Monday Museletter May 14 – Drowning


I feel like I am drowning in the realities of being a stay-at-home mom to a two year-old.  I can’t get anything done, except clean the house when I am motivated enough.  I wish I could stop the chatter in my head and the CONSTANT need to achieve, but I can’t.  Writing keeps me alive inside. Otherwise, I just am a mom. It is not enough.  I am mom enough though.  I want an agent to sweep in and hold my hand through the writing process. As if an fairy godmother agent will fly through my window and offer child-care (of course on the dime of the agency), pay me a big ripe advance, and then here is the kicker — the agent will ask me what other projects are you working on?

Seriously.

I know.  Too bad I can’t afford therapy, otherwise, I’d be there right now.  So, here I am at my free therapy — writing on my blog.

I worry that an agent will read this post and say, “Too high maintenance.”  I am so sick of trying to impress someone I have never met. In fact, I am sick of trying to impress people I don’t even know.  Geez.  How about trying to impress the people I do know, like my own son.  Today, I am leaving an impression of exhaustion on him.  I managed to deep clean the living room and it is the only clean room in the house.

Elmo is singing about imagination.  My imagination is on vacation.  She bought a one-way ticket outta my mind after I got an email from an agent that is not interested in reading my collection of essays about the first year and half of motherhood, which is a collection of journal entries and essays, coupled with anecdotal Attachment Parenting information.  I am an Attached Parent, aren’t we all attached.

The recent cover of Time magazine has everyone is a sh$tstorm.  Enough of the clotheslining and headbutts.  I saw this posted and thought it was well put:

“API Advisory Board Member Isabelle Fox puts it so well.
The question should not be, “Are You Mom Enough?” The questions should be:-Are you responsively parenting your child in a timely way?
-Are you attuned to his or her individual needs?
-Are you providing a safe, protected and predictable environment?
-Do you understand and respond to the developmental differences between infants, toddlers and older verbal children?
-Are you available and empathetic when your child needs you or is under stress?If the answer is “yes” to these questions, you are practicing attachment parenting. You can reasonably expect that your child will become emotionally secure, will be able to give and receive affection, and will lead a productive and successful life.

~Isabelle Fox, Ph.D., author of “Growing Up: Attachment Parenting from Kindergarten to College”

I don’t even care about the cover or what people are saying.  It just doesn’t interest me anymore.  Well, maybe it does, as I am trying to jump on the opportunity of the media storm to let agents know, “Hay, I have a thesis all about Attachment Parenting, from the trenches of motherhood.”  I didn’t even know I was practicing Attachment Parenting until I posted an essay I wrote in a mom forum, trying to get enough clicks on this essay, Love is Not Always Flood Lights and Fireworks, But Sometimes It Is, at Mamalode to get $30.  The Executive Director of Attachment Parenting told me to submit the essay to the Attachment Parenting International website.  I’ve been a regular contributor for API Speaks ever since.

I was asked to write a post on motherhood for the API Speak blog, well before the Time cover came out.   Mother: I Was Desperate for the Title was posted on Mother’s Day.

I thought, yippee — instant fame.  Well, it got some attention, but the phone isn’t ringing off the hook.  Remember in the movie, Julie and Julia when the agents and publishers call her after she is put in an article in The New York Times?  I want that to happen to me.  But I want them to call and tell me, “We will help you with the editing and organizing of your book.”

I know — head in the clouds.

Photo by Megan Oteri © All Rights Reserved

Anyway, I’m exhausted from motherhood, and life, that I just am not finding the balance I need to write a novel.  I hate this.  I am burning inside to write.  But the chatter in my head gets in my way.  And the fact I can never find any of my notebooks because my toddler grabs them and hides them.  I didn’t understand when my mom told me I used to hide her valuable jewelry because I would wrap it up and lose it in the process of wanting to give her presents.  I was like, How could you lose track of valuable jewelry?  I think the term two year-old toddler has to be learned by experience.

Blah blah blah.  I don’t even know if I want to post this as I feel like I sound like a whiner.  Then again, here I am trying to impress people I don’t know.

I met several deadlines in the past couple weekends.  Two of them were the API Speaks blog post about Motherhood and a food review I did for Dassant at Grocery.com: Dassant Vanilla Bean Cake.

I know part of the writing process is dealing with the rejections from agents and publishers, but it stinks.  I did see this quote today that shed some light and I have to reread it every ten minutes. ha ha

“One must avoid ambition in order to write. Otherwise something else is the goal: some kind of power beyond the power of language. And the power of language, it seems to me, is the only kind of power a writer is entitled to.” – Cynthia Ozick
She also said, “The engineering is secondary to the vision.”  That particular quote makes me think of my book project, The Original Journal, where I ask random people and strangers to sign my journal.  I want to create a website that mimics actually signing a real journal with pens, markers, crayons, and paint.  I just don’t have the Graphic Design or web skills to create it.  SO if you are a graphic designer, and you want to design the website pro bono, give me a shout. I am putting it out there in hopes the magic will come.  “If you dream it, you can achieve it.” Didn’t Walt Disney say that?

The Original Journals — filled with signatures of “Original Journal” signers
© Megan Oteri – All Rights Reserved

The thing about The Original Journal is that if it gets published or a left brain fairy comes to my rescue (to create the graphic design elements needed with the hand written signatures and to create the website where you can turn the pages and write in the journal) I am going to set up a foundation to benefit artists, creatives, and eco-activists that will help people get their “wish” granted to make their dreams come true.  So many artists struggle with the publishing process because of the left brain skills that are needed (marketing, computer skills, and all that razmataz).

I’d love to have the resources to be a fairy godmother to artists and creatives. The world needs creativity and it is not being fostered in school as it should be.  It is the foundation for brilliance.

Anyway, that my Monday Muse.  I hope you are having a good day.  I actually am feeling like I am doggie paddling now because I fired out another query letter to an agent, pitching my Attachment Parenting memoir of motherhood (the first year and half).  It is actually my thesis I wrote in grad school.  Of course (this is for agents trolling my blog) it would include more than just the first year and half.

This is me and my favorite horse.

Monday Museletter May 7 (Rejection Sucks)


Rejection Sucks

Not only does rejection suck in seventh grade, but it sucks in my thirties,  I got rejected by an agent for a gift book (The Original Journal).  The bright side is I am sending out queries and my proposal for the book.  The bad news is I got a rejection email from an agent.  Simple and to the point: “Hi Megan. I’m afraid this doesn’t feel like a match for me, but thank you so much for the look, I appreciate it.”  The bright side — I worked really hard on the query letter and now I have a finished query letter to send to a whole bunch of other agents.  The bad news — I have to most likely go through rejection again.

If you are interested in learning more about the book, you can go to the website at The Original Journal or the Facebook page.

I have never been a fan of rejection. Who is, really?  Anyway, it’s part of the process and this is just part of the process — the sucky part of the process, but I am moving forward.

Perspective

I host brain tumor patient profiles on my blog on Thursdays.  I do not have a brain tumor, but my mother has two.  You can read more about this project here. Anyway, reading these stories has given me perspective that the things I complain about are ridiculous.  Life is a beautiful thing.  And I should be thankful for each second I have.  I have a beautiful family and really, that is all that matters.  I have my health and I take that for granted, which I am learning not to.  I know life is about balance, but the most important thing (for me) is family.  I have a wonderful husband and a beautiful son, who fills me with wonder and love (and frustration — he is a toddler after all).  I am trying to enjoy the little things more.  I was sitting on the front porch at my in-laws house, after our Sunday dinnerl last night, and Ben and I were eating ice cream.  Sitting side by side, it was one of those magic moments.  Then fifteen minutes later, he was having a meltdown because he couldn’t play “Car.”  Such is life.

Writing

It’s time to dig deep and write the memoir.  I am dragging my feet on this project.  But I have the stories and the layers, I just need to start.  The first 11 pages are done.

I have a really good writer friend, Debra Elramey, who writes at Pure and Simple, and if I ever preface our conversation with, “This is a really good story.”  She’ll say, “Write it down.  Don’t waste it.”  Then she’ll tell me, “You can tell me the story after you write it.”  She always encourages me to write what I know and see in my life.  Her encouragement is constant and simple.  I think I tend to complicate things to avoid doing them.  Example — writing my memoir.

Anyway, it’s time to buckle down.  I need to follow Anne Lamott’s advice too — take it Bird by Bird.

Anne signed my journal (The Original Journal project).  I was the last person to leave the bookstore.  I gave her my journal and told her the three principles of the project:

1. There is a Front Door, rated PG-13

2. There is a Back Door, Not Yet Rated

3. There are no rules.

I left the journal on the table, peering over at her, in admiration and a smidge of stalker writer love.  A single brown dread, lose from her pink and white headband, dangled near her shoulder as she wrote, she looked up and the turned to her right towards the book store owner, “Is that everyone?  I am bushed. ”  She smiled and gave me back the journal.  Her signature was simple and accurate:

Bird by Bird is good advice writer to writer – Anne Lamott signed this in my journal

My friend, Debra, who I mentioned above, called me at 4 pm and said Anne would be reading at 7 pm at Quail Ridge Books.  Debra could not make it, but wanted a local writer to represent our small town.  I was on it.  I was on the phone with my husband to watch our son, and out the door at 6 pm.  I stalked a little to get my books signed (Bird by Bird, Operating Instructions, and Imperfect Birds).

I lingered here and I lingered there before the reading, to get closer to Anne. I inched forward, I side-wiggled through crowded rows of knees smooshed up against chairs.  But alas, I found my open river current, and jumped in.  The flow of the current opened up to a half-moon space where Anne stood.  I was four deep in line and I said to the woman in front of me, “I feel like I am stalking Anne.”  She replied, “We’re all stalking Anne.”  Another cheerful Anne Lamott fan, saw my camera and exclaimed, “Do you want me to take your picture with Anne?”  I was like, “Yes, please.!”  Then we giggled and chatted about our excitement.

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This is a photo of Anne and me at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, as well as, our happy Anne Lamott stalking crew.  The other photo, I think I freaked Anne out because I told her I was going to put my arm around her.

Beginners

This video is of Ira Glass speaking directly to you. Speaking directly to me.  Speaking to all artists and creatives!  Great inspiration.  I have also included the quote below from the first half of this video.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
― Ira Glass

This is a good way to end the Monday Museletter.  Enjoy your week.

Keep creating.

Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.

~ memomuse

Monday Museletter April 16


Happy Monday Muse!

I hope you all had a great weekend doing the things you love and spending time with loved ones.

Talenthouse Voting Opens Today

Voting opens at 10 am PST, so that is 1 pm EST.  Here is the link:  photo of Chris LeDoux.  I will be posting a creative nonfiction story Tuesday, about meeting Chris at Cheyenne Frontier Days in 2003.  So tuned, it’s a really cute story.  The title of the story is, “Just Happy to be Here.”

Blogging Award

I have been nominated for the Kreativ Blogger Award by R.T. Dickinson.  I will be posting my nominees and 7 things about me on Wednesday.

Sesame Street

My son has been watching Seseme Street.  He has started counting.  Not like 1, 2, 3, 4, but he holds up both his index fingers to show us he knows what 2 means.  He also lined up his bath toys in the tub and was counting in his toddler language. It was adorable.  He loves Elmo!  And he loves to sing and dance.

New Camera

My husband bought me a new camera for my birthday.  Yippee! It has two lenses. Oh yeah.  I love it.  I still haven’t figured out how to put a watermark on, using my own software.   I don;t really care if the photos I post today get pirated.  I am still getting used to the camera.

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Pirated Photos

The Facebook website that had pirated photos uploaded by some if its fans, took down the pirated photos of mine.  They also put up a link to my Talenthouse portfolio, saying this: “Looking for more cowboy photos, check out the awesome shots by Megan Oteri!”  I think I had to have this happen for me to force myself how to figure out watermarking.  I have uploaded watermarked photos (with Artflakes watermark) to my Pinterest page with links to my Artflakes online art gallery.

Gardening

My garden is starting to look amazing.  I love how it feels when a seed sprouts; I feel so empowered.  Gardening also helps me practice patience.  I am not a patient person by nature. I want it NOW. In fact, I want it before now! We are growing spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, corn, beans, blackberries, strawberries, carrots, oregano, basal, cilantro, jalapeno peppers, and peas.  What a beautiful sight to see a garden grow.

Spinach growing in my garden

Brain Tumor Thursday

I feature a brain tumor survivor every Thursday on my blog.  I thought Liz’s story was incredible.  Featuring these people, sure puts things in perspective.  My mother has non-cancerous brain tumors.  You can read more about that here.  You can also find out about how Brain Tumor Thursday got started.  I do tell my readers about Brain Tumor Thursday in the Monday Museletter so they have a head’s up.  I know some people do not want to read about that.  I can respect that.  I think the profiles are inspirational — there are so many people dealing with serious problems.  It humbles me.

Chapter 2 – My Memoir

I hope to get chapter 2 to my memoir revised and edited by the end of this week.  Here is the story of meeting an agent at the South Carolina Writer’s Workshop:

I actually met with a literary agent at the 2011 South Carolina Writer’s Workshop, and after two rejections of my gift book, The Original Journal (see tab above if you are not familiar with that project), I decided the third pitch needed to be something else, or my ego would literally strangle me with its wounded limbs.  So, I pitched my memoir.  The agent put her business card on the table.  I had no idea what that meant, having suffered (cue ego sad music) two rejections from other agents.

She said, “My next appointment has cancelled, so do you have questions about the publishing business and process?”

I searched my mind and had one thing on my mind, “How did my pitch go?”

She smiled, she is from the Mid-West, and so down to earth and said, “I gave you my card.”

I was like, “Yeah, OK, what does that mean?”

She laughed kindly and looked me dead in the eye (this time I wasn’t about to cry like after the rejection from the last two agents), and said, “I want to see the first 30 pages.”

I think I could have hugged her.  I really wanted to.  I was on top of the world.

Have a great week ya’ll and hopefully I will see you here tomorrow for “Just Happy to Be Here,” to sing for my supper — to get your vote for my Chris LeDoux photo.  I really love Chris’ music and country music in general.  I am in the process of putting together a photo story book about the rodeo in Cheyenne.  You can view (Pinterest) or buy (Artflakes gallery) some of those photos here: my Pinterest page and my Artflakes online art gallery.

This is my favorite photo I have ever taken of a horse.

I took this photo, Eyelashes on the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina.