Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Writing Lesson


A few evenings ago, I was sitting at my computer, ostensibly working on my NaNoWriMo work in progress, but I was really watching the stiff breeze outside scatter thousands of leaves in every direction.  Kind of like words.  Lots of possibilities, but I could not seem to choose the right ones.

I feel like baking something,  I announced to Amy. Something like pumpkin bread.

Since Stuart was already headed out to the store, to roam the aisles in search of a dinner idea, Amy offered to go along and get the necessary ingredients for the pumpkin bread. 

You stay, mama, she told me. Try to get your writing done.

I continued to stare at the leaves, thousands of them, and I realized that I needed to embrace  the luxury of NaNoWriMo:  That all words are good words. The goal is quantity, and not quality, so much.  This is an uncomfortable concept for me.  Normally when I write, I tend to choose words carefully, and use them very sparingly.

It wasn't long before Stuart and Amy were home, and I was actually writing away.  Amy called to me from the kitchen.

Come here mama, I have a surprise for you!

A reward?  For working so hard?  I imagined the possibilities.  Chocolate perhaps, or some flowers?

And then Amy handed me a butternut squash.

I know how much you wanted to grow these in the garden this year, and how disappointed you were when you had actually planted acorn squash instead, so I thought you would really like to have this.

Her face was beaming.

A lot of sentiments were running through my mind just then.  That I love my daughter with all my heart, and any kid who picks out a squash as a surprise present is pretty darn special.  I am already imagining how good that beautiful butternut will be, cooked with a little brown sugar and butter, and I realize something else.  That finding the right words isn’t really so hard, after all. 

Now when you have a butternut squash to inspire you.


  1. And a butternut squash brings tears to my eyes.

    I love the leaves as metaphor, and that your teen still calls you "Mama." I hope hard for that, but I fear it's different with boys, and I'll be "Mom" before too long.

    Write on, Valerie!

  2. Now that's going to be the best butternut squash you ever had, bought and made with that unique ingredient, love! When my daughter cooks, she selects just the right music as she prepares the food, telling us as we have the meal that Sinatra accompanied it, or Christmas carols, or whatever vibe she wanted to add to the cooking :)

  3. Amy is just the sweetest daughter. With every post you write about her, she is more and more endearing.

  4. Cam, every time Amy calls me mama I am still amazed. I think she always will too. Even if Felix stops saying it, he will always feel it in his heart:)

    Joanne, I think love makes any dish better, especially the love of our kids. I love how your daughter chooses music to go with her cooking:)

    Lisa, thank you for that. One of the best things about blogging is getting to know about our respective kids. I feel so privileged to hear about your boys too:)

    Melissa, Thank you. Give a hug to that beautiful girl of yours from me:)

  5. Aw. Such a sweet girl. Nanowrimo is def an exercise in pushing through and getting it down. Can't wait to hear more about your writing project.

  6. Thanks Tina! :) I passed the 30,000 word mark yesterday, and I'm just about to start my writing for today.

  7. The butternut squash... the perfect surprise!
    Your daughter... priceless!
    A wonderful post...

    And congrats on the NaNoWriMo 30,000+ word mark! Sounds awesome!

  8. A special kid indeed. And one who knows you so well. I agree with you about writing, especially writing first drafts. Promise me after you're done NaNoWriMo you'll read Bird-by-Bird by Anne Lamott if you haven't already.

  9. Thanks for the advice Kim-I will!