A Visitor!

Last week, my amazing grandmother visited our new house. She was the first occupant of our official guest bedroom. No longer do our visitors have to sleep on a couch, a sleeping bag, or a deflating air mattress. Now they get a full size bed, a dresser and side table. In fact, they get their own floor with a bathroom. Visit away!

The night that she arrived we listened to the Carillon concert – they happen 3 times a week and are very impressive. We also showed her the gorgeous Plummer building in downtown Rochester. On Tuesday, we headed for Lanesboro. Granny is one of the few people who have read my novel and Lanesboro is a partial inspiration for the fictional setting so I showed her this beautiful town, nestled in the bluff. We ate at Pedal Pushers – Granny had liver and onions and I had a delightful fish taco. (I tried liver for the first time and must say I don’t think I’ll ever be a fan!) Unfortunately the hodge-podge history museum was closed but the art center was open. What a talented community!

We had planned to visit another winery in Spring Valley but due to roadwork decided to visit the Fillmore County history museum instead. It was excellent; a lot of great period pieces. I’ll admit the mannequins were faintly creepy. But it was certainly worth a visit!!

In the evening I mowed the lawn all by myself and did a respectable job as Granny cheered me on. It was actually kinda fun in a purposeful task-oriented way but don’t tell Chris I said that 😉 Then we took Granny to the Honkers game for some hot dogs, beer and baseball. Of course Granny and I HAD to get a shot with the Honkers’ mascot Slider.

I won’t discuss the game because it was a heartbreaker but the Honkers (and their fans) are always fun to watch.

On Wednesday we arrived at Plummer House and discovered it was open just on Wednesdays for a self-guided tour. Finally some scheduling luck!

We had a great visit and I worked on a hematology floor the next couple days. I had the same patients and really good floats. Our floor overlooked the fireworks on Silver Lake, and I caught a couple glimpses of the spectacle. Yay America!

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Granny and me by “Silver Falls”

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Granny and me with Slider

Writers Night Out

Last night I attended a couple hours of a brilliant event, Rochester Writers’ Night Out. We met in the quirky space that was formerly Rochester’s infamous Club A. Without the pool tables and wild goings on that (I am told) once inhabited the space, it has a certain urban charm, which was excellent for writing. Especially after they locked the doors to keep any drunks from wandering in.

We got time to write, discuss our writing, and attend workshops. One of the workshops was by Mike Kalmbach how to get un-stuck, a useful idea for any writer. I think everyone has had writer’s block or if not at least a period of literary sluggishness. He had some good tips for how to get through such periods. The key is making the story exciting again, compelling enough to write and explain.

It’s really important to have this kind of event because the number one enemy of writing, or any creative endeavor, is lack of time. It’s so easy for busyness to eat up one’s time. I only finished my book when I had 3 weeks in a row off and nothing else to do but sit and write, write, write.

The struggle to finish gets even worse when you get to a slow bit or a boring part. Sometimes the writing flows and when it does you have to let it flow! Because when it stops, it can take quite some time to get going again.

A third obstacle to writing is fragmentation… at least for me. There’s nothing wrong with having a couple things going at once – a blog and a novel for example – but more than that and the creative energy is sapped, drained, spread too thin.

So how to overcome? Make time. Focus on a particular project. Listen to your characters.

Read.

So thank you, C4, for arranging this night out. Even though I couldn’t attend all of it, I thought it was a brilliant idea and very helpful. I finished up a chapter that was going pretty slow and I feel like I’m poised to make a good 5,000 word charge…

if I could just find the time 🙂

The Beginning…. of Lent

I have toyed with blogs in the past, but passion for the subject always eluded me after the first couple posts. Don’t look too hard, you might find those ghost blogs still drifting in space with my name on them.

This first entry coincides with two important things. First of all, it is Ash Wednesday, which means yesterday was Shrove Tuesday. Last night, I didn’t have a very wild Mardi Gras as I was working. The highlight of the evening was getting supper in spite of having what I call a “split float” – going to two different floors on the same night. Everyone has a horror story about those, I don’t. I expected to maybe get 15 minutes to eat. God bless the charge nurse who sent me to a full dinner.

Yes, but speaking of Ash Wednesday. Growing up in a Bible Church, we never really gave up things for Lent (or Quadragesima, as I prefer to call it. Haha.) . In fact, we didn’t even really mention it too much. My Catholic friend always gave up sweets, and I always looked at her in disbelief. No sweets for 40 days?! More recently, our vegetarian friends became vegan for Lent. No cheese for 40 days?!!! Now that we are Presbyterian, it is a bit more kosher (pardon the mixing of metaphors) to give something up.

The talk of giving things up makes many people, including myself, uncomfortable. I think I may just not be at the point where I can give up a luxury without making a big deal of it. Sweets are indispensable, especially in February, especially in Minnesota, especially right before Valentine’s Day. Maybe Facebook? Six weeks is a long time to be cut off from reading about other people’s trials, tribulations, and omphaloskepsis (and the occasional cute baby picture). Especially as Match Day, focus of another post, will be happening right in the middle of it. Therefore, I believe I will instead add something – this blog!

The other significance of this date is the preliminary round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (henceforth ABNA) was announced – and my pitch made it through! Small victories, everyone. Yes, last summer I wrote a 60K word novel called Driving Out Fear and now I am figuring out how to get it out there while working on sequels.

Back to the season of Lent. I see from Wikipedia that Lent is to be given over to prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial. Eeek! Well, in that line of thinking (penance, repentance… nuns?) we did go to see Nunsense in Mantorville last weekend, and it was very good. But the whole thing was a gift from our friends, so I can’t even count that towards almsgiving. Enjoying the performance was hardly an act of self-denial.

I shall really have to work on this observation of Lent business.  And with that… off to work.