Writing in November

dream timeLife is weird. Life is also busy. It is now November. I have two sick kids who are on the mend and I really just want to take a nap right now. I slept well last night, aside from strange dreams, but I feel like I need an extra thirty-minute nap or something to reach fully recharged. I think these days that is a permanent feeling. I am always a nap away from not being tired but I never actually get the nap.

November is National Novel Writing Month. Three days ago NanoWriMo kicked off and thousands of people out there are furiously writing away at what will hopefully be a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. My friend Lori is giving it a shot. I have competed against time and life to write that 50,000-word novel in a month before too. I am considering doing it again. Only this time I think I will give myself a break. I mean I did just finish a book. Not quite a 50,000-word novel, but a book none the less.

I think I will write a book of short stories. There are hundreds of writing prompts you_fail_only_if_you_stop_writingfloating around out there so I can just pick one or two a day and write a bunch of short fictional narrations that will eventually add up to the necessary word count.  That is the tentative plan. I also have another book idea but I have so many writing irons in the fire I really don’t want to chase after another long project right now.

If anyone out there wants to hop on board the National Novel Writing Month train, I have provided links to the website. It is fun and challenging, especially if you have never done it before. I am just giving it a shot for fun. I know I can write a novel in a month if I need to so I am not as worried about if  I can. I am just writing to support my friend in her endeavors as she runs the race and to enjoy writing just for writing’s sake. Who knows, maybe I can churn out something useful by the end.

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Morning Contemplation

cupI’m writing this on a Tuesday morning before getting ready for work. I have a new coffee mug that states “Mornings are for Coffee and contemplation”.  It is actually from the Netflix show Stranger Things, but I have wanted one ever since I saw a character drinking from it. Not because of the show but because I liked the mug. I like the show too of course, though I haven’t seen the second season yet. I am waiting to watch it with my eldest child and teenagers rarely have time for moms.

Anyway, I am rambling about the wrong thing. What I wanted to ramble about is the tree in my neighbor’s yard. The reason I like my new mug is that it reminds me to set aside time just to be, to sip a cup of coffee or tea and look around the world instead of just rushing through it. I am trying to be better at doing that.

So, I was sitting in my favorite chair with a hot cup of coffee and my front door wide open. The only light was from the door and the windows because I  wasn’t quite ready for artificial light yet. I heard the cicadas singing and there was a light breeze rustling the flag still attached to my porch from the 4th of July. I had the passing thought that these five minutes of my morning sound like the beginning of some sort of patriotic commercial or political ad campaign. Then I notice the gentle trembling of green leaves.

My across the street neighbor has a huge tree in her front yard that squirrels delight in. The wind this morning just teased its boughs while it was bathed in early sunlight. I waxed poetically inside my head about how pleasant the morning was and how nice it was to watch the oak tree across the street, and then promptly tripped over my own thoughts. Was the tree across the street an oak? Maybe it’s a maple?

I got up from my chair and moved to the door with my coffee so I could squint at the fall-leaves-63221_640foliage, trying to make out a single leaf. The wind picked up just enough to toss a couple of yellowing small ones from a top branch. They twisted and danced as they fell to the ground, making it impossible for me to tell what they looked like. My morning contemplation has been filled with: “Is it a maple or an oak?”

I am pretty sure the tree is a oak. Maples around here aren’t usually so big. If it is a maple tree it is very old. I could just walk across the street and look but that feels too much like giving in.

To write a book…

charlie-chaplin-392926_1280When I was in school I hated American History. I thought it was boring. I thought that since other countries had been around so much longer, they were obviously much more interesting.

Now that I am older, I am no longer so excluding. For the past few weeks I’ve been focused on the American Civil War. My attention was peaked last year when I did some family history research. It was more recently that I received a book of local ghost stories that pinged that interest again.

Then I spoke with another writer who I greatly admire. I told him that I had been thinking about writing a book that takes place during the civil war. I recounted what I had found out about my family, and he said: That sounds like a good place to start. Why don’t you?

That “Why don’t you?” Has been echoing around the empty cavern of my skull for weeks.

I tried to use the excuse, “Well, life has so many changes going on right now, with the new job and going back to school…”

My inner writer answered with, “You don’t work on the weekends and part of your degree is going to be in History anyway.”

Then the dragon of self doubt raised its head and said, “Do you really think you can find anime_dragon_1024x768-634320the time to write a book? Look how well that has worked in the past. You have three unfinished novels sitting on your computer right now. And remember that rejection letter. The one that hit the mark so well.”

The dragon almost got me. Then I remembered the rejection letter it was reminding me of was the catalyst I needed to pull up my boots and march back to school. The three unfinished novels reminded me that my current way of writing isn’t working very well and I need to try something new. (Not that those three will never be finished. Two are honestly in a rewrite stage but I changed things and got stuck in the muddle in the middle. Then proceeded to wallow in the muck.)

So now, with so many things already on my plate and with so many new challenges to face, I find myself stacking yet another task on top. I’m going to write a book. Sanderson Quote-800wi

Changes come to Camelot

Hello everyone. I’ve been slacking a bit lately when it comes to blog posts. The truth is life
has been full of changes recently, which has left my mind foggy. It is hard to pick one thing to write about when there is so much going on and it is even harder when you are smack dab in the middle of all the changes that are happening.

Change is one of the constants in life. Things always change. Today is a big day for change too. Today I say good bye to the best boss I’ve ever had the pleasure of working for. She is off to greener pastures (and hopefully better pay).

It isn’t good bye forever of course. It is just the boss/employee part of our life journey has come to an end. Now, I hope we will stay connected as friends.

There will be more at a later date of the other changes going on in my life, but for the moment I will leave you with a poem that pretty much sums up how I am feeling.castle-195105_1280

Camelot Falls

By Tammi A. Miller

Camelot has fallen

Mordred is at the gate

The table is now splintered

And our lives left up to fate

Our Royal leader must depart

To travel Avalon’s golden shores

We are knights without direction,

Boats who have come unmoored

We will not long stay adrift

Using knowledge our leader taught

Yet a bit of worldly good is gone

Such a truth can not be fought

Our banner has been trampled

The staff broken by unnamed foes

The colors stained and tarnished

Our morale crushed by heavy blows

We still have our beaten armor

And with it, weapons sharp

We can battle by strength and mind

Though what we lack is heart

We are without a sovereign true

Without a mentor to guide the path

We must choose all on our own

How to miss mistake’s quick lash

Camelot has fallen

Mordred is at the gate

The table is now splintered

And our lives left up to fate.

I am not Mary Poppins

mary-poppins-bagI’ve been rather down lately, in both body and spirit. As one heals I try to focus on raising up the other too. Not feeling well in body can dampen low spirits evern further.

It has been really hard to think and focus. Like my brain is so busy trying to steady the spinning world that it doesn’t have room for things like words or holding on to thoughts. I find this incredibly frustrating.

Then a couple of days ago I decided to check my email. My writing ego, which was already beginning to look like a flap jack, took another hit. I got a rejection letter. That isn’t unusual. I get them all the time. However, this letter left about a paragraph of actual honest usable feedback.

Normally I would be really happy about that. Feed back is a good thing. Non-form letters are good things. The problem was that I liked the story I wrote quite a bit. There is nothing wrong with that either, except I came away with the feeling of being exceptionally clever and I let that writing high go straight to my ego.

The story was average but shows promise. I just have yet to develop that promise. You see I learned a few things writing that story and, like a kid who just learned to tie her shoes, I felt like I had mastered the secrets of the universe. Then when these other kids come by and point out that my shoes have come untied, I am humbled and embarrassed. It is hard to swallow that my tying skills/ writting skills are still lacking more practice.

Humble pie, like many things that are good for us, doesn’t taste that great. I am not Mary Poppins. I am not “practically perfect in every way”, though sometimes I think I am. My umbrella doesn’t talk or fly. However, with practice, maybe it will keep off the rain.

From Japan to Greece

IMG_20160409_122329794_HDRSaturday the kids and I drove up to our state capitol in Nashville for a Cherry Blossom Festival. We had a good time. My son learned how to make an origami throwing star, we watch some martial arts demonstrations, and we ate too much. I also learned about taro when I bought a strange white and lavender muffin.  (It is kind of like a potato.)

We left the festival around 3pm and were on our way home when we decided to change direction. It was our first trip to Nashville and even though we had a three-hour car ride to look forward to, it seemed a shame not to explore just a little more. That was how we went from celebrating Japanese culture to exploring Ancient Greece. (Well, sort of.)

In 1897 Nashville held an Exposition to celebrate Tennessee’s 100th anniversary as a state. For six months crowds flocked to hear speeches, play games, and watch parades. They also came to see a massive replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. Sadly, that replica was built of plaster and did not withstand time. By 1920 the structure was crumbling.IMG_20160409_144243004

However, the city of Nashville decided not to let the fascinating building die. Instead, the created a complete replica, inside and out, of the Greek temple using more permanent materials. While the Parthenon in Nashville isn’t made of marble, it was built to the same dimensions and inspires a similar sense of awe. IMG_20160409_153927995_HDR

It is home to a statue of the goddess Athena that stands over 42 feet, with a smaller 6-foot representation of the goddess Nike settled on her hand. (The original statue this one was model after has been lost to time and greed.) Standing at her feet it is nearly impossible not to stare up at the intimidating goddess and imagine her taking a step off of her carved pedestal.

IMG_20160409_145818225.jpgThe Parthenon also houses art exhibits on its lower levels, as well as a historical exhibit detailing its creation. The Cherry Blossom festival was fun. The Parthenon was fascinating. We all slept well once we reached home.

My Easter Sunday

tree flowersEaster Sunday was overcast with rays of sun peeking through
the clouds. Blossoms from the Bradford Pear in my yard lay scattered on the ground like a white carpet. It was a nice contrast to the green grass. I would have been lovely with multi-colored eggs scattered about as well.
But we didn’t hunt Easter eggs at my house. Instead we went over to my mom’s for Easter lunch and my eldest scattered Star Wars themed “eggs” in my mom’s flower beds for my youngest to find. We even took the dog. It was nice.

I enjoyed visiting my parents and seeing my brother and his wife. My daughter even got up the nerve to slip behind the steering wheel of our car. We drove up and down the same quarter of a mile road several times and she did very well.

Maybe it doesn’t sound like the most exciting Sunday, but it was well spent enjoying my family and adding to good memories. I would be hard pressed to come up with a better way to spend the time.