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Monday, November 24, 2014

A Piece of Thanks

The visiting priest in church today suggested that before we say grace on Thanksgiving, everyone take a moment to mention something for which they are thankful.  It’s a lovely sentiment, one I’ve wanted to adopt for a long time.  But there’s a problem.  This year, there will be twenty-five of us seated around the table (four tables, actually), and I’m pretty sure the food would be stone cold before we all finished.  It’s a juggling act getting the meal out as it is, so I’m not going to ask that of our guests.

Instead, I’m taking this time out today to think about what I’m thankful for, not the least of which is that this writing life allows me to visit deep inside myself and recognize the person I’ve evolved into over the last several years is someone I like a lot. And please know how thankful I am for all you supportive readers.  You mean more to me than I can ever explain.

I am thankful for my dear and industrious husband, who is currently out raking for the sixth weekend in a row so the place looks nice on Thursday.  I’ll be out there helping to drag tarps full of leaves into the woods for him soon, and I’m thankful that I’m strong enough to do that and, because I’m twelve pounds lighter than I was three months ago, the hauling is that much easier.

This year, I give special thanks that our daughter seems to have discovered a path she loves.  Since September, we’ve witnessed her grow into a pastry expert as she attends culinary school.  She's doing so after grinding it out in the kitchen of a local restaurant kitchen for a year, which makes me respect her will and her dedication.  Cooking has always been my means to nurture those I love.  It's wonderful to watch as she turns something that has offered me such joy, into her career. 
And, yep, I’m thankful to hand off the rolling pin to her.  I'll be the sous chef as she makes the Thanksgiving pies this year.  Food is memory, and baking pie reminds me of growing up and my mother, and the comfort of home.  Creating things from scratch is my way of bestowing those feelings on my own little family, and now it appears our daughter may be carrying on that tradition. 

Watching someone you love learn and grow and come into herself in a way you treasure, well, let me tell you, that's some kind of tasty treat.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday . . . and lots of pie.

Monday, November 17, 2014

New Eyes

I left work the other day in my sweats and sneakers to discover a friend similarly clad, on her way for her afternoon constitutional.  My plan was to walk off a major chunk of the ten thousand steps a day suggested by the heart-healthy class I’m taking, so we joined forces. I tend to switch my route up to forestall boredom, and as I described my planned course, which would end up on a path behind a “private property” sign, she responded, “I’ve never been there.” The property in question is a retreat home for Jesuits overlooking the channel leading out from our harbor.  When I get there, I sneak under the chain hanging from two stone pillars marking the entrance to the driveway, and hike the edges of the property far away from the main house, convinced God created this overlook for everyone.  This time I enlisted my friend.  “Just don’t get me arrested,” she said.

It was hard to believe it was November.  By the time we arrived, the afternoon sun highlighted the estate across the water (owned by descendants of the John Quincy Adams, where I no longer dare to trespass although I have, but that’s another story). 
Walking with my friend that day, I saw the view from her eyes, new eyes, the kind I had when I started exploring around town five years ago. The sky was wide and clear, the tide low, the flats filled with seagulls and terns pecking in the mud.  Across from us, the marsh grass on the barrier beach has whitened to straw.  I think of November as dull and drab, but on this day, it was anything but, the muted colors, grey, taupe and rust reminding me that every season has beauty as long as we allow it to seep in.

The harbor is mostly empty now, except for the working fleet, a handful of lobstermen who keep their boats in all year.  And as we stood on the steps of an empty stone boathouse, they motored in--a sight I would have missed if sometimes I didn't disobey "No Trespassing" signs.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Frozen (and not in the "movie-everyone-loves" kind of way)

This is my November post for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a lovely group of writers helping and inspiring other writers.  To read more from this amazing group, click here.

Here’s what’s open on my desktop right now.   
  •  Draft ten (but really draft seventeen because after a while I stopped numbering them) of my novel UNDER THE APPLE TREE, inching ever closer to the day I dare to send it out.
  •  A draft query letter for UTAT I reread every few days and tweak.
  • A synopsis for UTAT.  Same deal as above, it's in minor revision mode.
  • An Excel spreadsheet of all the agents who ignored I sent my last novel to. 
  • A new Excel spreadsheet for UTAT, with agents and contact information to which I’m still  adding. In an attempt to avoid a response that says, “Thanks, but this isn’t my type of project” I’m trying to be very discriminating this time. 

It’s all sitting there waiting for me to do something and I can’t decide if I’m frozen (and trust me, I am ), because UTAT isn’t ready to send out yet, or I'm just scared to let this one go.  And then, there’s timing.  The upcoming holidays make for a distraction.  Do I want to send my baby out to someone who is trying to clear the decks before vacation? 

This book is as good as I know how to write it. And yet, is it enough?  Some days I wake up thinking that the fact I’m questioning it means it’s not.

Listen to your voices, I say to myself.  So I wait.  And tweak.  And wait some more.