(Mostly) Trivial Things Of (Mostly) No Consequence

1. Tonight I took Alex to football practice in David’s Jeep. The top was off the Jeep because we are in a blessed stretch of pleasant, low-humidity weather (to God be the glory), and by the second stop light my hair looked a little something like this.

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I just don’t have good Jeep hair, y’all. I didn’t when I was 14, and I don’t now, and next time I’m totally tying a big scarf around my head like Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment, the end.

2. If my listening habits are any indication, I’m trying to set a record for how many times someone can play this song in a three-day period.

3. This popped up on our DVR the other night. And I mean this in all sincerity, children of the 80s and 90s: IS THERE ANYTHING BETTER IN THE HISTORY OF CINEMA?

A photo posted by Sophie Hudson (@boomama205) on

I think not.

4. This book right here? Reading it over the course of this summer has been like a balm to me. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

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Exactly what my heart and soul needed.

5. Nine days, y’all. Nine days.

Thanks for being patient in the midst of our back-to-school / back-to-work / general run-of-the-mill crazy. Hope y’all are having a great week!

I Have Been So Very Absent

School, y’all.

SCHOOL.

It has been so fun. It has kicked my tail.

So.

Today I’m trying to play catch-up in order of the things I’ve neglected the most (doesn’t that make me sound like a productivity superstar?). First priority is the newsletter. Second priority is the laundry. Third priority is the book. And then A. has some football stuff to do this afternoon, but that is certainly not an area of our lives that has been neglected. We are ALL CAUGHT UP on the football.

So. Newsletter will go out sometime this afternoon. Laundry is about to go in the wash. The book, fingers crossed, will get a little TLC later today.

Hope things are great in your neck of the woods. I’ve missed y’all! And all of our back-to-school adjustments should settle down pretty soon.

See y’all soon!

Hello, Kind People

Today was my first day back at work (just meetings), but I think it’s safe to say that I probably won’t be posting much over the next couple of weeks. Alex has started football practice, I’m making my peace with waking up to an alarm, and there’s a to-do list rattling around in my head like nobody’s business.

Also – and this is just fair warning – my new book is due to the publisher on January 15th.

Say that with me slowly: JAN-U-ARY FIF-TEENTH. Four months from now. However comma it looks like it may release next summer, so that’s kind of fun, huh?

Last night I decided I was going to write a post about how Melanie and I do the podcast, complete with all the techy information (I’ve gotten several emails lately from folks who want to know how to put a podcast together). Anyway, I don’t think of the podcast as being complicated at all, but when I started typing it out, I realized that I do not in fact have a gift for technical writing. Because do you know what’s not really part of the technical writing skillset? BEING CHATTY.

Anyway, I’m going to try to finish that epistle sometime over the next week, and I’ll post it as soon as it’s all done. It is probably the only thing I will ever write that contains the phrase “export from Garage Band as an mp3 file.” It’s good to shake things up every once in awhile, I reckon.

Finally. Even though I may not be here very much, I will still be on the Instagram and the other regular social media outlets. In fact, today on Instagram I reposted a poem that Glennon at Momastery posted earlier this morning, and every time I read it, I cry.

I would have the best time with this poem if I were still an English teacher. Oh my goodness. And here’s what’s weird: if you had asked me last year what I would miss the most about being a classroom teacher, I would have said teaching writing – but I really haven’t missed that much at all. I’ve sort of relished not having to grade research papers, honestly. The literature, though? I miss it so much. Maybe that’s why this poem felt a little bit like a hug.

Here are some topics we will need to cover when I emerge from my back-to-school fog: 1) the night my laptop died 2) my cynicism-related epiphany 3) the awesome painted pallets my friend Delinda and her daughter are making (the college-themed ones are so perfect for football season) 4) Christopher Guest’s new movie and 5) the Mississippi State Bulldogs (specifically, Dak Prescott).

Hope y’all are having a great week so far – and hopefully I’ll be back soon. Thanks for being understanding and patient and everything good.

Love,
Me

Nerdy Writing Info For Nerdy Writing Enthusiasts

For the last couple of years I’ve been trying to pay attention to how other people write. And I’m not talking about their writing style; I’m talking about their writing process. I had never really thought much about it until I started my second book, probably because I was so overwhelmed when I wrote the first book that any sort of “system” was out of the question. I had a chapter outline from my book proposal, and that was great, but the adjustment from writing blog posts to writing chapters was significant enough that all I could do was focus on trying to get the words out of my head and into the computer.

So with the second book, I felt a little more confident in my ability to write chapters, and I started to wonder if there was a way to be more organized with how to tackle the book. I still had a chapter outline (which is mainly for a publisher…it’s just a list of chapter titles, and each title is followed by a paragraph that briefly explains the content), but I never could settle on a way to break down those individual chapters or “road map” them before I actually started writing. All of you super-organized people will find this absolutely horrifying, but when it was time to start a new chapter, I would just sit down and start the chapter. I didn’t plan it ahead of time other than knowing the general topic, though I did have certain stories I wanted to tell (well, for the most part). My saving grace with that approach was that I am a compulsive editor, so after I’d get 3500 or 4000 initial words for a chapter, I’d go back through those all of those words 10 or 15 times and edit like crazy before I would ever send the chapter to my editor.

Is this super boring? I am so sorry. This is the kind of stuff I can talk about for a lot of hours before I realize NOBODY CARES, so I’ll try to pep it up a little bit.

Anyway, I actually enjoy the compulsive editing approach, but it is super time-consuming, and since writer’s block seemed to hit more frequently with the second book, I felt like I wasted a lot of time. When I’d stare at the computer screen and wait for some words to show up, I’d think a lot about how maybe it would be easier if I took the time to break down the chapters, but then I’d remember that I didn’t know how to do that in a loose enough way for my ramble-y writing style (I don’t like the feeling of being hemmed in by a bunch of rigid structure, and the fact that I even typed that out just now means that I’m going to have to finish this post in a hurry so that I can go sit in front of a mirror and make fun of myself).

(GAH.)

(NERD MUCH?)

So. I started wondering what other people do when they’re writing books, and I felt like if I read and listened enough, I might pick up some good tips. (And that reminds me: recently I listened to Annie’s podcast with Shauna Niequist, and that is a fascinating 40 minutes of writing and publishing talk. Just an FYI if you’re into that sort of thing, which, by the way, I TOTALLY AM.)

Well.

I did a chapter outline for the third book, too, but after I wrote the intro, I decided I was going to try to add a tiny bit more structure to writing the chapters. This was mainly because I’ve never written an exegetical analysis of the book of Job, and I felt like I needed to be really organized before I got started.

See? I am a joker who likes to joke.

And in all seriousness, this new book really is a little different even though Job is nowhere to be found. It still has a lot of stories, but then it has another layer of stuff going on (I know that is vague, but vague is about the best I can do right now). I want the two layers to feel balanced and clear and whathaveyou, so one afternoon I pulled out a small sheet of poster board and a stack of post-it notes – and then I made myself sit and think through the first chapter until I’d figured out somewhere between 12 and 15 big ideas / stories I wanted to make sure to cover. I didn’t know if it would really and truly help when I started writing the chapter or not, but I told myself it couldn’t hurt to try.

So I wrote the first chapter – and between my chapter outline and my post-it notes, the writing was so much more fun. Oh my goodness. Those post-its gave me somewhere to go when I’d start to feel stuck, and while I still edited the fire out of the stuff that I wrote, it was so much easier to get through that initial first draft.

I know that other people use some variation of this post-it note system; it’s almost like coming up with plot points (except that I’m not writing fiction, but you know what I mean). But as someone who has struggled a lot with “start and stop” writing – I write for a little while, then don’t know where to go, then stop for a while, then fight with the paragraph a little longer, then stop again, etc. – the post-it map keeps me moving. I also feel like my first drafts are a little better, but I guess my editor will ultimately be the judge of that.

Here’s what the post-it map for chapter 3 looks like.

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I know it’s hard to see – you can blame yours truly for the sub-par picture quality – but it’s for a chapter called “I Do Not Understand You & Your Tricky Side Buns.” It took me most of an afternoon to get this figured out (and there may be parts that I don’t use in the end or that I move to other chapters – or I may change my mind about something as I write), but it’s totally worth it (I’m sure that many of you are thinking, “Um, YEAH,” but I am a slow learner when it comes to these things). The writing has been so much less frustrating and angst-y because I’m not forever thinking, “Okay. What next? WHAAAAAAAT NEXXXXXXXXXT?” To be so simple, the post-it map makes a world of difference.

So there you have it. Congratulations if you’ve made it this far in the post; I should probably send out prizes for the folks who made it to the end. But since I’m not super methodical and this particular method is working for me, I thought it might be helpful for a few of y’all who love to write but struggle (like I do) when it comes to making the most of your writing time. Plus, I start back to work soon, so I’m really excited about having something tangible to look at and say, “Okay. Where was I?” when I’m trying to get back into writing mode on the weekends. I am organizationally challenged in every single area of my life, so it’s delightful to not feel quite so scattered with the book stuff. I’m just as tickled as I can be.

Nerd it up, my friends. NERD IT UP.

Love,
Me

Welcome To All The Excitement

I actually thought that there would be a podcast post up right about now, but Melanie and I attempted to record a podcast this past Saturday, and y’all, it was the most boring thing you ever did hear. And I know some of y’all are probably thinking, No, I get it – because I listened that time y’all talked about under-eye concealer – but our problem this past Saturday was that we were both super low-energy. Melanie was tired from a quick trip to Houston, I was on the back end of a headache, and neither one of us could muster much enthusiasm about anything (Melanie, God love her, gave it her best, but my reaction to everything was somewhere between “Eh” and “Maybe?”).

All that to say: about 40 minutes in, we decided that we’ll try again later this week. Maybe something will happen by then. Or maybe Melanie won’t have to try to fill my silence by elaborating on why sunshine can be good for us (true story). Thankfully the anvil that was lodged behind my right eye for a couple of days is now completely gone, so I have high hopes for being a productive podcast partner in the very near future.

As for the rest of our weekend, I’m a little sad to say that the headache was probably the biggest part of it (for me, at least). I spent most of Friday afternoon camped out on the couch in my office – which is the darkest and coldest room in the house – and when my head finally started to cooperate with the rest and the essential oil blend and the Advil, I finished the last little bit of my newsletter and clicked a few buttons to send it out. Then David took me to dinner and I ate some soup.

In other words, it was a very exciting evening here at the retirement home.

On Saturday I ran a few errands, fought off round 2 of the headache, then recorded the aforementioned podcast attempt. I tried to get some writing done, but after I tried to write the same sentence about 11 different ways, I gave up and surrendered to the Netflix. Sometimes that is all you can do.

But yesterday, after church and Chuy’s, I sequestered myself in a corner of my beloved Panera, and the change of scenery did me a world of good.

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I don’t think the bottomless caffeine source hurt, either.

I wrote for about four hours, which is about as good as an afternoon-o-writing gets for me, and then I decided to run by Target to pick up some groceries on the way home. I have no idea what the temperature actually was when I stepped outside Panera, but I immediately wondered if the parking lot had caught on fire and I had failed to notice. My car had just barely started to cool down by the time I made it to Target, so once I stepped onto the blazing hot pavement and started making my way into the store, I felt a little bit like this.

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It took me a little while to round up everything I needed inside the store because MOVING SO SLOWLY, and after I paid for my groceries, crossed the desert-o-asphalt, put the groceries in the trunk, and sat down in my car, I had my first official August Moment.

August is the cruelest of the months, you know. Because HOT.

I should really be ashamed to complain; David worked outside with the pressure-washer most of yesterday afternoon, and Alex starts football practice tonight. Something tells me that my frustration with, you know, WALKING ACROSS A PARKING LOT will probably pale in comparison to whatever Alex endures when he’s running sprints and trying to take down a tackling dummy.

Be near, Lord.

And stay cool, y’all.

While I Was Away

So. Regarding last week and all the not blogging I did.

1. Our air conditioner went out Monday afternoon. Alex and I had been running errands and came home to a house that was unexpectedly stuffy. There was still air blowing out of the vents, though, and it wasn’t warm air, so I kept trying to tell myself that it was just really hot outside and the A/C was having to work extra hard. By the time David got home, though, it was clear that we were in a legitimate A/C trouble, so we called the repair people and were surprised that they could get to the house early that same evening. By 7:00 we were back in business, and the repair cost was mercifully reasonable. So that was a delightful turn of events.

(If you subscribe to my newsletter, you’ll recall that week before last I was somewhat prideful about the effectiveness of our A/C.)

(Apparently pride goeth before the burned out capacitor.)

2. I made a quick trip to Mississippi last week and made it back to Birmingham late Wednesday afternoon – just in time to see The Oh Hellos in concert Wednesday night. They are so talented and such a joy to see and hear live. If they are playing in your area, you should totally go see them. Such a treat.

3. We finished the dotMOM opening video Thursday afternoon. There was a small part that they filmed at our house, and that means I spent most of Thursday morning trying to get the house ready. I threw out mail / magazines and took all the junk off the refrigerator and wiped down the all the surfaces and put everything away in its proper place. In other words, I made the house look like no people actually live here. I also had to run Hazel to the vet since I thought the video equipment might freak her out (the vacuum cleaner nearly gives her a heart attack, so I couldn’t fathom how she’d respond to the tall lights). It turned out to be a really fun day, though; we finished the video, and Alex even got to make a little cameo. (By the way, early bird pricing for dotMOM lasts until August 1, and then the regular price kicks in).

4. Book #3 is in the works, and I am ALL ABOUT writing right now. I know that summer will be over before I know it, so I am trying to make as much progress as I can while I can. I don’t know if I can really explain it, but there is something about the new book that has been such a joy to work on. Don’t get me wrong – I loved writing the first two – but this one is a little different in terms of content and structure, and I am loving the shift. I keep telling David that my brain is so happy this summer, and this new book has been a big part of that. Timing-wise it has worked out so that I’ve had a lot of time to think about how to organize everything – which means I’ve been more detailed in terms of mapping out chapters – and I’ve enjoyed it so much. Having the time and space to focus has been a gift, I tell you – A GIFT.

5. Yesterday I went to Hobby Lobby in search of a new bulletin board to go above my desk, and I was so tickled when I found one I liked and then the cashier told me how to find a coupon for 40% off on my phone. Honestly, I was flat-out relieved when she told me about the coupon because I was thinking on the way to the check-out that based on the prices, Hobby Lobby sure did think a lot of their cork board inventory. But 40% off made it all better. As it tends to do.

6. This afternoon I framed a print that I ordered from Pen & Paint, and now it’s my new favorite thing.

A photo posted by Sophie Hudson (@boomama205) on

Makes me happy.

7. One last thing. When I was at Home Goods and Hobby Lobby yesterday, I saw lots of mamas and daughters shopping for dorm stuff. It made me SO nostalgic and a little teary-eyed, too; I’m so excited for the girls I know who are about to be freshmen, but I know their mamas are gonna miss them like crazy. I thought about this song the rest of the day; I’ve always been a sucker for a coming-of-age anthem. :-)

Happy Monday, everybody!