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Sorry, Kid

Writing is full of delicious highs and gutter-licking lows. It’s a bitter sweet life.

Know what else is bitter sweet? Being a film producer. I mentioned in a post a few days back that my husband will be producing a film in San Francisco in May and June and we (baby, big kid and I) are planning to go up to spend the two months with him. Well, we were supposed to leave on Sunday, and now, on Thursday (yes, just days before it’s set to begin), it looks like the whole movie might fall apart. That’s how the film business works. One day you’re making a movie, the next your not. At least as a writer you’re more or less subject to your own whims and distractions.

It takes a lot of patience and flexibility to live the life of a creative professional. In fact, I think it would be really hard if one of us had a regular job and the other was constantly changing plans, but since we both live and breath this uncertainty called art, we manage it together. I think the hardest part (if, in fact the project does fall through) will be explaining it to our daughter. We spent the last three weeks prepping her for the idea that we’ll be in San Francisco, away from her friends, for two months, and now we 180 and say “yeah, never mind all that, let’s stay home.”

Oh well, this is the life she was born into. When it comes to family hardships, changing plans on a dime is hardly the worst of them.

Tending My (Dis)Satisfaction

I read a story once about an old woman who was moving to a retirement home. Her son helped her out of the car and said something like “let’s go see your room.” Her response was “It’s lovely dear,” and he gently reminded her that she hadn’t seen it yet. She replied that she was sure it would be beautiful.

Now, maybe she was too old to know what she was talking about, or MAYBE, since she was going to be there for a while, she had just already decided to love it. They say that’s one of the tricks to living a long life – finding happiness where ever you are.

I’m all for it. I try to be happy with whatever situation I find myself in. I find that if you look hard enough you can find humor almost anywhere and choosing to be satisfied is always to your benefit – except in artistic endeavors.

With my writing I take the opposite stance. I actively nurture my dissatisfaction. I am like an old codger at a noisy amusement park. Everything is wrong until proven otherwise. Don’t talk to me, don’t try to appease me, and generally just leave me alone until I’ve decided to come out of my funk.

I wonder if I will ever reach a point with my writing where I am capable of tending my satisfaction, if it will ever serve me in my art. As of right now it seems unlikely, but I do still consider myself a blue-square-ski-run kind of writer. Maybe as I grow wiser I will find a space for peace within my writing practice. Maybe not.

Stop With the Brilliant Ideas, Already

I had this great idea for an article about five minutes ago. An interesting, research-heavy piece about a topic that’s getting a lot of attention lately. I even know the magazine I would pitch. I’m sure they would love it, and they pay pretty well, too.

Then, in a rare moment of clarity, I realized I need to stop having great ideas, and start producing some finished product. Cheese and crackers. If you’ve browsed my site at all you know I’m working part time as a freelance writer, trying to finish my novel, slowly chipping away at a guide book about northern California, waiting to hear from my agent about my non-fiction book proposal, blogging and oh, yeah, raising two kids. Vishnu, with her many arms, would have trouble juggling all that.

To date, I’ve managed my life on a squeaky wheel system. Kids first (they are, after all, pretty loud), paid work second, and everything else when I have time for it. If my agent actually sells my proposal I’m going to have to seriously reassess my time management/get a full time nanny.

So I’m shelving the brilliant article, filing it away for future reference, and instead, pulling out my notes on the novel – trying to write a little more tonight before I fall asleep, or the baby starts crying.

Victorville, CA

If you’re ever feeling like a complete wreak, do a little reading up on Victorville, California and you’ll feel better about your life. Unless, of course, you happen to live there.

I’ve been working on fleshing out a few scenes in my novel and this morning I came across an article that gave me some real insight into the setting of my story. Well, technically my story is set in Oro Grande, CA, a small town of less than 1000 folks, that is really more like an old ghost town, but the nearest city (just to the south) is Victorville. Here’s a quote:

“It’s a hustle and bustle every sun-baked day: No Country For Old Men-style shootouts, tweakers forgetting to take their babies out of their car seats, leaving them to be cooked alive in the hundred-plus heat, harmless bums getting sentenced to life for picking pockets thanks to three-strikes-and-you’re-out laws, drug dealers swallowing baggies of meth to hide their goods from the cops and overdosing, people trying to rob stores with BB guns and getting laughed at by shoppers, middle-aged women on parole getting arrested for fucking underage teens, wasted grandmas crashing into storefronts and flipping over on sidewalks…” (click here to see the whole article)

That’s some juicy modern-day western kind of shit. The article goes on to describe in some detail a few amazingly awful things that have gone on. How is it that I’ve been working on this story for over two years and didn’t know that the city I’m writing about is down right wild, wild west?

I guess I had romanticized the place. Since my characters live outside of the city, what I’ve seen of the place is the stunning rolling hills of the desert, but this is great. This adds a whole new layer to my story. The safe farm life verses the scary city life is something that works quite well in the world I’ve created.

Is it bad that I’m rejoicing in the downfall of man, in the utterly terrible ways we treat each other some times? Maybe, but what the hell. A good story’s a good story.

Siren Call

An interesting thing has happened with my novel. I’ve reached a point where it is no longer daunting to work on it. Instead of forcing myself to sit and write, I’m dying to get to it. It’s a good thing too, since I have less and less time to spend on it.

This week is my daughter’s spring break from preschool (you know, because the academics of her “little dragon” class are pretty strenuous – they need a vacation right about now), and juggling both kids has left me almost no time to write. The work I do get done, is written after they’re in bed, which has left me pretty tired. But all day, as I chase, and wipe, and cajole, I’m thinking about my story.

I think it’s because I’m actually getting close to finishing this draft. I don’t know that I’ll actually make my goal of getting there before my birthday on May 7th, but I do think end of May might be doable. That’s five weeks, after this spring break business is over, to get to the finish line.

And the timing couldn’t be better. My husband is shooting a movie on location is San Francisco in June and the little ones and I are going with him, so as soon as I finish this draft I can put it aside, go back to chasing both kids again for June, then follow that siren call again into my third draft come July. It still leaves me a little behind on my plan to finish the book before the end of the year, but considering the storm that is my life right now, I’ll take that. Happily.