Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fairy Houses

Trying to write with kids in the room is like trying to french braid hair in the middle of a hurricane. You need these precise words and images to do what you want them to do. You almost lay your hands on them and fit them into a sentence. The image or line of dialogue you want is just within reach. You are about to pluck it out of thin air, when you hear "Mooooommmmyyyyyy?????" Everything you had in your hands is blown away and scattered, not to be retrieved until after bedtime, if you're lucky.

Don't you love a good french braiding simile?

I feel like I'm in a daze half of the time these days. That's nothing new, you're thinking. You're always writing about feeling that way. You may have a point, but I think I accidentally called the director of Charlie's preschool my main character's first name the other day by mistake. I feel foggy and removed from real life a lot. These are either by-products of the writing life or it's the prescription adult acne medication I'm taking.

I'm so tired.

The times I have to write are the times when normal people would be watching TV or taking showers. I feel like I'm trying to fit this thing into my life that just won't fit. It's frustrating, like trying to stuff Charlie's extra-wide feet into a pair of Chuck Taylors. Brandon knows what I'm talking about.

There's this new fad going on in the hipster mom world. Have you heard of it? No, it's not bento boxes, but those seem like lots of fun too. It's fairy houses. All the cool moms are encouraging their kids to get outside and make little houses for fairies out of sticks, leaves, rocks, pine cones, etc. You can get as elaborate as you want to. You can turn your fairy houses into some kind of Ikea showroom floor for fairies by making furniture, wall decor, little acorn sconces, peacock feather throws...the sky's the limit.

I love the idea of these fairy houses. I will have to get out there and start making some with the kids now that the weather is nice. I like the conceit of creating this miniature world for people that presumably don't really exist. (Sorry, I may be a weirdo in other ways, but I'm not a believer in fairies.) Unlike playing transformers or slogging through a game of Chutes and Ladders, this is the kind of play I can get into.

On good days, writing feels like how I imagine building fairy houses feels. It's just that instead of bark and feathers, I'm using words to build homes for my fairies to live in and get messy.

I used to feel like a fraud when I told people I was a writer. Similarly, I would've felt like a fraud if I went around telling people I was an ice skater. I would write the way I'd ice skate: shakily and infrequently, but with moments of glee. Now, I don't feel like a fraud telling people that I write. I do write. I fit it in even though it is almost impossible with three small children. I do it almost daily. A lot of times I do it badly, but I still do it.

I'm looking forward to the time when I can write without the distraction of children. Does that sound terrible to say? I'm not wishing their childhood away or anything. Teddy does this thing right now where he walks backwards when he gets really excited. He looks like a tiny Michael Jackson in Robeez. I don't want to lose all of that. But maybe a nice long writing retreat...a whole weekend to write without someone hurtling grapes at me or asking me to make them a sandwich. That sounds pretty great.

Sorry to those of you who thought this post was going to be a how-to on fairy houses or that it was going to have something to do with bento boxes. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Shhh honey, Mommy's blogging about that funny thing you said yesterday.

This article is exactly what bugs me about mom blogs these days and why I rarely go cruising the internet looking for mom blogs to read. I've always had an "if-you-build-it-they-will-come" philosophy about my blog. I don't have a tracker that counts how many people visit my blog. I have no idea who's reading this thing. I keep meaning to get one, but then there are other pressing things to do, like, oh, I don't know hang out with my kids.

I feel like if the writing is decent and strikes a nerve, people will read this. All this crazy marketing of oneself makes me very uncomfortable. I have been trying to give Twitter the old college try. It is a good way to connect with other writers, especially other moms who are writing. I really like that about it. But I hate the narcissism that it breeds. Every time I get a new follower (and it is not often), I actually am fooled into believing that it means something, that my stock has just gone up a tiny bit.

This kind of thinking is dangerous. I recently got a new follower and they even put my Twitter "handle," "mommytown" in the line of one of their tweets. They said something like, "mommytown, you'll love this." I was blushing from head to toe. I had a secret admirer! And they were basically shouting their devotion to me from the rooftops! Alas, they were just trying to sell me on their ad agency specializing in social media. Of course. That old trick.

How many minutes of my life did I waste on that stupid tweet? What did that emotional roller coaster ride do to my psyche? What fun kid activity and how many loads of laundry could I have done with that precious time? I'm all for moms doing creative work and getting paid for it, but when that work involves turning the hilarious shenanigans of your kids into a brand that you try to sell to the highest bidder, then that sort of makes me want to puke a little. Go sell it somewhere else, sister, because this mommy isn't buying it.

Harsh? Read the article and see what you think. First five commenters get a brand new Fleurville diaper bag and will be entered for a chance to win a trip to Disney!!!!!!*

*; )

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Revising looks a lot like writing

I am starting to revise the novel now. I am acting like I know how to do this, but I'm pretty clueless. First I read the whole thing and took notes on stuff that jumped out at me that needed to be changed. Then, I organized/cleaned out my closet. Because you can't possibly revise a novel when you have a messy closet (duh). Then I bought a cute notebook to put my novel in. It matches my desk chair and everything. And finally, I bought a big box of my drug of choice while writing/editing: Swiss Miss (marshmallow lovers).

So, I have a list of things I need to fix, but I don't feel like I can just go back to those sections and fix things and be done. For some reason, I feel like I have to literally rewrite the whole book. So, that's what I'm doing. I'm retyping the whole thing and adding and deleting stuff as I go. I feel like I know my characters so much better now, so it's easier to add things about them that never would've occurred to me to add in the first draft.

When I was writing the first draft, it felt like I was sculpting something, like I was forming a story out of a big blob of nothing. Now, this time around, I feel like I am painting a picture from a sketch. Like, the general outline is there, but now I have to fill in with shadows and color and give it dimension so that it feels like these people are living and breathing and their story is real. I don't know any other way to approach it other than just taking it one word at a time. So, that's what I'm doing.

To help me finish this revision as quickly as possible, I'm participating in National Novel Editing Month. Jealous? It's not nearly as hype as National Novel Writing Month. It's hard to get that excited about editing. But, for me, it's pretty exciting to think that if I do the 50 hours of editing that I've pledged to do this month, I will hopefully be done editing my book and ready to send it out into the world finally. So far this month I've logged four hours of editing time. Only 46 more hours to go! Hopefully, by the end of this month, I'll have more than just a full-blown Swiss Miss addiction. Ugh, I hope so. I'm ready to send this story out and have other people read it for a change.