Ramblings From a Dirty Gym Sock

First of all, I’d like to wish everyone the very happiest of Halloweens! May your evening be filled to the brim with cute trick or treaters, Halloween candy, and the entertainment of your choosing.

As for me and my house? We’re going to be pretty mellow tonight. Halloween candy, a photo op for Aidan in his tiger costume, and then a showing of The Nightmare Before Christmas with my brother and his wife. Mellow, relaxed, and sugary. Just the way I like it!

The reason we’re going to celebrate Halloween in such a chill manner is because Wes and I are exhausted. Maybe me moreso than him, but that’s tough to qualify. The reason? Sick toddler.

Aidan started teething a couple weeks ago, so he and I both stopped sleeping well at night. Then, when the teething looked like it was almost done, he caught a bit of a cold. Then he spiked a fever. A fever that came and went for four days.

Yesterday morning he was so lethargic and feverish and un-Aidan-ish I couldn’t look at him without crying so I got him the soonest doctor appointment I could find.

It turns out he had a 102 degree fever and a double ear infection. The poor guy was miserable!

So now he’s on antibiotics and he slept the night through last night for the first time in weeks and HALLE-FRICKIN-LUJAH and oh my gosh I’m so tired I could collapse.

And do you know what starts tomorrow? November. And NaNoWriMo. And the holidays.

You guys…I don’t think I can handle NaNo this year. The whole point of wrapping up my revisions for Enemy Accountant early was so I could rest for the last two weeks of October, but my child had other plans. Now I’m entering into a writing marathon sleep-deprived, exhausted in almost every way, and feeling about as inspired as a dirty gym sock.

I love NaNo. I love the thrill of it, the sense of community, the adrenaline. But I refuse to pick battles I know I can’t win, and this has failure written all over it. Never mind the fact that I have a freelance writing thing I’ll actually get paid to do this month. Never mind that I still need to write a synopsis and query letter to the agents who requested to read Enemy Accountant

The fact is, I’m just worn out and I can’t have fun writing this next novel if I feel like crap. And what’s the point of writing a novel if it isn’t fun?

There isn’t a point (unless you’re under contract) so I’m bowing out of participating in NaNo this year. I’ll get a pang every time I get a NaNoWriMo email, and I wish all of you who are participating the very best of luck, but this is not my year.

Maybe next year…Oh, wait. I might have another baby lurking around by then. Well, shoot. I’ll write another novel between now and then, I suppose.

For now, I’ll just eat my candy, and dress my kid up, and catch up on sleep. Or maybe I’ll just watch Deep Blue Sea while Aidan’s napping…

Come Be a Pale, Distracted Recluse With Me

After a short, strange summer, the leaves outside are finally changing colors. The air is brisk despite the sunshine, and there are pumpkins and spooky decorations all over the neighborhood. I think it’s safe to say: It’s NaNoWriMo season. All the evidence is there.

I, for one, am muy excited about NaNo this year. I’ve actually structured my entire writing schedule around it. Well, that and my brother and his wife’s arrival here in Washington. But mostly NaNo.

At this point I don’t really need NaNo to inspire me to write. I wrote PWNED in a month, but did it in March instead of November. I’m more than fine writing a novel in a month on my own, but I still look forward to NaNo every year.

The reason why is simple: It’s pure, high-octane creative mayhem fun.

There’s just something about tapping out a novel until your fingers ache, knowing people all around the world are doing the same thing, that is so dang fun. The excitement, encouragement, sense of accomplishment, and online community support are incredible. Especially when your region kicks everyone else’s booty every year in overall word count and invidual word count.

DUCKS FTW!!!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you like writing, you have what it takes to write a novel. No one’s saying it’ll be a good novel, but it doesn’t have to be to count as a NaNo victory. All that matters is that you extract the words from your brain and splatter them onto a word processing program.

Find a story and start writing. It’ll change on you, and so will your characters, but that’s seriously the fun of it. Meet some imaginary friends and start writing down what they say to each other. It’s one month out of your life where you are totally justified in being a pale, distracted recluse who mutters and twitches and sleep-mutters nonsense about word counts.

For more info about NaNoWriMo, check out the official website. I cannot urge you strongly enough to sign up and spend the last week of October relishing your freedom and thinking through what story you’d like to tell this year.

NaNoWriMo starts in seven days. Who’s with me?!

Flash! Fiction

Yesterday was a pretty cool day for me. For one, my brother and his wife moved up here from California and arrived yesterday. One minute I’m tapping away on my laptop, the next someone’s knocking at my door and lo and behold, it’s MY BROTHER AND HIS WIFE!

Nick and I haven’t lived in the same state for twelve years, so to actually be close enough to see each other often is a rare treat for us. We’ll see how long it takes before we’re bickering just like normal siblings.

While I was helping them unpack, I received a thrilling email: A very short story I wrote will be published in a literary journal next month!

Line Zero, the journal publishing my story, is an emerging print journal dedicated to the arts. The managing editor, Renda Dodge, is also the municipal liaison for Seattle’s NaNoWriMo, so I’ve known (of) her for a few years.

They sponsored a flash fiction contest with the prompt “Avarice,” giving applicants 300 words and 24 hours to come up with a story. I wrote one that I had a lot of fun with…And I won!

This is a big deal for me. I have a lot of respect for that journal, and I think it was a fun writing prompt (how can you not have fun with avarice?!) so you can imagine the happy dance I did when I found out I won.

I’ll share the story on my other website as soon as the journal comes out, along with links to purchase a copy of the journal if you’d like to read some other really fun stories and look at pretty pictures.

Winning a contest and getting to see my brother. I doubt I’ll be topping yesterday anytime soon!

The Worst Spa of All Time

If you could see me right now (I’m saying “if” because “You’d better not be staring at me right now because that would be creepy as h-e-doublehockeysticks” sounds a bit harsh) you’d see me wearing no makeup, snuggled under a blanket on the couch with my laptop on my lap and some extremely heavy eyelids.

The blanket is entirely my fault, the eyelids aren’t. My weekend was 100-miles-a-minute busy, and even though it was busy in a good way it was still busy and I fervently wish I had a weekend to recover from my weekend.

This is what my table looked like at the signing!

On Saturday I had my first book signing and I’d say it went swimmingly. I’d consider it a huge success, because I sold one book to someone I don’t know, and sold whole heaping bunches to friends and family members who came out to support me.

I’ve gotta say, there’s absolutely nothing in the whole world that makes a writer feel more loved than when someone takes time out from their weekend to stop by their book signing. I was positively beaming by the time I got home, even though I was hobbled by sore feet thanks to my unwise decision to wear high-heeled boots to said signing.

Then on Sunday I volunteered to watch a passel of toddlers in the Sunday school class for kids slightly older than my son, which meant I spent an hour and a half holding kids, breaking up squabbles, rousting trouble-makers, and changing diapers/taking children to the bathroom. After that, I helped set up for a baby shower, attended the shower, and then helped clean up afterward.

I. Am. So. Freaking. Tired.

It was a weekend filled with all things that are good, but I’m still exhausted from all the Being Nice and Chatting With People and Setting Up/Taking Down. I dream of a spa day, quiet and serene, where no one’s allowed to talk and my only job is to sit there and relax while people make my skin and nails happy.

My Monday so far is exactly like that if you consider chastising Aidan for ripping pages out of books to be quiet and serene, vacuuming the house to be sitting there and relaxing, and editing my book and answering emails the same as having people make my skin and nails happy.

Gosh, wouldn’t that just be the worst spa of all time?!

The Old Person 5K

Have you heard of the whole free running movement? Where people are running mountain trails barefoot, traipsing the wild nimble and free? If not, then perhaps you’ve seen those strange shoes that have toes on them, for people who like the idea of being barefoot but are uneasy about contracting diseases from puncture wounds.

I’m reading a book called Born to Run┬áright now, and free running is what it’s all about. My friend Jennifer recommended it to me and it’s blowing my mind. All my previous assumptions about feet and running are wrong, and I had no idea.

Like many people born after 1970, I thought running shoes were a necessity for healthy running. And that running injuries were simply to be expected.

Then I read about how the whole idea of running shoes was created by some dude who wanted to make money and was clever enough to convince people they needed what he was selling. And some runners are able to run 100+ miles at a time, injury free.

There’s so much more to this book than that, so if you’re interested in running (or biomechanics, really) check out this book for yourself.

As for me, it’s really gotten me thinking about my future as a runner. Now that my stress fracture is healed, I’m trying to decide whether I will go back to running or stick to safer past-times like the elliptical machine.

I mean, I love running. The motion of it, the endorphin rush, the way time flies by. I love everything about it. But I can’t afford to get injured several times a year by my hobby. I already have a hobby that costs us money. It’s called writing. (Oooh, ZINGER!)

But then I read a section in Born to Run that really spoke to me. A running coach was talking about how running, even though it’s a very natural movement, still requires coaching to learn how to do it without injuring yourself.

Some people seem able to just go for it without injury. I envy them. Seeing as how I broke a bone six months into the sport, however, I have the feeling I’m doing it wrong.

So, maybe someday I’ll sign up for lessons with a running coach and figure out how to run without crippling myself. Back before I broke my bone, I’d started thinking about how cool it would be to run a 5K (I’d gotten up to running 2.5 miles at a time, I figured a 5K was pretty realistic).

Maybe that dream isn’t dead. Just delayed for awhile. It’s okay, I’m a patient person. I can wait. And when I run a 5K in my seventies, I’m gonna count on all of you to cheer for me, alright?