Done, Part One.

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Setting: A college classroom. Various students are slouched in chairs, tired, and they are all wearing weirdly tapered Nike pants, which were so in style when I was a kid, but I still cannot fathom that young men are wearing these things today.

They kind of look like M.C. Hammer. But, you know.

I teach this class. The tapered pants are a distraction, but for the most part, we get through.

Last class we were discussing what a writer does for a living. And I was all:

“Hey, looket! I wrote a book. Like, for real. Here, let me show you!” And I showed them. But not, for real, because I have NO COPIES OF MY OWN BOOK for some reason. This is a weird glitch – but then, I figured. If you were Mark Hamill, would you have a bunch of copies of Star Wars at your house? That would be odd, right?

Actually, I so would. I would have a ton of Star Wars movies at my house.

And, too, I am not comparing Bottled to Star Wars. That’s just crazy.

Maybe Battlestar Galactica, though.

But I digress.

Then the whole class shouted, “NO WAY. Like, for REAL? Will you sign my notebook? Oh, wait, I forgot to bring paper. Or a pencil. So, here, sign my pants!”

That’s not how they responded. No. There were crickets. Crickets were chirping. I think one cricket felt sorry and said, “Nice job, dude,” but I am not sure because I don’t speak cricket.

Such is the glamorous life of a writer. You work on something for nine months and then you find yourself hoping that weirdly panted college kids will think you’re cool.

Ok, now, truth be told, I don’t really need the approval of these wee lads. But, at times, the writing life can be like this. You find yourself with all these pages of your life and you kind of carry it around, toting it from one reading to the next, and saying, “Please. Read me,”  hoping for a signing that has more then three people at it, one of which showed up because he was looking for the bathroom.

We writers. We are ego, coated in insecurity, propped up by a thesaurus.

So, a few weeks ago, I left my husband and babies (see below):

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These are not my actual present-day babies. I mean, they ARE my babies, but this is a much older picture. It was on my desktop. How could it not be? I mean, look at them. The adorable is strong with these two. Blond is all… Blondo Suave. And Red? Full on nutball.

Nothing much has changed really.

But, anyhow, I left ’em. And I drove here:

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To work on this:

 

IMG_7005.jpgAnd I was greeted by this guy:

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Look deeply into my eyes. I am here for you, dude. Write. WRITE LIKE THE WIND.

Yes. It’s a church. As I am a deeply spiritual person, and am always kinda Floaty with Jesus, it only made sense that my writing retreat would be at a church.

Ok, but seriously, my friend Sonya loaned me her house while they traveled. She has the added benefit of being a pastor’s wife.

But, I am deeply spiritual. Just not Floaty. One cannot be floaty with two small children.  That’s just asking for trouble.

So, I was working on the second book. The publisher that worked with me on Bottled actually decided to let me stick around, and so, Perfect* was born.

Actually. Not yet. It’s done… but it’s not DONE done. Because there is editing and fixing and moving and cutting and OH GREAT FLOATY FATHER there is still so much more work to do.

And I love it all.

Oh, and also, at the writing retreat? There was this:

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Cat, accessorized by a clip.

And:

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I’m in charge.

And:

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And IIIIIIIIIIIII EEEIIIIIIIII WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOUUUUUUUUEEEOOOUUUU.

IT WAS ALL CATS, ALL THE TIME.

Cats + writing + fifty thousand Blow Pops + too much coffee = and almost done book. It’s possible I’m dedicating it to those cats.

 

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*This is a working title. Other possibilities:

The Perfect Book

Second Books Are Hard

This is a Book and I Wroted It

Prefection

 

 

 

 

And so on.

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If at first you don’t succeed… blah blah blah.

Linking up with my people today at Five Minute Friday.

But, I don’t want to.

My fingers are tired. So is my head. Yesterday I had a meltdown so epic with my kids that even the dog left my side for a whole ten minutes. Which would have been kinda nice because honestly being followed constantly by Mr. clicky toenails guy is a bit annoying, but not in this case. In this case, I felt major dog-mom guilt. And basic mom guilt. Just, guilt. Loads and loads.

The theme for today, you ask?

 

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Good one FMF. I see what you’re doing there.

Ok, so pretty much every single free minute of my existence has been spent writing The Big Fat Second Book.

Here are some facts:

  1. That which won’t kill you will make you stronger. Maybe.
  2. It’s always darkest before the dawn. Or all day. Take your pick.
  3. If at first you don’t succeed, oh just put a sock in it.

Brace yourself. Whining is coming.

WRITING ABOUT HARD THINGS IS HARD. The past three chapters have been about hard things (good news! it’s still funny! don’t forget to pre-order!!! it will still be funny!). The hard things are there because Newsflash: LIFE IS HARD.

That’s kinda the premise of the whole book, actually. Dana finally figures out how HARD life is and she writes about it. I know, right? Should be a bestseller. I can just see the droves of people at the Barnes and Nobles:

“I can’t WAIT to read this book! It’s all about how life sucks the life out of you and is so very hard!”
“My gosh, that’s totally new information to me! I must read about it! It sounds wonderful!”

Perhaps I’m being a bit hard on myself here, but words are all stuck up in my craw and it’s making me… what’s that word for when you are upset and want to hit things?

Anyhow. The other day I broke our coffee grinder because I dropped it. It was a really nice coffee grinder and I hate hate HATE it when I break things. I also hate it when people say, “Oh well. I’ll just go buy another one,” because that just seems wasteful and the poor kids in India who made the coffee grinder probably could use a break. But, I really do LIKE ground coffee. It makes my heart sing a little. So – I was all smart and good for the environment and I bought a cheap little hand grind grinder thingie on the Amazons. Boom! I can work out my arms and save money AND electricity! I AM SAVING THE EARTH AND ALL THE THINGS!

Guys. To grind about one cup’s worth of beans takes forty five minutes.

Well, maybe not quite that many but it feels like it. I ground and ground and ground and… ground and ground… and ground… and checked and ground and ground…

I WANT MY ELECTRIC GRINDER BACK.

All of this is to say: keep trying. Don’t give up. Don’t give up on yourself as a momma, and also as a really bad hand-crank coffee bean grinder person. Because, you know, I am KEEPING that #@@%$ grinder and I’m gonna crank the ##$$ out of it. JUST KEEP GRINDING THE BEANS.

And, you, my sweet children, I will keep trying. I will come up to you and say “I’m sorry. Please forgive me?” and you will reach your little arms around my neck and we will all keep trying. We have to. We’re stuck with each other.

And YOU, book. Yea, I’m talking about you. I will keep trying. I will. I will write about the hard things and the funny things and dance around the parts that I think sound like the world’s worst writing since the history of writing, and I will not give up.

Or, as my son put it: “I forgotted yesterday anyhow, Momma.”

Press on.

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Darling Patrons: An Open Letter To the People Who Read My Stuff. Otherwise known as a blog post.

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I have lovely news, but I keep getting interrupted by other stuff.

Other stuff:

  1. Children. Small children. They NEED things. Even when they don’t they really like to carry on conversations with you. Case in point: This morning Red was coming out of the bathroom, sauntered past me, and asked, “Mom, do you like sausages?” I had no idea how to respond, really. It was the whole juxtaposition of the bathroom*, the nonchalance, and my inability to talk without coffee. I was flummoxed. But, yes, actually, I DO like sausages. Italian and summer are my favorite.
  2. *Just don’t dwell on it too much and it won’t get icky.

3. A furry white cat that was on death’s door a week ago. But more on that later.

4. Laundry. See #1.

I know the other stuff is normal (except for Steve, the cat but more on that later) but the older I get the harder it is to multi-task. It’s like my synapses just freak out and say, “Hey! Everybody! She’s trying to do that multi-tasking thing again! Take COVER!”” And there’s general running about and firing of synapses all over the place and waving of synapsey arms and mayhem.

I was trying to get (shove) my two boys out the door this morning for VBS, hoping for an hour to work on the lovely news, when I noticed that Red’s bed looked like he had piled every single one of his stuffed animals on it. It looked like this because, as I asked him for verification, “Mom, I piled every one of my stuffed animals on it! I have a kaJILLION!”

And that’s when I started in on Mom Lecture #3445, Clean Up Your Stuff Or It Will Go Away And You Will Have to Play with Sticks. 

Me: Red, you KNOW you are to MAKE YOUR BED every morning, and this is a MESS and-

Red: But, Mom-

Me: Hold on dear, I’m not to the sub points of the lecture. And FIRST OF ALL-

Red: But, MOM-

Me: One minute. FIRST OF ALL, it’s important to be RESPONSIBLE-

Red: MOM. MOMMY.

Me: AND ANOTHER THING-

Red: MOM THEY ASKED US TO BUILD THE WALL OF JERICHO IN VBS. IT WAS OUR HOMEWORK. AND I DID. WITH MY STUFFED ANIMALS. STRAIGHT UP BIBLE ACTIVITY ALL UP IN THERE.

Me: Oh. That’s adorable. And, they gave you homework? This VBS is hardcore.

Jesus and Red = 1 Mom = 0

 

Anyhow. I am now writing my little fingers off to tell you about THIS:IMG_6550.png

I’m working on another book. The publishing company actually wanted me to write another book. ANOTHER ONE.

Which, as you  know, means I am really a big deal.

Also, it’s possible I have had the worst case of writer’s block known to all writers in the universe (no hyperbole here) because FOLLOW UP IS SO NOT MY THING.

I’ll keep you posted. But, in fact, I won’t keep you posted as much as I would like because every stray minute that dangles in front of me is utilized in eeking out another painful sentence on this second-book thing. I am serious. Last night I wrote a sentence. Then stared off into space. Then deleted the sentence. More staring. Wept a little. Repeat. This must be what snails feel like all the time.

Poor snails.

I tell you this, so you will feel sorry for me. Just a teensy weensy bit? I always did like sympathy. I’m so not like those people who are all, “I don’t want your sympathy!”

I DO. I REALLY DO WANT IT.

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See?! This writing thing? It’s really hard! (To be honest, I think George might want to consider counseling.)

But, if not sympathy, then your prayers. My family and me need to survive together until the manuscript is done, and this morning I asked Blonde to provide me with a synonym for “glass” and he answered “Um, donkey?” and I just nodded and carried on.

Never ask an eight year old with bad hearing for synonyms.

I’m gonna try and stick with the donkey-half-full ideology that a second book is wonderful and exciting and such a blessing. And, it is happening because of YOU guys. So, I thank you from the bottom of my synapse-misfiring little heart.
I do love you so.

I lift my donkey of grape juice to you.

This book is gonna be so good, can’t you tell?

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I Know You Missed Me.

Well I’m baaaaaack!! (Waves fervently hello). I KNOW, right? You had it on your calendar that I would be returning this week, didn’t you? (Looks expectantly, out there, to the great interweb audience in the sky.)

I am staring at this screen like for some reason the words are going to come jumping out at me.

My goodness, the words are so not jumping.

This writing thing? It’s not like riding a bike. You have to keep at it, or the words just slump around, like surly teenagers.

Me: Hey kids! How are you? Anyone wanna snack? I’ve got Teddy Grahams.

Words: *eye roll*

Me: Sooooo, how was your day?

Words: Ok.

Me: So… anything else you want to share? I can’t write a blog that’s monosyllabic.

Words: *eye roll*

Me: YOUR FACE IS GONNA STICK THAT WAY AND YES I KNOW “OK” IS NOT MONOSYLLABIC.

Words: *mutters and slouches off*

Me: Ok, well, bye! Love you! Bye! I’ll be here, uh, waiting for actual interaction.

I missed writing. I missed it so much that I kind of forgot how to do it. That’s what happens when you love something and you don’t do it for a while. The love gets all smushed up and then it feels sad and it wanders off and forgets it exists.

Ok, that might be a bit over the top, but writing with sublety has never really been my thing.

So, I’m going to go and try to find some way to get the words to stop playing video games and saying things like, “Like whatever.” and shrugging so much they might pinch a nerve.

I’m going to keep at this, and hopefully the next post will be more inspired. It won’t be Pulitzer worthy, but it will be something.

Something to share, and something to spread a little laughter, and something that hopefully, HOPEFULLY, gives your day a little extra light. Because, that is my thing.

Words: Uh… little help?

Me: What’s wrong? Why are you walking funny?

Words: I over-shrugged. I did it too long and now…

Me: It’s stuck that way?

Words: It’s stuck that way.

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Get lots of Netflix and rest, and call me in the morning.

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My friends, lately we have been besieged by the sickness. Also, I have been hiding from social media because everyone is mad and yelling, and so I just want to post pictures of puppies. Here, like this one:

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I would like to make a plea, for my own sanity.

PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS, STOP YELLING. I KNOW I’M YELLING WHILE I TELL YOU THIS BUT I AM ALL ABOUT IRONY RIGHT NOW. AND, I’M DESPERATE.

OH,  AND THROWING UP. STOP THAT, TOO.

There are times when life just seems to be twisting around,  full of dark ships circling at night, all malaise and doom and puking and glooooooom.

Here. Have another one of these:

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Sometimes… the best thing to do is hibernate with happy things.

Or, you can hibernate with Netflix and fight the doom and gloom with a series of unfortunate events.

I was hooked on this series of books because they are dark and hilarious and twisty-turny. And, the Netflix adaptation of David Handler’s books is really really REALLY good. Like, dark and funny and so perfectly cast.

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I have to warn you. The events in this series are really, truly unfortunate. And there are moments where there is sadness and true villainy. But, there is heart too. And real empathy.

The show is not for wee ones. It’s for those that find sarcasm and dark humor their love language, so… anyone in middle school, pretty much.

Because middle schoolers know, probably better than anyone, that a twisty-turny world can sometimes only be combated with an equal dose of dark and stormy.

At one point in the introduction, just as in the books, Lemony Snicket warns us to not continue. He warns that any sort of continuation of this sad and gloomy affair will only keep piling on more sad and gloomy. Life is like that. Relentless.

And then he then turns to the camera and says,

“Trouble and strife can cover this world like the dark of night, or like smoke from a suspicious fire.. .and when that happens all good, true, and decent people know that it’s time to volunteer.”

He had me at trouble and strife.

And, volunteer.

Enjoy your dark and gloomy and enjoy the SUPERB cast, and just, you know, enjoy a little twisty-turny. It is a children’s book after all. You know, after a long series of unfortunate events, there will be light at the end of the tunnel. It might be a long tunnel, but I have the time. Last I checked, my evenings are free, except for Lysoling everything in sight.

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Resolutions are not useless and here’s why:

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Ok, so I write for a fabulous magazine called The Cov. It’s a good gig. I get to talk about Jesus and often, they allow funny.  At the same time. I have a good relationship with the editors. I know this because I can send them kitty memes about procrastination and they seem to appreciate them.

Like:

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And this one, which neatly sums up the process of trying to edit:

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And this one:

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Which really has nothing to do with writing but it cracks me up. Also this:

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I know. I need to stop. So, the other day we were talking about a January column and I was all:

“HEY RESOLUTIONS! NO ONE HAS EVER DONE THAT BEFORE, RIGHT?”

And my editor, who I shall call Larry, said,
“Resolutions are hokey.”

Oh, it was on.

Actually, no. It was not on. I was all, “Oh, sure… right Larry, I totally agree.” I didn’t argue because he is kind of my boss, but NOT without muttering under my breath, all passive aggressive:

“You will rue the day, Larry.”

Not really sure where we’re going here, but I made MY OWN RESOLUTIONS ANYHOW ON MY BLOG! WHO’S THE BOSS NOW LARRY? HUH?

I know. I have to assert control somewhere.

MOMSIE’S RESOLUTIONS FOR 2017:

  1. Maintain a good working relationship with Larry.
  2. Stop putting my coffee in the microwave, zapping it for twenty seconds, and then leaving it there to ponder its uselessness until forty-eight hours later.
  3. I’m going to use this book on my children. 51MF3u-JPAL._SX348_BO1,204,203,200_-1.jpgI will hold them each in my hands, ponder them for a minute, and ask them, “Tell me, small Red who has once again left a swath jelly behind in the kitchen like its own sticky Exxon Valdez oil slick, DO YOU SPARK JOY? DO YA, PUNK? DO YOU FEEL LUCKY?
  4. I will figure out how to number things on my blog.
  1. I will not actually donate my children, I promise. But you gotta know, MARIE KONDO DOES NOT HAVE CHILDREN. One day, if she does, she will grab some sort of useless plastic toy in her hands and start pondering it, and ask, “Small useless piece of plastic from The McDonalds, do you spar-” and her wee child will start crying and Kondo will just roll her eyes and toss it at the baby. You know she will.
  2. I will brush and floss every day.
  3. Freaked you out with that one, didn’t I? You were wondering… “Wait. She DOESN’T brush every day? Why am I even reading this?
  4. I will stop overusing “skin fixing illuminating age defying serum that costs shackamillion dollars.” I figured since the packaging said it erases fine lines I should just, you know, slather it all over. And now I head out for my day every morning looking like I’m J Lo.maxresdefault.jpg
  5. Actually? Scratch that. If I want to look like J Lo I can. Say hello to my glowy little friend:

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10. I will also try to get a handle on this:6a7c885b9a3b9476370d6de5a1b7c0ebd4d3d0359d90b8c1d9693788f25a6482_1.jpg

Betcha can’t guess what type of personality I am? I’ll give you a hint: I often have slanty eyebrows and I rhyme with “SLAY.

11. I WILL STOP SAYING ‘BOYS, ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?’ CUZ EVERYTIME I DO THAT A TREE FALLS IN THE FOREST AND EVERYONE HEARS IT.

12. And finally, as God is my witness, I will stop buying the bargain toilet paper. Life is just too short, people.

Here’s the thing (YOU KNOW I can’t write a post without some sort of “Here’s the moral to the story” moment? Right? Larry tells me I do this. It’s my thing. Alas, I often have no idea what I’m talking about in terms of morals, but I WILL CARRY ON.)

Anyhow, here’s the thing. I think this year I want to stop trying to lose things. I want to not try to lose weight or lose wrinkles or lose the clutter or lose my mind or whatevs.

I want more. I want enough piled on enough.

More, please!

More: Jesus. Family. Special Locked Door Husband time (yes, that’s code for nookie). Laughter. Small children who have impossibly long lashes and a total inability to eat without making the kitchen look like a crime scene.

More cuddling with this huge fat furry fluff of goodness:IMG_6138.jpg

This picture illustrates that Steve is two things:

  •      A bit of a risk taker.
  •      Really doesn’t mind pencils. EduCATed. Har har har.

I will take more naps:IMG_6131.jpg

I don’t have a picture of ME napping so these are stand-in, blurry nappers. Look carefully for the dog, he’s at the end of the couch and is basically really really hurt because Steve has his spot.

Also, we’re so healthy! V-8!

I will take my kids sledding, even when there’s only about 2 inches of snow. We will still attempt it. IMG_6222 3.jpg

I will stay up a little later, act a little sillier, and hug even tighter.

Also, I’ll listen to the Xanadu soundtrack more often.

Oh, and I won’t drink. There’s always that. That’s one minus I will happily keep adding to my life.

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And, I will write. I’ll even pen some resolutions. I will always, always love the re-set button that is January 1.

Happy New Year to you. May God richly bless you. You have been a HUGE blessing to me.

Even you, Larry.

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That’s not actually Larry. Love you, Larry!

“I would eventually have to tell.”

Let me show you how God works.

In my case, God does not work in mysterious ways. He knows, with me, he has to be a lot more CLEAR. He has to be, because I am, well, stubborn.

Y’all. Seriously. I’m “stubborn” like Richard Simmons is “Sassy.” We work it.

Anyhow… A few years ago I lost my mind. I drowned myself in a lot of wine, on a daily basis, and then, when the wine was over my head and I was choking for sanity, I grabbed onto more bottles and just sank even lower.

God worked: He got me out of there. He helped me out, dried me off, and we keep walking together. In fact, I am stuck to Him like really needy and sober GLUE until I get to meet him personally.

God worked. He got me writing gigs to keep me busy, and He asked me to start talking about the near-drowning stuff. He said, “Now. You need to tell.”

I now have a gig writing with Nazarene Publishing House. A column, for The Community, a blog that “provides content, insight, training, and conversations that inspire spiritual growth.”

I am totally freaked out that I am writing a column for anything that involved “training” and “spiritual growth.” I’m the one who used Richard Simmons earlier in this post, as a sort of analogous mentor, remember?

But yet, I’m a part of their crew. Ok, God does work in mysterious ways.

Now, I don’t usually do this, but I’m gonna ask you a favor. If you would, go peruse? Maybe subscribe? Follow on facebook, twitter, you know the drill. Perhaps I am biased, but there is some really good writing on there.

If you want to see my article, click here. Then, take a look around. It’s a good community.

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