Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Book I'll Never Write (And How My Husband Ruined It)

My husband and I are sitting next to each other right now, both of us on our laptops. "Husband," I just said. "Listen to this." I shared with him an idea I had written yesterday for a book I'll never write. But I liked the idea nonetheless, and I wanted him to say, "Yes, Wife. That is a good idea. You are so smart." He did not say this. He said, "Med malpractice is dead." Then he took my laptop from me and added the final paragraph.

Seven months ago, James watched a girl cry in her car. As he planted lilies on the corner of Madison and Rochester for his summer landscaping job, she pulled up to the light, and for her tears he handed her a lily through the open window.

Today James sits in a courtroom because his dad stands trial for malpractice. Seven months ago, his dad nicked a patient’s artery during surgery. And the patient died. That patient’s family sits opposite him now, and once again he is looking into the eyes of the man’s daughter—who’s eyes are dry, as is the lily that she wears pinned to her shirt.

The only person that was happy to be in the courtroom that day was the defense attorney. He was billing about $350 an hour. He had already put over 200 hours into the case and was about to add another 40 after this week.

I mean, if the first two paragraphs didn't hook you, that last one will. But one thing is for sure...he is not touching my real books.

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Morning Experiment

Last week my family went to the Texas coast. The ocean was forever. The beach pristine. The weather perfect. And the best part? We had it almost entirely to ourselves. Whenever I return to the ocean, I remember how much I love it. Maybe it's not a coincidence that the sea plays a major role in both my books.



See how pretty? That's my husband and son in the water. My father-in-law is sitting in the beach chair reading. The little imp running toward the seagulls is my daughter. And there is my mother-in-law about to chase after her hat that has blown away.

Vacations always recharge me a little. I go back to real life with new ideas and new energy. This morning I woke up before my children to write. I have a really hard time finding time during the day to write. When I write, it's usually at night. And yet, that's still hard for me because I'm wrapping up my day then. Sometimes other things take priority. (Even though they aren't always necessarily more important.)

But in the morning? Nothing exists yet to clutter up my day. It's time I would otherwise spend sleeping. I wrote for over an hour this morning before Jummers tripped out of his room, fell on the floor, and commenced whining. And I got a lot done. I'm excited about this. I want to do it again. I shall call it...my morning experiment and see if I can't get this book finished once and for all.

Monday, September 19, 2011

You Are Such A....

I try to teach Jummers not to say words like "poop" or "stupid." Of course, sometimes I say those things, but that's beside the point. Well, being the innovative kid that he is he made up a new word.

Wonky Face.

He will sometimes use that little number on me when he's upset. "You are such a wonky face!" Whereupon I respond, "Don't use that word." Well, it's his word. He made it up. And now it's forbidden. Talk about suppressing my son's creativity.

But what is a wonky face? I'd really like to know. He won't tell me.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Let's Have A Writing War!

You know you've found a good writing friend when she calls you up on the phone and says, "I'll bring my computer over and we'll have a writing war."

So yesterday afternoon my friend who is Jessie but not me and who I will call "Jes" in my blog just to clarify that I'm not CRAZY and friending myself...came over with her kids and her laptop. However, a writing war did not ensue. I told her I was stuck in my pirate book, and she said, "Let's write in each other's books."

We caught up to speed on each other's books and switched laptops. And then for about 15 minutes when we weren't calming the screaming children, we wrote. And it was fun. It was completely stress-free because it was 100% and purely Just For Fun. Because we wouldn't keep it. It wasn't our own.

And the best part? I wasn't stuck anymore. She took my book to a place that helped me get past that block I'd come to. Plus we both made each other laugh, which is good when all around you is screaming. And more screaming.

Have you ever written in somebody else's book? Had somebody write in yours? You should try.

(And while I'm giving advice, I advise you not to go see Contagion on an IMAX screen. Because the germs are as big as your head. And it is not a coincidence that a few days later I came down with something. Although I studied Microbiology in college, I'm pretty sure there is a scientific explanation for this.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Jummers and Little

So there are times when I try to be unique and do things my own way. And there are other times that I know I must join in, and well...writing "my son" and "my daughter" is just not cutting it for me anymore. And so, from now on they will be called by their real-life nicknames (because I don't like putting real-life names out there, but if in the end I am ever published and I decide to dedicate a book to them, their real-life names will be out there anyway). So...

My son is Jummers, short for Jumbo, because when he was a baby he was HUGE. Like rolls of fat up and down his arms HUGE. Like he was from another species of human HUGE. He was always at the top of the charts, and at one point off of them. Now, five years later, he is mostly tall which my husband anticipates will lead to a successful and happy career in college basketball. Jummers loves Legos and playing with his cousins, and I think he might have more cousins than Legos. Sometimes he wants to type on my computer so he can write his book. Not sure where he ever got that idea...

My daughter is Little because genes are funny and gave me this petite, little thing that squeaks instead of talks and screams instead of argues. Gosh she's cute, and she just passed the 21-month mark. She also likes playing with her brother's Legos, and usually much screaming follows. She LOVES cereal, and is always getting into the cereal cupboard. And she always runs away from me when I tell her to "come here." Well, actually she's really naughty, but when you are squeaky and little you can get away with it.

I wish they stayed like this forever. Any tips on keeping my children from growing up?


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Writers in Motion

Thank you all my dear blogging friends for your loving words last week. This morning I took a walk with my kids. The intense south Texas heat has finally broken, and this morning just felt so invigorating and promising. I couldn't help but make plans and think of all things I wanted to accomplish and believe that I really COULD accomplish them.

A Really Smart Person wrote a blog post. I keep thinking of it not because he's my dad but because he's right. He relates a story of cutting a tree, and the force of the tree when it rebounded. (He left out the part in which my mom thought the tree was going to win.) He drew a metaphor that while directed at small business owners, I think can apply to everyone who hasn't reached their potential...especially to us as writers.

Trees are immobile and constant. They are docile, peaceful and harmless. They wave their leaves and branches in the wind as if to say, “Hey there. Hi. I’m here. I’m not leaving. Well, I am ‘leafing’ but I’m not leaving. I am staying here. I can’t move. See you around.”

We all become trees at some point in our life. With routine in our comfort zone, our roots run deep and our trunks become thick. We become immobile and constant; even docile, peaceful and harmless. We need to wave our arms occasionally so people know where we are. “Hi. I am here. I am not leaving. See you around.”

Give yourself motion. Make a move. Take a risk. Just do something. Anything. If you haven’t been mobile for a while, you will be stunned at the force you can create. At first it will be scary, but fear fades as you move into the moment. We fear things that might happen, not what is happening.

Stimulated, your mind will focus its power as you *visualize, plan, decide, sense, act, assess, respond. It will be awesome. It will make the bark stand on the back of your neck.

*insert-outline, draft, rewrite, edit

By the way, I was raised on metaphors. Maybe that's one reason I like to write. But isn't it true? We need motion. With motion, we'll surprise ourselves with what we can create.