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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Doctors, Vets, And More... Oh, My!

Less than 7 full days into school and I already have excuses for why I am not writing or getting anything else done (look how easy that was!):

We have already managed two doctors visits and squeezed in a visit to the vet as well...

My youngest had a very yucky snotty nose the entire time we were on vacation the week before school started. I finally brought him to the doctors last week to find that he has two "raging" ear infections. Poor guy probably had those infections brewing the whole time we were on vacation :( (although it didn't seem to bother him as he jumped from pool to pool).

What almost did thwart our vacation was a call from the dog kennel our very first night. Our 10 year old boxer had to be rushed to the emergency vet for what appeared to be symptoms of bloat. Bloat, if not treated quickly with emergency surgery, can be fatal to a dog of any age particularly a 10 year old boxer. And, after I talked to the vet whilst standing in the Wal-Mart parking lot with a cart full of supplies for the week, I thought we were going to lose him. But, luckily, by the time I arrived back at the hotel 2 hours later my husband had given the go-ahead for the surgery and my dog had survived. (2 hours later? Oh, did I skip the part where I was a blubbering idiot and locked my keys, purse, and cell phone in the car while I stood outside with melting groceries in a South Carolina Wal-Mart parking lot begging strangers if I could borrow their cell phones? Hmm.. I wonder how I could have left that part out?)

Our dog is wonderful, back to his old self. He was spoiled rotten by the vet techs while we were away and the only thing I had to do when we got back was bring him to get his staples removed.

Mommy/Doggie Selfie. Love this guy!
Doctor visit #2 came Monday for my middle child. He already managed to pick up a virus that I was worried might be strep (headache, sore throat, stomach ache, fever). Apparently, though, it's just a virus and he's back in school two days later (hopefully not spreading it around).

In between, of course, I have gotten the worst cold I have had in a long time. The last few cold and flu seasons I have managed to stay pretty healthy thanks to my persistent use of Airborne (I swear by it!) BUT apparently you have to actually remember to take it while your children are snotting all over you or it doesn't work. So, I've been coughing, sneezing, and not resting all night and puttering around all day in a fog (which please oh please should be lifting soon).

Oh, my! There you have it, less than 7 days into the school year and I have managed excuse #45 of why I am never going to be a published writer (or accomplish much of anything else!). 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

On The Back-To-School Emotional Rollercoaster

Ahhh… Back-to-school time… the time of year when even the most even-tempered mother can feel like an undiagnosed manic depressive. As I prepare to send all three of my children on the school bus for the first time, I vacillate between wanting to run around the house and complete all items on my to-do list in a single child-free day to wanting to spend the day crying on the corner anxiously wringing my hands until the bus returns my baby-turned-kindergartner safely into my arms.  

For the last ten years I have some form of baby, toddler, or small child in my arms for the better part of the day. I have spent a large portion of my adult life pregnant, nursing, and changing diapers. And now that is over. I now hand my children over to be educated by strangers. Part of me wants to sing “I’m Free!!” in operatic falsetto while the other part of me wants to grab a hold of my uterus and beg “Just one more, give me just one more!”

How did the years slip by so fast? How did this summer pass by so fast? How is vacation already over?

I’ll survive back-to-school. And they will thrive. After the first few days, those child-free hours will go by oh-too-quickly. Before I know it, another summer will come and go and there will be another back-to-school to prepare for. I will have three children in school full day then. That time will come when I will be told that producing live children from my womb and keeping them alive is no longer a sufficient contribution to society. I will need to do something. Tick.

I will be putting my three biggest excuses on the bus… Tick.

Now is the time to make something of my writing or find anything else to do. Boom.

Yipes. Maybe I should go have that talk with my uterus (Just kidding, uterus. You've done good work but it is time for you to retire).

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Distracted By Facebook Again. Why? Oh why Facebook?

I sat down to write last night. Yay me. Yay to my husband who offered to get the kids ready for bed. But, as often happens when I sit down to write and fail to turn the Internet off – I found myself getting distracted. I just had to google this or that important bit of information and before I knew it I was typing that little F word into the address line.

You know what I’m talking about. It’s likely what brought you here today. Facebook. Ahh, Facebook. That time suck we love to hate. Some days I am ready to give it up. But then who would read my blogs? How would I know when people had babies, went to Disney, got married, got divorced?? How would I know what celebrity died? Or had a baby, went to Disney, got married or got a divorce? So, instead of quitting Facebook, I’ll just post this “Facebook rant blog.”

I just don’t understand what we are doing on Facebook! Why we are spending so much of our precious time here? Why? Why Facebook users? Why?

Why do you feel the need to post every single article in existence on one subject? (And why do I click like even if I haven’t read the article!?)
We get it: You don’t vaccinate your children; you hate common core; Kraft foods is the new Phillip Morris; you love Jesus; guns are bad; you want to save all animals, plastic causes cancer.

Why do you share the same picture of a woman in old fashioned clothing slumped over her sofa with a different witty saying? (And why do I like it every time!?)
We get it: You hate doing laundry; you wish you had wine; your children don’t listen to you; your husband is an idiot; you love coffee.

Why do I need to see a picture of you with a plunging neckline hanging over someone different every time you have a “Girls Night Out”?
We get it: You look hot when you’re not wearing mom jeans; you are cool; you know how to have a good time; you have lots of friends.

Why do I need to see a picture of every purchase you make? Your house? Your vacation home? Your car? Your kid's 10th American Girl doll?
We get it: You have a job, you have money, you like to buy nice things.

Why is it you ONLY post on Facebook when you go on exotic vacations?
We get it: You are better than the rest of us daily Facebook hacks but we should still be jealous of your family vacation to Hawaii, or the Greek Islands, or Disney for the umpteenth time this year.

Why do I need to know every single time-suck you partake in?
We get it: You play Candy Crush, Words with Friends, and Farmville: you have the personality similar to Princess Ariel, a farmer, a person from the 1960s and an Irish sailor; you write a witty blog; you really want to win organic food for a year, a Disney cruise, or a trip to Legoland.

Why do I need to hear how much you love your bestie, your boyfriend, your husband, or your kids?
We get it: You know how to appreciate the people you love. But seriously, you are going to be hating on them tomorrow so why waste my time today?

And, finally, why do you need to post things just to make other people feel bad?
We get it: You are organized, you are crafty, you bake pretty cupcakes, you never yell at your kids while the rest of us saps suck at all those things.

And I suck because I do some or all of the above things too. I get it. But really I’m just trying to make you laugh while venting ;) Have a fabulous Facebook day!

Oh, and here is my "we get it: you are a great mom, you do stuff with your kids" selfie:

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Settling (In?)

     Stephen King is haunting me. Nagging, more like it. Almost every day I can hear his creepy voice in my head (sorry Mr. King but when you write the kind of stuff you write your voice becomes creepy). Why is he bothering me?  

     It probably all started way back in October. What you didn't know was the 365th day of 365ExcusesbyJulie.com flew by without any fanfare from me. The excuse then? I was gearing up for NaNoWriMo (Say What?) and just never got around to it. Alas, NaNoWriMo was a bust for me as I put writing aside to focus on moving. Which is done. And now the excuse for not writing? I am busy setting in to our new home and community.

     Now, I have that nagging worry that I am again falling into the pattern of just plain settling. Maybe settling is the wrong word as it has the connotation of getting something less than you want/need/deserve. But when you have everything you could possibly need surrounding you (great husband, kids, house, community, friends, etc) it's easy to just settle into the comfortability of it all and not really try too hard. That seems to be where I am settling right now -- happily going about taking care of the kids, doing the chores, puttering around the house, unpacking the random boxes, checking out the town, taking walks... Busy settling in but still not accomplishing any writing goals.  

     Where does Stephen King fit into all of this? In addition to my own nagging guilt over my neglected writing, Stephen King nags me as well. I just can't seem to get him out of my head (creepy, huh?)! In his book On Writing he tells all of us would-be writers to write every single day, even holidays. Which is no surprise, but that doesn't stop my mounting excuses for not writing. As I recall it, he goes on to say something to the effect of: if you are constantly putting off writing to go mow the lawn (or whatever) maybe you should do just that -- go mow the lawn and forget about writing altogether. That's what he tells me everyday: why don't you just go mow the lawn and give up. But I don't want to mow the lawn! I certainly don't want to give up writing -- the thought makes me sick to my stomach. I don't want to settle for that!

    If the thought of giving up on writing makes me sick, then why is it I can let day after day go by settling into a routine of not writing? There is no good excuse (although I could rattle some off). So now that my family and I are somewhat settled into our new home, it is time to carve out at least a few hours a week to writing. My goal is to write one hour each day between the hours of 2 and 3. And, lock myself away one evening a week to write for an additional 2 or 3 hours. At least until summer when I'll have to switch it up a bit. Wish me luck (and hopefully I can stop hearing Stephen King in my head)!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Boxes For Books

My last post for this blog was November 14th while I was happily up to my elbows in NaNoWriMo. One might think that I have been so busy writing and subsequently editing that I haven’t had a single excuse to share. I wish that were true. Unfortunately, the reverse is true: Excuses abound! My husband took a new job and I had to switch gears and focus on moving. In short, I had to exchange my book for boxes.

The New Year is in full swing and I have not focused on a single writing resolution instead I have focused on housing to-do lists. We have been very fortunate in this market, though, and we are almost at the end of our journey. In exactly three weeks’ time I will be watching the mover’s load our belongings on to a truck. I am sad to leave here only two short years after moving, but I am also excited by the new possibilities this move represents.

And I am excited to get back into a writing routine – to finish the work that I’ve started. Over the last couple of years, I have unleashed my wild writerly mind and it is not happy to be caged while I am busy with other things.

I have given my brain very little time to think creatively unless staging a home counts. I look forward to getting back to my novel, getting back to this blog – getting back to writing.

More to come in 2014! Until then, I’m going to work on my moving to-do lists!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Need Some Motivation

Lagging behind on my NaNoWriMo word count and in need of inspiration/motivation. And, apparently, I feel like sharing so I am plagiarizing NaNo pep talks for my blog this week (It's not really plagiarizing if I state the source, right?).

Here's excerpts from two pep talks that spoke to me. The gist is the same as always: just sit down and write and the rest will fall into place eventually (like in the revising).

Pep Talk from Neil Gaiman:
By now you’re probably ready to give up. You’re past that first fine furious rapture when every character and idea is new and entertaining. You’re not yet at the momentous downhill slide to the end, when words and images tumble out of your head sometimes faster than you can get them down on paper. You’re in the middle, a little past the half-way point. The glamour has faded, the magic has gone, your back hurts from all the typing, your family, friends and random email acquaintances have gone from being encouraging or at least accepting to now complaining that they never see you any more—and that even when they do you’re preoccupied and no fun. You don’t know why you started your novel, you no longer remember why you imagined that anyone would want to read it, and you’re pretty sure that even if you finish it it won’t have been worth the time or energy and every time you stop long enough to compare it to the thing that you had in your head when you began—a glittering, brilliant, wonderful novel, in which every word spits fire and burns, a book as good or better than the best book you ever read—it falls so painfully short that you’re pretty sure that it would be a mercy simply to delete the whole thing. 
Welcome to the club. 
That’s how novels get written. 
You write. That’s the hard bit that nobody sees. You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days. Like a shark, you have to keep moving forward or you die. Writing may or may not be your salvation; it might or might not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Entire entire pep talk here:

Pep Talk from Malinda Lo:
Here’s what happens when I sit down to write. First, I turn off my access to the internet by engaging Freedom. (The internet is the number-one killer of writer productivity!) Second, I open Scrivener. (Substitute whatever word-processing program works for you.) Third, I force myself to sit there with my work-in-progress until Freedom says I’m done. (I always set it for at least one hour, and often three.) I don’t allow myself to get up to make endless cups of tea (one will do). I just sit there. That’s all.
How often am I filled with inspiration before I start writing? Pretty much never. Instead, I usually stare at my work-in-progress with a vague sense of doom. I often think to myself: What the hell am I doing in this scene? I don’t understand how to get my characters from Point A to Point B! I really want to check Twitter!
The trick is this: As long as I sit there with my work-in-progress, at some point I will write something, because there’s nothing else to do.
Whatever I write may not be any good, but that doesn’t matter. When you’re writing a first draft—which most of you are doing this month—the most important thing is to keep moving forward. Your first try will be riddled with mistakes, but that’s what revision is for. Right now, you only have to put those ugly, wrong words on the page so you can fix them later.
Read the entire pep talk here:

Monday, November 4, 2013

#NaNoWriMo WHAT?

I am in love. I am all starry-eyed. I am wondering, where have you been all my life?! What has me all a-flutter? A little movement in the writing world called NaNoWriMo.


NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month (which is November).  It’s when crazy would-be novelist such as myself set out to write a novel in one month. Or, at least 50,000 unedited words. It’s a way to stifle the inner critic, the mounting excuses, the list of procrastinations, or the myriad of things that get in the way of sitting our butts down in a chair and writing.

The idea of NaNoWriMo started in 1999 when Chris Baty and 20 of his friends set out to write a novel in one month. (What was I doing in 1999? Still dreaming of one-day writing a novel) On the NaNo website, Baty describes that first year:

That first year there were 21 of us, and our July noveling binge had little to do with any ambitions we might have harbored on the literary front. Nor did it reflect any hopes we had about tapping more fully into our creative selves. No, we wanted to write novels for the same dumb reasons twenty-somethings start bands. Because we wanted to make noise. Because we didn’t have anything better to do. And because we thought that, as novelists, we would have an easier time getting dates than we did as non-novelists.
Baty goes on to say that in this process they discovered something they hadn't expected: Novel writing is fun.
Fun was a revelation. Novel writing, we had discovered, was just like watching TV. You get a bunch of friends together, load up on caffeine and junk food, and stare at a glowing screen for a couple hours. And a story spins itself out in front of you.
I think the scene—full of smack-talk and muffin crumbs on our keyboards—would have rightly horrified professional writers. We had taken the cloistered, agonized novel-writing process and transformed it into something that was half literary marathon and half block party.

This sounds like college. I’m in! Seriously. This was made for me!

If the idea of cramming in novel writing in one month college-style – with lots of coffee and junk food and friends – wasn't enough motivation, the deal was sealed when I read that Sara Gruen wrote Water for Elephants during NaNoWriMo. One of my favorite books ever! From NaNoWriMo.org, in 2006:
Then we heard about Sara Gruen. Sara had been one of the first participants to sell her NaNoWriMo manuscript, and had since written another NaNoWriMo novel that had become a bestseller: Water For Elephants. When her new project went out for auction in the fall of ’06, she landed a reported $5.2 million, two-book deal. How did she celebrate? She sat down and wrote another book for NaNoWriMo.
Seriously. Deal sealed.

And, of course, Sara wrote a pep talk directly to me: http://nanowrimo.org/pep-talks/sara-gruen Alright, I don’t own horses, but you get the idea….

So this November, I will be banishing all excuses to write 50,000 words. When I am not blogging, answering my phone, responding to emails, liking statuses on Facebook, or tweeting – I will be writing. When I am not sleeping, I will be writing. When I am not cleaning, I will be writing.

I am not doing this alone, there is an entire NaNoWriMo community to support me. I’m excited. I’ll keep you posted. Or, maybe, I’ll just see you in December

If you want to hear some other authors talk about this crazy idea known as NaNoWriMo, check out: