The pressure of January 1st

I’m very glad January 1st is almost over. It’s a lot of pressure, this one little day out of so many, pressure to make resolutions and plan life changes and carpe diem and all that stuff.

Gah.

I don’t like to make resolutions any more. I used to — I’m a huge fan of lists, and crafting a Things To Do or Accomplish in the New Year List used to make me happy. But then I’d always get to December and realize that I hardly did any of the things on my list, and the failure make me depressed. I mean, what’s the point of making a list if you can’t check things off? So I stopped making the darned list.

Lately, what I do, ’round about this time of the year, is think about how I’m going to live better. Just little things. Remember that I don’t need to save all the vegetables for the kids — I need them too. Get some more fresh air. Stretch. Laugh. Possibly come up with a system of organization that once and for all relieves me of all the clutter.

My sister, who’s a health coach and possibly the biggest cheerleader anyone could ask for, recently wrote about New Year’s and talked about the idea of “do overs”:

I like to think of the new year as a do-over! Did something you tried not go so well?  What if you yelled “do over” like we did when we were kids and tried again?  What would your life be like if you gave yourself permission to let go of your disappointment and try again?  Why don’t you take this year to find out?

Isn’t that a great way to look at it?

This year I’d like a do-over. To try every day to just be a slightly better version of the last-year me.

I’m also going to challenge myself to blog more. My cousin did a great project last year — a picture that captured a moment of inspiration or beauty or challenge — and she posted one a day. I’d love to try that, but, frankly, I don’t go to that many places which would make for a boring 365 pictures. But could I do a blog post a day? Hmm….perhaps.

The other thing I’d like to accomplish is to finish my novel’s revisions and start submitting it — AND work on a new one.

That’s it. Humble goals. Live better. More vegetables. Fresh air. Stretch. Laugh. Write more. *

Happy New Year!

*Notice that none of this mentions my husband or children. That’s just because, really, a better me is good for them, too. It’s an all-around win!

Crazy. Stupid. Freelance. Love.

Wow, A Mom’s World is sure full of crickets lately. (Much like my inbox from recent subs, but that’s a whole other post.)

But it’s been a crazy busy time for me since I last checked in. I spent a week or so as guest editor for the Hingham Patch. My former duties as community board moderator for boston.com changed into a new position altogether — I’m now the events editor for the site’s new parenting blog, Parent Buzz. It’s a fun (though more time-consuming) gig, as I get to stay on top of cool and fun family activities in the Boston area. I’ve also been keeping busy with my regular posts at besuretotest.com, a site for diabetics and their families (you can find my work on the parenting blog section of the site). I’ve also tried to keep up with my other freelancing aspirations, and will be having an essay in the September edition of FamilyFun Magazine.

Something had to give, and sadly, this month, it was this little blog here. Because after a morning of work that sometimes dribbled over into the afternoon, I still had a house full of kids eager to do something fun. I mean, I could only let them get zombified in front of the TV or Wii for so many hours…..

Luckily, my Patch job allowed me to take the kids along much of the time (ice cream and photo shoot!). And we’ve spent a lot of days getting reacquainted with the outdoor pool at a nearby YMCA. Cooper started summer baseball and Mitzi is doing a summer pickup basketball group. We treated ourselves to a day out in Boston to take advantage of the free admission at the Children’s Museum, and have discovered many new books at the library.

And speaking of which, I am so excited to share with you a great new novel I read last week. But another day. Believe me, it’s one you want to hear about. And I’m hoping to do a better job at sharing my thoughts on books I’ve loved, new and old, in future posts.

Oh, and my own novel? Sadly, it too has taken a backseat with all this lovely freelance work and super summer family fun. But I think of it often and sometimes even jot down those thoughts, so when the whirlwind subsides I’ll be ready to give it the attention it deserves.

Time to get the kids ready for their afternoon at police camp — and, yes, I’ll tell you all about it. Tomorrow.

Yes! A post in which I actually discuss writing!

Since half of my world is about writing, I figured it was time to blog on that topic.

Sigh.

‘Bout sums it up.  Okay, not really, but it’s been that kind of week.  I’ve been working on a few manuscripts this week, trying to improve my ability to fully capture a child’s voice.  (Unfortunately, I’ve learned that my own kids are not good examples of how kids talk.   My own kids seem to be good examples of how adults should talk.  “Mom, I recently learned that it’s not proper behavior to pick your nose at the table,” said Mitzi.  She’s seven.  Seriously.)  Not that my kids are geniuses or anything (well, duh, of course they are), but it seems that they’re not the norm.

So I’ve been working on that.  Lately I’ve started with fun titles and tried to carve a story from that.  Writing picture books is a whole lot harder than any of you suspect.  Imagine, you have at most 500 words to create the same kind of story arc as you would in longer writing.  You need simple, succinct language that is at once rhythmic and lyrical.  You need to have an engaging, realistic main character who gets into lots of zippy situations, and finishes the 32 pages with a whiz-bang (that last is what an experienced writer told me recently). You have to accept that your illustrator (whom you don’t choose and in fact will likely never meet) will tell a large chunk of the story, since most of the picture book readership can’t actually, you know, read.  So you have to think and plan in pictures, though you don’t in the end draw them.

Then you have to compete with the other 893 writers who have submitted to the same publisher that week.

Most picture books take about 2-3 years to write well enough to seriously submit to publishers.  Getting acquire by a publisher could take another 2 years.  Then, expect another 1-2 years before you see your book on a shelf.

Imagine that.

Clearly, not the biggest money -maker in the writing biz.

But it’s my new passion.  When you consider the dexterity and talent required to write a picture book well, it’s amazing.

I think I have potential, but I have a lot to learn.  Luckily, I’m surrounded by people who love nothing more than to cuddle up with a good book.

Nice.