Getting Over In-Between

I’m going to mention something today and then shut up about it until I have a quasi-finished product to talk about – my new work in progress. Today is important because I really actually started working on it.

During this in-between time while I’ve been querying and submitting THELMA BEE has been a little bit excruciating. There’s great news! Bad news! Waiting! Great! Bad! Waiting! Waiting! Waiting! It’s kind of tough to take.

I’ve written a few short stories and had some non-starter ideas (to which I might return later), and that’s all the writing I’ve really been able to get done in the past few months. It’s been a bummer.

But then – I got it. THE idea. The “oh hell yeah, I’m going to write the sh*t out of that story” idea. I spent a few days outlining and today I started writing. Writing real words in a real word document that was blank when I started. I know this shouldn’t sound like something to be excited about, but it’s been so liberating. I’m so psyched up about what I’m about to do that the querying doesn’t seem so life-and-death. I’ve got more in me, so if the first book doesn’t work out, it’s ok. I’m moving, working, creating…

Reading some really awesome books in the meantime has no doubt helped me get to this point. A quick shout out to local author and friend-of-a-friend, Gina Damico for her brand new novel, CROAK, which you should all go out and buy if you enjoy fun. Inventive, funny, twisted writing is great inspiration.

So, I’m going to go ahead and keep putting words on that document. Wish me luck!

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Time Travel and Soup

In Stephen King’s, On Writing, he talks about writing as time-travel. That someone in some room a hundred years ago can write down the content of their imagination, and one hundred years later a person can experience that imagination richly and fully. It’s a magical idea.

Last Christmas my mom gave me a special gift, three hand-written recipes from my great grandmother, Peg. Chicken soup, beef stew, and split pea soup. My mom photocopied and laminated them and now they’re hanging in my kitchen as reference material, decoration, and a beautiful reminder of a lady I loved tremendously.

The recipes themselves are wonderful to read. For example, in the chicken soup one she writes in her pretty long-hand cursive,

Buy a whole chicken from Previte’s. NOT a roasting one. The ones in the case where all the cold cuts are.

There’s something amazing about her unwavering belief that Previte’s Market would probably be on the corner forever (it’s not anymore), and that whole chicken would be kept in just the same location – right next to the cold cuts.

After Easter this year, Ryan and I were able to bag up the ham bone from my sister-in-law’s (delicious) meal. We decided to make split pea soup. You might think that’s yucky, but pea soup is a personal favorite of mine. I think it probably has everything to do with the fact that Peg used to make it all the time when I was little.

So, my husband (far more culinarily-inclined than I am) put the recipe together during the day. When I came home from work the house smelled amazing, and the pea soup was cooking in a big pot on the stove.

Ryan, who Peg never met since she passed away such a long time ago, held Peg’s recipe in his hand and “stirred frequently”.

I think I understood what Stephen King was saying when I read On Writing the first time. It makes sense. But it really resonated with me in that moment. Because she wrote it all down, my great grandmother was able to have a conversation with my husband about how best to cook soup. In a weird way, it almost feels like they got to meet.

So, writing is magic.

(cue “Back In Time” by Huey Lewis and the News)

Snakes in a Condo: Stress

I think it’s pretty well documented that hearing about peoples’ dreams is boring. But hang in there with me just for a minute. Here it goes.

I wake up in California at 10am. I was supposed to be at work in Massachusetts at 9am. I am in a panic. My iphone is terrible and my fingers have an impossible time dialing my office number. My boss tells me she’s sick – there’s no one there to run our business. There’s a feeling that maybe I can time travel and save my job, but chances are slim. I need to get dressed.

There are snakes everywhere, though. Like, you don’t see them at first but when you concentrate you realize they’re just frigging everywhere. So, now paralyzed with fear, I have to get ready and figure out how to get back to the east coast. Also, there’s a lunch meeting I set months ago with a former employer. I have to figure out the number to the sushi restaurant we’re meeting at and cancel. The hostess speaks no English.

Finally, I’m able to move through this weird snake condo but when I get to the next room, there’s a family there in formal attire. Someone is just about to get married. The place is double booked. I am trapped in the room with the family and suddenly these revelations of childhood abuse start to surface. It is thickly awkward and emotional and the snakes are just like…around.

I fail at time travel, clearly lose my job, the family starts screaming in a very 1980’s nighttime soap kind of way, and I’m on the verge of being attacked by snakes.

This is the one from two nights ago, but it’s representative of all my dreams lately. In short, I’m stressed out and I don’t like it one bit. My sleep has been absolute crap and I’m at that point where if I accidentally knock over an empty cup on my desk it scares the crap out of me and I have to fight a scream. Tightly wound, perhaps?

Any tips you all have on relaxation strategies would actually be much appreciated. Meditation? Tea? Yoga? Breathing exercises? What works for you?