Soup’s on

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Summer is a crazy time for me. The lodge is busy and I have the knack of having a multitude of side projects in the works while surviving my busy summer hospitality job. Some days feel like a smooth paddle on a calm lake and others feel like a roller coaster ride through Hell. By mid-summer, I am physically and emotionally drained and I need something to make me feel centered again.

Writing is a good place to start the process of realigning myself. Writing is cathartic. Typing words onto a screen makes the rest of the world fade slowly into the background until there is nothing left but me, my laptop and my imagination. The minutes and hours I spend writing make me happy and bring me to a level of calm that is somewhat hypnotic. There is only one other thing that can take me beyond hypnotic to being completely detached from reality and that is cooking.

It is 38 degrees today with humidity and my gut told me that it was the perfect time to make a summer corn and zucchini chowder. When my parents were still alive, the times we spent in the kitchen together were some of the happiest moments of our lives. My mom was the queen of baking sweet treats for everyone and my dad loved to cook. My brother and I inherited his passion for creating tasty dishes and homemade soups. My dad was never one to use a recipe, unless he was making Martha Stewart’s Shortbread, and his food was almost always delicious…..I will save the story of his scrambled eggs made with eggnog for another day.

To me, there is no greater satisfaction than creating something from a bunch of random ingredients. Individually those ingredients can taste good, but when you combine them in a way they compliment the flavor of the others, that is sheer bliss. The bacon is fried, the onions are rendering in the bacon fat and the rest of the ingredients are ready to be thrown in. The result will be a tasty summer chowder that would make my dad proud.

At the end of the cooking process, I will sit down to a comforting bowl of soup for dinner and feel thoroughly decompressed. My mind will be back in its happy place and I will relish the memories of my mother calling us for each and every dinner, regardless of the menu, by saying, “soup’s on”.

 

 

 

 

 

Do more of what makes you happy

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The weekend had arrived and I had my to-do list all mapped out.  Friday would be the day of chores since Saturday was going to be our first big check-in and the start of family season at the lodge.

As luck would have it, Friday turned into a spectacular day of weather.  In the cooler hours of the morning, I took my garbage to the dump and ran my errands in town.   I arrived home knowing that my list of chores had not been completed but when I saw the sun shining on my deck, my list of chores suddenly changed, as did my outfit.  I opened all my windows, donned some shorts and a t-shirt and went outside to bask in the sun for as long as I could.  As fate would have it, my neighbors chose to embrace the day as well and burn everything they wanted to dispose of and the smoke penetrated every ounce of air I was trying to breathe.  My dog and I quickly made our way indoors and wistfully closed the windows.

I stood inside, my head going back and forth from my vacuum to my laptop and I surreptitiously neglected my remaining chores.  I opened my laptop and sat down to write what would end up being over three thousand words for my new book.  My dog was still shedding even though I had her shaved, my carpet looked like my dog had exploded, more dust had settled on every surface in my home and my dishes were still waiting to be put away but I didn’t care.  I deferred the menial tasks to concentrate more on the things that truly make me happy.

My vacuum will still be in the same place on Sunday.  My dog will still be shedding and the dust particles will still be dancing in the light that filters through my windows.  But, just maybe, those words that flowed through me on Friday would not have waited for another day.

Do more of what makes you happy and do it often.  Life is much too short to spend it doing things that don’t truly inspire you and make you feel like you are living your best life.  I spent a great deal of my past living for others and now it is time to put aside the things that can wait and focus on the things that consume my thoughts and make me the happiest version of myself.

Putting myself first today

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The lawn needs to be mowed, I have half a story left to finish for the project I am helping my local library with but this morning I am making time for myself. I have just finished a long 14-day stretch at work without a day off and put in sixty-seven hours last week. It’s time for me.

Those chores will be done later today but this morning I am doing something I haven’t given myself time to do for the last four years – I’m going golfing. I’m leaving my responsibilities behind and letting myself enjoy the morning with a very dear friend. Life is too short to sweat the small stuff and having a cleanly mowed lawn is infinitesimal in the grand scheme of my happiness today.

Today is not about having time, it is about making time. Too many moments have passed me by because I put something or someone else first. Today is about me being selfish and I’m okay with that. I’m going to get dressed in my new golf shirt, shine my clubs and chase a little white ball around a freshly manicured lawn that would put mine to shame. I can only hope I remember how to hit the damn thing.  Fore!

 

 

The waiting is the hardest part

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If I had a crystal ball to look back at all the times in my life I had to wait for things, I would probably be astonished at how many hours I have spent in a holding pattern.  In those moments of uncertainty, time takes on a mystical quality and one day feels like a week, a week feels like a year and anything longer than that feels like an eternity.

Trying to connect with, and build a relationship with, a literary agent has taken waiting to a whole new level.  I have crafted something I am extremely proud of and want so much to find someone as passionate about sharing my story as I am.  But that takes time – a lot of time.  Agents are very busy people and I understand that.  My manuscript is one in a pile of hundreds that they have to sort through to find a collection of phrases and characters that speak to them and that they think they can sell to a publishing company.  I get it.  But that doesn’t make the waiting any easier.

I recently submitted my full manuscript to a literary agent in New York.  Her email, although encouraging, did say it would be a few weeks before I heard back from her.  That email was sent 9 days ago but, in my estimation, it feels like 9 months have gone by since we had any communication.  In that 9 days, my emotion has gone from elation to worry, from feeling confident to being self-deprecating.  It has been a roller coaster of emotion but it is a train I have been hanging on to because that ride up and down those tracks and through those loops is part of the thrill of the journey to being published.  I can only hope that the ride ends well and I don’t veer off the tracks into a wall.

 

Listen to those who have been there

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Knowledge is power, this is a universal truth, and over the last few days this truth has made itself extremely evident.

I have been immersing myself into a world that is new to me and there is a huge learning curve as well as many veins of information that branch out from that curve.  To gain as much knowledge as I can, I have been spending a great deal of time travelling down those arteries of wisdom and storing as many nuggets of information as I can into the recesses of my brain.

Every author I have spoken to about getting published has said the same thing – it’s really all about luck and timing.  I have no reason not to believe them because they’ve been there.  They have pounded the same pavement on which I now find myself so they know this route much better than I could ever claim to know.  I have been spending a great deal of time learning about different literary agents, what they like and what they don’t like, and only adding those agents who may be a good fit for my book.  I have been spending much more time on Twitter as that seems to be a more popular social media site for those in the writing world and last week I was introduced to the hashtag #PitMad.

PitMad is a pitch party where authors have 280 characters to describe their unpublished manuscript.  If an agent likes your tweet, you have the green light to send them a query based on their submission guidelines.  I tweeted my first pitch and sat back, hoping for the best.  But then I wanted to know all I could know about PitMad.  It turns out, you can send a maximum of three pitches for the same book, so I carefully constructed a second tweet and sent it out into cyberspace.  When I checked back a while later, my second tweet had a beloved heart below it.  An agent liked my tweet!  I had the go-ahead to send a query and I did that as quickly as I could so my story was still fresh in her mind.

Luck and timing magically combined and, when I got home from work that day, there was an email from the same agent requesting to read my full manuscript.  I’m not under any illusion that her interest in my book is going to mean that she is going to take me on as a client.  I am quite grounded in reality.  I am, however, under the illusion that her requesting my full manuscript means that my writing has enough merit to make her want to see where I take the story and THAT is a huge step for a new author.

I follow “LitRejections” on Twitter and they post very encouraging tweets to help authors keep writing and survive rejection.  This tweet is the one that got under my skin and keeps me going ~ “Rejection of your writing will not break your spirits. You are going to do this. You will not quit. You WILL be successful.

Where is it written?

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Writing is a portal into the deepest reaches of our imagination.  There are no rules, apart from grammar and sentence structure, so a writer is free to craft a story about anything that tickles our fancy.

I really began my writing journey when I was eleven years old.  I loved the fact that words could take me to far away places, places that I had created, and that I could get lost in those words for hours.  It didn’t matter, back then, if the story was silly.  All that mattered is that I was transported into another world by words, captivated by ideas and compelled to chase the feeling of elation I got by writing a story or a poem.

I still get that same feeling of euphoria when I write.  Some days the words don’t flow as easily, but on the days that they do my fingers can’t type the words fast enough.  I love to look back at the beginning of this blog to see just how much the voice of my writing has changed.  I didn’t know that the stages of writing included puberty but I certainly found that stage and my writing voice changed to become the one I have now, the voice that wrote my book.

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I am hopeful that becoming a published author is something that is written in the stars, for me, and not written in the sand.  But if the writing Gods have scribbled my name on the beach, only to see it washed away by the tide, I will always have my words.

 

Find me in the middle of nowhere

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My heart is here.

This could be my absolute happiness.

The day I find it will be true bliss.

The land will curl around me for miles,

and the noise of reality will be non-existent.

The only sounds I will hear

are the crackling of the fire,

and the sound of the night

putting the day to bed.

 The crickets will sing their rhythms

in that four-part harmony

that hushes the night into sleep,

and the dawn will paint a new day.

My heart is here.

And with it lies my soul,

and my true passion.

For life breeds love,

and my love lies here,

forever waiting for me,

surrounded by nature,

soothed by its song.