Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Fun

Today's Mood: Amused. Today's Music: Coldplay. Today's Writing: a poem. Today's Quote:

"Good writing is not a spectator sport; both the writer and the reader participate." Patricia O'Conner


I used to love Halloween. Chocolate, change in identity--what's not to love? But now I have to come up with costumes for kids (and they always want to be horrible things like Hannah Montana or Gabriella from High School Musical or some other cookie-cutter pop star who shows very little creativity), and then I have to get the little darlings in bed after they have consumed mass quantities of sugar. This year Marisa settled on being an Angel (although I must note that on the very first night of trying on her costume, when my friend had the audacity to look up the stairs before Marisa was ready to "show" her costume, and the little "angel" had a complete melt-down. She suddenly looked a lot more like a two-year-old having a lay-down kick and scream tantrum), while Shanna is a black cat. Her tail is attached via white elastic and consequently is often not anywhere near where a normal cat has its tail attached. But she loves it and is very cute in her ears and collar with bells on it. I did have to sew the bells on it again after her sister--the angel, remember--tied it on so tight it was choking the poor cat, and efforts to get it back off succeeded in popping the bells off the collar as well.

Anyway, due to all this excitement, I was going to pass on dressing up this year. But while I was drying Marisa's hair before bed, I got this great idea to dress up as a stereotypical librarian. Now, I have to be honest and tell you I have NEVER met a stereotypical librarian. All the librarians I know are loud, funny, rather liberal, and are more inclined to yell than to shush. Not very many of them wear sensible shoes either. But there you have it.

I had a fairly difficult time finding a skirt that was long enough. In fact, several of my librarian friends told me my skirt was too short, but it was the best I could do on short notice. The shoes are perfect, although it makes me cry to think I actually paid money for them. A lot of money. Which is why I still have them even though I never wear them. I might be able to use them for snow shoes--they certainly look big enough.

And though, in truth, I am often the one being shushed in the library (middle school students have no respect), I think I've got that shushing action down pat. (I studied my librarian action figure with an automatic shushing motion).

Unfortunately, the saddest part of my day was when I went over to the high school library, and no one recognized that I was "in costume". One staff member asked if I got new glasses. Hmm, I guess I'd better weed out my wardrobe again.

Next year, I'm going as a punk librarian. Smash those stereotypes completely.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mental gymnastics

Today's Mood: Restless. Today's Music: Alison Moyet-Alf (at the moment) Today's Writing: Sigh. Chapter 9 of Free Lunch. Today's Quote:
"Don't you wish there were a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence? There's one marked 'Brightness,' but it doesn't work." Gallagher

I'm writing. I'm writing. I'm writing! See? I can do it! This morning I made myself sit down and write. No drawing. No stalling. Writing. That's it. One word at a time. I can do it. I have this weird mental game going. If I work on Free lunch for my small group (which meets, incidentally, tonight) then I can "play" and work on IFFY. I know it is all a game, because if I'm really honest with myself (which I try to do now and then--when it's not too scary), then I have to admit that I "talk" it this way so that the pressure is off my writing of IFFY. If I say that is what I am working on, then it makes it official and scary and then it has to be good and all that shit. But if I say I'm just playing, then who cares if it is all shit. See? Mental gymnastics. If I can just fool myself and work around my own brain. No wonder why this all tires me out so much.

I'm also going to try something new (yes, it may fall under the same heading of mental gymnastics cause it might just be another way to pretend I'm not really writing). I bought a digital voice recorder (think mini tape recorder without the tape) to record my thoughts while driving or whenever I have time to think. It doesn't happen as often as you might think. But every once and a while I get a great scene going in my head but I don't have time to write, so I'm going high-tech and trying to record that scene audibly so that when I do have time to write, I can play back and type it up. See? Again, writing but not. I'll let you know what I think of it when I get it. I bought it on Amazon.

Isn't it a wonder I get anything done?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fantastic ways to waste time

Today's Mood: Contemplative. Today's Music: My Morning Jacket. Today's Writing: drawing characters from IFFY. Today's Quote:
"A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad
novel tells us the truth about its author."G. K. Chesterton
I got so sick of being on chapter nine of Free Lunch that I am boycotting it this week. I've been spending my writing time drawing pictures of my characters for IFFY. I felt like I was hammering away at that chapter and not even making a dent. So I'm hoping that time away (a week) will knock something loose and when I sit down next Monday, it will come a little easier--or at least I won't be so sick of it. If the front door is locked, go try the back door. Who knows?

At least I'm getting a better and better feel for my IFFY characters. And maybe I'm even getting better at drawing. I feel like a one year old learning to walk. I can picture what I want to draw in my head, but my body--hands--don't quite do what I want. Very frustrating. But, I tell myself, that's what erasers are for.
What have you all been up to? Any writing going on?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Open microphone

Today's Mood: Good. (think clean 800-thread-count sheets, steak dinner, and a glass (or 2) of light but full-bodied red wine good), Today's Music: Sarah McLachlan--Fumbling Toward Ecstasy. Today's writing: only this blog. Today's Quote:
"Why is the dash the mark a la mode? Because it is so easy to use, perhaps; and because it is hard to use wrongly; but also because it is, simply, easy to see." -Eats, Shoots & Leaves Calendar Oct. 14, 2007
On Friday I dragged my friend (my oh-so-patient and non-writing friend) along with me to an open mic. deal for poetry and prose sponsored by the Word Weavers Writing Circle (say that five times fast!). I think she was a little worried. I was a lot worried. Okay, downright scared. So why the heck did I do it? Because I'm a masochist.

I always laugh at the poor fools in movies who hear a noise down the basement and go down to investigate even though it is a horrible thunderstorm on Friday the 13th or Halloween (take your pick) and the lights don't work (of course). The idiots always take a candle, even though I tell them to find the heavy LED flashlight that Aunt Bertha gave them to fend off robbers, and then the candle blows out just when they see that horrible monster or corpse, which, of course, I told them would happen.

But now, oh-my-gosh, I think maybe, just maybe I might be that same kind of person! I mean, look, I didn't have to go to this open mic. with a whole bunch of strangers (who I didn't know!) and read a piece of my writing, which is a little like lifting my dress in front of strangers--who, by the way, I didn't know! But I went anyway. Without anyone holding a gun to my head.

And guess what? No one booed, or grabbed their pitchforks and ran after me. They did, however, clap. And afterward, they even came up and told me they liked what I read, and wondered if I ever did any story telling because I was such a good reader. And I talked about Peninsula Writers and Writing Passage and they talked about Word Weavers and it was pretty cool. I might even do it again. After all, isn't that what sequels are all about?

My friend, by the way, made the comment that poetry readings are so not like on TV. Not a single person was dressed in black, smoking a cigarette and looking snooty. So I promised I'd do better next time.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Naming Characters

When you name characters, do you use very common names or one that's a bit unusual? I think of Robyn's Jullian--not common, but not wierd either. Do you start a time line, character profile, etc. before you start writing? For example, the original owner of our property, could have been in the Mexican-American War. His widow sold the property in 1862. Is it feasible that he could have been killed at Bull Run? To be believable, he would have to re-enlist as an officer. Or he could be killed in a logging accident.

Since I have the absract, my thoughts are to follow the land's disposition and write a story to follow. For example, at some point, a court ordered one of the survivor's claims to be thrown out. She stated the father had given a piece of the land to her, but apparently she had no documentation.

Someone sharecropped a vinyard with another owner. Conflict with the land, nature and the partners.

If nothing else, I'll learn a lot doing the research. Like what was the land like in the 1850s and did Indians occupy it at some point in time?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Wrting for an Audience

Ar Glen Lake, Rick stated he always writes for his audience. In general, I'm aware of what group might read my piece, and assume my readers will be familiar with terms. My weaskness is in forgetting others, besides hunters and fishermen, might also read it. How much do you keep your audience in mind when writing? Or do you right for yourself, hoping others might like it? Is it different in writing a novel as compared to an essay or poem?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Grammar Question

Today's Mood: Relieved (It is Friday). Today's Music: Music Library on mix--Push by Matchbox 20 stuck in my head on an endless loop. Today's Writing: still revising, still chapter 9. Actually got 2 paragraphs written today--then erased. Then wrote one again. Today's Quote:
Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't. Mark Twain
(1835 - 1910)

Here's a grammar question for you: if I am writing in first person, past tense, and my MC (main character) is REMEMBERING something that happened, do I write that in past perfect? We had been in the weight room when ....?

I wrote a paragraph like that and it seemed so...cumbersome. Weak. So I switched it to past tense--but that didn't seem quite right. Although maybe I could do this as a flashback? With a white space above and below?

Or maybe I should just take that memory out and make it a separate scene and put it in the linear timeline? Then it would be past tense. Maybe this would make it more active?

And is there any benefit for having it one way or another? I mean, I've read stuff about mixing up the timeline to create an impact. But I guess I'd love to know what impact it is supposed to have.

Any thoughts on the matter?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Today's Mood: Negative. Today's Music: Matchbox 20: You or someone like you. Today's Writing: Revising chapter 9--well, writing another scene for ch. 9. Today's Quote: (Two for today since the last post didn't have one.)
In mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them.
Johann von Neumann (1903 - 1957)

If only we'd stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time.
Edith Wharton (1862 - 1937)
I made the mistake yesterday of reading the paper. Sigh. After an article about this horrible killer who is due to get out of jail, I read another article about the new Michigan laws that have teachers paying more of their health insurance as well as opening up MESSA (group insurance) documentation so that other health insurance companies can "cherry pick" the districts with healthier clients and offer lower rates. That leaves the rest of the districts paying more for their health insurance. There is something to be said for ignorance is bliss, at least it is up until you get slammed (or as another cliche would say: until the shit hits the fan.)

And now I'm sitting here watching a student teach his young brother? son? how to play a game on the computer in which a gun man (bank robber it looks like) shoots children. The children are supposed to try to tackle the gunman. What's up with that? I want to go over there and tell him little kids shouldn't be playing games like that. That there has to be a game on the computer that has some value. Something worth spending time learning.

Ah, if only the world ran according to me. Of course, then it would be all my fault when the whole thing blew up. So forget that idea.

And the final damper to my mood was when I read one of my favorite author blogs and found her dissing another author. The blog was going on about how that author wrote every stupid thing the characters said to each other. Every detail. And how utterly boring that was to read. And then of course I get thinking--bad thing that thinking stuff can be. I've got to quit that. Maybe there is a program out there to help me quit thinking. A seven step thing. It probably starts with "watch television during the mid afternoon when there is nothing but soap operas and kids shows on." Anyway, I get thinking about how sucky my writing is. I hate it when I feel that way.

Oh well. Hopefully tonight I get to work on my novel and try to make sure I only have the characters say important things. Shit.

So what's bugging you today?