Good Tidings

I read, signed, and sent my contract for Lily White in Detroit to my publisher yesterday. Yay! Now I must knuckle down and do some work on the ending as I promised my editor I would. Maybe I didn’t mention that before…she loved my story, yes, but the ending fell a little flat for her.

But why? I already knew. It was an epilogue and a clumsy one. My critic partner Tom had already suggested I cut it, but I didn’t, because I had an idea for my character and her arc and I didn’t want to give it up. I still don’t. I have ideas of how to layer those last actions Lily takes to personal freedom into the story a little earlier.

Think I’ll put it in the chapter I was afraid to write, so didn’t. I should have been braver but sometimes a writer just needs her editor to give her a little nudge. It’s a pretty fair bet that if you are afraid to write something, you must do so. Immediately.

Meanwhile, I have a few weeks to make the shift from my St. Pete set next book to editing Lily White, because it’s my publisher’s annual holiday shutdown.

In other news I am still reading Christmas novels. Just finished Comfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah. I’d read a few of her books before, The Nightingale, Firefly Lane. So when I got a BookBub deal for her older Christmas novel, I took it. And loved it. It might be my favorite Christmas novel this year.

This has been a different kind of holiday, but I’ve really enjoyed it so far, and I hope you have too. I went to Florida, helped Al paint and furnish a guest room, saw my son Mike and his family for five luscious days. They all four fit in the new guest room just fine! Came back to Michigan and maybe eight or so inches of snow, but there will be much more up north when Al and I go see our other son and his family later this week. They live in the snow belt and routinely get way more snow than we do here.

Counting blessings here, my grandchildren are the best. I don’t see them as often as I’d like, so every minute we have together counts. It was so fun to play with Owen and hold little baby Julia in my arms as she napped. I’ve done that with each of them as babies, feed them, they fall asleep in my arms, and instead of putting them down for a nap, I just hold them and drink them in. Babies to hold, books to write, books to read…Christmas doesn’t get any better than this.

 

 

 

 

Blessings and Curses

This time last year my life seemed both blessed and cursed. On the blessed side, I welcomed a new grandson and, then, several months later, another. Two grandsons in less than a year. Who could be more blessed?

Well, and here’s where the cursed part starts, they lived all the way on the other side of the country, more than 2,000 miles from my home in Detroit. And there were no plans or even any interest in “coming home.” They were already home on the West Coast. So I traveled a lot to see everyone, even more than I had previously. What used to be once a year became three times to Seattle last year and once to meet the new baby in California. Travel is a blessing. I adore the entire Pacific coast  and will never tire of exploring its seascapes, mountains and canyons. Visiting my sons and their families enables me to do that. Blessings.

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A bit of a curse creeps in still when my heart yearns to relocate. I feel particularly drawn to Seattle, where people seem more in tune with my core values than here in Detroit. I love that people walk everywhere or take mass transit. The massive recycling. The politics is more in line with my way of thinking and so is the spiritual side. I love the ease of getting around in the great neighborhoods to shop, to dine, to hang out. I love destination walking with hills. I feel very drawn to Seattle. The curse is my husband does not share my attraction. He likes Seattle fine but he’s still a Detroit boy at heart, while my heart is firmly west of here.

Partly as a result of this, my marriage seemed cursed last year. I took steps away from my longest, most enduring relationship. I almost left. But something in my body, literally, made me stay. It was a wake up call like I’ve never had, a big epiphany in one little life. I was signing a document that would put one of the last nails in the coffin that had become my marriage when I literally became paralyzed. I had written C-Y-N and then could not write further. And I’m a writer! Yet my hand refused to move.

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I could not finish signing my name to the death warrant for my marriage. It wasn’t happening and it perplexed me. Isn’t this what I wanted? Isn’t this what I’d carefully considered and about which I’d done a fair amount of footwork, not to mention soul searching? So why was the pen not moving across the page? “I need a minute,” I told the person on the other side of the desk. “Take your time,” came the unruffled reply. I breathed. I tried to write. It didn’t happen. I tingled from head to toe. What the hell was going on? Something like this had never happened to me before. I’m a person of action, and when I decide on a course of action, I see it through.

Not this time. I finally put the pen down, tore up the document, and excused myself. I still didn’t know what was going on. But when I felt the strong urge to connect with someone, anyone, and share what had just happened, the person I called was my husband. He was the one I instinctively turned to with my overwhelming confounding experience. And thus everything I’d been feeling and doing came out over a long intense conversation, paving the way for reconciliation. We rebuilt our relationship from the crumbles of the castle it once had been, stone by stone. It wasn’t easy, but a year later, the fortress of our love is stronger than ever.

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And I owe this to the intuitiveness of the body. My body knew the correct path before my mind could comprehend it. And my body, as it has so often done, reacted in a profound way that got my attention. I’ve never been a mind-reader although I dabble in Tarot and Astrology. I admire people with the ability to intuit others’ thoughts and feelings. I wanted that ability for myself, worked hard to hone it. In the past twelve months, I’ve realized I had strong intuition all along. It was in my body, if only I could learn to read its signals. Because I listened to my body, I know that this is where I need to be right now. In Detroit. In this marriage. And knowing where I belong, well, that is a true blessing.

Blue Morning

I had such a fun weekend–it feels churlish to complain just because it’s over. Al and I spent the entire weekend together, watching the rain pour down on Friday while eating take out pizza from our favorite place, going to the movies and out to dinner Saturday, puttering around the house and eating super-healthy Sunday.

Hmmm. Not sure why food is such a major issue in my weekend memories.

Yesterday was Mike and Jessica’s first anniversary. They’re in Hawaii where they did a triathalon together. It’s nice to think of them, doing things they love and being so in love with each other and together in a beautiful place under last night’s full moon.

 Plus I get to see them in August when they come to visit, and then Al and I are going to Texas to see Tim and Alicia in September. So, I have lots to be thankful for.

Then why exactly do I feel all mopey? Probably the latest agent rejection. It came Friday and I ignored it, or tried to, all weekend, but today I had to deal. Confidence shot to hell. Really, what makes me think I can even write novels? Especially novels anyone is interested in reading.

Sometime I think I’d be better off just sticking to reading them. Just finished Jennifer Weiner’s Fly Away Home, Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad, and am in the midst of The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman. Three really different but all lovely in their own way novels, and right in a row!

And then there’s the season premiere of Mad Men I taped last night…

Really, my life would be so much simplier, and I’m just guessing here, maybe even happier, if I didn’t try to write. Or if I just wrote and didn’t try to get published. That’s the tough part. Why am I still putting myself through it?

Then, after going through the usual litany of woe, I saw the Dalai Lama’s post on FB today where he said a mind full of negative thoughts is much weaker when you need to be strong. You can’t withstand the struggles as easily when you’re weighed down by negative thoughts. And then I remembered that I am not my thoughts, and I don’t need to carry them around.

It’s a never-ending process, though, to keep riding the waves of emotion, to not let riptides of negativity pull me too far off course, to keep coming back to this life and what I am doing with it. And maybe it isn’t always going to be writing. And that’s okay, too.

Blessings

Yesterday I revised the review and sent it in (early!) and this morning I looked at the essay I’m working on for Good Housekeeping’s Blessings column. I had only written a first draft, and I knew it needed a couple hundred words plus a whole lotta polish. It’s still not there, but I’ve gotten into a habit that feels right to me with these short pieces. I do one revision, then I let it sit.

Used to be, I’d keep working away, revision after revision, until I was too mentally drained to go on and/or had convinced myself the piece was perfect. Now I’m more a “What’s the Rush?” type of writer. For a personality that’s usually impatient, I’d say this is progress. It certainly makes the process more joyful. And I think it makes the writing better, too. Letting an idea bubble, then a draft settle, then a revision sit, these are good things, savory things.

I’m enjoying this relaxed state of writing. It feels very much like a blessing.  

My Beautiful New Old Blog

Love this new space, especially the cherry blossoms! Thank you, Mike, for the design, the hard work, the updated bio, and incorporating my “Garage Band” interviews here on my beautiful new old blog.

This morning, I finished a draft of #10. Also drafted a review, for a grand total of about 800 fresh words. #10 is the last pitch in a list I’ve been throwing out since January, when I vowed to get ten magazine ideas out to editors and then relax. Some of the pitches surprised me by turning into something else. It’s almost like reversals when writing fiction! In fact, one piece IS fiction. A full story, not a pitch. #10 is a full piece, too. 

Another surprise–three of my so-called pitches are really marketing ideas for my book. But, hey, they took research and writing, so they made the list. Another surprise came this morning with #10. I thought I knew the content, because it’s been brewing for a long time. I even started working on it, opening a new Word document and getting some swirling thoughts down. I had my market all picked out. I was ready to send that baby into the world and report triumphantly that I’d completed my list.

Everything was ready except me. I wasn’t fired up about that pitch. I wanted to do something else. Something along the lines of an essay I’d pulled randomly from a magazine and had sitting on my desk. So I printed out my pitch notes and put them in the file for another day and wrote the thing I really wanted to work on. The thing I hadn’t known I was even going to write, the thing that I don’t often think directly about, the thing I’ve barely articulated before in print.

Sometimes, the universe nudges me in an new direction, and I go. That’s what happened this morning. And it’s really a direct result of the new/old blog. Nobody was more surprised than me when I stopped writing In The Pink. It just happened, and it felt right, so I stopped. A part of me has been working almost unconsciously behind the scenes, setting me up for what’s next.

And what’s next is more writing like #10, a short essay of 500 words for Good Housekeeping’s Blessings, similar to the stuff I’ve been writing for five years for In the Pink.  But different. Sort of like this new/old blog.