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On My Mark, Get Set….Here I GO!

8 Jul

Long-ish story, but the short version is that I signed up to be part of a group of people who will share a goal (or goals) that we want to reach in 24 days. I think our 24 days begins on the 15th, but along the way, we will be e-mailed mini-missions that will encourage us to step out of our comfort zones and work toward our goal.

My goal? Get my manuscript edited so that I can publish it on Amazon for the Kindle.

It needs to lose some weight.

The manuscript

I will be a published author by August 10 (I think that’s the end of the 24 days).

For those of you new to the game, my book is called “186 Days: The Marvelous Adventures of the Fabulous Nolens,” and it’s about our 6 months in England with 3 little kids.

Stay tuned!

P.S. I’m a little freaked out just writing that red sentence above.

You’re Putting WHAT In The Closet?

15 Sep

My dream, folks. I’m putting my writing aside for a while because it has morphed into a guilt-infested monkey hanging on my back.

“Oh, no,” I hear you cry, swooning with shock. “Will That Nolen Chick delete her blog – nay, her very existence – off the interwebs now?”

Shocking!

BA HA HAAAA!! Yeah, fat chance of that.

I’ve realized over the last few weeks that writing isn’t fun for me. I feel guilty that I haven’t touched any of my three manuscripts in weeks (memoir), months (mystery), and years (children’s book). I feel guilty that I’m ignoring the multitude of writing-related tweets, e-mails, and Facebook notifications I get daily. I feel guilty that I have books about writing that I keep meaning to read, but somehow never get to. A dream shouldn’t feel like this, so I’m going to shelve it for a while. I’m not giving up on it – I’m just laying it down until it sounds like fun again.

I’ve spent a lot of time & energy recently avoiding writing – what will I do with all of that extra time? I’m going to clean my house. Now before you go wondering if the gypsies have shamed me into this, I assure you they haven’t. I was convicted a couple of weeks ago that I’m a wife first, mom second, and everything else comes after those two things. Part of those top two jobs is getting my house in order – literally.

I don’t live in a pigsty, but there are some things that have been on my to-do list longer than kid #3 has been alive. That’s 6 1/2 years, if you’re keeping track. Like the top of our computer desk. Ick.

There’s a whole other layer of crap just behind this first layer. Plus there’s about 1/2″ of dust up there. It’s embarrassing, so naturally I post it online.

Or the three ginormous boxes of photos that need to be scanned onto one of our external hard drives. Or the box of video tapes that need to be converted to digital. I’ve been telling myself for years that I’ll get around to doing those things someday.

Guess what, amigos? It’s someday.

I’m excited about this.

I’m still going to blog, but now it’s going to be just for grins and giggles. No ulterior motives like building a platform to impress potential publishers or agents. It’s just you and me, kids!

Summer Vacay Is Over…Whew!

20 Aug

Yep, I’ve been busy this summer. I had all 4 kids at home all day, every day. It wasn’t as stressful as previous summers, but I’ve learned in recent years that summer doesn’t equal relaxation for me, nor does it equal productivity. Add in such things as the Olympics and what little productivity I did have petered out. Speaking of the Olympics, I’m just now watching the closing ceremonies…only a week late. Not too bad.

School started last Wednesday, but because it was only half days, it didn’t really count as the end of summer. Today does count, though. Full days of school, baby! I’m at home now with just one kiddo – my little sidekick, Baby Tay.  Her favorite thing, by the way? Singing the alphabet song with the ending, “Now I wonder what you are/No more monkeys jumping on the bed!” Yeah, she’s a piece of work.

I know I’ve said this before. I’ve set goals and missed them, but I’m going to say it again – I’m going to get my memoir manuscript ready to submit by the end of the year. I’m going through the 2nd round of editing and I’m finding it easy to cut large blocks of unnecessary stuff. In addition to the manuscript, I have to get a book proposal package ready to submit, too. I’m tired of carrying this around as an “I’m gonna.” It needs to be an “I did.”

So I know this isn’t my usual stunningly hilarious stuff, but I just wanted y’all to know that I’m back from my summer hiatus. And I’ll leave you with a picture.

Me and Baby Tay enjoying a cuddle on the swing out in the front yard.

What’s On Your Reading List?

10 Jun

I saw a link for an interesting site the other day – I Write Like. You cut and paste a sample of your writing into a little box and their magic elves (or statistical analytic tools) will tell you which famous writers your sample is similar to.

The first time I tried it using this post (the smiley face made out of letters), and my result was that I write like Stephen King. Cool. The second time I cut and pasted my post about vehicle anxiety, it was David Foster Wallace, then I used another post (not sure which one) and got Margaret Atwood. Both Wallace and Atwood are award-winning authors, so it’s not a bad thing that I write like either one.

However, not being satisfied yet, I cut and pasted a huge chunk of my manuscript (the one mined from my blog back in 2006 when we lived in England) and got Cory Doctorow. That name was a little more familiar than Wallace or Atwood, so I decided to check out one of his books. I’m listening to his “Little Brother” right now. It’s a techno-geek young adult novel set in current-day San Francisco. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet – technology and pop culture meet the Patriot Act and massive paranoia follows.

Am-reading. Actually, I’m listening to it.

I’ve also got a book on my Kindle that I bought the other day when Amazon advertised it as the Magic Shining Fabulous Kindle Book of the Day (or whatever they call it). It’s “The Naming” by Alison Croggon and I bought it for a whopping $1.99. From what I have gleaned from reviews, it seems like it’s similar to Robin Hobb books (which I enjoy, but which are also sometimes tedious to get through).

Am-reading. Actually reading this one with my eyeballs.

Those are my two books on my active am-reading list. I’ve got a few more tucked away on a to-read list, but I’m not going to worry about them until I finish one or the other of these two.

Now I want to know – what’s on your list?

A Job About Weird Jobs

6 Jun

I’ve decided to get a job, because I obviously don’t have enough to do. I’ve found a cherry freelance gig writing short articles on crazy careers, but I need some ideas on jobs.

I’ve come up with a short list, but I’d like more. This is what I have so far:

  1. movie extra
  2. sign language interpreter
  3. clown trainer
  4. cruise ship director
  5. glass blower
  6. midget wrestler referee
  7. juggler
  8. eating contest performance coach
  9. baker/cake decorator
  10. taste tester
  11. zookeeper
  12. matchmaker
  13. summer camp director
  14. weed farmer (pesky plants, not that kind of weed)

On a slightly related side-note: anybody know what kind of plant this is? I have several in my wildflower yard, and don’t know if they’re bone-fide wildflowers or plain ol’ weeds.

I know there are other cool and funky jobs out there, so this is where I need your help. Have you had a job you consider  weird? Have you heard of an unusual job and thought, “Wow! That would be so cool!”…? I just remembered that I wrote this post about weird jobs a couple of months ago. Seems like this is a theme in my life. Maybe I’m meant for this job. I could add that to the list: weird job journalist.

Wish me luck (and send me your suggestions)!

On the Angsty-Go-Round

27 Apr

angst/aNG(k)st/

Noun:

  1.  A feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general.
  2. A feeling of persistent worry about something trivial.

My paraphrase – freaking out about something that’s not that important.

This is where I am today. I have angst about my blog and my writing career (or lack thereof). This morning as I was wandering through the blogosphere, I started feeling that little tug inside that I dread. It’s the one that’s telling me:

I’m not doing enough. I’m not interacting enough with other bloggers. I’m not writing enough. How am I ever going to convince an agent or editor that I have a platform if I’m not doing all this social media stuff? And why am I not working on my manuscript right now? Shame on me.

I guess that if I were to boil those thoughts down to their essence, it would be: I’m not good enough. It’s sister principle is: God is not enough.

As much fun as wallowing in angst is, there’s no place for it in my life. But that’s easier said than dealt with. Every few weeks or so, I get this way. I start worrying that I’m never going to get published. Then I tell myself that this is all a pipe dream and I need to give it up. But then I remember how much I love the manuscript I’m ignoring, and I vow to finish it, if only for myself. I hear inspirational quotes about how hard writing is, how you have to write for yourself, how you should never give up, and it bolsters my resolve to press on.

When I swing back into the un-angsty parts of this cycle, I’m reminded that nothing is impossible for God. He gently tells me that I don’t need to worry about all of those things, but that I need to just follow Him, seek Him, talk with Him. When I do that, things are good. I feel at peace, despite the fact that I’m not networking on other blogs or editing my manuscript.

But then you know what happens? I get distracted. Although I was never diagnosed as a kid, I’m convinced that I have ADHD. Not the hyperactive aspect, but the lack of focus. My thoughts wander from Him. My heart wanders. And I get all angsty again.

Psalm 37:4 – Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.

I don’t take this to mean that when I delight myself in the Lord He will grant me my wishes. It means when I follow/seek/talk with Him, my heart will be transformed by these encounters with the Almighty and I will long for the things He wants for me. Which may or may not be writing. And I’m ok with that, because I’ll be off the angsty-go-round.

Photo by jayshou

Wow – Falling Down on the Job Already

12 Apr

Remember on Monday how I said I was going to post on M/W/F and once on the weekends? If you haven’t looked at your calendar today, it’s already Thursday. If you’re a regular follower (you regulars need a moniker – how does “Chickette” grab you?), you noticed that nothing went up yesterday. Oops. Wednesday’s post got written off like a bad debt. But I’m here today. I also said on Monday that I’d fill you in on the details of my adventures from the hiatus .

Chickette

When I oh-so-gracelessly stumbled into my break from writing, I was a wreck. Actually, I was more like a minor fender-bender that you don’t want to tell your parents about when you borrowed the car in high school that time. I was frustrated at how life was going. Specifically, I was frustrated that it didn’t feel like my writing was going anywhere. I was blogging, tweeting, and editing. I was building my platform like “they” keep telling me I need to do (they = industry gatekeepers). I felt like I was running, running, running, but that I was a hamster on a wheel.

So for the first several days, I kept thinking, “Maybe I’m not cut out to be a writer.” I couldn’t fathom writing book after book after book with a seemingly endless supply of imagination to feed the stories. I despaired of ever writing anything that, when it crossed a publisher’s desk, would make that person stop and think, “Wow – this is good!” I thought this was God’s way of gently letting me know that my 5-year writing experiment was over.

Then I went on a date with my husband.

We decided to try a spot we’d heard of but never visited – the Ó Eating House. Over some scrumptious appetizers (the best calamari I’ve ever had), hubs started telling me about a book he was reading, “Hipster Christianity.” The part of the conversation that directly related to me was when he said that the book postulates that churches don’t seem to place much value on artists, but that some churches are incorporating various forms of art and using it as a platform to reach out. For example, some churches have started hosting art shows. Hubs went on to say that this is how he views my writing – as something from a Christian that is used to reach out to others (believers and non-believers alike).

As I munched on a piece of fried squid, I tried on that description to see how it felt. I liked it. It felt good. I remembered how, in my early days of writing, I wanted to write funny stuff that appealed to other moms like me. I didn’t want to pretend that my house is always clean (yeah, right), or that my kids are always sweet (Ha!), or that my life only had ups – never any downs, big or small (have I mentioned that I’m on antidepressants?). I wanted to be a Christian writer who encouraged other Christians to laugh. About everything. I’d forgotten that until now. But I still wasn’t sure I had anything to write about.

A few days after our date, I read an interview given by C. S. Lewis that a friend sent me. This was the part I kept thinking about:

Professor Lewis, if you had a young friend with some interest in writing on Christian subjects, how would you advise him to prepare himself?

“I would say if a man is going to write on chemistry, he learns chemistry. The same is true of Christianity. But to speak of the craft itself, I would not know how to advise a man how to write. It is a matter of talent and interest. I believe he must be strongly moved if he is to become a writer. Writing is like a ‘lust,’ or like ‘scratching when you itch.’ Writing comes as a result of a very strong impulse, and when it does come, I for one must get it out.”

Hmmm – scratching when you itch. I couldn’t remember a time when I felt that way about writing. It was something I wanted to succeed at, something I wanted to conquer and mark of my bucket list. Become a published author.

Wanna hear something funny? Part of me was wishing and hoping that God would reward my faithfulness with an offer from a publisher. Every time I went to get the mail, I secretly hoped that there was a letter in there saying, “You’re awesome! Let us publish your book!” but I knew better. God is not Santa Claus. Just because I’m doing the right thing doesn’t mean that He is going to reward me with something from my wildest dreams. Nor is Christianity like a math formula. I can’t plug my behavior into the variable slots and know that I’m going to get a certain outcome. All I know that that He asked me to stop writing for Lent.

The longer the 38 days went, the more I thought about writing. I thought about grabbing my manuscript and working on the edits. I thought about my blog and you, my Chickettes. I wanted to sit down and write posts, but I never let myself. The point of this exercise was to not write. So I amused myself with other things (I found the Draw Something app!) and carried on. By the end of the 4th week, I realized that my manuscript and my blog are the itches that I need to scratch. When I’m done with the manuscript (finally), I may or may not find that another writing project has captured my attention. This blog, however, will quite possibly be with me for a long time.

So for now, I’m going to keep blogging and I’ll work on the edits when I can. I know that the 38 Days of Silence (sounds like a good book title, right?) were good for me because I was able to clarify my thoughts and goals about writing. Maybe someday I’ll be a published author, but right now I’m a wife, a mom, a friend, a Bible study leader, and a Sunday school teacher. Probably in that order.