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August 2005
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October 2005

the moon stares blankly

Word Count, Izzy: no changes, but here's a poem i'm working on, and need feedback, so please comment ;)

the moon stares blankly

by nathalie hardy

hand pressed firmly on her back, nudging gently forward

aware of his presence squirming to escape

gently, tactfully hoping to slip away, like a foot hitting a banana peel

she runs.

coarse sand sifting through the softness of her bare toes

waves lap at her ankles like a thirsty dog behind her

the splashing of feet pounds the surf

she runs harder, he faster

beach stretches for miles until the sand connects with the stars, all becoming one,

no place to hide

hand grasping her foot pulling her into the cold Pacific

beer in one hand, her leg in the other, he drags her soaking through the water

until finally stopping on shore, hand pressed firmly on her back

peeling wet clothing, the sand instantly sticking

his eyes gleaming dark as the night, twinkling like stars

the Moon, ripe and full above, staring blankly: innocent.

Overheard:

(thought this would be appropriate in honor of this mess of nerves i am this week)

me talking to matt: i was trying to deep breathe as fast as i could

matt: babe! that's called hyperventilating.


Library Love

Word Count, Izzy: 4,642

My love affair with libraries started early. My parents inspired and fostered my love of reading. Mami (mom in Slovak) would take me to the library all the time and it finally got so out of control that she had to limit my book count. The end of her rope was when I asked the librarian: "What's the maximum number of books I can check out." Her answer was that the computer would allow up to 99. Mami revised the max number to 9.

Tati (dad in Slovak) loved to read, too and never censored my library selections - other than to comment that I could do better with my time when I read "mind candy." (I still maintain that one, especially writers,  must mix up their reading selection and read everything they possibly can).

Refuge as well as inspiration is what I've always found at libraries - in elementary school and middle school I was bullied and picked on a lot and found safety and comfort at the library. I won't even tell you how often I was library shelver of the month.

In high school, I found a lot of peace at the library and could be found there often. I even found a little romance there, my first kiss was at the library. It was a classic first kiss - the kind were you worry about how you're going to breathe. Ah, yes, that's what the nose is for ...

So today while I'm still suffering the angsty job hunting process, I went to the library to be inspired and get myself out of my head. I am always curious what others are reading and thought I'd post what I've checked out and why, and encourage others to share what they're reading now and what drew them to it. I love Oprah's magazine and particularly enjoy reading the "reading room" feature where someone famous writes about books that made a difference to them and list their favorite. You'll find the books listed on your left.

So, what's on your nightstand?

Overheard:

(This is a conversation Matt and I had)

Matt: Did you know that Cyndi Lauper has perfect pitch and can sing in four octaves?

Me: Is that a fact?

Matt: Yeah

Me: Then why'd she stop singing?

Matt: the '80s ended


How job hunting is like dating

Finding a job is a lot like dating. The whole idea that if you're trying too hard or want it too much - it's not going to work comes to mind. I've been on a job hunt for the last month - it's an emotional and angsty process, and it's really messing with my writing because I don't write well in an anxious state.

I had another interview with the police department this morning and it went 84, 000 times better than the first. I think it was me. I'm not attached to the outcome anymore. I've got my application at a few places and am hoping for the school job; so the PD interview was relaxed, and I felt like I could just be myself (with less swearing), though everything about the interview was exactly the same as the first one.

The whole process of job hunting takes me back to my dating days - the angsty "will he call? oh, I hope he calls!" the incessant talking/journaling about what I want to happen, the he said/she said analysis of every interaction, the insecurity, the finding the right outfit that says exactly what I want it so say. Skirt, too short? Top, too buttoned? Hair up or down, what does it say about it me? Glasses or no glasses? Oh, God - and then there's what to say? Then of course, the exhausting break down of the interview in retrospect, did I say too much? Not enough? And, finally, is it too soon to call?

When this is all over, I'm looking forward to settling down with a nice job that appreciates me for who I am.

I've been exploring other blogs and picking up ideas for what I'd like to do with mine.  British "Chick lit" writer Kate Harrison starts her blogs with an updated word count for her current novel. I love that idea as it holds one accountable to monitor progress. The habit of publicly posting the word count would serve as a motivator for me, so I'm going to add that feature to my blog. The novel I'm working on now is Making a Stand, featuring Izzy Edwards.

Word Count: 4,255

Another element I intend to add is my own idea, "Overheard" to stay in the habit of "taking notes." I'm always paying attention and picking up snatches of conversation around me and scribbling random bits and pieces of dialogue on index cards, (thank you Anne Lamott). Matt often marvels that I can tell him just about how everyone in the restaurant we're in is feeling, what they're talking about and still be actively engaged at our table. But, doesn't that make me a shameless eavesdropper? Of course! But, I also am a damn good secret keeper. So it all works out.

Overheard: 

While at a district office walking to my car after dropping off my application I overhear the following exchange between two students walking behind me:

You know who Donald Trump is, right?

No.

Oh, well he's the guy who got famous for saying "you're fired."


Rejection

"A published author was once an unpublished author who didn't quit submitting."

- Lee Masterson

The first time something I wrote was rejected was on the magazine staff in college. I loved my piece about Feng Shui and worked really hard on it. I was told that not too many people would be interested in Feng Shui. When I started research for that story there were a handful of books at Barnes and Noble on the subject. Now, you can't get through a magazine without some reference to Feng Shui. I'd call that interest.

Because the purpose of the class was to prepare us for careers in writing and specifically magazine writing, I suggested the editors do a lesson on rejection since it was a natural part of a career in writing. I was mocked mercilessly and told there wasn't much to say on the subject. Her exact quote to me in front of the whole class:

"Well. Hmm. If you can't deal with rejection, I don't know, I guess take a bath or something and find another job."

There was blood in my mouth as I resisted telling her:

"Well. Hmmm. If you think being an editor means mocking people publicly and being a bitch, I don't know, I guess stick your head in an oven and work for a tabloid."

Anyway - since then I've gotten plenty of rejection letters and know that it just means I'm doing my job. Getting my work out there and sending it as many times as it takes before someone says Yes!

I got my first rejection this week for an essay I wrote called "Taking it Back" from the Sun magazine.

I'm trying to decide where to send it next. Meanwhile, I'm encouraged by the following:

  • The first Harry Potter book was rejected by 14 publishers
  • Stephen King's "Carrie" was rejected more than 30 times
  • Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull received more than 140 rejections
  • Madeline L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time" received more than 30 rejections. It took 10 years to get published and then went on to win a Newberry Award.


Meet Mac

Talking to strangers, writing, spreadsheets, team work, cool people ... it's all there when I get to work on Meet Mac. This special section of the News-Register will publish September 24th. To see last year's click here. I'll post the new one as soon as it's up online.

It's such an awesome opportunity to be able to work on this piece and be a part of the News-Register community. The people I work with there are amazing in how much they genuinely care for and support one another. It truly is a family feeling and I always feel a little bit sad when the project wraps up.

The Meet Mac party was at our house this year and it was so much fun to have everyone over! We had awesome food from Harvest Fresh and got to hang out on the Dscf1300patio Matt worked so hard on. It was worth all the mess, tables, ladders and tools strewn throughout the bedroom to see it come together with people enjoying themselves and each other. Thanks to everyone who helped make this such a positive and cool project to be a part of. I appreciate everyone making me feel so welcome! I'll miss you and hope I get the chance to do it again next year.


Plan M

Well, there was a Plan A, and of course, being me, a Plan B ... but you know, the best laid plans of mice and men ...

So, now we're on to Plan M - also known as focusing on the concept of "means to an end." As the end goal is to be a prolific, published author, and the starving artist concept doesn't include mortgage payments, after careful consideration - believe me there were pro/con lists, hands wringing and much discussing before concluding that it's time for me to get a full time job. Matt has been, and continues to be, nothing but supportive of my writing, as have my friends and employers.

I think it would best support my writing if I could get a full time job that was in a positive environment and that I enjoyed being at. As soon as I made this declaration, wouldn't you know Raelene called to let me know there was an opening for a secretary at a local school! I am so excited about this possibility for 84,000 reasons - principle among them being I could really love that job! And still write!

I can't type long as I'm keeping my fingers crossed ... but there's the latest.

J.R.R.Tolkien:
It will not do to leave a live dragon out of your plans if you live near one. - The Hobbit

John Lennon:
Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.


Introducing Izzy

Introducing Isabella Edwards -

After Isabella moves across the country, from Maryland to a small town in Oregon, she realizes she's becoming a different person and starts to call herself Izzy, much to her mother's dismay. Her parents, to quote her grandmother, "up and quit their good lives and are throwing it all away to chase some pipedream." Which, in this case, is her father's desire to raise his three daughters in a less materialistic environment; "living closer to the Earth" he calls it.

Her favorite sister is going off to college, leaving Izzy to deal with Princess Camille on her own. As if dealing with the new family dynamic wasn't enough, Izzy has to introduce herself to a new school where kids have known each other since their play-pen days.

Forced by her parents to get out of the house and try harder to meet other kids, she starts a lemonade stand and unwittingly sets off a turf war by the local bully and his gang of middle school thug wannabes. In an effort to beat them at their own game, Izzy dreams up a creative solution that propels her to the popularity her sister desperately desires.

Just as Izzy is enjoying her new self and friends, she is forced to make a stand. Will she be true to herself or will she do what it takes to stay in with the popular kids?


Interview/Interrogation

Let me preface this by saying I’ve never been interviewed by more than two people at a time. The panel interview concept was a bit intimidating to me anyway but I was not even close to prepared for my bizarre interview experience yesterday. In the olden days we would say I thought I was on candid camera. I think the modern term for it is getting getting punked.

So I walk through a maze in the bowels of the Police Department. The door waaaaaaaaaaay in the back opens to reveal a long, skinny table with four people seated at it. Five feet in front of that table, with the back facing the door, is a much smaller table with a single chair. On the table is a bottle of water, a Dixie cup and a pile of note cards.

“I think I’ll sit here,” I say, you know, as kind of a joke because obviously that’s where I was supposed to sit. They look at me blankly and I think, huh, we’re off to super start.

They introduce themselves, first name only, no clue what their role is in the department. And I say, “Hello, I’m Nathalie.” Blank faces. My second attempt at humor, since they naturally know who I am … anyway.

They start with the questions, explaining that on each of the cards is one question (with several mixed in) that they will ask (read) me and I will then answer. Okay. At this point I’m waiting for this type of question:

“Well Ms. Hardy, we found the murder weapon in your Subaru. Can you explain your whereabouts on the evening of September 6?”

I answered the questions the best I could and feel like it’s something I got through and figure it’ll go down as my “worst interview ever.” Looking up from here.

As always, I consider myself one of the luckiest people on the planet since I’m so blessed by the people in my life.

  • Matt’s constant support

Me: Oh my God, I’m so screwed. How could I quit my job without a plan? What if I never get another one?!
Matt: Okay, but you have plan.

Me: What?! What is the plan?

Matt: You’ve always had a plan. To write. So write. That’s how you’ll make money writing - by writing.

I so picked the best partner in the world for me! He’s right.  I’m going to write and trust the money will follow. (If I don’t answer the phone for a few days in a row, you might find me under my desk freaking out). I am not going to waste my time to write by fretting about what I’m going to do for “real work.” My writing is real work and it will, and has been, bring in real money.

  • Raelene giving me practice questions and advice
  • Dan’s suggestion right before leaving for the interview to “think of it as you interviewing them instead of the other way.” Genius!
  • Jocelyn, Rosie, Christine and Niki calling/emailing before and after to make sure I know that I’ll rock the interview. Sorry, kids, we didn’t know what we were up against ;)
  • And this is one I’m taking into my thirties – from Niki. We’re talking last night and I’m telling her about how they were writing the whole time I was talking and I wonder what they were thinking of me. She suggested that we should consider this: What did I think of them? Because that matters more than what they thought of me.

With people like that on my side, how can I fail?


Deadline Pressure

It’s game week. I’m not returning phone calls from friends. My emails read like telegrams. My house looks like we’ve gone on an extended meth binge.

Those who love me know it’s because I’m on deadline. But, just when I’m about to go into total meltdown mode, the pressure starts to ease up and I know it’s almost over. Then, of course, I’ll have to deal with that bizarre let down feeling when you’ve been in “go mode” for so long you forgot what normal felt like. This often happens after finals week, weddings and after meeting project deadlines.

A glance at the calendar shows I’m almost done and can start tending to my life again next week. Which is good because I miss my husband, friends and my fictional characters. I love that Ani is still talking to me and I don’t want her to give up on me!

I missed the goal (deadline) I set for myself with this blog, once a week, but I’m rockin’ on this project so I’m okay with it.