Plastic Dinosaurs

I like to eat lunch at place that has plastic dinosaur toys for decorations. The dinosaurs and I are eye level. Mostly I eat and read while they stare at me. Sometimes, I stare at them. They appear to be from the 80’s, but this is assumption is based off their gaudy purple and orange coloring and their fading black beady eyes. Really, I have no idea. I’m an almost-thirty-year-old sitting a lunch counter, hoping my chicken really was raised humanely like my menu hinted, wondering what I’m doing with my life and if I have the discipline to get there. I don’t know about dinosaur toys from the 80’s. It’s nice though, eating with them.

I can’t help but connect these dinosaurs to the actual dinosaurs as though the tang-orange tyrannosaurs rex that’s been eyeballing my Thai bowl remembers what it was like stomping through the Miocene age. He’s probably thinking about how pathetic my teeth are. He’s probably more than a little jealous of my opposable thumbs. I like to wonder about what it would be like to march around the Miocene age myself. I’d camp under the protection of drooping leaves and ride a brontosaurs under the stars. I would hike up steep cliffs and peer into pterodactyl nests. I would dive into rainbows of fish, touching the bottom of the silty riverbed with my pruney fingers before pushing up up up for air. Never mind that I am afraid of heights. Never mind all the teeth lurking in the river.

Does petroleum really come from old dinosaurs? Or is that just something people say? Is this dinosaur really made of the remains of its more ferocious self? Someday, millions of years from now when the earth is once again only water, will the new whales dive down to the bottom of the sea and brush their fins against the top of the Coliseum? Will they believe the mossy skeleton of the Coliseum is my skeleton? Will they wonder about me at all?

Vague Outlines & The Power of Twenty Minutes

Hourglass

I started writing a new book back in January and have been typing away at it every since. Now, I’m just about ¾ of the way done with it and let me tell you, this first draft is being finished up in record time. There are two reasons for this: an outline and the power of twenty minutes.

In the past, I would get a great book idea and start writing. For the first quarter of the book, it would feel like the story was writing itself . The words came out onto the screen while I was in a daze. I didn’t really think about it. They just appeared. And this is awesome. Super awesome. One of the greatest feelings. And then I would drive all those happy-writing times right into a wall. Because when you have an initial idea and you don’t think about how that initial idea is going to develop and/or end, you’re going to run into a wall. Then, just as quickly as I began, I’d stop. I’d spend a week moping around, a week doubting, and then eventually, take some time to outline. The outline would inevitably change some crucial part of the beginning, so I’d have to go back before I could move forward. You don’t need me to tell you that this eats up a lot of time. For this idea, I outlined the book ahead of time. In the past, I’ve been resistant to outlining because one of the things I love about writing is surprising myself with where the story goes. This time, I made a vague outline. Now, I am still surprised by plot turns, but I know where I’m going in the story over-all.

The other bit that has helped me is writing for twenty minutes at a time. I do a lot of writing during my lunch break and after eating and reading, I have about twenty minutes left. This is perfect amount of time for me. It’s gotten me through The Doubting Stage of this book. Knowing I’m only going to be writing for twenty minutes pretty much kills any excuse I can think of.

“But it’s stupid,” I would think, “It’s a terrible idea.”

“That’s ok,” the nicer more reasonable side of my brain would say, “just do it for twenty minutes.”

Then the next day.

“But I don’t know what’s going to happen yet. I have no ideas. I should think about it first.”

“That’s ok,” I would say, “you can just sit there for twenty minutes.”

And the next day.

“But I don’t wanna!”

“That’s ok. You don’t have to after you just do it for twenty minutes.”

This is good because I haven’t gotten stuck like I have in the past. Sometimes any one of those excuses could keep me away from writing for days, or weeks. When I feel stuck in the book, the only way to fix it is to keep going. I know this, yet it’s so hard to remember. Then when I do remember, I think I’m going to have to spend four hours at least working on my problem. I don’t want to do this, so I procrastinate. Knowing I’m just going to write (or sit there) for twenty minutes makes the writing feel less daunting. It’s not a long period of time, but if you keep it up and know where you’re going, you can write a whole book that way.

 

 

 

Picture by Daniel Sargent

How to Almost Write a Book

tea-and-cookies

  1. Get hit with a fantastic idea while doing the dishes or taking a shower. Why do all your fantastic ideas come at those time? Who knows. Something about water? Or soap? Note to self: Next time you’re feeling uncreative, wash dishes in the shower.
  1. Write your first chapter all at once, read it over, and feel really good about yourself.

 

  1. Realize that you have no idea what you’re doing. You’ll have to do some research.
  1. Spend a lot of time at the library.
  1. Think maybe you should become a history professor.
  1. After reading, taking notes, and looking at maps, you’re ready to write, but you need to let the other half of your brain know that because the other half of your brain is convinced that you are not qualified to write this fictional scientifically impossible children’s book unless you have at least a Masters degree in your subject. Your worst fear is now having some Egyptologist/Astronomer/French/Physicist storm up to you at a book signing and throw your book at you in disgust. Remember this is not your worst fear. Your worst fear is falling off an escalator.
  1. Write a third of your book.
  1. Now that you’re really in too far to make any significant changes, decide it’s time to make an outline.
  1. Write another third of your book.
  1. Call your sister and tell her you’ve decided you’re going to go back to school for paleo-botany because it’ll probably take you 30 years to make it as a writer and you’ll have to work for those 30 years so you might as well be like that lady in Jurassic Park.
  1. Come up with six other book ideas that are a lot, I mean A LOT, better than your current book. Think you should work on one of those instead as those are going to really make you stand out. Those are going to change the face of children’s literature as we know it. This book you’re working on now has already been written like 47 times by people more talented than you. Or, at the very least, more published than you.
  1. Write the last third of your book in such a burst of creative inspiration that you cockily think you’ll just edit it real quick, get it published, and spend next Christmas in London.
  1. Begin your editing process.
  1. While you edit, read the book chapter by chapter to your writing group. Take notes. Well, mostly take notes. Feel free to ignore the debate about the size of your goat in chapter 14. Remind yourself they are not talking in innuendo because this is a children’s book and you really did write about a goat.
  1. Around this time, change your diet. Your three food groups are bread, cheese, and martinis. Eat like this for six weeks and stop going to the gym.
  1. You are only halfway done editing and its been eight weeks.
  1. Have a complete and total breakdown. Be sure this includes crying in a parking lot.
  1. Finish editing.
  1. This time, be smart about it and set the book aside for a couple of months before you edit it again. Start a very rigorous TV watching program.
  1. Realize that you have no idea when you’re going to be done with this thing.

Writing vs. Research

writing-vs-researchA couple of months ago, while doing dishes, an idea landed on my head. That’s what it felt like. It came out of nowhere and smacked me right on the head. The idea is about a boy named George Buchanan who becomes Earth’s ambassador to its first alien visitors. I’ve started thinking about the idea again. I’m starting to feel excited about it. Every now and then, bits of dialogue pop into my head.

Here’s the thing. I don’t know anything about aliens or space and George loves space. As his creator, I should learn about space. And aliens. I should buy books on space, learn about galaxies, make flash cards of Jupiter’s moons and start reading science fiction. All that sounds daunting, but necessary. I couldn’t possibly start writing anything until I, you know, know everything there is to know about space. This, as you can well imagine, leads to me freezing up. Instead of outlining I look on Amazon for Neil deGrasse Tyson books and see when the library closes on Saturday (five o’clock). I am afraid that some day, some astrophysicist is going to be reading the book and be disgusted at my lack of knowledge about…. I don’t even know.

It’s not practical to think I’m going to do my own mini-masters degree every book idea. I need a plan. I feel that most of my life’s problems would be solved if I had a professor sitting around my living room with various syllabi for me to work through. How great would that be? I’d explain my plan to write a book on space, she’d whip out her space syllabus complete with reading list and assignments for to be completed in three months and then BAM! Book. On the other hand, I think spending a great deal of time making a learn-everyting-about-space-plan is a way to procrastinate the actual writing while feeling smug about it.

So here’s what I’ll do: I’ll write and research. I’ll wait while you soak in this revolutionary thought.

George is very smart, but he’s only 11. This is a book about aliens coming to Earth. That means I get to make up a lot of stuff. George loves space more than anything, but between navigating around his older sister, his parents, and the President of the United States, George will spend most of the book talking about things other than space. Therefore, I don’t need to know everything about space. Or aliens. Or Presidents.

Here’s what I’ll do broken down into actual specific steps.

  1. I’ll read Welcome to the Universe. I haven’t started yet, but it’s pretty heavy. I have great faith it will tell me everything I need to know.
  2. I’ll watch Independence Day Whatever Neil deGrasse Tyson forgot to mention, Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum will catch me up on.
  3. I’ll write the first draft of my book currently titled… um… Not Indepence Day.
  4. I will set the book aside for a while (I’m not falling for that again).
  5. When I read over the draft, I will notate where in the manuscript I may want to add more detail/facts/space stuff, write out specific questions and look up answers to those specific questions.
  6. Then, oh I don’t know, get millions of kids interested in space travel which launches a golden age for humanity as people work together to discover and explore instead of war and pollute which saves mankind, Earth, and gets a space station named after me.

Wild: Start 2017 Feeling Inspired and Thankful for Your Toenails

Full disclosure: I did not buy this book. Because I would never buy this book. I mean it. I was quite judgmental about this book when it came out. I didn’t need to read a book about a woman who went out in nature to find herself. I already read Eat, Pray, Love and frankly, would prefer my journey of self-awakening to take place, at least partially, in Italy. Then, the movie came out. Which I didn’t watch. Because I didn’t need to watch a movie about Reese Witherspoon finding herself. I had Legally Blonde. Also, the movie version wouldn’t fit into Daniel’s and my narrow category of movies we watch: action comedies, some classics, The King’s Speech, and romantic comedies made between 1989 and 2003.

I would never have read this book; I couldn’t read this book. Not after all the judging I did in my brain when I saw it. It would have been hypocritical for me. But, then my friend Kathryn bought it for me for my birthday. And she reassured me that while she judged the book too, it was actually incredible. And if Kathryn says a book is incredible and then buys it for me…. I could always read two chapters and stop. Kathryn lives all the way in Germany, so there isn’t much she can do about it.

Except once I got going, I didn’t want to read only two chapters and stop. I wanted to read all the chapters as fast as I could. Because here’s the thing about this book about a woman who goes into the wild to find herself, it’s really good. Bravo Cheryl Strayed, bravo.

Strayed is a fantastic writer. I say that I will read anything as long as it’s well written and here we are, proving that right. Wild is a memoir about the summer Strayed hiked the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave desert to the border of Oregon and California. Her narrative is full of hiking things: tents, boots, toenails falling off, weather. But, it’s also full of her life and how she got to the trail. The book is honest and brave. She writes of her mother’s death, her stages of grief, how her marriage fell apart. None of this is to elicit pity from the reader, but simply to explain. I don’t think I’ve read descriptions of grief as finely wrought as this. You really feel with Strayed. And by feeling her downfalls, you feel her triumphs all the more.

Another thing I liked about the book was how honestly she wrote of the hiking itself. First of all, she is incredibly unprepared for her undertaking, which I know I would be. She doesn’t shy away from explaining what happens to her body in the process, how she deals with her period or how the pack rubs weird callouses onto her hips. She discusses all the nice people she met on the trail and the few not nice ones. Strayed wasn’t in the wilderness for her entire hike. She hiked into small towns and outposts to collect boxes of supplies she mailed to herself. I found this endearing. Her having to stop to rest and restock helped me remember she is a regular human and not a super human. This made her accomplish all the more impressive. She’s not Bear Grylls out there filtering her urine and frying up worms. She’s a normal human who needs normal human things. While hiking, she daydreams of Snapple lemonade and drives herself crazy with her thoughts. She talks of the difficulty of hiking, the boredom, the pure amazement you feel knowing you can push your body like that. She weaves her stories of her past through the hiking narrative so that you never get tired of the trail.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone. Hiker or no hiker. I am no hiker and enjoyed it immensely because it’s fantastic and anyone can enjoy anything that’s fantastic. So I think we all learned a couple of things here: you really ought not judge a book by it’s cover and Kathryn rules.

Honesty Time

Here’s the thing. I started this blog thinking all these great and wonderful things about it. I did this once before with a different blog. And now, now I don’t feel great and wonderful things about it. What’s the point? What I am doing? What am I trying to accomplish here? I don’t have answers to any of those questions and I feel like I really should. So I am going to take a couple of weeks to think about it. And you might be thinking, wait, haven’t you not put anything on here for a couple of weeks? Yes but this is different you see, because this is on purpose.

I finally finished editing my book and that feels so good. I am not going to work on it again until March 1. In the meantime, I have dusted off an old project I’ve worked on on and off for years. It’s this phase in my life’s white whale. It’s a Christmas novel, and I want it to have a certain feeling. A quality. A kind of quirky magic. I want it to be like How the Grinch Stole Christmas meets A Charlie Brown Christmas meets The Life Aquatic meets A Christmas Carol the book meets The Muppets Christmas Carol the movie meets the Pas de deux from the Nutcracker, but the music bit not the ballet bit. It feels impossible to grasp. But I feel closer to it.

So I’m going to write and read and do some real good thinking. I’ll see you in the New Year.

Examples of Non-Whiny Teenage Girl Voices

 

teenage-girl-booksAs I have complained, October was a crap month for writing. Most of November was too. Then last week, while I was sitting at work, wallowing in self-pity and plotting a way to not be working at the same place this time next year, my muse came back. I don’t know where she went off to, but boy was I glad to see her. She showed up, I got a new idea, and then it was like that scene in some movie (The Lion King? Fern Gully?) where rain falls on the dried-up earth and suddenly, flowers start growing again. That’s what it felt like. Not only did I receive a new idea, but old withered ideas took on new life. I wanted to stand on my desk and tell everyone that I did not run out of ideas, that I will not one day die of a heart attack in my cubicle like previously feared. Oh no my friends, I am a writer. I plan on one day dying in a hotel room of alcohol poisoning. God, hopefully not. Though after experiencing life muse-less, I can see how that might happen.

The idea. It’s new. I have been working on it. I have 3,000 words all from this weekend. I feel good. I feel vibrant. I feel like maybe it is worth while to go to the gym. I’m not going to say anything about it now, except that it involves a teenage girl. It’s been a bit since I was teenage girl so… to the library! (I suppose I could re-read my old journals. But last time I did that I about spontaneously combusted from embarrassment)

I was concerned that any book about a teenage girl would involve a fair amount of whiney, obsessive, oblivious, stalkerish blather about boys. I re-read a book I read in the eighth grade that spent a great deal of time detailing how the main character really was falling in love with a boy even though she was oblivious to the whole thing. Which, I’m sorry, but have these girls not ever seen a movie? Any movie? How are they so oblivious? The answer is maybe they aren’t anymore. I’ve read two books recently, both told from the point of view of teenage girls, both opposite from each other, both nothing like mine, but both with incredible teenage girl voices.

The first was The City of Savages by Lee Kelly. This book was awesome, oh my gosh. It roasted points of view between two sisters, Phee and Sky. They live in Manhattan which, after a World War that has gone on for as long as they can remember, is now a refugee camp ran by a ruthless warden. Things seem normal for the two sisters until strangers show up at the camp claiming to have sailed the Atlantic to see if anyone else is alive. I know that teenage girls living in a dystopia is nothing new. But the voices of these characters… they sounded like how real live well-rounded girls living in a refugee camp would sound. They were tough, scared, hopeful, funny, annoyed, sad, smart. There were some boy things, but it was part of a greater story. I enjoyed reading the various strong female characters in the novel. This is a very female-centric book without it feeling that way. I didn’t really notice it in the same way I didn’t really notice that Moby Dick is chockfull of men. This book was so good. I think now would be a great time to read it. It’s a good winter book and a great way to cut some of the artificial syrupiness of Christmas.

The other book I read was If I Stay. Now, I know I am behind in reading this book now. I didn’t read it when it first came out because it looked stupid and then they went and made a movie out of it. And while I knew the premise was about a girl who is in a coma after a car crash and has to decide if she stays in her body or not, and I thought that the idea was interesting, I still avoided it because bleh. But it is not bleh, not at all. I read it in a day. I was very much surprised to find that the voice of this character was not a whiny teenager, which is impressive considering that she’s almost dead. I mean, if there was any point at which some whiny-ness was allowed… Instead, I found myself reading a book about a girl who was pretty secure in herself and what she wanted. Mia, the narrator, is a cellist. She has a best friend with no drama, a boyfriend with very little drama, and a great family. There’s no overblown existential crisis except, you know, the death bit. Gayle Forman, the author, moves between the present Mia in the hospital and flashbacks. The action and emotion through this book stays balanced, but really it’s the voice that carries the book.

I also picked up The Fault in Our Stars and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before so we’ll see how the teenage girl voice continues for those.

PS I am reading The Rook now which is not a book about teenage girls. It is, however, awesome and getting more awesome all the time. This is told through the point of view of a thirty year old woman who is quite witty.

So now I’m off to work on my teenage girl voice even though I just realized I am only procrastinating editing my other book and that my first 3,000 words are filled with an awful lot of whining.

Editing Your Manuscript: Five Ways to Not Make it Worse

I’ve been editing and it’s the worst. A guy at my writing group asked how the book was going and I said, “I am editing and I hate it hate it hate it.” To which he replied, “Oh ok, so you’re iscribblesn the hating stage.” That made me feel better. I am in the hating stage. It’s not great here but guess what? It’s a stage. See? It says so right there in the name.

I am starting to see the end to this. I have been writing, or editing, more frequently which makes the whole process less painful. Imagine going to the gym and doing squats and, poor thing, lunges for the first time. Your legs will be sore for a good week. If you do it again the next week, they won’t hurt so much. If you wait two months, it’s going to be that painful every time. I know this. And yet, here I am. This time through the hating stage, I realized some things I want to write down to help me get through the next hating stage faster. The only way out is in and the sooner I accept that, the sooner I get out.

  1. I don’t care what you think, if you’re done with the first draft you’re only half way there. For this book, I thought my first draft was good. And it was good. It didn’t have any major plot holes or any characters that needed to be cut or added. But it’s still a first draft. There’s a lot of work that has to be done to make a first draft a book. This means it’s not going to be a week of laughing at my own jokes and changing “she said” to “she replied.”
  1. And because you’re only half way done, put that manuscript away just like Stephen King said. I read from King in On Writing that it’s really best to put the book away for a while after the first draft so that you can edit with fresh eyes. This is true. It’s also true because you just need a break from it. I have been writing this book for months, it would have helped to have stepped away for a while and thought about something else. But because I was convinced the editing wouldn’t take very long, I skipped all kinds of steps and now I’m having trouble editing because it’s hard and because I’m tired of the story right now.
  1. Never again edit and submit to agents at the same time. This was a crap idea. I thought I would send query letters out so that I could speed up the process of, you know, becoming a full-time writer who lives in Rome for part of the year and has a studio that overlooks the ocean. This does not help editing. Because when you submit letters, you receive rejections. And rejections, I’m here to tell you, do not help your editing process one bit.
  1. Now is not the time to stop bathing. I never stopped bathing. But while brooding over my work and feeling bad about my writing, I let others things go. Soon feeling bad about writing morphed into feeling bad about all things. So shave your legs, clean out the fridge, do your hair, make your bed, organize your desk, keep your shower clean, get your eyebrows waxed. There’s nothing like paying someone to pour hot wax on your face and rip it off to get you feeling good again.
  1. Read something nice. I just finished reading The Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot and it was hilarious. This was also a marked change to what I have been reading: The Mandibles, The City of Savages and other apocalyptic-esque books. I’m not saying Cabot single-handedly pulled me out of this slump, but it was nice to have something cheerful in my brain instead of thoughts like “who’s going to need children’s book in a nuclear holocaust anyway?”

The Princess Diaries – This Will Cure Anything You Got

princess-diaries-picture

I remember exactly how I felt after seeing The Princess Diaries for the first time. I was about to turn fourteen and for the longest time, I believed that fourteen would be the year when everything would come together for me. According to all the books I read, fourteen was a time for adventure and first kisses and transforming from a ragamuffin kid into a beauty. The Princess Diaries confirmed all this for me. I stood in the steamy Memphis parking lot after the film, breathing in the muggy air, hoping beyond hope that someone would turn up and inform me that I was actually the heir to a small European principality. The world looked different. I stood up straighter. I love my parents, but in that moment, I knew in my bones that I was secretly adopted.

None of that came true. Fourteen was not the year of first kisses or beauty transformations. Going to highschool did feel like an adventure, but not the swashbuckling, Arctic exploring, jungle hacking one I wanted. Sometime during all these depressing realities, I turned to the book in solace. Since then, I have returned to the book many times. Why do you ask? Aren’t you a fully grown adult woman with a job and laundry and other kinds of books to read? Yup. But I keep reading it because this is the funniest book I’ve ever read.

Now, this might not be the funniest book you ever read. It’s so hilarious to me because it is the diary of a teenage girl and I was once a teenage girl. Also, the pop culture references throughout the book are pop culture references from that time in my life. Fourteen year olds today might not find it quite as funny because they don’t know Britney Spears as a mega-pop star and they have no idea what AOL instant messenger is and why dial-up is such a drag.

The Princess Diaries is the diary of Mia Thermopolis a fourteen year old girl who just started high school. Her life is consumed with the things most fourteen year old girls are concerned with. At this point, her biggest difference from others her age (putting aside the fact that she lives in New York and goes to a private school) is that her mother is, horror beyond horrors, dating her Algebra teacher. The shock of this revelation is nothing compared to the one Mia gets when she finds out that her father is actually the prince, not just a politician, of a small European principality. To prepare her for her role as princess, Mia’s grandmere flies in to stay at the Plaza and give daily princess lessons. Add to this a makeover and some boy drama, and you got yourself a book. The plot may not be original. But the writing is.

I had a hard time resisting the urge to copy whole pages from this book while re-reading it oh, let’s say the eighth time. There were so many examples of things I found funny. I know reading about why a book is funny is not funny. But I went ahead and wrote about it anyways because the book is so damn good.

Cabot wrote The Princess Diaries to read like, well, a diary. Mia’s voice is full of the over-the-top why-me drama you’d expect from a teenager. The diary structure works so well for this because one expects a diary to be more self-involved than a straight first person narrative. To lessen this self-involvedness, Cabot cuts Mia’s melodrama with the voices of Mia’s best friend, Lily, Mia’s parents, and her grandmother. An example of this occurs right off the bat. Mia describes how she saw the cutest boy in school at Bigelows buying cologne. After a paragraph about how Josh is really a sensitive person she explains, “I know because when I looked into his eyes that day at Bigelows, I saw the deeply sensitive person inside him, struggling to get out.” This is immediately followed by, “Lilly says I have an overactive imagination and a pathological need to invent drama in my life.” The juxtaposition of Mia’s over-romanticized vision of this boy and Lilly’s clinical diagnosis balances the paragraph. What Mia says is funny because it’s over-the-top. What makes it more funny is that other characters think this too.

If the book were only Mia being dramatic, then of course it wouldn’t work. Making up the bulk of the novel are the things that make up all novels: plot, character development, and description. Description is another area where the book shines. Cabot excels at describing people and places without losing Mia’s voice. For example, Mia describes the bathroom at The Plaza saying “there are mirrors and little couches everywhere, in case you look at yourself and feel the urge to faint from your beauty or something.” Or in describing the girl on the cover of romance novel – “ The teenage girl had long blonde hair and pretty big breasts for someone with such thin thighs.” My favorite descriptions are of Grandmere’s dog, Rommel. When we meet Rommel, Mia explains that he is a fifteen year old poodle who “is the same shape and size as an iguana, only not as smart.”

There are many many other things to say about this book. There is Cabot’s use of blank space. When Mia finds out her grandmother is coming to give her princess lessons, she writes four lines and that’s it. The rest of the page is blank. There are also times when Mia explains her past naivetee, such as when she thought Frenching was “some weird British thing, like toad-in-the-hole, or air raids, or something.” Or the time she realized her body guard was carrying a gun, not an extraneous third arm. Or… or… or… I could go on.

Cabot has written an entire Princess Diaries series. There are ten books. There is also an eleventh book where Mia is grown-up and about to get married. I am very curious to read this book because, here’s the thing about the other ones if you’re a grown-up: they get old. This book is hilarious because it’s one book. I can remember back to my more dramatic self and commiserate with Mia and her boy problems. I cannot do this for ten books. This does not reflect poorly on Cabot’s writing. I have read a great many of her books for adults and enjoy them thoroughly. All this means is that these books are written for a certain audience and I am no longer a member of that audience. Despite that, in a couple years, when I am trying to find something read and want something funny, I will more than likely pull this battered and taped book from my shelf and chuckle when Mia and Lilly list Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman’s boyfriend as one of the world’s hottest guys.

Make a Damn Plan

make-a-damn-plan

October has been a bummer month for me. I don’t know why. I love fall. I love the leaves, the cooler weather, eating soup and drinking red wine. Fall is the time Daniel and I watch You’ve Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally and soon we will be watching Love Actually and The Muppets’ Christmas Carol (which, PS, is the best version of A Christmas Carol). Yet here I am feeling like a heap of blah.

It doesn’t help that I really haven’t been writing on account of… I don’t know… maybe a curse.

The truth is, know exactly all the stuff I need to be doing to start feeling optimistic again: go to the gym regularly, get back to eating the way that makes my body feel its best, get rid of that pile of papers we have stacked in front of the bookshelf, finally get around to cleaning out under the sink, start writing again, keep reading interesting books, get back into meditating.

But here I am. Let me take another sip of my martini.

After a month of bleh I am going to make November a month of action. When I talked to my friend Kathryn at the beginning of October, she said she was making October a month of positivity and I thought oooo me too. Ha. But I mean it now. I’ve moped, I’ve watched Gilmore Girls, I’ve had the good wine (will continue having the good wine) (by good wine I of course mean that we have now graduated to wine that costs between $10-$17 instead of $7-$10), I have complained, Lord have I complained.

I used to get subscriptions to Food and Wine and Bon Appetit. But after a few years, I was swimming in magazines and wasn’t really reading them. So I cancelled my subscriptions and have been slowly going through them, ripping out pages of things I want to make and putting them in a binder. In an old November issue of Bon Appetit, there is an article about how to win Thanksgiving. The article, had this advice which I remember reading and would repeat to myself occasionally when needed: Make. A. Damn. Plan. When I came across it while cleaning out the magazines, I cut it out and put it on my bulletin board. I thought about that today while moping/complaining. There’s a place for moping/complaining. I think it can be very helpful. But for me, for this, a month is plenty long enough. Now I’m going to Make. A. Damn. Plan.

Stay tuned.