NANOWRIMO wrap up

So, yes.  I did not “win” NANOWRIMO.  Not even close.  After the midway point, our family had a string of minor illnesses that left me with little sleep and much laundry.  I had a hard time keeping up with my standard responsibilities, so writing for fun got squeezed off the to-do list most days.  I learned a lot though, and I will use those lessons for Camp NANOWRIMO in July.  Here is what I learned:

1.  I don’t write well at night.  I already knew this, but for some reason, I imagined that I would work on my novel after the kids went to bed.  Nope.  Cory simply couldn’t drag me out of bed after I snuggled in to read bedtime stories.  Sleep trumps all.  At least for now.

2.  I missed fiction.  I have been reading nonfiction almost exclusively.  I would say in 2014 I’ve read about 4 or 5 novels and zero in the last three months.  I felt a little out of my element as I dipped into novel-writing.  Before I try again in July, I will need to study up with some good fiction.

3.  Dialogue is hard.  Really hard.  I need practice and great models.  See #2.

4.  I must plan ahead.   And I don’t mean story notes!  I mean meals and chores and errands and activities.  Writing a novel is a bit like birthing a baby.  Although babies are more cuddly!  You really need to figure out how to cover the regular LIFE stuff when the baby (novel!) is being born.  Honestly, generating ideas for my novel was the easy part.  Figuring out how to write those ideas while still keeping my children fed, clothed, and educated was a much bigger challenge.

Those are the main lessons learned.  Thanks for all the supportive messages here and on Facebook!  I hated letting you down!

#NANOWRIMO

Hi, Readers.

I haven’t been writing on the blog for a couple weeks, but I’ve been writing.  Oh yes, I have!  I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month, also known as NANOWRIMO.  The goal is to write 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30.  I’m going to be completely honest with you.  I’m not going to make it to 50,000 words, and I never really thought that I would.  Okay, maybe for two minutes I thought I might actually meet the goal.  But deep down, I simply wanted to reestablish a writing routine.  In the ten years since I graduated with an MFA in creative writing, I have done very little creative writing.  I’ve written plenty of nonfiction, lots of research papers, pages and pages of student comments, but very few poems and stories.  I’ve missed it, and NANOWRIMO seemed like a good chance to jump back onto that particular horse.  Even better, I actually had a story idea that has been floating around in my imagination for awhile.

November is half over, and the big “win” isn’t likely to happen.  I’m pretty sure that I would have to hand my children over to somebody and run away to a cabin in Maine to reach 50,000 words at this point.  Strike that.  I would have to move somewhere without snow because I would need someone to deliver prepared meals to me so that I would not need to leave my computer keyboard in order to feed myself.

Nonetheless, I do not regret participating in NANOWRIMO.  In fact, I’m very excited.  I’m still writing, and I plan on signing up for Camp NANOWRIMO in July!  If you are interested in this nifty challenge, go on over to http://www.nanowrimo.org.

Warmly,

Erica G.

Teacup Tuesday: The Tea Man

tea man

Confession: this picture was taken on Saturday, but I had a cup of the same tea this morning.  I don’t want the blog world to believe that I whip up fluffy pancakes and sausage on an ordinary Tuesday morning.  That’s not happenin’ here.  Nope.

Anyway, this is carrot cake loose leaf tea in one of my favorite mugs.  The tea is delicious.  It’s from the Oswego Tea Company.  It’s nicely spicy and a little sweet even without a sweetener.  There are pieces of dried carrots and spices mixed with black tea.  It tastes and smells like autumn.  Love it!

The mug was a gift from my mom and dad.  I believe it was for my birthday when I was first married and living far away.  On the other side it says, “In all the ways that really count, I can always count on you.”  I love it.  I’ve been using it almost everyday lately.  I love the picture, and the message, and the fact that my mom picked it out for me.

Finally, I must share my dear tea man with you.  Isn’t he the cutest thing?  He is a diffuser for loose leaf tea, and I love how content he looks relaxing in the hot water.  I can’t help but laugh!  Officially called “Mister Tea,” my tea man was my Mother’s Day gift this year.  I first encountered him in this video, and I fell in love!  (He is shown in the first couple of minutes of the video.)  You can also buy your own little fellow on Amazon.

Please tell me in the comments what kind of tea you are enjoying.

When Rest is Required

Dear Readers,

I’ve been thinking.

When people have surgery, they are expected to rest.  When they come down with the flu or bronchitis or a simple, common cold, rest is prescribed.  Sprained ankle?  Rest it.  Mothers tell their children–even the grown ones–to get some rest when they have any ailment or injury.  Everyone knows that rest promotes healing.  It’s a given.

But do we remember that emotional fatigue and pain also require rest for healing?  Too often, we assume that we can continue our usual, zippy speed as long as our bodies are keeping pace.  Although I can’t speak for everyone, I’m pretty good at identifying bodily fatigue.  I recognize the slow, dragging feeling, the muscle aches, the heavy eyes, and sore feet.  I feel them, identify them, and slow down.  I’ve learned that ignoring those signs means paying the price in headaches, sore throats, fevers, and colds.  Not worth the price.

I’m not as good at remembering the toll of emotional busyness.  I think of “emotional busyness” as periods of time when I’m experiencing a wild ride of high and low emotions, a time when I need to invest myself emotionally in events and people that seem to overlap and collide all at once.  That is exactly how life has looked lately.  Crushingly sad news followed by happy news.  A fun trip followed by a sad good-bye.  Scary news before a fun weekend.  And on and on.

You know what though?  I am thankful that I care enough about people to have developed some powerful emotional ties–bonds that require some big emotional investment.  That is something to celebrate.  I want to love and be loved.

Nonetheless, rest is required!

We took a serious Sabbath on Sunday.  Without apology, we announced our absence at an evening event–an outing that the whole family usually enjoys, and instead, we did some restful things.  We attended the morning worship service, changed into comfy clothes, and did nothing of importance!  The kids jumped in thousands of yellow leaves that blanket our yard.  We watched a movie.  Cory didn’t even turn on football until after the kids went to bed.  I did some tidying around the house and snuggled with the baby.  Easy, restful day.

The bad news is still real, but with it has come a lot of love–love from all directions.  The world is still a weird place, and the future is big and open and kind of scary sometimes.  BUT…I know…

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.  Psalm 62:5

Teacup Tuesday: Ouch!

teacup1

Good morning, Readers.

I had an idea.  I ran across a Youtube channel that has a “Teacup Tuesday.”  (Thanks for the idea, Shannon.)  I thought, why can’t Teacup Tuesday make the leap from video to blog?  I have a teacup collection, and I love trying different teas.  Why not?  So every now and then, I’ll feature one of my teacups and one of my teas.  I’ll follow it up with a quick post about something.

Today’s teacup is a Fiestaware cup that my mom and dad gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago.  Actually, they gave me one yellow cup & saucer and one blue-green cup & saucer.  I like to mix and match, but Charlotte likes the yellow set.  In this pretty little cup, I am enjoying a nice herbal blend called Milkmaid Tea by Earth Mama Angel Baby.  It has a licorice and maple taste thanks to the hefty dose of fenugreek and fennel, two ingredients that are supposed to support a healthy milk supply for breastfeeding mothers.  I don’t have a lot of faith in galactagogues (the fancy word for substances thought to promote lactation), but the tea is hot and tasty, so if it helps me feed my little one, then it’s a nice bonus.

So what else do I have to say today?  MY HAND HURTS!!!  I can’t type any more because my right hand is killing me.  I’m pretty sure I have De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, also known as “Mommy Thumb.”  It’s been coming and going for awhile, and this week it is here in full force.  So please excuse me while I duck out and try to live left-handed for awhile.

If you’re drinking tea this Tuesday morning, please tell me about it in the comments.

Warmly,

Erica G

Hello, Monday.

leaf

Hello, Monday.

I love that you hold the promise of new things, new routines, endless possibilities.  I love that you ride in on a hint of sunshine, still carrying all the warmth of a weekend well lived.

Hello, Autumn.

I love the beginnings of your glory on the tree outside my window.  The prettiest yellow-orange starts at the top of the boughs, but summer’s green is still going strong at every window.  Autumn, your cool mornings make me excited for the sweaters and pumpkins and cups of tea that will return to our days in the coming weeks.

Hello, School Day.

I’m looking forward to the discoveries that wait in you.  I love the furrowed brow of a boy considering 9×6 and the excitement of a perfect letter “C” drawn by a chubby three-year-old hand.  I love the sounds of poetry and scripture recited by heart.

“This is the Day.”

Hello, Gratitude.