Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Reason for Warning Labels

I had the night of misery last night. But it's ok, because I survived! And so did my daughter! Let me tell you all about it...

Both kiddies were asleep before 8 p.m., and I had already written 1700 words, so I celebrated by scouring crafting blogs and sites looking for something to make for my relatives that I will now be visiting for Christmas (yay me). I should have gone to sleep, instead. I should have known that something was amiss. No parent gets THAT lucky by 8 p.m. (At least, not me, ever.)

12:30 a.m.: I wake to screaming, terrified baby. I rush in to his room, comfort him, and take him downstairs to warm up his bottle. *Baby screams as if I am a monster* I change his diaper. *Baby continues screaming and I wonder if I AM a monster* He drinks his milk. The bottle empties and he wants more. *SCREAM SCREAM SCREAM*

12:40 a.m.: My 3 year old, on the other side of the room that is divided by a curtain, wakes up, crying for me. I tell her I'll get to her when the baby gets back to sleep. *Girl cries* *Boy cries* I rush downstairs and make another bottle, wishing I still breastfed (it was easier).

12:45 a.m.: Son is finishing bottle the second time. Daughter is whining (and she's a pro). I plop baby into crib, he gets angry, but I go to daughter b/c I can't stand the whining (and she knows it).


1 a.m.: Husband comes to rescue. He puts baby back to sleep, after much crying and fussing.

1:10 a.m.: Daughter decides she doesn't want to go to sleep and her nose is stuffy. I administer children's nasal decongestant, even though the bottle says not to use on children under the age of four*. So I give her half the dose, just in case.

1:20 a.m.: Daughter wants me to read to her. I do. Then I tell her I'm going to sleep. She has to go potty.

1:25 a.m.: I convince daughter to come to our bed, to make sure she doesn't wake up the baby with her chattering.

1:30 a.m.: Husband returns to bed, victorious in his parenting skillz.

1:35 a.m.: Husband kicks daughter out of bed because she is squirming and kicking and won't shut up. She goes to her own bed, turns on her reading light, and reads. I pass out.

1:50 a.m.: She is at my side, whining about how she's "not happy with Luke** because he pushes me." (He pushed her, accidentally, two months ago.) I tell her to go back to bed.

2:15 a.m.: "Mommy, I'm really not happy with Luke." "What, is he here?" I go with her to her bed, lie down in it, and fall asleep.

2:17 a.m.: Daughter doesn't want me to sleep in her bed, after all. She wants me to leave. I flee.

3:00 a.m.: "Mommy, I told you I'm not happy with Luke." "WHAT? WHY? GO. TO. BED." She insists on me finding her a pad of paper and a pen. She wants to write about her feelings and how Luke annoys her. I want think about how I'll blog later about how she annoys me. I stagger to her room, find an old coloring book, and place it on her lap. She wants a book underneath for support. She wants to sit at this exact spot on the edge of her bed. I find a purple ballpoint and shove it in her hand. I somehow manage to find my bed.

4:00 a.m.: "Mommy, I can't go to sleep. I need to read. Can you get me a book? MOMMY!!!!!!!!" I go in there, shove several books on her lap, give her more paper to write on (she has scribbled lines and lines of cursive gibberish all over what I had given her an hour earlier). I return to bed and feel like I will faint.

7:00 a.m.: Husband wakes me up. I moan.

* Apparently, Children's Sudafed is concerned that parents of children under the age of four will sue them for the #1 Side Effect: A Wired Child in the Witching Hour.
** Luke is not his real name. I am concerned that his parents will sue me if I use it. Not that they even know I have a blog.

And now, the girl-child is at preschool. The boy-child-baby is at the YMCA childcare for a few hours. I am at Panera and am now ready to work on my jinn book. Even though I may pass out in public and drool on my keyboard.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Poetry Friday: Khalil Gibran

For several years now, I've had a little book with a worn cover. It's The Prophet, by Khalil Gibran. I've never read it. It usually sits in a row with other tiny, pocket-sized books. (Although at the moment, I think it's in a box with most of my books.) Yesterday, however, I decided to google Khalil Gibran's poetry and I came across an astounding poem (well, quite a few, actually). This one has a lot to do with the feeling of my WIP, so I wanted to post it here for you to get a taste. Khalil was a master, mind you. I'm not putting myself in his camp, but I'd sure like to be there some day!

The Song of the Soul

In the depth of my soul there is

A wordless song - a song that lives

In the seed of my heart.

It refuses to melt with ink on

Parchment; it engulfs my affection

In a transparent cloak and flows,

But not upon my lips.

How can I sigh it? I fear it may

Mingle with earthly ether;

To whom shall I sing it? It dwells

In the house of my soul, in fear of

Harsh ears.

When I look into my inner eyes

I see the shadow of its shadow;

When I touch my fingertips

I feel its vibrations.

The deeds of my hands heed its

Presence as a lake must reflect

The glittering stars; my tears

Reveal it, as bright drops of dew

Reveal the secret of a withering rose.

It is a song composed by contemplation,

And published by silence,

And shunned by clamor,

And folded by truth,

And repeated by dreams,

And understood by love,

And hidden by awakening,

And sung by the soul.

It is the song of love;

What Cain or Esau could sing it?

It is more fragrant than jasmine;

What voice could enslave it?

It is heartbound, as a virgin’s secret;

What string could quiver it?

Who dares unite the roar of the sea

And the singing of the nightingale?

Who dares compare the shrieking tempest

To the sigh of an infant?

Who dares speak aloud the words

Intended for the heart to speak?

What human dares sing in voice

The song of God?

Khalil Gibran

I think I might go find that little book this weekend and start reading it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

In Which I Brag About My Daughter

First, I want to mention that I am at Panera. It is rare that I ever get away, sans kiddos. Elizabeth is usually at preschool during this hour, but Henry is always with me. But not today!!! I snuck him in to the Y for their 3-hour drop off program. It only costs $12. This is way cheaper than a babysitter (babysitters run $10/hour*).

So I am at this moment taking a writing break. I pounded out some good (sorta) dialogue and noticed something: I don't have a single chapter break yet. I don't even know where I would put one. Is this bad, or a sign that I've got a page-turner? We will eventually find out, I suppose.

Yesterday on our way home from preschool, Elizabeth asked, out of the blue,
"Mom, you sometimes work, right?"
"Yes," I said. "Do you know what my work is?"
I beamed. She knows. She understands.
"When I grow bigger can I read your books?"
I beamed brighter.
"Of course."
"But I can't read yet."
"You will soon." She doesn't know all of her letters yet, but she's working on it. She wants so much to read and write. (She has filled adult-sized journals with squiggly lines that look like a cross between 19th c. English penmanship and Hebrew.)

Then, after Henry was asleep, Elizabeth wanted to sit on my lap and be with me. I wanted to fix something on my computer. Or maybe I was reading some news story. I can't remember---it was after 7 p.m. and my brain is fried by then. Anyway, I asked her if she wanted to have me read the first part of my story, and she said "yes!" So I did. We only lasted half the page, but I read it slower, more storytelling-like, and...it was wonderful! (Not the writing...the reading of my own story to my daughter.)

I am getting jittery from thinking about the day when, I hope, Elizabeth goes to the bookshelf and pulls off a copy of one of my novels and then curls up on the couch with it. Or maybe I'm jittery from the coffee.

*Why didn't I make this much babysitting?!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Negative Talk and Positive Dreams

Last night I had a dream in which I gave up writing my jinni book and began writing about a depressed teenager. I can't remember now what it was that made me fall in love with the new story, but I wrote about fifteen pages of it in my sleep. (Too bad I can't count it for my NaNo stats.)

I do know, however, what made me fall out of love with my jinni book. It's hard. It's starting to feel like meaningless "fluff." I am grasping at straws, trying to figure out what should happen next. I have no idea how I'm going to fill out the next 40k words---in 2.5 weeks!

I spent most of Tuesday writing, which made me
feel accomplished and, well, optimistic. I must have out-written myself, because yesterday I think I might have written 200 words. It was as if my writing brain ran a half-marathon on Tuesday and couldn't get out of bed yesterday. And not only could it not get out of bed, but it bemoaned the future and everything it had written the day before. "It's silly," my writing brain said. "No one will take you seriously if they read this." The day drudged on with me unable to get through an "exciting, adventurous" scene. I wanted depth, and meaning, and where are depth and meaning in a fight with a sea monster?*

Images of well-known editors flashed across my mind, all of them smoking long cigarettes and shaking their heads at my frivolous jinni book.

By then, I despised my little book. And I yearned, desperately, for a reincarnation of my first novel, ROHANA. I wanted to fix that one. I had figured out the plot problems. ROHANA is a deep, meaningful book** and has "literary merit." As I finally slipped off to sleep, I realized that fixing ROHANA is a daydream because it's just easier to revise than to actually write a first draft.

So what would that make me? A Reviser? Surely not a writer.

Writers finish their work. They tackle the gooey hodgepodge of words they have strung together and pad it out with more gooey words. They brave the possibility that someone might see the mess and exclaim that their true destiny is... joining a circus. They finish their manuscripts because if they don't, it will keep poking them in the head, begging to be fleshed out. Nashwa, my main character, would be both insulted and aggravated if I gave up on her. She would slip into my dreams and force me to face her. (And she's a soul stealer and wise in the art of jinn magic, so I would have a hard time putting her back in a corner.)

From now on (or at least for the next two hours), I will put my pride aside and write crap. When the crap dries, I will pull out my Revision Dremel and grind it down into something more presentable. Then I will add more crap, grind it back down...ad infinitum. (Well, not forever, hopefully.)
Nashwa, as I see her

One other thing: I will not look at published authors' websites today and worry that I am not successful because a) I was not 17 when I wrote my first novel, b) I don't have a beautiful writing cottage with a magic window, and c) I don't have thousands/hundreds/a couple of snarky followers.

* A wise woman told me today that even "fluff" books have meaning---if it makes a child fall in love with reading, then it has meaning.
**Or so I like to think. I mean, it's my first book-baby, after all.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Originally uploaded by Nad
John Green and the Nerdfighters posted a link to this picture on Twitter and it made me laugh over and over. (I'm still laughing.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Write it for me

Someone needs to write a YA novel on this, because I want to read it and don't have time to write it myself: Who Killed Jane Doe?