Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Book 2 Deadline Status Report

Actual Deadline: I had to get the teeniest of extensions. Don't worry. It's totally fine. I only need two more weeks. For sure just two weeks. I'm confident.

Outfits: I basically wear the same clothes every day until the smell is unbearable. Just kidding. Sort of.

Process: Lots of crossing out. Lots of re-typing. Lots of looking at the scribbles I've written on the paper where I've done the crossing out and wondering what the heck I wrote there.

Timeline: None of the days in the story currently go in order. Chapters that have to be on the weekend fall in the middle of the week and vice versa. The dad leaves town, and then he's there in the next two scenes. A kid sends a text message after he's received the reply. Don't worry. It's totally fine.

Anxiety: I mean, that's pretty obvious, right? Despite pharmacological intervention, I'm dying inside. But less than I was before, actually. Don't worry. It's totally fine.

Crying: I've considered crying, but honestly, those tears aren't going to write or revise any words.

Running: I do go running. Because endorphins. And scientifically-proven benefits of exercise. The footing is uneven because of the snow, but it's fine. Don't worry.

Bottom Line: We're going to finish this. We've reached a lot of finish lines in the past, and this will be no different. I can't actually think of a finish line we have failed to reach. Afterward, we'll be glad and relieved and triumphant. I'm not sure who "we" is in this section, but I'm sure it's totally fine.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

That Deadline Life

I've mentioned before that I'm condensing the process of writing a novel from 3.5 years to 1 year. That's one year with breaks to revise the first book a couple of times, to read through and address the copy edits, to travel to promote that first book, and to have periodic panic attacks.

Still, I'm going to make the deadline.

It'll be to the wire and there will be more revisions than last time when I spread the process over 3.5 years, but I'll make it. I'm a deadline person, you know? If you tell me when it's due, I'll do it by that time.

I wasn't always this way. For instance, I distinctly remember NOT doing my seventh-grade English homework by the deadline. There was a workbook called Plain English. You had to put the commas into sentences and fix the capitalization. You had to label the helping verbs. As I recall, I didn't particularly enjoy or understand this homework and sometimes "forgot the book at home" rather than complete the assigned pages.

I did this kind of thing pretty regularly. I got a lot of Bs in high school, and it was totally fine. It seems like it's less fine now to get a lot of Bs in high school. I tried to take the pressure off of my high school sophomore recently by telling him that, "There will be a college that accepts you."

He took this the wrong way and thought I was saying that he wouldn't get into a "good" college if he got a B+ on something or other. But that's not what I meant at all. I meant, just chill. There are lots of different paths forward. You don't have to go to the one tippy-top pinnacle school that everyone thinks is "the best." I explained this, and he felt better, but we now have a running joke about "there will be a college that accepts you." I say it when Shef tells us he's going to play Grand Theft Auto rather than studying for AP US History.

There are therapists for that, and I'll be happy to pay.

In conclusion, I don't even know what I'm talking about, except to say: it's okay to not be the best, but also I'm going to try to be the best and make my deadline. That's great blogging. Right? Tippy-top.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

The School Pictures

When you're a teacher, you get a school picture packet like the kids do. You don't have to pay. The picture company just sends you an envelope with a 5x7 and several wallets.

Sometimes if the picture was good, I'd send a photo of myself to my mother. Because what else are you supposed to do with multiple school-style headshots when you're a full-fledged grown-up?

Also, most years, regardless of the quality of the photo and sometimes especially if it was bad, I would cut up the wallets, sign the backs ("Stay Super Sweet!" or "BFF!") and give them out to my friends. I did this in an ironic sort of way. Like, I knew it was funny to give out school photos when I was actually 27 or 33 or 41. People laughed. My school friends would cut up their own photos, give me 2x3s, and I'd put them on the bulletin board behind my desk.

I bring this up because it occurred to me the other night that handing people copies of my novel feels sort of like handing out school photos. Except unironically, but also uncomfortably. You hand a friend a book, and you're asking, Would you like a copy of something I did? Would you like to stare at it indefinitely? Would you like to spend eight hours with it and then have to pretend that you liked it? And, should I sign my name in the front? #BFF?

I'm looking forward to feeling less awkward about this. How long do you think it will take?

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Input/Output

Mostly I want to remember this sweet little exchange, and I know if I don't write it down, it'll go. Now that I'm old and addled, I can barely remember which of my two children did what, said what, or when.

So, here's what happened:

I walk into Mac's room to say goodnight. Mac adheres to bedtime rules just barely, often hopping onto his mattress fully clothed at 9:30:59. Bedtime is 9:30 ("It's still 9:30!" he yells), so I'm usually irritated at this point in the evening. I'm irritated on this particular evening in question.

While Mac's teeth are technically brushed, I'm doubting he put in the full two minutes. There has definitely been no shower, even though I suggested it. He's wearing the same clothes he had on for P.E. at school that day. He's sitting up and all the lights are on.

I'm about to comment on this sad state of affairs when he says, "Mom, when's the Boston Marathon?"

"Well," I say, surprised, "it's in April." I pause then, wondering if he thinks we're going. I'd talked about maybe going to the Boston Marathon, but then I ran too slowly at the Twin Cities Marathon. Plus, the Boston in question would be 2021, but the details don't seem important just now. "But I didn't qualify," I remind him.

"You didn't?" He seems surprised. He shouldn't be that surprised--I was suffering so supremely by the time he saw me at mile 21 that I didn't even see him as he cheered not two feet from my face. "Was it close?" he asks, hopefully.

I give him a dramatic thumbs down accompanied by a pfffft sound. "No." I shrug. "Not that close. Four minutes or so." He looks a little defeated. "Remember, my marathon didn't go that well?" I ask. I'm calm about it; over it, if you will.

"Oh." He cocks his little head, his pink hair hanging over his ears, thinking. And then his eyes brighten a little bit. "But you did it, Mom. You finished the marathon."

"I did finish it," I agreed. "That was good." And, it's nice he knows it counts for something.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

The Celebrity Sightings

I wrote below about all of my book tour trip anxiety. And guess what? I was a nervous wreck for the whole stinkin' week, but none of the problems I worried about came to fruition. I had a magical time. The very worst thing that happened was that my shirt broke a little on the way to the event on Wednesday night.

Did I panic? No, I did not.

Did I fix it with a safety pin? Indeed, I did.

AND, I had some pretty big celebrity sightings. Or, to be fair, I had one celebrity sighting and was also present when other people had two more. Let's start with those two:

First, apparently I rode the elevator with Jim Belushi in Chicago. At dinner that night, one of the publishing bosses recounted the anecdote wherein she and I rode the elevator with Jim Belushi. I was very shocked to hear this. "I thought you knew," she said. No! I did not know! And she was too suave to even elbow me to clue me in!

Then, in NYC I was walking along Central Park South, when two of the publishing peeps stopped for a hurried and excited conversation. "What happened?" I asked.

Come to find out, we'd just passed Rachel Dratch from SNL.

Did I see her? No, I did not.

But do you know whom I did see and recognize in the Minneapolis airport Starbucks? Glennon Doyle and Abby Wambach.

"Did you talk to them?" Dan asked on the phone when I called to brag about it.

"No," I said. "I didn't want to bother them. But I smiled really nicely, and I think that conveyed a lot."

He might have snorted at this point, but let's be honest. Between the time Glennon tweeted at me during the World Cup and the time I smiled at her in the MSP Airport Starbucks, I think it's fair to say we're best friends.

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Business Trip

This week, I'm doing some traveling to promote my book! There are plenty of things to worry about, including but not limited to:

  • My life-long and nonsensical aversion to handbags might make me seem like a rube.
  • The tailor took in my Tuesday night skirt perhaps just a teensy bit too far. I can sit down and walk, and it looks good, though, so that's the most important? Eating is totally optional.
  • What if I lose my ID in Chicago, and then I can't go to Boston or NYC?
  • The other authors in the group are significantly younger than I am, and almost certainly cooler. 
  • Anything could happen when it's my turn to speak.
  • I'm meeting a lot of new people. Some of them know me from the phone, where I'm usually at my best. As Dan likes to say, "Are you going to be normal, or are you going to be yourself?" There's no telling in advance. Some version of me just pops out, and there's nothing I can do.
  • The usual things like deodorant failures, falling, and GPS snafus. And, also not understanding fashion, even though I've had expert coaching.
But, do you know what? I don't even care about all of these things because my elation about this trip is going to overpower all of my nerves. I wrote a book and some other people want to hear about it! And, it's my first business trip during which I will not either have to share a hotel room or hotel bed, so no matter what else happens, I'm already #winning.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Marathon Race Report

I've had a couple of magic marathons. My training was solid, I felt confident, and everything went amazingly on race day--strong finishes, even paces, big smiles.

I've also had a couple of just fine marathons. I ran within my fitness and felt pretty good.

And then, there have been a few really hard-fought marathons. My stomach got messed up, my legs dragged more than they should have. I ran through a dark night of the soul to get to the finish line.

This last weekend's marathon was one of the hard-fought ones. After 16 or 17 pretty good miles, I started cramping in my feet and legs. My stomach hurt. I narrowed my focus to one foot in front of the other. About three miles from the finish line, I reminded myself that if I dropped out, I'd have to go home and tell my children that I didn't finish the race because, in the end, I just didn't feel like it.

That's not really the message I've been trying to impart to my kids about sticking with the hard things. I've been more on the "try your best and accept your failures" train lately. I've ridden the "don't give up" car. So, one foot in front of the other, right? There really wasn't a choice.

Eventually, I got to the end and meandered through the finish area. Only one volunteer asked if I needed the medical tent. I made it to the light rail train, which I planned to ride back home. This was harrowing because of my stomach situation, but you'll be happy to know I held off the sickness. When I arrived at the homestead, I burst in the door. Shef stood to give me a hug, and I ducked under his arm and headed for the powder room. On the way, I accidentally yakked on the kitchen floor.

That's the kind of day it was. I pointed at the vomit and told Dan, "I didn't make it." It's true I didn't make it in that one instance, but in the "finish the marathon" sense, I did make it. I just didn't make it look pretty.