Sunday, December 13, 2009

Meet Minnie

I have a new friend. She's sitting on my lap right now. She's small, sleek, and black. She's a great listener. The cats ignore her.

No, I didn't lose my mind and get another dog. Minnie is my HP Netbook. My fingers dance on her delicate keyboard. My muse feels at ease with her modest, non-high-tech appearance. I can sit where I'm warm and comfortable to write. It's love.

Since I started this blog to track my transition from working editor to stay-at-home writer, it's time to give a status report.
  • I have some regular free-lance work that I enjoy. Of course none of it came from the dozens of letters I wrote, but maybe that was just putting my intentions out to the Universe.
  • I have a wonderful, encouraging agent who is shopping one of my novels around. The responses have been negative but kind, indicating that I'm on the right track, but not there yet.
  • I am working on a new book, and beginning to be excited about it.
  • I am building a comfortable way of working. I seem to write best when I feel relaxed and safe. Writing is a risky business. Since it's too cold to sit on the porch, I have a new favorite spot--in a floor recliner, under a quilt, in front of my faux fireplace. Well, the fireplace is real, and the fire is real, but it comes from one of those cans of gel that crackle like a wood fire, behind a faux but convincing log. Music is softly playing on my computer. My muse is content. I practice a trick I learned from my writing coach:  I start by writing in my "Time Tracker" what I'm going to work on, for how long, and what my mood is. It's a quick way to focus. And when I finish, I have the satisfaction of logging that in, too.
  • I discovered that I can keep my energy up by switching from one activity to another. If I get tired of writing, I can practice my guitar, or go for a walk, or crochet, or sketch, or read about writing, or sort something.
  • I keep in touch with friends on the Internet, with lunches and outings, with letters.
So far, I have to say, so good.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Little Miracle

When I went in for a routine echocardiogram, I didn't know what it was. I had a vague image of being hooked up to something like a lie detector, with needles scribbling lines on a graph. It turned out to be (am I the last person to know this?) a lot like the pictures they take of babies in the womb, cold jelly and all. When I looked on the screen, there it was, the engine that runs everything, pumping its continuous complex rhythm:  in with the good blood, out with the bad blood. Little doors opened and closed with perfect timing, over and over and over. I was astounded. How had I not thought about this mysterious machine that floats like a living planet in the middle of my chest? What makes it go? Where does its life come from? My reaction was not unlike my amazement at seeing a sonogram of my son. (I almost expected to recognize little fingers and toes.) I was confronted with a miracle. I am thankful, on this Thanksgiving Day, for miracles.
(This is not my echocardiogram, by the way. I pulled it from the Web. I wish I had asked for mine, though.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

One Man's Trash Is . . . Still Trash

Nothing ruins a good walk like globs of trash littering the sides of the road. After muttering curses for a while against the people who use the scenery as their wastebasket, I finally realized that I could pick up the trash and then I wouldn't have to look at it. The next time I set out, I carried a kitchen trash bag and a pair of gloves. Before I had gone half-way up the hill, I had filled the bag and could barely carry it. (That was when I learned to start collecting trash on the way down the hill.) It was a Sunday afternoon and several people drove by, but no one acknowledged my lonely quest for tidiness. Maybe some of them said to themselves, "Look at that poor lady cleaning the roadside. I swear I will never toss another beer can out the window."

I did have plenty of time to make some observations about litterers:
In my neighborhood, at least, Busch is the beer of choice to swig in the car and toss out the window.
Malboros are a favorite of litterers.
Cigarette filters are not biodegradable. Couldn't we get them to put that on the packages? Would anybody care?
Construction workers seem to lose a lot of equipment along the road. I found a level, a box of screws, and some siding.
I couldn't understand the reasoning of people who toss out soiled disposable diapers. Then I looked up "disposable" in the dictionary, and it became clear. "Disposable" means "designed to be thrown out." The diaper tossers are very, very literal.
The strangest object I found was a long green shoelace tied around the neck of a plastic alien. Maybe someone was taking the alien for a walk and it got away. I took the shoelace home to repair something, and the alien--well, it's pretty cute. I think I'll keep it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Will You Won't You Will You Won't You

I have been noticing with pleasure the play of serendipity in my life. It happens when I make myself open to invitations to do something on the spur of the moment--those gentle nudges that are so easily drowned out by other voices: That's a waste of time! Too tired! Too far! Too hard! Too cold! Etc!
I decided to sort and file a pile of papers in my office that I had been avoiding and found an important document that I was afraid I had lost. Hidden in plain sight.
Even though I was busy doing other things, I decided to drop by the library in a nearby town to see if they had an audio book I could listen to on an upcoming trip. There I met a wonderful librarian, Irma, who's going to be a new good friend.
I decided to take a road trip to visit a friend in Massachusetts and ended up getting to spend a couple of days on a island, in a cottage she had serendipitously found on Craig's list.
While there, I wanted to go exploring. But when I woke that morning, the wind outside the window sounded like a cold winter gale. I went anyway, and found my way around to the wild and rocky "back shore" of the island. The wind had only been bluffing.
Spur-of-the-moment walks when the weather is iffy often reward me with surprises: a graceful waterfall, a perfect rainbow.
So I'm trying to keep an ear out for those whispered invitations: "Go this way." "Try this." "Won't you join the dance?" They rarely lead me astray. Or rather, they do, but sometimes astray is where I needed to be.
By serendipity, when I was thinking about this topic, I found this quote in Peaceful Living, by Mary Mackenzie: "This is your moment to live. How can you spend it in the way that you most enjoy? Be conscious and present as much as possible in your life and you will feel more connection and joy in all of your activities."
And this quote comes from One Day at Teton Marsh, by Sally Carrighar: "The Otter found the outlet of String Lake, traversed another lake and came to the outlet of it. The deep drift in the lakes was slight. No senses could perceive it. He swam, however, with so little willfulness that the flow could could give his movements a direction. The guidance of instinct is like that flow, is like a trail in the water that can be followed, although it cannot be consciously scented, seen, or felt."
I wish all of you many moments of serendipity in your days, going with the flow.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Groundhogs Are Back

Sometimes we make a mistake. Cora was (is) a sweet, adorable, little lady, and if I had been in the right place and time for a dog, I couldn't ask for a better one.

But. Soon after I brought her home, I realized that I had made a wrong turn. I had so clearly relished the freedom of being on my own. That feeling of freedom took a nose dive. I felt tied down, accountable, distracted, frustrated, and trapped. Really, all of those--just because of a lovable--and loving--little dog. I tried to convince friends that she was just what they needed, but apparently she wasn't. I tried to grit my teeth and accept that we were meant to be together, and got more depressed. The last thing I could see myself doing was taking her back to the shelter. What could be more heartless?

But. Cora's one bad habit was getting into the "briar patch" that surrounds my property and had worked effectively as a fence for Sisko. Admittedly, she was just doing exactly what I had brought her home to do--taking care of those groundhogs. I tried to explain to her that she didn't need to be QUITE so thorough. She ignored me--tracking down critters was her area of expertise. So the neighbors had to put up with my constantly bleating "CORA-A-A!" when she disappeared. Or I had to keep her constantly on the end of a leash. Who was tied to whom?

Finally I decided to see what would happen if I left her to her own devices in the yard. Maybe I was underestimating her. Maybe she understood what her limits were. She didn't. She worked her way through twenty feet of brush, across a big road, into the field on the other side, and didn't show any signs of stopping. I'm telling this to illustrate why I believe sometimes our wishes are granted in mysterious ways. My fear for her safety was the push I needed to return her to the shelter. Although I felt all kinds of rotten and sad, I also felt my inner compass swinging around. Unfortunately, just because something is the "right" thing to do doesn't make it easy.

On my way back from leaving Cora at the shelter, I stopped to talk to a friend, and she said the magic words: "They'll take good care of her. Don't beat yourself up. I know they will, and I'm trying not to. Another friend said, "Maybe you were the half-way home she needed." And my own inner wisdom reminds me that dogs don't take things so personally. They are more adaptable to life than most of us.

I'm praying for a wonderful home for Cora. (You can contact the shelter here if you're interested!)

And meanwhile . . . does anybody know what to do about groundhogs?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Around the Bend

Last Thursday was my real, official last day at Highlights. They organized a lovely luncheon for me at a local inn. I appreciated all the kind things that were said, and I appreciated all the people who came to help me celebrate. One of my luncheon guests was Ron Zalme, who is the talented current illustrator of "The Timbertoes" and "The Adventures of Spot." I thought you might like to see him. I'm holding a cool piece of art he did for me of the Timbertoes.

People kept asking me how it felt to be retiring, and I was stuck for an answer. I've never retired before! But eventually (and as with most of my best responses, after the fact) the answer did come to me.

In 1932 John Gee illustrated a storybook called The Timbertoes. This was twenty years before the Timbertoes appeared in Highlights. The little wooden family has lots of adventures in the book, including an episode in which Tommy gets abducted to be a child's action figure. Toward the end of the story, summer has ended, and winter is coming. Pa Timbertoe decides the family should head south. He builds a raft for the journey. This is how the book ends: "On down the brook they floated. Around the turn went the little raft. Around the turn and out of sight went the Timbertoes."

I don't mean to imply that I'm going to disappear. It's the image of heading into new waters that appeals to me, trusting the river to carry me to new places, in its own time. That's how it feels.

P.S. Thanks to Sue Erb for the photos of this and the previous event. She's a pro!

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Power of O Gbona Vivi

In one of my former lives, I taught English for the Peace Corps in the West African country of Togo. I rented two rooms in a compound from a sweet older gentleman named Leon Mebounou. M. Mebounou considered himself my in loco parentis. It worried him that I was a young, single woman far away from my home and unsupervised by my family. When the male Peace Corps volunteer in my village began spending a lot of time visiting me, he arranged for a little engagement ceremony for us, just to be on the safe side.
M. Mebounou and I had long, wonderful talks. One day he told me, "You Americans rush around too much. We have a proverb: O gbona vivi. It means you only breathe one breath at a time. Relax and take things little by little. When you get back to America, tell them this."
I've been pretty faithful to my mission to deliver this message to people I've met over the years. I even wrote a song about it. But it popped into my head again the other day when I was raking grass, and I thought about how useful it has been in my life.
It was useful when I looked at all the grass I had left to rake. I realized that I only had to rake this little section, and this little section, and this little section . . . I didn't have to rake the whole yard at once.
It's useful when I start up the hill that begins the route of my morning walk. I only have to walk to that daisy, and then to that stick, and then to that beer can. I don't have to make it to the top all at once.
And it was amazingly useful when I was working on my novel. Me, who had never written anything longer than 1000 words! But I could do it, thirty minutes at a time--this 200 words, and then this 200 words, and then this 200 words. . . .
Akpe nto, M. Mebounou!

Friday, August 7, 2009

NOW I've Done It!

I've officially announced my retirement--no, my graduation. I feel the way I did when I graduated from college, ready and eager for what's to come. My friend Dimitrea put it beautifully: "I think the title retiring is for those who have been pooped out from what they've chosen to do, but I think in your case what you've chosen to do has only put you in a position to pursue your dreams more fully."

Chris Clark decided I was really serious about leaving this time and set aside some time for a presentation at a recent gathering at Boyds Mills, although my official last day isn't until August 25. That's Kent Johnson, the CEO of Highlights, on the right. He's holding a framed print of a vintage Timbertoes strip done by John Gee--they know the way to my heart.

When it came time for me to say a few words, I decided to commit, the way you do when you're starting a diet. I told a tent full of people that I was leaving in order to write. I have witnesses. I have no excuses. I'm pursuing my dreams. Wish me luck!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Meet Cora!

Cora came home with me today. She is a miniature schnauzer. She had been at the shelter about three weeks. I think she has been well treated, but she has the air of someone who is not going to get too attached until she's sure. She had been a breed dog for schnoodles. The people at the shelter said she was looking for a nice place to retire, so I'm hoping she'll enjoy the view from my porch and the lack of amorous poodles. I'm looking forward to our sharing the adventure of retirement.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Things That Are Easier Than Writing

My friend Harriett pointed out in her blog that reading religious pamphlets left at your door is easier than writing, which is just one reason working at home can be distracting. That inspired me to come up with a partial list of other things that are easier to do than writing:
1. Weeding the garden. I have a bed that is nothing but waist-high weeds. I was just going to pull a few, to see how easy it was. It was easier than writing. An hour later, I had weeded half the bed.
2. Writing letters. I hardly ever write letters. Today I wrote four.
3. Picking raspberries. Not just a handful. Every one I could find.
4. Combing the cat. And I have a cat you can comb for an hour and still remove mounds of loose hair. Some day, I think, she'll completely unravel.
5. Cleaning out my e-mail in-box, reading every e-mail in the process, and doing a little comparison shopping on the computer being advertised on the side of the screen.

Jane Yolen's famous advice, "Butt in chair," is hard to follow. It seems easy. Just settle down in front of my computer and stay there (and stay off the Internet). Some days, when the golden light of inspiration flows through my fingers, it is easy. Those days, I look around after two hours and say, "Where did the time go?" But other days (today, for example), when each word has to be pulled out of my brain like a stubborn dandelion, it is excruciating. I don't want to settle down. I want a glass of water. I want a cookie. I want to go out and play.

But I think I'm figuring it out. Even though I've heard it over and over and have even preached it to others, it's just now sinking in. Writing is more likely to get done if I sit down and make myself available every day, whether I'm inspired or not.

But first I have to go to the bathroom . . .

Friday, July 3, 2009

On Groundhogs and Puppy Dogs

I'm going to have to make a big decision. I'm under siege from a herd of groundhogs who are circling closer and closer to my fenced-in garden. They are also tunneling under my shed and under my house. It's only a matter of time until disaster strikes. I've tried doing the humane thing, setting out a Havahart trap baited with a slice of apple scented with vanilla. This is apparently sure-fire groundhog candy. Last year when I caught a groundhog, I put the trap in the back of my car and drove to some woods two miles away. I opened the door and the groundhog ran out, did a U-turn and headed toward my house. I think it beat me back. This year when I managed to catch one, I didn't make that mistake. I drove across the Delaware River on a one-lane bridge and let it go in a park. That groundhog will either have to swim, cross that bridge, or hitchhike to come home. The trouble is, the rest of the groundhogs have somehow figured out how to get the apple without releasing the trapdoor. So that's not working. I'm not into guns or poison or hiring people who are (yet). What to do?
I realized one day that I didn't have this problem when I had Sisko. He was a peaceful-natured dog, but groundhogs annoyed him, and he would chase them into their burrows when he got a chance.
The solution seems obvious. I looked at dogs at rescue shelters online and saw several I could imagine bringing home. Unfortunately, they were all located hours away. And it feels a lot like online dating. Glowing descriptions so often don't match reality. Then I saw Jo Jo on the Web site of the local shelter. She's just what I had in mind: a small terrier mix, not too young and not too old. However, when I went to see her, there was a problem. Her puppies had just been weaned and were in a cage down the hall. She could hear them, and she was worried about them--too worried to pay any attention to me.
I might give it a week and go check on her again. But the cooling-off period is giving me a chance to have second thoughts. Do I really want another dog? As is, I'm free to take off for the city or a writing retreat or a workshop whenever I want. I don't have to have my train of thought interrupted when I'm writing to let a dog in or out. I don't have to let a dog out at four o'clock on a winter morning. I don't have any vet bills.
On the other hand, the companionship of a compatible dog is hard to beat. And there are those groundhogs . . .

Friday, June 26, 2009


When you think about it, a hero almost never goes off on a quest alone. Luke had Han and Leia; Frodo had Sam and the rest of the Fellowship; Dorothy had the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, and the Lion.

I have sometimes worried about a lack of allies. Having allies seems to be a sign that you are on the right track, and I tend to be a loner rather than a natural networker. I have been gratified by the encouraging responses I have received about this blog and about my writing. Thank you. Your support means a lot.

I remembered another thing about allies. They appear once you actually begin your journey, not when you're sitting at home thinking about it.

I feel that I'm setting off in good company.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ruts and Rivers

I have been busy lately trying to figure out how to schedule my time--how many hours for revising manuscripts, working on new manuscripts, brainstorming story ideas, contacting publishers, gardening, and so on, and so on, and becoming more and more frustrated. Then it occurred to me that I have been trying to force my new life into the pattern of my old life of office hours and deadlines. The point of my life now, it occurred to me, is to explore and to grow. (NB: To any prospective clients who may read this, I'm still very good at deadlines when I need to be.)

At a workshop I attended, we cut out words and images from magazines for two collages, one titled"Rut," and one titled "River." On my "rut" collage, there are words like "control freak," "comfort zone," "boundaries," "problems," "worried," and "the system." The images include a robot, a traffic jam, a crowd of pedestrians, a stop sign, a watch, and Queen Elizabeth. For "river," I chose "courage," "celebrate, "yes," "explore," "curiosity," "wonders,"--you get the idea. There's a picture of the earth from space, a mountain hiker, a meandering stream, a kayaker, a shaman in a technicolor blanket, and a large bear. As inviting as the river is, a rut is where I usually find my mind.

We are creatures of habit. In her book Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach tells about a tiger at the Washington Zoo. For years the tiger was kept in a 12' by 12' cage. At last a spacious new habitat was constructed for the tiger, with hills and trees and plenty of room to roam. But to the end of her days, the tiger stayed in a corner of the habitat, pacing a bare patch of ground 12' by 12'. Whenever I think of this story, it reminds me to question all my self-imposed boundaries.

I asked some writing friends how they stay creative. Do something nonverbal, they said. Play. Take walks. Work with your hands. Empty your mind. "I can't work unless I'm happy," one said. She makes herself happy by creating wonderful little cloth dolls.

So I do these things with a new appreciation of how they feed my life and keep me flowing with the river and out of the rut.

The Digital Photography School invites its members to enter a contest with a new theme each week. You can see a list of themes here. I don't aspire to enter the contests, but I love looking at the creative ways the winners have interpreted the themes. This morning, I took my camera along on my walk and used one of the themes, "Lines," as a way to focus my attention. Looking at the world through a camera, I notice details I would otherwise miss. And looking for "lines" was a surprising way to interact with scenery I see every day. I brought home several ideas for poems that I'll work on.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Butterfly Days

Sisko and I were supposed to retire together. Retirement would be an endless stream of "butterfly days"--perfect days spent doing what I want to when I want to. Butterfly days started off with Sisko and me taking a walk down the road near our house, watching the sun brighten the day, listening to the birds chatter, and in Sisko's case, smelling everything. I smile, remembering the time he was hurrying to catch up with me and skidded to a stop to catch a smell he had missed. Our best times were on walks. Stuck in the house while I was at work, he would wait patiently for me to get home, then follow me hopefully until I said the golden word: "Walk?" We walked as two companions, not as dog and mistress. Sisko never got used to a leash. I think it offended his dignity. Instead, he let me know that he was perfectly capable of doing all those leash-type things--heeling, keeping out of traffic, staying--on his own. He was a very sensible dog.

Soon, I told him last year, soon we'll be able to take morning walks every day. It will be perfect. We'll grow old together and we'll take shorter and shorter walks together. But his walks got shorter before mine did. Arthritis slowed him down and a liver ailment took him from this life. Sometimes things just don't work out.

I still have butterfly days. Now when I take a morning walk, Sisko's memory keeps me company. Good boy, Sisko!

Friday, June 5, 2009


Everytime I get off track, it takes me a while to remember that it's a matter of cause and effect. All of us know the rules that keep us on our own particular straight and narrow--in my case: journal regularly, get enough sleep, avoid timewasters, write before meals (got that one from Hemingway), and so on. It boils down to small, simple choices. Choose to watch a movie instead of working on revising your novel? Then don't be surprised if you feel frustrated and unproductive the next day. Choose to eat that dessert? Don't be surprised if your jeans don't fit. It's so simple that even I can figure it out. When I can remember.

Click here to read my friend Harriett's hilarious account of Wings and Ribs Night in Gatlinburg during the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A View OF my Porch

I didn't know exactly what attracted me to this little old farmhouse that was for sale--until I walked out on the porch. As if in a Coming Attractions reel, I saw myself sitting with my feet propped up on the railing, a legal pad in my lap (remember those?--they don't need batteries), basking in breeze and birdsong, and WRITING. And that happened. Every year about this time, the porch became the best room in the house, and my muse and I have spent happy hours there. However, just as I let weeds overcome my garden, I stopped treating my porch like the special place it is, and my muse like the special person SHE is. My porch became a place of flyspecks, cobwebs, and dust. My muse wasn't interested. So this week I armed myself with buckets of ammonia, rags, and brushes, and made my porch home again. Just as I was finishing, Annabelle and Ivy, the little girls who live next door, came over with a handful of lilac blooms for me. I put them in a blue glass vase and gave them a place of honor on the porch.

My muse won't be able to resist.

Friday, May 8, 2009

I Get by With a Little Help

Many people had advice for me when I decided to leave the 9-5 Club. A forwarded e-mail reminded me that decisions about fitness and nutrition made at this time will reverberate through the rest of my life. I painted a shed today after a lunch of salad from a neighbor's garden, so I think I'm OK there, so far.

Other tips from friends:

Do at least one productive thing each day.

You'll have good days and bad days.

Don't take work home from the office.

From friends who are already retired or part-time, the most common comment is: "Isn't it fun?"

Yes, it is!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Communing with my Inner Flower

Two weeks ago the view from my porch was still bleak, so it was exciting to head south for a four-day Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in the Great Smokies with fellow writer and hubcap artist Harriett Diller. We enjoyed quiet trails under lofty tulip poplars, rushing creeks nearby, and delicate, colorful blooms peeping out of the leaf litter and carpeting the banks. Highlights: scrambling for salamanders in a rocky creek bed. The ten-year-olds in the group showed up the rest of us. Listening to Karen LaMere, a Ho-Chunk Indian, tell us about harvesting wild rice and collecting quills from road-killed porcupines. Sitting on a log bridge by a creek sketching a flower. So engrossed in noting every indentation in every leaf that I nearly didn't see a turkey hen strolling past--and she took me for part of the scenery.

I came home filled with green and the sound of water and the peace of forests. It was a week spent being myself, free of daily frets and worries. A good transition to this new path I'm on.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Looking Back to Looking Ahead

As sudden as it feels now that Phase 3 is almost here, I have been laying some foundations for it:
A. Found a writing coach. I needed someone to keep me motivated to write, to advise me on making this a business, to listen to me whine. I chose someone I met at a writers' conference, because I remembered her warm and sunny personality (she is from California), her professionalism, and her great laugh. That laugh alone is worth the investment. We talk once or twice a month on the phone. I update her on what I'm doing, brag or wimper, and she offers insights and suggestions and gives me assignments which I usually forget to do. I know that I wouldn't have accomplished nearly as much as I have without her support.
B. Got my finances in order. I originally planned to retire in October of 2008. I made that my deadline to pay off the mortgage on my house. I found out what the payments would have to be to make that happen, and since I wasn't too far off from paying it off, managed to pay enough more per month to close it out. So now those lovely chunks of change, instead of going to the mortgage holder, accumulate in my bank account. My car is paid for. And I've been using my Social Security checks to pay off a credit card debt.
C. Began working regularly on a couple of novels, just to prove to myself I was serious. I discovered that I could find 30 minutes a day of writing time after work, and half-hour by half-hour I finished drafts of both of them.
D. Renovated my garden. I love growing vegetables, but for the last few years had given up trying to have a garden, and it quickly became a weedy jungle. Last summer and fall I pulled up every weed there was and covered the beds with straw. Now the beds are ready for their own Phase 3. Spinach, anyone? I'm also building some more beds so I can go crazy, vegetively speaking. To celebrate, I bought a beautiful pair of stone washed overalls which I plan to live in this summer, and a great straw gardening hat.

I feel some sense of security that I have looked ahead and committed to making a successful transition. There will always be unknowns, happy and scary. I'll take them as they come.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Courage to Change

This quote from Courage to Change, that wise collection of daily thoughts published by Al-Anon Family Groups, seems pertinent: "It's all right to feel disappointed, skeptical, resentful, joyous, excited, or confused about our changing circumstances." I feel most of those several times a day and in the middle of the night.
Disappointed: I expected to have secured some free-lance assignments by now. I remind myself that working part-time, a) I have more time to follow up on leads, and b) I'm still receiving a salary.
Skeptical: In spite of favorable comments about my completed chapter book, I will only believe it when I get that "We are happy . . ." letter from a publisher.
Resentful: I am annoyed with publishers who offer work and then disappear like wisps of fog.
Joyous: I feel breathless at the prospect of real freedom to structure my time according to my needs.
Excited: This is a new path, and I hear waterfalls and exotic birds up ahead.
Confused: I swing between the polls of "what was I thinking?" and "this is totally what I need to do." I suppose the truth is somewhere in the middle.

CTC goes on: "I will allow myself the dignity to discover exactly how I feel about the changes that are happening today. . . " Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Rocky Start

Behind every new venture, there's a plan. Of course, the plan may or may not pan out. The plan: Sign up for Social Security, pay off mortgage, find free-lance writing jobs to allow for occasional splurges, and retire with the requisite-sized nest egg. Right. That was right before the fall of the stock market. As I watched my nest egg shrink from turkey-size to wren-size, and as free-lance jobs did not come rolling in, I went to Plan B: work three days a week, and have four-day weekends every week! Sounds good to me. This is the current plan, due to start May 1. Next week is my last actual five-day week, because I'm spending a week in the Smokies, and then work retreats take up part of the next week.

In the meantime, I've been getting more encouraging responses to free-lance queries, and I have a novel almost ready to market. We shall see.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My Life: Part 3

Transistions should be celebrated. I am about to embark on a new phase of life, and I want to document it here. After 21 years working at my favorite children's magazine, and I am going to pick up where I left off and become a writer again. And a gardener, a dreamer, a walker, a traveler, and a front-porch sitter.