Life: After THE BOOK


Photo: Inspiration Collage for VOICE

For those of you who don’t religiously read every oh-so-poignant word on this blog, here’s my latest news flash: I finished polishing my latest WIP enough that I sent it off to my critique group and agent (who wanted to see it at the same time as my crit group, honestly, even though I warned him that it was sure to be full of glaring typos and continuity errors….)

This all happened two weeks ago. I kind of figured—crazy me—that the time following would be, you know, nice and low key. Lazy, even. I’m thinking lots of time to read all those books piled from my bedside, time to pick up an unfinished article or two, time to start that PB class I’ve been meaning to take, and in between I’ll finish crocheting the shawl project i started over Christmas….

Yeah, right. It hasn’t happened *quite* that way because, like many writers I know, I perpetually overestimate the amount I can accomplish in any given period of time.

I’m not complaining—I like being busy. I love that a wonderful science writing project fell into my lap unexpectedly, giving me the chance to indulge my molecular biologist side. I love that I have a book proposal project elbowing for its share of mental space in my brain.

The busy-ness helps counter the strange post-partum feeling that comes with sending out  manuscript that I’ve lived and breathed for the past few months. (Yes, I even slept with it. Luckily my DH puts up with ink stains on the sheets from those times when I dozed off with pen in one hand and notebook in the other….and with the light flipping on at 2:00 AM because I had to jot down some fantastic idea.)

It also helps as I wait to hear back from an editor who requested a rewrite of my mg fantasy….

Of course, I have to finish all these lovely busy projects in the next three weeks, because as soon as I get feedback from my critique group I’m supposed to turn around a rewrite in a week because my wonderful and magnificent agent, Gary Heidt, loves the book and wants to go out with it ASAP. Hmm. Is that even possible? Guess we’ll find out!


A year ago, my sister showed me her new shoes—shoes her husband fondly calls her “Gorilla Shoes.” (They’re actually called Vibrams.)


They looked…weird.

And yet, a year later, I keep hearing about these things. I meet random people at the coffee shop who rave about them, I had a bicyclist show me how he’d worn holes through the bottoms—and my sister still seems to love hers. Even though I still think they look weird.

But I’m starting to get convinced about these weird-looking footgear, in part because of articles like this one, which reports that running in running shoes causes greater stress to joints than running barefoot or walking in high-heeled shoes.

I’ve spent the past six months working my way VERY slowly up to being able to run a reasonable time and distance. I’ve learned to love my runs. They’re the perfect time for me to ponder story problems; plus, they fulfill my desire to multitask because I’m fitting in exercise and getting the dogs outside at the same time. I find that running is starting to give me all those much-touted benefits that “real” runners claim: I have more energy, improved mood, and improved productivity.

But—I can tell it’s hard on my joints. I have to space out my runs to let my knees recover in between, and I worry about joint issues forcing me to stop again, which would be a major bummer. Maybe going “barefoot,” in weird-looking shoes, is the solution!

:) Cheryl

Psychology of Burnout: the Parent-Child Connection

Cute Baby Boy Isolated on White

Burnout: who hasn’t been there at some time? You’re tired, feel like your current work isn’t meaningful, or you feel inadequate to meet the demands of work, life, or even what used to be your passion. NOT a fun feeling.

It’s also not a feeling exclusive to adults. In kids, the experience is known as “school burnout.” 

And—bad news here—if you’re feeling burned out, your kids are more likely to get burned out, too.

Recent research from the Academy of Finland found a clear connection between kids who experience school burnout and parents experiencing burnout at work, especially when the “burned out” parent is the same gender as the child. It seems that we, as parents, serve as role models for our kids in our experience of stress as well as other, more desirable ways.

I think about this a lot, because as a writer/mother/household manager/tutor/whatever-else-pays-the-bills-er, it’s easy for me to take on too much. It’s easy for me to get to that place of burnout, and I know I’m not the only writer in this situation. Writing is a tough calling. Wonderful is so many ways—but still tough.

This research reminds me that when I take care of myself, when I avoid burnout, I’m setting an example for my kids and helping them learn to take care of themselves, too. Here are a few resources on the how’s, what’s, and how-to’s of dealing with burnout:

How do you avoid burnout? In my house, the recipe seems to be a nice mix of exercise, healthy eating, hard work, and regular down time. I’d love to hear yours!

:) Cheryl

The Writing Life: Endings and Beginnings

A few days ago, I entered a new (albeit familiar) realm of the writer’s existence: post-writing. That is, I finished the draft of my latest WIP that actually gets printed out and sent off to critique group and agent (and only to the agent because he said he really wanted to see it, even though it’s still FAR from polished.) It’s not a first draft—I go through the manuscript about a million times before I let anyone besides my beloved first reader/sweetheart read it—but it’s definitely not submission-ready either.

The first few days after sending my baby off, I caught up on all the things I’d ignored in order to finish that rewrite. You know: laundry, bill paying, reacquainting myself with those familiar-seeming people who share the house with me.

And now—I feel a bit lost. It’s time to pack away all those technicolor notecards and sticky notes I used to track plot and character edits.

rewriting_picI keep finding myself booting up the computer and opening the latest draft, ready to rewrite—only to recall that all rewriting is officially on hold until critique time.

For a writer, post-writing is kinda like that period just after a play closes for an actor. For weeks, you live, breathe, and eat theater. Then the show is finished, the set struck, and yet you keep wandering back to the empty theater expecting to find all the hustle and bustle still going on. It’s kinda weird. Kinda sad, but also kinda…freeing. For the first time in a very, very long time, possibilities bloom on the horizon.

I could start another novel…or write a picture book…or research a nonfiction piece…or take a class…or, or, or…!

Endings and beginnings go together, don’t you think?

Happy writing!

:) Cheryl