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  • Writer's pictureLuella Schmidt

Folio: February 18, 2023

An exciting new project begins, and an honorable 30-year career in public service comes to a close


I write at my desk with a huge monitor. It's where I spend most of my days, at my funky, modern little desk in my denim blue office, daydreaming out the window, or procrastinating on the interwebz. It's the same desk that I sat at all those hours when I was procrastinating building Fine Point. I love my office. I have a picture of my Dad on the wall from 1958, twelve years before I was born.

Recently, I started journaling about my novel and I'm finding it to be a really effective way to bring my characters to life and to game out plot ideas. I'm trying to do that a couple of nights a week in the playroom. I turned the bedroom next to my office into my personal livingroom, which means lots of colors, art everywhere, piles of books and magazines, bluetooth speakers, crayons, colored pens and pencils, and no TV. All snuggled up on a winter night, some twinkly lights on, candles lit, maybe some pot, and good old-fashioned writing with a pen. I am obsessed with good pens, which is a story for another day. My brain engages in a different way when I'm writing with a pen instead of typing. It's more exploratory and discovery flows smoother for me. I tend to get some pretty cool ideas this way. I finally have enough of the plot outlined to start writing. I have to be writing TO something and I can see my way through Act 1. I don't have to know everything, but my systems-building brain values efficiency, arguably more than an artist's brain should.

My fledgling novel is at a wee 2,700 words. Most novels are 80,000-90,000 words. But it exists. And it's funny. Yay! The first draft's only job is to exist. This is my shitty first draft. Sending a prayer to the universe and to my Brigid to help me write with joy and daring and not fear or caution, with thanks to the great George Saunders for those perfect words.

I'm going to tell a kickass story.

I'm trying to write a satire/mystery/thriller haha. I think satire is the highest form of fiction. And I like to try hard things. I don't know what I'm doing, but I decided I'm going to have a blast trying. My characters are already hilarious and I can't wait to fuck with them. The story is set in a made-up town on the Minnesota coast of the Mississippi River, along The Great River Road, which is near my childhood home and is one of my favorite places to visit. Spending time there fills me with a strong and vivid connection to my roots.

I have never been this happy in my life, ya'll. Living this long-held writing dream has brought me nonstop joy and wonder. I feel like I have reached home. I love my job with a passionate hot fire and I haven't felt like that in a while! I like that I can see myself improving. I'm working hard at it, but not too hard. I'm work-life balancing like a champ.

Short Story Submissions: 14 Rejections: 13 ✱ Acceptances: 1

Mirror in the Sky News:

Meetup Community Events:

🎵 Album Club! March 1st, the 15th best album: Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)

📽️ Movie Club! March 8th, the 9th best movie: Vertigo (1958)

📚Book Club! March 29th, Sons & Lovers, D.H. Lawrence (1913)

In February, Movie Club celebrated the movie Raging Bull from 1980. I couldn't stop thinking about it. It is a masterpiece about the violence of mankind and how some of us succumb to the animal side of our natures. And how that violence destroys lives. It has really stuck with me. Incredible acting. I wonder all the time at the effect on the world and society as we are finally leaning in to taking our mental health as seriously as our physical health. Having so much less pain and suffering in the world is going to have a positive effect. I believe it contributes to our curiosity and the booming content creation economy. A healthy mind has the freedom and safety to explore and learn new things and meet new friends around the world.

Medium Publication:

I've been slowly grabbing posts from an old website I no longer need, sprucing them up with my improving writing skills, and sharing them on Medium in my new publication called Mirror in the Sky. It has 5 followers. Awww. Gotta start somewhere baby! This week I wrote about the #3 Album of all time, Joni Mitchell's Blue, and why sad songs can make us feel better, and how love is our superpower. I spend a lot of time on Medium, writing and reading the work of others. It's a nice place to hang out and it's easy to go down a learning rabbit hole. I have several favorite writers there. I'm also being a bit more deliberate with my social media posts to try to increase my own readership.

Honoring the Love of my Life, Roger Finch

On Friday, my husband, Roger Finch, retired after 30 years as a Dane County Sheriff Deputy. I've never felt so proud. Roger brought a dozen different flavored Kringles for the conference room table in the Public Safety Building. He and some work buds have become Kringle connoisseurs, trying them from all over the state. I had a piece of the Cinnamon Roll Kringle. It was divine.

a history of work photos, showing aging and the passing of time
The years go by fast!

Sheriff Kalvin Barrett came in and gave a heartfelt speech about going through Roger's personnel file and finding a steady stream of words like "compassionate", "excellence", and "thoughtfulness". He reminded Roger that he helped get 36 bedridden adults out of a burning building. He read a handwritten note from "the girls in the yellow car", who Roger helped after a rollover, and who wrote to thank him for going above and beyond the call of duty to help them. The Sheriff presented it, along with a plaque, a coin, and a super creepy photo of twenty-something Rog with a flattop and a nasty pornstache that had everyone in stitches and will likely give me nightmares.

It was my first time meeting Sheriff Barrett. I hope he's successful and earns the respect of the rank and file. He was engaging and authentic, which are valuable leadership qualities. He had the room laughing and at ease with him. At the end of his sweet remarks, he said, "There is nothing greater than selfless service." He made me proud to have voted for him.

Roger spent his days dealing with people having their worst days. He dealt with spouses beating each other senseless, families screaming at each other and stealing from one another, kids whose parents are in jail or addicted to drugs, and suicides. Death. The ugly kind. A lot of it. And he managed to do all of that while still holding compassion for people and without letting the job make him cynical. We all have some small bit of healthy cynicism. But it is an unhappy soul that lets the sorrows of life turn us against our humanity. Roger still loves the world, is open to being charmed by it, even though he's more clear-eyed about its troubles than most of us. He finds the humor in it, as all well-lived lives must. It's the difference between living an excellent life and living a mediocre life. My mission with my writing is to actively look for ways to reflect the world's joy and humor. Roger is an inspiration to me every day.

After Sheriff Barrett's presentation, my compassionate, excellent, and thoughtful husband gave a lovely speech of his own, calling out some of his closer friends in the room who shared, shall we say, adrenaline-raising events with him. He thanked his mom, who spent her life married to a deputy, and his sister and me. He did such a great job. I recorded the whole thing and I've happy-cried at it twice today already.

By about 2pm we were at The Paradise Lounge, with Roger's mom and his sister. You want some weird ass trippy people-watching, try some day drinking at The Paradise. The drinks were strong and the people were colorful and the laughter was plentiful. By 4:30 we were at the Jade Monkey for a little informal celebration. It was so fun to see everyone and catch up all night. I love parties! We are planning to throw an official retirement party when the weather is warmer.

It's been an exciting week, with a lot of jokes about how we are about to be together 24/7 and there might be some, er, adjustments to face. But we're ready for them. We'll adapt. We're going to start having even more fun.

I tend to be more of a type-A control freak and Roger is a laid-back, glass of chill, who doesn't even have a to-do list. HOW DOES A PERSON LIVE WITHOUT A TO DO LIST? Two people this different can't make a marriage work without a lot of laughter at ourselves. When we were first married, I noticed that whenever we talked about something that we didn't have a solution for, or a decision we were trying to make, he would say, "We'll figure it out."

I once accused him of using that statement as a way to get out of discussing whatever it was we were discussing. I suspected that it REALLY meant, "I'm bored as fuck of talking about this, let's move on". I still maintain that this is a possibility, but "we'll figure it out" has become kind of the mantra of our marriage. It's like our cute marketing tagline. It's optimistic and easy-breezy. It's us.

Cheers to you, love of my life, on an honorable and successful career dedicated to public service! Congratulations!

Our marriage meme: Rog & Lu: We'll Figure It Out
Our marriage meme! Fun with Canva :)

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