And a good day to you, fine people of the internets. I have returned! It's good to be back. You didn't get into TOO much trouble while I was away, did you? Go ahead and take a minute, I'll let you hide the keg tap and clean up the mess while I unpack.
I needed to take some time away to finish my book (check!), take a trip home to SLC (check!), go on a girls' weekend to NYC to see Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z perform at Yankee Stadium (check!) and just spend some time reconnecting with my husband and kids (check!).
The last two months have been so busy, so exhausting, so stressful. I essentially wrote the entirety of my book in the span of four weeks. Which, I admit, was a horrible idea. If you're ever posed with the opportunity to do this, please, for the love of all that's good and holy, don't do it. There's a piece of my sanity that I lost in those four weeks and I'm not sure I'll ever get it back. But, the first draft of the manuscript is turned into my editor and now I'm just sitting back and praying to God that she doesn't light it on fire and throw it in the trashcan.
Writing the manuscript for Speak was one of the most difficult things I've ever done. Being an author and writing books has always sounded so romantic & dreamy. For an over-thinking introvert like me, it seemed like the ideal vocation, and in my head, it always involved being whisked away to some romantic place in the mountains with the perfect view and endless coffee to enjoy. It involved a lot of quiet, gentleness of spirit and all the time in the world to write exactly what I wanted to say. Newsflash: It's not like that. Not even a little bit.
For a while, it involved getting up before the sun to get an hour or two of writing in before the kids woke up, then staying up too late after they go to bed to do the same. It meant a lot of Pixar movies for Rowan during Scout's naps so that I could sit and scratch out a measly few words, and usually writing with him ignoring the movie and trying to sit on my lap to push the buttons on the keyboard. Then, he'd melt down when I moved him off my lap and told him "no" - a meltdown that would inevitably wake up his sister - then the whole thing just went down the tubes and I gave up and poured a glass of wine while side-eyeing my laptop from afar.
Then, it involved moving our family for the summer, getting settled, hiring a nanny for three days a week (which is paid for by a portion of my advance), and sitting in the only place in town with free WiFi during those three days a week - a noisy coffee shop filled with friendly people and horribly uncomfortable seating - and writing your heart out as fast as you can because you only have three days a week for four weeks to get it done. In between, you're still busy doing everything as usual - parenting, laundry, cleaning, diapers, more laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, more cleaning and more laundry. As it so happens, the world doesn't stop turning because you have a book deadline. That is NOT what my imagination told me. I'd set my forehead down on the table, smack it hard against the wood a few times for good measure while saying to myself and everyone around me, "THIS IS NOT ROMANTIC." It's not. It's work, and it's really hard work. You gut yourself trying to write this thing, then you turn it in, knowing full-well that your editor can read it and say, "It's horrible, try again." It's all very unnerving.
But, it's also very rewarding. I'm sure its rewarding to everyone who writes a book, but I found it especially rewarding as a full-time caregiver to my two kids. While being a stay-at-home mother is one the greatest things I've ever chosen to do, it's also very difficult, because there's hardly a time when you feel a sense of accomplishment from finishing something. Nothing ever gets finished as a stay-at-home mom. You can do all of the laundry and have empty hampers one day, but at the end of it, you'll put the clothes you're wearing in the hamper and look! More laundry. Same thing with the dishes. Or the grocery shopping. Or making meals. Or cleaning the house. Or teaching your kids. Or whatever. Everything seems to repeat itself when your job (and yes, I believe it IS a job), is being a full-time caregiver to small children. It's rare that you have an opportunity to start something and truly FINISH it. Like, that's-it, put-it-in-the-drawer-and-lock-it-up, it's-done, kinda finish. Writing the book provided me with that for the first time in years. I started a big project and finished it. Granted, I still have edits and a lot of work to do, but I had a goal: Write a book. I did that. And that feels so, so good.
And now I'm in the middle of the book process - the initial content is written, but now we enter into the edit phase, then I'm assuming we'll start looking at marketing stuff and what-not, and on and on until March, when the book is currently scheduled for release. One up and down of this roller coaster ride is finished, but there's much more to come.
After I finished the manuscript, I hopped on a plane to help a friend in need back in SLC. It was a quick, whirlwind trip. I flew back to Oregon two days later, then spent a week playing catch-up at home. Now that I have another vocation alongside being a full-time caregiver, there will be seasons where I spend considerable chunks away from my family. The month of June was one of those times and I needed to reconnect with my kids and go on a date or two with my husband. It felt good to be spending time at home, where I could snuggle my baby, play cars with my four-year old, and actually cook a decent meal for dinner.
Then, I went on a trip I've had planned for months - I went to New York City to stay with two of my best friends and go to the Legends of the Summer tour at Yankee Stadium. Other than the absolutely unbearable heat, it was an amazing trip. I have been to NYC before and have done all the sight-seeing, so this trip was much more relaxed with no agenda. But, it had been a long time since my last trip there. My dad reminded me that NYC is really it's own planet... there's nowhere like it, and he was right. We ate, and ate, and ate. We cruised the High Line, had lunch in Chelsea, shopped at Zara, Bloomingdale's and Marc Jacobs. We had dinner in the West Village and took the subway everywhere. We were relatively up close and personal with Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake, and they put on one of the best live shows I've seen in a long time, especially for a stadium tour. It was such an amazing time. But, after four days in the Big Apple, I've never appreciated this tiny river town in the Oregon forest so much as I do now. This introvert needs quiet. And space.
This is the first time I've opened my laptop in weeks, and it feels a bit foreign, so I apologize for a) rambling about a mess of different unrelated things, and b) not replying to any emails in weeks. I'm a bit off my blogging game. But, I'll get my mojo back eventually, and I have a fun new series lined up that will start in just a few weeks... you won't want to miss it.
For now, I'll leave you with a few of my favorite iPhone photos of NYC and wish you a happy Monday.