Washing diapers and writing a novel

I noticed that somebody found my blog with the search “wash diapers.” Funny. I guess at some point I must have made reference to washing cloth diapers. So many people are weirded out by the general idea. My mother has the attitude that, she did cloth diapers with me when I was little because disposables weren’t available (or were really expensive?), but when they were available for my brother, she used them and couldn’t imagine using cloth diapers *voluntarily*.

They’re easier nowadays, of course. You’ve got all sorts of options. I go with the cheap option, I buy prefolded diapers at Target and pretty-colored diaper wraps from http://www.monkeybuns.com. The wraps are Velcro, so no need to worry about diaper pins (although I used them along with the Velcro for a while with Beth once she got old enough to take her diapers off, so that she couldn’t).

Washing isn’t exactly a lot of effort. Sure, it’s a bit gross having to shake the poop into the toilet when you change the diaper, and opening out poopy diapers and dropping them into the washer. But if you’re like most parents, you’ve dealt with worse. I just use plenty of soap on my hands afterwards.

I like this site for their washing instructions: http://www.diaperjungle.com/washing-cloth-diapers.html. I basically follow what they recommend. I use a full amount of detergent in the first, cold wash (All Free & Clear is the only one on their recommended chart that I can find in standard grocery stores), plus a cup of baking soda and a scoop of OxyClean. I then wash them a second time with hot water, half the detergent, and vinegar. I’ve been drying them in the dryer lately (no fabric softener) because you can’t use clotheslines in this military housing, and before this it was winter. But in summer I try to hang them outside so the sun bleaches them. And that’s about it. Putting them in the wash is a little effort, getting them folded and back in the drawers is a little, but neither is a big deal. It’s a lot cheaper than disposables, which is our main reason, and also a bit better for the environment (uses more water in the washing, but most of the gunk goes into the sewer system that’s designed for it instead of into the dump). So. That’s that. Plus the kids have these cute little plump butts when they wear cloth diapers. Makes their pants stay on better when they have no hips.

So, I’ve been working on my story a lot lately. I’ve gotten up to 30 pages, and it’s going pretty well. But I’m starting to think… maybe it’s moving too slow. I don’t know, somehow my stories always seem fresh and funny and exciting in the summary, but in the actual writing they move too slow and they lose some of the fun. Also, there’s sort of a secret that I’m contemplating whether it’s obvious or not (it’s not in the summary, but maybe in the writing). I’m considering starting over. I know, I know, I should stick to it and try to actually get somewhere. It’s not a huge amount, but 30 pages is a pretty good amount of writing to waste by giving up entirely. So, that’s the quandary I’m in. Don’t worry, if I do start over, it’ll be in another file so that I don’t lose what I wrote already.

I think one issue that I’m trying to figure out is this. In a book on writing that I was rereading recently, it talks about choosing the right place for your story to start, and avoiding prologues. Well, my story starts with a chapter that isn’t from the point of view of the main, limited narrator. It also starts 13 years before the main stuff from the book. It’s certainly a dramatic, crucial aspect of the story, but it also makes it a lot harder to hide “the secret” when you get to the main narrator’s bit. So I’m thinking about possibly doing things out of order, skipping the prologue and starting with the main narrator, then have her be *told* the events of the prologue, in a shortened version, later. It would allow me to hide the secret and make it less obvious once the prologue is told. It would allow me to keep everything in the limited narrator’s POV. I would definitely have to beef up the first part of “real time” story, then, though, because it starts a a bit slowly (which I thought I could afford, since it happens 10 pages into the story instead of at the beginning). But it’s a serious consideration. Looking for beta-readers to read both versions (once I try writing the new one tonight) and tell me if they like one or the other better.

It’s hard to find a good balance between “show” and “tell.” I realized that I was starting to “show” a bit too much in my story. For instance, the character is off to take a test. So she wakes up in the dormitory, heads off down the hallway, all the girls are sent into separate rooms, she and her best friend wave as they head into neighboring rooms. I then describe the room and the proctor closing the door (because she’s trying to do something furtively while he’s distracted). I realized I was boring even myself. Not a good sign. Need to do a bit of “tell” so that I can jump from where she was in the previous scene to her being in the middle of the test. Readers don’t really care what the characters had for breakfast or when they went to the bathroom, after all, unless it matters to the story.

I need to stop writing in the little “quickpress” section. It makes it hard for me to see enough of my post to edit it and see how coherent I sounded (and how much I babbled on). Note to self: actually use the regular “post” button next time.

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