Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Five Things...Or What I've Been Up To

I haven't blogged in forever. And you know the farther you get away from something, the easier it is to keep ignoring it. It isn't like there hasn't been stuff to say. There is so much stuff I want to say about the world. So much stuff I want to say about publishing. So much stuff I want to say about my life. And yet, I stay silent and I listen to the voices of others and I keep my head down and I work.

So here's the past few months in a nutshell:

1. I've been writing. Somehow I've pushed myself into a place where I don't revise, I rewrite. So I've rewritten a book a couple of times. It probably needs to be rewritten again. Writing is happening, but it is a far slower process for me now. I think this is a good thing. I think I'm getting better. I'm considering going back to school to get my MFA in a few years. I like the idea of constantly getting better. I have a new agent, Barry Goldblatt. He has made me a much better writer in the past 5 months, more than I could have ever imagined. He is a very, very good agent.

2. I am editing. I am editing for my day job and I'm editing my collaboration project and I'm doing some freelance editing. I've been immersed in words on a lot of fronts. I would like to be less immersed in words, but that may not happen until September. That's okay, I think. There appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel which means fall will be a good time for rest.

3. I'm trying to be a good parent, a good wife, a good citizen of the world. Mostly my heart hurts over what has happened this year. Ferguson, Charleston, France, Syria. I want to pour love all over everything, but I can't seem to find a way in beyond talking, talking, talking, listening, trying to inch toward getting better, understanding, trying to fight harder. My kids and I have had good and very, very hard discussions this year. I want something different for them, but I am also happy to know they want something different for our world.

4. I am gearing up to be part of the Voices and Faces Project testimonial writing workshop for incarcerated teen rape survivors. We are hopeful to take the model from Cook County's Dept of Corrections and bring it to other states/communities. I'm not sure how all of this will go, but I'm looking forward to this process.

5. I've been podcasting with Carrie Mesrobian. It's actually been my favorite new thing. We talk about sex stuff and books and basically have fun girl chats (which we have almost every day anyway) and the two of us with our Midwestern accents sound like the dirty version of A Prairie Home Companion and it's pretty spectacular, if you're into that sort of thing.

I hope all of you are well and having a great summer so far.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Being the world's most okay human...

This week, my oldest child turned 13 and my husband turned 45 and my sister turned 43 and I got the chance to see my dear friend Carrie and I got the chance to see my 3 moms on Mother's Day. And I spent time with writers I love for an excellent conference.

This week I edited a book for my day job and finished revising my YA book and filled out 7 cover art forms for my authors and read 3 books. This week I went to 2 baseball games and my kids' opera. And cooked dinners and soaked in a lot of love.

There was a LOT going on this week. At the onset, I felt like crying because I was so overwhelmed. But then I realized that the only real thing I had to do was show up for my own life. That I didn't need for it to be perfect. That I didn't need to write it all down or get it just right. I needed to show up and take in all the great things that I have.

It has been a hard winter. Most winters are hard and I forget that every year. As if I'm suddenly not going to have bad seasonal depression and go to bed every night at 8:30. As if I'm suddenly going to feel like moving or clearing the fog from my eyes to see anything beyond my own bubble.

Spring has been a welcome break. I get a lot done in spring. My body moves a lot in spring. Everyone in my house is happier because I'm happier.

The other day when I told my friend Jules that I had forgotten to bring snack for the soccer team again and that I didn't realize we were supposed to buy school opera tickets and that I was late turning in taco lunch money and that my inbox was full of notes from different people telling me I was behind, Jules said, "Christa, I love you. Keep being okay."

Which is our joke. Me being the okayest parent, friend, writer, editor, book club participant, spouse, sister, daughter, soccer/baseball mom, etc. For some reason, I can't seem to tip myself past okay. There are days when I look around and think, "Why am I the only person in the world who doesn't seem to have their shit together?" and then I look at all the things I managed to be okay at in a single week and I realize that having one's shit together is probably relative. That if I just peel back a few layers of Facebook, I could probably see that a lot of people had a hard winter and maybe forget soccer team snack and haven't turned in their taco lunch money yet.

A few days ago, Jojo crawled into my bed and said, "I know you feel like you drop balls all the time, but you're really a great mom for us." My kids. They amaze me every single day. They make my heart so full. They make me feel like I did something right along the way.

Happy Mother's Day to all of those who are caretakers in the world. And to all of those who laugh with us through our most okay times.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Wisdom from my 40th Year

So tomorrow is my birthday and as I reflect back over the year I turned 40, I thought it might be worth dropping some things I learned (because we can always still be learning!).

On Writing:

1. Publishing is difficult and unpredictable and wonderful. It is not fair. You will likely always be looking up, wishing for more. This is good if it fuels the work. It isn't good if it stops you from getting your shit done. We all have one job: keeping people reading. You do that however you do that, but if you find yourself mired in shit that has nothing to do with that one job, it is a good idea to refocus.

Here's how I have convos with myself...
Me: Oh my God, did you see...?
Me Also: Yes, now get back to work.
Me: But...
Me Also: How do you keep people reading?
Me: Writing good books.
Me Also: Right. Carry on with that.

On Time:

2. No one is on time anymore. I think we live in a world of "over-promise and under-deliver" now. I've done this myself, because I don't like saying no and I bite off more than I can chew. I would like to say no more and pretend I'm not Wonder Woman. Everyone should do this. Everyone should also be respectful of other's time. A lot of people are not. It's okay, it happens, but I'm sorry goes really far.

On Faith:

3. The loud people do not speak for the rest of us. Most of us are quite fine with how you want to live and how you want to have a relationship with God or if you want to have one. As Momastery's Glennon Boyle Melton says, "Everybody's in, baby." That's the way God works. Anyone who tells you different has their own agenda. Look closely at agendas. Look at them the same way you look to see who's funding research studies. EVERYBODY IS IN when it comes to God.

On Anger:

4. I've been fighting against sexual violence for a long time. I will always work toward making this better for other survivors. But the fight drains me. Arguing on social media or even in real life—it's exhausting to me. However, I realize that talking with rape survivors, honoring their stories, helping how I can, that is what rejuvenates me. Yesterday, my friend Courtney pointed this out and I loved it: "Anger doesn't have the fuel that love does. It can't last as long." That might not be true for other people, but it's true for me.

On Parenting:

5. Show up. Ask questions. Talk to your kids about difficult things. Play, read, yell, apologize. Acknowledge that it isn't always awesome, acknowledge that sometimes it is. Have a life that isn't completely woven into theirs. Be patient when they give you lice.

On Friendship:

6. Ask for help. Offer help. Tell your people you love them. Laugh and cry and find the people who won't judge you for either. Don't put anyone on a pedestal. Don't think they're more amazing than they are. We're all flawed. It's okay. Everybody is still in.

On Courage:

7. Do something you didn't think you could do. Something very specific that is maybe a little crazy. You don't have to do something risky every day—because honestly, we're not extreme sports junkies—but this year, pick a thing. For me it was roller derby. For Julio, it was quitting his job. For Mandie, it was running a half-marathon. For Carrie, it was starting a podcast. One. Thing. That's it.

That's it. Love you, friends!