While flipping through my high school yearbook recently in an odd fit of nostalgia, I reread the caption under my senior picture. Somehow, I’d forgotten I had a sort-of nickname: Squirrel. But there it was, listed first thing.
At the time, I had no idea why anyone called me that. Really. I do remember asking a friend about it. She shrugged and said, “I dunno. You’re just a squirrel.” (Note: This photo may be a chipmunk. I’m not sure, but you get the idea.)
Did I have fat cheeks, or tons of energy? Not really. Was I adorably furry? NO. Did I hoard things? No, that started later in life. Was I always stuffing my face? Possibly, but not with acorns. Did I chatter? Maybe. Did I scurry through the halls, late for wherever I was supposed to be (even lunch)? Yeah, you got me. But there was always so much to DO, so many people to talk to…(see chatter, above).
It was a bummer when the guy I had a huge crush on in Algebra 2 started calling me Squirrel, too. “Pet”—even a hopefully-cute one—was not exactly the relationship I’d hoped for. When yearbooks came out—two of my besties were co-editors-in-chief—I was horrified. No way was I sending that photo for the freshman look-book next fall. Nosireebob, I would NOT start my college career as a squirrel. I ran to one of those passport photo places and took a cheap black-and-white.
I didn’t think much about squirrels after that for a very long time. One of my favorite movies is Christmas Vacation, and I laughed my face off every year at the scene where Aunt Bethany hears a funny, squeaking sound and a squirrel jumps out of the living room Christmas tree to terrorize the entire extended family and cause mass destruction through the house.
It wasn’t until I saw that old yearbook photo again that I thought of one more squirrel-esque trait that miiiiiight apply to me. You know those cartoon dogs whose attention is always caught by something else, which completely distracts them from whatever they’re supposed to be doing? (Hey, look! Squirrel!) The dog becomes, well…dogged…in pursuit of his new goal. The squirrels? Not so much.
I’ve been working on a new cozy series for what feels like forever (it actually may be—and yes, I am a pantser, why do you ask?). I was perfectly fine until somewhere just past the soggy middle, when I suddenly started getting distracted by shiny new ideas—other series, short stories, you name it. Here, there, everywhere: tempting plots, premises and characters. My to-be-read pile on my nightstand soon reflected the same: thrillers, cozies, PIs, suspense, history, romance, women’s fic (and one Beach Boys memoir that was a gift and raises my lamp to a better height very nicely). I feel like that illustration in Alice in Wonderland where Alice gets the whole pack of cards thrown at her.
The good news is, I have settled on just one manuscript again. It’s not the cozy, which I know I will return to, but a…well, I’m not sure yet. I’m writing it scene by crazy scene, and we’ll just have to see. It could be a disaster. But I took it as a good sign the other day in the Market Basket parking lot when I pulled in next to a car with the license plate: LKSQRL.
Wish me luck!!
Readers and writers, has anyone else felt a little squirrely lately in their literary pursuits? Let us Chicks know in the comments!