Tag Archives: writing

Things kind of happen

So, it started out as a small break. I was switching jobs and needed to take the time to really focus on all my new roles and responsibilities. And it was summer, so ‘what-the-heck?’ And then July came and I put an offer in on a house back in Montgomery County and ‘holy crap!’ My brain was filled with the anxiety not only of a new job but a new house and all the layers of emotion, fear and joy and confusion that go along with both those things. September came and I finally closed on the house, moving into my sweet little cottage along the Mohawk River just up the street from an actual fort. And with it came new responsibilities like buying a lawn mower and painting the sun-porch and taking out the trash every Thursday night.

And writing somehow never came into the picture. I mean, I’ve thought about it a lot, but things just kind of happened and I didn’t.

So now it’s October and there really aren’t any more excuses. I’m settled into my job and my home and the pattern of my day and I have a gorgeous view of the river from my sunny office window. I can’t complain and I can’t procrastinate anymore. It’s time to write about the things that happen and not get swept away by them.



Filed under Day to day

In honor (or dishonor) of Mr. D

After 34 years of giving Mr. Darcy types the benefit of the doubt, my empathetic compassion and an understanding ear, I have come to one fundamental conclusion – Mr. Darcy was an asshole. Really, how many men – living, breathing men – can you count off who were crotchety, conceited jerks at first meeting but who ended up having hearts of gold with deep rivers of passionate emotion for you flowing under their icy surfaces? And, by the way, I don’t mean all those thoughts, feelings and un-acted upon desires that we project, infer or fantasize they are tormented over either.

My answer is none. Once a jerk, always a jerk.

I sound jaded, bitter and an all around bitch so of course no man would want to be around such a sour lemon of a woman, but I’m not in fact, I’m just the opposite. I am a friendly, flirty and fun girl who everyone wonders “why is she single?”. This question I can answer simply and succinctly: Because I have wasted my heart and emotions on the Mr. Darcy’s of the world. That is why I have vowed off boys for a year, why I have professed again and again that boys are a drug and I’m going cold turkey…except I had a relapse the other day…and this is my pep talk back onto that wagon…

I ended up thinking about the Mr. Darcy in my life – the crotchety jerk I’d met years ago who on very rare occasions showed me his heart only to turn to ice immediately afterward. I found myself wondering if, despite past experiences, he really did care, but just couldn’t figure out how to express himself. I pictured the wonderful, breath-taking, heart-stopping moment when he’d grab my hand as I went to leave, the way he’d stroke my face with his coarse hands and tell me he had been a fool – that he loved me.

I allowed myself to slip into the warm, hypnotizing pool of hope for an hour or two and then snapped myself back to reality and repeated the words “Mr. Darcy is an asshole” over and over again until I was more angry than melancholy and I didn’t want anything to do with any Mr. Darcy every again. No, there will be no Mr. Darcy’s, Ferrar’s, Willoughby’s or any other of dear Jane’s men (good, bad or tempting) in the rich world my head and my heart create.

I don’t want the romantic angst and self-doubt a Mr. Darcy creates – I’ll leave that to fiction – instead, I want a real man. A living, breathing man who let’s me know he wants me more often than not and who appreciates a smart, sassy and sexy woman such as myself…But then again, maybe such a man is even more of a fantasy than Mr. Darcy himself. Either way, it’s back on the wagon I go – that is, until I suffer from another, inevitable, romantic relapse.

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A review and a re-examination

I’ve been spending a lot of time the past few weeks thinking. Thinking about my past, thinking about my present and future. Thinking about where I’ve gone wrong and where I can do right. Granted, I just had surgery and haven’t been able to do much more than sit and think. All this personal introspections, I suppose, comes at the right time – being the beginning of the year and all – but I feel like I’m always in the throes of one self-examination or another and never really fix anything.

Is that how things are supposed to be? Always striving to be a better person and never really feeling like you’ve gotten there? If it is, the whole process is exhausting.

Anyway, as part of this “life thus far” review, I took the time to print up all 218 posts from the blog. The past three years of my written life were then divided into four categories: Farming, Food, Observations and Relationships. It is so interesting to step back and see things in nice, neat piles. But where do I go from here? And what, if anything, do I do with the information I already have?

I don’t have the answers to these and other questions yet. I guess it will require a little (or a lot) more thinking on my part.

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First steps

I’ve been busy the past few weeks getting the Common Ground project up and running. Last week was especially productive. Monday afternoon I met up with Brian Ziehm of Tiashoke Farms, a 700+ cow dairy in Easton, New York. Thursday I stopped to see Ali and Lisa Moussalli at Frog Bottom Farm where they grow market vegetables for their CSA and Richmond area farmers markets on a sustainable farm in  Pamplin City, Virginia. While the two farms operate in very different ways, I’ve already begun to see common themes like money, labor management and a sense of fulfillment that comes from doing an often thankless job.

Today is the day that I sit down and begin to write…or at least try to. I keep coming up against a question, “how do you summarize a person and their life’s work in 1,000 words or less?” I mean, how do I even attempt it? And should I? Ah, moments of doubt that instigate hours (or days) of procrastination. The truth is, I have to. More interviews are planned for the end of the month down in Connecticut and my sights are set on trips to exotic places like Montana, Kentucky and Maine.

Hey, every journey begins with one step or, in my case, a word…now I just have to get that one word out!

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Filed under Common Ground, Day to day, Interviews

The rewrite

I’m in the process of writing a novel. It’s nothing really, something I refer to as “the silly little romance,” wanting to put no real pressure on either it or myself. I have been working on it here and there over the past few months, building up characters and plots until I reached a point this week when I realized it was time to print the pages and see where I was and what I had.

The fifty-some pages before me are a great…beginning. There are some wonderful moments, some weak spots and in general not enough of anything to be called a novel, let alone a novel I want to one day shop around…silly little romance or otherwise. So I have reached the point of my first rewrite, the first of many I am sure.

The fleshing out of sentences, paragraphs and whole pages has gotten me wondering one thing: can we rewrite our lives?

I ask this not in a revisionist history sort of way; our pasts are there, etched into giant stone tablets the size of Stonehenge impossible to move or alter. But just because the story of our past is there, does it mean we can’t flesh out the main character and the adventures (or misadventures) he or she has? Are we set in stone too?

I think about the girl I was once – the girl with comically thick glasses who sat, alone, on the curb during recess reading books – and the woman I am now, and I wonder what has really changed? Though I’ve grown, gotten contacts and gathered friends, I haven’t really waiverd from my original form. What has changed (and changed frequently) are the settings in which I find myself. I have lived and visited and evolved in all different sorts of settings and situations. I may not have changed the archetype of me, but I have certainly worked on fleshing out the person I want to be.

I think that most of us do just that over the course of our lives, but I also think that some of us don’t. I think that those who don’t write their own lives, but instead who stick with the first draft come hell or high water become bitter, judgmental and all around miserable. It doesn’t matter how much you read about other people’s lives (either historically or through fiction), if you don’t live your own adventure, if you don’t change your setting every once in a while, you can’t grow into the person you dream about being. And failed dreams can break a person in ways that rarely heal if a person isn’t ready to pick themselves up and move forward with their story.

And so, as I enter the first rewrite of my silly little romance, I feel like I’m going through a personal revision as well, that from dreamer to do-er. My setting has changed once again, this time from curled up in a cozy chair flipping the pages of some romance novel to at a desk, in front of a computer typing away, writing one of my own.

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Act successful

In my quest to be something by the time I turn 35 (now just 52 weeks away), I have begun to concentrate fully on my writing. Last month I pulled out something called The Observation Deck: A tool kit for writers by Naomi Epel. I can remember when I bought this thing that was supposed to help me become a successfully published writer.

It was over ten years ago. I was working at a crappy little ad agency on 37th and 6th in Manhattan and every morning on my way to work I passed by the New York City Public Library. On my lunch breaks I would sit and read in Bryant Park, take a quick stroll through the Rose Reading Room or window shop at the library’s store across 5th Avenue. This is where I picked up the Observation Deck, dropping twenty bucks and making a solemn vow to do the exercises and work to write or write to work. I did one exercise then put the deck way.

Ten years, many moves, and lots of dust later I am finally using it, enjoying it and growing because of it. I am 35 pages into a silly little romance and nearly twenty pages into something else and I feel like I can actually do this. Some of the exercises haven’t been all that useful, but they get me to write, to practice, and I’m realizing that practice is the key. For so long I have been so lazy in my life. I know it may come as a shock to some people, but it’s the truth. Being busy doing the easy things is still being lazy. I haven’t pushed myself in ages and scary as the push may be, it feels so good – like a stretch after a long flight when you just have to move.

Anyway, the exercises I have found most useful now adorn the wall above my writing desk. They read: listen, slow down, feed your senses, stop, and act successful. The last one is something I need to start doing – it’s the fake it till you make it theory of success. Here is part of the reading that accompanies the exercise:

“…to become a great writer you need to act like a great writer. That doesn’t mean being temperamental or demanding. It means treating yourself with respect and understanding that you are constantly learning and that solving problems is part of the task. Give yourself time to work. Give yourself time to wander in the woods and reflect. As a successful writer, you need these things and must find ways to live like the artist you wish to become.”

The thing I find most important is to give myself the allowance to stop, listen, enjoy the world around me and imagine. For far too long I have thought these things were unproductive, lazy and most importantly, a sign that I was some silly little girl. But I’m starting to realize that to stop, listen, imagine and dream are the way to exercise, to stretch, to grow and become the person with the talent I’ve always hoped to become…eight years ago when I ran away to London the first time, ten years ago when I would stroll through the NYC Public Library, or even further back…

I may be a silly little girl, but I’m going to be a silly girl with a book deal, a home office and the money to spend three months a year walking the streets of London or Paris or Rome. I’m going to be a silly girl of 35 years who has the money to stop, listen, enjoy the world around me and imagine.

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