Thursday, February 26, 2009

Writer on the Run

Although my life's been revolving around E's health issues lately, I've managed to keep up with my reading. Let's hear it for the portability of books, eh?

Recent reads (in no particular order, and, sometimes, read, concurrently):

Bliss by Lauren Myracle. I read Lauren's new book in a couple of evening's. For anyone who enjoys a good ghost story, this one's a page-turning must.

Nikki Moustaki's hilarious Dogfessions, a must for anyone who loves dogs. This one had E is stitches, and laughing so hard at times that she had to set the book aside just to catch her breath and give her stomach muscles a rest.

Denise Brodey's Elephant in the Playroom, a collection of essays from parents of special needs children. Good background reading for my Family Time autism article and for me personally.

Jenny McCarthy's books, Louder Than Words and Mother Warriors, more background reading for Family Time.

Current read:

The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon. Another page-turner, this one. Kekla's book is a coming-of-age story and history lesson wrapped in one. Few writers have fictionalized the moments in history that catalyzed the Black Panther movement. Kekla does it with power and grace.

On a side note, Kekla is a fellow Vermont College classmate. Before graduation--our last semester, I think--I remember hearing about Sam and Stick when they were but whispers of an idea for Kekla. To see how far the story has come, and to curl up with her book at the end of a long day, is a thrill beyond measure.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Where's My Clone?

Okay, so, where's my clone? I ordered her months ago in hopes another me would help ease the stress of managing writing and family. Unfortunately, she's on back order, the to-dos keep piling up and up and up, and my uninterrupted butt in chair time keeps shrinking.

Looking back on Vermont College, I truly don't know how I managed to produce as much as I did for my advisers. Each monthly packet required 20 pages of new creative and 20 pages of revised material, plus two critical essays on some aspect of the craft of writing. How did I manage such a rigorous schedule while wearing my mom hat?

Granted, I was paying for the privilege, and permission (leveraged by the almighty dollar) is a powerful motivator. But so what. I graduated VC on a roll. I knew without reservation that in addition to being a mom, I am a writer.

These days, all things writer-ly should be equal, if not better than they were after graduation. Both girls are in school. And E started a new asthma medicine not too long ago that's been like the Holy Grail, greatly reducing the number of sick days. I should be pounding out the prose. So, why does it feel like I'm writing less?

I have a theory.

During my VC days, the balls I was juggling were predictable. E was sick often. Sometimes weeks at a time. We were constantly in what I call bunker mode--hunkered down for the long haul, but somehow, in between holding barf buckets and keeping track of meds, I wrote.

These days, the only constant is E's health. She's missing school less (ie fewer ear and sinus infections thanks to the Holy Grail), which should lend itself to more writing. But the opposite is happening.

As I write this entry, I'm beginning to realize why. E's run of "good health" is being offset by a significant increase in required therapies, testing, and doctor's visits.

Since early January E's had serial casting weekly to stretch the muscles in her bad leg, Botox therapy to stretch it further when casting no longer helped, and physical therapy weekly to work those muscles. Follow-ups continue with the doctor who ordered the casting and Botox, and with the neurologist--another doctor--on issues we can't ignore. And now the latest: we need a work up with a hematologist because numbers are off. We visit the clinic at Children's in a couple of weeks.

None of these issues are trivial. Not only do they require immediate attention, they trump any writing time I might have thought I had.

Hmmm. No wonder I need my clone.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Don't miss this book

Kudos to Vermont College classmate, Kekla Magoon , whose debut novel, The Rock and the River, is attracting powerful buzz for its touching and realistic portrayal of the Black Panther movement. See the latest review here from A Fuse #8.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Writer On Deadline

Deadline is fast approaching for the article I'm writing for Family Time Magazine. Did I mention this assignment in an earlier post? In case I only imagined writing about it, here's how I got the job:

I made first contact with Family Time at the Harvest Literacy Conference last fall when J and I spoke about our teen writers' workshop. Before our presentation, I stopped by the Family Time booth to introduce myself and ask if the publication ever used freelancers. Turns out I was talking to the editor who, like myself, is managing a career and family. A couple of months later, the editor contacted me, asking if I had any ideas to submit for consideration.

One of the items on my to-do list for 2009 was expanding into the nonfiction field (with a little help from my background in journalism); so, when K emailed, the timing was right. I pitched a couple of ideas. She pitched a few of her own, and asked if I had experience with healthcare.

Talk about divine providence. Between E and her health issues, and the fact that the majority of my PR and marketing experience was earned working in healthcare, I've not only worked the topic, I've lived it. Before long we settled on a couple of stories to pursue, one on autism, the other on allergies.

The autism piece is due in a little under three weeks. I've been making steady progress on it thanks to a background interview with D, a contact from the Easter Seals where E receives therapy.

Today I think I finished enough research to move onto the next step. Interviews. I need a few good quotes to fill in my story. Then comes the hard part: whittling the article down to fit the space I've been given. 850 words, including a sidebar.

I love a good challenge.