Five On Friday – September 23, 2011

I’ve only listed five things, but I’m very wordy today. If you plan on staying with me until the end here, you might want to grab a cup of tea and settle in.

1.     Katie is currently singing “On My Own” for voice lessons right now. Her dream is to play Eponine in the high school production of Les Miserables so she’s thrilled to have this song. Also, it’s one of my favorite songs from the play and as I listened to her practice last night I put my book down, closed my eyes and nearly wept with the beauty of it.

Let’s dissect this paragraph, shall we?

        a)     Katie isn’t necessarily interested in musical theater as a career or anything like that. Her greatest aspiration is to do a high school play. Is it just me, or does that strike anyone else a little funny? Not as in weird funny, but giggly funny. It’s just me, isn’t it?

        b)     Katie’s high school has no plans to produce Les Mis as far as we know. And yet, her goal is to play Eponine when her high school does. She’s a junior and she only has this and next year to make her dream a reality. Start crossing your fingers now.

        c)     Katie is sick. Her tonsils and adenoids are swollen and she sounds like someone is choking her. You can imagine how her singing is at the moment. And yet I thought her gargley, strangled voice was beautiful. Is that a mom’s bias or what?

2.     I finished reading “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” the other night. I loved the series. As a warning to those of you who are looking for something good to read, it’s full of disturbing violence and macabre crimes. That said, it’s a great detective series that doesn’t always go the way you think it should.

Obviously I am in need of something new to read so today I purchased a new book for my Kindle – Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman. The blurb I read said, “Steel Magnolias meets The Help in this Southern debut novel sparkling with humor, heart, and feminine wisdom.” How could I resist?

3.     Last night Katie and I looked at local farm houses for sale on-line. We fell in love with a few of them, but the one we loved the most was built in 1803. It was also the most expensive at just a little over 3 million. It had a charming stone outbuilding that matched the large barn. At first I thought the outbuilding would be perfect for my writing/photography studio, but then I realized it would be even more perfect for Todd’s guitar repair business. It was climate controlled so the guitars would be in a good environment and had a lot of natural light and was roomy enough for his purposes.

The barn itself was probably worth a small fortune. It didn’t look like any livestock housing I’d ever seen. It had a wood floor and a high ceiling with beautiful beams and natural lighting, and it was obvious they used it for entertaining. In Katie’s words, “That will be perfect for my wedding.” Yes, indeed. And just think of all the money we’ll save in renting a hall.

The back of the farmhouse had a long covered brick porch and overlooked a pretty pond and rolling hills – also conducive to an outdoor wedding, as Katie pointed out. The house itself was a little over 9,000 square feet and had 6 bedrooms, 6 full baths, a media room the like of which I’ve never seen, fireplaces in all the rooms (though I didn’t see one in the media room), a beautiful and sunny and humongous gourmet kitchen and very large rooms, which I found interested considering the date it was built.

As we scrolled through all 28 of the pictures I realized I would need a whole lot more than $3,000,000.  Some of the rooms, though so utterly charming with their vintage architecture and beautiful moldings, left me at a complete loss as to how to decorate. I realized I would need to bring in the big guns – Candace Olsen or Vern Yip or some such HGTV designer.

I would also need a staff of housecleaners.

4.     We have a 30 foot pull behind trailer that hasn’t been out of storage for at least a year and a half. That’s very sad because this family has spent some of our best trips – from short weekends to long vacations – in that RV. It is really hard to find even a weekend when nobody has to work or has any other obligations and we just kind of stopped trying to find the time to go camping. I finally convinced Todd it was time to get it inspected and looked over so we could start using it again. Early next week he will be picking it up from the RV service center and on Thursday we’re headed down to spend a long weekend with Taylor. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am on so many levels, not the least of which is more fodder for the blog.

5.     I stayed up until 12:30 this morning writing. I hadn’t even planned to write. It just sort of happened and it was exhilarating. I haven’t felt that kind of need to write for a very long time. It seemed almost like it was someone else writing. The events were mine and the emotions were mine, but it just poured out and it was a beautiful thing. I wrote the entire first chapter of my book. You know. The one I’ve been working on for the past five+ years?

Part of the breakthrough was a change in my thinking. When I started to write after the year from hell it was just for me. Then people began to tell me I needed to write a book and eventually I started looking at this process as a means to get published. Which, in turn, made me start thinking about my angle. There are hundreds of personal accounts of breast cancer on the shelves; what would make mine different or stand out? What I came up with was bupkis. There’s nothing particularly original about my story. And that added to my writing hang up.

I finally had an epiphany where all this is concerned. I HAVE to write this book for me, for Todd, for Taylor and for Katie. I don’t feel like I have a choice in the matter. I don’t have to write it for anyone else, though. And that thought was so very liberating. When you’re learning how to write for publication you learn the book must start with a hook. Something catchy to make the reader want to keep reading. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t come up with anything better than, “2005 started out as a great year.” How does that grab ya?? It doesn’t. (Though I daresay, “Call me Ishmael” isn’t so catchy, either, and look at what that started.)

So once I brushed off all the technicalities of writing a book – start with a hook, have a unique angle, etc., I was able to just sit down and write.

Another thing I was struggling with was the very beginning. I kept trying to start my story with my diagnosis. But that’s not really where my story began and I’ve always said that. So why in the world would I start writing my story there? Once I realized I needed to start nearly two months earlier it flowed.

Also I don’t think it had been the right time for me to write this story. As long as it had been, I don’t think I was in the right place to come face to face with some of those demons again. But there was a fear that if I waited too long I would become too subjective and the emotion wouldn’t be there to aid in my writing. Anybody who writes will tell you some of the best writing comes when you’re in a place of complete angst. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s true.

And lastly, I believe that it was God’s time for me to start. It’s so easy now to look back six years and see where God was and how He was working in all the mess. And as I wrote about my life leading up to the diagnosis with the prospective move to Pennsylvania and everything that meant, I couldn’t help but smile and praise God for what He did for us, even if I wasn’t completely aware at the time.

Now all of this may seem silly or read like mumbo jumbo to some of you. And that’s okay. But for others of you, you totally get this.

And that is my five on this rainy Friday in September. I’m off to do a little housekeeping and then start working on Chapter 2.



  1. Rebecca Interrante on September 23, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    I totally get this. <3

    • Jenster on September 23, 2011 at 5:53 pm

      I’ve no doubt you do! 🙂

  2. nwhannas on September 23, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I’m with Katie. I want to sing “On My Own” for a high school musical, too. Do you think anyone would let me? 🙂

    Lurve our farmhouse. Perhaps we could put a bid on it w/all of our girlfriends and their girlfriends and have a super retreat.

    I love your mumbo jumbo about your writing. So glad 2005 is 6 years gone, and can’t wait to hear what you’re sayin’ about the journey. Heart you.

    • Jenster on September 23, 2011 at 5:55 pm

      May I address your comments??
      1 – I would totally let you sing in a high school musical;
      2 – Let’s do it! (the farmhouse thing); and
      3 – Heart you back!

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