Digging my way out from under the snow…

…to write something for once!

Halloween was a bit of a non-event this year; I decided not to pretend to be Mother of the Year (who am I fooling, anyway?) and bought costumes for the kids rather than trying to home-ec it. Ellie wanted to be a ballerina, making it easy on us, since we knew she’d be starting ballet lessons and needed the gear. Gwen wanted to be a witch, so I went to Target and found a costume that was cute, relatively inexpensive, and should last through many dress-up play sessions long after the Halloween candy is gone.

The actual trick-or-treating was even more low-key; we hit up a grand total of six houses before the kids lost interest, then went to an old friend’s Halloween party, which proved more fun (for both adults and kids) than wandering the streets in pursuit of buckets of sugar. Halloween: Accomplished.

Ellie started ballet lessons last month, and so begins the phase of parenthood where we shuffle kids to and fro for various activities. She was pretty discouraged after her first lesson — she takes after her mama and doesn’t like to do anything she’s not perfect at — but after her second lesson seemed to settle in, plus she has a bunch of friends from school in the class. I don’t know how we’re going to keep up with her social life.

We rung in the first of November with a massive winter storm that knocked out the power and dumped 21 inches of heavy, wet snow on the ground. It’s not unusual for us to have snow before Halloween, but two feet is a local record. I haven’t recovered from last winter yet, so having fall cut short is not my idea of a good time. At least the kids were thrilled.

I’ve kept myself busy with writing…but not the book. I considered doing NaNoWriMo this month, but given everything else that’s going on decided against it. I don’t need another book right now. I need to finish the series I started, and stop getting distracted by vignettes and short stories. Although now I have this idea in my head for a Walking Dead/X-Files crossover fic…

Speaking of zombies, I’ve been walking more lately, thanks to the treadmill, The Walking Dead on Netflix, and Fitbit’s new Weekly Challenges feature. One of my coworkers started a work-week challenge, so I’m keeping a closer eye on my step count. Also, I’m a teensy bit competitive. And now I really want to set up the treadmill with a desk or shelf of some kind so I can walk while I work.

We’ve been mostly sitter-less for the last couple weeks, so my patience has been worn to a fine thread. I love my children, I really do, but I think a date night is in order very soon.

2013 in review

2013 was rough–stressful in both good and bad ways, and looking back I’m floored at the amount of stuff our family has been through. There’s been travel, moving, new additions, injuries, and work–we’ve run the gamut, and I’m proud of all of us for making it through with relative good humor and patience. Hopefully 2014 will go a little easier on us.

A rough timeline of events:

  • A work trip to Hawaii in January made for a picture perfect start to the year
  • In April, we adopted Atticus. I had no idea one puppy could be so much work! But he is a sweetheart, and he’s calmed down quite a bit since we first brought him home. He likes to lay on my feet on the couch at night while I write or work.
  • In May, I traveled to Italy for work. Our team stayed in a rustic countryside villa in the hills outside of Florence, which was as amazing as it sounds.
  • We sold our condo in central Maine and moved north (the nearest Starbucks is in Canada, if that tells you how far north we are), back to my childhood home, to be closer to family. Easily one of the best decisions we could have made. The girls are thriving, and we’re loving all this space.
  • Gwen turned two in September, and boy, did she ever turn two. She owns her two-ness. She climbs, she runs, she’s maniacally happy and sad in one breath, she’s persistent and driven, and she wants to do everything by herself. Yep, definitely two.
  • Speaking of Gwen, we had that burn accident in September, which landed her in the hospital for three days and scared us all pretty badly. Thankfully everything turned out OK, we held it together, and she came out mostly unscathed. Though now she likes to tell everyone, “Mama spill hot coffee on my monkey shirt! Hurt. I cry.”
  • Another trip, this time to San Francisco and Santa Cruz for the Automattic company meetup.
  • We were without regular internet access until November, which made things difficult for working at home, but we managed. Got pretty familiar with the very few free wi-fi spots in town, and drank a lot of Tim Horton’s coffee.
  • I wrote not one but two novel-length pieces of X-Files fanfic, completing my first NaNoWriMo! Woohoo! I’m in the process of publishing the first novel here.
  • November also marked my second European trip of the year, this time to London, and I really want to go back; I feel like I could have spent weeks there.
  • I worked a lot. I may have spent more time in pajamas than is considered socially acceptable. I continue to marvel at how lucky I am to work with the people I do, and to get paid to do the stuff I do. From home. In my pajamas with the Ninja Turtles on them. Yeah. I love my job.
  • I struggled with depression, and it took a lot of time and convincing for me to acknowledge it, but with help from an SSRI and therapy, I’m ending the year from a happier, more balanced place.
  • Ellie turned five in December, which feels like a personal milestone for me. When she was a newborn, I remember thinking of five as some magical, mystical age in the distant future, and now it’s here, and I am so proud of my smart, funny, beautiful little girl. She drives me crazy, but I love her to pieces and I can’t wait to see what the next five years bring.

Upcoming in 2014? More travel. Potty training (redux). More fanfic writing. Working. Family. And hopefully a happier, more positive outlook on the whole.

NaNoWriMo status update

I’m 7 days into NaNoWriMo, and I’m having a great time. I’m already halfway to 50k, but I’m not patting myself on the back too hard for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, this is fanfic; I haven’t had to go through the process of creating too many new characters, or building a world, or a backstory. A lot of the heavy lifting was done by someone else before I started writing, and I have the luxury of playing with what’s already there. Fanfic is easymode.

Second, since this piece follows my previous fic, I was already in the practice of writing or editing every day, and had outlined the story (for the most part) and thought about it well before I started writing it.

Third, my inner editor has been bound, gagged, and locked in a closet. As such, what I’m writing this month will never be shared with anyone else in its current state, which really takes the pressure off. I did NaBloPoMo several years back, and it was hard. Knowing people might read what I’d write? Scary.

In contrast, NaNoWriMo is a free-for-all of words without worry. Grammatical errors galore, typos, repetitive phrases, a wobbly timeline, lack of context, plot holes galore–my current draft has all these and more. And I don’t care, because I’m getting the ideas down, and eventually I’ll go back and edit, and edit some more, and bring it all together.

It’s a different experience from writing the first fic, which was edited as it was written. I’m not sure I like the writing-without-editing process better, but it works for the purpose of writing fast. I’m not sure I would do it this way again, but it’s an interesting approach.

The month only gets harder from here; the end of November is busy with travel and Thanksgiving, so my goal is to get to 50k before I leave for London. Then I’ll try to spend the rest of the month re-reading and editing and filling in the gaps.