Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Long Slog

Well, I’m back, after a two-month hiatus. October was one of those long slogs with a new worry around every corner. My writing, my house, even my military reading list fell by the wayside.

My birthday, sadly, was one of the lowest points. The whole damn month just skittered out of control, with Benny’s surgery on the first Wednesday. The next day, he came down with a horrific cold. Sunday came and clobbered me with the same cold. Benny’s recovery from both surgery and sickness was slow, but he was just well enough to have cabin fever, since he couldn’t go to daycare.

A week later, just to make a party of it, Benny got an ear infection and I caught something that made me cough uncontrollably for two days. The doctor gave me a Magic Elixir with a heavy narcotic which beat down my cough, but gave the world a slightly glazed aspect. Still with Benny now in daycare three days a week and me thoroughly drugged, life calmed down, and we all slid out of October in a calmer state of mind.

In fact, we’d all recovered enough so I could tackle National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. This crazy program challenges people to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. I’d actually “won” NaNo in 2002 by writing a science fiction novel called “The Secret Soldiers.” Back then, of course, I had no kid and no job (we’d just moved to Michigan from California), so I had time to write detailed outlines and dream up zany subplots. It was very lovingly written, actually, requiring index cards and labeled file folders.

This year was quite different. After a heady burst of enthusiasm in the first week, I wrote my novel “Escaping Olympus” through an effort of sheer will. No outlines, character sheets or maps – just a pile of reference books and a rough list of plot points. Half the time I was exhausted; the rest of the time, I would rather do anything else. Without the support of Ron, Cindy and my friend Jessica in California, I never would have finished it. I grew to loathe Max and Daphne, my main characters, and all the crazy folks they had to deal with. Now the finished draft is buried in my hard drive and I’m afraid to look at it.

December is looking much better, thankfully, and I have high hopes for 2006. Happy Holidays!


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