A beer, a bra, then church

I’m full of ambition. This morning I resolved to work 10 minutes a day on my novel. (Only one more hour in this day to complete that goal.)

And here’s a new one. Visit a church a day.

I was sitting in Havana Central after work with my work spouse, sipping a beer tonite. I was showing him a new app for my phone, Church Finder. He and I have the same phone. We love our phones. We often talk about our phones when we get together. Fondly, we talk about their newest and best features, like the phones are our darling children. (My real children are still in the country while I am in the city, hence the ability to frequent a bar, a bra shop, a church, guilt-free.)

On Church Finder, you can request the nearest church to your location. So we searched for the nearest United Methodist Church.The address that showed up? 475 Riverside Drive. We laughed. Because, the United Methodist Church at 475 is our beloved place. But it’s not a church. The God Box at 475 is a church headquarters. It never would occur to me to list 475 as a church.

In any case, we two parted. I did a little shopping.

If you must know, I purchased a bra (okay, two!). One of the ladies at the Town Shop bra store once told me, “Honey, I know titties.” Going to a classic bra store is almost a religious experience. The saleswoman joined me in the small pink fitting room to give me just the perfect fit. I was giddy with gratitude, because I’m not easy to fit. But I am way off topic here. My point is —  I went for a beer, for a bra, then I needed something more.

I was right around the corner from All Angels’ Episcopal Church. Chris and I used to go there, in the late 90s when Hayden was a baby and I was pregnant. It was evangelical.

On one of our first visits there, I was so surprised to see that one of the ministers was Doug, an ex-crush, acting student friend of mine from NYU. The other pastor, Rev. Goode was lovely, earnest, English, I recall. Both of them were fabulous pastors — kind and smart. (I can’t really recall why we stopped going. At some point, the church felt too conservative, I think.)

Back to the present, I asked the gentleman at the All Angels’ front desk, “Could I sit in the sanctuary for 5 or 10 minutes?”

He was pleasant, but seemed surprised. He may have been closing up shop. It was around 8:30 ish.

“Well, there’s someone playing piano,” he said, apologetically.

“Great,” I said, enthusiastically.

As soon as I got into the sparse sanctuary, a young man in the black tee shirt stood up from behind the piano.

“I’ll leave you alone,” the young man said.

“No stay. You can play,” I said. I realized I didn’t want to be alone. I wanted him to play.

“No, that’s fine. I’ll come back.” He left.

So I was alone. The life-size wooden angel in the back of the church blows a trumpet. And the quiet was all around me — even though the church is just off Broadway. I sat in a back row. I closed my eyes. I remembered when I went to All Angels’. I remembered going through a very tough time. I felt comforted there. I just let the quiet wash over me. I remembered how one Sunday night when I was attending All Angels’, I went to serve dinner to the homeless. I was very pregnant with the twins, and one of the homeless guys made me sit down and he waited on me. I remember feeling so grateful for that fried chicken dinner with the homeless folks.

I didn’t want to stay too long. I didn’t want to keep the piano player from his music.

Sometimes a church doesn’t feel like it belongs to you. Sometimes a church feel like a place only for goody goodies, the well-dressed, the righteous, the connected, the believers. But I felt good sitting in the sanctuary of All Angels’.

Maybe it was the beer, maybe it was the new bra, maybe it was the quiet angel near the door. Maybe it was my own past, that memory of a time I needed help and being back in a place where I found it.

NaNoWriMo Again

I love writing.

Revising? Editing? Not so much.

I love the act of creating. When I was on my sabbatical, writing a blog post a day, I was in heaven. Always new. Always thinking. Always up for another cup of coffee. Hit the Post button. I’m done. I wrote it. I’m brilliant in the very short form. The long form. Ugh.

Last November, I wrote a novel in a month. NaNoWriMo. Na=National, No=Novel, Wri=Writing, Mo=You get the idea.

I wish that I had as much gusto for editing the book these last 10 months as I had for writing the book in that one month.

So it is with any big achievement.

Everyone’s up for a wedding, but who is up for the day-to-day of marriage? Helping the newlyweds redecorate or navigate their finances? Nah! Everyone loves to celebrate the baby’s birth, but the grueling day in and day out of diaper changing? Not for the faint of heart. No big balloon bouquets for the daily slog. How about graduation? Heck, I’d love to send the graduate a card with a few bucks tucked inside! But help her in the days, weeks, months ahead as she’s looking for a job? Not really feeling it.

I honestly never felt so purposeful as I felt writing my novel last November. Never felt so accomplished as when I finished it. I made myself cry (but if you know me, well, crying’s my forte.)

Loved the challenge of reaching 75K (or was it 50K? How soon I forget) of NaNoWriMo. I loved the support, encouragement of my cyberfriends and my real family.

Charlotte quieted the other two, “Shhhhh, Quit fighting. Mom’s writing.”

Hayden bragged about me at an all school assembly.

Catherine brought me a cup of tea, then backed away like a geisha girl.

But the month was over. Weeks turned into months. It’s almost November — time to start a new novel. How can I start another baby when I haven’t completely finished the last?

I opened the humongous file of the 2009 NaNoWriMo winner, stared at the screen. My fingers lay dormant.

After a while, “What are you doing, Mom?” My head was on the keyboard.

“Thinking about my novel,” I said.

“I thought you wrote that book already, Mom,” Char said.

“I did. But now I have to rewrite it,” I said. Honestly, I have to — not only rewrite and edit it, but I have to start to read it. I can’t even remember my main character’s name. I wrote those 175 pages in November as if in a trance.

Hayden walks by carrying a plate of Bagel Bites. “Your book? Mom, when is your book coming out? I should make an announcement at school again,” Hayden nodded.

“Oh, it’s not done.”


I don’t know. Maybe there’s someone somewhere who actually spews out words and doesn’t have to rewrite them. I wish that was me. But that ain’t me — Gotta rewrite this part! Got to, rather — That isn’t me.

I need to brew and stew and revisit. Ah, maybe that’s how I can get back to the novel. See it as a little visit to a world I once knew and loved and forgot. Like remembering the high of a wedding, a birth or a graduation. Rest on achievement represented by that one big day, but don’t let the one big day stop me from really living the one big life. ‘Cause life is an accumulation of days, some big, some small, mostly average. That’s what writing and editing is – the daily grind, no big who-ha! And I’d rather party, but I’ve got to slog.

I am challenging myself to read my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel and edit and revise for 10 minutes every day until November when I begin a new novel. I will try to periodically check in here and post progress. That seems to have been a successful way to get myself to start running; the semi-public act of blogging about running has made me a more consistent runner. http://runningaground.wordpress.com/

Maybe the semi-public act of writing about novel writing will make me actually work on my novel. If you think this is true, see an earlier blog post where I have considered doing this in April. http://gettingmyessayspublished.wordpress.com/2010/02/27/nanoedmo/ It’s just easier (more fun!) to write than edit.