Week in Review

Right now, Charlotte is asleep and Chris is on a flight home from the West Coast (business trip). Time, it seems, is on my side. For now.

It's been a week. A good week, but a week. And now I find myself simultaneously excited and freaked out. I'm not positive, but I think I just committed to about 8,745 things I'm not absolutely certain I can follow through on.

First, I started a book club. Remember? Yes. The book club. I'm SUPER excited about it, and I'm taking Charlotte on a stroller walk to the library tomorrow to pick up my copy. (That girl loves a good stroll.) Thus, I have committed to reading (and facilitating discussion about) at least one book per month. Fun? Absolutely. Time-consuming? Well, yes. Of course.

Then, on Wednesday night, with a wiggly Little Mermaid pajamas-clad toddler in my lap, Chris and I were voted IN as members of the Presbyterian church here in town by the church's Session. More to come on that later, but it was a lovely meeting and we had the opportunity to cite what we felt we could bring to the church. (Is this stuff supposed to be confidential? If so, well, somebody let me know, and I'll edit.) One of the things I mentioned was that I really like youth. Not Charlotte youth (I'm shockingly bad with children, aside from my own), but older kiddos. Adolescents. My experience? Pretty much nil, and my love of Christian rock is also nil. Can't stand it. BUT I have been so, SO lucky to have had some women in my life (raise your hand if you LOVE Bernice W.!) that have hugely influenced me in faith and life, and, well,  hell. I'm no Bernice, and I still see myself in the "kid" role more than the "adult" role, but I definitely have a certain softness for that not-a-kid-yet-not-an-adult spot that teens are in, and I think sometimes we underestimate them. In short, I voiced most of this at the meeting.

So during the 14-second drive home, Chris, naturally, asked me, "Do you see yourself starting a c-group or something?" (C-group definition: small group divided by age and gender.)

"I have no idea," I said. "I have no freaking idea." And I don't. My point for the purposes of this blog post? I'm pretty sure I committed to something. Sort of. And I'm totally fine with that. I've been given a lot by particular people, and giving back in some way would be an honor.

Finally, there's this book. THIS FREAKING BOOK. As some of you know, I started a young adult novel AGES ago. How long ago? Well, as I was trying to come up with character names, my brother had just started dating a very nice girl with the last name "Hunter." It seemed like a good name, and of course my brother MARRIED the darling girl several years later, and she is now an OPP. And I still have a character with the last name "Hunter."

That's how long.

It took me a couple years to write the damn thing, but the majority was written in about a 5-month period. I finished it and began revising. In May 2009, despite my deep hatred for the Steelers, I made the ballsy move to attend a writers' conference in Pittsburgh--all by my lonesome--and that was VERY educational and VERY eye-opening. For 3 days, I attended workshops, met with agents, worked on my manuscript, and, on the whole, tried to keep myself from throwing up from nerves.

What do I remember from Pittsburgh? I remember that the dad of a good friend of mine passed away that weekend. I sat on the foot of the hotel bed and cried. I remember totally botching a scheduled pitch to an agent. I remember having two DIFFERENT agents tell me "Shit, ditch the prologue. Prologues are SO outdated. Start with your dialogue. This? This is perfect dialogue." (And so we now open with snarky comments about mom jeans. Thank you, Tina Fey. And thank goodness I can write diaglogue.) I remember that, during the agents roundtable, the very first agent I had ever submitted to WAS THERE. And he said, "Usually, if I'm interested, I'll ask for a couple manuscript pages. If I'm VERY interested, I'll ask to see the whole book." He had asked to see my WHOLE BOOK a month earlier. Dude rejected it. The important thing? I learned I have decent concept (which is super secret unless you're one of 4 people who have read rough drafts). Problem? Agents reject it after seeing my writing. Which is awesome.

And that leads me to big item number three of the week: writing. I now have the opportunity to join a writing workshop to revise and fine tune this troublesome young adult novel of mine. Chris has been a big force behind me pulling it back down from the shelf. Not long (like, 2 weeks) post-Pittsburgh, I learned Miss Charlotte was on her way. Then we put the DC condo on the market, moved to Bethesda, started building a house, HAD A BABY, moved to our fair town, I became a working mum, and, well, here we are. I never intended to shelf the stupid thing. In fact, I returned home from Pittsburgh with lots of oomph and ideas and excitement and knowledge, but quickly moved to 3 months of nausea and the ability to immeditately fall asleep, no matter what I was doing. And now I have a toddler. And this manuscript.

I never felt quite right about shelving my book--I still felt it had some potential worth saving. I just didn't have the time.

Well, Chris (oh, I love Chris!) kept nagging me about that damn novel. "Don't sell yourself short," he kept saying. "I really think you have something there. DON'T LET IT DIE."

I now have the opportunity to sign up for revision boot camp--a writing workshop for serious writers who have a manuscript to make pretty. To salvage. The details of how I've managed to weasel my way in aren't important. The important thing? I have this opportunity staring at me. And I'm losing my nerve.

It's pricey--$360 for 6 weeks. Totally worth it? Yes. Still expensive? Well, duh. Yes. I also just reduced the house cleaners to only once per month (to squirrel away some extra $$ for child #2's daycare, but calm down because NO BABY-MAKING IS TAKING PLACE RIGHT NOW), so I feel guilty blowing a lot of moolah on something as hit-or-miss as my writing. (And you know how much I depend on our house cleaners. They changed my life!) Plus, there's the time issue. On workshop days, I'll leave the house at 6:40 in the morning, and return home at night close to 11:00. In addition, there's all the time I'll need to devote to the actual work itself.

But if not now, when? Writing is a craft. Yeah, some of it's talent, some of it's a good idea, and an incredibly huge part of it is sheer work. But you don't know what you don't know, and you need to know things. I learned this in Pittsburgh. There's a lot I don't know. Isn't now the time to learn? To find my writing weaknesses and fix them?

So then. That has been my week. I'm exhilarated, with a smidge of overwhelmed. Hello, summer!


  1. Do it, girl, you won't regret it. It's going to be hard, and you're going to want to scream and cry from time to time, but DO IT. I know what the super-secret concept is and I stand by my original opinion that it's awesome, and it will rock, and I support you all the way, darling girl!



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