Ideas + Passion divided by the square root of Time

I’ve been thinking about this space and where I want to go with it and what I want it to be. When I first started this blog, I was coming off the first year with twins. Still in survival mode, but we were beginning to sense a rhythm to our days, a cadence, an ebb and flow to be depended upon (mostly), which made me realize that I could devote a wee bit of time to a creative outlet like, say, blogging. What I didn’t count on was this: I built it and you came.

I’ve loved getting to know you. I’ve looked forward to your comments and your own posts, but with readership comes dependability and responsibility, and even if I’m the only one who really notices, I think it’s important that I post regularly, and not just to post for the sake of posting. My words need to mean something to someone, even if that someone is just me. The effect that this realization had was paralyzing. I suddenly couldn’t think of things to write about. I started to compare myself to other writers, other bloggers. I put pressure on myself to get things out just to get them out, and then I slowly fizzled and faded and generally avoided this space until I was questioning whether I want to do this anymore at all.

The answer?

Yes.

And so I’m still mulling over the possibilities of this space. Simply put, I’m trying to determine who I want to be as a blogger. I know that I want to incorporate a lot more writing and publishing and maybe not so much day-to-day parenting, though at this point I can’t not write about parenting. I’m too muddled in the trenches — it’s a defining factor of my Self right now. I know that I will be posting updates to the novel in progress (more to come on that in the next post). I know that I want to post at least three times a week. I’m even considering a name change to the blog (I didn’t do a whole lot of brainstorming on this before diving in and now I’m wishing I would have chosen something more definitive to what I’m doing here…so I should probably figure that out before making any identity changes).

By the way, I asked Google for a simple mathematical equation (because I turn to Google in times of need), something like:

Ideas + Passion divided by the square root of Time = Blog Identity

But it was useless. In case you were wondering.

So what I want to know from you is this: How has your blog evolved since its early days? Do you ever lose steam or question if you want to continue blogging? Have you ever changed your blog’s name and is this something that can be easily done without losing and/or confusing readers?

Thanks for sticking with me!

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Click-clacking through the day

It is 2:30 in the afternoon. I began today by waking up at 4:30 this morning to write. I was productive, though not so much with writing story, but with character development. I got the kids up afterward, got Mia off to school and then went for a run and a stop by the grocery store. I gave the boys lunch and put them down for a nap. I’ve done laundry and dishes. I have to pick Mia up from school at 4:20 and it’s quite possible that the boys will sleep until we have to leave, which gives me almost two more free hours. I want to spend this time writing, but I can’t seem to get into it. For a few reasons.

One. Mia pleaded to wear her cowgirl boots today (“I really love the way they click-clack down the hallway. I sound like a lady wearing high heels.”) But the forecast said rain so I made her wear rainboots. The sun has been shining all day without apology. It’s silly, but I can’t get it out of my head — how I wish she could have click-clacked her way through the day.

Two. Is it just me, or is there something about this time of day? My mind is scattered, unable to focus. I’m learning more and more that I prefer the early morning darkness for writing, but I don’t want to be a writer who can work only in the morning, or only at night, or only when the temperature is just so. I don’t want to wait for the time to be right, I want to command whatever time I have to my benefit. But lately, once I stop writing after those early morning hours, I let it go. I forget to begin again. And maybe, for now, this is okay. After all, living is still writing if you’re paying attention and asking the right questions.

Three. This space is on my mind. I need to devote more time to this space. I want to devote more time to this space. I’m figuring out how and when to do this. Until then, if you hear someone click-clacking down the hallway, it’s only me tap-tapping through an unbearably bright day.

Happy hump day.

xoxo,

Lara

Boys and girls in Toyland

Wyatt

We were in the toy aisle around lunch time. The boys were in the stroller, each one holding a stuffed dog, one of which donned a purple bow around its neck. We were searching for a birthday present for a boy and thus surrounded by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and super heroes and Legos and battery operated vehicles. We were in the company of another mom with two boys and a man who appeared to be alone. I was trying to decide which combination of TMNJs to buy when a boy who looked to be about five years old rounded the corner.

“Hey, Dad, can I get this?” he asked.

The man who I thought was alone said, and loudly, “You’re not getting that. That’s a girl toy.”

“But Dad…”

“No way is my son playing with girls toys.”

“But Dad…”

“Put. It. Back.”

The boy surrendered. He walked away, deflated and dejected.

I stood there pretending to be engrossed in the task at hand. I never looked up. I still don’t know what this man looked like. It wasn’t my place to say anything, yet I can’t get that little boy out of my head.

I wonder if that man considered the two women in his company, how his comment outright revealed him to believe our sex “less than”, for we too were once girls playing with “girl toys”. I wonder if he considered the four other little boys in his presence, one of whom held tightly to an accessorized stuffed animal. He certainly didn’t consider his own son, which irritates me most. Not that he didn’t acknowledge a (perhaps extraneous) want, but that he failed to acknowledge what that want revealed about his son.

I never looked up to see what the boy carried in his hands but I can only imagine that it was pink. Maybe it was a doll or a wand or a My Little Pony. Maybe it was something as ambiguous as play food or a stuffed dog with a bow around its neck. Whatever it was, it obviously screamed GIRL and GIRL is obviously not okay with this man, so I wonder: What does GIRL signify? Weakness? Sensitivity? Tenderness? Affection? Inferiority?

girls and swords

Mia plays with water guns and toy bow and arrows. She likes Star Wars and Angry Birds. Of all the toys my mom kept from when my brother and I were little, her favorites include a pirate ship and an old fire engine. At the completion of day camp last summer, I asked what her favorite activity was, expecting her to say crafts or swimming or horseback riding, but much to my surprise it was archery.

My boys will rock a baby doll in their arms as they giggle and groove to Taylor Swift. They find discarded stuffed animals in a closet and smother them with kisses as though they’ve rescued an abandoned baby on someone’s doorstep.

Boys and baby dolls

My children share toys. They trade and take turns and squabble over them. We’ve never tried to impose contrived codes and guidelines, nor do we want to. As long as they’re safe, they’re free to explore and imagine and create. I know we’re not alone in this approach. In fact, we’re probably a part of the majority.

Caring for baby dolls teaches children compassion and empathy. A superhero cape has the power to command invincibility. A wand lets them harness magic. A blank canvas and a set of paints can unlock the vast imaginative realm inside their minds. A book (any book) can provide an escape or a different perspective or a fantastical world to get lost in. This is what we want for our children, part of what we try to instill in them, isn’t it? Compassion and empathy and creativity and the space and freedom to be anything or anyone they want to be.

The world is yours.

The sky is the limit.

You can do anything you set your mind to.

But…

Pink is for girls.

Boys don’t cry.

Be tough. Shake it off.

Girls can be mild and boys can be wild, and we accept this as a general rule. Let us also accept that girls can be mighty and tenacious and boys can be merciful and tender — in play and in life.

So let me ask: If we don’t ever teach them that pink is for girls and blue is for boys, would they come to this conclusion on their own? If we don’t push fairy wands into the hands of girls and swords into the hands of boys, would they still gravitate to what society has deemed gender appropriate? Do we realize that when we dismiss the wants and interests of our kids, we are also dismissing hidden potential, inhibiting imaginative play and hindering creativity?

boys and cupcakes

Did that little boy in the toy aisle leave with the conclusion that he is “less than” for coveting a “girl toy”? Did his father implant a seed that will burrow into his psyche and help shape the way he sees the world and girls? His emotions? Himself?

It was only an errand. It was only a comment that wasn’t directed at me by a man I don’t know. And yet I can’t shake the feeling that I was witness to a pivotal moment on the path of this little boy’s life.

Writing Day #2

I’m setting myself up for failure.

Proclaiming publicly my self-inflicted goal of finishing a first draft of a novel within a three-month timeframe in order to hold myself accountable was a bit of an impromptu decision. A decision that I decided last week was stupid. This became apparent midway through last week when I had failed to write a single word. Granted, my project didn’t officially begin until yesterday, but last week was my primer week. My week to decide which of the unfinished manuscripts stuck in my files I most wanted to finish. Which had the most promise, the most feasible plot to unravel in three months, and above all, which held the most magic? Which one was I most excited by?

The answer? All of them. And none of them.

They all hold a little glimmer of something I want to explore. But they all need a lot of work. I mean, a lot.

I don’t know what I was expecting. Wait, yes I do. I was hoping to come across a forgotten manuscript whose story grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go, a protagonist who jumped off the page, a sculpted plot that only needed a little nip here and a tuck there and voila — on to editing and revising! At the very least, I wanted to find a gem that, though it may be rough, was starting to show facets of sparkle between smudges of ink.

I became overwhelmed. I found three or four manuscripts that pulled at me but still needed a lot of work. I could see various viewpoints and protagonists and twists and themes for each of them. I got so muddled at one point that I began interweaving a couple of stories together, pulling from them the parts I liked best and melding them together. That didn’t work. I was giving up, convincing myself that nothing I ever attempted was halfway decent to begin with when I pulled out the story I began during my first go-round with NaNoWriMo.

It’s the one.

I’ll be honest. I was hoping to focus on a fun, breezy middle grade or YA for this project of mine. Something that didn’t require a lot of research. Something straightforward, current, maybe humorous. The only thing the story I chose has in common with the story I wanted to choose is that it is YA. It’s a historical fiction novel set against the backdrop of post-WWII New York City. It’s a love story, a mystery and a coming of age story. In my head it has undertones of noir fiction, but “the first draft of anything is shit”, so I’m fully aware that this remains mostly in my head. As it turns out, this is great news to my writerly self, a bit of an epiphany, because it used to be that I wasn’t okay with this. I didn’t want to write shit, I wanted to write like all the greats. I’m relinquishing my need for control (and thus moving at a snail’s pace) and placing stock in the fact that nuances, layers and textures (even historical accuracy) can be added later. Getting it down is the first step.

Ask the right questions, and get it down.

Just Begin.

I’m already loving this journey.

*If you decide to partake in my little project, please add your updates and/or links to your blog in the comments!