I returned from my retreat with a draft of the memoir...and the beginnings of a cold. I'm fighting the cold with zinc, vitamin c, and chicken soup. I don't have time to get sick.
So, yes. Many of you have commented for months that we should turn this story into a book. Thanks to our endless blog postings and some other things that I had already begun to write during the last half of 2009, I worked further over the weekend and emerged with a 37,000 word (or so) manuscript.
The draft of the book is kind of crazy. I actually have it printed. With a cover and binding. (Thanks Office Max). I keep telling myself, "It's just a draft." It needs editing and it may even need some more content. I have a few people, most assuredly members of Garrison Keillor's Professional Organization of English Majors, [You public radio nerds know what I'm talking about] who have already volunteered to take a glance at it and offer suggestions.
I'm also not-so-actively searching for a literary agent. I know that's the next logical step but I don't want to rush things. Like I don't have enough on my plate?
It was very nice to get away for a few days. I was by myself and literally in a cabin in the woods. Of course, it still had all the comforts of home (electricity, running water, WiFi) but I wasn't pulled every other minute to something in the house or to the phone.
In between typing I took breaks reading some literature that has crossed my path in the last few months. One book is called A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss by Gary Sittser. Great book. The chapters are very short and it's a pretty quick read but the content is powerful. His life had been touched by some pretty significant tragedy and through his grief and healing, he found some very powerful insights about what it means to deal with it from day to day. I could relate to his prose.
The other book is A Broken Heart Still Beats: When Your Child Dies. It contains short stories and excerpts from larger works by both famous people (Paul Newman, Mark Twain) as well as lesser known authors regarding their experiences dealing with their child's death. I haven't read much of the book yet BUT I was thrilled and surprised to see that one of the endorsing quotes on the first page was by Ashland's own Phyllis Theroux. Small world.
Reading and re-reading the manuscript brought back so many memories. I was very glad that we had taken the time to record so much in our blog posts. The bulk of my writing this weekend revolved around those final two months that we had with Charlotte so a lot of emotions came flooding back as I wrote.
In order for me to get away, Roger worked his tail off. We had a very busy weekend at Romp n' Roll with classes, a Kids Night Out, and a full slate of birthday parties so he is very tired. I'm grateful to him for all of his hard work.
Speaking of Romp n' Roll, for those of you who haven't heard the news, we are officially moving the Virginia Center location to Mechanicsville.
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Our lease at Virginia Center is up at the end of May and we needed to find a location with more affordable rent. The long term goal had also always been to distinguish ourselves geographically from the other two locations so that our "territory" had better definition. While some of this has been in the works on our end for a little while, it's brand new information to many of our customers and fans and the reactions have certainly been mixed. I certainly hate that we will lose some of our regular customers because of the move. We expected this would happen. At the same time, I am touched by the level at which some of our customers have been upset by this situation. I suppose that if we were just any old kid's place, our relocation would be a small blip on our customer's personal radar. The fact that people can get so out of sorts by the news tells me that we have a somewhat loyal following. That I like.
The next two months will be BUSY. We have already begun meetings with the architect and contractor. The space is built but the interior must be completed so that it looks like a real
Romp n' Roll so that will take some kind-of major construction. Fortunately, it looks like we can take many of the current elements of the store (our front desk, barn doors, etc.) with us so that should help with some of the expense. Be on the alert for a moving party! We will accept any willing hands (or trucks) when the time comes. I pay willing workers in pizza and beer.
So I think that will get you caught up for the weekend. Spring is definitely in the air. I walked around in short sleeves today! It was fabulous. Interestingly, at my retreat, there was STILL snow on the ground. Be gone Ol' Man Winter!