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[Quiet Thoughts] Ice Skating Uphill

12 months ago

1194 words

Photo: Isn’t this a pretty little something? I saw it at the bottom of my driveway yesterday! I have no idea what this flower is (was?). Whatever it is, it captured my attention very quickly and I’m so grateful this photo came out so clearly!


We’re 10 days into National Novel Writing Month and I’m proud to say that I have written 17,000 words. Not all of that has gone to Silverwood. Some of that went to the Christmas manuscript I delivered to my sister last week. Chapters one and two are waiting to be delivered to my story coach. 32 pages worth of work that I’m proud of. Chapter 3 was started this morning, and came out more smoothly than I thought it would. After writing those first two chapters and starting this third, I am already realizing that the outline I wrote (representing the first third of the book) is probably blown to pieces. Events are moving or changing completely. Some revelations were accelerated, others saved for later. The book has introduced two new elements that I hadn’t anticipated during my summer planning. It’s all good, but now I have no idea where I’m headed. I’m prepared to be delightfully surprised.

I am shepherding 15 other moms through NaNo this year. I put up a message in the newbie forum on the site, specifically writing to moms who are attempting the endevour. For those of you who aren’t familiar, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is an annual November challenge to write a 50,000 word novel from start to finish in 30 days. The purpose isn’t really to produce a book in 30 days (though it has been done! Water for Elephants and Night Circus are just two of I think a dozen or so books that were drafted during NaNo!). The point is to jumpstart, restart, instill, or otherwise encourage a disciplined habit of daily writing. I get a lot of joy from the frenzy and I really like watching other people grow during the month, too. It’s the teacher in me. Some things never leave you. And I do feel like a teacher again. I have a Slack channel set up and every night we gather to chat and sprint. There is a lot of sharing and commiserating and learning. It’s been an unexpected joy.

Having a significantly reduced freelance workload has been a mixed blessing. I’ve had time to do the work to get my book back out there, which is good news. I think I might have fixed a few minor formatting issues, too? I’m certainly learning a lot. I also have had time to write Silverwood. I’ve been behaving like a writer for once: producing work every day! I’ve been tempted to walk away from freelancing, trusting myself to only write fiction and be more productive. Perhaps freelancing is just one big distraction.

But that makes me anxious. It’s hard to walk away from potential income, especially under our circumstances. Christmas is coming, we just paid for that stupid oil tank… we were told that our boiler will probably get us through this winter, but probably not two winters… Life isn’t getting any cheaper. And besides, producing fiction costs money: I pay an editor to read my work and give me feedback. Do I take the hit for a while in the hopes that I’ll produce enough to make a contribution (or at least pay my own way) in the long run? Or do I spend my time writing a new website for my freelancing, making lead magnets, writing blog posts, gaining clients and doing writing for them? Opportunity costs and blah blah blah. I feel like I’m in undergraduate economics all over again. I’m hedging my bets by doing both right now. Writing about myself (professionally) is a weird thing to do. I hope I can create something effective and convincing.


It all feels so slippery and uncertain. When encountering people who are making decisions we severely disagree with, The Husband and I often quote a favorite line from Blade: “Some motherfuckers are always trying to ice skate uphill.” Welp. It’s me this time.

I’m writing. I’ll just keep writing. Until someone tells me it’s not worth it, I guess. It’s nice, at least, to help other people reach for their dreams. Maybe it’s true what they say, “those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

It is, as they say in local parlance, “wicked cold outside.” 33 degrees at the moment, with expected lows tonight around 16 (that’s Fahrenheit, ya’ll. I have a lot of readers in Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany). The wind is fierce. The sky is blue and the sun still has enough strength to warm the skin through the windows. Marinating teriyaki chicken is going in the oven soon, which will warm up the house in so many ways. We’ll enjoy it over rice with some roasted broccoli. I really cannot wait. It’s one of my favorite dishes to make.

On a chilly-cold Friday, I have wishes for you, Dear Reader. Mostly of warm things: soft blankets, cuddle partners, decaf coffee, and wood-burning fireplaces. Could this be the night for your first hot chocolate in a while? If you have a wood-burning fireplace, I wish you a roaring flame and the sweet, sweet smell of a good fire. If you don’t, like me, I wish you the satisfying joy of hearing the thermostat click on and the boiler kick in. Thank God for the warmth of hearth and home. I wish you a moment to give thanks, then I wish you the opportunity to share that warmth with others: don’t forget that the gently used coats in your closets that aren’t going to be used this winter would be much appreciated by someone who needs it. I wish you bread and cheese, a little soup, and excellent company to share it all with. Really, I wish for nibbles and multiple bowls, and time at the table that lingers for a long while. Have you had a chance to sit with your partner or your family and really share this week? Or have meals been drive-by affairs, quick and impersonal? I wish for you to have one good, slow meal this weekend, Dear Reader. Feed your belly and your soul. I wish you a kiss on the cheek and a tight, squeezing hug. I wish you a smile from across a crowded room and perhaps a bit of adventure, maybe even a touch of mischief. Do something this weekend that will make for a good story in the future, Dear Reader. Be daring and bold. And when you return to warmth and quiet, I wish you the satisfaction of knowing just how much you are loved and appreciated. I remind you every week because it’s a truth that is underappreciated and often ignored. Hold on to it tightly. Write it on your heart. You’re loved. You’re admired. What you do in this world matters. Walk with head held high, eyes steady on the horizon, and voice proudly raised. Sing a heart song that sets others to dancing, following your strong lead.

Until Monday, stay warm, shine brightly, and take care.

3 Replies to “[Quiet Thoughts] Ice Skating Uphill”

  1. I’m pretty sure the flower is Queen Anne’s lace, or something in that family. Cool fact, Queen Anne’s Lace and carrots are in the same family.

    As for “those who can’t, teach”. Grrrr. I could say something stronger but I’ll be polite. That expression is part of the same mindset that degrades skills by calling them “women’s work”. You know that everyone thinks they could teach (and do it better than anyone else)…until they try. And the best teachers walk the walk and are excited by what they teach. As for the dilemma you were writing about, I suspect there is no one right answer. It may be that in this season of life it makes more sense for you to take one path and in another season the time will be right for another. What works for you now?

    1. Is Queen Anne’s Lace a weed or a bulb or…? And how do you just KNOW that!?!?! You are amazing.

      You are absolutely right about teachers: when it’s done well, it looks easy, and therefore everyone thinks they can just do it. I know it’s hard work and all encompassing and totally underappreciated for the work that it is. You’re right. That quote was written in a moment of weakness and frustration… I guess sometimes I just want to be “more” instead of appreciating that everything that I have, which is so very much, is “enough.” Is it drive? Is it ego? It’s probably all that and worse…

      You’re also right about seasons of life. The problem is that seasons are unpredictable. Some can last seemingly forever while others come and go in a flash. As with real seasons, there are some that you should probably prep for now in order to reap the best fruits in the next. There are blends and there are non-starters and there are seasons that are extreme. I’m trying to build up trellises for the season to come because I’d like it to be my best season yet. It just takes time and energy (and treasure) to do that, while there are so many chores in –this– season that still need attending to. Thus the frustration. And there are no right answers, only the potential of failure, which often paralyzes me.

      1. Easy part first – Queen Anne’s Lace has been a favorite wildflower my whole life. I like to know the names of those I love 🙂 I believe it spreads via seeds on the wind and is generally considered a wild flower, though I’m sure there are those who would say weed. A weed seems to be any plant nature provides for free as far as I can tell.

        As for the rest, there are no easy answers, no sure paths. But you’re living a life of creativity and finding a way to keep who you are while being a loving parent. That’s a practice as sure as meditation or anything similar. You get up each day and try again, making plenty of beautiful oopses along the way.

        Ever heard the acronym FAIL? A mutual friend taught me it’s First Attempt In Learning. Just a misstep along the way. I find that reassuring.

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