On the eve of NaNoWriMo

Tomorrow is the start of NaNoWriMo. It’s the frenzy of novel writing that both excites and terrifies me. Even thinking about the years I have participated makes my blood pressure rise. This year, I find myself in possession of a completed but unedited manuscript. With this one sitting on the shelf and in desperate need of several more rounds of revision, I’m not doing the NaNo marathon.

I’m both sad and relieved. I love the camaraderie of all the writers on Twitter posting encouraging remarks and commiserating about the grueling month of hell we put ourselves through. But I hate the anxiety-riddled nights when the words just won’t come and I feel like I’m failing as a writer and putting the rest of my life on hold to do it. It’s a mixed bag .

The first manuscript I ever finished was thanks to NaNo, so it will always hold a special place in my heart for giving me the structure to take my first wobbly steps into writing. It also gets a lot of young people into the craft which is amazing.

Though I’m not participating this year, I salute all who are. It doesn’t matter whether you cross the finish line and end up on December 1st with 50k gorgeous words. What matters is you are writing every day and are proud to be doing so.

Good luck! You’ll need it 😉

How Does She Do It?

Being a mom is exhausting. Having a full-time job is exhausting. Having a side hustle like writing is exhausting. When you put these things together and add in all of the other things that make life what it is, there’s never enough time. It’s become my most precious commodity. I don’t “make time” for things; I sacrifice in order to allocate a few minutes to something else.

The quote below has been floating around in an infinite number of meme-able forms.

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”

For some people, this is probably inspiring. For me, it incites rage. I get and appreciate that the people mentioned above all achieved great things. I hate that it implies that the only thing standing between you and a level of greatness that will land your name after Einstein’s is commitment. It’s total crap.

There are not enough hours in a day to accomplish everything I wish I could. So each day, I prioritize. I chose what will be important. Most days I chose my family, my friends, and my job. I push and bargain and compromise my way through each day. That’s the truth of things.

What the quote above should really say is: pick what’s most important and make it count. I think that’s what all those great people did. They chose to focus their energy on their great achievements.

So, how can I be a mother, wife, employee, friend, and writer all in one day? I can’t. I hold on for dear life to what matters most as the roller coaster of time propels me forward. And then I let go of the rest.

BOOK REVIEW: Yes Please

I just finished the audio version of Amy Poehler’s memoir, Yes Please. I wasn’t sure what I expected. A good chuckle? Some juicy gossip? A behind-the-scenes glance into Amy’s life? I don’t know. In fact, I can’t actually tell you why I picked this up. I’m just glad I did.

I tend to be forgiving of books (of people in general, too). I look past their flaws and point out the good and let the rest fall away. I’m of the opinion that not everything is for everyone, and it’s ok if you don’t like something.

Here’s some things I liked:

  • The chapter about Amy’s “demon” or the voice in her head that whispers to her about all her shortcomings, especially the physical ones. I don’t care how many stories there are about smart women battling this particular demon and overcoming the prevailing beauty standards with wits and charm, but it will NEVER be enough. We should continually tell girls and women that it’s ok to not fit the physical mold of models. You are enough when you decide that you are more than just one thing. You are more than legs or hair or eyes. What she said really resonated with me about finding what matters to you and focusing on that.

Decide what your currency is early. Let go of what you will never have. People who do this are happier and sexier.

  • There’s a chapter about time travel that’s more about the power of memories and their meaning in our lives. Everyone has experienced the feeling of being in a place that pulls you back to a moment you didn’t know would mean so much. Picking up an old object will help you remember the quirk of someone you loved and lost; it brings them back to life if only for a moment. It’s universal because it’s true.

Memoirs can be self indulgent, an extended acceptance speech thanking everyone who has ever helped a famous person get where they are. This was no different. There were a lot of names of people I didn’t know and couldn’t IMDB while driving. I think it’s expected in this kind of setting, and one I easily forgive. Payment for a look behind the curtain.

I’d certainly recommend Amy’s book (and already have) as a fun companion during long drives. It felt like having Amy in the car regaling me with stories of her crazy days at SNL, commiserating as she is a mother of two boys as well, and talking shit about Tina Fey.

(Just kidding. Amy worships the ground Tina Fey walks on, as we all should.)

My Patronus Sucks

Pottermore disappoints again.

That’s a lie. Pottermore has never disappointed in the past. But, for whatever reason, the Patronus quiz is made of suck.

Let’s back it up. I’m an ardent fan of Harry Potter, in the way you can only be when you were first introduced to the story as a young person. I think anyone, at any age, can be a fan, but there is something about discovering the magic of a world like that of Harry Potter when you still believe magic could be real. The story, its lessons, and its characters left an indelible mark on my still-forming mind.

One of the best parts of Pottermore is the ability to classify yourself with magic descriptors. There is so much to be inferred when you meet a new acquaintance and learn right away that he or she is a Ravenclaw. I’ve always loved personality quizzes. Something about categorizing a set of personality traits has always appealed to my Type-A nature. I like the tidy results of sorting everyone into boxes. The more tests I take, the more I discover about myself and the people around me. It could be argued that I use my less desirable classifications as an excuse for my less desirable actions.

When I saw the news breaking across my Facebook feed that a patronus quiz was available, I jumped to take it. I sent the link out to coworkers and friends who I knew would appreciate it. I was heartbroken to end up with a calico cat as my patronus. Especially in light of others receiving a dolphin, osprey, and heron. It’s not that I dislike cats, I just don’t particularly identify with them. When discovering your magical spirit animal, you’d hope to end up with something that makes sense.

Unfortunately for me, and two other people I know who received cats, we’re unable to take the quiz again. I’ve petitioned JK Rowling to try and pull some strings and let us retake the quiz. After all, it’s well known that a patronus can change over time. Just look at Nymphadora Tonks.

Until then, I hope to not run across any Dementors.