Woodstuck Library?

Here I am for the third time this week stuck at the Woodstock library while my sons are involved at school activities nearby. Today it’s an SAT practice test. This place is becoming my home-away-from-home or my public writing spot. I’m starting to recognize the employees. Yesterday a patron, who rolled up on his bicycle and locked it to the wooden railing out front, remembered me from earlier in the week and commented about something I’d said days earlier. I wonder if he’ll show up today. It’d be a great day to be on a bike.

I received a very nice letter from Shakespeare this week. It wasn’t actually from Shakespeare, but it read that way. It was actually from the dear author Terry Kay, a member of the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. He’s encouraging me along my way and says he owes me lunch or dinner. He doesn’t owe me anything, but I’ll certainly take him up on the invitation. Meeting up with him to discuss my work is enough incentive to get to those two short words that I look so forward to typing—The End.

As for now I’ve gotten to one of the trickiest parts in my story—the middle—just before the crisis, and it is a very tough part to write. I don’t want to write it. I’d rather write a research paper on bird behavior. I’d rather pull out the novel in my bag and read for the next three hours. I’d rather go get a peach milkshake from Chick-fil-A. Yet, I must push through. I know I can do it, and I will do it. I’m unclear at this point how it is going to go, but that is part of the journey. Yesterday I left my protagonist up in a tree all day. She was stuck too. Stuck in wood. I never did get her down, even at the end of the chapter. That’s okay. That’s how it ended. I didn’t plan that. The characters tell me what they’re going to do.

While I’m stuck here at the Woodstock Library, I better go visit with these characters and listen to what they’re going to tell me this morning. I hope they’re in talkative moods.

The 3 Cs

This week started the new school year, which includes for us for the first time my younger son’s participation in the JROTC program on Tuesday and Friday mornings. Scheduling in two more trips to the school area for a three-hour stretch of time adds much-need structure to my week after the freedom of summer’s open-ended days. Only a short ride from his drop-off site is a lovely library with the homiest accommodations. Though I arrive 45 minutes before the doors open, the front porch is lined with wooden rocking chairs beckoning me to come “sit a spell” before I go inside to begin the real work at hand. The porch gave me time to catch up on emails, FaceBook, news and grading papers.

Once the clock strikes nine AM, the doors are unlocked and a few people trickle in to use what the library has to offer. Earlier this week I selected a table and chair with a more formal writing set-up. Today I needed an electrical outlet to plug in the laptop, and I’m too physically exhausted after an all-day Braves game date with my husband to sit upright, so I’ve chosen a spot on a comfy sofa in the reading room. Periodicals line the wall, and I notice an unlit (thankfully) stack-stone fireplace to add to the homey charm this place resonates.

It’s cozy, comfy, and cool in here—a perfect refuge for me to get this writing on. Ready or not, I’m headed to manuscript land. But if anyone hears any humming, it’s likely not my laptop. It might mean I’ve gotten a little too comfy and dozed off. Please wake me in time to pick up my cadet at 11.

I don’t need no stinkin’ fork!

Four extra teenage boys stayed over at my house last night to celebrate my younger son’s 14th birthday, and it became evident that no matter how many times I told them not to wad their wet swim suits and towels on the floor, that both the towels and swimsuits ended up exactly there. Air Soft guns, video games, and night-vision goggles battled for the number one spot. Swimming pools are passe’ at this point. Unlike in my day—a pool would have been the ultimate. We were easier back then.

They’ve just made an appearance for breakfast. I had thought about milling some grains to make whole-wheat pancakes. Then I thought, they’d probably rather have Cheerios. I was wrong. They wanted cake and ice cream. So what does a good homeschool mom who cares about their health and well being do?  Let them eat cake.

I looked across and said, “Forks, napkins, right here.” The tallest of the boys in his sleeveless shirt and apparent young athletic build grinned, as he picked up the chunk of cake with his fingers and crammed it into his mouth. Apparently, he liked the icing, because he was whipping it up with his fingers and licking them KFC style. That same kid super-sized his strength while trying to scoop out some over-frozen home-made ice cream, and it catapulted across the floor. “Checkers!” Call to the dog for clean-up.

So in one way, they’re an easy bunch, these teenage boys. Give ’em some space, give ’em some boundaries, and give ’em some food—even if it is just dessert.

No Rules: Just This and That

So many rules have been written about writing and the newer form of blogging. Some advise writers to be an expert on a topic and to create a following in that area. Some warn against writing anything personal to avoid becoming self-indulgent.

Do it this way. Don’t do it that way. Be sure to include X. Don’t forget to leave out Y. Be sure to blog while you’re writing your manuscript to create your reader-base. Don’t waste your time blogging, you should be writing your manuscript. With so many right ways and wrong ways encircling, no wonder I’ve been paralyzed for a couple months to write on my blog.

I’ve stated for ages that I, like my father before me, am a jack of all trades, master of none. (Though he did hold a master’s degree in law, but that’s another story) So as I thought about it (just now), what am I a master of? Basically, only my life. That’s it.

So if I’m going to blog (I better since I paid for this domain name), I better get “to writing.” If it bores you, don’t read it. If it offends you, knock the chip off your shoulder. Revert back to my first advice, don’t read it. Actually, I find myself prisoner of the Southern-girl stereotype, that I’m probably holding back what I’m thinking completely. In that way I wish I could be more like one of my faves, Neal Boortz, the talkmaster, who even has a book titled Somebody’s Gotta Say It.

Don’t expect expert advice, because I don’t hold any advanced degrees beyond my bachelor in business administration.

But you may hear quips about my dog, my teenage sons, my bottom-line man husband. You might get a peek into Sunday mornings with the kids on UpStreet and the lessons they teach me. An occasional story of being a homeschool mom might find its way, or you might hear tidbits about the process of writing my novel. It may be another two months before I make an entry.

It’s pretty much like my life, a patchwork quilt made up of bits and pieces, scraps and blessings. Wrap up in it if it makes you comfortable, or choose another if you’d rather. It’s up to you.