Oct 31, 2009


On the eve of NaNoWriMo, I received the following e-mail from my father:



Good luck on your November writing project. May the words flow.


Love, Paw


Thanks Dad :-)

Oct 29, 2009

Just playing around a bit

A lot of people participating in NaNo have created "book covers" for their upcoming novels. I thought this was so silly. Why do that when you haven't even started writing? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the cover of a book can speak volumes. I'll even go so far as to say that at times, I've picked up a book based on the cover - just to read what it's about.

I honestly think that the whole process of thinking about what I'd want on the cover was helpful. It made me think about the whole feeling of my story.

Besides, it was a good diversion for me - it let me play around on the computer and also helped get my mind off the fact that with only two more days left before we start writing, I still feel unprepared.

But hey, if I could create a cover for my non-book, it might look something like this:

Cover Art2

Oct 28, 2009

Down to the wire

NaNoWriMo starts on Sunday. That leaves me only four more days (counting today) to finish prepping for this challenge. I'm getting nervous and I'm not exactly sure why. OK, so I'm afraid of "failing" - not making it to at least 50,000 words. I'm also afraid of getting one-third of the way into the novel and then freezing, having absolutely no idea what should happen next.

I haven't written anything in a really, really long time and I'm worried that I'm going to be rusty. Then I start thinking about all the little details that I still need to figure out. Like what the heck does one of my main characters do for a living? And how much do I need to know about that profession before I start writing? I know it doesn't sound like a bg deal, but it makes a difference. I don't want to be in the middle of this when I decide what his job is and then have no clue about the logistics of it all - what kind of work schedules do they have? How much would he earn (which affects what kind of lifestyle he has)?

I'm feeling overwhelmed by all the details and the very little time I have left. Why the hell did I even agree to try this? What on earth possessed me to try to write a novel in 30 days? How can I get this done while working full-time and dealing with all the other aspects of my regular life?

I want to win the challenge. I'm afraid that if I don't make it to 50,000 I'm just going to give up. This challenge is giving me the opportunity to finish something on that big ol' to-do list of life that some of us have.

Tonight is going to consist of finishing up our Halloween costumes and then I hope to go home and get more work done. I tried last night, but Griffin had other ideas.

Four more days.

Oct 25, 2009

Sunday sucked big time

I'm not even going to try to make this post funny. Today sucked. The morning started out OK - played with Griffin, took him grocery shopping, and then we got home and everything went downhill. He wouldn't take a nap even though he was exhausted. We had a similar problem with him going to bed the previous night. This morning he was not having it...and Patrick was growing frustrated. I was getting tired (I'm also fighting a cold and a fever). He wasn't just fussing. He was screaming. Ear piercing screams with tears. It just got worse and worse. He finally wore himself out and slept for 30 minutes. When he woke up it started again.

This went on until he fell asleep in the car at 1:30 PM. He slept for 50 minutes (yes, I drove that whole time - don't forget he was a colicky baby and this is how we survived for almost four months).

I took him to clinic that's open on weekends and it turns out he has a nasty ear infection. When I told Patrick, he said, "I feel bad for yelling at him." In his defense, he didn't really yell. We were exhausted and frustrated and confused.

So the little man is on another antibiotic. That makes two in a little over a week.

Oct 22, 2009

Can't get no respect

I don't mean to brag, but at only 15 months of age, Griffin is a comic genius. At his doctor's appointment this morning, he sat very still in his diaper and socks while the nurse took his temperature and listened to his heart. He stared at her and even smiled. When she got up to leave, she said, "The doctor will be right in." Without missing a beat, Griffin said, "Uh oh."

Thank you! He'll be here all week (and for the next, like, 20 years).

T minus 10 days


Oct 21, 2009

Halloween dilemma

OK, so it's probably not a big deal to anyone other than me, but the whole decision to dress up as an 80's rock band is bothering me. Don't get me wrong because I think it's a cool idea, but it means that I won't have any sweet, adorable pictures of Griffin dressed up as a bear or a peanut or something cute like that. Last year we went as the Wizard of Oz and he was the Cowardly Lion (make that the Cranky Lion - but he was just hungry), and he looked sweet. Now I have this crazy fear that I'll look back in about 10 years and wonder why I dressed him in acid-washed denim and let him whip around drum sticks for pictures.

So I've decided that for the sake of pictures, I just have to get him a cute (and inexpensive) kids costume. And, um, it's October 21st, so I need to hurry up and buy it.

Oct 19, 2009

It takes one to know H1N1

Griffin has been sick for the past week. We didn't give it much thought, but ended up bringing him to the doctor because he ended up being rather cranky at day care and was developing a dry cough. He checked out OK - just some viral crud. That was last Tuesday. By Friday, he spiked a high fever and his cough was worse. No day care. The doctor called in an antibiotic along with strict orders to call first thing the following morning if he wasn't any better. By 10 PM that same night, he was much worse. His breathing was labored and his cough was really "crunchy." With no other options, we headed to the ER. The diagnosis was bronchitis. Two hours and a dose of oral steroids and a breathing treatment later, we were on our way home. Poor Griffin was exhausted from coughing and from kicking and screaming during the treatment.

He seemed a bit better on Saturday, but on Sunday evening he developed another high fever. It lingered this morning and his cough was just awful. It was more of a bark than anything else. I made another appointment and found out that Griffin has the flu (along with bronchitis). The problem is that our local ERs will not swab for H1N1 (it's their strict policy). Today was four days after his initial symptoms, which is too late to start him on antivirals even if he did test positive for that strain of flu. Besides, I was told that with babies under 2, any flu is being treated as H1N1, and that the biggest concern is secondary infection (pneumonia, etc.). Griffin has been on an antibiotic since Friday, so he's covered in that department.

We are supposed to give him until Wednesday and then call the doctor to tell him Griffin's symptoms - they will decide of we need to bring Griffin in for another chest x-ray.

This has been a long weekend. For us and for Griffin.

Oct 14, 2009

A change of pace

I'm not talking about writing today. No writing. No NaNo. I'm not even going to write about Griffin (total shocker, right?).

I ask that anyone who reads this blog please check out the following journal written by my sister's neighbor. Bill is a 20-year old college student who has been in intensive care for almost two months waiting for a heart and kidney transplant. Donate Life Illinois approached him and asked if he would share his story as he awaits his transplant. He just wrote his first entry.

He and his family have been through a lot, not just during the past two months, but for the past 20 years.

I hope you take the time to read his story.

Oct 12, 2009

19 days and counting

There are only 19 more days before November 1st and the start of NaNoWriMo. I've got a lot to do to prepare to actually start writing. I've been perusing the forums on the NaNo web site and saw that another first-timer asked how others prepare for this challenge. Of course there are those few people who jump into this with nothing more than a fleeting thought of a plot. Then there are those who do major planning and outlining and pretty much all they need to do is connect the dots in their outlines and they've got the 175-page novel done. I fall into the middle - those who cannot fly by the seat of their pants, but who find an overly detailed outline too constricting.

So what to do? I actually found out that the process I've been using over the past few months (I told you I was slowly working on my story) would probably suit someone who needs some direction so they don't get lost when the pressure is on. The solution? A simple pack of notecards and some time to brainstorm.

So as not to bore everyone, here's what I still need to get done in the next 19 days:

  • Settle on/name a few more minor characters.

  • Determine goal/motivation/conflict for three main characters

  • Finish brainstorming plot points.

  • Get the plot points in some sort of order.

  • Fill in the gaps a bit.

  • More research - possibly on settings and occupations.

This sounds like a lot...and I think it is, but I hope to get stuff done during my lunch break. Patrick asked me if outlining was going against the whole "getting it all out on paper" idea, but I don't think it is (by the way, outlining is OK by the NaNo rules - starting to write before November 1st is not). I know what kind of person/writer I am. I need some sort of direction or I'll freeze under the pressure of the 30 day deadline. If I don't even have an idea of where the story is going, I could sit for hours or even days wondering what should happen, losing precious writing time. That doesn't mean that I have every little detail figured out. It just means that I have thought about what events lead my characters to do certain things. I've thought about what kinds of situations they might face. It might all change when I sit down to write, but for now, there's a semi-plan in place. I would never want everything figured out because that would take all the fun out of writing. Sitting down to write this story is like taking a little adventure with the characters (and with that sentence, I now fully realize how big of a writing dork I really am).

Oct 8, 2009

The night the lights went out in Iowa

Griffin is obsessed with lamps. OBSESSED. There's no easier way to describe it. He follows us around the house, points to an unlit lamp and says something that sounds like, "Pree! Pree! Pree!" We think he's trying to say "Pretty" because this is what my in-laws used to call all the things in their house that he shouldn't touch - "pretties." {Note to self: Need to nip that one in the bud before he really gets confused}.

So we turn the lamp on and say, "Lights on!" and then turn it off and say, "Lights off!" We have a lot of lamps in our house. A lot. You can tell when Griffin has been in a room because every single lamp is on. Why appease him, you ask? It's no big deal. We talk to him as we do it, so hopefully he's learning some language along the way. Besides, sometimes when I'm really exhausted, I just say no.

Our day care provider has a job chart on her wall. Take one guess what Griffin's job is? Lights Monitor. I saw that this morning and couldn't help but smile.

Oct 7, 2009

Embracing imperfection

I think making the mental switch from "holy crap, whatever I write needs to be perfect" to "I need to purge what's in my head and reach 50,000 words" will help rid me of my incessant self-editing. That's my real problem. I've had a good (to me, at least) story idea in  my mind since...January? Hey Jason, when did we last meet in DeKalb for lunch? That's when I came up with this idea. So it has been a long time and since then, I've done very little work. Some character development and few major scene ideas, but that's about it. I've been so worried that this idea would fade just like all the others, and who knows when - or even if - another idea would come along?

Here's an excerpt from the welcome e-mail I received after registering. It really spoke to me:

"Even if it’s hard at first, leave ugly prose and poorly written passages on the page to be cleaned up later. Your inner editor will be very grumpy about this, but your inner editor is a nitpicky jerk who foolishly believes that it is possible to write a brilliant first draft if you write it slowly enough. It isn’t. Every book you’ve ever loved started out as a beautifully flawed first draft. In November, embrace imperfection and see where it takes you."

Embrace imperfection. I don't think I've ever done that in my 36 years on this earth. I think it's about time I started.

Oct 6, 2009

Stop looking at me like I'm crazy

I signed up for NaNoWriMo. I needed a jumpstart. I need to stop editing in my head before anything even gets on paper (er, on screen). We'll see what happens. I start writing on November 1st.

30 days. 50,000 words. Game on.


{Ten bucks I quit by November 3rd}

Oct 2, 2009

We built this city on rock n' roll

We finally decided on our family costume idea for this Halloween. I've been bugging Patrick about it for weeks - it's his turn to choose - since we like to give ourselves as much time as possible to make our costumes. So this year's theme is:

80's Rock Band

Yes, this will include Griffin. I'm really excited because I love a good theme like this. Some other ideas we tossed around include: The Village People (Patrick and I thought this was great, but just couldn't do that to a 13-year old Duncan), Scooby Doo, Willy Wonka, Chicago sports teams.

I like 80's Rock Band because it involves big, bad hair and the possibility of acid washed denim. Rock on!