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On a Movable Finish Line

There was a moment when I decided that I should publish my first book at thirty. It was a nice age, I reasoned, old enough to have lived a bit, young enough to still be considered a Young Writer. That and I was holding a book in my hand written by a woman who was, according to her author bio, thirty. Reasonable goal, yes?

I certainly thought so. But then again, plenty of things seem reasonable at age twenty-three.

Coincidentally, I also had it in my mind that thirty was the ideal age at which to have my first child. I guess I thought that I'd be editing a literary baby while carrying the human variety.

And here we are. Shortly before becoming pregnant, I decided to put my first novel aside for a bit. I got a good run out of it. Got an agent right out of the gate, had a broad submission to publishing houses I'd heard of and editors who had edited writers I've read and loved, and then, got a pile of mostly-wonderful pass letters. My favorite was one of the last, written by an editor who said that she'd nearly talked herself into it multiple times. I was split between wanting to fly out to New York and talk her into it myself and wanting to send her flowers. She was the closest I got, at least on this round of submissions.

In the meantime, we aquired a dog. A puppy, really, with all that this entailed. He's now a ninety-four pound mostly-gentle giant. And fortunately, he also gets along beautiful with our nearly ten-month-old, twenty-pound baby.

So a baby. A dog. And a novel still in manuscript form while I muse about just what to do next. Did I mention that according to my twenty-three year old self, I'm on the wrong side of thirty?

There's a lot to be said for failure. I've probably said it to myself, before the failure on this project was absolute. I'm sure I've said it to my students, what with all the talk about grit and hard work and education as learning to perservere, all things I really do believe and hope to impart to them. And there's something purifying about saying Enough. That's it. I will start over.

But there are so many ways to start over. If I truly appreciate the myraid of ways to be a writer at this point in time, at this point in my life, the incredible wealth of finish lines available to me, I might just remain here, at the starting line.

I wonder whether I will fall into the easy adult routine of asking my daughter what she wants to be when she grows up. The older I get, the more my answer, at least privately, is simply to be whatever version of myself is current. 

Right now that's a newish mother, plugging away on a murder mystery set in Silicon Valley, who's also attempting to get her literal house in order. And train the dog. At least it's a touch too early to toilet train the baby.




From Anglo-Saxon England, Godden and Keynes, via Google Books.


Gearing up for NaNoWriMo

Never thought it'd be me, sitting down in mid-October to declare my intentions for the month of November, but the baby is approaching seven months, my body is returning to a state approximating normal, and my creative mind is slowly but certainly coming back in, with the persistent, if subtle, strength of the tide.

Time is coinage these days; hard to come by, impossible to mint. It must be saved and guarded, each fraction of an hour. I imagine a weak little dragon, curled on a crumbling pile of clocks, hoarding. 

"Word-hord" was always one of my favorite phrases in Anglo-Saxon. 

I may be signing myself up for yet another small child who cries for my presence in the night, just when the baby has started to give me breaks from time to time, and when the adolescent dog finally sleeps in, if you make him. But I never was one for halfway measures.

So. 50,000 words. Somehow, in some moments. The story is shaped, the characters named and numbered, and the research, or at least enough of it for now, done. We'll see where I find myself on December 1st.


Ghost is a 2014 Nilsen Finalist!

While I've been busy keeping a tiny human alive, the wonderful people at Southeast Missouri Press have been reading my manuscript. And apparently they liked it!

Thrilled to be recognized like this and very grateful for the timing as I look towards the days when life comes with a touch more sleep and a little bit of writing time. I'd be lying if I said that things like this are what keep me writing, because if I didn't adore the process itself, I'd have laid it all down a long time ago. But they are definitely good for the ego.

Thank you to the Nilsen readers and judges!


Not Quite an Abandoned Blog

Just one that's been on hold dating from right around when I entered the third trimester. 

Happy to report that everyone is here, healthy, and if not quite sleeping through the night at four months, cute enough that we can easily forgive her for it.

Regular posts will resume soon.