Thursday, July 26, 2007

Being ready for inspiration

Today's Mood: More settled than of late. Today's Music: Maroon 5 (can you tell this group is new for me? Nothing like wearing it out!) Today's Writing: Journaling (prewriting for an essay I want to write) and looking over comments from my small group on Chapter ? (I think it's 6 but I've been out of touch) of IFFY. Today's Quote:
"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it." -C. S. Lewis (1898 - 1963)
What weird things do you do to be ready for inspiration when it hits at odd moments? I've heard of people (yes, Robin, I'm talking about you) who have crayons in the shower so that if an idea strikes at that moment when the hair is full of shampoo, she can preserve it on the shower wall. I take a notebook in my purse so I can write down ideas that occur to me while I'm at the oil change place (I got through a whole chapter the last time I was there. Nothing like a little enforced butt in chair to break down internal barriers!), or in church (it's amazing how sitting quietly gets my mind working. I've been tempted to that the pastor for the great writing time--but I suppose that could (quite unintentionally) imply that his sermon was less than riveting.).

Anyway, two nights ago I woke up around 3:40 a.m. and in an effort to get my mind off this whole laptop crap, I started to think about this camping essay I want to write. Crap. I really should write this down, I thought after coming up with a few good phrases. Otherwise I'll never remember it in the morning. So, I reach over and open the drawer to my bedside table, haul out a journal, turn it to the last page so I'm for sure not writing on top of anything else, scrabble around on the bottom of the drawer for a pen and then finally, blindly write a
few phrases on the page--just enough to spark my memory in the morning.

In the morning, Shanna comes in and wakes me up and I groggily stumble out of bed to make her some breakfast (she was starving, of course) and get me some cappuccino. It wasn't until later when I was making the bed that I remembered writing stuff down the night before. But when I looked at the page, it was completely blank. The pen didn't work. Thankfully, by holding it up to the light, I could see the indentations from the pen on the page. I've seen this thing on CSI--just kidding--but really, I did rub a pencil lightly over the page and I could read everything I'd written. Most of it was crap too, but hey, I did get one good analogy out of it--and what more can you expect for the middle of the night?

Today I put two more pens on my bedside table. I even checked to make sure they work. Who knows when the next great idea/image/word will strike?

Monday, July 23, 2007

The uneducated shall pay

Today's Mood: Grim. Today's Music: ummm... I listened to Sarah Maclachan in the car today. Today's Writing: comments on the MacRumors forum. ('s Quote: "Honestly, $350 is more than your ibook is even worth. I shudder to think of what you may have paid for it 4 months ago. Whatever you paid, it wasn't a good purchase. No warranty (3 months is NO warranty), no support, no help, only a guy who wants to repeatedly take advantage of you." -GTiPhone on MacRumors Forum 7/23/07


I decided to educate myself before buying or repairing my laptop. I can't say I like what I find. In fact, I find out that I've been taken advantage of--and it's really my fault for being an uneducated, trusting consumer. Sigh. I do so like to believe people are being fair. I mean, I expect to pay for a laptop. I know the guy needs to make a living. But when I go on the internet and do some reading, I find out most places give a year warranty for a refurbished machine--not 3 months. And I find that most people think $350 dollars to replace a hard drive is pretty expensive.

(Two days later)
I've just come back from a confrontation with the Mac Exchange guy. He doesn't feel like he has taken advantage of me. He says he has never lied to me. And technically, he hasn't. But I still feel you can lie by omission. His higher prices he justifies by saying that he has given me all kinds of udated software. Of course, he never asked if I even wanted it--so some of it just sits on my computer and I never even use it.

He said he'd put in a new hard drive for $150. And I agreed. My husband is mad that I'm giving the guy another chance and more money--and I'm not totally sure I made the right decision, but I guess there is a part of me that wants to end things neatly. Because this will be the end. I will not go to him again, nor will I recommend him to anyone.

I have a headache and I haven't written (other than Mac Forum stuff) for days. I just want a computer that works. Is that too much to ask?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Today's Mood: Frustrated. Today's Music: Evans Blue. Today's Writing: this blog. Today's Quote:
"To write, you need to simply write. The tools of your trade are in you. Don't make it harder than it is." -Heather Sellers in Page after Page

My laptop died yesterday. The hard drive crashed. I can spend another $350 to get a new hard drive, but considering I just bought the dang thing 4 months ago, I hate to put more money into it. Macintosh computers are supposed to be one of the most reliable computers out there (one of the reasons I bought one in the first place), but so far, I haven't seen it. I got my first ibook 4 years ago. I don't know the lifespan of laptops, but 2 in four years doesn't seem that reliable to me--especially given the price of a Mac. So, I'm left wondering what to do. Should I put more money into it (it is a used ibook G4) or should I buy a new Mac powerbook, or should I go for a windows machine?

What do you use for your writing? Do you like it? Has it been reliable? I am so frustrated with the whole thing; I don't want to spend time on computers, I just want to be able to write! Maybe I should just go back to the basics: pen and paper. (I will be for a while anyway--while I figure out what I'm going to do about the laptop thing. My girls keep whining at me to get off their computer. And I'm using my husbands at the moment because he's at work. But competition is fierce here.) I love computers when they work. They make writing and revising so much easier for me. But boy, do I hate computers when they don't work!

Anyway, I'd welcome any input/warnings/shared horror stories/sympathy/pep talks...... that you can offer.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Today's Mood: Contented (Forget-me-not blue) Today's Music: Maroon 5- Songs about Jane. Today's Writing: just getting started--chapter 7. Today's Quote:
"Sitting alone in a room and concentrating hard and wisely and well on your book is fragile. .... Writing demands a very precise state of mind, and it's not easy to get into (the daily habit is the only thing that makes writing a little bit easier)." - Heather Sellers in Chapter after Chapter

I'm back from camping, sitting in front of my computer trying to get back into IFFY. The camping was relaxing--a little rain and definitely not beach weather, but still, we hiked and fished and enjoyed great food around the campfire. The problem is, I got out of the writing water. And unfortunately, once I'm out, it's harder to get back in. So, how do I not only get back into the pool, but also fully submerge myself so the writing comes from the deep part of my mind?

I know different writers write differently, but I find it much easier to stay at least partly in the water--keep the story brewing in my mind, and deliberately think about it several times a day. That way when I do have time to write, it's much easier to go under.

But now I've been out of the water for four days. I did try to draw another picture of Jane, but then the kids started fighting over the colored pencils and my oldest had a fit about her picture not being 'good enough'. She wanted me to draw her picture for her--which I pointed out would make it my picture and not hers. That was a minor point in her mind. In the end, we quit drawing and went hiking instead.

So I desperately need to get back in. I put on Songs about Jane. I touch my big toe in by putting words down on this blog. But I think I just have to dive in--otherwise it'll take all day and by then my kids will be coming home.

Okay, so here I go. And for future reference, how do YOU get back into writing?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The administrator has left the blog

Today's Mood: Giddy. Today's Music: GBV--Mag Earwig. Today's Writing: Zip. (although Tuesday night I work a small bit on chapter 7.)Today's Quote:

Conflict sells. More so than sex, which in all its forms and treatments usually can be condensed into conflict anyhow." James V. Smith, Jr. The Writer's little Helper.


It's 1:23 a.m. and I am just about packed. I thought I'd take a minute to let you know that I am leaving tomorrow (bright and early if I can manage it) to go camping with my family. The girls are very excited--Shanna had to tell absolutely everyone in the grocery store that we were shopping because we were going camping. I think I might have been more excited about it when I was a kid too. Shoot, at that age, getting ready for camping means washing your hair the night before and maybe climbing in the car early in the morning to finish your sleep on the way. It certainly didn't mean shopping and packing and laundry and so on and so forth. And to top it off, my last load of laundry came out of the dryer with black stuff all over it. Thought it was a black sharpie marker but I never did find a marker so I really have no idea what the stuff was. Oh well.

Anyway, I wanted to tell you I'll be gone until Sunday. amongst yourselves 'til I get back. Oooo, I always did want to say that!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Reading Writers--or writing readers. Whatever.

Today's Mood: Relaxed. Today's Music: The Call. Today's Writing: Chapter 6 of IFFY. Today's Quote:

Writing gives you the illusion of control, and then you realize it's just an illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it.
[info][add][mail] David Sedaris, interview in Louisville Courier-Journal, June 5, 2005
How awesome is it to have someone read your manuscript? And having someone WANT to read your manuscript is even cooler than that! I'm one of those people who gets to a certain point with revision and just wants to be done. Sick of it. Not sure what else to change. Sometimes I even feel like I'm making it worse instead of better. But when someone else is reading it, it gives me fresh enthusiasm. I want to know what parts he/she likes or dislikes. And of course, if I don't hear anything, then I think--oh man! It's so bad that he/she doesn't even want to tell me how bad it is! Thankfully, I usually find out I haven't heard from said person because he/she has been busy with his/her own life. Imagine that! My manuscript wasn't the top priority! Go ahead and laugh. (I do--albeit somewhat sheepishly) But I bet you do the same thing when someone has your precious writing.

I think I'm getting better at reading as a writer. If it's a really good story, I'm still sucked in. But then I will often go back and look it over afterward to figure out what made it so good. I think small writing group has helped me be able to verbalize (and for me, that means think!) what it is about a piece of writing that works and that doesn't work.

In middle and high school, when I ask the students why they like or dislike a book, often they can't tell me. They can usually figure it out if I ask them questions: Did the characters seem realistic? How about the ending? Did you like how the main character solved the problem? But they almost seemed surprised.

The more I write (and hang out with writers) the better I become at recognizing (and appreciating even if I can't always emulate) good writing. The down side is that sometimes I realize the authors I enjoy must have rushed (or been rushed) into publishing before the story was tightened and polished. (The last Harry Potter I read out loud to my daughter was that way. Really would have read better if it had been tightened. Of course, reading out loud is a great way to catch that!)

Do you read? Do you think being a writer has changed the way you read? Does that help you write? Do you wish I'd quit asking questions?* And what are you writing? (Or if you are Robyn, what is your word count now?)


*And if you want me to quit asking stupid questions, then email your email address and I'll add you as an author so YOU can post anything you want instead of listening to my b.s.--or philosophy as some call it.