Sunday, February 28, 2016

La La Land: Shepherds Pie and moments

La La Land: Shepherds Pie and moments: The Nameless Blog? Blog with No Name? Every Woman? See, nothing is sticking. I'm boiling potatoes for Shepherd's Pie. I make S...

Shepherds Pie and moments

The Nameless Blog?
Blog with No Name?
Every Woman?

See, nothing is sticking.

I'm boiling potatoes for Shepherd's Pie. I make Shepherd's Pie a lot, but not the Shepherd's Pie my mother used to make, which, at one point, she explained was actually a Cottage Pie. I'm making a proper Shepherd's Pie. The difference is the meat. Cottage Pie is what we actually ate growing up. Shepherd's Pie is what my kids will remember eating growing up.  The difference is in the meat. Lamb is Shepherd's Pie, beef is cottage pie.

It's never to late to learn something new.

I'm boiling the potatoes because I'm making homemade mashed potatoes and everyone likes those better than boxed potatoes when they're done right. Except Husbear, who often prefers the instant potatoes, but he also likes white soft bread and boxed stuffing.
Brown gravy and butter seeping through.
Boy, do I just hate it when that happens.
I wasn't just thinking about Shepherd's Pie and Cottage Pie, though, I was also thinking about  my mother, like I usually do this month, since it's her birthday. She used to say that after her father died, on his birthday every year, she'd get a headache. I always thought that was awful. Mostly, at some point during February, I will remember some of the things of my mother. For instance, the wreath that I made with all of her favorite colors is hanging on the door again. On her birthday, I ran the Oskar Blue's Old Man Winter Run, and thought of how she'd say something encouraging, like, 'Do you really need to run today? It's going to be so cold. Wouldn't you rather have coffee?' because she'd think it was crazy to run on a cold day when you could be drinking coffee instead. If my mother was looking down on me running, it was only to try and prod me to jump off the course and head for the nearest coffee shop. You're running so close to the mountains. Aren't you worried about mountain lions?

Now I'm thinking about the memories of me that my children will have one day, when they're older and cooking. They'll have few memories of me baking, because I'm not much of a baker.  But what will they talk about, I wonder? Will it be my Pho? My Shepherd's Pie? My Cornish Pasties? (If I make them soon!) My Beef and Lamb stews? My pork chops with Cheesy Broccoli? The Butterfly Pasta? They'll remember me running and writing, and hiking and taking photographs of nature, I'm sure. They are the only things they think I do. I suppose they'll remember me chasing them out the door with 'where are your bicycle helmets? and begging me to make them eggs before school. I suppose that's not bad. I remember my mother's stuffed mushrooms, her astrology charts and her stories, her sitting at a desk or a table with ancient computers and word processors. I remember her Cottage Pie and her Meat Pie (I have the original meat pie recipe, if she were the Queen, I'd e-bay it) and this horrid dish she loved that she tried to pass off as fancy - a sort of turkey on toast in gravy with peas. Soggy bread. I remember how much she loved it and how much I did not love it. I remember how much she loved the Queen, and the Pope.

I wonder if it's too late to learn to bake? Then they can remember me making custards and pies and breads, too. Wouldn't that be nice?

I'm wondering all of these things and the potatoes are still boiling. The boys are at the park with a friend and their entire life is school and play and parks and computer games and bicycles and imaginary monsters. I remember being 12. It's a good age to be.

The potatoes are done now, and I've got to start the lamb mix. The boys just popped in and are making a snack - ramen - they prefer the shrimp flavors, where when I was their age, I devoured the oriental seasoning. I think even my grandfather would agree that it's better to, on a loved one's birthday (month) think about the everyday things they did, than to commemorate it with a whopping headache. It's interesting, really, that it's only the everyday things we care about. When it comes down to a lifetime recalled, it's the impressions, moments, thoughts, foods, sayings and mannerisms.

Well, my mother would be happy for me today. 'Did you write?" she'd ask. "Yes." "Did you have a good cup of coffee?" Of course. "Did you go for a walk?"Yup. Did you stop to smell the flowers? Always stop and smell the flowers. "Yes." Well then, everything is fine, isn't it?

Note: I left the potatoes in the colander to drain for a quick sec, and came back to hands picking out freshly cooked potatoes. As I was shooing the gangly fresh-from-outside scented owners of those hands, I was transported back to a tiny kitchen of red linoleum on the third floor where my sister and brother would snag all the black olives straight out of the can whenever my mother turned her back, because black olives are the best... another  thing I remember.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Truths about Writing

I can't think of a better name for my blog.

This is not a truth about writing. It's me complaining about the title of my blog.

I figured I'd start off with a reminder I need a new blog name sometime soon, eventually.

But here's a picture of some crazy flowers first, because flowers know how to live. These are my favorite flowers. So tough, so wild. Kinda crazy. They embrace their beauty even if their petals aren't quite even.

Playing in the wind, were we?

And before I get to truths about writing, here's one more picture  I took this summer. I love it, because you can see Wild Horse Island sort of fade into the distance like a painting, which is exactly what it looked like that day.

Truths about writing.

I think I’ve done a similar post in the past, but I think about writing when I’m writing a novel, and, as most of my friends/four blog readers know,  I’m writing a novel.
It’s true that writers want their work published, and preferably, to make a nice dime or so on it.
It’s also true that writers don’t need to have their work published to feel accomplished with writing. That may be my truth, but I think I’m not the only one. Publishing is an outward sign of success, of course, but publishing is the end of a long process that no sane person would go through just to make a nice, shiny dime.
Or, put simply, writers don’t write to make money. Not the best writers. Many writers make money. There are a bunch that make hoops of money. Most writers would love to be those writers. Some of those writers write specifically to make money, and would argue with my philosophy that writers write for the love of the craft. I fall into the ‘of COURSE I’d love to make money’ camp. Since, then, I could write and write and write…. I don’t write for that, though. That would just be a nice side effect. I write because I have stories in my head, and I’m compelled to write them down. if I don’t write them down, I start feeling guilty, because there are characters, real characters with stories and lives, and if I don’t put them on paper and give them breath and a chance at life, they will haunt me for years to come. (I’m talking about you, random dwarf with an axe chasing a dragon.)

This is writing. You start out on a sunny day on a trail, one you know. Then, it rains, the temperature drops, fog rolls in. Suddenly,  nothing is the same. Now it's a rainy, chilly foggy day and you now need a coat and hat and coffee. Even though you are in the same place, everything is different. Even though it's chillier and darker, it's somehow better. That is writing, if you do it enough. Kind of. You have to appreciate the not-sunny days.

They are funny, like Try to Be Human. Try to Be Human is unpublished, and probably will be forever, because I finished it at the same time that the market for that genre dried up. Which is a shame, because it’s really kinda funny, and perfect for the market of women who aren’t 30 and single or 45 and divorced!
They are fantastical. My very first unpublished novel, a fairy tale,  is fun, but not at all something that was written well. There were moments of great genius in my first unpublished novel, but the plot holes were black holes, and I was trying to tell two different stories in one. It went through so many rewrites it no longer resembled what it was meant to be. I could fix it, but my mind has moved on to other stories. I don’t even know if I sent this one to agents; probably not, I didn’t think it’d go anywhere.
My space/end of time first draft, which I edit sporadically, is lyrical. I love  some of the phrases I use in it and I love some of the characteristics of the race I created. It’s going to take me a few more rewrites to get it right, and I’m not sure I can finish that in a year, but I love the space saga approach of the story, so I’m sticking with it for now. I think this one will prove true through the end, but I don’t know. I never really know until it’s done.
My current work-in-progress is another sci-fi piece. I’m excited about it because I’ve finally got a handle on the pacing for the story. Pacing is tricky, and I’m writing a YA novel, so I have to get it right. I read mystery novels for pacing, which is really funny, since I’m writing a sci-fiction piece, but I like the pacing of mystery novels and this one is a kind-of detective hunt. Well, and now, also,  I really want to write a mystery now. I’ve got a plot, characters and location down. After science fiction, it’s going to be murder.
I’d love to get published. One day, if I keep at this, I probably will. For me, though, as a writer, it’s really about the journey and the process.