Dumplin’

I finished Dumplin’ and loved every second. I remember I wanted to underline entire chapters of it. So much of that book spoke to me. I was never the thinnest girl (not to mention the one-leggedness) around. I remember one year my New Year’s Resolution was to be a waif. That’s healthy, I know. I just always felt like if I was thinner that people would like me more. Maybe they’d notice my one-leggedness less? I don’t know. I just knew that the world was telling me that being thinner was the best way to be.

But, this book is not just about Willow and her weight. In fact, to me it wasn’t about that so much as Willowdean loving herself and others accepting her. I loved the struggle in her friendship with Ellen. It was weird to see my friendships reflected so clearly in a book (I never got the guy, though). Ellen is “perfect” in Willowdean’s eyes. She’s tall, thin, and has a boyfriend. Jealousy when someone else all of a sudden becomes YOUR BFF’s NEW BFF. I remember those feelings, and still feel that way sometimes.

I also loved the grief that Willowdean was still struggling with. The loss of her Aunt is something that still resonates deep within her. The way that Julie Murphy crafted those waves and scenes in which Willow was trying to understand her own heartbreak were some of the most real to me.

If you can’t tell I enjoyed this book immensely. So much of it just sat on my heart. It reminded me of when I read Eleanor and Park and the feelings it left me with. I love books that just sort of sit in my chest for a while and burrow their way into my heart.

Some NaNoWriMo Inspiration

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsI want to print things like this out and tape them all over my house.//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Thoughts While Reading

I have just finished Neil Patrick Harris Choose Your Own Autobiography. I zipped through it in just a couple of days. It helped that I couldn’t do much in the way of writing because my internet was out. I’ve had this book for nearly a year, but I put off reading it because I wanted to wait until I had the ability to savor every second of it. And it was SO worth it.

I’m not going to write a review, per se, I’m just going to note a few thoughts I had while reading it.

He is so terrifically candid. He is open, self-deprecating (like any good actor would be), and honest. He discusses realizing he was gay, his life while doing Doogie, and everything in between. It’s beautiful in it’s openness. There was never a second that I wanted to put it down or to skim over it. I devoured every word.

So, it got me thinking when I was re-living the Doogie Howser section. I was a HUGE Doogie fan. I remember watching the preview for it in the hospital during one of my last treatments. The show premiered not long after I finished chemo. I remember being so excited because Doogie was a cancer survivor. I’ve ALWAYS remembered that the way Doogie became interested in medicine was because he’d had leukemia as a child. And there he was, a full-fledged teenage doctor with all of that drama.

And it hit me. I think that Doogie Howser, MD might be the only childhood cancer survivor in pop culture (I ran this theory by a friend who agreed with me). I’m pretty sure he’s the only kid to get diagnosed with cancer and live. And that’s just stupid. We do live. And we have lives (even if I don’t know of anyone who became a doctor before 15).

So! Hey! NPH! Thanks for representing us in the media.

A Spark- Or that Thing I’m Loving This Week

I am a big believer in planning. I enjoy a well-made to do list with crossed out things. In high school I didn’t have a school provided agenda (until my senior year and we viewed it as the teachers trying to control us- we were not very bright) so I’d write lists on my arm in marker (again, not very bright), but I really loved being able to mark things off each day. My lists then were things like:

  • Finish history
  • write Michelle back
  • send Colleen a happy note

In college I got my first day planner and I would schedule my entire day when I was feeling overwhelmed.

7:30- Wake Up

8:30- Get out of bed

8:35- Shower and dress

9:30- Meet EGB at Tea Hole for breakfast

9:45- Directing I- Have blocking completed

It made me feel really productive to mark off things even if was just to shower or call home.

As my life has changed, a list or plan of action has always been the most helpful for me. It’s how I cope when I feel overwhelmed by life and how it’s going. I leave post-its all over my house with lists. Reminders of dry cleaning, what day field trips are on, when money is due. It might not be every minute of every day, but it’s good.

This year I’m tackling a new way of organizing. I still love my post-its, but I bought a Spark Notebook. It’s like a day planner, but more of a life planner. There’s space to write things like dental appointments and when that project is due, but it’s also a place to explore what you want to accomplish over the year.

There’s a section to write out your Yearly Theme. They give you room to brainstorm what that might mean to you, a place to write it out, a place to list your top goals. This year I want to work on finishing two books. This is going to be quite the accomplishment since I haven’t started the first one yet (I will in November). But, I want to write it down on paper that my goal this year is to write two books. I also have other goals- stop procrastinating – spend less time wasting your life on Facebook (word to the wise, you will never agree with some folks, stop hatewatching)- write every school day for an hour.

For me that means actually writing. Putting the words down and developing the story in someway. I’m the best at saying I’m writing and then before I even know it I’m on Tumblr and my life is gone.

I really love the whole concept behind the Spark Notebook. The days are broken into Morning- Noon- Night. I love that I can set goals for each of those times of day. And sometime “brain leaking out your ear while you watch Gilmore Girls for the elevintybillionth time” is completely acceptable. At the beginning of each week there’s a place to list your goals for that week, to reflect and celebrate, and to review your other goals that you’ve set. It does a great job of reinforcing what your big goals are for the year. At the end of the notebook is just a place for notes. My heart jumped a little there. I can write ANYTHING in that spot. Story ideas, gas mileage to record, what books I want to buy, quotes or inspirations.

I’m working on my goals for the month of November. Obviously, NaNoWriMo is going to be a big part of that, but so is being a friend, showing hospitality, and not neglecting the other areas of my life.

Sometimes you just need a little Spark to get moving.

Grr

My internet has been out for essentially three days. Cable company was supposed to send someone out between 3-4, with w call an hour before arrival. At this rate they’ll be here at 4:15. 

NaNoWriMo Again

This year I have told a bunch of folks about NaNoWriMo. And a few I have even suggested that they do it (or twisted their arms with the promises of babysitters and pastries).  I can’t make my local NaNo write-ins this year because of a scheduling conflict, so I decided to make my own. I conned five other folks that I know to come over to my house and write on Friday mornings. Then two others that have work commitments I’ve set up a time on another night.

Part of this is completely selfless. I want my friends who enjoy writing or who have a story to tell, to do just that. I want them to have a chance to get those words on paper.

Part of this is completely and totally selfish on my part. I know that if I have the time set aside that I will write. I will put words down and will do my best to work through whatever block is up. Also, I really like having a reason to buy good coffee and pastries.

I know that the idea behind NaNo doesn’t work for everyone. I even know some people that hate it with a passion. That’s fine. I’m not one of them. I like the idea of a deadline and a “win.” I like that there are others cheering you on. I also like that the days are shorter and I can write in front of the fire. There’s something about all of that I find comforting and familiar.

I want YOU to participate. I want to be your cheerleader as we dive headfirst into the words and worlds of these people. I’m offering a babysitter and pastries.

Be my friend on NaNo.  

Admitting I’m a Writer

The other day I announced that I’m writing a new blog on my personal Facebook page. I did it without really thinking which is how I have to do a lot of things otherwise I will overthink it to death. But, the reason this was sort of hard for me is because this blog focuses more on my writing and not so much about the insane things my kids do. I’m sure that’ll make an appearance though.

This is me admitting I’m a writer.

I knew earlier this year that I was going to make writing more of a priority. Before when I knew I needed to write but had wasted the few precious preschool hours I had to stare at the internet, I’d just console myself by saying that it didn’t really matter. I wasn’t a REAL writer. It wasn’t like I had a deadline or anything.

But, with this new school year I made the decision that it WAS going to matter. I WAS going to take myself seriously as a writer. But, I’ve always been hesitant to announce that my occupation was writer. Mostly because that leads to the inevitable question of what have you published. And I’m pretty sure that the GH Fanfiction I wrote back in 1999 and posted on the AOL Liz/Lucky message boards isn’t what folks are asking about.

When I signed with my literary agent back in the spring I didn’t make a HUGE facebook post about it. In fact, I didn’t say anything on purpose. My friends and family knew. I posted a little thing on Instagram. I did announce it on Twitter, but on Twitter my name is KatiTheWriter, so that makes it pretty obvious what I do. I know that even if you sign with an agent with one book, there is no guarantee that book will sell.

But, here I am.

I am a writer. That is what I do.

What I’m Enjoying

I’m hoping to make this a weekly thing. It’ll probably be a hodge-podge (my favorite coffee house in Atlanta) of completely unrelated things.

  1. Hamilton the new Broadway musical. I bet I won’t see it until it tours, but I’m listening to the soundtrack on repeat at all times. It is SO AMAZING. I love everything about this cast recording. I love that our very white founding fathers and the history we’ve been taught is performed by an amazing and talented cast of People of Color. I think it’s truly just perfect and I think come Tony season this is the only musical we will be hearing about.
  2. Spring Awakening- I’m only seeing clips of this, because to get the full effect of this revival you need to see it. It’s a combination performance of abled bodied and disabled artists. The lines and songs are all signed and it’s really just fantastic. 
  3. Converse II. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I have a deep and longstanding love with Converse. I have always loved the Chuck Taylors and when I found out they were coming out with a new version I knew I had to have them. Nordstorms sells me shoes through the single shoe program, but these are new enough that they aren’t there yet. So, I contacted Converse directly. They couldn’t sell me just one shoe, but they did give me a discount on a new pair. They are super comfortable and I love them already.

    New Converse II. Know anyone that needs a left shoe?
    New Converse II. Know anyone that needs a left shoe? 
  4. I ordered patio furniture for our little sun porch a month ago. Then we spent a month talking about how we needed to clean off the porch so we could set up our patio furniture. Yesterday I took it upon myself to do just this (with the help of Oldest who begrudgingly took some things to the basement. I then spent quite a few hours setting it up. My theater degree always comes in handy when furniture together with a hex key.

    New patio furniture. Not pictured, new calluses on my fingers from tightening bolts. Also not pictured my angry face when trying to put the couch together.
    New patio furniture. Not pictured, new calluses on my fingers from tightening bolts. Also not pictured my angry face when trying to put the couch together.
  5. I’m reading Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy. I am slowly devouring this book. I don’t want it to end. I don’t want to finish it. I love everything about it. I wanted to underline the entirety of chapter 12. As someone who isn’t classically beautiful. Who also did a beauty pageant (I wanted the scholarship (who am I kidding, I also wanted the crown)). This book is hitting all of my spots.

    Spoiler I won.
    Spoiler I won.

I haven’t finished the book yet (intentionally because I just want to hold onto every word) so I don’t know how her story ends, but I can’t wait to find out.

NaNoWriMo

My first two manuscripts were NaNoWriMo projects.

One of them will never come off of my hard drive and will stay there forever and ever. This is me putting it in writing for all the world to see.

It’s not that it’s bad (oh, because it is), but that it’s not who I am as a writer anymore. It was like an experiment to see if I could write a novel from start to finish. And I did. And it should only ever be read by Heather. And that’s because she will always love me despite my abilities to come up with gaping plot holes and to use all of the tropes that have ever been used in fiction.

These are things that make me happy.
These are things that make me happy.

My manuscript that I eventually used to query agents with was also a NaNo project. It’s changed A LOT since I sat down in 2011 and began to write it. It had so many plotlines and so much angst and just all of the things. It took me a while to finish (obviously). I did “win” NaNo that year in that I had over 50,000 words in the month of November. And I loved every second of writing it during that time. I would work steadily on it for months at a time and then would take months off. Mostly when I was stumped by a plot point that I hadn’t thought all the way through.

This year I’m gearing up once again to write a new manuscript for NaNoWriMo. I’ve recruited SEVERAL friends to join in on the torture- I mean fun. Because my full time job as wrangler of children makes it hard to get away except during preschool hours, I’m setting up my own NaNo write-ins at my house. I’ve got a great sitter who is going to help out with our kiddos while we drink coffee and write all of the words. I really enjoy the camaraderie and can-do (or at least will-try) of the participants.

I’m doing more prep for this year than I have in other years as well. I’ve got a new journal (y’all- I love journals. If you want to earn your way into my heart forever give me pens and journals), a new set of colorful pens, and a handy NaNo Prep Calendar. I am hand writing these things into my journal and I keep that journal with me pretty much all the time. I am attempting to write each day for about 30 minutes. In November I’ll up that to an hour or longer on preschool days. I’m once again really enjoying this process and writing about these people.

These are the notebooks and pens I got for me and Heather (Ladies Who Write, yours are coming!).
These are the notebooks and pens I got for me and Heather (Ladies Who Write, yours are coming!).

I like to remind folks that while it is GREAT to shoot for the 50,000 words, sometimes we just know that isn’t doable. So, set your own goal. Maybe it’s 20,000 words. Maybe it’s revisions on an already existing MS. Maybe it’s to write for 40 minutes every day.

Besides great pens and a notebook, another thing that helps me really get into the writing is to take away distractions. I try to write out of my house because I can’t think about the laundry or catching up on TV shows (PS- Quantico is like a drug and parts of it were filmed in my old neighborhood). I also have a little software helper called Anti-Social that keeps me off of social networking sites so I can actually WRITE when I’m on my computer. I like it more than some others because I can still access the internet if I need to do a little research (which is usually a thesaurus).

So, find me on the NaNo site! Be my friend!