Monday, June 23, 2008

Life's a Balancing Act

Do you ever feel like this guy?  
Sometimes I do.

This week my writing class starts again on Wednesday evening. I have been taking classes through the Writers Studio out of New York. There is a  small satellite school here in Tucson. It is a great program, and unlike an MFA program it is manageable with four kids. The founder Phillip Schultz just won the Pulitzer Prize this Spring for his book of poetry Failure.   

We have had a month break from classes and I haven't done as much writing as I would have liked. The discipline to write at night after the kids are in bed continues to be a struggle, but I've done okay this week and have worked on my stories two different nights.

My sister and her family are coming to visit on Thursday. We are going to California over the Fourth of July, and the new school year starts for the kids July 14th. We have been reorganizing the house. New carpet, changing the play room into a guest room, reorganizing the kids bedrooms, and revamping our master bedroom.

Life truly is a balancing act...

Here are some things that help me along the way: 
  • Coffee. I don't know how I managed all these years without it when I was pregnant or nursing, but now I am happily dependent on it again. It helps a lot. I love coffee!
  • My husband bought me this new writing program called Scrivener and it manages all my projects, outlines, and ideas. It is fantastic and reasonably priced too! 
  • I know that this time with my little children is going by so fast. I'm  trying to embrace and celebrate the time with them now. 
  • Keeping organized. When the house is chaotic and I'm searching for things all the time it is much more overwhelming to get things accomplished.
  • Trust God. Pray. Meditate. These things help me to regroup and recharge. 
I am working on three short stories right now. My goal is to get them complete and ready to send out to literary journals and magazines during this next ten week class. For my fortieth birthday year, I want to get a short story published. I have four months to go. The writing itself is fulfilling and the publishing part is secondary, but I am more motivated if I have a goal in front of me. I am entering a couple of literary contests for new writers and I have some other publications in mind. 

Here is an excerpt from one of my works in progress:

Watering Holes

The ugly shack behind the house is where you’ll find the Fishing Grandpa. He sits in his weathered, tin workshop among scattered tools, loaded firearms, cheap vodka, and gallons of apple juice in glass jugs.

Up before sunrise, he looks through the makeshift doors, towards his neighbor’s tree farm.  Grandpa watches the Red fir, Norway spruce, and Sequoia marching along in the wind. Their conical shapes, shiny dark branches, and bluish green needles with silver tips shine in the morning air. The fresh, woodsy fragrances mingle with the smoke from his open fire.

Spitting his tobacco in the early morning light, he readies the poles. A simple set up for his granddaughter, just the rod and line. His hands shake a little, and he drinks to steady them. 

No longer able to stay inside, his granddaughter Tessie runs for the shack. Still early, she warms her hands by the fire. She fidgets and squirms ready for her first worm.

“Grandpa’s making moonshine, don’t tell your mom,” he says.

“Moonshine, Moonshine, Moonshine,” she sings.

“Grandpa, will we catch a rainbow fish today?”

She remembers their best day ever, last summer when she caught a fish on the American River.  Grandpa had gone to the ice chest. The line started pulling and bobbing, the pole rising and falling toward the river. 

“I got a bite.  I got a bite,” she called.

She reeled it in. Grandpa came to the edge of the black river, and his big, rough hands moved over the fish. 

“Look at these colors, a rainbow trout. This means you’re a lucky girl,” he said.

Today they hike through a stream from watering hole to watering hole, over here to a point and now to a weedy area with some inside and outside curves.  They stop in an inlet where the creek flows into the lake. He relies on the elements to catch fish, his creel brimming with bass and trout.

Noble fir and Scotch pine line the moving water. He points out the strong, wide-spaced branches protecting the smaller orange and red bark of the Manzanita and the cream-white Elderberry trees. As they walk, he notices the native grasses waving gracefully in the cool breeze and watches the animals take cover, scattered throughout the openings between the islands of woody shrubs. She is ahead collecting stones along the shallow river. He pauses, raising his bottle before the next fishing hole… 

I keep trying to stick to this mantra, writer's write!

I'm not 40, I'm eighteen with 22 years experience. ~ Author Unknown  

Life begins at forty. ~ W.B. Pitkin

We don't understand life any better at forty than at twenty, but we know it and admit it. ~ Jules Renard


Megan (FriedOkra) said...

Great goals, great writing, great quotes. A great post.


Elle said...

like it, no love it
great post

The Wine Commonsewer said...

Hey, I almost feel like I know that guy. Nice characterization.

The Wine Commonsewer said...

This is a test comment, please disregard it.

Karen of Sillymonkeez said...

I so admire you for setting a goal and working so hard towards achieving it.

The exerp was great! I bet you'll be published before you hit 40!!

Good luck balancing everything!