Monday, October 31, 2011


I've always kind of hated that NaNoWriMo starts on November 1. I like to use the day before to make changes to my outline and try to fill in plot holes, but Halloween makes that a little difficult--especially since I have two children who are eager to go trick or treating. But I guess that's part of the challenge of NaNo: trying to fit 50,000 words around an already busy schedule to prove that writing is possible, and I (and everyone else who wants to) can find the time for it if it truly is a passion. That, I think, is the real lesson NaNo teaches.

So for all of you taking on the challenge: Good luck! I know that despite my tiredness and the fact that I need to get up at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, I, for one, will be sitting at my computer at midnight, typing away.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

I have the best readers!

I want to thank everyone who commented on yesterday's entry about my lack of offline writing support. Your encouragement means so much to me, and I'm grateful that you took time away from your days to offer me your wisdom and advice. My NaNoWriMo prep is lasting until the last second, as usual, but I want you to know that I'll respond to each comment as soon as I can. Thanks again!


I wrote today's 100 words about being a high school senior asked to decide on a college major. I had no idea what I wanted to do. Up until that point in my life, I had already changed my mind a million times: I'd wanted to be a singer, an archaeologist, an orthodontist (back in my braces days), a journalist... I had no idea what to tell the people who asked. I finally decided on broadcast journalism as my major but ended up switching to English by the end of my first semester. English stuck; I went on to graduate school for a master's, then taught college English and journalism classes for several years. I've never regretted the switch!

This morning's 100 words:

All the college applications had a place for us to select a major, and I remember how weird it seemed that I, a seventeen-year-old high school senior, was being asked to make what seemed to be such a life-altering decision--a huge, can't-go-back, set-in-stone decision--and I felt so ill-equipped to even know, to even pretend to have an inkling of an idea about what I was supposed to do with the rest of my life. I was facing a test I hadn't studied for. I didn't know the answer.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Do you get support for your writing?

Writing is a lonely endeavor, most often a one-person job in which we sit in front of a computer, typing away while the world outside goes on without us. There's no gathering around the coffee machine or chatting with the worker in the next cubicle. Instead we spend a lot of time in our own minds, listening to the voices that speak to us, stopping occasionally to stare at the wall or, if we're lucky enough to have one nearby, out the window.

Because writing is such a solitary activity, it's good to have people around us who support our work and our writing dreams. These people could be husbands, wives, children, friends (online or "real")...anyone, really, who cheers us on as we work toward our goals. But what if the person you're closest to doesn't support your work? Then what?

I learned recently that someone close to me--my husband--doesn't think of my writing as anything more than "my wife's hobby." It hurt to hear that, as becoming a published writer is something I've wanted since I was a child, and I've been working hard to achieve that goal. He thinks that the hours I spend writing stories and drabbles and working on novels is just time wasted in front of the computer, and that's a hard thing to deal with. I have a lot of online support, which I'm extremely grateful for, but there are few people in my offline life who take much of an interest in what I do and recognize how important it is to me.

What about you? Do you have writing support from the people closest to you? And what do you do when someone you respect doesn't respect your need to write?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Playing hooky

This morning's 100 words:

I'm playing hooky today, skipping the kids' storytime in favor of a few more minutes of sleep and some extra writing time. I call it a mental health day, and I need it after a week spent getting up too early, frantically trying to capture all the pieces of the chaos and coax them into something tamable. It's the season, I guess, the time of Halloween costumes and parties and an evening spent trick or treating in the cold, shivering on the sidewalk as my children go from door to door, plastic pumpkins in hand and wide smiles on their faces.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trick or treat!

Today's 100 words:

Today I was a mom helper in my four-year-old's preschool class. The kids were celebrating Halloween, each arriving in costume and ready to trick or treat at several offices throughout the building. Even though times have changed since I was a child, the costumes really haven't, and it was great to see familiar standbys like Spider-Man, a police officer, and the ubiquitous princess, all popular choices from my own childhood. It was clear that the kids were having a great time, and watching them made me nostalgic for the days when Halloween meant candy, games, and fun.

What memories do you have of Halloween? Any favorite costumes?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


This morning's 100 words:

It's funny how some memories from long ago shine clearly in my mind while other, more recent events are sometimes difficult to recall. Recess in elementary school: I remember certain moments so well that I have a hard time believing that decades have passed since I was that little girl swinging on the swings and climbing on the monkey bars. After rainstorms, I remember walking along the perimeter of the school, looking for worms I could rescue from stomping feet. I played foursquare near the doors and king of the hill next to the tennis court. Fun times; simple times. I'm glad I remember.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

100 words on NaNo prep

I experienced a breakthrough with my NaNoWriMo planning yesterday, one of those eureka moments when suddenly all parts of the story came together and made sense. I still have more planning to do before midnight on November 1, but I'm happy that the story pieces have finally gelled, and I'm looking forward to beginning this project. Whether I'll be able to complete the 50,000 words this year remains a mystery. Normally I would say yes, I'll definitely win, since I won my previous attempts in 2003 and 2010. This year, with my more chaotic life, I'm not as confident.

Monday, October 24, 2011


This morning's 100 words:

I was thinking the other day about growing up, how things seemed simpler then, and I remembered an evening when my parents were working in the garage, staining furniture for the new-addition bedroom my sister and I were to share. It's a fleeting memory--I was still very young--but I remember how hard my parents were working, and I can picture my mom as she bent over a dresser, brush in her hand, stopping every few minutes to wave the annoying hum of a mosquito from her ear.

Yesterday was Mom's birthday. Happy 74th birthday, Mom!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The hidden part

A 100-word vignette:

Throughout the night, a heavy drumbeat of rain pounded against the roof and tapped a staccato beat against the windows, and Beth listened from her bed, eyes open, and watched as bolts of lightning illuminated the room, dragging everyday objects--the dresser, the lamp--from their shadowy hiding places, exposing them for what they were, and she thought about her inner self, exposed that way, brought to the light so everyone around could see the real her, the true her that she kept carefully tucked away from prying eyes, and she clenched her fists determinedly. She couldn't let that happen.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

On tiredness and writing

This morning's 100 words:

I have only a few minutes to write this entry, perhaps ten, and it's always on days like this when I need to write quickly--think quickly--that I can't roust a topic from my tired mind. Instead I think of the day ahead, what needs to get done, the places I have to go, and somehow that thinking always seems to spiral out to scenes I don't want my mind to recall, at least not so early, not when I've just woken up and the day is still new and horrible memories still seem shadowy and faraway.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Today's 100 words:

He told her he doesn't love her, that he never has, that he never should have dated her, certainly never should have married her, that their two children were not conceived in love but in pity, pity for a wife who loved too much, so much that his heart ached even though he looked at her much of the time and hated her, hated her personality and the things she said, hated being in the same room with her, and he told her yesterday that he's not going to pretend anymore, pretend to love her, pretend to love their life together.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

NaNo plotting update

Ever since deciding a few days ago to participate in NaNoWriMo despite the circumstances, I've been hard at work on plotting. I don't think I've mentioned yet that I'm not planning to do a traditional NaNo this year; that is, I'm not writing what's usually thought of as a novel. Instead, I'm planning to do a series of interconnected short stories. The "interconnected" part is what will keep me from being a NaNo rebel, although I certainly have nothing against people who set their own rules and do NaNo their own way. I fell into that category last year with my memoir, and my main hangout on the NaNo forums was the wonderful rebel lounge.

Anyway, I've gotten most of my story ideas down and have pretty thoroughly outlined two of them. However, I still have a lot of work to do if I'm going to be at least mostly ready before November 1. I think I'm getting close to nail-biting time!

For those of you doing NaNo, how's your planning going? And for those of you NaNo-ers who have blogs, how often do you think you'll post during November? I've been wondering what to do about my own schedule.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A necessity

Today's 100 words:

I love to read. Each year I resolve to read 104 books, a manageable two books a week. In 2005 I started keeping lists of the books I read, and although so far I've never met my goal, I've always come close, reading anywhere from 95 to 102 books a year. This year I expect to succeed, as I've already read 86 books. I can't imagine my life without the escape that reading provides, can't fathom being unable to immerse my mind in someone else's life and forget about my own. For me, reading isn't a luxury; it's a necessity.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I'm back!

I decided this morning that I'll be participating in NaNoWriMo after all. :)

To all of you who offered encouragement in response to yesterday's post: thank you. I had been feeling pretty dejected about NaNo after I was told by someone close to me that my passion for writing is "stupid," but I felt better--and determined--after I read your encouraging responses. I wrote a response of my own this morning, where I tried to explain the reason that this person's lack of support hurt so much. (You can find my response here.)

What I learned from this experience is that although writing is a solitary activity, it's still necessary for me to feel supported by others and to have a sense that what I'm doing is important. Yes, I can write for me (and I do), but to know that someone is out there encouraging me and cheering me on reminds me that my passion is as important as anyone else's and following my dream is worthwhile.

I don't know how NaNo will go for me this year. I'm hoping that I'll make or exceed the word goal, as I did the two other years I participated. I think that this year my success will likely depend on my ability to find time to write around the distractions of my two very young children, which might prove difficult without family support. No matter what, though, I know that I have friends I can count on when the going gets tough. Thank you!

Monday, October 17, 2011

NaNoWriMo uncertainty

There's now a possibility that I may not be able to participate in NaNoWriMo next month. I can't really get into the details right now, except to say that someone very close to me has discouraged me from making the attempt. I've been having a lot of fun brainstorming and prepping and have really been looking forward to working on my project, but I'll need to see what happens in the next few days in order to decide if it's going to happen this year.

Just don't count me out yet. ;)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

They hear

"You fight about money, 'bout me and my brother..." P!NK, "Family Portrait"

Mommy and Daddy yelled at each other in the car yesterday. They were smiling and talking before we left our house, but by the time we got to the costume store, their voices had turned into angry whispers, and then they got louder and louder. Mommy even said a bad word. I didn't understand that or why they were screaming. They always tell Jana and me not to fight; they put us in time-out if we do. What's happening to them? What will happen to us? I'm scared.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Progress! (A very brief update)

Last night I did more brainstorming for my NaNo project. I'm happy with how well it's going so far, and I'm starting to get excited for November!

For those of you participating this year, how is your planning going? Are you ready to begin?

Friday, October 14, 2011


Today's 100 words:

It's difficult to stand up for your beliefs when you're young--or at least it was for me. I abandoned so much of the woman I was when I entered graduate school; I became a different person, began ignoring my knowledge of what was right and what was wrong, started becoming someone I didn't like very much. But once I was on that roller coaster--once I set off down that path--I found it hard to stop, and it's only just now, years and years later, that I'm beginning to come back to my beliefs--and to myself.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The secret

Today's 100 words:

You had wanted to keep us a secret, you said after everyone had found out we were together, dating, seeing each other--whatever they wanted to call it. It's funny that I didn't get that memo, didn't know that we were supposed to act one way in private, another in the sight of our friends, didn't know that my leaning my head on your shoulder or holding your hand would be acceptable in one place and not in the other. Relationships shouldn't have those rules, and neither should love. But I remember now: you never said you loved me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NaNo, NaNo!

I can't even put into words just how incredibly happy I was to write this 100-words entry this morning:

I think I've finally settled on an idea for this year's NaNoWriMo project. Now I have to see if I can keep my enthusiasm for it going until midnight on October 31. The fact that I woke up this morning still excited about the idea is a good sign, I suppose. Now I have to work on an outline and somehow succeed in striking that delicate balance between planning too much, which could easily lead me to hate the idea, and planning too little, which could paralyze me in November and cause me to be unable to write at all.

I'm not sure yet if I'll attempt the 50,000-word goal or if I'll become a NaNo rebel and set my own goal this year. Honestly, I haven't done any real writing for so long that getting even a few thousand words on this new project would feel like a win to me. Like everyone else who's attempting NaNo, I need to figure out which things in my life I can let go of for the month in order to make my writing a priority. Having young kids makes working difficult, of course, but I know that many other NaNo participants have not only that concern but countless others and still manage to meet their goal. Since I don't think I can convince my husband to take on the laundry, cooking, and cleaning duties for the month, I guess I'll just have to wait and see how much I'll be able to accomplish. Regardless of the word count, I'm looking forward to the challenge.

If you're participating in the insanity this year, what things will you put on the back burner for the month? How do you restructure your life around NaNo?

And finally, I'm counting on you guys. Help me out here, okay? Don't let me lose my NaNo enthusiasm! :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Today's 100 words:

Her posture was perfect. She was tall, yet she never slouched, never seemed to notice that she stood taller than most people around her. She wore her height proudly, and I used to wonder sometimes if I would have been able to do the same if I had grown taller than the five feet four inches I used to be and the five feet three inches I'm told by doctors I now am. I usually like to blend in, not stick out, and my short stature allows me the luxury of hiding behind others, becoming invisible, listening and observing unnoticed.

Monday, October 10, 2011

"Tyler, meet George."

My friend Tyler is on his way home after staying with us since last Wednesday. It was a wonderful visit, and I'm sad to see him go. While he was here, we toured Niagara Falls, the Memorial Art Gallery, the Susan B. Anthony house, and the George Eastman house. It was fun to see these things through Tyler's eyes, as I've lived here long enough now that I don't think I appreciate all the really wonderful things there are to do and see and explore in this city.

I wrote today's 100 words about yesterday's visit to the George Eastman house, which was probably my favorite of all the things we did:

I have a (strange?) fascination with wanting to know how famous people died. Yesterday Tyler and I took a tour of Kodak founder George Eastman's house, and I kept waiting for the docent to mention his death by suicide, but she never did. When we were left to explore on our own, however, we found his suicide note and death certificate in a tiny, out-of-the-way room. I suppose the docent didn't want to disappoint the tourists by bringing up something so dark. I find it interesting, though, because I believe that this earthly life isn't the end.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Filling in some gaps

I wrote this 100-words entry after I asked my visiting friend, Tyler, where we had met. An entry I wrote last week shows that his memory is better than mine!

I asked my friend Tyler where we met, and he said that it was in our Milton class, not the Arthurian literature class, as I had thought. I remember now: Professor Andrews had us move our chairs into a horseshoe shape, lined along the edges of the walls, and Tyler sat across from me but closer to the front. He said that we were in the Arthurian lit class together the next semester, which I now remember to be true. Whereas I despised the Arthurian class, I enjoyed Milton. Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained--important works.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

For the memories

A recent 100-words entry:

It's hard to get up in the early mornings when the world is still pitch-black and even the sound of traffic in this large city is muted. The lights seem almost too bright for my eyes as I sit here at the computer, willing the words to come, willing the coffee to seek a path through my muddled brain and force coherent syllables from my fingertips to the keyboard to this white box where I type each day, squeezing thoughts from my tired mind, thoughts that maybe someday I'll be happy to look back on and grateful to have.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Writing isn't easy

I wrote this 100-words exercise earlier this week:

Sometimes I sit in front of my computer for quite a while before I think of something to write in this little white box. I don't know why it's so hard sometimes to pull words from my mind, draw them through my fingertips, and, like magic, it seems, make them appear on the screen. But as Anne Lamott and countless other writers have said (or written), writing is sometimes a struggle, and no matter how successful a person is, there will be days when writing a page, a paragraph, even a sentence is all that he or she can manage.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Shoe: A Drabble

Aheila's Drabble Day prompt this week is Shoe, and the extra challenge is that the shoe begins or ends its journey on the side of the road. Check out her blog for the rules. Here's mine:
Mr. Olson had smelly shoes. Everyone knew it: his students, his colleagues, his wife. He, too, was aware of his fetid feet. But today he had a plan.
When classes ended, he walked to the faculty lot, removed his offensive loafers, tied their laces together, and hung them over his sedan's side view mirror. Then he drove home barefoot, confident that his stinky shoes would air out in the wind. 
Unfortunately, though, his loafers went on the lam, and to everyone's delight, he was forced to buy new ones. But he smiled, knowing it wouldn't be long before he could conduct his experiment again.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

All roads lead somewhere--even if it's nowhere

This morning's 100 words:

Tyler, my friend from graduate school, will be visiting for a few days. I don't remember how we met--perhaps it was through a mutual friend. More likely we met in the Arthurian literature class we both took. I have no idea why I enrolled in that class. I love literature--I was a lit major--but I confess that the Arthurian tradition bores me to tears. So though I'm not sure why I was taking the class, it was probably how I met Tyler--and it led me to Rob, who I thought was the love of my life...

**Tyler arrived a few hours ago. It's great to see him again!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The girl who broke up with her boyfriend

How it should have gone:


"Greg, there's something I have to tell you. Can you come over?"

"I'll be there in a few minutes."


"What's going on? You sounded so serious on the phone."

"Greg... I don't know how to say this, so I just will. There's someone else. I'm sorry."

How it went:



"Hey. When do you want me to come over?"

"Um, I don't want to see you anymore."

Monday, October 3, 2011

100 words on children growing up

Autumn cooled the air this morning, its chilly blast creeping through my bedroom window, sending me scurrying for warm clothes. Afterward, I rocked my two-year-old, enjoying her warmth and thankful that she's still willing to cuddle, that I'm still her world. It hurts my heart to think that one day my children might shun me as I try to kiss them or run from my open arms. My four-year-old hugs me when I drop him off at preschool, and I want to cling to him, knowing that my days of being number one aren't forever.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Today's 100 words:

As I age, the weather seems to get colder, and those things I loved as a child--kicking through piles of leaves, playing tag in the crisp autumn air--don't interest me as they once did. Instead, the cold seeps into my bones, and the last thing I want to do is venture outside. But I'll do it for my kids, who for weeks have been awaiting winter's appearance. My oldest asks me often when the snow will come, when he'll be able to build snowmen and make snow angels. Soon enough, I tell him. Too soon, I tell myself.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Blog awards!

Many thanks to the wonderful Caitlin at All About Growing Up and Becoming a Famous Author, who recently passed on some blog awards to me: The Versatile Blogger and The Irresistibly Sweet Blogger. Make sure you check out her blog; she's incredibly funny and encouraging!

So now it's time for me to pass on these awards to others and share seven random facts about myself. Here we go:

1. I'm a binge cleaner. I do the necessary daily chores like dishes and laundry, but I don't do the real cleaning until I know I'm going to have company. Guess what? My friend is visiting this week...

2.  I used to be a college instructor, but my dream job for when both of my kids are in school is to work at a library or bookstore. I just love the idea of being surrounded by books all day!

3. I love taking a big spoon of peanut butter and dipping it into a dish of chocolate chips. (My mom started me on this when I was a kid. Thanks, Mom!)

4. Don't ask me to choose! I have a horrible time making decisions, even simple ones.

5. I love to make soup. It's freezing here today, so tonight I'm trying a recipe for butternut squash soup.

6. One of my favorite TV shows of all time is Felicity. I once saw Scott Speedman (he played Ben) sitting on a stoop in NYC. To this day, I'm kicking myself for not talking to him.

7. I've been watching Gossip Girl on Netflix for months. It's my guilty pleasure. I love the drama!

And now I'm passing on these awards to two of the many blogs I really enjoy:

1. April at A Writer's Ramblings
2. Shannon at Books Devoured

Have fun!