Friday, February 29, 2008

Leaping into spring

Feb. 29 is such a misfit day. Every four years it comes pushing and shoving its way into the calendar, making the shortest month of the year an extra day longer. Leap year.

So how did I spend my misfit day? I went to work, but I left early to go to a prayer service for a friend's father who had died. Tomorrow is his funeral.

Funerals are still hard for me. I'm weary of crying. Saddened beyond measure to see my friends crying.

But I'm declaring that today is the kick-off day for spring.

One thing about spring is that it's hard for my spirit to stay low when I see things perking up. I'll find myself watching the scrawny lilac tree/bush thing outside my window. It's the first to report in with buds.

Birds, more than the big black cawing monsters that populate my backyard in winter, making it look like something from a bad folktale--yes, more birds will come and that raucous bleating will be replaced with robin songs.

The snow will go away, and the world will be, as e.e. cummings said, "mud-luscious."

And we will find ourselves smiling again.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Decisions, decisions....

Where to start the story? What's my character like? Matter of fact, what's her name? What's her problem, anyway? And his? Who is he? He's got to have a name, too--EEEEK!

Too many decisions. This is how messy starting a story can be. Matter of fact, it's kind of like:


When my daughter was a young chickadee, she came in to the kitchen. I had a bowl of raw ground beef littered with pieces of shredded bread and chopped onion, and I was cracking an egg over it all. I threw in some Worchestershire sauce and a slug of catsup. Then I dug my hands in, grimaced at how cold (and smelly) it was, and starting mixing it all with my hands.

She peeped over the edge of the bowl and asked, "What's that?"

"Meatloaf," I answered.

"MEATLOAF??? EUUUUUWWWW! That's how you make meatloaf?" She had her I'm gonna urp face on, and she fled the kitchen quickly.

Since that wonderful learning experience, she's never eaten meatloaf.

Starting a story is like making meatloaf. It's really messy at the beginning, doesn't smell so great, and there's no way on this green earth that its beginnings in any way resemble the final product.

But it gets there.

Right now I'm working out all the details of who and where and what in my story. I like to know my story's path before I get started, mainly because I am interrupted so often. I'm still deciding what goes into that bowl. And at some point I'll have to dip my hands into that mixture and begin the process of making a meatloaf book.

Let's hope it's yummier than a meatloaf! (I'm vegetarianish.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How cold is too cold?

It was THIRTY-THREE BELOW ZERO this morning when I woke up. Luckily, good northern girl that I am, I'd plugged my car in so it started right up.

But it's mornings like this that make me wonder: WHY????

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Dream a little dream of me....

I had the weirdest experience last night. I dreamed my book.

Now I know this has happened to other writers, but you see, I'm different. I'm sane (see the post below about the roller coaster). (Just teasing, writer friends of mine!) I have perfectly normal dreams in which normal things happen to normal people. They don't always make sense, but that's, well, normal.

I had a friend in grad school who told me about a dream he had about neon fish walking....I'm sure there was more to the dream but I was stopped at "neon fish walking." I never dream like that.

And I certainly never dream about something I'm writing. (Or meaning to write...) And I hadn't taken cold medicine or melatonin or anything. Nope, this came out of my own normal head.

So what does it mean? I think I know--> I need to write this book!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

And that's why they call it a cold...

For the past five days, I've battled a cold and it seems to be settling in my chest. It's not too long as I don't try to do something silly like BREATHE.

And to add insult to injury, it's reeeeally cold outside. Going into sub-zero temperatures with a chest cold is horrible. So I'm coughing, hacking, and wheezing my way through this week and trying to stay tucked inside as much as possible.

I'm trying to put the last elements of sparkle on a couple of proposals. The problem is that it's hard to sparkle when you're, well, coughing, hacking, and wheezing. That's when a cell phone comes in handy.

I called my friend M.E. in St. Paul. She is the world's BEST plotting partner. We've done this for years, and she's terrific. All I have to do is hear her voice, and I know it's going to work. She can identify a plot oopsie and lead me to a solution. And she helps me find the sparkle.

My local writing pal, Kacie, has gone to snowier pastures in Alaska. She always provided a different angle in helping me develop the plot. She helps me dig into the characters so deeply I should start charging them for psychiatric services. She'll be back in May for a visit--I can't wait!

It takes two to tango--but how many to plot one of Janet's books? Hmmmmm. If my head weren't so clogged with cold goo, I might be able to answer!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Blizzard warnings...

I think I'll use that as a title for a book. Cool, huh? (Pun sort of intended.)

Sometimes life is just SO unfair. Ask my kids. Why on earth should the blizzard blow through during the night...and on a Friday night, no less? Blizzards are supposed to happen during school hours so they can stay home and watch tv and read and eat.

But the storm came, and it went, and they slept through it. I didn't, but then, I'm the mom.

Here comes the metaphor--> Yes, except for my brief shining moment on the Tower of Terror, a parent is always on duty, and she is alert for the night winds so her children can sleep in safety. And of course, you can ratchet it up one more level, as what happened in a film we saw in church on Ash Wednesday. It's not long, and it's online, so I'll give you the URL.
It's called "Rain" and it's from NOOMA.
Be ready for tears...