(no subject)

Sometimes I come here with something to say. Other times, I come here to catch up, and figure, "well, as long as I'm here..." Today is one of those days, just so you're warned.

When I first had kids, I thought...well, "Whew! This is really busy work, being a mom!" Everything seemed harder when it had to be accomplished with a child or three in tow. I remember yearning for the day when they would go to school, so I would have some time to myself.

Flash-forward to now. Three kids in school, full-day. Theoretically, I should have about six hours a day to myself. Six long, lovely, luxurious (and if you use the correct shampoo, bouncy and vivacious!) hours to myself.

Pish-posh on that. I swear to you all, I have less time now than I did when they were little and still at home. How can this be?

Damned if I know.

OK, well, I do know, a little bit. The multiple part-time jobs nibble away at the edges of my "free time". As do the housework and the chores that just, no matter how many times I put a stake through their hearts, will not die. My new (healthy) addiction to running takes a good bit of time.

I have taken to scheduling in time for things such as exercise (other than running) and writing. And still, it doesn't always happen.

There are many many nights when we do not eat together as a family, instead doing a sort of round-robin of eating, coming to the table when we are able/have time/are home/are hungry, and I miss the simpler days when we were always all together.

Between playdates and sports and concerts and all manner of activities, the kids are just off in a million different directions, leaving me chasing after them and feeling ineffectual at about everything I put my hands to.

I am exhausted by all of it. No, seriously. I sit down when they finally go to bed, hoping to catch up with a favorite TV show, only to fall asleep 15 minutes in, having seen enough to regret missing the ending when I wake up the next morning.

The writing is again, in drips and drabs, much like our dinners of late. I've found that I have this weird hangup with needing quiet and solitude to write. So you can imagine how that's working out for me.

I need to learn to write with the din of an emergency room around me, people squalling and rushing to and fro.

Actually, that probably wouldn't be so bad. It's the interruptions that screw me up; that make the Muse sniff, turn up her nose, and say "I'll come back when you're not so busy," in an acidic condescending tone that makes you wonder if she will ever really return.

This is all unsatisfying.

I want order, and routine, and some semblance of normalcy. I would love a schedule where I look at the clock and say, "Oh, 10:30, time to write!" And the Muse comes and joins me for tea.

I don't know. Life is weird and messy and chaotic, and it just seems to get more so. I feel like all I can do is hang on tooth and nail and try to learn to love the wind in my hair and the uncertainty.

I'm still working on that.


I don't even really know if that's an accurate title for this post...but I clicked on here today after not having been here for more than a month, and as much as I miss you all, and miss reading your posts, I find that I just...don't get here. Several of the people that I followed over here I now interact with on Facebook, or crosspost their posts over there, so I can just click and read. Myself, this is one of three blogs - none of which I update regularly! And I wonder why I can't get any followers... ; ) But this one I try to keep to JUST writing-related stuff, and lately, I feel sort of up in the air with my writing. I guess I am having a crisis of confidence or something...things have been at a relative standstill, writing-wise, and I have not been inclined to give them a nudge in any direction whatsoever. I think about revisions, and then shudder and try to forget them again. I dabble a bit with the new story, but nothing serious. I occasionally write a line or two of poetry. But my Muse just sort of stretches lazily like a cat and then returns to the depths of her slumber. And yes, I understand that it's really just ME, and that if I want to BE a writer I have to write, but I am also self-aware enough to recognize that there is a resistance right now, and that resistance often equals problem, and I want to sort of figure out what the problem is and fix it before I try to dive in again.

I have been thinking about writing in a way, sort of relating it to running. Because see, I've been running, and getting better at it, and being consistent, and improving - much as I had been with my writing. In the fall, I ran a 5K, and came in 2nd in my age group, which was a great feeling. And really, just having entered a 5K seems to have cemented the fact that I am a runner. It's now official. I am allowed to call myself a runner. The world approves of that label.

But with writing? There are no milestones that you can pass that sort of proclaim you've arrived, and that now you're a writer. The only socially acceptable proof of your writerdom is publication. And when you write novels, exclusively...well gawd, you all know. You might never get there. I made the mistake of telling people that I'm a writer, and that I'm working on a novel. Now all I get are questions: "How's the novel coming along? Why aren't you writing now? When will it be published?" Non-writers don't understand the whole process, the tremendous lengths of time involved before something's even ready to be sent out, the bogs and mires and land mines our own brains set that sidetrack and waylay us on the arduous journey. I feel like a failure for coming up empty again and again.

I just want a shiny friggin medal that says "writer." I want a writing 5K that I can say "LOOK! I entered this. See? Here's my number; proof that I am, actually, a writer."

And I know I shouldn't need outside validation, but there it is, one of my glaring personal faults: NEEDS VALIDATION.

I don't necessarily think that this issue is the cause of my current stasis, but that rather the stasis has given me time to consider it.

Or then again, maybe it is. But I can't tell you how I regret that admission to non-writers; folks who don't understand that finishing a first draft is just the first step in a long journey; who look at you blankly when you say you're working on revisions.

I thought telling people would help me keep my nose to the grindstone. Instead, I seem to have put a lodestone around my neck, and it's dragging me under.

February says RAWR!

I mean, February? Already?

Life churns on in its usual froth of chaos. Things are reasonably good of late: there are no catastrophes or health crises to report, so YAY me! I have even *gasp* been writing, a bit.

The reluctant story has started whispering to me, from the corner of its mouth. So I write down what it tells me.

I have decided, for this story, to do something different. Inspired in part by a friend who is a writer, and who is taking the better part of a year to journal as each of her characters, I've decided to do a journal for my book that I'm working on. At first, I was going to totally rip off her idea...but then I started thinking about art journals, and how much of the inspiration for this particular story has come from visual images that would work well with that format.

Interestingly, I haven't actually made the journal yet, but just having the idea of it has sort of loosened things up enough to get the story flowing again. Not in leaps in bounds, but in trickles, which is definitely preferable to the nothingness of before.

Revisions on CM, which keep appearing on my to-do list, keep not happening - and in all honesty, it's not due to reluctance on my part!! It really is just the madness of RL lately.

Who knew that as the kids got older, the ride would go faster? I'm sure many of you did, but not one of you saw fit to warn me. Thanks a lot! ; ) So yeah, I am tightening my seatbelt for all I'm worth and holding on as the scenery blurs.

There is a big project at the school that I'm involved in...OK, really, it's a science fair. My friend is a science teacher and spearheaded the whole thing and of course I couldn't say no when she asked for help, so that is taking up large-sized chunks of my free time. Once that is over on Friday, I'm hoping to be able to give some serious attention to these revisions/rewrites, and actually produce something marketable.

Or at least something that I can look at and call "finished" and mean it. ; )

Born to die

We come into this world already stamped with an expiration date. Our first breaths, our first squall of resentment, mark the start of our unwinding. Does that seem morbid? Perhaps; and yet it’s true.

We are all, at every moment, dying. Death is with us, always; hidden behind his mask, cloaked by his veils.

The miracle is that we manage to go through our lives, for the most part, forgetting this. We work and sleep, eat and pay bills, shop and laugh, all forgetting that somewhere, a clock with our name on it is counting down our remaining time, doling out the seconds. It has to be that way, or we couldn’t function. If we lived in fear of our own mortality – of the inevitability of this mortality – what sort of life would that be?

So we forget. To the point of taking for granted. But this is as it should be.

Then every so often, something reminds us of our own mortality, and for a brief, precious time, we cling to life, savor it, sample its depths and climb to its heights. For this brief time, we are gloriously, truly alive.

Until again, we forget.

It’s impossible to live at that knife’s edge precipice of awareness for very long. Like the filament in a light bulb, we would burn out from that degree of intensity of living. It is unsustainable.

But the truth is, whether we are aware of it or not, we are all at that precipice, living our lives on the knife’s edge, every day.

Because the thing about that expiration date? We don’t know when it is. The doctor didn’t look at our tiny baby heel and make a notation of it on our charts.

Our mothers, for all their diligence, never spied it when wiping away dirt, or kissing away boo-boos.

Our lovers never came across it when exploring the secret hidden places of our bodies.

No one has seen it; nobody knows.

And yet we go on, blithely, as if we have all the time in the world.

But there are times when someone comes a little too close to the precipice; when they totter and seem to lose their balance. They sway at the edge, arms flailing, trying to right themselves. Times of injury or sickness, when a person is in the hospital and everything seems to pause, all life turns its attention to the question of balance. Death throws back his veils, pulls off his mask, shows his face.

And you go. You drop everything, put as much of your own life as possible on hold, and go to them. Because that is what you do.

But why?

The truth is, they may be no closer to death than you are. We have no way of knowing. They just appear closer. And so we go. To honor them, to be with them, to let them know we care. Perhaps, too, to see if there is an inkling of their mortality; a sign, a clue, to look for as a hint to our own. If I sit vigil often enough, will I spy Death himself? Commit his face to memory, so that I can spot him, elude him when he comes for me?

I don’t know. But the truth is that I’ve thought about it often enough recently to understand that nothing I do or do not do will affect the outcome of the patient’s epic battle for life. Whether I visit or do not; whether I pray or do not; whether I wish for it or do not. What will happen, will happen, with or without me.

The only thing I can change is my own experience of the situation.

And so I go and do my duty, make my visits, sit my vigils, all the while with the knowledge that my own expiration date is yet unknown. If I were to die in the car on the way home, no one would have made their peace with me. No one would have had a chance for that last visit, to say “I love you” one last time, to glean an iota of closure. And perhaps that is why we go. For the tiniest of semblances of control over the uncontrollable. So that we can appear to be ready, to have it all together; to have wrapped up loose ends.

But there is no control. There is only chaos. And once again I am here, on the knife’s edge, trying to get all my living in, out loud. Telling people I love them, just in case.

I guess it’s not always a bad thing.


So the fallow time just stretches on and on, like a cat that wakes up from a nap, stretches and yawns, only to curl up and promptly fall asleep again. Hello? Muse? Inner writer? Anyone?

Nothing but echoes.

OK, so I wax dramatic. It's not really so bad. I started a little something that has piqued my interest, but it is being wildly coy, so I'm giving it a little time and space to show itself.

I have the super rough draft of my NaNo novel stewing in the background. And I have some revisions that I could tend to. But TBH, I've been enjoying this time and although I'm itching to be creative, I find myself wanting to express in a more visual way. It happens sometimes; I've found that it's best to just go with it.

But the coolest thing happened today at work. Turns out a regular visitor to the gym also writes - and edits. So we got into this great writing-related conversation. I mentioned to her the novel I'd just sent out for readers, and some of the conflicting feedback I got, and she gave me a whole new perspective on things. I'd been sort of waffling about what to do, but I feel much clearer now, and eager to get back to it - which is a great feeling, oddly. Usually, revisions and I are the best of frenemies, but...maybe this time will be different. (Don't mock me 6 months from now when I am cursing writing, revisions, and words in general. You do it too.)

So yeah, I'm thinking about those marked up documents sitting on my computer waiting for me to read through them with a fine-toothed comb...but I think I'm still going to give myself a little time. It just feels like the right thing to do, you know?

Part of my conversation with the editor today involved writing interruptions and how to handle them. She talked about how when she was writing and was interrupted, you could see, exactly, where in her writing the interruption had happened, because the writing just changed.

Back when I used to draw prolifically, I would never work on a picture for longer than it took me to finish in one sitting. Does that make sense? That is to say, there was no more detail than what was essential to the picture, because I had this absolute belief that I wouldn't be able to get back into the same frame of mind that I had been when I started, and that I would risk ruining the picture. For this reason, the editor never edits her own poetry.

I hadn't thought of this before, in terms of a novel, but in CM, which is the one that I just got back from a few wonderful readers, it was clear to the readers that I'd grown as a writer during the course of the writing. On the one hand, YEAH, ME! On the other hand, that shouldn't be obvious to the reader. Boo, me. Of course, that one did take me quite a while to finish. And in that respect, I think that's probably why NaNo is such a great thing. Slam a book out in a month. How much are you going to change, really, in a month? Certainly not enough that your readers would comment on it.

How do you all deal with interruptions to your work? Do you feel like when you get back to it, the "flavor," if you will, is different? And do you think that's a good thing, or a bad thing?

Pre-holiday drive-by

So yes, I have been awful about posting. But the sad truth is...I haven't had much to say, or, for that matter, much time to say it in.

I appear to be having a fallow time.

I finished NaNo, and shortly thereafter, the novel I was working on. I've also gotten most of the feedback back on the novel I sent out, and it went something like: "Broken. Fix."

No, seriously, it was far more constructive than that. But sort of boiled down to the same thing...

So I decided to give myself the rest of the year off, being, in reality, a few short weeks.

But now I have that sort of itchy feeling, like I want to write something? Only every time I try? Fail. I bore myself before I even get started.

So I guess I'm really going to give myself the rest of the year off, and hope that the itch amounts to something after the close of the year, and that I don't just need to get myself an antifungal.

In other news: HOLIDAY MADNESS!!! But you all know what I'm talking about. Which may be part of the reason for the utter lack of wordage. Shopping is like...98% done - and yes, I know that today is Thursday and Christmas is SUNDAY. *gulp* I have a plan,and it involves a kamikaze shopping trip today, and finishing or dying trying.

But the wrapping...*sigh*

With 1/2 day at school tomorrow, and my presence required at one holiday party, tomorrow is a write-off. Saturday, we go to my mother's and celebrate Christmas. Sunday, after opening our own gifts at home,we stop by my sister's to see my Dad, and then truck off to my in-laws. Fun and relaxing, right? Let's not forget that there is NO spare time for say...wrapping gifts in there. So either I do it today, or we pull a few all-nighters between now and Christmas to get it done.

Guess which one will probably end up happening?

Every year I tell myself "Next year, I'll be more organized!"

And every year, Christmas rolls around and I'm there blinking and stunned going "How did that happen?"


Some people never learn.

Anyway, I hope you all have festive, joyful holidays completely devoid of stress of any sort!!

Talk to you in the New Year...

Random hilarity

So I am flipping through "People" magazine at work this morning - what?! Don't judge me!! When I come across a full page ad for the second novel by a I was going to say "author," but she's not exactly known for that.

That's right, Miss Jersey Shore herself, Snooki Polizzi, has a second book out. Did you know about this?!

I couldn't quite believe it, so I had to check on Amazon. Turns out, she's got a third book scheduled for release in March of next year. It seems sort of appropriate that Snooki's third book will be released just prior to the predicted end of the world. I'm sure if we scour enough prophesies, we will see somewhere that her becoming an author was, in fact, one of the portents of the apocalypse.

ANYWAY *drags self back to subject at hand* my point in telling you all of this is that...well, I had to read the reviews, on Amazon. Because that's what I do. If I've read a book I love, I go to Amazon to see what others have thought. If I've read something I'm iffy on, I need to have my opinion validated by Amazon. So I was curious to see what people would have to say about the Snooki booky. Sorry. Had to do it.

If you are in need of a laugh, go read the Amazon reviews of her first book, The Shore Thing. SO FUNNY. And generally, I don't like mean-spirited reviews, but these are not, necessarily. They are just laugh-out-loud funny.

Also...did you realize that it's only a week until Thanksgiving? Now I know that not all of you who read this celebrate the holiday, but...OMG. Because once we've cleared the Thanksgiving hurdle, we're only a hop, skip and a jump away from Christmas, and I am light years away from being ready for that particular holiday. Oy.

Finally, because I'm here and I want to: NaNo progress. It is being made! So far, the words are flowing and the story is just blossoming, and I feel so very pleased!! If you're NaNo-ing, friend me over there. I'm kimharn, or KimHarn...I don't think it's case-sensitive. But anyway, I'm hopeful that I'll actually complete it, and have something to work with when it's all said and done. : )

NaNo progress

I was actually nervous to join NaNo this year. My story idea is a fairly recent one, and hasn't had time to sort of simmer and develop yet...but anytime I sat down to write, this was the story that was at the front of my brain, clamoring to be written. So it seemed a logical choice.

There have been days where I sat down in front of the computer and thought "What the hell am I going to write now?!" But usually, a little thought, a brief re-read, and something would come to me. Sometimes, I have to dredge every word up from the murky depths. And sometimes, when you dredge long enough, you loosen things up, and the words start coming on their own, bobbing up like shiny treasures from the deep.

And those days are good.

Because today was one of those days, and I am feeling pleased, I wanted to share my progress with you. And NaNo, knowing writers and how fond we are of bars and meters and widgets as they do, has just the tool for me. Voila!


We have reached cruising altitude

So, since my last post, I've quit trying to revise and just sent it out into the world finished revisions on the WIP and sent it on to my beta readers, and that was an awesome feeling; that feeling that "this is now good enough that I won't die in shame should other human eyes see it."

Because, of course, I could work on it from now 'til the neverafter and it still wouldn't be just perfect. There'd always be something else to change, wouldn't there? And at some point, there are just absolutely no shreds of objectivity larger than their molecular structures to be found, so you have to go "that's it! I've done all I can - off with you now."

Have not heard from my readers but it hasn't been that long, and besides, I'm doing NaNo - and KazNo! - so I won't be able to do more than look longingly (or fearfully) at the files anyway.

NaNo, which I've never done before, has turned out to be actually pretty fun! I am, it seems, a results-oriented worker. I do better when I have a goal to shoot for, and so much the better when there are elements of competition and little graphic word-count bars to spur me on.

I had one day where I wrote a minimum of words in the morning,feeling a bit blocked, and intended to do the brunt of the writing that evening. Instead, I was bludgeoned into unconsciousness by sleep. I woke the next morning in a panic, thinking, "I've failed, already - less than one week in!" I opened the document fearfully, thinking that I was blocked and would be unable to write, and found to my delight that I figured a way out of it.

Part of my anxiety about hopping on the NaNo wagon was my first novel, which I finished during a novel-in-90 session here on LJ. It was long, and arduous, and I worked very hard on it. Afterwards, during revision, I found that it was hopelessly broken. I still find pieces of it lying around here and there, under the carpet, behind the sofa cushions. I felt like, at the time, and probably still, by pushing myself to write when I wasn't ready, I forced it into an unnatural shape that ended up breaking it. So I've been afraid to do anything like that since.

But that was...I don't know. Several years ago. And I've been writing ever since, and feeling like I've been improving. This story is new to me, and like all my others, completely un-outlined, but I feel like the spontaneity of it combined with the pressure of the one month deadline might be OK for me now. I've reached the point where if I get stuck on something, I can skip it and come back, or even sort of mull it over for a while, and come up with something satisfactory. So nothing feels forced, or like a band-aid that won't hold up later. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it goes this way for the rest of the month. Of course, with only 13K+ words, I'm only about a quarter of the way there, and who knows what might happen? But even though I don't have an outline, per se, I have a vague idea of the shape of the final thing, of where it needs to go and how it's going to get there, and I am hoping that that, along with a little more experience, will make a difference.

In other news, I entered my first 5K race over the weekend, and came in second in my age group - and what a great feeling that was! I don't plan on getting all race-happy now, because I do it more because I like how I feel when I've done it, I like the companionship of running with friends, and I feel like it makes me a happier, more balanced, and ultimately healthier person. But...well, I did mention that competitive thing up there, right? There's that. And the competitive side of me likes to win, even if it's only every now and again. And before anyone says anything, I'm counting 2nd place as a win, especially since first place went to my good friend and running partner!!

We are nearing the end of my girls' soccer season, so after two more weekends, my sentence tenure as a coach will be commuted and I will have much more free time on my hands. For like, the first hour. You know how nature hates a vacuum.

And, of course, we are rushing headlong into holiday season, so there will be no lack of busy-ness here, but I just wanted to pop by and say hi, let you in on what's going on in my life, and say I hope everything is fine where you are! I try to look in on my LJ friends every few days, but you are all so prolific that I often can't get to all the updates, and when I can, I don't always comment. But I'm here, quietly, toiling away and wishing you well!

Back on track

I am relieved to report that revisions are back on track and underway once again. Today, I figured out a pretty slick way to take care of...well, two birds, with one stone. THAT was fun, and now I have a pretty smug sense of accomplishment going. ; )

Also, I am probably completely loco, but I'm toying with the idea of participating in NaNoWriMo. Anyone out there do it? Any words of en/discouragement? Wisdom? Advice?

My desk looks like a stationery store vomited its contents, but I am so pleased with my progress that I just don't care!

After this pass, I'll be looking for readers...

(Looking at you, triciasullivan and reneesweet. You've been warned. ; )