Yawn and stretch...

"Bye Sweeties, have a good day." The kids jump out of the side door of the minivan and the door slides closed. I smile and wave to the school staff and take one last look at T and see her trotting into the school all skinny legs and backpack. K is already halfway to the building. Third graders are just too busy and too cool to hang around with their little sisters. As I pull out of the school parking lot I breathe a deep sigh. It's the third day of school and I'm starting to relax a bit from the frenzy of getting all their supplies taken care of and their clothes cleaned and ready to go, all the anxiety of whether or not they'll like their teachers or have friends in their classes. We've already survived our first night of ADHD homework. T is adjusting to kindergarten and I think after she finishes testing the boundaries with her new teacher, everything is going to be fine.

So, I turn my steering wheel northward to town to spend some time with the characters in my book who have been sorely neglected over the past couple of months. I look forward with relish to the new change in my lifestyle now that both of the kids are in school all day, five days a week. Previously, I had to content myself with writing for a maximum of nine hours a week plus the rare exception when my husband worked from home and sent me off to write. These were the few hours while T was at her half day preschool. I would head to a cafe and try to produce as much as I could in the space of three hours before having to stop and pick her up. If I were writing non-fiction or a how-to book, I probably could have gotten some writing done at home, but it's hard to write a novel when little voices keep intruding to ask for snacks or juice or to inform me of what transgressions the other has committed. My children are wonderful and gifted and I could not love them more, but they are also extremely talkative. K is an auditory learner which means that to encode what he's learning into memory, he has to say it. T is sassy and independent and while she's not an auditory learner she is a talker.  So it  feels like it's been at least four years since I've completed a thought in their presence, and with the exception of those 9 hours a week while T was in preschool.

Now, I have a blessed eight hours, five days a week to myself and oh the things I'm going to do. My head is brimming with plans to thoroughly clean the house, get everything organized like a pinterest pic. I'm going to spend hours every day working to finally finish this book. I'll finally get John Campbell that feedback on his new project that he's been waiting for so patiently and start reading other projects on authonomy. I'll put together a marketing plan and really stick to it. I'll make audio versions of my The White House and A Fond Kiss. I'll get started on those book trailers for the novel. I'll once again be as efficient and productive as I was in my corporate days. I can just see it. So, I drive all the way to town with the taste of freedom in my mouth.

When I get to my favorite writing spot, I manage to snag my favorite booth in the quiet section at the back where people sit alone working on their laptops, not up front where groups like to chat and have meetings. I get a cup of dark roast coffee because only people who just pretend to like coffee drink anything else. I fold some junk papers that I dig out of my purse and stick them under the table's wobbly leg, because nothing is going to ruin this glorious return to work after my summer funk. It's not until I sit down and pair my Bluetooth keyboard with my iPad and open up the file for the chapter I'm working on that I realize I've left my headphones at home. Now, instead of my character's own soundtrack or my thought clarifying Chopin, I'm supposed to write to the cheesy cafe music and the buzz of half a dozen conversations going on within twenty feet of me. She's heartbroken at this point in the story and I just don't know that I can get into that head space with the musical equivalent of C-SPAN and overheard conversations from neighboring tables about what their children's Sunday School classes did last week in my ears. I try, I really do. Still after an hour, all I have to show for it is one paragraph that I'm not entirely happy with.

Clearly, writing is not going to work today. I'll edit that last chapter I wrote, that'll help. I read into my bag only to discover that I have also left my little bag of post-its, colored pens and highlighters at home and every pen I have with me is black. Nice. Not ideal for editing. Finally, I pull out my little notebook that I like to use as a sort of journal, something I write in when my thoughts are as unfocused as they are this morning. I have to content myself with this. Sure, it's not the project I wanted to work on, but it's better than nothing. Right? As usual, I'm mentally kicking myself probably harder than I should for not being prepared.

Now that I'm home, I'm putting together a work bag so that next time I'll have all of those tools together and won't have another morning like today: Copy of manuscript & outline, markup tools bag, extra set of headphones, and an extra dose of patience with myself.

Out of the mouths of babes...

I sing a lot, not just in the shower but in the shower, the car, the kitchen while cooking or doing dishes, folding laundry, spinning yarn, just about anywhere. I've pretty much always been that way. Being a word nerd who loves to sing, I have a high appreciation for a well-written song. So, I tend to treat (they might call it something different) my family to a lot of Jackson Browne and Nanci Griffith among others. I even sang in a choir when I was younger. Although my husband says I'm always slightly off key, I don't think it's entirely unpleasant to listen to. Lately, like most folks I've found myself singing along to a lot of Adele, and my children have very patiently ridden in the car with me while I belted out songs like "Rumor Has It" and "Chasing Pavements". Today, as I was depositing my newly purchased fern on the deck  I was softly singing "To Make You Feel My Love" (Click Play on the video below and listen while reading the rest.)

I got to the line that says, "I can make you happy, make your dreams come true."

My daughter who is 5 was on the deck with me and interrupted, "Mom, is that song true?"

"You mean, can Adele make you happy and make your dreams come true?"


"No, baby, but she's very entertaining isn't she?"

"My dreams never come true." she said with bottom lip sticking out.

"Well, the only person who can make your dreams come true is you and it usually takes a lot of hard work."

When it comes to these philosophical parenting moments, I try to tell my kids the truth as I see it, and sometimes, it takes a little one's question to remind me of a truth that I aught to be acting on in my own life.  I've been feeling a little adrift for a couple of weeks on the marketing front and I really need to get back in the groove.  In fact, I need to get back in the groove on a number of things. I guess I've had spring fever or something because the last couple of weeks progress on everything seems to have slowed. My novel writing has been a bit like the Little Engine That Could trudging uphill to the end of the second act with agonizing slowness. I've let the frequency of my blog posts slip. I've only promoted my ebook shorts sporadically. In short, I haven't been making it happen. It's not like I haven't known this. I've been castigating myself the whole time for being lazy and unfocused, but it took the innate simplicity of a conversation with my five year old to snap me out of that self-defeating mode and make me get up off my duff.

So thanks, T, you're just the inspiration your mama needed today.