…is not a good time to go shopping at CostCo. Unless you’re very fond of big crowds, free samples, and holiday temptation.

I hate crowds, can’t eat most of the free samples for one food reaction or another, but oh, did I succumb to the holiday temptations. After over a year of trying to follow the auto-immune protocol diet, I’ve eased up on some of the restrictions. All grains are bad for me, alas, and so are nightshades, sugar, and alcohol. But I don’t seem to have strong reactions to nuts; I cannot live without chocolate; and smoked salmon is basically the food that keeps me happy. So for lunch, I had a salad with mixed greens, smoked salmon, radishes, cucumber and black olives, followed by several nibbles of a snack mix that included dried apple, cranberry, pecans and cashews in a pumpkin pie spice blend (so yum!) and a single dark chocolate caramel with sea salt. Well, I say single now — I suspect I’ll be having another before dinner. I also got some of my Christmas shopping done and stocked up on sparkling water and cider. Considering that I went to CostCo to pick up avocados and chicken, I’m feeling very self-indulgent. And also like I want to take a nap, but I’m trying not to think about that.

I didn’t get a lot of words done yesterday, but that was okay, because I went to bed Saturday night absolutely stuck — pretty close to the give up in despair stage. I reread what I’ve written so far to try to get rid of my block and amused myself thoroughly but I felt like I was working with a mixed-up pile of jigsaw pieces and gradually discovering that really, I have pieces of three or four different puzzles, with not enough pieces to make any of the puzzles work.

My Idea of the other day was not enough Idea to carry me through. It was good, but not good enough. Yesterday, however, I had Another Idea. And Idea #1 plus Idea #2 — they might just add up to a complete story. However, I had to play with them for a while, explore their shapes, and see what pieces might work with them, and none of that part of the process involves words on paper for me. Or pixels on screen, or whatever. It involves washing dishes and staring into space and walking dogs and sometimes closing my eyes and hiding my face in a pillow. Despite the lack of words, I’m feeling better about the whole writing thing today than I did on Saturday.

I am enjoying the way I’m approaching the whole NaNo thing now, too. It’s sort of fun to be able to track the way my sentences take shape on the page.

Example from earlier today:

Lucas didn’t finish the sentence. “I don’t. But I didn’t mean to make light of your experience.”

“But I didn’t mean to trivialize your

“But I didn’t mean to dismiss

“I don’t. Not really. I shouldn’t have treated your feelings as if they didn’t matter.”

“I don’t. And I shouldn’t have acted like losing your friend, especially how you lost him, wasn’t important.

“I don’t. And I shouldn’t have acted like your friend—losing him and especially how you lost him—mattered less than my son.”

No wonder it takes me so damn long to write! That’s not even an important scene, not really. It’s giving some closure to the Lucas/Noah antagonism so it’s not left hanging, but it’s not the core story — I think Lucas basically turned into a red herring or some equivalent thereof — but this scene between them is minor. And yet it took me six tries to get that sentence where I want it to be. I’m not even sure it’s there yet — I don’t like Lucas describing himself as “acting” so I may still be tweaking more. I guess I know why I’m so bad at NaNo.

And obviously, I should try to overcome my need to write sentences six times, but I think that’s part of how I think. The first sentence is wrong — it doesn’t accurately describe what Lucas did. The second sentence is wrong, because the language isn’t right for Lucas. Trivialize sounds academic and he’s more direct than that. Dismiss makes him sound like a lawyer; feelings makes him sound like a girl (which is probably sexist of me, sorry); the next sentence is too vague. Finally I come to one that I can accept. But I had to think through the possibilities to get there. Of course, that does make it pretty clear that my real problem is overthinking. Sigh.

Anyway, moving on before I start editing myself, it was cold enough this morning that I wore gloves, a hat and a scarf while walking the dog. It’s nice to have autumn arrive just in time for Thanksgiving. It does make the season feel closer to right. The dogs were bouncing along like puppies. When we got home, after breakfast, Zelda actually wanted to play ball for a while, which is not her usual morning routine at all. But it made me happy to be having her chase the ball and skid around the floors. In two months, she’ll turn twelve and whenever I think about that, I feel anxious. I know better than to dwell on sad future moments, but time passes too quickly when dogs are involved. And really, I shouldn’t let a joyful moment turn into fear of the future — this morning, the dogs were playful and we had fun so yay, autumn.

And now time to get back to the words that matter. Or maybe to the research that I have to do for Idea #2. I definitely need to do some research but is it just an excuse to spend some time browsing? But better browsing than napping, I suppose!