat! — or books and toys for the kids) I’m going to carve out a chunk just for me.  Here’s what I plan to do in November:

Renew my membership at Grub Street.  I constantly tell people about this fabulous writing resource in Boston, but somehow I’ve let my own dues slip.  Whoops!

Join the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. This is a new group I’ve been eyeing and meaning to join for a while, but haven’t found the time.

Purchase/preorder several books by authors I know. (If you are interested in which ones, I’ve linked to and mentioned them on my FB author page recently.)  They are all great authors at different stages of their careers, and I want to make sure they all have the chance to keep writing. (Oh, heck.  You’re not going to click, are you? Fine. I’ll make it easy.

Joshilyn Jackson’s Someone Else’s Love Story

S.A. Laybourn’s  Christopher’s Medal

Therese Walsh’s The Moon Sisters

There.)

Is your money aligned with your mouth these days?  Tell me how, please.

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