fired up

November 10, 2010

Yep, Little Man, I get it. I get what it’s like to be fired up about something.

This weekend I went out of town with a couple of writing friends. We woke and walked along the beach and wrote and walked to the beach again and wrote some more. We cooked from what seems to be our cooking bible, Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. (Weekend highlights: Smooth Pinto Bean Soup with Chile, Pine Nuts and Mint; Thai Tofu and Winter Squash Stew and even a galette with figs from our tree back home.) We ate by candlelight and talked about our afternoon writing sessions. We read aloud: Michael Chabon, Kenneth Koch, Wallace Stevens. (We laughed over stanza my stone.) We walked to the beach in the dark and then climbed into beds with our books.

And I came home fired up.

Over the weekend I made good progress on my book. For the last year-and-a-half I’ve been filling a notebook with jottings, and trying to write my way towards a format for this book project. Here’s the conundrum: It’s hard to work at parts when you can’t envision the whole, yet it’s hard to envision the whole when you haven’t played with the parts. So this weekend I took my notebook apart and considered what I have. I sorted sections one way, and then another, and another. And suddenly an outline began to reveal itself, like a new house showing its shape as the framing goes up.

I need a word stronger than thrilled to describe how I’m feeling.

Finally I feel ready to write this book rather than to write in circles around it. So on my first morning back, I sidled up to my writing chair and began my introduction. And that felt mighty fine.

After a while I got up to help Mr. T with his breakfast. He’s been re-reading the Percy Jackson series and reading the new book in its sequel series, The Lost Hero. He was quizzing me on the Roman gods and testing whether I knew their Greek counterparts when suddenly a new idea began to bubble in his brain.

“I could write a book about the Greek and Roman gods!” He thought a bit, nibbling on his bagel. “No, I could make a book about all the Gods! Greek, Roman, Norse, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Native American…” He started pacing around the kitchen.

At some point in the next few minutes the book idea morphed into a card game. (Yet another card game.) This one would involve the gods of many cultures and would be called Myth and Magic.

He spent the rest of the morning chattering about his project, and drawing templates for the cards, and making lists of gods to include. I went back to my writing desk, and worked at that introduction and he tried very hard not to interrupt me. But he was…oh, I wish I could think of a stronger word than thrilled. He only came in a few times to give me updates. I’m going to have character cards and flag cards and item cards! And then a few minutes later: I’m going to have harpies and minotaurs and manticores!

The kid was fired up.

And really, we had other things we needed to do that day. He had a comic he needed to finish for a science class. He has a stack of thank you notes to write, and we really ought to get to some math. But I know that fired up feeling. That feeling of being utterly ignited by a creative project you’ve dreamed up, to the point that you just want to work at it, to talk about it, to keep from letting it go.

I think it’s probably one of the most satisfying, important feelings in life. It matters. And when you’re lucky enough to be struck by it, you need to hop on and go. Comics and thank you notes and everything else be damned.

And so he did. And so I did.

Both of us beyond thrilled. Fired up. We were fired up.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Just Peaches November 11, 2010 at 4:42 am

I can feel the heat from here! You go girl!


patricia November 11, 2010 at 11:32 am

I’m going! I’m going!

Thanks, Peaches.


Melissa Crowe November 11, 2010 at 10:09 am

Congratulations to you both! Your energy is contagious, and I’ve been thinking about the poetry “manuscript” that’s been living on my computer for ten years. Hmmm….


patricia November 11, 2010 at 11:36 am

Oh yes, pull up that manuscript on your desktop! There’s nothing like doing the work that a self-imposed project requires. It’s hard, but singularly satisfying.


susan November 13, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Your weekend sounds like a sublime retreat. Hope you are still fired up and working on that book. I’m looking forward to reading it.


patricia November 14, 2010 at 11:06 pm

I’m sure the retreat only sounds sublime to certain people–you being one of them. Lulu thought it sounded absolutely boring!

Yes, I’m still fired up, enough so that I’m making the book-writing a daily practice again, which feels good.

You doing nanowrimo again this year?


Laura November 18, 2010 at 1:58 pm

I am looking forward to reading your book! You and your blog fire ME up and inspire me to live life with joy, creativity and wonder!! I read it with gratitude.


patricia November 18, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Aw, you left me a comment, my friend. Feels like a hug from Portland.

We’ve always been good at firing each other up. Especially when there are hills outside and butter for the bottoms of our shoes.


Heather December 27, 2010 at 6:16 pm

I’ve been mulling, mulling, mulling, like the hot cider I made several nights ago, about my reluctance to sit down and write a book I want to write. Truthfully, there’s several I want to write, and I have too much to start with, so I feel overwhelmed. This is great incentive, though the retreat is really what I’m hungry for–a time to get away, get writing, not be interrupted or pulled by the myriad of home pressures that pull me away.

I always think of Anne Lamott, that if I don’t DO it, I WON’T do it. So far, it’s not done. It’s discipline and will, neither of which I have much of these days. Thanks for the encouragement. I doubt I’ll actually start tomorrow, but you’re now a nibbling mouse in my brain. So glad to have become acquainted.


patricia December 27, 2010 at 11:04 pm

It’s always nice to be a nibbling mouse in someone’s brain! 🙂

A retreat is a wonderful thing. Especially if you’re a busy mom (perhaps a homeschooling one!) who only has small patches of time to herself. There’s nothing like getting away, and being able to write and think about writing all day long. Most years I make an annual trek with some fellow writing friends who are great company and good inspiration. But I imagine it would be almost as nice to get away on your own. It’s a great way to get a project going…

Thanks so much for coming by, Heather! It’s been such a thrill to have my piece in Get Born. And it’s always great to have another fellow writer to commiserate with and cheer on!


Heather December 28, 2010 at 9:20 am

I guess I never updated you–I DID make the homeschooling plunge! And I’m LOVING it. It’s redeemed my motherhood in ways I never dreamed possible. I’ve finally found my niche as a mom, and no one is more surprised about it than I am. However, all your talk about unschooling has me contemplating that idea, though I have to admit I’m scared rather shitless to go without a plan. I’m going to keep reading, though. I’ve been stalking your blog for the last few days, reading whatever I can find about it. You’re such a talented communicator. Thanks for the gift of a window into your world.


patricia December 28, 2010 at 9:59 am

I’m so glad to hear that you’re homeschooling and finding it fulfilling! That’s so much nicer to hear than the typical response of I could never do that!

You’ll find your way as a homeschooler. I’d suggest that you don’t do anything that feels uncomfortable to you–at least nothing drastic. Making little tweaks as you go is a great way to find a way that works for you and your family. Figuring out how to homeschool has been a constantly evolving thing for us, even after thirteen years.

I don’t really consider us unschoolers–which you’ve probably figured out in your “stalking”! We have a definite regular time of working together, but I’ve gotten better at letting the kids direct that time over the years. I still play a big role in helping them keep some balance in what they do. Have you stumbled on the Camp Creek blog in your wanderings? Lori hasn’t posted much in the last couple of months, but her blog is a wealth of inspiration in how to help kids design their own projects.

Enthusiasm is probably the single most important quality for a homeschooling parent, and you’ve got it! Keep going!


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