Blew the deadline, saved the story

Over the years people have asked if I could write more about the process of writing and publishing.

Nope. I can’t.

Because I can’t speak to The Process or pretend I know how it works for others, but I did agree to share more about my own. As with everything, I try to be real about things, including sharing those moments when the column is due the next morning and … nothing.

Which is what happened last week with my monthly Raising the Hardy Boys column. You’d think I’d have my back-up column ready after all these years, but no.

It’s not that I had nothing to write about because that’s not even a thing! But, the column I’d been working on just wasn’t coming together at all. I hope someday it will because there were some good parts, but mostly there were a lot of soapbox moments and trite tangents. So, I was back to nothing. On deadline. Literally nothing.

Some of the possibilities swirling around my head and heart were either too personal for publication, didn’t meet my criteria for honoring the boys’ privacy preferences or were too raw to write about well.

So, here’s me the night before it’s due:

Due yesterda

 

I posted this status update:

So this is happening ... it's not that I don't have anything to say, just that, you know family paper and all that. #process #writinglife #reportermama#writingiseasywaitwhat

And went to bed.

Yes. I did. I prayed about it, wrote in my journal for awhile and had faith that it would come by morning.

And … it did.

Almost on time

Right on time

New status update:

Last night I posted about the column that was due yesterday - and I had zero words and no idea how I was going to pull this one off. Nailed it: 6:59 a.m. 29.9 inches, 897 words that matter to me, and maybe to some of you. And that headline? One of my favorites. Can't wait to share it with you guys! Now off to the job that pays the bills because#writinglife #raisingthehardyboys#deadlinesgetitdone

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. with the idea of what I wanted to write about and had some sweet material collected on my Facebook page from sharing little bits and pieces of conversations and moments observed, some of which I was able to weave into the words that I woke up with. 

One of the best moments was when it hit me how tired I was going to be at work, and I still didn’t have a headline, I just typed in “the gift of now” which wasn’t quite right and then that rush of THIS came as I retyped: “The present that lasts.”

And when you read the column you’ll see why that is exactly right. And that rush, the thrill of nailing it made up for the sleep I’d lost. That passion fueled what sleep could not. I did go to bed early the next night though, because, you know, I’m 40 now.

I can’t explain or describe how that all works, right? I can only share the experience and say that it does work. There’s an alchemy of inspiration, spirit, word nerdery and the discipline of showing up to do the work. Even at 3:30 a.m. Also, deadlines are their own kind of magic.

Elizabeth Gilbert opens her book Big Magic with this:  

Q: What is creativity?

A: The relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration.

Funny story, so I posted some progress updates for my friends and readers on good old Facebook and my editor waited until everything was turned in to remind me that it was actually due last week. I used to pride myself on not missing deadlines. Ever. Then I slowly changed that to having good, respectful communication with my editors about them. And now, apparently I am blowing them off completely. But this one is worth it, at least it was to me.

Soon I will write a column about how I got my act together, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself or anything.


**Free** holiday ebook for you! No, please, take it.

Marketing tip: When you write a book, you should tell people. All the people.

Okay, so honestly it’s free for YOU … but also for everyone who downloads it between now and Thursday, December 17th. After that it’s a whopping $4.99.

(I know! And I get to keep HALF of that so Imma gonna get rich!)

Click here for your FREE copy of Merry is Optional: Christmas Chaos with the Hardy Boys. You don’t even have to read it now, or ever – I mean, I hope you do but no pressure. All I am saying, is download it to savor later – even next year because what I need friends, is as many downloads as possible – and for those of you who DO like it please help your writer friend out and leave a review.

All this begging and asking for help does not become me, I know … and yet being as how I’m my own marketing team … my main strategy for now is the ol’ pretty please with a cherry and free ebook on top! Which also includes my undying gratitude in all caps, like this: THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! (I forgot to mention the prolific use of exclamation points).

I’m trying to figure out how to do that without annoying my dear readers, but it turns out most of you are so supportive I wonder how I got so lucky!?!?!

I sent out an email to Nathalie’s Notes subscribers* asking begging folks to do the following:

“My publisher told me to tell everyone: I wrote my second book! It's an ebook and you can get it FREE until Thursday, December 17, 2015.
Tell your friends - it's like a free gift to them, too!
Ways to support your writer friend (yours truly at the moment):
- Go to Amazon and Download the free ebook. (I get credit for every download, even though it's free to you!)
- Like what you see? Please consider giving some star love in a review. These stars and reviews matter a lot! (Here's me begging. In a  totally non-annoying way...) stars
- Help me spread the word by telling your friends about this free ebook promotion.

Thank you so much, friends, for supporting me in this writing journey and also for letting me encourage other parents with these words!
Blessings on you during this season and into the new year!


Love,
Nathalie

Behind the scenes fun fact:

Here’s the cover I submitted:

MerryIsOptionalcover

And here’s the one we went with:

cover

 

*You should totally subscribe! A little dose of Nathalie’s Notes delivered to you from time to time whenever I post!

 

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

Her second book “Merry is Optional” was just published by Ridenbaugh Press and is available on Amazon. For more ideas and tips for holiday fun, with or without an elf, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’.


Order up

 

closing in

 

I once asked a favorite writer of mine, April Henry, how she knew when her project was done.

“It’s due,” she said.

Oh. Right.

Deadlines.

I struggled with this one for my ebook “Merry is Optional” because given that I’m writing in the margins of real life, the material I’m ending with isn’t everything I had in mind for this project. Because a constant theme in my writing is encouraging others to let go of what is or isn’t going as planned and embrace what is. So, that’s happening and it’s time.

This way, I’ll get good feedback from my dear reader friends and can put out an even better second edition. Later. Like, next year.

I’m ready for it to be done.

We’re all ready.

It’s at the point where balance has tipped in favor of meeting my drop-dead deadline (you know there’s stages, right? This is the One That Can’t Be Missed).

As a result of all the extra minutes going into this final push, we put our shoes on to cross the kitchen floor because … ew. And also because no one else seems to know how to push a broom without being asked.

The boys heard the cast iron pan moving around on the stove this morning and came running: “She’s making breakfast!”

But actually I was just moving stuff out of the way to make coffee.

They were cool about their disappointment at another cold breakfast, dude – that’s more than some kids ever get.

“I know. But some kids get sausage, you know?” Says the older one. “How about just a warm egg, Mama?” Says the younger one.

Since, it’s been a few days of cereal and/or pepperoni and grapes for breakfast, I threw some oil, eggs and bread in the pan for peekaboo eggs and won the morning. (Pro tip: you too can do the bare minimum which then makes something super simple seem brilliant. You’re welcome).

Order. Up!

Speaking of which, the stuff marked in the corner in blue on the screen shot from my Scrivener program has to be done today yet.

Some time between picking up the boys, soccer practice, end of the year soccer party and wrestling practice, bed time routine and I’m actually still hopeful I can squeeze in one more Sons of Anarchy episode because I got a little bit addicted. I can’t explain how that happened. (For the record, we aren’t usually that all over the place but this one week, things overlapped. Because of course they did).

But it’ll get done. As I recently wrote in a job application, deadlines are my love language.

 

If you enjoyed this column, it would be an honor for me to see it shared with your people!

To “like me” like me, find me on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes, on Twitter or on Pinterest. I’m a prolific pinner on deadline. Just sayin’.

 

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.


That one time I made pajamas. Also, a word or two about (my) writing process

Christmas PajamasPSE*

Some of you have said you wished I wrote more about the writing process. While I can’t write with any authority about THE writing process (whatever that means) I am happy to share more about mine.

Let’s start with my most recent Raising the Hardy Boys column: So what if you don’t sew. (Click link to read it if you haven’t yet).

Alright, y’all, I’ll let you in on a secret only long-time, regular Nathalie’s Notes readers know: I sometimes recycle content from here to work into my columns. And by sometimes I mean, as often as I can.

I consider my journal my first draft, my blog the second and the column my final one.

Of course, I also write a lot of columns with no formal draft. Just lots of thinking and notes on index cards and backs of envelopes. Those become some of my most favorite, sorry English teachers of America!

But you can still tell your students drafts are important. Practice paves the path for any published writer. There’s no way I could pull off publishing a first and final draft if I didn’t maintain a daily writing practice. Since I was like, six. (But it’s also never to late to start. I’m talking to YOU! You know who you are).

So there ya go, a note about my process.

Christmas Pajamas 2

Oh, also here’s a link to the original post about That One time I made Christmas Pajamas here.

Here’s the Outtakes from our hotel room photo shoot with my sister-in-law here.

And here’s what Matt actually said about the “M” on his stocking, but it got edited being as how I write for a family paper.

*Photo taken by Carrie Hardy, and shortly after Thanksgiving dinner. I forgot to take off my necklace, I guess I was distracted by the awesomeness of these pajamas and our photo shoot in search of The One Good Picture for our annual card.

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On word counts and deadlines

BREAKING NEWS: I submitted a column three days early.

Mostly because I had two due on the same day and needed to knock one out, but still. In the past I’ve waited until the very. last. minute.

Sometimes, usually when I’m right up on one, I lament my deadlines but then I remember hey! I have a deadline. That means someone is paying me to write, so there’s that.

Also, perhaps more key, without those deadlines there is no way I would have six years of columns to be shaping into a book this fall. Nope. I’d still be waiting for “someday when I have more time.” So, three cheers for deadlines!

In other business, I just send a note to my editor with the subject line: “Oops, I did it again.”

(Though I think I forgot the comma).

Because, alas, I am once again over my column word count. Six hundred words is a challenge for someone like me who can’t Tweet effectively due to the platform’s strict 140 word limit. (One hundred forty?! Come. On!)

But, in my defense I squeezed in a dash of depression, a spoonful of suicide and a sprinkle of God stuff, oh also a titch of volunteerism, all under 1,000 words.

(I started at 2,700 words, so … )

Some people would suggest not trying to get all of that into one column. Those people would struggle less on deadline than I do probably.

Luckily, I have awesome editors who understand we writers each bring our own blend of awesome and annoying to the table.

I happen to have super understanding editors who happen to be less attached to my writing and are able to cut and chop when needed.

One of my favorite graph’s from this new column is:

What does all this have to do with a column about parenting? Well, I'm glad you asked.

One concept I'm trying to consciously impart on my boys is the habit of identifying a need, and then meeting it.

In other words, don't be the guy standing there with his hands in his pockets. Don't be the guy sitting on the couch asking "What can I do to help?" Instead, figure it out. And then go do it.

We’ll see if it makes the cut!

Depression statistics infographic

healthline.com

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Writer at work

Writer at work - process

It’s about to get really random up in here. As part of Mission: Organize Everything which is key to finishing my books*, I’ve collected all the random pieces of paper, sticky notes, index cards, napkins, etc. with my notes, quotes and ideas that were spread throughout my house in piles, bins and drawers. Now, I am finally going to sort them and give them permanent homes.

I am betting a lot of these midnight musings and ideas that came at inconvenient times (that’s life, right?) are destined for the recycling bin. But some of them are going to find homes in scrapbooks, stories and posts.

This is a huge project for me and I can’t communicate to you the randomness of this collection without sharing a few off the top of the pile.

So here we have a list of questions I asked the pediatrician when one of my boys was a baby. I would like to have been the one mom on the planet that this doesn’t happen to but six years into it, my memories are mushy. Good thing I took notes. Too bad I didn’t date them all.

process

  • Torn from a little notebook is this list of questions checked off as I asked the fabulous (and patient) Dr. K: Pinkish red diaper rash? Circ? hygiene/infection prevention | Umbilical cord | sleep in bed | diaper rash? Vaseline? | Hep B vaccine autism/vaccines/ … on second thought this has to be Sam. I didn’t worry as much about hygiene with Jake. True story. The umbilical cord freaked me out still though.

*Note to self: for the love of all that is Holy, date these scraps, your memory sucks.

process2

  • A sticky note: “Embrace the elephant in the room. Or, stab it with a fork. Turns out it was full of hot air. (Okay that doesn’t even make sense. I’m sure it felt brilliant in the moment.)
  • Another sticky note: That awkward moment when you realize you were trying to right something that wasn't wrong. (Yes! This. Except it’s not really a moment for me. More like, 15 years of my life.)

process3

  • On a note ripped out from the notes I took at a land use hearing I was covering for the paper: The irony of X. asking Y., who is deaf, if he is concerned about noise. X: Are you concerned about noise? Y: What?

(That’s the stuff I kept because I knew I had to work it into Coming Clean. I can’t make that stuff up.)

Sam arthur - notecard

  • On a 3x4 scrapbook card for reasons unclear to me, is a note loving my pressure cooker a.k.a. “crockpot on crack” which is followed by a grocery list in the margins of notes for a scene in Coming Clean where eleven-year-old Izzy is wondering where, exactly, is “out of wedlock.”

Even the grocery list is super random: gf noodles, almond butter, gummy vitamins, garbage bags, adobo, meatballs.

Ani sees Ginny and Nick, first meeting and is confused by it. Ginny said Eliza is late in life baby. Oh, I know about those, so was Isabella, my mom said.

I liked the idea of being a surprise. Or at least until I saw mom mime putting a gun in her mouth and pulling the trigger. Peals of laughter were punctuated by the clinking of glasses. I liked that mom had a friend but … they forgot I was there a lot. I listened for awhile as they talked about the baby Mia was having.
“Where is out of wedlock?” I asked. They just started at me so I assumed I should keep going. The cracks in their lips were stained purple. Their smiles did not look happy.

(So, to anyone still reading who cares about process, I added to this note because I can’t help myself. That seems to be how I’m writing this book. It comes in pieces and I weave them together. Hopefully into something coherent.)

Sam arthur

Thank you Marc Brown for teaching my kid how you draw your characters in your awesome Arthur series. The idea to use the Sharpie and write directly on my desk? That was totally inspired by Sam.

*I’ve been asked a few times why I keep saying “my books” when it’s probably a better idea to write one at a time – totally agree! But that’s just not how this is happening. More on this soon. It’s the writer’s version of carrying multiple babies … I did not plan it this way but am grateful for what’s working out!