Saturday, July 26, 2008


Why is it, just when I can't spare any more minutes in my day, my body decides to blow up? I'm on the home stretch with the book, going along great guns, knowing something's missing but I'll catch it on my rewrite. I'm good, I'm good, I'm good....

And then I'm not. I'm sick, I'm sick, I'm sick. I had some horrendous bug this past week that took me out for almost the entire week. I don't remember ever being so sick. I must have had some wild fever because I kept going in and out of reality.

Nothing got done with the book. I couldn't even have told you what the book was about. Assuming I could have uncurled my fingers from their claw-like position (did I tell you I was sick?) to type, it wouldn't have made any sense.

But here's the cool thing. As I was laying/lying (I can never keep those straight) in bed, feeling like a old bowl of Alpo, I got an idea of how to fix the story. Actually three ideas. One was probably the thing that, if I can pull it off, will make this story elevate, and the other two are thread fixes.

Most of you who read this know about the horrendous turn my life took two years ago. It was as if a great door slammed, and there I was, in a new room. An unfurnished new room.

I've been writing for years and years, and I'd managed to create a system that works for me. I use threads. It's very visual for me, the concept of these threads that run through each book--eh, I can't explain it easily here. It requires "twenty-seven eight by ten color glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used...." (source given below--anyone recognize it without peeking?). Anyway, this is the first book I've written since the Great Slam and I hadn't set up my threads in my graphic synopsis (I totally forgot them) and sure enough, my threads had tangled into knots and some were broken.

Janet, is there a chance this train of thought might pull into the station any time soon?

What I'm saying, in my very roundabout, still kind-of-sicky way is that sometimes the part of my brain that runs under everything, the part that keeps my heart beating and my lungs breathing, remembers life before the Great Slam and reminds me about the threads even if my upper brain can't.

Kind of cool, huh? So now I'm back to working on this book again, still a little slowly, but I've got the threads untangled and we are GOOD TO GO!

(Pssst: "Alice's Restaurant" by Arlo Guthrie)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Lolling around

Remember that song by Chicago? Does anybody really know what time it is? Well, apparently I don't. Today I thought I had a whole extra hour and I didn't, which resulted in me lolling around for sixty minutes that I really couldn't spare...but I do love to loll around. Lolling is way under-rated.

Unless I'm on deadline. I have to wait to loll until Aug. 2. Then I can loll for a little while before the next deadline comes clickety-clacketing at me with its little hooves.

Let's talk about lolling. First off, it's a lovely word. Lolling. See how it just lingers on the tongue? Lolling. Lolling. Lolling.

It's a whole lot better than saying, Procrastinating. Avoiding. Delaying. I always get this way when I'm on deadline. I suddenly want to clean my house. Really. Talk about weird, huh?

I love writing. I do. It brings me to life. So why is it so hard to do?

I was talking to my kids about transitioning yesterday. It's a phrase that's used to explain why, when your children are little, they cry when you drop them off at day care, they cry when you pick them up, they cry when they get home. It means that the transition from one environment to another is rough.

I was using this to explain why, when I get home from work, I need to smoothly and gently transition into being mom, and to please give me a few minutes before asking what's for dinner, can the son go to a movie and the daughter to the mall, does he have a clean shirt and where are her new jeans, etc.

And so I need to transition from my 21st century home, with a washing machine (running), a dishwasher (needs to be emptied), and a computer (in lap), to the 19th century, to rural Minnesota. I know my hero and my heroine need me--but my 21st century phone keeps ringing, my 21st century cat keeps trying to push the 21st century laptop off my lap, and my 21st century children think they should be fed.

ARGH! The pain of transitioning!

Tomorrow I'll loll for a little while, but it'll all benefit my writing. It's Crime Time Sunday on the Hallmark Channel. There's a Perry Mason movie (I love the theme song, and Raymond Burr's voice, and the generally unresolved tension between him and Della Street....well, my dears!), a Matlock movie (he's a great character to study--lots of understated dimension), and McBride (the device of replaying a scene with him in it as a shadowy observer is brilliant), plus a couple of my favorite detective and yours, in "Murder, She Wrote." Then it's back to writing.

And that's what I'm about to do now. 19th century Minnesota, here I come!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What if?

I just read about another child who's a musical prodigy. In this case, she's a pianist.

Here's what amazes me: what if nobody had ever placed this child's fingers on piano keys? Think about it. WHAT IF???

Is finding our talent a matter of chance? As a mother, I'm terrified at this thought. I look at my children and think, Could she have been a tuba virtuoso? Or Might he have been a zither whiz? My kids had the usual chance to try the elementary school selection of instruments (which oddly neglects the piano and the guitar, statistically the most commonly played instruments in the U.S.) but I've never tried piano lessons. Never gave them a banjo. And, yes, please, forgive me, but I've never put drumsticks in their hands.

Mother panic setting in. What if, what if, what if....

How many prodigies are undiscovered because they weren't connected early on? Because nobody put their hands on the ivories and let the magic be revealed?

I've vowed to watch my chickadees with more attentiveness. I'll catch every nuance of their interests. And, just to be sure, I'll put their hands on a keyboard and see if they happily pound out "Heart and Soul" or "Chopsticks"--or if they produce "Minuet in G."

Because you just never know....

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Wake up!

Do you ever need a wake-up call? I don't mean a hotel wake-up call...although, now that I think about it, that'd be good. If I was getting a hotel wake-up call, I'd be in a hotel, which would mean I was on vacation, which would be lovely. I do like vacations.

I mean a wake-up call that rouses you from a sleepy torpor in life. Every once in a while, don't you just emotionally give yourself a dust-off and clean out that garage, or get that proposal done, or finally match up that basket of socks? You know what I mean. Stuff that's easy to let slide. I'm a go-with-the-flow gal, and it's much too comfortable on my duff.

Soooo, this weekend I haven't exactly been a whirlwind, but I've been managing my to-do list, making some of the to-do into got-done. What a relief to cross those naggy little bits off.

I am on deadline, and tomorrow I'm putting some muscle behind the words. It's going to be hard, hard, hard--it IS Crime Time Sunday on the Hallmark Channel and I do love it. But somehow I'll manage both.

I'll just have to set my alarm.