Boom Boom Boom

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My mom says I’ve never been the type to let grass grow under my feet, meaning when I get an idea in my head I go for it.

That made me laugh considering how much planting and gardening my husband and I have been doing this week. And, of course, then I applied for graduate school the other day and later that same night I was accepted. Since then, I’ve already scheduled my courses, handled financial aid and bought books. For something I’ve put off for so long, it’s all happening so fast.

Boom. Boom. Boom.

With no time to catch my breath or change my mind (not that I would), I’m holding on tight and embracing the process.

My first class is early next month. I’m anxious and excited and nervous… like a school girl (sorry, couldn’t resist it). I don’t know what to expect really, but I am sincerely looking forward to the whole experience and whatever the future holds. I have a good feeling and that’s good enough for me… for now.

By this time next year, I’ll be well on my way to my MFA in Creative Writing, something that’s been on my 30s Bucket List for a while now. (If you’re good) maybe I’ll share that list with you at some point and you can help me keep track of all the crazy things I continuously add to it.

We’ll see…

In the meantime, I hope you’re enjoying this lovely spring weather, finding time to recover from the darker days of winter, relaxing a little and planting some seeds of your own. It’ll be summer before we know it!

xo

Planting Trees…

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In addition to the real trees I’ve been planting with my husband in our yard, I’ve also been planting some metaphorical trees of my own.

I’ve officially applied to graduate school and if all goes as planned, next month I’ll be on my way to earning my MFA in Creative Writing.

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while but all the moving around we’ve been doing has made getting started a bit challenging.

Well, I’ve found an online program that sounds absolutely perfect for me. It will give me the opportunity to expand my knowledge and skill set while taking my writing to the next level. I will continue focusing on my novels and I might even add a screenplay or two to the mix. Oh and my husband promised to call me “master” when I graduate. That’s a kinky incentive if I ever needed one!

This is simply another seed I’m planting in my garden. But this is one that I can take with me wherever I go. It’s time to grow. And the sky’s the limit!

I am SO excited to take this next step toward reaching my dreams.

Wish me luck!

Monty

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My husband and I planted our first tree today in our backyard.

In fairness, my husband did most of (read: all) the hard work of lugging and digging and scooping and planting while I played with our daughter and took pictures.

What a wonderful feeling to have planted our own tree. Another first for us. And certainly a first for me. Growing up in the city, I never had the pleasure of doing something so naturistic (is that a word?) until now.

I feel so lucky to have such a wonderful husband and child. We love each other so much and that love grows stronger each day. Isn’t that what life is all about? We are building such a beautiful life here together in Iowa in our new home. Everyday life has its ups and downs and we do our best to savor the highs while working together to get through the lows. Things aren’t always easy and breezy and, like you, we have our challenges. Some days are harder than others but having each other makes it all worthwhile.

Today is a good day.

We planted a tree.

He’s a Montmorency Cherry tree but since that’s a mouthful, we’ve decided to name him Monty. I’m looking forward to watching him grow and perhaps planting more. He will make a nice addition to our family and our home.

My (Other) First Born

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In addition to several other projects I’m simultaneously working on at the moment, I’ve also been overhauling my first novel… again.

Let’s just say the third time wasn’t so charming but it’s getting there.

It’s a work in progress and while the progress keeps progressing, it also somehow keeps starting over at page one. I’m getting dizzy.

Still, I tell myself that every edit, revision, chopped sentence and tossed page brings me and my manuscript(s) closer to the ultimate goal but the process is challenging. I’m learning and growing so much and I know that that’s evident in my writing. It’s also evident that I’ve been working my ass off.

In the past month alone, I’ve cut over 30,000 words in this particular novel. Gone but not forgotten but buh-bye. I’ve replaced those words with 30,000 different words (there may have been a few repeats). Compared to the first draft (the one I finished writing, or thought I’d finished writing, four years ago), it’s a totally different story. My other novels have been changing, too, as have I.

I’ve killed characters, created new ones, changed the plot, the themes, the pace and the point. The term chop-chop means something entirely different to me these days. A close friend of mine who is also a writer recently asked me if all the chopping hurts. “Isn’t it painful?” she said. Nope, not any more. If it’s not right, then it’s not right. Every change brings me  another step closer. If I truly believe that, then time spent wallowing over chopped words is wasted time.

I’m so close… I can taste it.

And, yet, I’m only about halfway there… give or take a few thousand words.

At times, it has seemed like I’m in a foreign country, climbing a huge mountain without a guide. Will I ever get to appreciate the view from the top? I hope so but I won’t know for sure until I get there… if/when I get there. But one thing that I know for sure is that I can’t stop now. This is what I’m supposed to be doing. I can feel it in every aspect of my being. This is my mountain to climb.

While I’ve never considered giving up, I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been moments when I’ve found myself procrastinating and making excuses to do anything else…

I’m a full time mom and writer. Believe me; I have plenty of other things to do and other projects to work on. But everything else leads me back.

I eat, sleep, breathe my writing and this one project in particular owns me… for now. It’s an all-consuming, mind altering, life changing, soul destroying beast that I love with all my heart. I have other manuscripts, both completed and in progress, but this one was/is my first. You know how that goes.

Sometimes I wonder if this is what drug addicts feel like.

People often compare writing a novel to giving birth. Having done both, I can certainly feel the correlation. So, going with the same analogy, the process of overhauling a novel must be like raising that child… over and over again…

Like I said, this is my fourth overhaul of my first manuscript. This time around has been the hardest but also the most rewarding.

Even though I’m in the heart of it now, I’m certain it’s my best writing thus far. The beginning and the end changed organically. All of it just flowed out of me, no epidural needed. But now I’m writing the middle and the middle has been like a toddler having a never-ending tantrum in a supermarket… the spine chilling, stomach curdling kind that tends to get passively blamed on the terrible twos when the culprit is far more likely three sixes and a pound of sugar.

I’m trying to juggle ideas and character nuances while keeping the story and timeline straight. I’m fighting the confusion, even though I’m easily on my fourth (or is it my fifth?) beginning and ending and the middle, well, this must be at least my tenth middle my now.

The word count goes up and down while my manuscript continues to transform and my brain vomits sentences into a pile of paragraphs which somehow manifest themselves into consecutive pages.

There are times when this feels like it’s taking forever and other times when I lament that my (other) first born is growing so fast. Where has the time gone?

I promise to hang in there and keep giving it my all but God help me if this one takes 18 years to move out of the house.

Check that. God help my husband.

Mommy Confession: Clipping Toenails

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I enjoy clipping my daughter’s toenails.

There I said it. It’s weird, I know.

But when she was an infant, she and I were both afraid of the activity. And by afraid, I mean totally freaked out beyond belief to the point of paralysis. I absolutely dreaded having to clip her fingernails and toenails. I was convinced I’d accidentally clip off an imperative appendage or at the very least make her bleed. I pictured a slasher film with blood spurting and spewing everywhere. I got lightheaded at the thought of it. Come to think of it, I’m feeling a bit queasy now. She didn’t seem thrilled either… maybe she was reading my mind.

Back then, to get through it, I’d do all necessary clipping during nap time. She was relaxed. I was (almost) relaxed. We got through it together. At times, I’d skip the clipping altogether and use an emery board to file her nails instead. Once in a while, my husband would offer to do it for me but the thought of him doing it scared me even more. I’m a weirdo… I totally get that.

But even weirder? When Lyla turned 2, she started asking me to clip her nails. I was like, “Huh? You want me to do it?” She’d reply, “Please, Mommy, please!”

How could I turn her down?

There was a time in my life, a long time ago, when even the thought of someone else’s feet grossed me out. I certainly didn’t want to touch them. Ew. In fact, it took me an even longer time to let anyone touch mine. I did eventually develop a taste (for lack of a better word) for pedicures… most women eventually do, I imagine. There’s just something about being primped and pampered without having to move a muscle. It’s wonderful.

But one day, when I was pregnant and unable to reach my own toes, a spa technician cut me during a pedicure and that completely killed the relaxation… possibly forever. I still shutter and flinch at the thought of it.

So when Lyla asked me to clip her toenails, it freaked me out. What a little weirdo! But she’s my little weirdo so; somehow, I worked up the nerve and clipped away. I started out taking baby steps, no pun intended, by clipping just a teensy bit here and there. But the brave little thrill-seeker pushed me to clip more and more until her nails were actually, well, well-manicured.

I thought that was a once in a lifetime moment. No way would she make the same request again. Right? But then, a few days later, she asked again. And I obliged. And, since that first time, she now comes to me (at least) once a week and asks for her toddler mani/pedi from Mommy. And I’ve started to look forward to this, perhaps oddly untraditional, bonding time with her.

She points to a toe or a finger and says, “Clip this one!” Then she giggles as I clip and then she selects another. I’ve even learned to relax with it and, while I’m still very careful and meticulous with clipper in-hand, I’m no longer irrationally fearful of sneezing and accidentally cutting her arms and legs off. I even throw in a free foot massage, at no extra cost. She loves those, too.

These days, not only does she request her manis and pedis on a regular basis, but she also picks out her own lotions for her massages and she even lets me paint her nails, too. She’s turning into a bit of a diva while I’m turning into a self-proclaimed skillful nail technician.

So I confess…

I’ve developed a bit of a foot and hand fetish. But only with Lyla. I enjoy clipping, filing, massaging and painting her little fingers and toes. I cherish all of our special moments together and I look forward to someday taking her to a real spa and having “Mommy & Me” manis, pedis and massages together.

I love my little girl.