Monthly Archives: July 2015

Writing is hard

Photo by Ouadio

Photo by Ouadio

It really is. Not the actual act of sitting down and typing or scribbling words onto the page/screen. But the confidence that what I’m doing matters, at all, in the grand scheme of things. Taking the few hours in the morning to try to craft a story that won’t leave me alone (I dream about this thing) but also won’t come out in any cohesive way is hard.

I’m procrastinating writing right now, in fact, by writing this blog post about how hard it is to write.

I woke up in the middle of the night and realized what my problem was. I have three stories going at the same time right now, two in editing and one in drafting. I’m trying my darnedest to work on all three, but I end up not really getting much of anything done. I’ve been reading a lot of books about story structure, and I want to make sure I really get it right in these stories. One of them is the book that I really feel like is going to be the “best thing” I’ve ever written. I am in love with the story and the characters and I want to make sure my limitations don’t prevent it from serving the readers in the same way its served me. So I paused it. I’m doing a lot of reading and taking notes. Another, I’ve had “done” for a while, but knew it was missing something. I’ve spent the last two hours revamping the overall story structure, ripping my scenes apart, moving them around, and marking them to be rewritten. I’m at the three-quarter mark in the new outline and am terrified I still don’t have it right.

I haven’t gotten nearly as much writing done as I wanted to this summer. Part of it was that I gave myself a pass to spending more time with the kids. But the bigger part of it is: Writing is Hard. It’s harder than my day-job (which deals with people a lot of the time and is certainly no cake-walk). It’s harder, a lot of the time, than dealing with my kids, who are finally at the age that they’re entertaining themselves and each other without me. It’s harder, obviously, than writing this blog post. It’s just plain hard.

I’m not stopping, not by any means. But I just wanted to put this out there, in case anyone else is going through something similar. It’s easy to feel like we’re alone in this struggling-to-make-art thing because we rarely do it with or around other people. So I just want to publicly declare: This is hard.

But I’m going to keep doing it.

Sometimes I want a flip-phone

When the iPhone 6 came out and all of the cell carriers “removed the discount” they had been offering on smart phone lines, I seriously looked at getting a flip phone. With the change in structure of the cell bill, we had the choice of either buying our phones outright and then having to wait 2 years to get a new phone and pay a higher data charge (but still having the option to sell the phone when we got a new one) or signing up for what amounts to a payment plan where we lease the phones and can get a new one in a shorter period of time (we chose 18 months) and keep the discounted data charge. (We looked at every major carrier, the only one we could have done anything cheaper on was Sprint, but it doesn’t have a reliable network here.)

Our phones end up, essentially, costing the full $700 no matter which way we go. That is INSANE. I don’t need a $700 phone. I’m not solving world hunger here, I’m just writing. I’ve got a computer and iPad and I can use those to get on the internet. I don’t need to be that hyper connected. In fact, I don’t want to be that hyperconnected. I’m tired of feeling tethered to email and facebook and twitter and work. I wanted freedom.

I decided to get a simple flip phone. I would use it for *gasp* calls and texts and that was it. Great idea, right?

Nope. It was MORE expensive to go the low-tech route (over time) than to just get the new iPhone and all it’s bells and whistles (including the GPS that I desperately need.) So I got it. And I love it, it’s a great phone. But I still feel tethered. Attached. Dare I say, addicted?

It’s not all bad. Having a smart phone has allowed me to work a weird schedule this summer and keep up with everything I need to do while the kids play at the playground or the pool or the library. I’m immensely thankful I can stick a tiny computer in my back pocket and not have to haul my laptop everywhere. But I still feel like there needs to be a happier medium that I haven’t yet found.

We’re going camping next month and the spot we got doesn’t have electricity. There will be no way to charge anything other than in the car. I’m both looking forward to and am terrified of the disconnection. It’s only 2 days. I’m worried both that it’s too long, there will be too much to catch up on when I’m back “on the grid” but, also, that it’s too short. I won’t be finished with the withdrawal symptoms yet, so the hit I’m going to get when I plug it back in on the drive home will only make the attachment (addiction) worse.

How about you? Anyone out there feel the same way? Is there a medium ground between a landline and the computer in my pocket (or on your wrist?)

Ruby Slippers Updates

2015-06-11 10.04.45 IMG_1949There’s been some exciting new developments in the real-life Ruby Slippers investigation that my books are based on.

As you may or may not know, Judy Garland was born in Grand Rapids, MN, the town right next to where I grew up. The town is the home of the Judy Garland Museum, and a pair of movie-worn ruby slippers was stolen from the museum in 2005. There was no evidence except for a single sequin found at the scene. In the last ten years, there have been all of the usual speculation and rumors that goes along with an event of this magnitude in a small town, but never anything actionable.

Last month, during the first two days of the annual Wizard of Oz Festival (formerly known as Judy Garland Festival and Emerald City Festival) a team of divers from the Itasca County Sheriff’s Department conducted a series of dives in the Tiago Mine Pit Lake.

2015-06-11 10.32.33Pit lakes are created when the water backfills into areas where Iron Ore mining had been happening. During the mining, the water is diverted and actively pumped out. As soon as those pumps are shut off, it fills. (If you’re not on my mailing list, check out last month’s newsletter to see a video of a dive in another mine pit.) The water in these mines is crystal clear because it’s ground water that is coming up through natural filters: rocks, sand, silt, etc. They are gorgeous.

Operations at Tioga ended in the 50s, and, from what I understand, the water backfilled especially quickly because of the lake’s proximity (across the street) from Pokegama lake. At it’s deepest point, Tioga is nearly 300 feet.

I was there for all four dives, and as far as I observed, all that was found was some garbage. However, even at the dive site, rumors abounded about what had been brought up: a sawed off shotgun, a black duffle bag and a coffee can with “ruby red coloring” inside, a plastic shoebox that would have been the right size for the shoes…

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Several news crews were on hand the first day of diving, and while I was interviewed by a few different people, I only made it on to one station. That’s fine, I wasn’t dressed for it 🙂

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The renewed interest in the theft comes as we approach the ten-year anniversary of the crime, and because Morgan White is making a documentary film about The Ruby Slippers. I did an hour-long on-camera interview for his film, but as it’s focused more on the actual shoes and the legends surrounding them, I don’t know how much of it will get used. I’m looking forward to seeing the whole thing!

Documentary Photo