Dreaming of Detroit

Combine a mild cold with 3-a.m. viewings of Toy Story 3 and a late night or three up scrapbooking,throw in some cold medications, and it leads to some weird dreams. I was listening to Chinese Man’s I Got That Tune just before I fell asleep last night, and it put me in the 1920s mood I so desperately seek when I sit down to work on my novel.

I ended up dreaming my recurring sad Detroit dream; the one where I go through the broken landscape of burnt-out homes and businesses, and for a moment see What Used To Be. Not that Detroit ever had such a glorious moment in history; even the 1920s were ripped apart by bootlegger crimes and young children carting booze in their schoolbags.

I have a very vivid, very real memory of going to a downtown intersection with my best friend Chris, and looking at the ruin of an old bike shop that still had her family’s name over the crumbled doorway. Tin ceilings showed through the rubble. Once, I thought, this was a real place, a livelihood, it’s the reason she and her father still pronounce “battery” as “bat-tree” and talk about “going begging” on Halloween.

I know all these bits and pieces about my hometown, but I feel I need to be honest about them when I write, even if what I am working on is part fantasy/part historic fiction. I need to get back to Detroit…what’s left of it. I always get the best vibes from the past when I’m immersed in the city.

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Long weekend

My hand-knitted gifts went over well; so well, in fact, that it was requested next year EVERYONE hand-make something (since we are a crafty group) because a couple of our members are dealing with divorce & single motherhood & nearly extreme-poverty, and we are a crafty bunch, after all!

I brought my laptop but never fired it up once. I had 4 page kits done up with photos and matching papers, and got those pages completely done despite distractions such as awesome snacks, drinkage, and movie watching. So my count is 5 pages done, but 2 entries missed here. Oh, and one wicked cold coming on. TheraFlu should effectively end any attempt at sounding coherent.

And so I say goodnight on another brief entry. Incubating, my friends…incubating.

Dreams lost

Well, I just did one of those quicky select-all delete numbers that ate my post. I mentioned that I dreamt of work last night, not surprising given my subject yesterday. I was getting into dueling illustrators, clueless Senior Editors, and the worst author call I ever had to make, but now it’s all gone, and maybe that’s for the better.

I spent every spare moment today finishing up a knitted gift which I am giving to the recipient tomorrow. Excuses, excuses, but that’s my post, since my original one (a) got et, and (b) probably wasn’t something I wanted the whole blog-reading world to see.

I have a few more gifts to wrap (belated holiday party for my scrapbooking friends, a.k.a. Girls Weekend!) and I just took some Excedrin P.M. so my writing muscle is at its flimsiest right now.

I have to think about that post some more, and re-write it when I have a chance. Sorry for another cliffhanger.

Children’s Book Publishing

First, “we” (the royal “we”, I guess) got mentioned at CNN. Pretty cool, even if they didn’t quote me directly (mouthing ‘call me’ to Anderson Cooper. Yeah, yeah, I know what team he’s on. Still.)

I was on fire to write my post this morning, and I’m going to stick with my topic even if it is later and I’m TIRED gosh I’m tired; tried to nap around 5p but it did nothing to revive me. Probably thanks to my son driving his Batman car around the house. Yes, the one with the tire-squealing sound effects.

Here’s a fact you’ll learn about me around 10 minutes into meeting me, because if you ask me what I “do” I’m most likely to tell you what I “did.” I worked at a small publishing house, as a jack-of-all-trades “Associate Editor” for 4 1/2 years. Well, 2 1/2 full-time, and 2 part-time after my daughter was born. That was also right around the time the company was “traded,” to use a sports analogy (since we also did sports books), then bought out AGAIN by an even larger corporate entity less than a year later. The company went from being a small, family-run place (and not very well run, since the owner readily admitted to not being much of a “reader” — see Sports Books, above) to an international conglomerate, and all the perks like flex time and human decency (I’m looking at you, former Senior Editor who-really-doesn’t-like-titles, EYEROLL) went out the door with the owners.

The company is still limping along in some sort of boxed-in corporate tower (they moved from the quaint offices they had in a small-town above-the-storefront space two years ago), down to 3 in-office workers and an equal amount of work-from-home-in-another-state masterminds who are probably the real ones keeping the pacemaker working.

Anyway, I didn’t want to talk about my bitterness over my last “real” job (don’t get me on the SAHM soapbox) since it’s all water under the bridge now. I’m glad I was home in my children’s formative years, and truthfully, I don’t think I’d have been able to have my son while working. I am much more relaxed, laidback, “Zen” about lif,e and working for The Man no longer appeals to me.

But I learned some interesting things along the way, and I will share them with you in another post tomorrow morning, after my morning coffee kicks in. Hope that’s not too much of a cliffhanger.

Share something that makes you smile

One thing I do each night with my kids is ask them, “What was your favorite part of the day?” The original suggestion, by a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) mentor mom I used to work with, was, “What made you smile today?” but being the editor that I am, I made my own nightly quiz question. Because sometimes your favorite part of the day didn’t necessarily make you smile; maybe it made you sigh with contentment, run with joy, or simply laugh out loud.

But in regards to a Daily Post suggested topic (I’m just going to keep going with these, until I make time to write in the morning, just after my coffee, before my youngest wakes up…today, I went back to bed after getting my older child off to the bus at 7 (!) a.m.), some things that made me smile today were:

The smell of our Christmas tree when I lean over to plug in the lights (yes, ours is still up).
Cuddling with my kids.
Chatting on the phone with my mom.
My husband thanking me for making dinner.
Pulling out cardstock in anticipation of my girls’ weekend, putting together page sets (I. Love. Color.)
Listening to the Moulin Rouge soundtrack and finding myself singing along.
Posting on facebook about my dropped (!) iPod Touch (cracked the glass cover pretty severely) and having a dozen people respond with sympathy and suggestions on getting it fixed.

Simple things, really. Nothing to do with writing, already…except that I got something written.

What’s the single most important thing you accomplished in 2010?

I’m drawing a blank today (not really, more on that in a sec) so I’ll answer the Daily Post suggested topic for today.

The most important thing I accomplished was writing in my daily journal. More to the point, writing down my gratitudes each day. So, you see, I CAN write everyday (okay, well…here & there I’d have to play catch-up, but never more than a week at a time, and even then that only happened once…or twice…but who’s counting?)

Another important accomplishment tied to putting my thanks in writing was finally reading my way through Simple Abundance (yes, 15 years late…). A lot of her lessons reminded me of things one of my favorite scrapbook artists/teachers, Ali Edwards, is always preaching…things like “it is okay,” “embrace imperfections,” being authentic, etc.

In honor of this latter accomplishment, I have chosen my One Little Word  for 2011. In 2009 I sort of chose “nurture,” meaning to  take care of myself, but small children and new gardens will get in the way, so I never followed through to the extent that Ali’s disciples usually do. My word(s) for 2010 might as well have been gratitude, simplicity, order, harmony, beauty, and joy — straight from Breathnach’s book.

I don’t know that I will follow through with my word this year, either, but I have at least chosen my word (or, as the disciples say, it chose me🙂 FOCUS. Something this entry could have used a little more of. But hey, it’s only January 3rd.

Love the Question

And that would be, Am I Really A Writer?

I have a lot of excuses *not* to be. I wasn’t encouraged as a youngster (in fact, I was strongly – and strangely – discouraged).

I was too sheltered to seek out the truth (even now I have a hard time seeing the big picture).

My juvenenalia was tossed out when I was 12 as punishment for hiding a bad report card (“daydreaming” was blamed for my poor grades…see my first excuse, above).

I had a vicious critic in my eldest brother, the one with Asperger’s, for whom NOTHING was good enough, and everything was laughed at for being “stupid” (no one was allowed to be smarter than him. It was all he had).

I spent *years* not writing…not exercising that muscle. It still feels flabby, despite years of keeping a daily diary and “online journaling”/blogging (intermittently) for the past 12 (!) years.

I still fear the criticism (firmly ingrained in my inner voice) and feel the Imposter Syndrome when I sit down to write. It freezes me at times (most of the time, actually). I need kind editors. I have become the sort of writer I hated working with when I was an editor at a publishing house, the needy kind who wanted constant encouragement, to whom every word was a precious baby that they couldn’t DREAM of cutting out of their beloved manuscript.

But for me, I primarily need to WRITE. To sit down on a daily basis and get the fiction in my head out on paper. I need solitude, which will be coming soon, when all my children are in school. In the meantime, I will keep checking in here and sharing my thoughts on writing as I live them.

And there is my final fear: that I’m not really a writer, because I don’t have The Fire to write. Maybe I have to write to find the fire. Maybe The Fire is just a myth?