Thursday, April 29, 2010

How Your Kid is Like a Poem (but only if you're a poet)

Becoming a parent isn’t like they say it is. That subtle, constant disapproval of small children and those who raised them doesn’t go away. It’s just accompanied by a tired resignation that, to the childless out there, you are now included in that group. “It’ll be different when it’s your own” isn’t true, either, for anyone wondering. You’ll still be frustrated and disgusted, sometimes to tears. And for anyone who thinks you can’t be disgusted to tears, wait until you get distracted for that slip of a second while changing your kid after someone has fed him a bucket of corn and a barbeque brisket sandwich, and he gets hold of the diaper before you. Tears, I tell you. Also, possibly some screaming.

What was I saying? Oh yeah, parenting is difficult and frustrating. It’s also rewarding in a way that’s difficult to articulate. Because it’s not different when it’s your own. You are different when you have one of your own. That’s when little things like an unsolicited hug, or a moon-eyed child wandering up to rest his head against you when he’s tired makes your whole day.

Of course, the next day is more monkey-style feces-throwing (You be the judge of whether I mean this literally) and howling protestations when you give the child something he just freaking asked for.

Writing is a little like raising a child. You’re tired. All you want to do is drink a glass of wine and put your feet up and watch Lost, but you promised yourself you’d hit at least 1,000 a day. You’re so frustrated you can’t think, but just like you can’t shake a baby, you can’t rattle sense into your computer or typewriter. Time out barely even works on it anymore. And when a piece gets rejected, you feel like you’ve failed as its maker. And when it succeeds, happiness bubbles up inside you like a tiny, carbonated sun (Not really – that would kill you. The sun is hotter than you think). So you go on to the next day, or the next story, or the next chapter.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How to Combat Illiteracy

By today’s standards, I carry a small purse. By “mommy bag” standards, it’s laughable. I used to only carry keys, a wallet and Chapstick, so this bag is a vast expansion for me. Inside of it, I have the aforementioned essentials, travel-size tissues, hand sanitizer and a Blackberry Bold, which is roughly the size of a Volkswagen Rabbit.

Why, you ask, would I carry such a large phone-thing when I am so minimal in my other choices? Because of this. Not the awesome, creative part of that, the angry part.

As pretty much everyone under the age of eighty now does, I too feel the need to randomly tweet updates of mundane goings-on, be instantly accessible (by phone, IM and two email accounts), and comment on news tidbits that have nothing to do with me. But I refuse to savage the English language while doing so. So I have a phone with a full-size keyboard on it. Sure, I still make typographical errors and occasionally type one letter off from where I intended and then send the message without spell checking it. But, I am afraid that once I start taking liberties with spelling, the path to complete regressive illiteracy will get shorter and more tempting. & thn WTF?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Declinations and Trust Issues

Having worked in a certain kind of marketing, I have taken a different approach to marketing my writing, to marketing myself. Rather than booking rejections, the bane of the struggling writer, I am booking declinations. One, it keeps me in the mindset that parts of the process that are personal and fraught with uncertainty for me are, for the person on the other end, just business. Hopefully, at some point I will make contact with someone who will want to make it personal, but for the time being I'm trying to detach a bit so that I don't become a soggy mess on the floor with each declination.

I received two within the last two weeks, for different items sent to different parties. One, a novel manuscript, went to an agent. The other, a short story, went to the editor of a publication. The short story declination was odd. It felt as though the editor was frustrated with me. I don't know this individual, so I chalked my instinct up to trying to read more into the declination than was there. Then I took a look at his blog, where he was commenting on submissions he'd read. And, I would say that my sense of frustration was validated. Also, he said that he did not trust me. Not the narrator: me. That was something new, although I will admit that if we were doing a team-building exercise and he had to fall back into waiting arms, I probably wouldn't be able to catch him. I have weak wrists and an aversion to catching things.

The declination from the agent was more normal, at least. She had a couple of encouraging things to say, specific to my efforts, and a not-unexpected reason for rejecting my manuscript (Yes, I can use the word. I just prefer not to.) Is it wrong to be encouraged by thoughtful rejection? I think not.

Aaaaand...we're back

Aaaaand…we’re back. The brief hiatus was to collect our thoughts, take a short and lovely vacation to St. Paul, MN and respond to the first signs of spring at the latitude with some half-hearted yardwork and balls-to-the-wall car washing.

Thoughts we thinked while away.

Target Field is pretty sweet. And seats in the Legends Club section yield a delightful view of 1st Baseman Justin Morneau's behind. Well designed (the ball park), it feels open even with about 40,000 people there, except when everyone is coming and going all at once. Unless you’re trying to find a cup of coffee, in which case you will walk seven miles inside of the ballpark and find exactly two coffee stands (one of which was directly behind you when you started walking, but you didn’t see it…thus the trip around the world).

Homemade raspberry limoncello is not a good idea. Not before or after dinner. Not with wine or beer or booze. Not in a boat and not with a goat.

The Happy Hour margherita pizza at Pazzaluna is, for reals, good.

My brother and his girlfriend are the bests hosts ever.

It hurts right around the sternum to be away from my two year-old for four and a half days.