Sunday, February 14, 2010

Quick Clean Copy

            Mary Demuth, a professional author, and leader of the Rockwall Christian Writer’s Group gave some advice on one of her blogs.
    "You need to be able to write quick clean copy.”
     I immediately burst out laughing.
     Nothing in my life has ever been quick AND clean. If anything was quick then it was definitely messy (falling in love with my husband- within two seconds and disastrous) and if it was clean, then it definitely took FOREVER! (I graduated from college with honors-three kids and seven years later.)
     I told my students over and over and now I tell my own children since I’m home schooling is, "The more you write, the better you write."
     When they scoff, I give them an example like riding our bikes as a family. We did this all the time when we lived in our house in a neighborhood with sidewalks, but now we are street training, using our bikes as transportation and exercise.
      So we pull our bikes out. Inevitably one of us has a flat, the seat is loose, or  the chain is broken.
      After those are taken care of, we pull out of the driveway and someone has to pee, we forgot the lock, or Shelby is following us.
      We get out on the street and Chloe falls, my pants get tangled in the chain, Chaz’s bike won’t fit through the tiny bridge trail. (He rides a three-wheeler-- but that’s another blog altogether (btaba).)
      Finally through the busy streets, we get to a trail, where Caleb’s brakes stop working, Chloe panics at experienced riders whooshing by, bashing her pedal into my ankle or Chaz pulls over to answer his phone and we leave him far behind without knowing it.
      What does this have to do with quick clean copy?  You get quick clean copy by doing it OVER and OVER, each time learning how to do something better.
      Limping into the yard, I remind myself and my family, “I am tenacious-T. We will ride again-all together! We will not give up!”
      And we didn’t. 
      The chain still pops off every now and then, but I showed Chloe how to pop it back on.  We have the occasional flat, but Chris taught Caleb how to repair the tube.  Chloe still bashes my ankle every once in a while, but she’s not as apprehensive around other riders. And Chaz, well, he keeps his phone in his pocket until we stop and he’s getting good at figuring out if his bike will fit into the nooks and crannies the streets have to offer. 
Now that it doesn’t take as much time to get bikes out of the garage now and we have fewer injuries, we don’t dread family riding.
      Just like writing.
      Since we write in our journals and share every day, ideas come faster and words flow more smoothly. Even though Caleb doesn’t want to write poetry, his sardonic wit pours from each of his pieces, and we laugh. A lot. Chloe, a natural at writing, continues to amaze us with her ability to personify ANYTHING effectively. Chaz, who struggles with conventions, has voice to rival some adults I know.  
      And me, well, I grow more confident every day, which is more than I could say before, and I like it.  I haven’t achieved quick, clean copy status yet, but I remind myself “I am Tenacious-T. I will write again. I will not give up.” 
      And it works.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sleep Baking

Since we don’t have an oven on our school bus, I try to cook at other people’s houses as much as possible. Every now and then, when we are parked at a friend’s house my family and I descend upon their kitchen, filling up their fridge (ours is tiny) and trading off cooking meals.
I like cooking most when the kitchen is full and you bump into or slide around your fellow cooks and yell, “Who took my spatula?” or “Where’s the garlic I just minced?” But sometimes, my eyes pop open when the sky is turning purple-gray and I leave everyone sleeping in Jubilee and sneak into a strange and quiet kitchen.
If the kitchens are still new to me, I tiptoe into pantries, pull open fridge doors so slowly the breaking of the suction doesn’t pop too loud, and slide drawers out as if I were demonstrating the smooth glide on a game show. Eventually, I have a good idea of what I have to work with.
At the Turners in Combine, a pantry full of food, healthy and in bulk. At Stephen’s in Austin, who had just moved in the week before we arrived, random silverware, couscous, wheat pasta, organic peanut butter, and peach ice cream.
My eyes still sticky shut, I squint at their cookbooks, rewrite their recipes to fit what I remember about my old recipes or the ingredients on hand. I choose the quietest utensils, measure ingredients with my eyeball, crack eggs so gently I am surprised when it plops into the bowl.
With the sun just pouring in the window, I think of my family, silent in their bunks, light spilling onto their dreamy faces, while I am mixing up yums for later.
I smile, always, at sugar and eggs, or sugar and butter, or sugar and cream cheese or sugar and . . . well, you get the idea.
I place the treat carefully in the oven, setting an internal timer, sneak back into the bus and into the bed beside my husband, who rolls over sleepily, kisses me and licks his lips.
“Where you been, Sweee-T?”
Grinning, I stick a sugary finger in his mouth, glad that the baking time is fifty minutes.