i am a famous novelist

Well, I guess I’m not actually famous yet. But I am a novelist, or a partial one. I am a quarter of the way to my goal of eighty thousand words, so I’m posting it on my blog for the world to see. World meaning the five people who read my blog. (Hi Mom!)

In high school I started writing an epic fantasy novel about a girl who was Very Special and underwent Serious Trials and Tribulations while wearing Elaborate Dresses and Falling In Love All Over The Place with Interesting and Older Men. Yeah. I worked on it well into university, until I was taking a full course load plus choir plus basketball and I ran out of time for novels. When I picked it back up again that summer, I was mortified and threw away all my notes.

A couple of times in the intervening decade (DECADE) I opened up the Word file and reread it. I would say “Hmm, has potential, requires a heavy editing hand,” close it again, and go about my business. I blogged, I wrote things for church, I journaled, and I kept it in the back of my head as something I might come back to. A few times I decided to start writing again and could not come up with another idea for a book. Also, there were children.

A few weeks ago I came across a tutorial on the hidden depths of Scrivener (the tutorial is expired, or I would link to it), and I had to try out all the tricks I learned. I opened up that massive file, imported it, and started fiddling around with the program. When I realized I could export an .epub file, I re-reread all 52 000 words on my iPad. Then I started making notes.

Six weeks after starting the rewrite with a nearly complete overhaul of the plot and characters, I’m starting to get into the exciting bits. I’m going to start posting here about my process as a record of the process. So stay tuned! Which probably means check back in two or three weeks, when I remember to post again.

what it really means to be an adult: some thoughts

Lately I’ve been working on my awareness, checking in with myself to gauge my mental state. I started when Clara weaned a month ago, because the hormone fluctuation has had a significant impact on me in the past. I was pretty down for a couple of weeks, and now I seem to be back to “normal,” although given that five of the past six years have been spent gestating or nursing, I’m not sure I remember what normal is just yet. My observations are showing that I spend a lot of time teetering on the brink of feeling overwhelmed, and just a wee push sends me over the edge and, if left unchecked, I fall into stress, anxiety, and then a meltdown or a panic attack.

If I pay attention to what I’m feeling in any given moment, then I naturally assume that my feelings are true, that everything is fine and lovely and my children are wonderful, or life is falling apart and stepping on one more Cheerio is a sign of the end times, or no one likes my Instagram picture and therefore I am meaningless. I might be a wee bit dramatic there, but I find that I am dramatic, if I’m letting my feelings run the show.

But feelings are big. The more I help my kids learn how to handle their feelings the more I reinforce my theory that grownups don’t grow out of childhood, they just add more layers. Grownups are children who have internalized a parent that tells them to eat vegetables and go to bed on time (as I am not doing right now). It’s hard to listen to the parent in my head when I am full of feelings that tell me that everything is terrible and what good is anything. But my inner parent says go outside, go for your run, you will feel better. And the parent is right. So the feelings are not exactly wrong, but lacking the bigger picture.

I’m trying to learn to pay better attention to my inner parent. The one that says that checking Facebook usually makes me feel worse, not better. The one that says that I don’t actually want sweets because I end up feeling gross. The one that reminds me that being the adult in the house means that I have to clean because it needs to be done whether it is fun or not, and that a clean house makes for a drastically improved state of mind. It’s difficult. It’s a strange thing to realize that probably every adult you admired as an kid was making it up as they went along. It’s equally strange to start hearing your five-year-old say she wishes she was twenty so she would be able to do things on her own, and remembering those feelings, and realizing that dang, that dream did not manifest in the expected form.

I think that slowly discovering the inner parent was the work of my twenties, and listening to her is the work of my thirties, or maybe the rest of my life. I hear worrying statements from people older than me that indicate that it’s an ongoing struggle, feelings vs inner parent, or id and superego, if we’re getting technically psychological. I feel like the appropriate response to this is to have a temper tantrum because it sucks and it’s hard, but in fact I will click publish, brush my teeth, and go to bed. Like a grown up.

christmas break

Hello friends. I’m taking a break for Christmas, but I’ll be back in January. Happy Solstice! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! I hope you enjoy the festivities you celebrate at the darkest time of the year.

Love,

Annemarie

mary walks

This year I am writing a reflection for each Sunday of Advent. After I read them in church, I’m posting them here.

Mary walks. One foot in front of another, steady and slow.

The pace of her feet and the pace of a donkey are the only speeds she has ever traveled; she has seen horses thunder past, but she has never ridden at the pace of the wind.

Walking slows her racing thoughts and calms the blood pounding in her ears. Too many thoughts of things past and things to come seem to untether her from the present and cause her to drift through time, unable to hold onto the current moment. The steady pace of her feet brings her back to where she is, living in ordinary time, unraveling her days without Joseph, without Jesus, and without her angel.

It feels going to be doing something, to be moving.

The path begins to incline, and Mary walks uphill, towards the tree at the top. This hill and this tree are special for her; she makes the hike to the top at dawn every year close to Jesus’ birthday. It feels as though the movement upwards through space also moves her into a different time. Certainly the time she spends up here has that magical fast-yet-slow quality that she associates with God’s time.

Many times she needs to stop and rest, and she wonders for how many more years she can continue her tradition. But each time she stops, she notices something new. This time, she watches the town below her stir and awaken. Next time, it’s a pair of birds dancing in the wind. Then it is simply the pattern of the pebbles at her feet, and how the blades of grass grow around them.

It has taken her longer than usual, but she is not too late. She pauses to catch her breath, then settles into her usual place. She looks up, and sees the sight she has come for. Every year at this time, from this spot, she can see her Jesus’s star, shining on the horizon. Waiting, longing, remembering, and walking all come together in this place. She is Mary, the mother of Jesus, and she knows God’s time.

mary remembers

This year I am writing a reflection for each Sunday of Advent. After I read them in church, I’m posting them here.

Mary remembers.

She remembers the angel, the radiance, the spirit of the Lord coming upon her. She remembers the shining moment when she was given the gift of radiant joy, of the peace of God, of a glimpse from God’s perspective. She remembers knowing that she was a part of the Lord’s work in history, bringing forth a mighty transformation.

She remembers the moment when everything fell away and she was outside of ordinary time and space with the glorious being of light, sent directly from the Lord to give her the message that she was blessed. It was awesome and awe-filled and she had been so afraid, and then the angel said “fear not,” and she found that she could move past fear into peace and acceptance of what the Lord was asking of her. She had seen in an instant that it was no small thing she was agreeing to. She knew that she was being asked, not demanded or coerced.

She remembers the birth, her first birth. The birth that transformed her into a mother. She was again outside of normal time, the seconds stretching into hours but the hours passing in a moment. She remembers, after it was over, feeling an amazing rush of joy and pride in bringing this baby, her baby, the Lord’s baby into the world.

Both of those moments define her. They are the times that she felt the most whole, the most complete. To her, they exist in God’s time.

She looks up to see fingers of dawn tickling the edges of the world. Going back in time through memory has restored her to hope.