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Archive for the ‘NaNoWriMo’ Category

Superheroes and villains. Family and pie.

In other words – the essentials.

I spent NaNoWriMo fleshing out a new story wherein the main character is a superhero who currently has telepathy and mad combat skills. Her powers are up in the air – I had a lot of fun writing different scenes where she has different powers and seeing how that would play out. In the end, my favorite scenes (or the ones that I can actually piece together and make into a story) will probably dictate what her powers will be. I only finished about 10,000 words, but I love her, so this will be a story I revisit.

Of course, this meant I watched a lot of Smallville. You know, for inspiration. And trips down fandom memory lane. And eye candy.

Thanksgiving was fun but seemed rushed. I took the whole week off last week so that I could have two days of getting-things-done and be able to relax when we went to see the parents on Wednesday instead of spending the holiday making lists of all the things I needed to remember to do when we got home Sunday. Of course, like a fool, I then told people I took the whole week off, and because I would much rather have dinner and hang out with people I miss than clean my nasty apartment…well…that’s how that went.

You’re right. I totally told them on purpose.

To-do list completely not done, we left around noon on Wednesday to travel to the parents’ house. This was my view:

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Love that sky.

But I still managed to relax a little at Thanksgiving, although my lists on my phone are out of control now and I might never get them done. We had traditional fare and lots of dessert. I ate four different kinds of pie (over the course of the weekend, to be clear). There was coconut cream pie and chocolate meringue pie and lemon pudding pie and because that went so well (and so quickly), a chocolate pudding pie. There was also a pecan pie, but I am not a fan, so I left that one to others.

I really love pie, y’all.

The weather is finally exactly how I like it. Cold. And not the “cold” that some people start complaining about in late October when it dips slightly below 70. Like…ice has formed. I mean, not here. But at my parents’ house –

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Ice on the kitchen window.

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Frozen vines and icicles on the trellis in the backyard.

I didn’t read a lot this month, but it definitely had a theme to it. Holidays apparently make me want to look at my relationship with food. I picked Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi for my memoir/biography discussion for book club. She already had me at this:

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This is the best, rawest, most honest capture of what it’s like to have an eating disorder that I’ve ever read. Sometimes, it was like reading pages out of my own journals from my late teens/early twenties. It would be tempting to write a memoir on this subject from a heavy now-looking-back perspective – to rush to lessons learned and mountains moved. But she didn’t do that, and that’s why this book is so important. She takes you through the details of her thoughts and feelings, which, if you’ve ever thought and felt similar things, doesn’t give you the chance to say, “Well, that’s not me.” It hits you in the gut and makes you deal with it. I cannot recommend this book enough.

I also read a lot of Mireille Guiliano. I loved the food philosophy (i.e., common sense) of French Women Don’t Get Fat, so I tried French Women for All Seasons (I liked it…and found it charming that she included sections on how to tie scarves in each season…but otherwise meh) and Women, Work, and the Art of Savoir Faire (I found some parts very useful and some parts very baffling). She reminds me a little of my mother.

So that’s what I’ve been into this month. What have you been doing/eating/reading?

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer – click the button below and join us!

What I'm Into button

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In the interest of reaching even one of my meager writing goals set this week, here is your Friday Five:

  1. I’ve been writing as much as I can on my NaNoWriMo project, but that process is turning out to be molasses slow. It is clearer than ever that I need a computer at home if I’m going to have a book published before I’m 50. How did people even make this happen before computers? I’m in awe of them.
  2. There’s so much sadness and terribleness in the world. But it’s not just “out there.” It’s here. It’s in our country and in our hearts. I am saddened to know that the freedom of many citizens to practice their religions by welcoming the outcast has been denied them this week. I am sadder to understand what that means for the outcasts. I want to be angry, but then I look at my own couch, empty of any refugees or people in need, and I am force to look at my own practices. Am I welcoming people as I ought? My favorite post of the week is from A’Driane Nieves – We ARE the threat.
  3. I love superheroes, but I especially love this.
  4. My favorite couple on my current favorite show are a real couple in real life, and they’re having another baby.  *fangirl squee*
  5. Send more cat pictures. Especially ones where they don’t realize they’re being adorable. And  for those who wonder why cats gravitate to people who don’t want their love – finally an explanation.

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My Book

This is my favorite picture I’ve taken in a long time. I’m not sure what I was trying to do here, but it makes me laugh and laugh.

I do know where I’m pointing, though. On my shelves, that’s where my books – the books I’ll write – will go.

Like the books of the authors on the L Shelves, I will want to keep my nonfiction and fiction together. You can’t see it in the picture, but I’ve already left some space on this shelf for Tolkien to shift on down when I have my first published book in hand.

(I enjoy that my book gets to sit next to Tolkien on my shelf.)

I have two manuscripts started. This month, I’m working to finish Feast, and I will be starting back up in December writing more on Fishbowl. I have a story I wrote during NaNoWriMo one year called Emma Jane, which Maggie helped me realize was actually two stories, so I’m going to pick up one of those again (I guess the Emma portion) after I finish Fishbowl.

But in November, I’m going to take some of the Jane character and rewrite/add another dimension to her story. Or I may (read: most likely will) start over with that character and a whole new story line. Either way, I’m excited to get another story started.

“But Suzanne – doesn’t that slow down your writing process?” you ask.

Yes and no.

Yes, it takes longer to write two or three books than it does to write one. But – and this is why the process works for me – when one story is getting stagnant, I can turn to another, read a little bit of it, and write it with fresh eyes.

I do some of my best work that way.

And I promise, someday it will show up in that space on my shelf.

I’m taking (sometimes ridiculous) pictures of myself and my shelves and writing about it this month.

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I am taking liberties with the goal of NaNoWriMo this year. I am writing 50,000 new words, but instead of fiction, I am writing a book of prompts for a course I am planning to launch next April called Feast. Here’s a teaser of the course-to-be.

Sometimes life just needs celebrating.  And by “sometimes,” I do mean “pretty much all the time.” Any excuse for food, really.

This is my favorite reason to feast – nothing.  No reason at all. I am prone to making elaborate dishes on a whim to savor just for the sake of savoring them.  If you were to ask me what the special occasion was or why I was doing it, you would get an answer like, “Because…Tuesday,” or “Because I can.” I might even turn it around on you – “Why not?” It’s not that there isn’t a reason but rather that life itself is the reason.

You are alive.  Celebrate!

But it’s not quite that easy, is it?

The first seedlings of thought about this course sprung out of my need to bring celebration back into my everyday life. It’s so easy to go through the motions, looking forward to that next fun event on the calendar so much that I sail past all the rest of my days, eyes glazed and barely seeing everything that I’m passing by. If the next fun event is Friday night relaxing at home (and yes, this is on my calendar – it’s very important), and it’s Tuesday, that’s a whole lot of time to check out mentally.

This is no way to live. I want to make my days matter as much as possible. I don’t want to kill time until an acceptable hour to collapse into bed arrives. I want to live.

So I was going to call the class Celebrate because I wanted to explore all the ways we enjoy life.  While doing so is certainly part of the course, something was missing. Celebration alone didn’t seem like exactly what I was going for.  The word that kept coming up – the one that tied my vision together – was feast.

This was both exciting and terrifying.

I was excited because I love the idea of feasting. I love holidays where there is a ridiculous amount of food – ten times what the people present should actually ingest in the allotted time. I love the security and the hominess that excessive abundance implies. I love feeding people and being the one who supplies the ridiculous amount of food. I might not have a big house or a fancy car, but when you are invited over to my place, you will never leave hungry.

The excess is also the terrifying part.

Feasting and I have a sordid history. We can get a little codependent if I’m not careful. I love feasting so much that it’s easy for it to infiltrate my life on an identity level.

I was raised to be great at it. When people remark that hosting seems to come naturally to me, I take it as the compliment it was meant to be and say, “Thank you.” But let’s be clear – it’s not talent; it’s training. I have worked hard to become good at it, and I take a certain amount of pride in that. I love having people over, and they usually have a pretty good time. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s important to remember, however, that being a good host is a seductive minx to my ego, and because of that, it’s also important to remember that hosting the occasional flop does not define (and therefore cannot diminish) me.

At the heart of feasting is the food, and with the food comes the seedy underbelly of food issues.

In some ways, I do have a healthy relationship with food. I’m not really one for restrictive diets. I know a lot of them well, because when I have guests that are on limited choices, I prefer to know how to fix something they will eat without having to interrogate them about their dietary needs. I’ve been vegetarian or vegan at different phases of my life, but that was less a function of a plan to diet and more a function of a Lenten fast or having just read something like Fast Food Nation and thus simply losing my taste for meat. And I have to confess that I’m one of those annoying folk who, if I just eat like a normal person and get a moderate amount of exercise, the excess weight falls off pretty easily.

It’s that “eating like a normal person” thing that trips me up.

My issues with food are mainly emotional rather than physical. I am a chronic over-indulger. There are various things that I cannot keep in the house – soda, snack cakes, certain candy bars – because I cannot leave them alone. Since I am hypersensitive to sugar and most of my compulsive food choices are sweets, they’re extra bad news. I know in my head that having only one Kit Kat is the prudent choice, yet minutes later there I stand over four empty wrappers with a darty feeling behind my eyes, a budding headache, and no real memory of where one indulgence ended and the next one began.

I tremble to write that. As you are reading it, I am nervous, knowing that you know something that is a source of shame for me.

But shame doesn’t get to win.

I will remember that I am not what I eat.

I will remind myself that growth is a process and that by my mid-twenties, I had overcome my habit of bingeing to the point that purging was not physically optional.

I will go look at my well-stocked kitchen, full of real food, not junk food, and I will declare aloud, “I did that.  I made those good choices.”

And I will sit here and savor my half a glass of wine and my two little squares of decadent dark chocolate. And I will be satisfied.

And then I will drink a bucket of water, because wine dries me out. I will listen to my body and give it what it needs.

I will honor who I am, where I came from, and how far I’ve come. I will celebrate myself. I will feast.

Just because.

Journal prompt: What do you need to celebrate about yourself today? Where can you show yourself a little more kindness? What do you need to acknowledge?

Activity prompt: Go for a walk for a minimum of five minutes.  Don’t come back from the walk until you have noticed at least five things that you think you would normally miss. Go out and see your world today.

Marvia’s prompt for this Real Talk Tuesday is “celebration,” so I’m linking up over there as well.

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