Monday, June 11, 2018

Breaking Hot

School's out. For two of my five kids, that still means something. For my other three whose lives no longer revolve around an academic calendar, not so much - the exception being my recent college grad who has yet to experience the impending arrival of fall without the hassle of moving back onto campus. I'm sure he'll adjust.

At Casa de Plate Spinner, the official summer kickoff usually takes place on Memorial Day with the hurried hassle of parade prep: digging out our camp chairs (crammed in the crawl space next to the Christmas decorations), slathering everyone with sunscreen, doling out water bottles, dropping one car off somewhere close to the end of the parade route so the boys could drive home after marching, then scurrying into town, dodging police barricades to drop them off in the town center where the rest of their scout troop was busy getting into position. That  done, my husband and I, and those not marching that year, would race to find a parking spot, grab our gear and hustle to find an unoccupied spot along the parade route (preferably shaded). Phew!  If we were lucky, we'd get settled just in time to see our guys march by, flags in hand.

This year, though, we had none of that. Our youngest, the only active scout left in my brood, chose not to participate. As if that in itself wasn't enough to make it feel like summer hadn't officially started, the weather has been unseasonably cool. And I'm completely OK with that.

My crockpot probably isn't. I'm sure it was looking forward to catching a break once I switched from slow-cooking soups and stews to grilling sausages and steaks. Also not cool with the chilly temps, I imagine, would be the proud possessors of season passes to the park district pool. And air conditioner repair guys (and gals).

Me, I'm already humming Christmas carols and addressing cards. If this keeps up, I might even start stringing lights outside.

I know I'm probably jinxing myself by even writing this post, but I just can't control myself. Cooler weather means no bugs, the grass is still green, I can still wear sweaters, and outdoor workouts don't leave me parched and panting. Best of all, I don't feel guilty cloistering myself indoors to get some writing done.

Because if the weather was warmer, I'd feel all sorts of pressure to, oh, I don't know - toil in the yard or go for a swim in the aforementioned park district pool. But that would mean I'd have to drag my camp chair out of the crawl space and, if memory served, it was right next to the bin of Christmas decorations...

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Destination: Happiness

Hi! Welcome back. I've missed you!

Three years is a long time to be away from a beloved blog. The journey on which I embarked when I left has been rife with road blocks, wipeouts, detours and tolls. Heavy on the tolls.

When I first started this blog, I had just seen the movie Julie and Julia (you know, the one in which a young woman decides to cook every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook, blogging her experience...? And who can forget the ending...when her answering machine emits one urgent message after another from editors and literary agents, all wanting to strike a book deal?!? Yeah. That one.).

Anyway, I remember leaving the theater that night starry eyed, certain that my little local Chicago Tribune parenting column would turn into something big. Really, really big.

Then I'd be able to quit my day job, write full-time, maybe re-do the kitchen. Then, and only then, would I arrive at that place called "Happy."

Well, something big did happen. Sort of. In 2014, I became a published author! Then came my second book, and third. I immersed myself in learning all about the craft, connecting with like-minded writers, building my fan base, discovering all there is to know about self-promotion and marketing. I was on a frickin' roll.

By the time I finished my fourth book, though, I pulled my gaze away from my laptop screen and let it roam over my kitchen's dated, somewhat dilapidated decor. Despite my best effort, the room was exactly the same.

Everything, as a matter of fact, was exactly the same. I was still holding down my day job to support my family. All I had done was add another full-time job. So what if I was pursuing my dream? And don't even get me started on the kitchen.

My next royalty payment, like those that had preceded it, was painfully reminiscent of my first part-time job's paychecks (read: abysmal). Just for kicks, I estimated the amount of hours I had spent since typing "Chapter One" in my very first novel and divided that by my royalties earned to date.

Big mistake. Huge.

My heart sank as I stared at the minuscule hourly figure. Self-doubt seeped into my bones like an icy ache on a cold, rainy day. I knew the time had come to step back and take stock.

  • Why was I still having to work a day job? 
  • Was I not a good enough writer?
  • What was I doing wrong?
  • Should I quit?

Then I did. I gave myself permission to take a week-long break. That week turned into a month.

After three more, my publisher sent me an email asking when she could expect my next book.

If I had received that inquiry two years earlier, I would have been over the moon. A publisher wants to know when she can expect my next book! Huzzah! Only this time, I was annoyed. With what, I wasn't sure.

Still, the question lingered. Why was I still having to work a day job? 

Maybe I was a very good writer.
Maybe I wasn't the one doing anything wrong.
Maybe writing wasn't what I should be taking a break from.

Should I quit writing? Never.

Until the next time, peace out.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Looking for Me?

Dear Readers -

Come follow me on my new website and "Like" me on Facebook to hear the latest and greatest of my adventures in being a published writer and tag along my the rocky road to the top of the New York Times bestseller list - because you know as well as I do that it's gonna happen.

In the meantime peace out and just keep spinning...