Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Reasons, Pt. 2

A few theories about the self-doubt, fear, and frustration:





1. Most religions have a creation story, with some kind of falling-out between the Adam and Eve figures and their God(s). No matter how much of a believer you are or are not, you have to admit culture and society are long-time bedmates of religion, so if you’re not inundated with the relationship between love and wrath in church, you get it in school, on the playground, at the bus station. “Do what I want, and I’ll give you [blank].” But what if Eve wanted more out of life than what the Garden offered? Is that so bad? I am self-doubt.


 2. Or, perhaps we are innately afraid because our mom/dad/guardian had to start telling us “No, don’t do that….” Granted, in retrospect we can see it was for our own good? Hopefully? But being young is hard in that you’re so dependent.  Whatever the adult says is right. You internalize all the things they say you’re doing wrong, and pretty soon it feels like all we ever do is wrong. We stop doing and trying things we want to do because, what if it’s wrong? It’s easier, and much less risky, to just do what we’re told. I am fear.


3. And then here’s the kicker – even if we somehow magically turn a blind eye to the aforementioned theories and keep struggling on to create, it’s hard to miss the 10 minutes of advertising that chop up your favorite sitcoms. Don’t watch TV? Then there are the banners spread across the back of the seat, the bus ahead of you at the stoplight, the little placard in your grocery cart. You don’t go out of the house? Ads scroll up on the side of email. Little images of what kinds of clothes I’m supposed to wear, the food I should or shouldn’t eat, the movies I’m supposed to go see this weekend, the games I need to buy with the next paycheck, the phone I have to have.

Google “mom ads” and this is what I’m supposed to look like (the G-rated version):

In all cases I am slender, my clothes are ironed and classy, my hair is down instead of in a ponytail, I’m supposed to be both a mom and an entrepreneur, and if that’s not working I should go back to school, if I’m nursing my baby it shouldn’t appear to be so, and I have eight thumbs instead of my usual two which no doubt has something to do with why my look is conniving and shrewd. This last add is a little creepy to me. Is she going through the kid’s cell phone while he’s looking away? That’s what I’m supposed to do as a mom?

I can't live up to all this. I am frustration.

So, back to my original trick from yesterday. I'm not saying any of this should or shouldn't change, or that it will anytime soon. I'm just saying as a creator in this world, rather than merely a consumer, you've got to have a reason, that’s bigger than yourself, why you’re doing what you want to do.

Instead of giving up and drowning yourself in that tub of store-brand ice cream, because you can’t afford the Ben and Jerry’s, or that pint of bottom-shelf whiskey, because you can’t afford the top, or whatever it is you get lost in when it doesn’t seem to make sense anymore, you’ve got to visualize your reasons. You have to feel them deep in your heart. Cheesy? No doubt. 

Regardless. You have to fill yourself with those instead and keep on keeping on with your art, your music, your writing. Not for you, but for [insert reason here].


Hours logged today: still editing   Pages logged today: still editing    Total pages logged today: 117

Moment of Magic today:

Alright, the magic came when I'd watched this enough times in mute, picking out all the details that were so not my life, laughing at the parts that were supposed to be funny and laughing more at the bits that weren't, but then I paused it at the fourth second...wait...alright maybe that's my life. No one I've ever been with has worn a wedding/commitment/"I'm taken" ring either. Maybe that is me?

No, it's not. It's a commercial. And with that I was released from the evil spell and my life could move on from this two-day-tirade. Finally.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Reasons, Pt. 1

When I start reading an author, I prefer to get their debut book and go from there. I want to see the progression of their style. Plans fell through this weekend, so I devoted my time to Jennifer Weiner’s Good in Bed.

An excellent read. 

At one point the main character, Cannie, unexpectedly meets up with a musician she admires, but instead of being cool, the popster says something really rude. Our pregnant Cannie is shocked into silence, and then, “I felt the baby kick then, like a little fist rapping sternly at me from the inside, like a reminder. Suddenly, I thought, the hell with her. I thought, I’m someone, too.”

So she speakes her mind, the people around them laugh at the popster, and the woman hisses, “Who are you?” to which Cannie replies, “’I’m a writer,’ I said softly, forcing myself not to retreat or look away.”

Ah yes. I can’t say I’ve lived this exact cenario, but I’ve definitely felt shocked into silence, demoralized by people I’ve looked up to, and doubted my worth and abilities. I’ve wanted to be a writer since before I can even remember. Before I was okay at spelling, anyway. One of my first stories is here:

 
I remember at the time I was writing A Turcky, I felt it was taking me forever to get the story out. When I’d put the finishing “The End” down and reviewed it briefly, my young mind concluded appreciatively that it was indeed a long story. My heart hurt, I was so proud.

So what happened between then and my adulthood, where I became too afraid to pen anything I wasn’t required to do for school, applications, work. My passion to write was deeper than ever, but there was all this stuff in the way.

Like Cannie, I needed a reminder, which brings me to another writing trick. And this one’s important.  

I have two main reasons: Alpha and Beta.

As a person creating something in this over-stimulated, over-dramatized, over-polarized and under-informed world, where everything is made and pumped out en mass, for the masses, you have to have them. Period. 

Reasons, I mean, not necessarily Alpha and Beta specifically.

I question myself almost daily. I don’t have a bad self-esteem, per say, I think I just have a lot of self-doubt, frustration, and fear. Along with millions of other people, as evidenced by the abusive amount of drugs – both prescription and recreational – and chocolate that are consumed every year.

I’ve got a few theories on this, but they’ll have to wait til tomorrow. They have to do with grocery carts, God, and "No," but again, tomorrow.

Hours logged today: 1/reading and editing   Pages logged today: 1/reading and editing    Total pages logged today: 117

Moment of Magic today:


Alpha loves to watch this and it's magical because I love to watch it, I just forget about it sometimes. When he's running around the house, making faces and funny noises, I call him Crazy Frog. And then we have to watch this again.

The magic is two-fold, I guess: Alpha, who runs around crazy and keeps me laughing, and the video itself that's awesome.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Fairy Tale Friday: The Crane Wife


I'd never heard this story before, so when my friend Duckie suggested it, I was stumped. It sounded good, though, and Duckie knows what's down, so. 

Google to the rescue. 

But apparently there are many versions of it? After a little bit of wading through various lengths and details I found a relatively good abstract here and is brought to life by the Decemberists in a three-part set of songs. These are the lyrics, but for sure go read the story somewhere too:


The Crane Wife 1, 2 and 3 – The Decemberists

1: It was a cold night / And the snow lay low
I pulled my coat tight / Against it falling down
And the sun was all / And the sun was all down
I am a poor man /I haven't wealth nor fame
I have my two hands / And a house to my name
And the winter's so / And the winter's so long
And all the stars were crashing 'round / As I laid eyes on what I'd found
It was a white crane / It was a helpless thing
Upon a red stain / With and arrow in its wing
And it called and cried / And it called and cried so
And all the stars were crashing 'round / As I laid eyes on what I'd found
My crane wife, my crane wife / My crane wife, my crane wife
Now I helped her / And now I dressed her wounds
And how I held her / Beneath the rising moon
And she stood to fly / And she stood to fly away

2: My crane wife / Arrived at my door in the moonlight
All starbright and tongue-tied / I took her in
We were married / And bells rang sweet for our wedding
And our bedding was ready / We fell in
Sound the keening bell / And see it's painted red
Soft as fontanelle / The feathers in the thread
And all I ever meant / To do was to keep you
My crane wife, my crane wife / My crane wife
We were poorly / Our fortunes fading hourly
And how she loved me / She could bring it back
But I was greedy / I was vain and I forced her to weaving
On a cold loom in a closed room / Down hall
Sound the keening bell / And see it's painted red
Soft as fontanelle / The feathers in the thread
And all I ever meant / To do was to keep you
My crane wife, my crane wife / My crane wife
There's a bend in the wind / And it rakes at my heart
There is blood in the thread / And it rakes at my heart

3: And under the boughs unbound / All clothed in a snowy shroud
She had no heart so hardened / All under the boughs unbound
Each feather it fell from skin / 'Til threadbare, she grew thin
How were my eyes so blinded? / Each feather it fell from skin
A grey sky, a bitter sting / A raincloud, a crane on wing
All out beyond horizon, oh / A grey sky, a bitter sting
And I will hang my head, hang my head low
And I will hang my head, hang my head low

 


Hours logged today: 0/editing   Pages logged today: 0/editing    Total pages logged today: 116

Moment of Magic today:

It's Friday. Need I say more? Have a happy weekend and thanks for coming around to read my blog.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

300 Words or Less: Ring Around the Rosie

Every Thursday I want to start posting some original work -- teasers from the novel I'm working on, some of my favorite poetry or prose I've done in the last few years, maybe some flash fiction or short essays, etc. -- all within 300 words or less. 

Thursdays are hard. No doubt, sometimes you just need a quickie.

*sniggers*

So lets start off with: 


 Ring Around the Rosie 

I know the right answers,
the ones people want to hear.
My head is tired from the answers
that other people want to hear.
My feet hurt, but I don't know why.
I'm angry today, but I don't know why.

The quick fix to pick up sticks
is just not to knock them down.
But what if, in my fall,
they tumble,
as I tumble,
and together, we all fall down.


Hours logged today: 5    Pages logged today: 4 (had a rough one this time -- usually I can get about one page per hour, but I struggled to finish my 13th chapter. Not surprising?)   Total pages logged today: 116

Moment of Magic today:

 "You can find all the others if you are brave..."


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fixing Labels

Question: So what do restaurant menus, the Bible, and your junk drawer all have in common?

Hint: it has nothing to do with scape goats.

Answer: without a little organization it's all just too much and really wouldn't you just rather fling the thing than waste all those hours finding what you were looking for?

Much like my labels for this blog. They were beginning to turn into a novel, in and of themselves. Something had to be done.

I'm great at writing out notes and making lists of things to do, but I am not by nature an organizer, though every once in awhile (usually around the change of the seasons?) my sun sign will kick in. Today my inner-virgo remained dormant. Hedging and tidying my labels wasn't fun but I think in the long run it'll make blogging easier? Faster and more efficient?

Or my they may grow out of control again, in which case I'll have to prune them back. Again. Whatever. It's all an ever-changing process anyway. It feels good to organize once in awhile.




Hours logged today: 5    Pages logged today: 5    Total pages logged today: 112

Moment of Magic today:
 

The only other thing I can add is: "Yum"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tea Kettles Anyone?


I have a child wailing behind me, another one trying to walk up my leg, and my eye is twi-twi-twitching. I feel like all I can really do, right now, is talk about tea kettles.

I think they complete a kitchen. And they make writing easier. "How?" you ask me? I don't know how magic works -- it just does.

Whether you use it for tea, or hot chocolate (preferably with mini-marshmallows), or coffee, for ramen noodles, or what have you, they are the perfect vessel for heating water. Hands down.

I've always had a tea kettle, but over the last five years the bright red kettle that graced my range disappeared somewhere? Sad. Especially since I can't even pinpoint the exact moment it left -- did it go into the garbage? Did it got lost in one of our many moves? Did it pack up its bags to visit its Aunt Lucinda and decide not to return?

So I bought another one and everything feels a little bit better.

Try it. I dare you. 

Hours logged today: 2    Pages logged today: 2    Total pages logged today: 107

Moment of Magic today:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year!


And so begins a new year. The dragon run was awesome. Alpha placed second in his age group and it was so cute to watch his expressions -- he seemed uncertain about what was going on, but was digging the situation nonetheless -- and cheer him on as he pumped his little arms, his little legs stomping, oh. So cute.

So I think the New Years run will become tradition. For those of you who are reading and like the blogging interaction, what are some of your favorite traditions?

 As for writing stuff, back to the Guardian Article:

I worry a lot about the pace of my story.

Elmore Leonard says about this: "Don't go into great detail describing places and things, unless you're ­Margaret Atwood and can paint scenes with language. You don't want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill."

How many times have you been reading a story when it seems like things are slowing down, slowing down, slowing... and what do you do?

If you're me, you skim the slow stuff and skip to where it seems like it gets interesting again. No doubt there's some important stuff in there I'm missing? And yet, I usually don't feel like I've missed out on that much. I still get the gist of what's going on.

So why does the writer include all that extra stuff if it's not important?

The aforementioned Margaret Atwood weighs in on pace and flow with this: "Hold the reader's attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don't know who the reader is, so it's like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What ­fascinates A will bore the pants off B."

So what's important to one person isn't necessarily going to be for another? How am I supposed to work around that as an author? There's never an easy answer, is there.


Hours logged today*: 3    Pages logged today*: 5    Total pages logged today*: 105

*by "today" I mean last night, of course, since I write after the boys have gone to bed, but I've decided to blog during naptime starting here, so I have as of yet to get to my novel-writing for this day. As long as it all goes in the bag, eh?

Moment of Magic today:

 Being Alpha's Mama is magical everyday. This is him at the race -- yay Alpha!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fairy Tale Friday: The Man and the Fly

Today we have a witty adaptation of Aesop's fable, "The Man and the Fly." Interesting things can be learned about Aesop, here. 

Did you know he was originally a slave?

Or that he never wrote down any of his fables -- they were so popular everyone was spreading them...like butta (obviously I had to say it). No need to write them down, eh?

Or that you weren't cool if you couldn't tell your friends some of his stories while everyone was hanging out at the local pub on a Friday night.

So without further ado, here's Julian Santos III's rendition of today's fable:



Next week I'll return to discussing more of my thoughts on the Guardian article. Also I want to share some stuff from an interview done with Neil Gaiman (not by me *sigh* wouldn't that be so cool? I think I'd have absolutely no idea what to say -- I'd be a fish with big, unblinking eyes and gaping mouth), talk about Ally Condie's latest post, and resurrect a quote from Charlaine Harris that I found to be more than helpful...

Happy Dragon Running this weekend, y'all! More on that too on Monday.

Hours logged today: 3    Pages logged today: 2    Total pages logged today : 100 (woot and rar! I'm doing a little jig)

Moment of Magic today:

I was able to get a nap in this afternoon and woke up magically rejuvenated. 


This is what it feels like to be rested?

It's been a long time since I've had a full tank of zzz's. Awesome.

Of course anything good comes with a price: Alpha agreed to go down for his nap only when he bartered for having crayons in his room and I (foolishly?) agreed because 1) we've already had the no-drawing-on-the-walls discussion, of which I reminded him, and 2) I was beyond tired enough to care.

I'll give you one guess as to what happened...


So there's a new color scheme going on in his room now, artfully picked by him, and the rest of the crayons ended up down the air vent.


And all I can say is that getting the sleep was worth it.



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ten (Plus) Rules


Alright, so I found this great two-part article from The Guardian today that can be found here, with suggestions from a number of amazing writers -- some of my favorites included Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, and Joyce Carol Oats -- which I want to dissect and discuss a little bit throughout my next few posts.

Multiple authors said to ditch prologues.

Hilary Mantel says more specifically, "Be aware that anything that appears before 'Chapter One' may be skipped. Don't put your vital clue there."

Dun, dun, dun...The novel I'm working on has a prologue, and with some dismay I'll even admit I've got a vital clue nestled in there. It kind-of sets the whole feel...

 Not wanting to believe, yet, that I should rework that part of my story, I flipped through a few of my favorite books' beginnings.

No prologues, except in one, and yes I remember skipping it the first time I read the book so then I felt lost for the for the first 1/3 of the story, at which point I went back and read the prologue.

So now my question is: why do we make prologues? To give the reader back story, I know, but why not just make it "Chapter One," or spread it throughout the piece like we do with other back story?

Thoughts? 

Needless to say, I'm reworking my novel. Again. (And I daresay it's reworking me)

Hours logged today: 4    Pages logged today: 3    Total pages logged today : 98


Moment of Magic today:


I'm reminded today that music, like words -- often with words -- bring back memories you can relive in your head. This magic. Waltz #2 was a song that waifted up from the bottom of a tunnel in the fish market while Hubs and I walked hand-in-hand, looking at trinkets and things. We were full of good beer, battered fish & chips, and shy new love. When I hear this song I'm full again.



Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Easily Distracted

Okay, many hours of wasted time later, here's where I fumble around a little bit saying any of the following:

Link to Wonderwall here
 

"Paying my bills was a legit reason to get online, though I probably didn't need to head over to Wonderwall from there...still, you've gotta admit finding out who looked fab and who looked drab at [insert most recent celebrity awards show here] is a great way to relieve stress about how much money you don't have, now that you've dutifully paid the bills."


 or,

Link to Carly's shop here
 



 "Yes, it was necessary I browsed around hundreds of shops on Etsy, even though I don't have money to buy anything (since I'm dutifully paying my bills, as before mentioned)."


or,


"Well I have been meaning to email those people back. No, I didn't need to email them all back tonight, but...well *sheepish shrug*...I've been meaning to get back to them for quite some time now."


or even (and this written with a blush),

"But I love blogging. I feel like it's my connection to the world outside of my 10x10 foot box. Surely that's okay, right?"

Ahem.

So a tactic I use for getting around my distractions is to log out of everything at least, at least, at least a half-hour before I plan to sit down for my serious-writing-time. Back away from the computer. Blahdedy-blah-blah my mind, shake out all that extra stuff.

Start the dishwasher.

And then I just don't let myself think about all the other things that could distract me. Yes, they're there constantly niggling, but you have to build up a mental block or something. I may always have a browser open to search for things I need to know more about for my story, but otherwise I don't even look at it. Focus time is focus time.

Otherwise it's a waste of time. Which doesn't bode well for deadlines -- self-imposed or otherwise.


Hours logged today: 1    Pages logged today: 1    Total pages logged today : 95

Moment of Magic today:


Tonight was cold and somewhat heavy. Alpha didn't want to go to bed yet, and he was so cute with his zipped up sleepers and droopy eyes, so we cuddled up with soft blankets, milk in mugs, and watched Amelie (skipping through the "R" parts for him, of course). Magic movie and a new magic memory. 



Monday, January 16, 2012

Mainstays


I always  start the dishwasher first.

Well, no, rewind. Boys go to bed first, then dishwasher, then I play a song in the background while I open everything up that I think I'll be using:

A couple of Word documents (my overall story, my notes, the current bit of the story I'm working on...), Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com, usually there's a browser up so I can quickly look for images that inspire me through blank spots (for example, if I'm not sure exactly what the dress is called that I picture my main character wearing, I look around on Google Images).

These are my crutches, or rather, my mainstays.




Hours logged today: 0    Pages logged today: 0    Total pages logged today (this weekend): 94

Moment of Magic today:

 My friend told me about this incredibly interesting project -- the idea itself inspires me. Find the details here: SHELLEY JACKSON'S INERADICABLE STAIN

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fairy Tale Friday: Leaping Beauty

Magic. Just the idea of letters creating words, and words creating images in our mind, which we can then weave together into more complex images and stories, is magical.

Entire alternate worlds and dimensions can be assembled within our brains? What the...

And history is rich with stories we build our own governments and systems on, constructing our present-day realities with the mortar of philosophical meaning. It's all just words, but obviously it's more.

This is a spiral of thought that could be never-ending, but then I fear I'd become boring -- which leads me into today's Fractured Fairy Tale

Of course Fridays are great days to give ode to fairytales and folktales (are you loving the alliteration?), so this will be a new tradition. What better story to start with than "Sleeping (erm Leaping?) Beauty."

Enjoy.







Hours logged today: 2 & 1/2    Pages logged today: 3    Total pages logged today: 92

Moment of Magic today:


Broke through the block late last night -- great job, sleepyhead.



Thursday, January 12, 2012

Instinct

And when all else fails, I find just following instinct -- perhaps one of the many carrots "Magic" dangles for us to putter after? -- helps. After I put up yesterday's sad, sad post, I bumbled about for a bit and found this blog:

Link to "How to be a Writer" blog



 Sally O'Reilly is both insightful and witty, and I found myself snorting in delighted surprise multiple times at her quips.

This was just what I needed at 2:33 in the early am, when nothing seemed to be pulling me out of my dark pity-rave.

 Even if you're not an aspiring writer, you should go see what she's saying. Here's a taste:

"...it's very tempting to awfulize the old you in a bid to stake out new territory for the new one. But actually, writers (and humans, their close relations) are an on-going mess of perpetual imperfection."

You need to go read the rest of what she says about this here.

I'm also loving the fact that when I answered a knock on the door this morning, Heth the Magnanimous was there smiling back at me. Thanks for knowing me, Heth, and for coming without me having to ask-out-loud. You spoil my soul.

Such a good day.

I'm off to pay my due to habit -- only one page, tonight, but that's one page more than I'd have if I didn't write it, eh?    



Hours logged today: 1    Pages logged today: 1    Words logged today: unknown as of yet?

Moment of Magic today:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Few Days Later



Usually I pull one or two tricks out of my bag to get myself into writing-mode. If' I've been mulling over things throughout the day this can take as little as, say, 10 minutes or so. Sometimes the process can take up to 30 minutes, though. Maybe, once in awhile, it takes an hour? That doesn't happen very often, especially if I've been thinking about it while doing laundry, cleaning dishes, fixing dinner, cooing and playing with the boys.

Something about today, though, is off kilter.


I've pulled out my entire bag this evening, dumping all my tricks haphazardly onto the floor -- I turned on the dishwasher, listened to music, sat in front of the fireplace to meditate on the flame, listened to more music, ate some cereal, read over various parts of what I've written already -- parts I particularly like and am proud of -- prayed, cleared my mind, tried to visualize the scene I'm trying to write...the list goes on...

But I'm stuck. I'm not having writer's block; quite the contrary. I've got so much to write, so much I see going on next, but I can't seem to write fast enough so I pause mid-scene because I have to go to bed sometime, eh? Then the next day I re-read what I wrote and?

And it's just not good enough. The words don't quite fit, and even when/if they do, I just feel like...dunno...like it's lame. 

I tell myself that it doesn't matter if I think it's dumb or not. I have these deeply invested reasons I want to write, I need to write, and I'll get better as I go. Blah, blah.

Even that trick's not working today. So.

So.


Hours logged today: 3    Pages logged today: 0/Editing    Words logged today: 0/Editing

Moment of Magic today:

Magic Dragon Run Link

It was magical finding this link. I'm gonna sign up for three reasons: 
1) I revel in the Chinese New Years; 2) I used to be an avid runner and I'm tired of saying, "I used to [this] and I used to [that]" so it'll be a good start to running again; and 3) I think Alpha's going to love it. He explodes with his joy of running. 





Monday, January 2, 2012

New Start

Hubs gave me a pile of books for the holidays and I'm loving them. Fodder for thought, and for tracking authors.

I went to P.C. Cast's blog today and perused around. I've followed Ally Condie some. A few others too.

There are so many questions I want to ask all these women as fledgling authors, the people they were before they became goddesses of the writing world.

My primary one being: "How did you push through the self-doubt day after day?" 

Meanwhile. We push on.


Hours logged today:0     Pages logged today:0     Words logged today:0

Moment of Magic today:
 
This song has long-standing, deep meaning to me. And Ani is without a doubt magical.
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