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Metaphors for Faith
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Faith, patience, love, anger, ideas—we conceptualize these as objects. (I’ve written about this before).

I’ve lost patience. I found love. I don’t have any faith.

As if an abstract idea is like a ball that you toss or keep or hide or steal.

The problem is when the abstract idea doesn’t act like something that can be tossed or lost or kept or stolen. Like faith. Faith is not something binary, something you have or you don’t.

Let me try that again. My concept of faith is that it is something binary, like a light switch. It’s either on. I have faith! Or it’s off. I have no faith. And when the switch is off, I sort of throw up my hands and shrug. Look! I don’t have it. I’ve lost the ball.

My mother says that doubt is a part of faith. I like that. But it doesn’t fit into the metaphor. (Which means I need a new metaphor.) So what is faith like? Something you can’t hold. Something you experience, maybe? Is it like wetness? Faith is like water?

Out of the Mouths of Babes
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On Good Friday my four-year-old son--the one who doesn’t seem to be the sharpest tool in the shed--said to me, “My heart can see things that people can’t see with their eyes.”

Wha-wha-what???

“Like what?” I asked using a tone of voice that suggested that I already knew the answer. (When of course, I didn't. I mean, wth does that mean?)

“My heart can see people in Heaven. My heart can see God.”

This is the same kid who thinks to ask if my stepfather is feeling better since his stay in the hospital last month. The same kid who said to me, “I hope you feel better soon, Mama.” (I have chest cold and have completely lost my voice.)

“What do the people look like in Heaven?” I wanted to know.

“I don’t know,” he answered. “I can’t see them. My heart can see them.”

“But what does your heart see? What do they look like?” I pestered. Is my kid going to be the sort of kid who sees dead people?

When we were staying in Room 3, back when Wagner was just a lump of bruises, I felt like he took up the space in the room, like he was part of the atmosphere. Maybe there was some Wagner inside that skin, but mostly I felt like he was still inside of me, still halfway between here and Heaven (that sounds like a bad Lifetime television miniseries.)

If my little baby had a near-death experience when he was just a newborn, what would his heart see? What would he know about Heaven that the rest of us don’t?
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It's a Thank You, Stupid
j9kovac
Back in a past life, I was a ballerina. Only I never called myself that. No dancer uses the word “ballerina.” I sort of like the word now. There’s a lot of stuff I grasp now that I had hated in my previous life.

My entire dance career felt like a fight. That’s part of being a perfectionist. You have to keep the struggle alive. You can’t just be satisfied with something. You have to tear yourself up because you are yearning for that satisfaction and at the same time are terrified that you only have success because of your drive.

I was thinking about this today because I’m in the midst of writing all these emails to people—we’ve got a book launch party! Can you come? And just a few years ago, it would have twisted me up inside to ask people to come.

When I was dancing, sometimes I wouldn’t even come out for my bow. I could do this because many of our bows were ensemble bows and no one would have missed me except for the people on stage. Somehow I’d talk myself into a frenzy. A bow was self-indulgent. It seemed needy and insincere.

I don’t need those people’s approval, their applause. And let’s face it, they’re not clapping for me or even for us. They’re clapping because that’s what you’re supposed to do at the end of a show. Well! I for one will not participate in this farce!

I only sat out the bow once or twice. Turns out directors find that more selfish and self-indulgent than just bowing to the crowd.

I know, you’re wondering how I’m going to bring this back to the book launch party, how I can possibly justify these shameless plugs.

Part of this has to do with the fact that my identity as a person is not as a writer. I’m ok being a lousy writer or a novice writer. Or an amateurish writer. I’m also ok with the idea that someone might think I’m a pretty good writer.

I was never like that as a dancer. I wasn’t ok with the idea that anyone would think I was a lousy dancer and at the same time, I balked at the idea that I could ever be a pretty good dancer. I had to keep the fight. No wonder if felt insincere to invite someone to see me perform.

By contrast my writing isn’t about me (even though all I do is write about me!). I know the two people on staff at the NICU who ask about my writing will genuinely want to know about this book event, even if they can’t go. So I’ll invite them. I know my neighbors are curious and the moms in Chiara’s classroom are supportive, so I’ll invite them. They’ll be too busy to come or they’ll want to come but can’t or who knows, maybe they are secretly hoping I’ll fail, although I don’t attract those sort of people the way I did when I was dancing.

And none of it will have to do with me.

Here’s what I didn’t get as a dancer: that the bow is the time when the dancer is face to face with the audience as a person, not a character, and she has the opportunity to thank them. Thank you for coming. I hope you enjoyed the show. Not, “I hope you liked me.” That’s what I didn’t get.

That’s what these parties are. A chance to celebrate. To say “thank you” to the people who have supported us and “look!” to the people who have been curious. They might not be able to come. They might not be able to buy books. But that’s not the point. The point is that I can thank them and I can thank them in the invitation to the dance.

If you’d like to be thanked in person, come join us tomorrow night at Diesel Books in Oakland at 7pm. Or Sunday, April 27th at the Bookmine in Napa. Or May 4th in Corte Madera at Book Passage. How about May 8th in San Francisco or May 17th in Sebastopol?(See what I did there?)

Gotta Write 'Em
j9kovac
Some days I spend all my time typing, crafting language, and composing efficient prose and none of that time writing. Today was a day like that. And now it’s the end of the day and I ask myself, what did I write?

Important stuff, it turns out. Bios, book descriptions, event coordination. It’s the sort of stuff you skim when you read which means that the flow of prose is just as important.

Here’s what I put together today. It’s for another book event. This one will be held at Scribd Headquarters, Thursday May 8th from 6 – 7pm, 539 Bryant street in San Francisco.

Someone else gets the lucky task of writing the event description. I cut, pasted, and tweaked bios.

Moderator: NANCY DAVIS KHO has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, TheRumpus.net, The Morning News, andSkirt! Magazine and is most recently anthologized in Moms Are Nuts (Vansant 2014). An avid music fan, she blogs about the years between being hip and breaking one at MidlifeMixtape.com.

Write On Mamas authors

British-born CLAIRE HENNESSY is writing a humorous memoir about reuniting with her childhood sweetheart "Bug," after a thirty-year separation. Her work has been published in Nothing But The Truth So Help Me God -Transitions anthology (2014) and blogs at Crazy California Claire. In 2011 she was awarded the Scribd Favorite Funny Story Award. A co-founder and website editor of the Write On Mamas, Claire lives in Novato with Bug and an assortment of kids and animals.

LAUREL HILTON is the president of the Write On Mamas, as well as a founding member. Her work has appeared as part of KQED's Perspectives series, A Band of Women's Transitions anthology (2014), and elsewhere. Laurel resides in Mill Valley with her husband, two daughters, a very loyal Australian cattle dog, and a couple of rats.

MARY HILL is writing a memoir about learning to accept her son’s disability and then helping him do the same. Mary has read at Lit Crawl, and her essays have appeared in various disability-related newsletter and blogs, including her own, Finding Joy in Simple Things. Mary is a co-editor of Mamas Write.

MARIANNE LONSDALE writes personal essays and short stories, and is now focused on developing a novel. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Literary Mama, Fiction365, The Sun, and Pulse and is an alumna of the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. Marianne is a founding member of Write On Mamas. She lives in Oakland with her husband Michael and son Nicholas.

JANINE KOVAC is a founding member of the Write On Mamas and a talent-wrangler for Litquake, San Francisco’s literary festival. She is a co-editor of the anthology Mamas Write as well as a contributing author. Janine is currently reading From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler with her daughter and The Adventures of Spiderman with her twin boys when she isn't working on her own books.

TERI STEVENS lives in Napa, California with her husband, son, and twin daughters. She is a founding member and marketing director of the Write On Mamas. In addition to writing young adult fiction, Teri writes about parenting and how she became the mother of three six-year-olds.

Here's the description of our book:
In Mamas Write: 29 Tales of Truth, Wit, and Grit, twenty-four moms (and one dad) share stories from their lives as writers and parents. Essays range from finding one’s calling as a writer through adopting a toddler; a tribute to a dying wife; an account of a premature birth; raising a transgender child; the joys of sharing a favorite childhood book. In a concluding interview, authors share funny and heartfelt responses to questions such as: “How does a busy parent make time for writing?” “Why do you write, and where?” “What writing books inspire you?” and “What holds you back from writing?” With a foreword by Kate Hopper, author of Ready For Air: A Journey through Premature Motherhood and Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers.
 

Scribd Bio
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JANINE KOVAC is a founding member of the Write On Mamas and a talent-wrangler for Litquake, San Francisco’s literary festival. She is currently reading From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler with her daughter and The Adventures of Spiderman with her twin boys. She lives in Oakland.

Now that second-to-last sentence—that’s the one I always make a little cute. It used to be “Janine writes about preemies and reads about fairies, diggers, and dinosaurs.”

But I should probably write about my writing.

“She is at work on a memoir about the premature birth of her twin sons.”

I liked the reading line, though. I love that Chiara is at an age where we can read interesting books such as Mixed-Up and that we’re not reading those Rainbow Fairy books anymore. Those made me want to shoot myself. (I probably would leave that out of my bio.)

OH! Where was the bio where I had the line about spare time, “Janine spends her spare time wondering if it’s really spare time ofrif she’s just forgotten to do something.”

But that’s better for a longer bio. OH! Editor. I need the editor credit more than the writer credit.

How’s this:
JANINE KOVAC is a founding member of the Write On Mamas and a talent-wrangler for Litquake, San Francisco’s literary festival. She is a co-editor of the anthology Mamas Write as well as a contributing author. Janine is currently reading From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler with her daughter and The Adventures of Spiderman with her twin boys.

Done!

Dinky Stuff
j9kovac
This is the part where I just type anything because I’m getting back into the swing of writing things.

This is the part where I exhale because dammit, now I am just a writer. Not an editor. Not a mom. Not an organizer. I’m just writing.

This is the part where I wonder when inspiration will strike. When I will figure it out—oh YES! That’s what I wanted to be writing.

This is the part where I wonder if I should eat some cookies first.

Or brownies.

Maybe a glass of wine would help.

This is the part where I look at my word count to see if I’ve hit my daily 150-word quota.

And then wonder about the brownies again since I have twenty-five twenty-four more words to go.

This is the part where I scratch my head and think, “Have I ever written anything of merit?”

I wonder if there’s some organizing that needs to be done. Or if my kids need anything. Or if I need to pee.

This is the part where I open a new document and start over again. Because now I’m ready to write.



 

Progress Report
j9kovac
So here’s where we stand. I’m still trying to rearrange my rollover goals now that Wednesday is a work-away-from-home day instead of work-at-home. Success is mixed, quite frankly. While I’m still able to fit in the breakfast date, special mother-daughter time, and writing time, I don’t have them in a new routine yet. Life is tricky.

But I have managed to hold on to Steps 3 & 4 and my commitment to meeting a different friend each week (often as part of a play date). We’re going to museums and parks. It’s been easier to schedule the weekly dates than it has been to solidify the routine for the rollover goals because each date is a one-off—different friend, different venue. We just have to find something that works for that week.

Re-establishing my routine is going to take some more time, but I’m going to go ahead with Step 5—practicing random acts of kindness. Here’s my commitment to myself for the next week. I’m going consciously be kind in an instance where I’d normally be cynical or judgmental every day for seven days.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Blurbs Are Hard
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Blurbs are as hard to write as bios. Here's what I spent my morning crafting for our Create Space, Amazon page, and Goodreads profile.

In Mamas Write: 29 Tales of Truth, Wit, and Grit, twenty-four moms (and one dad) share stories from their lives as writers and parents.

Essays range from finding one’s calling as a writer through adopting a toddler; a tribute to a dying wife; an account of a premature birth; raising a transgender child; the joys of sharing a favorite childhood book. In a concluding interview, authors share funny and heartfelt responses to questions such as: “How does a busy parent make time for writing?” “Why do you write, and where?” “What writing books inspire you?” and “What holds you back from writing?”

With a foreword by Kate Hopper, author of Ready For Air: A Journey through Premature Motherhood and Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers.

K is for Kitty Litter
j9kovac
I am on a quest for the perfect kitty litter. Clumps, but doesn’t smell. Is organic but doesn’t track all over.

It’s harder than you would think.

We’ve tried several brands since acquiring our kitties last September. Such as “WORLD’S BEST KITTY LITTER” for kittens. How can you go wrong with that? But it turns out that the world’s best still wasn’t that impressive. It was chemical-free and it had a pretty look to it (like aquarium gravel), it also had a tendency to crumble and get dusty. And “WORLD’S BEST KITTY LITTER” multi-cat version wasn’t much better. We tried a kind that was completely compostable but it didn’t clump. Not-clumping is code for “super-gross and mushy” and it looked like goat pellets.

Fresh Step was good at odor control, had excellent clumping power but is basically just a chem-fest (that’s clever-speak for “full of chemicals.”) And our current litter clumps well, but it’s still stinky.

I think I’ve jumped the shark in this A-Z challenge, but if you’re out there and you know of a good, natural litter that smells like daisies, I’m all ears.

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