Thursday, September 30, 2010

Old Crone

Can we talk?
I think I have Old Crone's Disease.

Little people are pointing out my symptoms.
  1. I told my granddaughters that they could tell me anything and I wouldn't stop loving them. "Oma, you're fat." (Oh, except that.)
  2. Babies are very convenient because you can blame any odd smells on them. But what happens when there are just two of you? "Oma, was that you?"
  3. "I wasn't asleep," I explained. "I just had my eyes closed." Wrong. "Oma, you were snoring so loud we heard it downstairs."
  4. "Oma, do you shave?" she said as she touched my chin. "No!" I said haughtily. "Maybe you should," she said.
Women's rights have come a long way, but we still don't have the right to age. Halloween is the only time anyone pretends to be an old crone—the rest of the year it's just not trendy. Did you watch Oprah today? Her guests were aging beauties discussing their croniness.

Cybil Shepherd talked about the first time she realized men were looking at her daughters and not at her. It freaked her out. Linda Evans said she had her midlife crisis at 28, when her husband fell in love with a 15-year-old beauty and she was suddenly cast aside as too old.

I can't remember which guest said she had a revelation on the golf course recently: a young guy came up to her from behind and said, "Hey, baby . . ." When she turned around he said, "Oh, sorry Ma'am. I thought you were my age." It dawned on her that having a figure like a sixteen-year-old girl didn't fool anybody. She was 58 and she needed to have something more than her looks to fall back on.

About the time my eye-teeth grew in as fangs and my mom pointed out that I'd inherited her bow-legs I decided I needed something more than my looks to fall back on. Various crises came and went long before midlife, so psychologically I can handle being a 61-year-old grandmother. In fact, getting old has actually taken off a lot of pressure. But there's still some scary stuff.
  1. Hot flashes. How can you keep your cool when sweat is dripping off your ears?
  2. Bodily malfunctions. What do you say when you're in an elevator and it's obvious it was you?
  3. Hormonal changes. Do you join the church choir as a bass after your alto has gone south?
Are you scared yet, or are you still in denial?

Age: It's coming for you, too.
Scary stuff.

*Do you know a classy old crone?
What are her secrets?

Scary Stuff

An all us ghoulies, when the supper things is done,
We'll sit at our computer and have the mostest fun
A-list'nin' to the scary stuff
That Oma tells about,
An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits us
If we don't watch out!

You are invited to a Halloween Party!
Throughout October I'll be posting about life's scary stuff:
  • Skeletons in the closet
  • Turning into a pumpkin
  • The witching hour
  • Being invisible
  • Spooky Spells
  • And lots more . . .
Every night at midnight
There will be a goblin-raid . . .

Bring all your friends,
(if they're not afraid.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Book Club

I'm in the book club!
Tate Publishing is going to publish Son of a Gun!

Here's the story:
  1. My 86-year-old Uncle Mel came up with an idea for a book and sent me a recording last March.
  2. For six months I wrote night and day.
  3. When it was finally finished I realized I couldn't afford to get it out of my computer.
  4. That very day I got an email from Marta about her friend Natalie's newly published book Second Kiss.
  5. After ordering it from the Tate online bookstore, I noticed a link on the sidebar that said "Publish Your Manuscript."
  6. When I clicked on it, I was given a prompt to submit a manuscript using a pdf. I happened to have a pdf of my book right in my computer, so I sent it off on a whim. What the heck?
  7. Over the next couple of days I got a couple of follow-up emails with questions, and then a telephone call from an acquisitions editor named Stacy. She had read parts of the manuscript and wanted me to summarize the whole story. When I told her about Uncle Mel, and how the book came about, she was even more intrigued, and promised to read it over the weekend.
  8. When she called again, she offered us each a contract! (Uncle Mel got his the day he had double knee replacements.) We both liked what we read.
  9. Today I got a "welcome" email, followed by a phone call from Christine at Tate, introducing me to my production team, my editor, Rachael, the layout and design people, and Mark, my marketing manager. It will be for sale next spring.
  10. I'm joining a whole new kind of book club!

Monday, September 27, 2010


Without mountains I'm totally lost—north, south, east, west, I haven't a clue. Dee, on the other hand, always knows where he is. He stands still for a second, turns a little bit one way or another and then says, "That's north." He can do it wherever we are in the world. I asked him today how he can always tell. "I swallowed a compass when I was a little kid," he said.

Some people seem to know where they are and where they're going. PJ just turned one. Last week at his birthday party his mom set him on the grass and he immediately took off crawling toward a little rock ledge in the yard. Every time he got close, giant arms grabbed him from above and carried him far from his goal, hoping he'd lose interest in his risky adventure.


Not this boy. He'd look around to reassess his position and start again. Danger or no danger, he knew where he wanted to go.

Many times I've been heading one way and some giant circumstance came along to change my course. Sometimes it saved me from falling off a ledge, I guess, but most of the time it just frustrated my timetable or took me sightseeing.

Every once in a while I try to stand still and feel my inner compass, remind myself of where I'm going. Then I turn a little bit one way or another and set off again to find what I'm searching for.

Tonight I asked myself, "What do I want to have happen between now and New Year's Day?" These are a couple of my answers: Have a fun, memorable conversation, one-on-one, with each of my kids and grandkids and express the joy they give me. Now that I know where I'm going, I can plan holiday activities that will take me there. There's a purpose to the busy-ness of the season.

When I just make a list of all the fun stuff I need/want/ought to do, I often lose track of why I'm doing it. Asking myself what I want to have happen focuses me on the reason, and gives me a more exact direction to prioritize my plans.

I had a dear friend who was teaching a Sunday lesson one week. She got carried away by the darling sailboat handouts she was making. From Monday to Saturday she cut white cotton triangles, stitched rickrack and tied string, crafting perfect little sails. It took her hours to write a message in an artsy calligraphy on a tiny life-saver she dangled from the sail. Finally the sails were ready to stick in the donut that would make the boat.

That Sunday morning she called me frantically and said, "I was finishing the handouts til after midnight and now I have to go pick up the donuts! I didn't have time to prepare the lesson. Could you teach it? It's on priorities."

All during my lesson she stuck the sails in the donuts with the reminder saying: Keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole. I don't think it even occurred to her that she'd spent the whole week too busy for the donut because she was so focused on the hole!

With so many directions to choose from, it's good to consult our inner compass, figure out exactly where we are, and decide what we want to have happen next. Then we can figure out the direction we need to go.


What do you want to have happen in your life?
So what direction do you have to go?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Face It

We become what we think about.

Fifty years from now our faces will reveal our secrets.







What do you think about? I got an email one day from a woman who reads my blog. She said she was raised on lemons instead of lemonade, and asked, "Can you learn to be optimistic, or do you have to inherit it?" In answer I wrote this post called:


I both learned and inherited optimism from my dad. He was consistently positive and hopeful, and he looked for the good in others. I always felt like I was smart, talented and unique because he told me I was. His faith in my abilities kept my self-esteem healthy. Dad had a pep talk for every occasion and I learned them all by heart. By the time I was an adult, being optimistic was a natural part of my personality. It's a trait I've needed often.

Dee and I started out with nothing but hope. A vital part of our relationship is to buoy each other up—we count our blessings and reflect on great memories—when troubles come. Balancing on the teeter-totter of reality requires one of us to be up when the other is down, and we can tell when it's our turn. All seven of our kids are upbeat, cheerful and confident: it's part of our heritage to see the glass as 3/4 full and find the good in every situation.

I know I was lucky to grow up in an atmosphere of optimism. My dad reminded me often that faith (in myself, and in God's willingness to help me) would achieve miracles. He taught me that faith and fear cannot coexist, and that fear, doubt and worry were to be banished. Although he had his personal fears, they were overcome by his faith. He took risks, thrived on challenge, and lived positively.

Dad taught himself to be this way; early struggles haunted him. He grew up poor. His beloved older brother was always sick, and died at 18. The strain sapped all the joy from his parents for years. One of dad's favorite stories was how excited he was the day the store repossessed all their furniture and the kids skated in their socks through the empty rooms. But he always remembered how his mom sat on the porch steps and cried as her lovely possessions were hauled away. Eventually they lost their home and had to move in with another family for a while during the depression.

Dad (in the glasses) and his brothers, about 1933.

Dad served in WWII and came home seriously ill. It took him three months in a hospital to recover. When he'd joined the army, he had neglected to officially drop out of the university. After the war he started school again with a whole semester of failed classes on his transcript. To qualify for Optometry school earned straight A's for three years to raise his GPA to the required level. Born with cataracts which impaired his vision most of his life, he decided life would be better if he viewed it through rose-colored glasses.

When I was seven Dad almost died of pneumonia. My mom prepared mustard plasters and tried to keep us quiet, while he laid in bed for weeks worrying about our future. That's when he first read the book Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. Knowing my dad, I'm sure he was thinking in literal terms when he saw the title. But the concepts he learned made him wealthy in another way that became my most treasured inheritance. He discovered the secret of positive thinking.

Everybody who knew my dad remembers him preaching this good news. Assimilating it into his character was the goal of his lifetime. He changed his attitude and it changed his world.

Dad, at his best!

It is absolutely possible to learn optimism.
It's also possible to inherit it.
And from my viewpoint,
it is positively essential to have it.

Sheri Dew said, "Ultimately we become what we give our hearts to. We are shaped by what we desire and seek after. Fifty years from now we shouldn't be too surprised at what we have become. Our desires are what motivate us and we become what we set our hearts on. Our face will reflect who we are."

The Great Stone Face, a story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, tells about a village overlooked by a massive stone cliff that resembled a man's face. An old legend said that "someone will be born hereabouts who will look just like the Great Stone Face, and he will be the noblest person of his time."

A little boy in the village named Ernest was especially attracted to the Old Stone Face. He studied it with boyish admiration while he walked to school each day, and saw intelligence and goodness as he wondered when the man would come.

A famous philanthropist came to town, and Ernest thought he might be the champion, since he was so generous, but he looked nothing like the stone face. Then an important politician visited and Ernest thought that surely this honorable leader was the hero. But he didn't bear a resemblance to the craggy mountain either.

Ernest watched the faces of returning soldiers and scholars for signs of the courage and wisdom seen in the face. Meanwhile, he worked hard on his farm and was respected by his neighbors for his honesty and decency.

Years passed and though Ernest became an old man, he never ceased to study the Old Stone Face. But no one ever came to the village bearing its image. One evening when he was sitting with a neighbor on the porch, the neighbor looked to the distant mountain and then fixed his gaze upon his old friend as he sat in his rocking chair. "Ernest," said the neighbor, "You are the Old Stone Face!"

Amy 1976

In youth our face reveals our genetics.

Someone at 60

With age we get the face we deserve.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Chase and friend

My advice:

Bite off more than you can chew,
and then chew it.

I took Chase out to dinner one night and he ordered clam chowder in a bread bowl. He lifted the overflowing bowl up over his face and took a giant bite out of the bottom, then caught my look of horror. "You're supposed to eat the bowl," he said.

Chase is an enthusiastic eater. I caught myself just before I sounded like a critical grandmother, and commented, "You have an interesting way of inhaling your food."

Chase, pre-braces

He replied, "It's because of my overbite."

People run marathons, they hike mountain peaks, they have babies or get married, move across the country—it's luscious to bite off more than you can chew and then chew it. If you haven't done it in a while, order yourself some clam chowder in a bread bowl and see how much fun it is to take a big chunk out of something really hard. Under that napkin you'll be smiling ear-to-ear.

P.S. My book is going to be published!! (Sorry. I'm gushing.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I read the newspaper every day,
and this is how I imagine I look.

This is how I really look.

Meryl and I are the same age, but we have a different style.
I want her style!

Shaking the Family Tree is a new book by a woman named Buzzy Jackson. She's a Jewish historian who got interested in researching her roots to see if she was related to Andrew Jackson. Anyway, after she got really involved in her hobby, she decided to visit what she called genealogy mecca: the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Although she was a little afraid of all the Mormons here, she came to Utah in 2009.

I loved how she detailed her whole trip but particularly Mormon women. Describing our style as Amish-lite, she told how we wear a uniform of conservative, long skirts; flat, sensible shoes; short effortless haircuts and name tags. The men, she said, all looked like accountants.

Now, I know she was referring to the senior missionary couples who volunteer at the Family History Library. The women wear longish skirts so they can look professional without having to wear nylons or concentrate on keeping their knees together. Comfortable shoes are a must because they're on their feet from eight a.m. to five p.m. and they're usually over seventy. But it was interesting that Mormon women in general were described as Amish-lite.
Pretty cute, I think

The book How to Have Style says:

"Style should never be confused with fashion. Fashion is in the clothes. Style is in the wearer. Style is a celebration of individuality. It glorifies the fact that we are all different. It exposes as preposterous the notion that there is an ideal body, an ideal woman—that there is only one perfect way to look, that any one way is perfect for all women. Style always delights because it is a revelation that the possibilities for originality are limitless.

"Style presumes that you are a person of interest, that the world is a place of interest, that life is worth making the effort for."
by Hara Estroff Marano
Style should evolve, but it's easy to get stuck—I want to buck the stereotype. But I need your suggestions. Picture a short, roundish woman of a certain age: with that image in mind, tell me what you think of:
  1. Leggings with longish tunic-type tops
  2. Flats
  3. Ankle boots
  4. Long/short hemlines
  5. A signature look
"Each and every day we have to present ourselves to the world, and like it or not, other people judge us based on the way we look . . . Ideally your identity, your uniqueness, is something that you project in your image. It's the visual presentation of your inner and outer self. It is the manifestation of your personal style." Kate Mayfield

"I base most of my fashion sense on what doesn't itch."
—Gilda Radner

Monday, September 20, 2010

Looking Forward

One day you'll just be sitting there,
minding your own business . . .

And someone wise will say,
"Hey! You ought to try something new."

Don't be afraid if it looks too hot to handle.

Just dive right in.

"Swe-e-e-t!" you'll say.

And that's the meaning of life.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Who knows the answer?

So. I finished the manuscript at 4:30 am. My euphoria lasted all the way to Kinko's where it cost $26 to print one flippin' copy! (Nothing fancy, just 250 pages in a spiral binding.) I had envisioned myself sending ten or fifteen copies out to different publishers (who knows how many publishers there are?) and copies to friends and family who've said they want to read it. All twenty grandkids would get their own copy, of course.

Total fiction.

So now I've written the great American novel, and I can't afford to get it out of my computer. Does anyone have an answer to this publishing dilemma?

I did have my first reading. When my book club came tonight they tucked away their copies of Sarah's Key, and let me read a few passages of Son of a Gun. It was awesome! (Thanks ladies!)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What Will I Do After Tomorrow?

They're riding off into the sunset.

An excerpt from

Son of a Gun

Marty Halverson

They were a few miles from the fence line when Cowlick warned him of the storm. Her ears pricked and she twitched restlessly, jogging a crooked course while JJ looked for low ground and waited for the thunder. Lightning balls of electricity rolled over the prairie, and he had trouble controlling the petrified animal. Cold drops started before the thunder even stopped, and they hid out in a hollow littered with butterfly weed until the danger of lightning passed.

JJ thought he’d fall on his face before he got a fire started on the rain-pelted grass beside the stream. Too tired to make it to the pines where he’d have more shelter, he hobbled Cowlick under a tree and rigged his tarp as a lean-to for himself and the fire.

He pulled his boots off, propping them upside down on sticks in front of the fire, and then warmed his half-frozen feet. The aspen branches clashed in the wind, and cold rain ran down his back, but he sat there exhausted.

After a minute he dug out a can of beans, and leaned forward toward the coals to warm them. Water poured down from the crease of his sodden black Stetson, turning the fire to wet gray ashes. With the dismal despair of a boy whose present misfortune is past calculation, JJ stood up to retrieve extra matches from his saddlebag and felt his sock feet sinking in the mud. His tarp and blankets were soaked now, and he sank to the earth close to tears.

Ahead, a vague shadow appeared in the night’s blackness; the vaguest of shadows, at once defined by a whinny.

“Who’s that?” JJ called out.

The horse whinnied again. The night wind got colder and the rustling echoes from the nearby trees strengthened as the rain stopped. Squatted against the earth, JJ finally caught a silhouette of the horse against the pale-black sky, but saw no rider. Rising he clucked his tongue gently, stepping nearer the trees.

The horse moved toward Cowlick. “Steady—steady.” JJ moved close to the horse and caught hold of the bridle, his palm touching a hide that held only faint warmth. And then he felt a hand.

Sweat cracked through his forehead, running down his face with the rain from his hat. Scratching a match on his belt, he held up the light to see a body, slumped in the saddle. In that moment he recognized the derby hat and the waxen face that had belonged to Snake.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Word Nerd

Chloe's Bananagram

There are no more words.
Thrum, slosh, slither, whoop
I've written them all.

Is there such a thing as a store of words?

One of many corners,

Crumbling, dimpling, grousing,

Little nooks full of books

Nuzzle, clink, mutter, clamber . . .

I'm stockpiling a new cache.

Denver, CO

Where I replenish my word supply.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Home Cooking

Candice making donuts

"Life may not be the party we had hoped for
but as long as we're here, we might as well eat!"

My birthday breakfast

Our Colorado Heroes gave me quite a birthday party.

Lauren's Rice Krispie Treats

It was like staying in a restaurant for five days: homemade chicken pot pie, lemon cake, homemade ice cream, lasagna, homemade bread . . .

Observing their family in action was a treat—it was even better than the food. The mom goes to school, substitute teaches, hits the gym for a 5:am workout, and is back home for the kids; cooks, cleans, does the laundry til late at night and plays Rock Band on the Wi. The dad does breakfast, supervises piano practice, irons everyone's clothes, packs the kids off to school, and then goes off to be a lawyer during the day. He runs marathons and paints water colors in his spare time. And don't get me started on the kids.

But the best part is that they're a real family. Will (8) gets up at 6:00 am. When he heard that there would be homemade donuts for breakfast he cheered (like the rest of us.) Then his mom told me, "Just sleep in as long as you want. I'll make the donuts whenever you wake up."

"What about me?" Will asked. Candice said, "You can have some cereal to tide you over until Oma wakes up." He fell apart, tears and everything. "So they're not for my breakfast?" he wailed before collapsing into a full-fledged meltdown. Moments like these make parents crazy and grandparents chuckle.

There were other touches of authenticity. Hurt feelings, grumbles, murmurs . . . if there weren't everyday crises, the successes wouldn't be so extraordinary.

Candice was in the kitchen all day Monday: first the donuts; then chicken, gravy and dough for potpie; coconut/banana cream pie with an animal cookie crust. I don't know how many times she washed the dishes, wiped the counters, and swept the floor just preparing our meals. And, as all cooks know, the food was devoured in less time than it took to find the recipe in the book.

Families are the same way. Observing from a little distance, I can see that the scrambling, the stewing and simmering, the messiness of raising kids is worth the effort. Just keep on stirring. "A table encircled by a happy, loving family becomes an altar."

Jake, Will, Katy, Lars

Happiness is homemade.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Photo by Christie

When you find someone who can cook and do housework, don't hesitate a minute. Marry him.

I did. Forty-one years ago today.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Self Discovery in Five Easy Steps

Gabi and Dee

"Be yourself.
Everybody else is already taken."
—Oscar Wilde

Ask yourself:
  1. What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
  2. Where would you live if it was totally up to you, and a good job was there waiting?
  3. If you could plan what you'd do all day at work, what would you do?
  4. If you could go out to dinner with anybody, who would you invite?
  5. What do you wish someone would ask you to do?

Think through your answers.
Write a paragraph about the real you.
Get acquainted and make some plans!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Face it, Oma.
You're Facebook-challenged.

When I get an email announcing a scrawl on my wall, I feel all friended and friendly. I click over and sign in, enter my password (nobody over there ever remembers me) bring up my list and set off on a visit. But my friends are elusive---they all ditch me if I click on somebody else first, and I have to go back to my profile page and search for them all over. It's like lunchtime at Olympus Junior High. Where are my friends? They said they'd be here!

I feel like a slacker friend, the one that never calls, never writes. But I just don't have your number. If you have advice, please comment!

These are my issues:
  1. Some people's posts (where can I learn the terminology?) are always on my front page, and others never are. Can I prioritize my list somehow?
  2. When I click on a name to visit someone, I can't click back to where I was in my list. I have to start all over again each time. Am I doing it wrong?
  3. Can I kick someone off my friends list? (Not any of you guys.)
  4. I get emails that someone wants to follow me on Twitter, but I don't tweet. Can they still read my blog on Twitter?
  5. Do you read my blog on Facebook?
Goal for my new year:
I will go into that everyone's land and meet my friends.
I will face up to Facebook.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Random Reflections on Sixty-One Years

Things I've learned since September 6, 1949

On Being a Kid:
  1. You grow out of being the smallest
  2. Fractions are more important than you thought
  3. Never "joke" that you saw a neighborhood kid floating in the canal
  4. Assume that your brother will find your diary and show it to his friends
  5. Hope you get that many interested readers later when you have a blog
  6. Your mom will find out when you change your report card
  7. A tight curly perm won't make you look like Annette Funicello
  8. Don't ever swear at your mom
  9. Someday the mean 4th grade boys will be your sons.
  10. Grandparents are nicer than parents.
On Being a Teenager:
  1. Even the popular kids don't think they're popular
  2. Peer pressure prepares you for parenthood
  3. It's the longest six years of your life
  4. The music you love will always be music you love
  5. It really wasn't the best time of my life.
On Getting Married:
  1. It really is the best time of my life
  2. Marry somebody you like being with for hours, doing nothing much
  3. Reminisce often so you'll remember why you fell in love in the first place
  4. Notice reasons to fall in love over and over again
  5. Laugh as often as possible
  6. Expect troubles. They come whether you're married or not.
  7. Perfect people are very annoying. Be glad you didn't marry one.
  8. Go on trips
  9. Or plan trips you want to go on
  10. Or at least watch TV together.
On Being a Mom:
  1. It's harder than you think
  2. It's way more fun than you think
  3. There are lots of days you wonder why you had kids at all
  4. You can't imagine your life without your kids
  5. Kids totally take over your life
  6. But you'd give up anything for your kids, so it works.
  7. You hope your kids will someday realize all the stuff you did for them
  8. You wonder if you really did anything important for them
  9. Kids put you in a time warp
  10. Twenty minutes til bedtime can seem like six hours
  11. Looking back, twenty years can seem like six hours.
  12. You'll feel older when they're 8, 6 and 4 than you do when they're 38, 36, and 34.
  13. They won't remember that you picked them up faithfully every day after school.
  14. They'll remember the one day you got there fifteen minutes late.
  15. Their most memorable present will be the one they didn't get.
  16. Kids teach you more than you teach them.
  17. I would have been a really good mom if it weren't for all my kids.
  18. Parenting books are written by people with nannies.
  19. Most of us think we became functioning adults all on our own.
  20. All mothers are working mothers
  21. Motherhood is a multi-faceted career.

On education:
  1. School teaches you how to learn
  2. Most education takes place after you finish school
  3. Life stages are like advanced degrees
  4. It's possible to get several master's degrees at once.
  5. I studied childhood psychology (20 years)
  6. Family relations (41 years)
  7. Adolescent behavior (20 years)
  8. I minored in Homemaking, History,
  9. Creative writing, Computer science
  10. Continual learning keeps you from noticing senility.
In general:
  1. I am wiser than when I started
  2. Getting old is just as challenging and interesting as being young
  3. Fear is the opposite of faith
  4. Worrying doesn't do anything except make you feel like you're doing something
  5. God is good.
I'm glad I made it to sixty-one!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Write Idea

The Write Idea

This is where I've been living lately. A twilight zone where night and day blend into one, where breakfast is a banana, lunch is a cup of craisins, dinner is a smoothie and going to bed means waking up with your head against the computer.

I finished a manuscript of 234 pages this morning at 1:30 am. I felt like I'd squeezed the very end of the toothpaste tube, and there was just no more in there. The last 72 hours I've slept in short bursts of 4-5 hours, dreaming in metaphors, so by the time I burned my file to a disk, the words were swimming around on the screen free form. I just couldn't do the final, final stuff: margins, title font etc. and the last two chapters are really four and a half chapters, not divided up properly. Who cares anyway, I decided.

Dee took it to Kinko's at 5:30 am, and now I've got it, in the flesh. Hard copy. Today I hand it over for editing. It feels like taking my brand-new baby in for open heart surgery. I'll get it back, cut to shreds and bloody with red ink, wondering why its perfect little parts got taken out, and why some artificial bits have been wedged in.

And then I'll have a week to patch it back together, with invisible, dissolving stitches and hope it holds up. Then it's done. My first novel.

Writing a novel is very different from writing history, like I usually do. This book has turned out to be historical fiction because I just don't have it in me to make up stuff that didn't or couldn't have happened. It seems like a slap in the face to folks who actually lived through such times. So I've researched like crazy (I've read 37 books since April on subjects like The American West, Bordellos in the 19th Century, Everyday Life in the 1880's, Cowboy Slang, The Cowboy, Pioneer Women, Children in the Old West, etc.) I feel bad to abandon these good friends to the shelf after we've spent so much quality time together.

I've read fifteen western novels, and watched at least parts of a dozen western movies, just to get the jargon, the vocabulary and the mood. And I've also read eighteen books on how to write a novel, from Paragraph Practice, to Writing a Scene, to The Joy of Writing about Sex, to Revision and Editing, to Writing Emotions, to Creating Memorable Characters, and over a dozen more.

Now I want to write a book about the emotions of writing a book, a step-by-step of how not to write a book, and I want to re-write this book starting from scratch, but knowing everything I've learned from writing it. And I want to somehow serialize Son of a Gun on my blog. How could I do that??

But first I'm celebrating by editing a biography this weekend. I'll be slashing and re-arranging, releasing my tension by painting someone else's pages red.

I suddenly feel like an empty nester. After six months of long, intense days and nights, today I could have slept til noon. But I came sleep-walking back to my tidy desk at 5:30 this morning, just to see what was going on. I had to touch my fingers to the keyboard just to see what I had to say.

Is it weird to feel like this? Sad and lonely because my make-believe friends are moving on?
Now what shall I do with myself? Maybe I'll go back to bed.