The Write Timing

My voyage toward publication

A Few Minutes November 7, 2016

Filed under: Blogs,Dreams,Family,Goals,Life Lessons,Writing — michellephillips @ 6:20 am
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Well, it would appear that I am here once again, ready to apologize for my lack of consistency in blogging.  As always, life (with two small children!) has gotten in the way and I’ve taken an unplanned hiatus.  But this weekend, I attended a retreat where one of the presenters, the amazing and awe-inspiring Donna Johnson of Arbonne fame, encouraged us to wake up “just a little bit earlier” and spend some time on ourselves in the morning.

She gave us some suggestions of things to do in these extra minutes: read, pray, meditate, have gratitude.  She didn’t say write, but I’m pretty sure it was implied.  What she also didn’t say were things like, “clean up the kitchen” or “organize the cubbies.”  Though these are things that need to be done and I certainly debated doing this morning, I sat down instead to say a prayer and to write.  Even though I can hear my son starting to wake upstairs.  Even though the bathroom needs to be swept.  Even though I haven’t made a lunch for today.  These things will get done, and  so I’m going to take a few minutes.  Some time for me.  I even made a cup of tea.

I hope today that you can take some time for yourself to pause.  Reflect.  Read.  Write.  Pray.  Be grateful.  And then do it again tomorrow.

 

#momlife July 12, 2016

There’s a funny little hashtag out there that I’m currently enjoying with every ounce of my stretch-marked, hip-widened, pony-tailed mom being.  #momlife  is the go-to when a mom experiences one of those moments that only a fellow mom can fully appreciate.  The moments where you look around and think, Where is another adult with whom I can share an eye roll?  After yesterday’s heartstring pulling story about the birth of my sweet baby boy, the “beauty” part of my story, I thought it would be a perfect day to talk about the “beast” part.  The part that makes me sigh.  The part that sometimes makes me huff (in an exasperated, but not too loud voice so as to keep the children relatively calm), “Come on, life!”  They are the #momlife moments.  And this one’s a doozy.

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#momlife moment #1:

 

I’m trying to get back in shape after the birth of Baby Phillips #2 (Nathan, who we fondly refer to as “Nate Dogg,” because: Class of ’99).  I’m training for a 5K, which to many of you, may sound like a silly thing for which to feel the need to train.  But those of you who know me personally, know that I am no runner.  I have never been a runner.  My non-running days go all the way back to elementary school when I would feign illness to skip out on running the mile in PE (sorry Mr. Lebeda).  But even though I have a long relationship with hating running, I always think it seems fun when I see families post about doing 5Ks and fun runs together.  I want to be able to do that for Olivia and Nathan, not just wait at the end with a sign.  So I’m training.  (Which, by the way, I’m using the Couch to 5K app and absolutely love it!)

 

When I’m in workout mode, I prefer to do my exercising in the morning.  I have always been a morning person, plus, I like starting my day with a workout.  It immediately makes me feel like I accomplished something that day, and then I can’t spend the entire day coming up with excuses for why I can’t work out later.  One of the joys of being a nursing mother is that you wake up with a very heavy chest.  Especially if (knock on wood), your child is doing a good job of sleeping.  So I can’t exactly workout before feeding Nate.  I have to feed him, sometimes pump, get dressed, and then finally head out the door to work out.  I have to try to time it so I can be showered and ready around the time my husband leaves for work in case our daughter decides to wake up early.  He leaves for work at 6:30, which gives me a fairly small window of exercising opportunity.  Do I use this as a excuse not to work out?  No.  Well, mostly no.  Okay, it may be half and half.

 

One day, about a month ago, I didn’t get up to work out.  However, I knew it was going to be a lovely day and I needed a loaf of bread for dinner.  We happen to live about a mile from Great Harvest, so I thought, what a perfect idea!  I’ll put my darling dears in the stroller and we’ll walk to get some bread.  The walk was as lovely as I thought it would be (with the exception of GH opening about 8 minutes late, which totally messed up my timing, but I digress).  We got a loaf of dakota and a loaf of apricot almond (both were a-mazing), I threw them in the bottom of the stroller, looked online to figure out how to recline a sleeping Olivia’s seat, and we headed for home.

 

While it was a lovely day, it was still a summer day, which in Nebraska meant humidity.  By the time we got home, we were all a bit sweaty, particularly me.  And it was time for Nate to eat.  I used to love to nurse Olivia in the bathtub, so I thought, okay, we can all just take a bath!  That night was bath night anyway.  I was sure I could save us some time by bathing them with me in the afternoon and my husband would be so impressed with my time management skills!  So I ran the water, got everyone undressed, and we all hopped in the tub.

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Image courtesy of Pexels. My bathroom is far less luxurious.

It was marvelous.  Olivia played and “helped” wash her brother’s hair.  Nate ate like a champ.  When everyone’s fingers and toes had adequately pruned, I thought it was about time for us to get out.  This was the part I hadn’t quite planned.  I thought, maybe if I just wait an extra five minutes, my husband would get home and could take the baby while I dried off and got Olivia ready.

 

As always, my children had other plans.

 

Olivia stood up from the bubbles she was blowing.  She looked at me with her beautiful blue eyes and proceeded to pee in the water.

 

“Livvy!”  I exclaimed, “Did you just go potty?”

 

“Uh huh.”

 

Since we want to potty train in the near future, I was careful about my response.  “It’s okay to go potty.  But next time, tell mommy and we can sit on the potty chair.”

 

She gave me an olibgatory “uh huh” and then sat back down to play.  Ew.  Probably time to get out.

 

I was just about to stand up with Nate when I looked down at my precious boy.  He looked back at me with adoring eyes and sent forth a giant poo from his adorable bottom.  All three of us were now immersed in poop and pee water.

 

This time I couldn’t help it.  I gasped.  I jumped up, careful to hold on tight to my poopy boy.  “Don’t move!” I said to Livvy.  “Stay on that side of the tub.”  I grabbed my own towel, wrapped Nate in it and put my non-rolling baby safely in the very center of our bed.  Knowing he’d be safe and warm, I went and grabbed Olivia out of the water and started the process of drying her off.

 

I wish I would’ve taken a picture of the aftermath.  The amount of poo in that tub was incredible.  Perhaps the water made it appear to be more than it was.  Or perhaps he had been holding onto it for a while, waiting for the right moment.  But either way, it called for additional bathing.  And a lot of Clorox.

 

When my husband (finally) did get home, I told him the whole ordeal.  His immediate response was, “You should blog about that.”

 

So here I am.  Blogging about this very #momlife moment.  Stay tuned for more.  After all – I still have two children under the age of two.  #momlife indeed.

 

Birth Day! July 11, 2016

Filed under: Blogs,Family,Parenthood,Starting Our Family,Uncategorized — michellephillips @ 4:30 pm
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This is a cheater blog post, because the actual post just appeared today on Pregnancy and Newborn’s Birth Day blog!  Please check it out and read about the day our sweet baby Nate entered the world. 🙂

 

Leap July 6, 2015

At the beginning of every summer, I set goals: how many books I’m going to read, healthy recipes I’m going to try, and opportunities I’m going to have to get together with friends.  And at the beginning of every summer, I decide that THIS will be the summer I really focus on my writing.

And, truthfully, I have.  For the past handful of years, I dove into my writing.  I submitted query letters, entered writing contests, and attended workshops.  I blogged, edited, and tweeted.  But this summer, I’ve taken a leap and added something else to the mix.

This Claes Oldenburg sculpture on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's campus always inspires the writer in me.

This Claes Oldenburg sculpture on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s campus always inspires the writer in me.

A writing community.

Last week, I joined an online writing community called Becoming Writer through The Write Practice.  I didn’t know much about it, but decided that if I want my writing to actually take me places in the future, I’m going to have to be more active about it.  I need to take myself seriously as a writer – think about my writing as a profession and not a hobby.  So I took the leap and joined.  Last week, I submitted my first piece to the forum, something I will do every week for the next year.  I will admit, I was nervous.  Posting my work for other writers to see was frightening – what if they don’t like my tone?  Voice?  What if they don’t think I’m a good writer?

Five days and four feedbacks (is that a word?) later, I’m already grateful I took this leap.

My fellow writers gave me suggestions on ways to make my first paragraph stronger and flow more smoothly.  They pointed out typos (two of them) that I could easily remedy.  But more importantly, their feedback gave me something I have not felt in a while: affirmation of myself as a writer.

So today, while my mom watched my daughter, Writer Michelle stole some time to work on query letters.  And I set another goal – this time, I am posting it here so you can all hold me accountable (gulp).  I’ve been pining away for a Macbook of my very own.  I miss the Mac I had in my former school tremendously, but haven’t felt like I should spend the considerable amount of money it costs to buy one.  But here is my goal:

Image courtesy of Pexels.

Image courtesy of Pexels.

When I get published – when one of my query letters results in my first freelance writing gig – I get to buy myself a Macbook.

Until then, I will continue writing.  I will continue querying.  And I will continue dreaming in apples.

 

The Write Timing Indeed July 22, 2014

Filed under: Blogs,Classroom,Dreams,Family — michellephillips @ 6:50 am

Hello there, blog followers!  Are there any of you still out there?  I’m sure you’ve been wondering where I’ve been.  And instead of listing my numerous excuses, I’ll just summarize it with a mini timeline of exactly why I’ve been absent from my blog for oh-so long.

love

Photo by Julian Adair

August-September 2013

Sold our house, moved in with my parents while looking for new house, had abdominal surgery

October 2013

Recovered from surgery, continued looking for new houses, made offers on two

November 2013

Found new house and offer accepted

December 2013

Closed on new house (that needed – and still needs – LOTS of TLC), and most importantly…found out we were expecting!!!!

January 2014

Moved into said house, began the long series of improvements that needed to be made, had first ultrasound, marveled that we were finally having the opportunity to do so

February 2014

Announced pregnancy to my students on Valentine’s Day (with pink and blue iced Krispy Kreme) and to the world via social media

March 2014

Enjoyed the end of my first trimester and the return of my former energy level

April-May 2014

Interviewed for and accepted new position for the fall  in a new district, school, and grade level (Ah! Am I crazy?!)

June 2014

Taught Children’s Literature at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, taught at Fine Lines Writing Camp, had first baby shower

July 2014

Had second baby shower (the clothes are so cute – and tiny!), began getting new classroom ready, tried to wrap my brain around the fact I will be a mom in one month

(Coming soon…) August 2014

We will be joined by our new son or daughter in mid-August!!!  Wish us luck!

Whew!  Busy year.  Thank you for continuing to read my blog.  I would promise to write more, but we will see what Baby Phillips has to say about that whole idea…

 

 

 

Summer Time, Summer Time June 17, 2013

There are things I genuinely love about each of the four seasons.  The fall, with its back-to-school shopping and return of college football; the winter, with multiple opportunities to spend time with family and cuddle up with a good book; the spring, with its explosion of color.  But there’s just something about summer…

The Fountain of Nations at Disney World, one of my favorite summer (and year-round!) destinations, contains water from each of 22 different countries.

The Fountain of Nations at Disney World, one of my favorite summer (and year-round!) destinations, contains water from each of 22 different countries.

We all remember how exciting summer was when we were young.  As kids, we counted down the final days of the school year, waiting for that glorious day when we could walk out of the school building and be greeted with nothing but luxurious days of friends and fun ahead.  As a little girl, my summers consisted of swimming lessons at Millard North High School, frequent trips to the Omaha Public Library to update my progress on the Summer Reading Program, afternoons full of running through the sprinklers, and an annual family vacation.

And I’m pretty lucky, even now, as an adult.  As a teacher, I still get to feel that summertime anticipation.  I still get to walk out of the school building (though these days, it’s a few days after the students have already left), with the promise of the best gift ahead of me.

Time.

Time to write (and to catch back up with my blog).  *Writing goals = Journal every day, blog once each week, send out more query letters, and begin a new piece (a screenplay!).

Time to read.  *Reading goal = Read one new book each week (stay tuned for a weekly account of these books).

Time to hang out with my family.  My mom is a teacher, too, and we love to spend our summer days shopping, going out to lunch, and planning activities for our students for the next year.  I also spend time at Preco, Inc., where my husband, dad, and brother all work.  Even though all of us are working (the boys on their Preco stuff; me on my writing), it’s nice to be together.

Time to reconnect with friends.  This week alone I have two lunch dates, two coffee dates, and a dinner date with friends!

Time to rejuvenate.  Sometimes I have to force myself to relax.  I am constantly on the go and I know that, for my own sanity (and my husband’s), sometimes I need to stop and take some time to do nothing.

Time to reenergize.  I love to generate new ideas for my classroom over the summer.  I am also attending some professional development sessions later in July, as well as presenting at a conference!

Summer gives me such a gift.  The gift of time.

(Note: There are a lot more things I love about summer.  Enough, in fact, I think I’ll do a second post about them!  Stay tuned…)

 

Writerly Notes February 22, 2013

It’s kind of funny; sometimes the universe sends you a message in any way it possibly can.  Lately, the message I’ve been receiving is about my writing.  Allow me to explain…

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1.) Revision Workshop

About a month ago, I read a posting in the Omaha World Herald about a revision workshop that would take place at The Bookworm on February 23 (tomorrow!).  It was inexpensive, with a discount for SCBWI members (score!), at a place I love (with connected coffee shop – win/win), and the focus is something I need – revision.  We are bringing multiple copies of the first 5 pages of our current work-in-progress and an assortment of highlighters.  I have no idea what kinds of exercises are in store, but I’m looking forward to getting feedback on those vital first 5 pages from some new sets of eyes.

2.) Another Agent Politely Declines

Over the summer of 2012, I sent out a number of queries to agents.  A couple responded quickly (polite “no thank yous”), some did not respond at all (a different way to say “no thank you” in the agent world), and one responded this week.  Yes, you read that correctly.  This week, approximately 9 months later, with….a no.  Which is fine.  After a number of potential agents say no, the rejections don’t sting as much, but I was surprised by the email.  I had already assumed this particular query was a “no” since the agent had been radio-silent for 9 months, but I did appreciate his recognition of receiving my query and sample of my manuscript.  It would have been easier for him to simply ignore the query.  As a writer, I appreciate knowing that someone has looked at my work, even if it is to determine that it’s not for them.  It’s classy.  And I like it.

3.) A Contest!

I am a member of a number of associations for teaching (International Reading Association, Nebraska State Reading Association, Metropolitan Reading Council, Nebraska Association of Teachers of Mathematics).  Because of this, I often receive emails updating me on the goings-on of each group.  One of these emails brought something interesting to my attention.  The National Association of Elementary School Principals Foundation, along with a Boston publishing company, Charlesbridge Publishing, is holding a children’s book contest.  Contestants (me!) can submit picture books or chapter books to become one of at least two books that will be published by Charlesbridge.  There will be 25 finalists and at least two of them will result in publication.  I just so happen to have a picture book AND a chapter book that are currently seeking a home.  Perfect opportunity, right?  Time to brush up my manuscripts and put them in their Sunday-best.

4.) Fine Lines

As you, my beloved readers, may remember, last summer, I participated in some writing workshops and camps.  One of these was Fine Lines Summer Camp, held during June.  I attended as a camper, and was grateful not only for the time to focus on my writing, but the opportunity to network with fellow local writers.  I was recently contacted by the wonderful David Martin, editor of Fine Lines journal and organizer of summer camp, and asked to be an educator at this summer’s camp.  I will work as the assistant coordinator for the elementary side of camp and and am very much looking forward to it!  I’m hoping that I can recruit some of my current students (and future students recommended by some of my colleagues – hint, hint) to attend summer camp.

It’s been a bit of writing whirlwind lately with things popping up when I least expected them.  But the things that surprise us are often some of the best things in life.  I’m hoping these will be just some of those things.

 

 
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