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  • Melissa Westemeier

growth spurts

I'm starting my morning writing with my middle son lying at my feet. He's sleeping everywhere these days, partly because he's given up his room in a great act of sacrifice to a family member and partly because he's at that age where he rolls from couch to floor to bed. Mr. B has his driving temps this summer and eagerly takes the wheel at every opportunity. Life has boiled down to working out in the wrestling room, running, sleeping and playing Fortnite and Battlefield 1. Getting him to work has been a little difficult, but that's the age, right? He's also growing his mullet back. WHY? I don't know. I keep repeating, like a mantra, "it's only hair." It's only hair.

My new book project is chugging along. I'm writing in spurts of 1,000-1,500 words a day. This boils down to a scene or two each day. I realize it's becoming a little messy as I head into the middle section and events will require reordering. Do I hit pause and rearrange it now or keep going and wade through more volume later? I cannot decide. It is satisfying to watch the page count increase steadily, so I keep writing scene after scene, making the later work of putting the plot in order more difficult for myself. I guess I have decided, haven't I? I'm going to make a real mess of it.

Mr. T has done the heavy lifting for his summer (written thank you notes for graduation gifts, finished sending transcripts, etc. to college and sorted out his housing situation). Now he hangs out with his friends and earns money at the golf course until he leaves town. "Grown and flown" is the term used by parents of college-aged kids. His wings are new and fragile, but I have faith they'll hold him up. He seems clear on the direction he's heading, a bit vague on the details but that's not unusual for most young adults.

My garden flourishes, the trees have gotten big enough to house all manner of birds this year--including Baltimore Orioles! God has provided me with ample opportunity to expand my faith and grow fruit of patience and kindness, too. For example, I didn't kill Mr. T with my bare hands when he kept failing to write his thank you notes and left that project on half of the kitchen table for over a month! And I've opened my house to a person in crisis and mostly kept my opinions to myself, which is no small feat.

Mr. G turned 14 last weekend. FOURTEEN! Thirteen is kind of a puny excuse for a teenager, but fourteen seems legit. So that's it then. No more boys. Even this youngest one has passed me up in height and shoe size. He's all legs and arms and long shaggy hair (not sure what look he's going for, but I'm pretty sure it's inspired by MLB players). Thank goodness for his freckles, they keep him looking boyish. And he still tolerates hugs and kisses from his mama, bless his sweet heart. He's another kid coming far in developing self-control and maturity. I'm proud of his ability to help when asked, and more importantly when not asked. He's kind to animals, fairly clean and endures most frustrations with good humor.

And look at this, the Screw Iowa Writers Workshop got together for the FOURTEENTH time this June. These dear ladies flew in from both coasts and we rented a cottage on Little Green Lake. It was a good week for all of us creatively and emotionally speaking. These friendships are as vital to us as the solid writing advice we exchange. Over the years we've collectively produced so many things--writing seminars and workshops for various people, books, articles, short stories and essays. It's easy to forget how far we've come when I get bogged down in current work. Time and effort has stretched and built me into a much better writer, and I'm thankful for the part they've played in developing me. This year we worked on one full manuscript, two solid starts on new novels and a short story during our time together.

Spill it, reader. What's growing in your world these days?

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