Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Young Adult

A few of you have inquired as to the status of The Novel.  Ugh.  For an update, I must refer you to Amy MeyPfan (a literary genius) who is the only person to have read it.  One of the major things I needed to figure out about the novel was to determine its genre.  Honestly, I had no idea.  Amy provided me with the shock of a lifetime when she informed me that it was "Young Adult."


I had thought there was no way that this book could be Young Adult.  Granted, I was aware that it was about young adults, but these young adults occasionally do bad things, so I had assumed that actual young adults (ie, teenagers) should not be reading it.  Then Amy pointed me to a list of current Young Adult books on the market, and I was all whoa. Life has definitely changed since Are You There God, It's Me Margaret was controversial.  The kinds of trouble that my Young Adults get into seem very, very tame compared to what's out there these days.

It has been very helpful to define this book to a genre, but it has also been problematic.  Mainstream publishers (if I even want to go that route, which is a whole 'nother story, and one that will involve a lot of gratiutous swearing) seem to have a smaller word count limit for Young Adult novels.  For me, this means I would probably have to cut out about 3-1/2 chapters to even get close to this limit.  In addition, a lot of the research I did for this book now seems to be a moot point.  Young adults do not care if I have depicted a realistic scenario of how many days you wait after cutting down the pasture to bail hay.  Young Adults would probably also find the entire second half of the novel to be boring and uninteresting.  I could just cut that whole part out  (that would help with the word count limit), except that then the end wouldn't make any sense.  The reader would be going, "Wait a minute, who's Shannon?" and the book would suck.  Maybe the book sucks anyway, though, I don't know.

If I'm going to move forward with this, I need to make some major structural changes.  Major.  It is amazingly depressing how un-creative the writing process gets when you even begin to consider publishing.  It is like the antithesis of creativity.  It makes me want to scream or throw or burn or break something.

All of this would be a lot easier if I were not working full time, caring for a young child, training for my 11th (or is it 12th?) marathon, grocery shopping, making dinner, cleaning up the house, and writing a howler paper for Mt's edited volume.  I sleep so little that I feel sick all the time.  In fact, I am sick right now.  Something's got to give, you know?

The logical thing would be to stop the presses and abandon the novel.  I should work on the howler paper in all my free time (ha!) so that I am less stressed when the deadline draws near.  Maybe someday when things are more settled down, I could return to my badly-behaving rural teenagers and figure out how to make this novel work.

I should do that, shouldn't I?

There is laundry to fold, lunches to pack, words to rewrite.  And I promised myself I would get more than 5 hours of sleep tonight.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Well, I am 2^5 old today, or more plainly spoken:  32.  Wait, is that right?  I was born in 1979.  You do the math.

For the last several years, my birthdays have become increasingly chaotic.  It has not always been of my choosing.  Last year, most likely in tears, I recall thinking that if I lived to see 32, all I wanted was for NOTHING happen on my birthday.

Let's see if I can recount some of the craziness of the past several years:

25th birthday, 2004:  On a camping trip in Appalachia with Rob.  We may be smiling in the pictures, but we had just had our 2nd fight ever.

26th birthday, 2005: In Managua waiting to fly home and vowing never to return to Nicaragua again.

27th birthday, 2006: Having returned to Nicaragua, I was in a hospital in Moyogalpa that had no toilet paper.  Someone down the hall was either giving birth or having her leg amputated without anesthesia.  I was extremely ill, but Rob was the one who was being treated.

28th birthday, 2007: Moved into our house in Urbana, having just left Eduardo in Nicaragua.  I was supposed to be all happy to be back in the US, I guess, but instead it kind of felt like I'd been forced to reach into my chest cavity, extract my heart, and throw it to the sharks in Lake Nicaragua.

29th birthday 2008: On a boat in Lake Nicaragua, looking for Eduardo.
30th birthday, 2009:  Had given birth to my one and only child  2 days prior.  Will wouldn't stop crying, ever, not even for a second.  An asshole pediatrician at the hospital told me I was starving Will to death by trying to breastfeed him and that I would have to give him formula because everybody on the planet would die if he lost any more weight.  I have never met anyone more insulting, ignorant, and arrogant than that worthless sack of shit.  He actually referred to the nurses on staff as "the girls" and he told me that giving Will formula wouldhelp my milk come in.  Luckily I was smart enough not to listen to him, but even so, my 30th birthday was the worst day of my entire life.

31st birthday, 2010: Moved to St. Louis with approximately 3 weeks notice.  Started a new job and put my son in daycare for the first time ever (prior to this we'd never been apart for more than a few hours).  We didn't have a place to live yet so we stayed in a hotel for 2 weeks.  Also, my grandmother was dying and passed away just before my first day of my new job.  My family held off the funeral till the weekend (because I could not take any time off of work at that point), so that I could come home and give the eulogy.

Well, I guess my 32nd birthday is about to draw to a close and thankfully there has been no tragic event.  I got to go on a long run this morning, and afterwards, Rob and I biked over to a park with Will to meet some friends.  Will enjoyed the playground, and I had a chance to chat with some of my favorite yoga moms (one who now lives in St. Louis, and another who had come down to visit).  Although I have been feeling ridiculously awful for the past several days (out of control exhaustion), I got a second wind after a 20 minute power nap this afternoon.  Then this evening, we hung out with some neighbors until Will threw a fit and we had to take him home.  He wouldn't eat dinner (as per usual), but I soothed myself by having a piece of leftover birthday cake from his party yesterday.  I got lots of phone calls, emails, cards, texts, tweets, and Facebook messages from everybody wishing me a happy birthday.  It was really nice!

Tomorrow I resume my career-- going back to work full time after about 6 weeks off this summer.  A little stressed out by that.  A lot stressed out by that.  I still have to write the howler paper for Mt's edited volume, and I don't know when I am going to find the time to do that.  Hoping all goes well.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dear William (24 months)

Dear William,

Today you are TWO YEARS OLD!!

Happy birthday to you!

Do you remember when you were a tiny little baby, and all you could do was cry and eat and sleep? You don't? Well I do! It is hard to believe that two whole years have passed since then. Where has the time gone?

You began this month with a trip to the Pacific Northwest to celebrate your ma and pa's 10 year wedding anniversary.

When we came back home, you and I had a lot more fun around St. Louis. We even went to the zoo, where you rode the zoo train. You really liked that.

I took you on the carousel, too. At first you were bored while we were waiting for it to start up. But once we got moving, you loved it. You threw a huge fit when it was time to get off though. I told you we would ride it again another day, but I guess you didn't think that was soon enough.

We took the metro to downtown to City Gardens with some friends, and you splashed around in the fountains.

You have also been enjoying lots of pool time in your kiddie pool that we set up in the back yard, and you've enjoyed a few more excursions to the playground.

You've been learning a lot this month too. You love reciting the letters of the alphabet, reading your Dr. Suess alphabet book, or doing anything that has to do with letters. You recognize letters when you see them, too. When we were at the grocery store and you were sitting in the cart, you pointed up and said "A! B!" I looked behind me, and we were in the aisles that were labelled A and B! I was very proud of you for recognizing the letters and saying them out loud.

Another big milestone this month is that you USED THE POTTY for the first time ever. You've used it a total of 6 times this month. Sometimes you are very excited to use your potty, but other times you could care less. I try to keep reminding you that you will get to have some chocolate chips and a sticker if you use the potty, but you are often preoccupied by other things, such as reading your alphabet book and watching Dora on the iPad.

Reading material

You've continued to have a really tough time with the two days per week that you go to daycare. You do not like your new classroom (for 2-3 year olds) very much, I guess. You miss your old teacher. You cry and cry and cry and cry. It breaks my heart. You start crying at night when you see me lay out your school clothes and you realize that is where you are going the next day. You are very clingy to me in the mornings and you don't want to put on your shoes or go outside because you know where you will end up. You refuse to get in your stroller or carseat, and when we finally manage to make it there, you start sobbing your heart out once we are in the door. You hold onto my legs because you don't want me to leave you. I don't know why you don't like it there anymore. You used to love daycare so much. The whole thing is just breaking my heart. I am very nervous about starting back at work full time and having you go to daycare every day of the week. I'm currently working on writing a novel that hopefully is so good we become millionaires and then your dad and I can quit our jobs and just stay at home and play with you all day. Wish me luck with that.

I love your ears and nose

Well, William, I need to go get ready for your party. Be sure to check back on the blog for some pictures of it later!

Love always, Momma

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ms. Kenna

Last week my sister gave birth to a healthy and beautiful baby girl.  I am so happy for her that whenever I stop to think about it, I spontaneously burst into tears.  Having a baby is always a thing of great emotion, but my sister has been through more than anyone ought to have to go through for her children.

Thanks for reading.