I’ve been to the Galapagos and back.

Hello dear bloggy friends,

It’s been a while. All is well, I assure you, despite the four months of blog silence here. I am still here! I hope you are as well. Here’s what’s been happening:

• I went on a trip to the Galapagos Islands! My mom and I had always wanted to visit and this was the year we decided to make it happen. It was absolutely amazing, and seeing so much wildlife in such a pristine landscape was a life-altering experience. Highlights included snorkeling with hammerhead sharks, sea turtles, penguins, sea lions and rays; seeing giant tortoises grazing in the wild; stumbling over land and marine iguanas, and witnessing the mating rituals of all manner of birds. I’ve included a few photos here.

• I’ve been learning Spanish. Or trying to, anyway — I’ve been doing language programs in the car and teaching myself with a textbook. It’s become kind of a hobby, and now it feels strange to drive around town and listen to music when I could be learning Spanish instead. As you may know, I studied both French and Japanese in my high school and college years, but those have become less and less useful. I never anticipated living in California, where I could easily go a whole day speaking Spanish.

• I’ve been reading all kinds of great books this year, both fiction and nonfiction. More on that in another post.

• I’ve started running again, and I’m thinking about signing up for some kind of race. I’m hoping to harness the discipline required by working toward a running/fitness goal and apply it to writing. Also, running clears my head and inspires my writing.

• A story of mine was shortlisted for the Fish Publishing Short Story Prize, judged by David Mitchell, a month or so ago. Not a win, but I was still flattered to get that far. Onward.

I’m attempting to return to regular blogging…but bear with me as I get the kinks out of my schedule!

Advertisements

In which I make a brief appearance to talk about books and writing and the hectic pace of modern life.

Ahem. Hello? Hello. Is this thing on?

Apparently it has been two months since I last posted here. Yikes. Hello, dear patient reader.

The summary version is this:

– In early October, I wrapped up a six-month editing gig at the newspaper where I have been employed on and off for years. I vastly underestimated the impact working there part-time would have on my writing and parenting, as well as, let’s face it, on how clean the house is and the likelihood we would all be eating frozen pizza for dinner. So the past months have been more hectic and unpredictable than months already are with an energetic toddler in the house. I’m in catch-up mode now.

– Somehow, during the past six months, I have revised, finished or polished 3 short stories and two sections of two different novels. I am enrolled in a short story workshop right now, which has been instrumental in pushing me to get a move on with two of those short stories. The workshop has been reminding me how much I like to be involved in workshops, and how I would like to teach one someday soon. And how much I really need to get a writing group going.

– My brother- and sister-in-law and their twin girls recently moved to Australia, and as a result I picked up Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburned Country. I had forgotten how much I enjoy Bryson’s writing, his humor, and his masterful way of meshing information with experience. So I picked up A Walk in the Woods, which I also liked (though I didn’t think it was as strong a book as Sunburned Country, which is interesting, since Walk appears on numerous lists of top 100 nonfiction books, but I suppose that has more to do with some kind of American self-centered-ness. Ahem.) Anyway, the point is, Bryson has inspired me to think about writing more nonfiction, which as you may recall, was the focus of my MFA degree, and for a long time, the only genre I wrote in. So, I’ve been reading, for research, and making some notes on a potential book idea which I am quite excited about. If I could grab enough uninterrupted time to get going on it in earnest, that would be, well, great, but something that is unlikely to happen until after the New Year.*

-I have been trying to put my writing before social media and blogging, which I suppose is the biggest reason why I haven’t been posting here. I am easily distracted, especially, I find, by Twitter. So I’ve been trying to lay low(er) and devote what little time I have for writing-related tasks to actual writing. (What a crazy idea!) This doesn’t mean I’m off social media, or that I will stop blogging, but if I disappear for a while, that is one reason** why.

-I’m currently wading through David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas which is good, overwhelming, hard, six books in one, and brilliant, if a tiny bit gimmicky.

-Two days ago, I returned from a weekend in Denver, where it was beautiful and 80 degrees and the trees were in full fall colors. Today Denver is expected to get a foot of snow.

So there you have it. Hello again.

____

*See also, upcoming travel, visitors, holidays, spouse business trips, toddler tantrums, toddler birthdays, etc. Whew.
**For other reasons, see above.

In which I detail all of the mayhem.

Last I checked, it was April. And then, suddenly, look! It’s almost July. Here’s what happened:

-I started working again as an editor at the newspaper where I’ve been employed off and on for about a decade. I’m filling in for a friend who’s on maternity leave for about six months. I’m being reminded of deadlines and line edits and InDesign, and madly trying to juggle all the different parts of my life.

-We had good friends and family visiting for three straight weeks in April.

-In the month of May I managed to visit Hawaii, Colorado, Maryland, and Massachusetts (with stops at home in California in between, you know, to do laundry. And work. And sleep.). I love to travel and don’t do it as much as I would like so though it was hectic and sometimes exhausting (more than 20 hours of flying with a 2.5-year-old!) I loved it anyway. Along the way: I snorkeled with an 8-foot-long eel, went to an old-fashioned Memorial Day parade in my hometown, and saw my son become obsessed with playing baseball and running through sprinklers.

-In Colorado, I met my good friend and we (along with 70,000 other people) saw U2 at Invesco Field in Denver, and hiked in the Flatirons above Boulder. A fantastic weekend.

-I managed, finally, to read the entirety of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. That giant tome of a book has been sitting on my nightstand since before Christmas and I’ve started it at least three times previously. I am not one of those who likes to criticize Jonathan Franzen for existing and writing successful novels — no matter what controversy he stirs up, or others stir up about him, I still have tremendous respect for him as a writer. But I digress.

– Other good books I’ve read in the past few weeks: The Solitude of Prime Numbers, by Paolo Giordano, and Orhan Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence. I seem to be on a novels-in-translation streak.

-Our house is being worked on.  For a while our bathtub was sitting outside on our deck. This is not really important except that the contractors and the disarray (and our dog barking at the contractors) has contributed to the general sense of mayhem pervading my life the past few weeks.

– There is of course all of the mom-related/family stuff. My son is about to start pre-school, so there have been doctors’ visits and school visits and teacher meetings. We took him to a county fair last weekend, where we got to pet a wallaby, and a deer, and watch pigs race to win an Oreo cookie. Really.

-What else? Well, as you might guess, the one thing that hasn’t been happening is writing. I think I have worked on my short-story-in-progress exactly one morning since the end of April. This is about to change.

Hello again.

A journal about writing

As you are probably aware, I have been battling numerous life events that keep coming between me and writing. A seemingly endless number of viruses wiped out the whole household this winter. And there have been lots of visitors and houseguests. Travel, while inspiring and a nice change of pace, tends to destroy my writing routine more than either sickness or guests. There’s more travel coming, and, starting in a week or so, I’ll be filling in a couple of days a week at the newspaper where I used to work as a reporter and editor.

When the routine gets thrown off, it’s hard to remember what I was doing before. I feel totally disconnected from writing. It’s tough to feel any sense of accomplishment when you’re interrupted in your process so much. That’s not to say you’re not accomplishing anything – it just feels like you’re not.

Which is why a couple of months ago I starting keeping a journal about writing. I use a fat little turquoise-blue Moleskine datebook. Every day that I do something — anything — related to writing, I make a note of it in the datebook. Yesterday, for example, I noted that I added 767 words to the short story I’ve been working on. On April 12, I recorded that I had written 1,000 words on the same story. I write down when I’ve written blog posts, too, and what they were about.

Not all of my entries detail what I’ve written, however. Let’s face it: not every day turns out to be a productive writing day. On March 29 I scribbled that I had submitted a story to two lit mags, and that I researched some quotes from The Great Gatsby to use (maybe) in the novel I am (sometimes) writing. So I didn’t advance any of my WIPs, but I was still thinking about and working on administrative tasks related to writing.

I make notes on the unproductive days too. I want to remind myself that I am trying, that not every day is a perfect writing day. On April 1, for example: “Tinkered with C_____ story. Added a graph or so. Switched to working on novel. Wrote a new opening graph. Didn’t like it.”

The exercise of keeping track of what I am accomplishing (or not) related to writing is helping me tremendously. When I have unavoidable breaks in my routine, I am now better able to pick up where I left off, to remind myself that I am accomplishing something, even if it’s only a paragraph or two. I now keep my fat little datebook in my laptop backpack, so it travels with me and my computer to the neighborhood cafe where I do a lot of my writing. Part of the work of being a writer is managing your expectations and reminding yourself of what you’ve accomplished so far so that you have the courage to keep going. The journal helps.

The future is here. Now sit down and write.

Oh hai. Somehow it’s 2011. Twenty-eleven sounds like the future, doesn’t it? But guess what? It’s now. The future is now. And “now” is me trying to get some semblance of order back into my writing life. Or, just trying to get a writing life back, period. Because here’s what happened starting on approximately Nov. 16th:

I caught a cold. It seemed like no big deal, and soon after the cold seemed to wane, I was making a fire truck birthday cake for my son’s second birthday. All was well. I missed a week or two of writing having that cold and then the birthday party whirlwind of activity, and then it was Thanksgiving, and my husband’s birthday, too. I was just about to get back on track when Aaron got a cold. And then I got some nasty virus that involved a sore throat and a week of fever and the worst cough I have ever had in my entire life. And then Aaron got the nasty virus with the sore throat and a scary fever and the worst cough he’d ever had in his entire life. And then, you guessed it: Billy got the nasty virus with the sore throat,  worst cough ever, etc. etc. Did I mention the virus lasted for three weeks and left us all pale, exhausted, and with leftover hacking and sniffling? And then, wham, it was Christmastime and we were flying to the East Coast to see family for 10 days and then, wham, we all got some other (thankfully less nasty) virus and then, wham, finally it was time to fly back to California which left us all jet-lagged and confused and wondering what the heck happened to December and why the heck we can’t seem to get well and stay well.

This morning I opened the file I had been working on last, and it was dated November 17, 2010. On the plus side, I remembered very little of what I’d written. On the minus side, I remembered very little of what I’d written or where I was going with the 14 pages contained therein. I reread my words and tried not to get bogged down in the details, like how there were too many commas and they were all in the wrong places, or how the protagonist has too many disturbing events happen to her in one day. Or how the story, depending on how I read it, could be finished, that is, ready to be revised, or how it might not be, because there was this other scene I remembered wanting to include, and for some reason, presumably having to do with battling a fever and the worst cough ever, I hadn’t written that scene. And then it occurred to me that the reason I didn’t know whether the story was finished or not was that I hadn’t decided whether I was writing a stand-alone short story or a novel chapter, or a novel chapter that worked as a short story. Whew.

So I wrote the scene. It was painful to sit there and write it, in the way that it is painful to get back into a writing groove after being away for a while. I hated the scene and the characters and I didn’t want to do it. But I made myself write it anyway, because how will I know what I am writing unless I write it? I can decide whether the story or chapter or whatever it is needs the scene later. For now, it’s important to keep going.

And so, 2011, my plans for you sound so simple: to stay healthy and to sit down and just write it, whatever it may be. I wish the same for all of you (neglected) bloggy friends out there, too. Cheers.

Friday things.


Oh hai! I’m still here, believe it or not. I’ve been … well, this month has been … nonexistent.

What I mean is that I was just trying to get back into a writing routine after two weeks of vacation on the East Coast when — wham! I caught a nasty virus that lasted for three weeks. Three! Mr. Fog City Writer caught it too, and we spent two weeks moaning about our respective fevers, coughs, and sinus congestion while trying to maintain some energy to entertain the boy (who of course had the virus for only three days) and the dog. On the third week, my dad arrived for a weeklong visit. I got sick again, this time with a more typical cold, and, well. Here we are. All that’s finally over and done with, but just about nothing else is.

I’ve written almost nothing since the end of July, with the exception of the two-part revision post here. I’ve not been successful in completing revisions on a story that is oh-so-close to being done. I’m still coughing. I can’t summon the enthusiasm I had for writing the novel I conceived of over the summer. I can’t seem to remember what the novel was going to be about, even after I look at my notes.

On the plus side, I have read quite a few books in the past two months, most notably:

-Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby. I had pretty much sworn off Hornby after reading two novels that failed to live up to High Fidelity and About a Boy. In Juliet, Naked, Hornby’s talent for dry humor is back and his ability to write about both music and the intricacies of personal relationships shines. I’m a renewed Hornby fan.

This Boy’s Life, by Tobias Wolff. This one has been on my list for a long time. I read Wolff’s novel Old School earlier in the summer and fell for the writing, the intelligence (the vocabulary!), and Wolff’s subtle sense of humor. This Boy’s Life contains the same great writing as Old School — but my respect for Wolff grew exponentially reading it, because This Boy’s Life is a memoir. It could have easily been overdone, or maudlin, or full of bitterness, but Wolff managed to write a subtle portrait of a difficult childhood in the 1950s that is infused with humor and honesty. Really impressive.

Brooklyn, by Colm Tóibín. This is my second attempt at reading Tóibín’s work – I tried The Master a couple of years ago but couldn’t get into it. I might try it again now that I know what the payoff will be: Tóibín is a masterful novelist. Brooklyn was amazingly detailed and well-crafted. I thought about it constantly when I wasn’t reading it, and though I finished it yesterday I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It was one of those books that makes me not want to pick up another book for a while; what follows will not be as satisfying.

snow in June, stories in July

You* may, possibly, wonder what I’ve been up to here. It sure hasn’t been blogging! Well, I’ve been writing and traveling, among the other usual domestic things, like doing ridiculous amounts of laundry, and listening to/singing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” for the 4 millionth, trillionth time.**

And so.

The writing:

In June I finished (finished!) the second of two short stories I had been working on for two-plus years. And I’ve been sending it out to a few places. It feels amazing to finally be finished with that one — and I’m fairly satisfied with the result. Shocking. (The first of the two 2-year-old stories is slated to be published this fall, in Clare.)

I also wrapped up a draft of a story in June to submit to the writing workshop I’ll be attending later this month. I just barely got it in shape by the deadline, and still feel like there’s a lot of major work to be done, but hey, that’s what workshops are helpful for — motivation and direction. At least that’s how I’m trying to look at it.

For July I’ve decided to complete a short story I began earlier this spring. I wasn’t sure where I was going with the pages I had back in April, and so I’ve been letting it gather dust on my hard drive ever since. The other day I opened it for some reason and a)felt more excited about it than I remembered being when I originally began it, and b) knew what was coming next. It’s quite a long story, which is making me a little uneasy — I’m not sure I want it to turn into something even longer, like a novel.***

The traveling:

In the last month I’ve made two quick trips to the middle of the country— to Chicago and to the Denver area. Chicago to visit family, and Denver, to meet a good friend of mine for the weekend. She and I were supposed to do some hiking and see U2 perform, but Bono got injured and canceled the concert/U.S. tour, and it poured all weekend. Actually, “poured” doesn’t really begin to describe it. The Denver area saw thunder, lightning, heavy rains, flash floods, a tornado, nickel-to-golf-ball-sized hail, hail fog, and cold temps, all in the one weekend I happened to visit. Really. Meanwhile the Coloradans we encountered exclaimed that they couldn’t believe the wet weather and offered up a mantra of sorts — that Denver has 300 sunny days a year. (A dubious claim.) We made the best of it. Beers were consumed. Soccer was watched. Altitude was gained. I saw snow fall in June.

It was actually the second weekend my friend and I have spent together that’s been cataclysmically rainy. My friend flies from the East and I fly from the West and we try to meet somewhere in the middle and attend some kind of musical event. Last fall we met in Texas and went to the Austin City Limits Music Fest. The festival was great, the weather, not so much. Torrential downpours and six inches of mud. Apparently Austin is also known for being sunny, so I’m beginning to suspect I have some kind of weather curse. Last summer my husband and I went on vacation to Vancouver, and the city was hit by a record heat wave. It was in the 90s all week, even up in the mountains at Whistler — for only the third time in a century.

I have two more trips ahead of me this summer. I’m keeping an eye on the Weather Channel.

____________
*Hello? Readers?
** No, really, I love that song. Especially when Dora the Explorer sings it.
***The idea of getting serious about writing a novel scares the heck out of me.

Monday things: the L edition

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to post one of my “Friday things” posts, and so, this week, I give you: Monday things.

Monday thing #1: I’ve just spent far too long in the library. It’s a joy I’m rediscovering. I was raised going to the library often and carrying out giant stacks of books and records (yes, I’m that old). There’s something freeing about checking out books from the library. Experimentation feels more … possible. If you don’t like the book (or music, or movie) you can simply return it. When I buy books, I am more risk-averse. I tend to stick to things I’ve read reviews of; I seek out what I know. As I have written here before, my love affair with the library ended when I moved to San Francisco. Now, ten years later, with a toddler in the house whose interest in books is growing and changing daily, I have been visiting the library again on a regular basis. I’ve discovered the smaller, neighborhood libraries of San Francisco, which (depending on the neighborhood) tend to be relatively free of drunks, homeless people, loud teenagers, people eating lunch, desperate men hitting on young women in the stacks, and the other related reasons I stopped visiting the city’s main library. The neighborhood libraries seem to have a better selection of books. And by that I mean, fewer books seem to be lost or stolen. New(er) books can actually be found on the shelves. For example, today I came home with two recent story collections that I have been eager to read: Wells Tower’s Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned and Lauren Groff’s Delicate Edible Birds (LOVE that title).

Monday thing #2: L is for…. I don’t know what L is for. I am due for another Alphabet: A History post, but L … L is eluding me. L wants to be lilting and lovely, and yet I can’t figure out how it links to my life. It would be easy to get carried away, emotionally that is, by L. After all, L begins love. And loss. L is for late and last. I’ve been thinking of possibilities: latitude, perhaps? But then I think: I have never been to London, or Laramie, or Lahore. L might be a letter that’s hard to love. Consider: labor, leper, leeches, leftovers. Yes, I am aware that Monday thing #1 was all about my love affair with libraries. And, yes, I am aware that library starts with L. I guess the issue is this: I can’t quite seem to find an L thing to write about that moves me to write something that has a bit of wow factor, but isn’t too personal to share here. But I will, letter L, I will.

Monday thing #3: I am hard at work revising the short story I wrote during the month of April. The short story that may or may not be part of something longer. The story is full of firsts for me: my first time writing a child narrator, my first time writing a story that takes place some decades ago, my first time interspersing bits of a fictional journal in with the action of the story. It’s daunting. This morning I printed out my pages, read them carefully, and then covered them in red ink. Changes need to be made. A library makes an appearance in the story, and this morning I also spent some time researching card catalogs. It has been so long since I’ve used one, I’ve forgotten what the cards looked like. Updated library technology has hijacked my memory. In case that’s happened to you, too, you can view some old cards here and read about how such outdated modes of library research worked here. (Seriously, I need to stop dating myself here on the blog. Alas, it’s happened before.)

I’m the windblown one chasing a kid and a dog.

I’ve been having trouble keeping up with this blog recently. It’s not because I don’t want to, it’s just that various domestic responsibilities have been ruling my life since mid-May. By that I mean, my husband has had to travel four out of the past five weeks for work, and I’ve been manning the fort, which leaves me with little time to write, not to mention exhausted. The combination of owning a dog in the city and taking care of a toddler alone is challenging. One or the other would be manageable, but both… (And I only have one kid! I know plenty of people manage with multiple kids and dogs, and I’m in awe.) Once, a friend asked me, “If you could do it over, would you still get the dog before you had the baby?” And I said, “Yes, but I’d have bought a house with a backyard.”

We’ve got a house with a deck, which is lovely, but leaves the dog with his legs crossed a lot of the time. So, picture it: 6:30 am, gusty winds and fog, 48 degrees, and I’m wrestling with Aaron at the dog park. (After wrestling him into some clothes, shoes, and a jacket at home and prying a container of Cheerios out of his hands in the car to much protestation.) Howie, our dog, is eager to hike around the park, and Aaron – Aaron wants to pick up rocks and say “windy” over and over. When I pick him up to catch up to the dog, he yells at me and fights to get back down. He has become too strong and heavy for me to hold when he’s struggling and my arms ache from trying to keep a grip on him. He refuses to hold my hand on steep rocky paths, but he’s not a capable enough walker to navigate the trail on his own. I am not fully caffeinated and my temper is easily piqued. I drop my sunglasses. I drop the dog’s leash. The wind blows my hair across my face. Howie runs ahead and keeps looking back at us, exasperated. His expression says, “Come on, people! Let’s go!” When it’s time to leave the park, Howie keeps running ahead so I can’t get his leash back on.

This, for the most part, is representative of my month. These battles have been taking place morning and afternoon for weeks. It’s funny, I read somewhere that dogs have the intellectual capacities of two-year-old humans, but not until I had a child did I see the similarities between the behavior of toddlers and mischievous dogs. Both Aaron and Howie refuse to look at me when they’ve done something wrong. Both run away when feeling playful and/or misbehaving, sometimes taking items of importance, as though they are committing poorly planned robberies. Both tend to jettison the items they are not supposed to have – Aaron, when he is caught with the forbidden, hurls said item away, as if to say, “I wasn’t touching that. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Howie opens his mouth to drop things that aren’t his and then looks away, as if he can’t see what I’m referring to. He also takes things (usually Aaron’s toys) and buries them in my flower beds, thus committing two three crimes at a time: taking something that isn’t his, ruining a flower bed, and tracking dirt in the house.

Both boy and dog are demanding when it comes to food: Aaron repeats the name of the food over and over, his voice escalating from excitement to whining to yelling and crying. (While my stress level increases proportionately.) When he wants dinner, Howie stares at me intently, then sighs and paces, then, if he still hasn’t been served, he paws at me, sits up and begs, and finally barks.

All of this is worth it of course, when Aaron says a new word, or beams at me, or laughs. Or when he says “Mama” with a certain tone of affection in his voice. And when Howie wags his tail and licks my hand, or when he bumps my hand with his nose to remind me he’s there.

On pushing limits

There are people who push the limits of their bodies in ways I cannot, or should I say, will not. I am unlikely to participate in a triathlon (I’m a terrible swimmer). I won’t scale sheer rock faces (fear of heights). I’m not one for juice fasts to cleanse my body (I like to eat). There are other, less glamorous ways of pushing one’s body, things you just do, because you have to: Walking up an immense hill even though you are tired, because that’s the way home; carrying a 25-pound toddler for a mile, because he refuses to walk or sit in a stroller; missing a meal because you’ve got a deadline to meet.

Going without sleep, or at least much of it, pushes your body — though perhaps not in the good way, like training for a race or scaling a mountain. Sleep deprivation is sometimes used as a form of torture, and after you’ve lost out on several nights’ sleep it’s easy to see why. I’ve struggled with insomnia for years now. I tend not to get angry about it anymore, although I used to, when my frustration got the better of me. In recent years my insomnia has come in waves; for months at a time I sleep happily and plentifully (at least as plentifully as having a toddler allows). And then. And then, weeks upon weeks upon weeks in which I cannot fall asleep, in which I am slinking about the house after midnight, having snacks, reading, surfing the web.

This is what happened for most of this month. This is the reason for my lack of recent blogging, and for many other things I have let fall away. Without a full night’s sleep, I can focus only on what has to get done. I lose all time management skills and can’t plan very well. When I used to work as a reporter I often dragged myself to work on just a few hours of sleep and did interviews and wrote stories in that state, overcaffeinated and brain-muddled. Sometimes I forgot to ask the right questions. Later I could barely remember conducting the interviews. Now that I am at home, the post-insomnia feeling is the same, but the things I face in my day are different. No matter when I fall asleep, I still must get up when my son does, which is to say, early. On the days I have childcare I am conscious of the fact that I’m paying for someone to watch my son and cannot always make full use of that time, because I am exhausted. On the days I’m home with my son, I worry that I’m not being as energetic and happy with him as I’d like to be. I don’t want what I feel to be what he sees. Lack of sleep can make you confused, forgetful, snippy, depressed, and a poor decision-maker. Lack of sleep, I found out last year, can cause physical pain. When several months of insomnia coincided with a really wakeful period in my son’s development, I saw a doctor for a constant aching in my joints, and her prescription was, simply, sleep.

The past few weeks, I have struggled to fall asleep and as a result most days I walk around like a zombie. I forget things. And so I focus on the important things: My son, and my writing. I am determined to finish my short story this month, sleep or no. Writing while this sleep-deprived is a peculiar feeling. On the plus side, I cannot overthink my words — I’m incapable of it — which results in writing that can be more natural, less potentially overwrought. On the negative side, I can’t think straight. I stare at the screen for minutes at a time. Sometimes the writing is not so much natural as… well, awful.

In any case, the insomnia that was plaguing me for the first half of this month has slipped away again, leaving me wondering where I left off and what happened to May. I’m still plugging away at my short story. This is the short story I began in the spring of 2007, and the one I am determined to have a final draft of by May 31. I’m close. I’ve noticed a lot of blog posts of late on the topic  of “how do you know when a piece of writing is done?” and my answer is, you just know. For me, with this story, it is a matter of getting the ending just right. When I do, I’ll know it, and all that will be left to do will be to make some minor tweaks in wording. Now, instead of pushing myself to get through the day on a few hours of sleep, I’m pushing for that: an ending that works. I’m close.