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


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.