Friday, December 6, 2019

Finish it Friday ~ NA-SO-WRIMO

Last month I set out to conduct my own version of NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month), which I called National Something Writing Month. My goal: to type up at least 1667 words every day from old journals to generate material for a few essay and memoir projects I'm working on.

I get a sticker on the calender when I reach my writing goal for the day—
sadly I ran out of autumnal stickers, but I got a lot of high fives!
And I came oh so very close—I wrote the minimum on all but three days of the month (including Thanksgiving!!). Two of those days I had all-day meetings followed by evening activities and the other one we had out-of-town guests staying with us. I totaled 46,767 words (the goal of NANO is 50,000) and I got through eight journals (only about 17 left to go!). True, they were mostly not new words (except for some editing/enhancing that took place as I typed), but they were words that needed to get out of my handwriting and into the computer, so I call that a win.

It's also the most consistent I've been about working on a writing project in a very long time, probably since writing The Book, although I didn't track either my time or my words then, so I know neither how how quickly or how often I worked (I do recall some days when I went hiking or got caught in the downward email spiral, and I think I mostly didn't work on weekends).

I discovered that I can type already-written words while a lot of other activity is going on around me—people talking, the TV on, etc, which was truly what made getting so many words possible (new words, that require a fair amount of quiet contemplation, would be much more difficult). I may employ this as a strategy in the future—doing my thinking and writing on paper and typing up later while watching Friends or Supergirl with the kids. My plan is to keep going through December with daily writing/typing, but with a lower word count goal of 1000, now that I'm back to work all day. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Holiday Countdown Week 1 ~ Greenery

Thanksgiving came so late this year that there wasn't the usual lull of late November before the Christmas rush began, but instead here we are catapulted from one holiday to the next. We actually got our tree in November this year (which is anathema in this house, but at least it was the last day in November), because M was home for the weekend and we didn't expect to see him again until the weekend before Christmas.

My brother and my sister-in-law were also visiting for the weekend, so they joined us on our tree-getting expedition, which every year involves tromping through the woods and sizing up several dozen balsam firs and making the same tired jokes about taking a 30-foot tall tree or a hemlock, and pagan ritual of thanking the tree for givin its life to bring greenery and light into our lives. The tree right now is standing naked in our living room, until another weekend comes when we can rearrange furniture and haul ornament boxes up from the basement.

Once we settled on and sawed down a tree, we collected some extra greenery for wreath-making. Most years we go to wreath-making party at a friend's house and/or buy wreaths from one of the kids. This year our friend had her party the same weekend my brother was visiting, and, though E and Z were supposed to be selling wreaths for school, they both forgot about it until the last minute and couldn't find their order forms.

This was my sister-in-law's first wreath-making experience, and she did much better than C and I did the first time we made wreaths, back in our first apartment, when we bent green boughs into somewhat circular shapes and wired them together. They were a little wonky but had gorgeous bows that C had brought home from the gardening company he worked for that year. The next time, we wired boughs onto a wreath form, but it took a few tries before we learned about making bundles of fir tips and wiring those to the form. We still don't have the symmetry thing down, but someday we'll get there.

The traditional Maine Christmas wreath is made of balsam fir, which is what we used as the base, but we also incorporated spruce, hemlock, and white pine, as well as winterberry and red dogwood stems, for variety.

C went even wilder, literally, with a disk of larvae chambers from a wasp's next, pine cones, sumac fruits, and a polypore mushroom.

My brother and sister-in-law live in a condo, so they couldn't take theirs home with them. It now hangs on the playhouse, providing a little cheer and extra cover to the chickadees who visit this feeder.

We may be slow to get this whole holiday train moving, but at least we've got the greenery, just in time for the world outside to turn white.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Writing Gratitude and Gifts

My very first piece of published writing appeared in the online journal Literary Mama more than ten years ago. In 2014, after I finished my MFA, I became co-editor of the Literary Reflections department, and a couple of years ago I joined the Senior Editor team. You can read my editor's letter for the current issue, about all of the amazing talent on our staff past and present, and all of the wonderful content in this month's issue here.

Literary Mama is a wonderful organization to volunteer for, with the great mission of bringing writing about motherhood out into the world. It's also a complete labor of love for its writers and staff. We have no budget and no sponsors, and we're not affiliated with any institution. But earlier this month we were delighted to announce that we have become a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and as such now able to accept donations. We've begun the first modest foray into raising funds that will initially cover our operating expenses and, eventually, pay our writers.

Consider making a small contribution to this wonderful literary organization this Giving Tuesday. One of our other senior editors wrote this beautiful letter about her family's offer of $1500 in matching funds now through the end of December. If you have a mother or a writer in your life, you could make the contribution in her name as a holiday gift.

Thank you to those who have made a contribution and to all of you who read our journal each month.
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