Tag Archives: Novel

WIP or WIP? – A Silver-Haired Female Lawyer Remembers

 

Time flies when you are having fun.

Or when you are trying to write a novel. That may or may not include sex scenes.

The reason I have not posted in this Blog since November, 2017? Blame it on my novel. A/K/A my work-in-progress. Which writers often abbreviate as their “WIP.”

My WIP – unsurprisingly – is about conflicts that arise for female, law firm lawyers who encounter moral dilemmas involving their colleagues and clients.

QUERY  –>Is it always the best course of action to disclose the truth? or sometimes is it wiser, if not somewhat unethical, to omit to state a “material fact”?

The abbreviation “WIP” also has another meaning for me.

Some years ago, in my days as a lawyer representing a group of sometimes-too-creative-for-their-own-good radio stations, one of those stations came up with the brilliant idea of hosting a regular week day event to be called “WIP” – the initials standing for “Whip it Out Wednesdays.”

The plan was to encourage their station listeners in a certain large, tri-state metropolitan area on the east coast to create large signs lettered WIP and to place the signs in the windows of their cars to encourage female motorists in passing vehicles to “whip them out” on Wednesdays for passing drivers to see and admire.

For this I went to law school?

I think we put the kibosh on that idea. The station may or may not have listened to our advice. Back then legal advice was frequently sought, but not always obeyed. Some of my clients rightfully called me the lawyer who always said “no.” I wanted to say “yes” to their creative programming and promotional ideas, I really did, but some of them were just – well – beyond acceptable.

Back then, anyway. What we thought of as beyond acceptable is now hilariously tame.

Which I was thinking about – what is tame? and what isn’t?  – while writing last week.

I brought an excerpt of my WIP to a small writing workshop I regularly attend to share with other writers. The excerpt I chose included a scene describing a sexual incident.

I was worried about sharing the excerpt with others. Me, a silver-haired grandmother of two, writing a sex scene? What business did I have writing about sex? Would it be deemed steamy? Or maybe not steamy enough?

One of the other writers – a woman, who happens to be 20 years younger than I am – thought I was being a bit too prudish in my description. Maybe so. If I was 45, I’d have approached the subject from the experience I’d had by that age. But I am no longer 45.

I have to admit that writing a sex scene – while daunting – was also rather fun.

(FYI: Lawyers do have sex. And sometimes with each other.)

My WIP is fiction – of course – but fiction laced with threads of reality. What ifs? Inspired by the life I’ve led. Or the life I wished I had led.  Aaaah, Memories…

Silver-haired women do not always have good memories.

The highlight of this past Wednesday was a visit to my downtown dentist. After a lengthy appointment, I dug in the bottom of my purse to find the ticket so I could retrieve my car from a nearby parking garage. I searched and searched, but could not find the ticket. I thought I had put in the pocket of my purse where I always keep such tickets. But it wasn’t there. The kind garage attendant (perhaps seeing my silver-hair?) asked me for my car’s license plate number.

Who can remember that?

I told him I did not know, but that I was pretty sure my license plate had a “C'” and an “X” in it. He laughed, and walked down the ramp to retrieve my car.

You can imagine my pleasure when he drove up the ramp in my car (which is silver, to match my hair.) (really) (no, it is silver, but it wasn’t selected to match my hair) and saw that my car’s license plate does indeed have a “C” and an “X” in it.

Sadly, I never found my parking garage ticket.

On future Wednesdays I do not plan on “whipping” them out, whether that is now acceptable, or not.

Instead, when not going to the dentist, you can find me working on my WIP. And maybe writing my novel-to-be on other weekdays, too.

I may even write another sex scene.  Or two? It could be prudish, but I hope not. Think about it. If I can remember two of the seven letters/numbers on my license plate, who knows what other memories I can dredge up?

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Distraction Dilemma: Breaking, Breaking News

 

 

As I drove out of the supermarket parking lot yesterday, I congratulated myself. Proud that I remembered to bring my groceries with me!

Years ago on a nice spring evening, a Thursday, I exited the same supermarket parking lot minus the eight bags of food and drink items I had just purchased.

Back in the days when my daughter was on the crew team at her high school. Moms (always the moms, let’s be honest here) took turns hosting the team on the Friday nights before Saturday morning regattas. We put on big spreads which, if memory serves, mostly featured some kind of pasta casserole, bowls of salad and buckets of garlic bread. I’m sure there must have been a vegetable side dish and dessert too.

On that Thursday before my turn at hosting the team dinner, I drove after work to the supermarket nearest my house with the “Crew Dinner To Buy” list in my purse. It was dinner time – I was hungry, I was tired, so was everyone else. My body may have been at the store – but my mind was still downtown – at the law firm  – too many client matters remained on that “To Do” list.  I walked up and down the aisles, pulling the items for the anticipated bunch of carb-craving teen athletes in a semi-automated fashion.

The check out lady smiled as she scanned my purchases – having a big party? Yes, I probably said. I paid, left the store and steered the overflowing cart outside the store and left it in the “pick up” area against the silver bars en route to the parking lot.  My intent must have been to get into my car and drive around to the pick up lane to retrieve the eight bags from the cart.

But instead I drove home. Two miles away.  I pulled into my driveway. Still thinking about work, I am sure. Knowing I had emails to check and a project to complete. Parked. Then opened the trunk to find it empty. Because I had left all of the bags in the cart in front of the supermarket. A swear word was likely emitted at that point.

That is the last time I recall being as distracted as I have been in recent weeks.

I did drive right back to the store. Luckily, the cart was where I had left it 10 minutes earlier, I put the bags in the trunk, drove home, took the groceries out, unpacked them, made dinner for my family, caught up on work  – and then hosted the crew dinner the next night. You know the busy/working/mom drill.

I no longer work downtown (still a mom though, and now a grandmother too, just for the record so you can tell that maybe through increased age alone, I’ve earned the right to have distracted moments.)

But now I am distracted much of the time. No longer by lawyering. Or by my kids. Or by my husband. Not by events on my calendar. And I do not have a sudden onset of ADD nor any neurological problem (I get checked.) No, my distraction comes from my own inability to focus for more than 10 minutes without having an insistent craving to turn on the news.

So I do. I check my twitter feed. I look up news alerts. I listen to the radio. I have the TV on in the background. All for fear of missing some new crisis that might have happened while I was doing the laundry or taking a shower.

The crises keep erupting, one piling on top of another, breaking news breaking into new breaking news, breathless reporters and chatty commentators. And yes, I could turn it off. Yes, I should turn it off. But I keep checking for updates.

Last night at book club we talked about this. A few of my friends are not as dominated by the need-to-know-now as I am. Lucky them! Others seem to be able to stay in control of their news needs. I’m jealous.

Part of my problem is I am less busy in the summer. I’m not taking a writing class this summer. With the end of the school year, my college-advising volunteer projects have slowed. Fewer meetings, a lighter schedule, more unstructured time.

Anticipating this summer lull, I created my own structure. A big project.  My Work-In-Progress. I am writing a novel. Writing at least four days a week.  The plan is to complete the draft by the end of August before fall semester begins and I am back in the classroom (with homework.)

What’s my “WIP” about, you ask?

A working mom, a lawyer, with two kids (how creative to use my own life as inspiration!?) dealing with friendships that go awry, possibly unscrupulous clients and unexpectedly competitive colleagues.  I even wrote an outline. And I’ve already written 50 pages – 15, 556 words, to be exact. Only 64,444 more words to go!

If only I could be more disciplined. More disciplined and not as susceptible to distractions. Like I once was as a law firm partner. Busy, busy, busy. Far too occupied to fret about possible news of ultra-scary national and world events.

Or maybe that was a less complicated time when breaking news didn’t break every ten minutes. Focus, I keep telling myself. Look away from the media. But it is difficult. Distraction is my biggest dilemma this summer.

I am certain I am not alone in feeling this way.

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Finding Your Own Lane in “Semi-Retirement”

stratton mtn

On a family trip one summer to Vermont we stopped at a familiar ski area to ride its’ alpine slide.

For the uninitiated, an alpine slide starts at the top of a non-snow-covered mountain where you sit on a sled, with a control stick between your knees, and guide your own ride along the twists and turns of a trail down the hill to the bottom.

The best part about this summer slide at Bromley Mountain is that it’s a triple track – described as “North America’s first triple-tracked” alpine slide, 2/3 of a mile long.

Triple Track means (duh) that each rider has three tracks to chose from. As I remember they were labeled – Fast, Medium and Slow – or maybe the three tracks had more clever names like #1 -“Speed For Teens”, #2 – “Active Dads” and #3 – “Moms Who Are Very Cautious.”

Whatever their designations were, I chose – no surprise here  – the latter, the slowest but steady track, kind of my life mantra, expressed on the side of a mountain. My husband and teenage son picked the faster paths, then whizzed down the mountain on their own sleds.

They were waiting for me when I arrived, five minutes later, having applied my own s-l-o-w sled’s brake multiple times as I approached every sharp turn and fast straightaway.

That triple alpine track was made for me – I like to be in charge of my own ride. I love the opportunity to choose my lane. If only life was like that alpine track.

Lately I have been veering from lane to lane.

One day I am happily zooming around with multiple plans and projects, volunteering, lunching with friends, going to meetings. The next I am contentedly at home by myself – along with our trusty terrier at my side – thinking that nothing is better than being able to sit alone in a comfortable chair (I know, don’t sit too long! bad for your health. I get it) – and write.

I did not choose to retire from my law firm at age 60 – that was an unexpected decision made for me by the cardiac authorities.  All of the articles on what to do to plan for retirement were suddenly irrelevant. I was plopped into it whether I liked it or not.

Three years have passed since then and I am still finding my way in what I call “semi-retirement.” Every day I either do too much – or I do too little.  Finding the right balance, the right lane has been tricky.

I would love nothing more than to sit at a desk all day and write. I’ve written a few short stories featuring (what else) witty and worried women in law firm settings.  Do I turn one of my favorite of these short stories into the first chapter of a novel? Or do I keep writing stories until I come up with a collection of them? Haven’t I set aside my childhood dream of becoming a published author for too long?

How ambitious those plans sound. And how self-indulgent. I now have the choice to spend hours doing what I love – while my husband is very much not-retired – (he likes his job, but loving it? you’d have to ask him.)

I  feel responsible to be productive. So some of what I write is non-fiction and earns a (tiny) fee, and I talk and write about young adult mental health and get paid for that too – and next fall, if it happens and I hope it will, I may get to teach a class about the state of mental health on college campuses.

Do these small paying “gigs” add up to giving me the right to stay in the slow lane with my writing projects?

Will the guilt I feel when I sit down to write ever subside?

I think about this as I veer from “semi-retirement” lane to lane and then back again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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