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Well.  I did it.  I posted Remember in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.

Will I win it?  I doubt that.  It’s a decent novel, I believe, but not likely to top the expected 10,000 entries.  So why, you might ask, did I choose to spend the better part of a sunny day off crafting a pitch and a summary and going through the submission process?

I blame my friend Trudy , and Twitter, not necessarily in that order.  I read about the contest on Twitter, and then brought it up aimlessly this morning while chatting with Trudy online.  The conversation went something like this:

TrudyJ: you should enter

Me: it’s a lot of work and I’ll never win.

TrudyJ: you should do it.

Me: Sort of a waste of a good day off, I think.

TrudyJ: But it’s only one day.  What have you got to lose?

And there it is, in a nutshell.  Nothing to lose, and a great deal to gain.  I may never even make the finalists, but I did put the manuscript out there and risk failing at something other than query letters.  I also have, as a reward for my labors, a shiny new query letter that is better than the old one.  And for today I am filled with a pleasant sense of having faced a fear and conquered.  (We won’t talk about how I will feel if I don’t even make the Quarter Finals.  That’s way ahead in the dim and misty future.)

If you haven’t thought about this contest, you still have time – deadline is 10,000 entries or February 8, whichever comes first.  Hey, the more the merrier.  Give it a shot.  And if not this, I challenge you to do one thing today or tomorrow to step outside your current comfort zone, and then share it with the rest of us.  Come on – everybody out of the pool. Adventure awaits.

I begin this week inspired, energized, and full of faith.  If you’ve been following my Blog at all, you know how quickly that’s likely to fall apart, but I’m enjoying the feeling while it’s with me.

On Saturday, I began the day with an ‘unreasonable goal’, an idea garnered from the Deadline Dames :  5K, newly written and/or revised on the rewrite of Swimming North.   I really had no intention of succeeding, got on a roll and closed down the computer at just 300 words short at the end of the day.  Since then, the novel has been flowing smoothly, and I even know where I’m going with the plot at this point.   Amazing.

I also have a list of 5 new Agents on whom to inflict a query letter.

I’ve also been playing around on twitter – (you can find me there as Uppington, surprise, surprise) and have learned a lot from just skulking around and reading people’s posts.  As part of my personal Feeling Inspired Day, I’m going to share a couple of links with you, both from Jonbard of

Here you will find a list of well known authors and their experiences with rejection.  And here you will find a wonderful blog post about what the writing is all about.

Enjoy!  Happy writing, if that is what you do, and for the other, normal people reading along, good luck with whatever goals you have set for yourselves.

This past week I got to wondering.  For me, wondering can be a double edged sword, a dangerous occupation that at the very least stimulates change and growth and the upsetting of the proverbial apple cart or fruit basket.  I really don’t know why I persist in this sort of activity, rather than just keeping my nose to the grindstone (okay, the first one was accidental, but I am now actually seeing how many cliches I can cram into one small post – I’m doing it on purpose, so leave me alone).  Boredom maybe, dissatisfaction with the status quo, an inclination towards self destruction – whatever the reason, periodically I go out seeking trouble.

I wouldn’t need to seek it.  Trouble loves me – we have a symbiotic stalker-stalkee relationship and it is perfectly capable of tracking me down without any encouragement.

But, I digress.  This past week I got curious about my old classmates from my undergrad English program at Glendon college, roundabout 15 years ago.  Why now, with all of the drama I have going on in my life?  A very good question, and one most likely without an answer.  I could blame Mercury Retrograde.  In fact, I’d like to blame Mercury Retrograde for everything.  Anyway,  I emailed a professor who has a unique and delightful capacity for remembering many of his students, and I started asking questions.  

And I discovered things.  Michael V. Smith, a then very promising young writer, has in fact published a novel, Cormorant.  He is also winning awards with the films he is making, has earned an MFA and is employed at UBC.  Craig Pyette, another promising young writer, is apparently an associate Editor at Random House, Canada.  And another writer friend, although she isn’t plastered all over Google or, is all signed up for an MFA.

And what was I doing on the day I discovered this?  Visiting the inebriated and suicidal in the local hospital at midnight, enduring rude comments from inmates at the jail, and scrambling to find writing time in between the kids and the job and the very important relationship with the man in my world.

Briefly, I experienced regret of the ‘where, oh where, did I go wrong?’ variety, but then I remembered that I haven’t gone wrong at all.  I’m doing the job I’m doing because I actually love it – I love the chaos and the adventure and the fact that every day brings me into situations I could never make up for myself in a million years. I love the fact that every now and then, I might be responsible for saving a life.  I’m here because I love my kids and chose to give them the majority of my time when they were little, instead of single mindedly pursuing a writing career.  I’m here because I’m on the path less traveled, the one I’m meant to be on.

I believe this journey includes a published novel before I’m through, but I am reminded that there is more to my life than the writing, and I am grateful.

I’m also driven.  Which brings us to the usual Friday discussion of goals.  I posted personal writing goals on the Deadline Dames website this week, both reasonable and unreasonable, and I’m chasing the unreasonable goals.  Which means 10 more queries and 50K rewritten on Swimming North by Feb. 2nd.

I’m still plagued by self doubt and procrastination, of course, but I’ve decided they are probably life long companions and I might as well just welcome them to the journey.  

How’s it going for the rest of you?

Okay, first things first:  Nanowrimo Word Count, Day Five, 9551.  

My lesson for the day is Acceptance.  Acceptance is one of the principles of Mindfulness, a philosophy of living that I embrace enough to be able to accept that I generally suck at accepting things.  Now I’ve been through Acceptance Boot Camp in the past – the sort of life lessons that are truly life and death, that require a complete restructure of your faith, your life, and your philosophy.  The sort of life experiences that go bone deep, strip you down to your soul, and dare you to rebuild.  You’d think, after learning to accept in those situations, I’d be good at it by now.

Not so much. 

This week I had three days off.  Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, right smack dab in the middle of the week. Wonderful, I thought, as I was considering Nanowrimo.  Three days during that first week alone at home, three days in which to pile on the words, to luxuriate in the new idea brewing in my head, to feel writerly and totally focused on writing with no distractions.

And the universe laughed.  

The disillusionment began with one of the teen persons living in my house announcing that there were parent teacher conferences and they didn’t have school on two of those three days. The other teen person then announced that this same phenomenon was true for them as well.  I was struck with dismay.  Teen age people home during the day means noise and constant raids on the refrigerator, and mess, and endless driving from here to there and back again.  I felt guilt over feeling dismay.

Canadian relatives called and declared they would be passing through town.  An old friend called up and wanted to have lunch.  David looked at my empty calendar and reminded me that we really needed to get tires on the TPV (Teen Person Vehicle) before the snow hits.  The free range beef I’d ordered weeks ago was butchered and packaged and ready to be picked up.  My vehicle needed an oil change.

I did not Accept.  I threw little tantrums.  I resented.  I fumed.  I threw big tantrums.

I wrote anyway, around and between the distractions the way I always do.  And really, who is to say which ideas were planted by the unplanned encounters with tire salesmen and butchers and the driving around in the rain?  Sure, the last couple of days have not been what I planned, but then things so seldom are.  The story I’m writing is not what I planned.  And I am in love with it.

I’m thankful that I chose to do Nanowrimo again this year, in spite of all my reservations.  I was stuck in the Gatekeeper novel – we’d developed almost an adversarial position toward each other, the book and I.  This novel, so far, wants to be written.  The characters want voices.  They have energy and life, and in spite of my best intentions to avoid taking this novel seriously, I’m afraid that I’ve been hooked.

And so, sitting here tonight by the fire, in spite of the fact that I had very little writing time today, in spite of the fact that things did not go as I wanted them to, I accept that all things are as they are meant to be, for me, today.

Tomorrow?  Well, the kids are back to school tomorrow, and nothing is scheduled yet, but let’s not push the envelope.


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