Friday, June 27, 2008

Fess Up Friday - Part Deux

I have been doing a lot of writing this week in preparation for the Lesley University Writers' Conference. They have extended their application date so I have been filling out the application and preparing a writing sample to send in as required. I have been struggling with what to use as a writing sample because I write poetry, short stories, books for children, and I am working on a memoir. So, basically, I am kind of all over the place, but I think I am going to go with the memoir. I need a reason to get a jump start on that piece of writing and it would be nice to get some feedback on it to see if it is worth my time to continue with it. Applying to the conference and working on my memoir are the two big steps I have taken in the right direction this week.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I have started volunteering at my local library a few days a week for a few hours at a time. Right now I am taking donated books that have been priced by the assistant director of the library and entering information about them into to raise money for the library fund. My job includes looking through the book to find basic information such as publisher, copyright date, whether on not it is a first edition, etc. I also have to flip through it to figure out what it is about so I can enter key words. Finally, I have to write a little blurb about the condition of the book.

The blurb is the challenge. What can one say in just a few sentence that will catch the attention of the potential buyer and rope them in? It is a creative challenge. This also got me to thinking about whether it is easier to compose a shorter or a longer piece of writing in general. Also, what do people value about books? Doing this project also gets me to thinking about the life of a book. I have held books in my hand that we're published as early as 1905. Where has that book been, who else has held it in their hands, and what did it mean to each person who turned it's pages?

Books are magical.

A couple of "blurbs" of writing from my archives:

On an Amtrac Train to Providence
10 minutes away from New Haven, CT

Loving is a complicated word
A verb
An adjective
An emotion, of epic proportions

On an Amtrack Train Somewhere in Connecticut

Marvelously happy
No longer waiting for life to happen to me
Instead, happening to life
Incapable of being satiated
Deliciously Devouring more

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fess Up Friday

Just a quick review of writing I did this week:
Three Brainy and Beautiful Blog entries
One Notes on Nannying Blog entry
Two To Do Lists
Seven Thank You Notes
Application to Volunteer

This is significantly more writing than I have done in awhile. I wish more of it was creative writing and free writing and work on the memoir I am writing, but this is a start.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thank You and Georgie

Tonight I spent a couple of hours writing thank you notes for birthday and house warming gifts. I am known for my thank you note writing abilities. When I got married a little more than a year ago I wrote many thank you notes and many people commented on them, told me they used them as examples, told me they shared them with others, and even suggested I start a thank you note writing business. As much as I enjoy writing thank you notes, I am not sure I would like to spend all day every day writing them. All this talk got me to thinking, what makes a good thank you note and what makes mine stand out from all the rest?

1) Practice. I have been writing thank you notes since I could speak. My mom would have me sit down at the table with her to dictate my thank you notes while she wrote them out. Thanks, Mom!

2) Scarcity. It seems very few people actually hand write and snail mail thank you notes, or any greetings for that matter, very often any more. People love to get "fun mail" mixed in with all the bills and advertisements.

3) Sincerity. I often receive thank you notes that have a general message already printed in the card, a hand written "Thank you for the ice cream bowls.", and a signature. Yes, I recognize that a thank you was sent which is appreciated, but that's it? It feels more like an acknowledgment out of obligation than a genuine "Thank you."

4) Personalization. If it is a thank you for something I received at an event, I try to mention an interaction I had with the person I am thanking in the thank you note. If I am given something having to do with entertaining, I mention in my thank you note that the person should check their schedule so we can arrange a time for them to come over for dinner and enjoy the gift they bestowed upon me.

5) Intention to Use. If I am given clothing, I mention where I have already worn it and the complements I have received or the next big event I intend to wear it to. If I receive ice cream bowls, I mention how lovely they look on the table with my existing dishes or that I am having a summer party and can't wait to show them to and share them with friends. If I receive money or a gift card I mention how I used or intend to use it.

These are just a few of the ways I write my thank you notes. Also, I think people tend to hear the phrase "Time to write thank you notes" and automatically think "Ugh! Yuck!" when really it can be a very creative writing experience.

Finally, continuing with the theme of thank you notes, I would like to thank Being Five for featuring my question for Georgie in reader mail and posting a link to my blog. It really made my day! There is, as always, a link to Being Five in the "Notable Blogs" section of this blog. Good call on the chocolate eclair, Georgie. For the record, since I am getting older and need to watch the waistline, snow cones are currently my favorite ice cream truck treat.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Remembering Cody

In April, our family dog died. My mother wrote a column in the local paper about him for the eight years that he was with us. When he passed, I wrote a little something in case she did not have the strength to write her final Cody column for a couple of weeks and needed a "filler" column. It was not published, but here it is:

I remember the first time I saw Cody. It was Halloween weekend, my first visit home from college. I walked through the door and Dad said, "Your brother got a puppy." I said, "What?!?!?! What?!?!?! No way!" Dad said, "Go into the living room." And there they were, the boy and his dog. I couldn't believe it! Sleeping there on my brother's belly was a floppy, warm, bundle of puppy, face obscured by ears. "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh, can I pet him?" The boy gave me permission and as I laid my hand on the bundle, he came to life. This puppy wiggled and his tail whapped furiously back and forth. Everything about him went into motion. He was just so excited to meet me. My brother sat up and handed the squirmy wormy puppy to me. I introduced myself to the puppy, told him I was his new sister, that I was so excited he was here, and that if I could I would wiggle my whole-self just like him. I held him close to me, made a tent around him with my long hair, inhaled his puppy smell, let him chew on my hands, and he became mine, too.

As time wore on, I came home to visit from college, I moved out, I moved back in, I moved out for good, the boy went to college, and Mom and Dad went about their daily routine, but Cody was our center. A phone call home never passed without mention of Cody, leaving a message on the answering machine always meant a "Hello, Cody", and emails from home always included anecdotes about Cody's most recent shenanigans. For me, I knew that no matter when I came home, who I came home with, whether the humans were home, Cody would be there waiting, howling a hearty hello from the window in the front room as I pulled up, and wiggling his whole-self, especially that whapping tail, as I made my way in the door.

One beautiful spring Friday a few weeks ago, with my husband off on a business trip, I spontaneously went to spend the night with Mom, Dad, Cody, Sam, and Max. I arrived eager to put down my bags and free my arms for the hugging of humans and petting of animals. When I opened the door, Dad was behind it and Cody, I assumed, was behind him. Preoccupied with everything in my arms, it didn't hit me that the house was unusually quiet, that I had not heard that familiar howl as I pulled up, that the familiar sound of the tail whapping against anything in its way as Cody lumbered towards me, was missing. Dad followed me through the house, stood next to me as I put my bags down, and told me "We buried Cody." I said, "What?!?!?! What?!?!?!" Again he said, "We buried Cody." "No way!" I looked around for Cody and my eyes landed on my Mom sitting on the couch in the living room weeping. We all sat and wept.

Some took to calling Cody our "Never Again Dog". As I slowly begin to accept that never again will Cody greet me, never again will I feel his nose nudge my elbow at dinner hoping for a morsel, never again will I rub his velvety ears between my thumb and forefinger or run my hands along the length of his torso, never again will I take him out to the backyard, never again will I wipe the drool from his flues, I realize that Cody is our "Forever Dog." From the beginning he so entwined himself in our lives that, even in death, there is no way for him to ever be disentwined.

Fittingly, the center of our lives is buried in the center of our backyard where he so loved to run, dig secret holes, lay in the sun, chase the squirrels, and bar-be-que with the Big Grownup. Even as we mourn Cody, I can't help but wonder if one day, when the right time comes, Cody will send us another bundle of fur who, though no one could fill the void he has left, will know just how to pick up where he left off.

Thank you, Cody. We miss you our "Forever Dog."

Turning 27

Today was Father's Day, but it was also my 27th birthday. I don't make New Years resolutions on January 1st, I make them on June 15th every year. One of those resolutions this year is to blog at least once a week. HERE'S HOPING!

I am taking the summer off from school which means more time for fun things like blogging and writing, preferably from a nice rocking chair on my front porch or my beach blanket on the peaceful shores of Plum Island. I find fresh air loosens my inhibitions and frees my mind for imagining which inevitably leads to better writing.

Another recent milestone is having free-lance edited a 200 page book. An epic project due to time constraints and divided attentions of all involved, it is wonderful to finally be freed from its shackles and to know I stuck with it and saw my obligation through. Quite a feat. This also means more time for my own writing and something wonderful to share with potential future employers.

So, I'm back and fresh writing will soon follow!