NaNoWriMo 2015 update

Despite all the distractions, like Jackson swallowing the wire from his braces, National Novel Writing Month is going very well. I’m close to 20,000 words and have reached the point in the story where the scene shifts from one place to another, we jump in time a bit, and horses come finally into play. It’s time to draw upon my visit to Franklin in March and pick the brains of riders I know around here.

Jenny leading a horse

It would be misleading to say I like this story more than the first one, but I wager the writing is better. There are rules I’m following, bits of advice I’m following, and I’m careful to make each sentence as important as it needs to be. Though it will need editing for sure, I’m trying to write a story that has little fat to trim.

I’m also on my 50th book for the 50 Book Reading Challenge of 2015, and it’s no coincidence that the 50th book I’m reading is Big Magic by Liz Gilbert. Of course it is, and no, I didn’t plan it this way. Providence continues to weave its quirky web around my writing efforts and I’m thankful for it. Each night I read and each morning I write.

Fingers crossed. Everything forward.

Insert panic here

Suddenly we’re at the end of October. As I type, my bacon and goat cheese grits aren’t sitting well as my stomach is turning inside itself with worry. I have six weeks left in the semester, which means I have six weeks to finish the novel, edit it, design the front and back matter, write a synopsis, and complete a fifteen-page companion paper to introduce the project, explain my process, and cite sources of influence.

I also have to complete four big assignments for Genre Writing, homeschool the kids, do a few photos shoots, and say hi to Chuck every once in a while.

There’s a temptation to pull back and say no to certain things, but that’s really hard to do when you love everything you’re doing. I mean, when I’m taking photos like this, I don’t want to say no:

DSC_0275 low res w

(By the way, if any of you know to whom this sweet baby belongs, DO NOT talk about this photo to the baby’s grandmother, unless you want to spoil her Christmas present surprise.) Continue reading “Insert panic here”

Channeling Eleanor Roosevelt and Tim Gunn

Eleanor RooseveltChuck and I are slowly making our way through the Ken Burns series about the Roosevelts, which we recorded while we were in Washington D.C. Last night we wrapped the episode retelling Theodore Roosevelt’s death and Eleanor’s discovery that her husband, Franklin, had been having an affair. The entirety of the series is excellent, and for someone who did a mediocre job in history classes, it’s a great refresher for me. While the parts about Theodore and Franklin are engaging, my ears perk to their fullest when the attention turns to Eleanor. She’s intriguing in every way politically and professionally. To get to know her more intimately, I plan to read through her daily newspaper columns that ran for nearly thirty years, concluding at her death.

Changing topics, but not really, I’ve been wondering lately if I’m living in the monkey house. It’s a Tim Gunn reference from Project Runway, and while that doesn’t carry the same dignity and prestige as quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, here me out. Several seasons ago Tim Gunn, mentor to the fashion designers in competition with one another, visited a finalist in his home to critique his collection. The designer raised eyebrows by using human hair on some of his garments. Tim was disconcerted and wasted no time gently telling Chris that he should be worried:

“I have this refrain about the monkey house at the zoo. When you first enter into the monkey house, you think, ‘Oh my god this place stinks!’ And then after you’re there for twenty minutes you think, ‘it’s not so bad’ and after you’re there for an hour it doesn’t smell at all. And anyone entering the monkey house freshly thinks, ‘this stinks!’ You’ve been living in the monkey house.”

What in the world does this have to do with me? Everything. More specifically, the novel. As someone who’s lived her life under the weight of self-doubt and skepticism, it feels completely unnatural to be this confident about my work of fiction. I love it. I insanely love it. I love it like a child. I’m protective of it, frustrated with it, gentle with it, concerned for it, and very, very much in love with the people I’ve created.

I love it so much that I wonder if it stinks and I just don’t smell it.