Monday, December 31, 2012

See You Next Year ... And Not Because I Plan to Forget the Blog for Another Year

2013 is mere hours away at this point. It's snowing ... again. And while I loathe slippery roads and shoveling snow, I actually really love watching snow fall before it is trampled by salt trucks and exhaust fumes. Somehow, it is a fitting end to yet another year in which we survived an apocalypse of some kind. Our little patch of Earth is covered in snow. George, our garden gargoyle, is buried under a frozen mound of it somewhere in the yard. I told myself I'd rescue him from his icy prison but I haven't made good on that promise yet.

As I look out on the last snowy night of 2012, I'm tempted to scramble and make new year's resolutions I know I'll never keep. The house is quiet. I'm here alone. All there is, is time to think. I've never been one for new year's resolutions but I do plan to make some changes in the coming year. I won't list them here because I'd hate for them to be used as evidence against me this time next year, but the intentions are good.

I'd like to share with you all, a list of things I've learned over this past year ...

1. I'm a pretty lucky girl. I have an amazing husband and one of the coolest kids, ever. I didn't learn that this year. I've known for a while, but reflection always seems to start at this point.

2. Volunteering my time at a hospice organization was probably the greatest thing I've one this year. I haven't been there long, only a few months, but I'm supremely proud the work I do there. I'm not so much proud of myself as I am proud of the difference I make. Every day when I go in to me my patients, they are genuinely happy to see me. One lady fell asleep shortly after our visit and when I thought I'd leave to give her some time to rest, she told me it's just nice knowing someone else is there with her even if she's just sleeping. I don't have to do much. I just visit for a few hours a week, but it makes me feel so good to know that I'm a part of helping people, of taking away a few hours of loneliness every week when a person needs it most. That is an amazing feeling and I'm happy for the opportunity to do what I do.

3. Having an NHL season taken away during the season I intended to go to Pittsburgh and actually catch my first live NHL game was a soul-crushing event I'll only recover from when the NHL resumes.

4. You're never too old to go back to college ... or go for the first time as was my case this summer.

5. My son did not inherit my imagination, something I discovered while watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas when he so very seriously informed me that the Grinch would be physically incapable of stealing Christmas if his heart were indeed two sizes too small.

6. Sometimes, letting go of toxic people is for the best, even when it makes you feel guilty because they're close family or friends. You cannot wait around for happiness. Life is short. You cannot let yourself get sucked into a a tangled web of crazy chaos just because you share the same bloodline with someone. And that's OKAY.

7. Avatar: The Last Airbender is the greatest cartoon ever invented in the history of animation and no amount of argument or persuasion will ever change my mind on this theory. As a wannabe writer, I think it has all the elements of what makes a great story. There are good characters. There are bad characters. There's romance and laughter. There's awesome secondary characters and multiple settings that somehow become secondary characters in a really quiet but obvious way. Prince Zuko, the ultimate character. Starts out a bad guy with a supremely wise uncle at his side. The banished and disgraced Prince of the Fire Lord out tracking the Avatar in order to reclaim his honor and his rightful place as heir to the Fire Nation. But right away you can see how tortured he is. There's good in him, but it's never that simple. Every time you think he's taken a step toward progress, something sends him right back to scheming and conniving and hunting for the Avatar. He's an amazing character and probably the reason I love the show so much.

8. Nothing makes me happier than when my son tells me he's proud of me. There is this inconceivable moment where I feel like I must have heard wrong. It takes a few moments for these words to sink in but when they do, my heart aches with pride in him. I am raising a good boy and I am sure he doesn't even realize just how much it means to me ... almost like I'm the kid and he's the parent. It's a beautiful feeling.

9. On the other hand, I may have mothered him a little too much. During our recent cooking lessons in which I try to teach him to be self-sufficient and independent because he is only eight short years from being an adult, he recently asked me why he had to learn to cook and clean and do laundry. And I quote, "Won't there be someone at my apartment to cook and clean?" To which I replied, "No son, you're thinking of a hotel."

10. Apparently my love of the Pittsburgh Penguins extends to any object that has the image of any penguin on it as my Christmas presents this year included a penguin blanket, a penguin gift card, penguin pajamas, a stuffed penguin, and a Christmas penguin gift bag that hid the backpack on wheels I requested.

I'm sure there are other important things I learned this year that I could have included in this post, but these are the ones that jumped out at me and asked to be observed. I hope you all have a wonderful, safe new year celebration and may you be happy, healthy, and lucky all the days of 2013!

Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Forgetful Misadventures

I keep promising myself that I won't forget to blog. I keep promising myself that I'll find something to blog about. I keep promising myself that I won't listen to the blog advice that warns not to write about yourself because you're really not that interesting or the blog advice that warns not to give out too much writing advice because sometimes you're the only one who really knows what you're talking about.

Truth is, I don't have an exciting life and for I don't know how long now, I've really done very little writing. Between being a full-time student, a wife, and a mother, I really have little time for the other things in my life that used to really make me, me, like; writing, photography, going out to my local Borders and ordering a hazelnut latte while I hammer away at the keyboard getting lost in the various coffee and new book smells (okay, that one really isn't my fault since Borders decided to go out of business). The point is, I'm not feeling much like a writer these days and it's gone on much longer than I care to admit.

There was a point in time where I could easily come up with 100,000 words in a matter of just three or four months. There was a time when I was writing about three or four novels a year as well as a short story for NaNoWriMo. The ideas flowed easily. I didn't have to outline or put too much extra effort into my work. It just flowed, organically, as if the words already existed and I was just the instrument through which they would appear on screen. Now, I can barely open a Word document without feeling the creative juices turning off, like a light switch.

Sometimes, I'll be thinking about my characters and stories all day long. I'll have these scenes playing out in my head and I'll be thinking about the best way to weave all these plot points together. I'll tell myself, "as soon as I get home, I'm writing. No excuses," but as soon as I get situated, my brain goes blank. Everything I had been thinking suddenly seems like it's on the other side of a link I'm missing. I know what people say. The best way to get through writer's block is to write. Believe me, I've tried. I haven't touched my journal in over a year. I used to write in it every other day or so. I have three incomplete stories waiting for attention, all three of which I started as NaNoWriMo or CampNaNoWriMo projects.

Whatever this is, it feels debilitating. I look at my document and I want to write. I have the story in my brain somewhere, but it's obviously being held hostage by something I can't even negotiate with it because it refuses to answer the phone. I feel guilty when I avoid writing. I feel guilty when I open a document and try to write but can't. It's been far too long. I used to never start another story before I finished one. I would keep notes for any ideas that popped into my head so I could come back to them later, but I always had to see a project through to fruition before I began another and now I have nothing to show for the 150,000 or so words that the past few NaNoWriMos have given me because I can't finish the stories.

Funny enough, they all seem to begin to lag right about the same place ... right after the 200 page mark. For instance, the third installment of Tallulah and Gennadi's story is only a chapter or two from being complete. All the ends have been tied together except for forgiveness. That's the last of what needs to be said and I can't. With Fiona and Declan, I know the problem is a little more complicated than that. I have about 100 pages left to go and no idea how to get my story from where it is to where I planned for it to be and that might be because Declan was never supposed to be the hero. He was supposed to be a secondary character, a romantic red herring, but he proved to have a little more say over the matter than I did. And with my current WIP, Effie and Foster, I know exactly how the story ends and the events that lead us there, but I can't come up with the words on paper. It's maddening.

And because I have so much trouble writing, something I love so very much, I've avoided the blog. I feel ashamed that I can't write. Something you love so much shouldn't be this difficult, should it? That's what I keep telling myself. I diverted my attention by learning the gist of Twitter. I might be the last holdout to give into the Twittersphere. But that was just a diversion. If I could say it was about connecting with other authors, I could convince myself it was a step in the right direction.

So, if you've hung around and read through my entire sob story, perhaps you have a woeful tale of writer's block to share with me. Some advice? Some encouragement? Something to make me giggle and distract me from my problem once again? At this point, anything is welcome.