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November 2007
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January 2008

Progress Report

Word Count today: 596

Lucy Baby: Life as a chocolate dog - An Autobiography total: 1,013

She scooped me up and snuggled me like nobody has so far. So, I licked her face. She seemed surprised but did not lick me back. She smiled even though she was crying. Human beings are very, very confusing, in case you did not know we animals think this. I snuggled into her as long as I could but I didn’t think it would be in good form if I peed on her so I started wiggling to let her know I had to go. She put me down and ushered me into the corner saying it was so I could have my privacy. Finally! Somebody gets me.

Love, Lucy Baby

Word Count today: 417

Lucy Baby: Life as a chocolate dog - An Autobiography total: 417

A book is born ... An idea I've been simmering for awhile now was crystallized for me at about 3 a.m. It's a few children's books with adult appeal - the Lucy Baby series.

The first book is Lucy Baby: Life as a chocolate dog - An Autobiography

This one is an autobiography written in the voice of a chocolate Labrador puppy modeled after none other than my mischievous little sprite. It explores the puppy's abandonment issues and her journey learning to trust her New People.

The second book is Love, Lucy Baby

This one is written as a series of letters to her cousins in Eastern Washington and Maryland. It explores the issues of jealousy about a new baby in the family and her injury and subsequent recovery.

I'm stoked about this project. I am writing them for Sam and Matt. I figure if they enjoy the books, odds are good I can get them published. But, if not, we'll still have fun with them.

An excerpt:

They will tell you dogs can’t write, yet you are reading this book by me, a puppy. They will also tell you I am a chocolate dog but you can not eat me. So, you see, life is quite confusing. Together, maybe, we can sort things out. My name is Lucy Baby and this is my story.

Back to "bird by bird"

Word Count today: 561

Secrets We Keep total: 1,696

I don't know why I keep thinking I'm going to get to my desk one day and find my novel all finished. It's a surprise to me every time I realize how much work I have left to do. I long for the satisfaction of completion I used to have as a reporter. Assignment. Deadline. Done. Repeat.

So, I'm going to take a little bit of that and apply it to my method. My method. I've been looking for the Book that will tell me how to take my book from this utterly shitty draft to an actual finished manuscript I can give to the next person that asks: "When can I read it?"

It turns out that I have to come up with my own method. No more wasting time wandering around the library looking for my Magic Fix. I realized this while I was talking to someone at a party, a published someone, and I had so many questions I wanted to ask him until it suddenly occurred to me that I already had the one answer I really needed. I have to write it first. Finish it. Then I can get go on to the details of editing and publication.

So, following the advice of Anne Lamott in "bird by bird," I'm back to working on my "Shitty First Draft." Even though it's a third draft. I started a new file and word count. This is the one. And I simply have to get it done because Ralph is coming back to me and I am eager to get back to work on that story.

My daily goal: 300 words. Daily is almost comical but surely Sam can spare me for the amount of time it takes me to cobble together a few paragraphs.

"Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." - E.L. Doctorow

In defense of the Christmas Letter

I love checking my mail. Always have. But I especially love it this time of year because this is when I'm most likely to get actual mail. Not bills and crap from companies I've never heard of but real, juicy mail with the handwriting of people I adore on the envelope. And if I'm really lucky? Pictures!

When I found out I was pregnant I made a list of things I was most excited about. Getting to write an annual Christmas letter made the top 10. Sure I could've done one before I had a kiddo but Sam gives me more writing material.

I know the Christmas letter gets mocked but I - for one - love, love, love them. I practically skip to the post office (well, now I just kind of limp on in with the sciatica and the baby bjorn) in anticipation of getting a card with news from friends and pictures of loved ones.

Thinking of writing your own? Consider a few of my tips on how to write a good Christmas Letter:

Unless you're writing to people who've never met you, we know you're not the Cleavers for Christ's sake so cut the crap and tell us what really happened this year. Sure it's natural to want to focus on the highlights but really an all-around banner year? Who are you kidding?

On the flip side letters that list medical maladies don't work either. We don't really want to know about every ache and blister you've had since we rung in the last new year. I'm all for keeping it real, sister - but go ahead and spare us the contents of your medicine cabinet. 

Sharing the year's highlights isn't being braggy. Being braggy is braggy. Don't do it.

We love to hear your good news. However do not, for God's sake, reveal any family secrets (good or bad) in the letter. I was once at a close friend's house admiring her collection of Christmas greetings and was just at a really juicy part from her mother-in-law when my friend leaped in front of me and said, "Wait! I have to tell you something!" Too late. I got the great news of her pregnancy from the card hanging on the wall. They just weren't planning to tell everyone yet. So, I repeat, skip the secrets, especially if they aren't yours to tell!

And remember when I said to keep it real? I didn't mean veiled references to the ways your children have disappointed you. Avoid sentences like: So-and-so still isn't married or So-and-so is still finding themselves. We all know what that's code for.

If that's too much for ya, I suppose a simple Merry Christmas and best wishes for the new year will do. And a picture. Pictures are good.

p.s. Before you check your mailbox for this Yuletide opus of ours, you should know it won't be arriving in this year's mail. But it's not that I'm behind or anything. I'm just planning ahead for next year!

And the doctor says ???

Decemember_new_010 I'm about to head out the door with this cute little Pope look-a-like for his 2 month appointment and ugh... shots. I am armed with an organized diaper bag and list of questions for the Doc. I feel it's best to appear like I'm in the running for the Well Adjusted New Mom Award. One of my questions I don't even want to ask but if I don't, Matt will, so it's with bated breath I ask the doctor:

Is it okay for Sam to sleep in the swing for oh, say, as long as possible? And if you say no, could you write me a prescription for some medicinal methamphetamines?

Because Sam slept for SEVEN hours IN A ROW the other night. In the swing. I didn't think it was possible but I loved him just a little bit more when he woke me up LAUGHING at 3 a.m. instead of the usual 11 ... 1 ... 3 ...

Battery Backup

Sam_ella_swing_2_3 Sam_ella_swing_3My subconscious seems to have the attitude that if you don't actually hear the baby crying, you aren't responsible for responding to it. Twice now I've woken up to find myself snuggling the baby monitor with the volume turned down. Way, way down.

I've even tried the "shh, shhhh, shhh, shhh" bit with the monitor. Doesn't work. Turns out you have to actually roll your ass out of bed - yes, even if you just finally fell asleep - and go upstairs and "shhh, shhh, shhh" in person. And you're lucky if that works. Sam usually just looks at me like "Sweet! Whatchya wanna do now that I've got your attention?"

This morning, seconds after Matt left for work I put Sam in his swing for my precious 2-3 hours of sleep. Most "nights" that's the most I get in a row. So I very eagerly buckle him in there and practically skip back to bed, Lucy in tow. I snuggle back under the covers.

What's that funny sound? Why does the music mobile sound possessed? Oh. Dear. God. The batteries are dying. Click. Click. Click. Clunk. Sound of Silence .... wait for it, wait for it: Waaaaah. Waaaaaah. Waaaaah.

Okay, I can handle this. I have a battery box with the variety pack of batteries parents naturally assemble for all the  battery-operated baby gear. A battery box. Doesn't that sound organized? In my battery box I found a bag of batteries marked "might be dead." What the hell is that? It's in my handwriting so I have no one to blame but me. A bag of batteries that "might be dead" is worse than no batteries at all. I tried a few of them and they were "almost dead" so I got a fitful half hour out of it and then turned it off to save the swing for Sam's buddy Ella who was coming over later. Amy had an appointment and was going to drop Ella Boo off for a little bit. And I needed the swing on account of the whole I only have two hands thing.

P.S. Matt, you should know, came home with a Super Pack of "D" batteries. 

Another proud Mommy Moment

This just in:

So Sammy's been fighting going to sleep all morning. Finally, finally he nods off in the swing. The swing by the front door. Lucy, who re-injured herself this week, is finally, finally resting upstairs with me and I'm just getting into my writing. Ding Dong. Millisecond pause. Ding Dong. What.The.Hell. People who know and love us do NOT ring the doorbell because a) hello!?! newborn in the house! and b) Lucy goes nuts; refer to point a.

Also, I'm not really dressed. I know it's 11 a.m. Again, refer to point a. I hurry downstairs because this person keeps ringing the bell so it must be important. Lucy is barking her fool head off, Sam is crying his banshee cry and I'm a little ticked. "Son of a bitch! Damn!" I yell as I trip over Lucy jumping on her bad leg. I crack the door open to find two stunned looking well-dressed women clutching a stack of "Watchtower" magazines.  Oh, hell no!

Yes? Giving them my pointed annoyed look and holding Lucy tightly by her collar.

We won't take up too much of your time, but ... She holds up one of the magazines.

Yeah, that was as much as I have right there. I don't mean to be rude but I'm going to close the door now. Loosen my grip on Lucy and give another look.

We can come back at a better time. Let go of Lucy completely and take a step back.

There won't be a better time. Have a good day though.


Laughing about it later ...

Tillamookflood4_2 Tillamookflood_2 All this flooding in the news reminds me of our adventures living on the Oregon Coast. These two memories are examples of the kind of thing that isn't so funny at the time but ...

Matt came home from work at 10 a.m. because school had been canceled due to flooding and water levels were expected to continue rising. It was our first flood season on the coast. In our defense, we really didn't know better. We decided it'd be fun to check out the rising rivers. I was thinking it would make a neat scrapbook page. It turned into a $300 page when we had to get the truck fixed due to water damage. How cool did we feel?

Tillamookflood2_2 What's a kid in Tillamook to do when schools close for floods? Surf, of course! We weren't the only idiots driving through town. We passed an awful lot of Matt's students crusing around in their lifted pickups. "Hey, Mr. Hardy!!" One proud moment was when we passed one of his kids towing a women with children who got stuck in their little Mazda.

Tillamookflood3_3The next year it flooded, I was working at the paper and possibly should've known better. Matt called me once he got into Tillamook to warn me to work from home if possible. He said the roads were already covered and he barely made it in the truck. Stay at home? Are you kidding me? With all the stories to be covered, I don't think so. Off I went. I white knuckled the wheel the whole way but was doing pretty good until I hit the notorious part of Highway 101 by Fred Meyer. The part that always floods and is featured on the news at least once a year. Suddenly the water's up to the middle of my tires and there's this really, really awful scraping noise. Oh my God. How am I going to explain this? I'm freaking out thinking my transmission is falling out. I don't know, it just sounded really expensive. I limped the car to work, rehearsing different ways to explain to Matt why it was so important I come in to work. Luckily, it was just some garbage that got stuck.

"You didn't take the loop?" About six of my co-workers asked.
"The loop?"
"Yeah, there's a loop around Highway 101 you can take to avoid the worst of the flooding."
"Hmm. Maybe they should give out that information with the phone books and crab nets from the Welcome Wagon."