Back in March, I decided I needed a new writing strategy. The one I was using was not working. I was writing a lot of words, but hardly any of them were on the stories I was trying to write. So I decided that I would write nothing else — no blogging, no journaling, no long emails to friends — until I finished writing the short story I was working on. I figured ten days.

Ten days went by. I was still writing. I thought maybe another four days. Four days went by. I was still writing. And on it went. (I cheated on the long emails to friends — that one was just impossible to continue not writing.)

Last week I finally finished the first draft and for the past week, I’ve wavered over whether my goal was to have a final version before I wrote anything else (it was) or whether I could start blogging again. The final version is not done. But eh, I missed blogging. And more than that, stuff has happened in my life that I don’t want to forget and blogging is my way of saving my memories, plus sometimes it’s how I make my thoughts coherent. So close enough, yes?

I am hard at work on the second draft and I will finish it, and moving forward, I’m aiming for balance. Some blogging, some story, all wrapped around with the realization that beginnings are hard and stories, for me, take a lot of thinking. Sure, a 15,000 word short story should only technically take me two weeks to write, but that’s after I’ve put all the thought into it. I can’t skip that step. And I don’t know why other authors get to speed through that step, but I just can’t. Even with characters I know well, it takes me a long time and a lot of daydreaming to find their authentic actions. Forcing it just means lots of time tangled up in a sense that something is wrong without being able to find the bruises.

Yes, I’m imagining an apple, rotten at the core, that looks all nice and shiny on the outside. I need my apples to be solid and sweet all the way through and it takes me a while. So it goes. Maybe I can get a job at … hmm, for some reason Home Depot was the place that came to mind. Possibly because there’s so much work to do around this house that I don’t know how to do? But maybe a job at Home Deport with writing for a fun hobby is the way to go. Not before Grace is finished, though.

And, in the realm of things I want to be reminded of someday in the future, R called in need of money last week, for a project for one of his classes. We discussed finances, a paper he’d been asked to submit to a conference, and a scholarship he’s applying for, and oh, I had a gigantic lump in my throat by the time I got off the phone. He is so mature, so independent, so self-motivated, and I am SO proud. Ironic that all that came out of a call asking for money, but it did.

During the high school years when I was being the academically incredibly hands-off parent — didn’t ask him if he’d done his homework, didn’t tell him he was going to be late for school, never visited a college with him, encouraged him to believe that it was okay if he didn’t go to college — I did sometimes worry. Academically, I was the opposite of a tiger mom. Well, with the exception of making sure that he was going to a school that valued learning, individuality, and challenge, which is sort of the dirt in which initiative grows, I think. But if he was a tree, I provided the dirt of the educational institution and the sun of love not conditioned on any parameter of “success” and got out of the way and … yay. It worked. It’s hard to parent in opposition to cultural norms. I feel like I spent all 19 years of his life trying to figure out a different way to be a parent than the models I saw around me and … yeah, yay. Yay, him, yay, me. And I hope his initiative gets rewarded.

Ooh, almost time for yoga. So a rambling personal blog post, but later this week, I’m going to be posting recipes on my cooking blog (I made a rub for grilled pork chops that is so good my mouth is watering at the thought of it) and something about writing — specifically adverbs — on the writing blog. But I’m still going to pretend that the professional publishing blog doesn’t exist.