So, given that I'm always behind on blogging, you wouldn't think I would have time to turn around and write a novel. But apparently I was not as busy as I thought I was, because not only was I able to crank out an average of 3,000 words a day, I actually have finished the 50,000 word goal already. I may have skipped vacuuming a couple of times to make it happen, but nobody starved or ran out of clean clothes.
Now I'm having that uncomfortable feeling you have when you turn in an exam first and everyone else takes another half hour at it. I mean, was there stuff on the back I missed? I feel like if I wrote it this fast, it can't possibly be any good.
I wrapped up the story in another couple thousand words, so it's technically done, but I suspect it's utter garbage. And I really wanted it to be good. It's tough because it's YA, and so the reading level and word count are a bit below stuff I've written before, which makes me feel like it's infantile and stupid. And it's first person. First person is hard to pull off. I worry it really, really sucks and will be completely unsalvageable, so when I finally decide to do a good job on it, I'll have to rewrite the whole dang thing. But *deep breath* at least I'll have the plot and characters, I guess?
Then again, it might not suck. I just don't know. I wrote it too recently to be able to even think about it at the moment.
It's a YA dystopia about a back-to-the-land cult which winds up being the only ones to survive the apocalypse. I made the cult more-or-less Catholic, but with a trad/sedevacantist vibe. (Sorry Enbrethiliel.) I wanted to mine the smells and bells of my own experience, while at the same time not having them be actually Catholic, because that would offend the Catholics. ;) That, and I couldn't see real Catholics being quite this extreme. The mainstream Catholic Church has many flaws, but fanatical extremism is not one of them. So trads it was.
I suspect non-Catholics will hate it because it's so Catholic they can't even get the references, atheists will hate it because nobody actually attacks religion in the whole book, and Catholics will hate it because there are gay characters. Everyone, in fact, will hate it unless they are me.
I really like the parts where people defend the cult, because I used real arguments people use to defend cults, but I'm afraid people will find those bits a stretch. People wouldn't really say that stuff! Alas, they do.
Also the part where my heroine climbs up the outside of a gothic cathedral. You know you've always wanted to do that.
This book is supposed to be the one I actually publish. But the thought of actually doing it makes me psych myself out worse than ever. What makes me think, of all the people in the world who want to write books and get them published, that I'd succeed where so many fail? I've always been a bit confident because, after all, most people don't bother to write the ideas they have, or they start but don't finish. But the NaNoWriMo website is jam packed with people merrily writing novels and finishing them. I thought I was a prodigy finishing so fast, only to find out there are people who finish in a SINGLE DAY. What?! There are hundreds and thousands of people writing and finishing books all the time. Whole forums of people specifically writing YA dystopias with cults in them. I feel .... a bit overwhelmed.
My dream is to publish with a traditional publisher, in print. Apparently self-publishing is a bigger thing than it used to be, and you can actually make money at it, but somehow I still feel like it wouldn't count. I feel like I need a professional to look at my book and declare it good before I could trust that it was. After all, I mostly do not read amateur writing myself. So much of it is horrible that unless it comes recommended by someone I trust, why should I waste my time? I'd as soon watch movies high school kids made with a camcorder in their basement. And if I judge other people's writing that harshly, I imagine other people would do the same to mine.
Anyway, I feel terrified by the whole submitting-to-publishers process. I don't know anyone who's done it and can hold my hand. And it is uncomfortably rife with stuff like self-promotion and executive function which I suck at. In my dream world, you just send them the manuscript, but nooooo, there are all those steps which seem designed to weed out loner geniuses who are really only good at writing. Possibly because they have this fantasy that the same person might both write a blockbuster novel AND be able to promote themselves and save the publisher the job.
But. This is me, promising you, my mostly imaginary readership, that I'm going to edit it and actually submit it somewhere, in a reasonable amount of time. Unlike the epic fantasy I've written, it stands on its own. And because YA dystopias are having a "moment" right now, I'd better do it soon if I want to have much of a chance. There is no reason to delay and every reason to be serious about it.
Meanwhile we continue to be prey to every sickness that comes along. For the most part it's no big deal. We have had a bunch of colds. We have a full cupboard stocked with baby ibuprofen and children's mucinex and everything else that can possibly help, and Michael and Miriam get over things in just a few days. The baby takes a bit longer, but she doesn't seem to mind being sick that much.
But Marko . . . it seems every time he gets a cold it turns into something more serious. He had a double ear infection all last week. We had him medicated up to his eyebrows because it was the only way to get the pain down to "not constantly sobbing" levels, and even so all he could do, the entire week, was lie on the couch and stare glassily into the middle distance. He couldn't hear unless you shouted in his face. He spent four days pretty much sleeping, and then once we got him on antibiotics, he spent three more days just watching YouTube videos of Legend of Zelda walkthroughs and begging us to carry him anywhere he needed to go because his legs "weren't working." It was kind of scary, even though he had been seen by a doctor and the doctor didn't think he was dying or anything.
He's better by now, more or less. He's still coughing. He pulled a muscle in his back with all the coughing, which gives him a great deal of distress and anxiety. You see, when he starts to cough, it hurts, and that makes him panic, so he starts crying and hyperventilating, and so it hurts worse . . . repeat forever. He woke up many times the other night and it was all we could do to calm him down. We know, from his past history, that his level of freakout about pain has very little bearing on how much it actually hurts. He used to not mention he was hurt at all, and then when we managed to convince him that pain was an important message from your body that you need to tell your parents, he started taking it too seriously and going completely bananas about it.
Anyway, I tried several strategies that are supposed to stop panic attacks (like "find five things that are blue, name three things you can hear" which SUPPOSEDLY calms down freaking-out children in seconds) and these didn't work AT ALL, but then I started asking him questions about obscure Legend of Zelda details and it totally worked. So now if he starts to freak out and cough and cry, I start talking Zelda and it instantly calms him. Yet another reminder that an autistic child's special interests are a good thing which can be very powerful in helping them manage the world.
sick and clutching the Master Sword
So the ear infection is, for the most part, behind us. But I am still pretty dang worried about him. Why does he get sick so much, so badly? He's missed something like 15 days of school already. He eats reasonably well (given that he hates all vegetables--but we make him eat at least some) and takes a multivitamin. He doesn't sleep as much as the other kids, but he doesn't generally seem tired.
We did find out, when we took him to the doctor last, that he's underweight. His BMI is 13.5, well below what's healthy even for a kid with John's long and lean genes. I can't figure out if it's just that he's been sick so much, and he doesn't eat when he's sick, or if it's something else. I've been tracking his food intake and it seems normal when he's not sick. He did go a week recently when he mysteriously wouldn't eat his lunch, but he's back to eating it now. We've added dessert for every dinner (for everyone, because we can hardly give ice cream to just one kid) and I've been making snacks and lunches a bit higher-calorie, and we'll just have to see if that makes up the difference. If not . . . well, between that and the frequent illnesses, I'm worried it might be something serious.
Meanwhile, he is doing great in school for the most part. He made the A&B honor roll in the first quarter, and he's always coming home knowing new things. Sometimes he brings home a paper with everything wrong on it, and it turns out he misunderstood the directions or wasn't paying attention, but more often than not he gets good grades and the teacher reports his behavior is good. He seems to be doing especially well in math, though that may partly just be that it doesn't require much writing. Writing is still a big struggle for him, but it is definitely getting better. He doesn't write in all caps anymore. And he reads fluently now. This is a problem sometimes, as he loves to hang over my shoulder while I'm writing or reading and start asking questions about what is on my screen. I've never been so thankful to be writing YA!
Michael is doing amazing. His behavior in school, the teacher tells me, is excellent and she wishes she could have a classroom full of just Michaels. And he's learning everything they can teach him, plus some he seems to be picking up on his own. He's sounding out words and very enthusiastic about showing off his skills with print he sees anywhere.
It can be hard to praise each child's accomplishments without making the other one feel bad. Both are doing really well given their abilities. Which means Michael is, technically, doing better, but Marko is overcoming more challenges, so we just have to try to praise them out of earshot of the other. I remember growing up hearing my brother praised for his intelligence and me for my sweetness, and I thought it meant I wasn't smart. I want both my kids to explore all their strengths and not define themselves as not being whatever the other one is!
Miriam is being very stubborn and demanding lately. I mean, she is three and that's standard. It doesn't bug me like it did with previous kids, and I can't say if that's because she's not as difficult at three as they were, or if I just know three-year-olds now, so I know you don't argue with them, you just wait awhile and try again later. Or, in some cases, you just give up and let them show up at school drop-off in a bathing suit and boots and hair that hasn't been brushed since their last haircut.
Jackie is walking a lot. She's my earliest walker now at nine months, one week. It's super impressive and I like to show her off to everyone. She also waves, claps, signs "more" and "all done," and responds to her name. Naps are still a tossup; she has been known to go through the whole day on the strength of a 20-minute nap. She doesn't eat a whole lot besides crackers.
Not sure I have a seventh thing to say, so I'll just share some Halloween pictures.
We had Link, a dinosaur, a mouse, and a cat. Marko refused to be in a picture with the other kids because there aren't any dinosaurs, mice, or cats in the Legend of Zelda. I have to admit that this is true. But they also don't demand candy from the neighbors, either, so I think the authenticity was a wee bit selective there.
How have y'all been, my five or so faithful readers?