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August 2009
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October 2009

For the love of writing

Writing is so, so not for the pay. Which is not say there isn't a pay off, and a lot of rich rewards but man ... I was thinking today about how hard I work on my column and how much I put into it for $25. Obviously, I'm not in it for the money but I am constantly working toward my goal of making a living as a writer. I have faith it'll happen, not because the paper will get a windfall and start paying more but because I believe successful writing careers don't happen overnight but rather are a culmination of lots of things done steadily over the years.

I heard a writer speak along those lines last weekend. Laura Whitcomb lead her workshop by sharing that she was an overnight success, two decades in the making. So you really, really have to love it to be able to keep at it. Luckily, I do.

I don't think I've mentioned yet, because I have no idea how to do it without being all braggy, but I won a couple awards this year for my "Baby on Board" column. I'm proud of it because it is something concrete I can point to to say I've been working, and that my work is good, even when it doesn't always feel that way. Also, I'm just the kinda girl who digs getting awards. In fact, I still have my "Sweetest Smile" award posted in my office from grade school.

- National Newspaper Association - 2nd Place, Best Humorous Column, Non-daily Division, circulation 8,000- 11,999. The judges notes said: "Cute, all too true - signs of motherhood. Well written."

- Oregon Newspaper Publisher Association - 3rd Place, Best Local Column

And to keep me humble, I just found out the status on my literary magazine entry was changed from "received" to "declined."

I'm off to watch "Glee."


Meatless Monday: Gingered Squash and Pear Soup

Gingered Squash and Pear Soup

source: Woman's Day magazine

Warning: this recipe was a pain to make, but so delicious it's worth it if you make a double batch. Serve with salad and good bread.

It was a deceiving little square recipe card that made this look like a cinch to make. I'm not saying it was brain surgery or anything but all the peeling, coring and chopping took more time than I anticipated. Plus, there simply has to be a better way to peel squash than the route I took.

Saute 1 chopped onion and 1 Tbsp. grated ginger in a little oil in a large pot until onion is tender. Add a large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut in chunks; 2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and chopped; 4 cups chicken broth and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes until squash is tender. Cool slightly, then puree until smooth. Garnish with sour cream and toasted pumpkin seeds. Makes 8 cups.

More soon

A few of you have checked in after my sudden drop offline.Thank you! I'm okay, great even, just having some trouble managing all the details - imagine that. City council stuff took the wheel this week and I have a column due but I'll be back soon, later today even!

Our little adventure ... an early start

Sam & Matt rest stop

Despite the whole super shitty sleeping and coming home sick thing, our little spontaneous family adventure last week was awesome. And luckily, the memories and pictures will long outlive the coughing and exhaustion.

We left Thursday morning for a whirlwind stop to visit family in Walla Walla. Sam didn't fight the going to bed as bad as he usually does while traveling but he did wake up a lot. At 4:30 a.m., I heard him say: "All done." And he wasn't kidding. I brought him into bed with us which he thought was really cool with the jumping opportunities but Matt wasn't so much into it and I quickly realized at least one of us needed enough sleep to be able to drive later. Sam decided to start making his siren noises. As it was a work day, I didn't want him to wake up the whole house and he's not a kid quieted by cartoons. So I took him out to the truck, snuggled us up in a couple of his blankets and tried not to cry as I spent the next 2 hours reciting his Thomas the Train book from memory, singing 10 little monkeys and wheels on the bus over and over ... good times. As the light came up, I read to him and we practiced drawing on his etch-a-sketch. I thought it was funny how self-conscious I was about my drawing while he adamantly tried to pass of the exact same scribble as both a hippo and later as an airplane. He even seemed a little offended I had to ask.

Finally, a little after 7 we saw life in the house and climbed out of the truck ready for the next adventure. By this point Sam was starting to bang his head against the window and I felt like joining him. I really, really wished I'd thought to grab the keys before rushing my wailing siren out the door.

Adventures in being how we used to be ...

When you find yourself screaming, "Being spontaneous is stressful!" you know time has changed you and it might be time to re-evaluate your priorities.

Yeah, it was a proud moment for me when Matt announced he wanted to take an impromptu family camping trip the next day. He didn't want to plan anything, just go. Instead of getting excited about the possibility, I totally flipped. 

That's just not how I roll. I make lists. Then I make lists of lists. I pack in my head for awhile before actually putting anything in a suitcase. I'm not the kind of person that leaves town on a day's notice. Sure, I used to be, but that was prior to my days of traveling 6 months pregnant with a toddler and a 70-pound chocolate puppy.

So, I'll be unplugged for a few days and back next week with much to share about this little Hardy adventure!

Good with the bad

Today's word count: it was more of a word shuffle as I'm trying to organize Chapter 6 and figure out if I'm trying to fit too much into it.

The good news is I finished the edits and submitted a short story, Ten Till Closing,to a short story contest, fingers crossed. The bad news is that I got an e-mail out of the blue that my Confessions column is being canceled. My editor said EcoMetro is ceasing all blog/column publication. That's just so completely different from the last conversation I had with her about the direction of the site and my future writing from them. I'm really disappointed but still confident something else good is brewing. Either way, I'm glad I had the gig while it lasted. It was actually quite a bit more than a gig because it did give me a new lens through which to see ordinary aspects of my day-to-day life.

Sorry friends who are no where near a nap couch but I'm taking my exhausted, pregnant self to napland while Sam is still there himself.

Writing my debt of honor

Today's word count: 761

Man! This little "debt of honor" thing is like magic. No matter what else there is I feel I have to do, or how tired, distracted or whatever else I feel, I manage to convince myself to write at least 300 words most days. This nearly always turns into more and I'm pleased to be consistently developing the butt-in-chair and work habit.

I got this idea from Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, my favorite writing book ever. I'm paraphrasing but essentially the idea is to keep your writing assignments short and manageable and keep doing them. Even if you write 300 words of crap, odds are somewhere in there is a line or two worth keeping. So far, I'm happy to say I've worked out some of my big plot kinks and want to keep most of what I write.

Matt is working with me to develop the curriculum plans to go with the novel. Ambitious, maybe but I think it'll be a cool addition to the pitch and marketing to be able to offer the manuscript with built-in lesson plans. It's also fun to discuss the plot, characters and what people might take from it with him and Sam over dinner. Well, mostly it's Matt and I discussing between managing the details of Sam's mealtime.

"Fork, please."

"No! Green fork!"

"More salad, welcome. No lettuce. Only carrot."

"Helicopter bite. No airplane bite. Helicopter bite."

I'm getting better at making chopper sounds with my mouth full.

Still here. Still at it.

Today's word count: 402

I'm fine. Sam and I had one of those cranky, clingy weeks last week and we didn't get much accomplished after the initial excitement of sending off the short story. Then we had a super awesome, laid back weekend where we also didn't get much accomplished but that was more enjoyable. Today I'm just feeling really off and tired. I just got my "debt of honor" writing done, basically sitting down to write at least 300 word to keep forward motion and momentum going. Off to mop and make dinner hopefully before my little friend wakes up. I might be back at it tonight, and I might not.

See how that kind of mood can be unproductive and annoying?

Signs of Deadline Mommy:

Lots of things are partly done by the time Matt gets home from work and I rush out the door to get to the post office before it closes. This includes everything from partially cleaning up from breakfast, partially getting dinner started, and being partially dressed: shorts and a pajama top.

Other signs include the obvious ... uh ... laisafaire parenting style on days like today. Sam went to bed with very colorful legs tonight as I let him play with my markers. All of them.

And then there's the box of packing peanuts I let him