A work in progress

by Jennifer on October 6, 2008

“I’m bored.”

If you’re a parent, you’ve heard this from your children on sunny days, rainy days, weekend days, and even on holidays.

Today I heard it from my girl, who says it more often than her brother.

They are two different birds.

To fill the time,  he’ll find something to construct or design or build. Legos, Bionicles, whatever. But if she’s bored, she would likeitverymuchthankyou if someone (me) would come by with something like a dessert tray, filled with an array of activity options.

She’s a creative girl. There’s not a day that passes when she doesn’t have the markers and crayons spread out across the kitchen table while she draws pictures.

Without that outlet, she can go a little nuts. It’s just beneath her skin, that need to express herself, the way it’s under mine. If she can’t burn off that energy, it comes out in other ways that – while colorful – aren’t as pleasant as a pile of her drawings.

Today when she said “I’m bored,” it was an easy fix. I knew where to find some pretty paper, and I had some magazines she could cut up to make a collage. She spent the next hour quiet and happy at the table.

My girl and I aren’t so different. My need to get it all out may be more contained and even pushed aside by the need to pay the bills or put dinner on the table, but just like her, I need to burn off some of this energy.

This morning, I pulled some boxes out of my office closet, to find all the printed-out copies of my novel-in-progress and assemble them in one place. I want to read through from its first incarnation, the way you might read through old love letters, so that maybe I could fall in love with the story again, or at least remember why I fell so hard for it in the beginning. To see if the story feels necessary to me, still.

It’s strange to go back and read what I wrote years ago (yes, it’s been a long road with too many stops).

When I read those early pages now, it’s startling to hear how much my voice has changed. And while it’s depressing to think how much rewriting there is to do, it also makes me feel hopeful because it means one thing: I have changed. My voice is different because I am different. On a good day, I’m more confident. On the rest (most of them), I still know it’s the thing I’m meant to spend my life doing.

If any of you get your water from a well, you know that if you let the faucet run for a few minutes, that’s when the cold, sweet water comes up. It’s worth the wait, right? I’m hoping for the same with the book.

When I found the pretty paper for my daughter, I showed her the goods and asked her if she wanted it all. Her smile was the brightest thing I’d seen all day. It was exactly what she needed, even if she couldn’t have said so. (When that happens, for a parent, it’s kind of a big deal.)

One small thing can change the face of a day, and I’ve got to believe that a few small changes will alter the landscape of the next year for me.

I’m committing to two.

The first is that instead of driving the kids to school in the morning and then driving on to Starbucks for my fix, I’ll walk with them to school and then complete the almost-four mile loop to end up back at home. (Edited: School is only half a mile away.) Five days a week of that should do something for my ass, yes? But it will also be good for the writing. Mindless tasks or activities work for me that way.

The other change is that I’m not going to set my book aside until I’m through this first draft. No folders. No boxes. No closet. It’s staying right under my nose until the bitter(sweet) end.

And I’m telling all of you and granting you full permission to bug me about those two things.

Here’s a picture of what I’ve found so far of my book, the mess that I need to cut up and make into a collage. I’ll give it a quick skim, and then get on with the work.

Maybe if you stare it it long enough, it’ll grow. (Hasn’t work for me, but maybe if you all stare at it at once…)


Neil at Citizen of the Month writes about change today, and the “forces of the status quo” should be shaking in their boots. I would say that his blog is a favorite, and that would be true, but I’m guessing that others have said it over and over. And maybe one more over.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

anno October 6, 2008 at 3:31 am

long-time lurker here, but you really got me at two places: the one where you asked about your novel if it still felt necessary — this question just haunts me these days; and your wonderful metaphor about drawing water from the well and letting it run until it turns sweet. A beautiful image, and one that will stay with me for a long time. Gorgeous, gorgeous post

annos last blog post..Sunday Scribblings: Forbidden


suburbancorrespondent October 6, 2008 at 5:37 am

How old is your daughter again? Kids Can press has a book called “Quilting” – she would love it. Or the Klutz quilting book is good, too.

suburbancorrespondents last blog post..Where Did I Go?


Jenn @ Juggling Life October 6, 2008 at 7:25 am

I’m impressed that you have so much writing–just the word “book” gives me hives.

Jenn @ Juggling Lifes last blog post..I Though I Was Missing My Mojo Last Week?!


Lisa@verybusymomwith4 October 6, 2008 at 8:14 am

That is a lot of paper 😉
Any news on your possible move?


Dharmamama October 6, 2008 at 8:35 am

I’m all tingly! Yay for walking, and writing, and revisiting, and revising… and growing!

Dharmamamas last blog post..This Weekend


Madge October 6, 2008 at 8:38 am

i know you can do this. in fact, you are doing it. those are a hell of a lot of pages….

Madges last blog post..Am I back yet?


Louise October 6, 2008 at 8:43 am

I’m so proud of you for deciding to do the walking. It will change everything (and not just your ass). My exercise time (biking for me), is the ONLY time in the day that I can truly think. OK, I can’t think ALL the time because I have some busy intersections to cross. (And idiot drivers) to deal with.) But it is wonderful clear-your-head-plan-your-day/life/whatever time. And you are going to especially love the bulk of the time–after you drop the kids. Not that they are not wonderful, but being alone with one’s thoughts is so much nicer sometimes than having some grand thought working in your head to have it interrupted by, “Mommy, why are we doing this?” (About eight times a day.)

Good for you!!!!

Louises last blog post..I Do Not “Immediately” Have Time to Blog


melissa October 6, 2008 at 9:30 am

Boredom is a powerful force. Good for you to keep after that book.

melissas last blog post..More blessings than banes


Twenty Four At Heart October 6, 2008 at 9:33 am

Good for you. Sigh … I love Neil. He’s great, isn’t he? I think it’s great that you are re-visiting your book. I’m like you … I’d need to keep it right in my face as a constant reminder to not get sidetracked. Good luck!


Crazycath October 6, 2008 at 10:58 am

Well I stared. And stared. Nothing happened. Sorry.

Good for you . Making a couple of decisions is good. Walking is good and it will help to get that work started. Good luck!

Crazycaths last blog post..Monochrome Monday


Reluctantfarmchik October 6, 2008 at 11:07 am

Way to go!! I understand your process. I was there once – but in my experience I’d written everything I could, but they wanted more (a page quota). It was a “turn me inside-out and scrape me dry – that’s all I got” experience. You have it in you – just working its way to the surface And I think that once you get going on the rewrite it will prove less weighty than it feels now (sort of like how it feels right after you put your taxes in the maibox). In the mean time, you have a whole bank of a fan club, cheering you on, and throwing water bottles at you.


Daryl October 6, 2008 at 11:25 am

LOVE you as a redhead .. seriously … SO flattering I may develop a girl crush!

And I am always BORED … could you bring that dessert tray of interesting things to do over here?

And its good your ‘voice’ has changed I think it means you have a fresh perspective to view the novel from .. go for it ..

Daryls last blog post..my new ‘nephew’ (s)


Lisa Milton October 6, 2008 at 11:28 am

The walking bit is genius. While painting and working this summer, writing was much easier because it seems to open up that part of my brain.

You’ve inspired me to keep going.

I think I need to add some more creative endeavors back in my life…


Ann October 6, 2008 at 11:43 am

Good for you. The walks, I’d bet, will be inspiring too – in many unexpected ways. Grow, book, GROW!!!

Anns last blog post..I Can’t Deliver A Line


Em October 6, 2008 at 12:29 pm

But when you read something that you wrote, do you remember that it was yours? I find random things, shorts and such, that I wrote down, mostly before kiddos, and I cannot even remember having those thoughts.

Scares the coffee out of me! What else have I forgotten? At least I know where the Boys are. Whew!

Love your site. Inspirational to say the absolute least.


Ems last blog post..My scary libido needs a jump start.


catnip October 6, 2008 at 1:03 pm

It looks like you have great start there.

Btw – when my kid tells me he’s bored I tell him I’d be happy to find him something to clean. He disappears in a flash!

catnips last blog post..so, it looks a little different around here


SteveCinNM October 6, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Good for you. If you want, I’ll be happy to be an unbiased, but very supportive, reader for you. That’s a committment I am willing to make.



Ree October 6, 2008 at 5:42 pm

A four-mile loop. (Sorry, but I’m focused on the exercise, not the book – the BOOK, I know you can do my dear…I’m just in awe of the walking!)

Rees last blog post..Cousins – Past in Polaroids 9


texasholly @ June Cleaver Nirvana October 6, 2008 at 7:20 pm

Are your children thrilled about the walk? Ya, you may have to pull them the first 1/2 which will make the second 1/2 all the more enjoyable.

You go girl. you have it in you and I can’t wait to read it ALL.

I love Neil too. I am off to see what you linked to…


ByJane October 6, 2008 at 7:25 pm

I found this inspiring. Thanks….

ByJanes last blog post..What’s On My Mind


flutter October 7, 2008 at 12:01 am

Those kids of yours, they enchant me as much as their mom does

flutters last blog post..He has managed to survive another year


jenrantsraves October 7, 2008 at 6:10 am

I really hope that you finish it, because you NEED to be published. It just has to be so.


Bruce October 7, 2008 at 9:48 am

If you have read my blog for any length of time or scroll back through it, one recuring theme that inspires a lot of the stuff I write is the daily walk to work.

There is something about getting out, slowing down and really looking at the world around you that opens up a deep well of inspiration. Good luck on the consitutionals!

Bruces last blog post..Negative Campaigning


Rhea October 7, 2008 at 10:20 am

I like your two changes/decisions. They sound healthy!

When my children bring out the “B” word, I make them go run laps in the driveway. Boys need a certain amount of physical activity that all the coloring and drawing in the world doesn’t satisfy. And that’s why I have them in sports too. :o)

Rheas last blog post..Disagreeable Familiarity


Csquaredplus3 October 7, 2008 at 3:51 pm

I encourage you to walk the kids to school and do your 12 mile loop home. 😉 I recently read (maybe in a magazine?) research is suggesting the brain works more efficienty and effectively after exercise. I’ll cheerlead from Utah.

I like Neil too, so I’m WILD about you!

Csquaredplus3s last blog post..Blog Awards Confession


JCK October 7, 2008 at 4:13 pm

It will definitely be worth the wait. Oh, yes…it will! And you have become a better writer, no doubt, with the discipline of maintaining this blog and writing regularly.

I am so proud of you for making the commitment. It is monumental. We’ll be here to see you through. Your talent cannot be held back.

JCKs last blog post..He only answers to his name, I Love Trains


apathy lounge October 7, 2008 at 6:29 pm

The process of writing never looks like it’s adding up to much until you view it in your rearview mirror. Then it’s amazing. I love your writing and I love the blog. Also? Citizen is one of my favorites as well.

apathy lounges last blog post..Random, Odd and Wow!


anymommy October 7, 2008 at 8:43 pm

I’m going to stay on you because I want to read it some day! My old writing makes me squirm sometimes, but I do like to see how much I’ve changed and learned.

anymommys last blog post..To Pee or Not to Pee


Tootsie Farklepants October 7, 2008 at 10:11 pm

I used to read whenever I was bored as a kid. As an adult too.


Tootsie Farklepantss last blog post..Without the Manolo Blahniks


dysfunctional mom October 8, 2008 at 12:33 am

We have almost everything important within walking distance of our new home. It’s great, but we have to remind ourselves to walk! It’s such a habit to get in the car. So our new neighbors probably think we’re nuts when they see us back out of the driveway, remember that we can walk, and then pull back in, get out and walk away. heh heh
Good luck w/ the book!

dysfunctional moms last blog post..If You Give a Kid a Camera…


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: