Archive | February, 2013

I don’t write in a vacuum.

26 Feb

I’ve come to the realization that some of my more recent posts have been less about writing and more about, well, I don’t know, random life tidbits? But I don’t write in a vacuum (hopefully I just cleared that up for some of you), and why is it so hard to spell vacuum?? Two c’s? Two u’s? I can never remember. Anyway, life is obviously still happening as I write, and I think I should weave it into my blog.

Yesterday was a difficult writing day. I didn’t quite hit the word count I wanted, and I just could not find my creative place. And today, I seem to have ideas coming out of my ears. Such is life.

So, I have some questions for you. Sometimes I like to write to a soundtrack. Not like the Bodyguard soundtrack or something, but, you know a mix of my own creation, well, Pandora’s creation. I’ve got my Doo-wop music when I’m writing the 1950’s sections of the novel and a little ‘Jack and Diane’ when I switch to the early 1980’s.  I’m also a fan of the foreign language stations because as much as I would like to, I can’t distract myself and sing along. I like to imagine there is a disgruntled DJ in desperate need of attention operating the Pandora playlists. He throws in those random songs to see if you’re even paying attention, and he likes to stop playing music every twenty minutes. “Are you listening? I’m not playing these songs for my health. I’m so unappreciated.”  Oh yeah, I had some questions. What are your working soundtracks? What are you listening to at work? I need to shake things up.

Painting Update: After a long day, Justen (my husband; I’m tired of always typing out my husband) and I got home at around 9:00pm and decided to remove the painters tape from both bathrooms we painted on Sunday. We were so full of ourselves this weekend. These bathrooms are going to look great! Aren’t we such a good team? We should pretty much paint for a living. Our hearts were shattered last night when we removed not only the blue tape, but chunks of paint from the wall and laid our eyes on splotches that had leaked through. After we had thoroughly snapped at one another, he tried to stick some crumpled tape down my pants. By the third time, I finally laughed. Our little ways of saying “I’m sorry.” We are heading back to Home Depot this week in search of answers and maybe a painting class, but I have taped and painted before with a much better outcome. Any tips? We are using a paint and primer in one, and I’m pretty sure we left the tape on too long. Help…

Are you still listening?

Expectations.

22 Feb

I’m sorry I’ve been away. It has been strange not to blog for a week. I’ll explain…

Expectations. They can really get you.

Here were mine for the week. I was feeling a little better over the weekend, so I figured this would be a productive week. In terms of daily work, I needed to hit my word count quota each day. I had planned on blogging a few times and spending some quality time at Hartford Coffee, which is kind of like my writing office. On Tuesday evenings I tutor kids who are tasked with writing and illustrating a book over a three-month period. The girl I work with is seven and pretty hilarious. So far her book follows the journey of ten monkeys through the worlds of Disco Land, Fruit Land, Music Land, and Candy Land. It amazes me how creative children are because they haven’t yet developed the “that doesn’t make sense” filter. My husband and I also started a painting project, and by painting project, we are trying to paint every room in our house before baseball season. We were supposed to have two bathrooms done at this point. I was also planning on heading to the St. Louis City Central Library. St. Louis has one of the largest library systems in the country and the Central Library, which is over 100 years old, just went through a two-year, $70 million renovation.

Alright, now here is how my week actually went.

Pink eye in one eye turned into two. My husband also got pink eye, so we have been just constantly applying eye drops. Instead of sleeping, I spent one night coughing and turning from right to left so that my nose would drain evenly and I could breathe. You know that coughing where you think, if I can just hold it in long enough, it will stop. So, you basically hold your breath until your shoulders start bouncing and the cough breaks through and then you give up. I went to the doctor and was told I have something viral, so all I can do is ride it out. My husband and I have become a symphony of coughing, sniffing, nose blowing, and whining. A little icing on the cake came in the form of a bad snow storm this week, leaving me home bound since Wednesday. We are living in our little dungeon of sickness, thinking each day, ‘surely this is the last day, we have to feel better tomorrow.’ As for our painting project, we got as far as prepping the bathroom walls. The only actual painting has been color testing, which my husband used as an opportunity to draw a piece of male anatomy on our living room wall. I’ll spare you a photo.

Well, if you are already tired of reading this, you can see why I spared you from my blog this week.

Have a wonderful weekend, drink plenty of fluids, and steer clear of the Meyers.

I would also like to dedicate this post to my #1 fan, Tiffany West, who actually asked me why I hadn’t blogged this week. Bless your heart for missing my silly ramblings.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

14 Feb

Happy Valentine’s Day. No exclamation point because I am not feeling well. I don’t know if I necessarily get sick a lot or if I just get sick at very inopportune times. I mean, have you ever had food poisoning on New Year’s Eve, had the flu during your high school senior trip in Hawaii, been deathly ill (slight dramatization) on Christmas eve, or had strep throat right before a Bachelorette Party? In case you can’t read between the lines, this girl has.

Why am I sharing this? Justification, I suppose. I had this whole Valentine’s Day post planned and now my brain feels like sludge, so I apologize in advance. Also, I have pink eye for Valentine’s Day, so that’s special…

So, what are the origins of Valentine’s Day? While everyone knows it dates back centuries to St. Valentine, I found it interesting that in the Middle Ages it was a common belief that February 14 was the beginning of bird mating season. By the 17th and 18th centuries, people would give each other hand written notes on this date to celebrate the holiday. (According to http://www.history.com anyway). And now the day after Christmas you walk into a grocery store and Valentine’s Day has thrown up everywhere.

I’m not a Valentine’s Day hater though.

I will admit that pressure seems to fall on the guy to plan something spectacular. Also, he will be unfairly punished if you are the only girl at work without a bouquet of flowers on your desk. And of course Facebook only makes it worse. But I will say that Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about fancy dinner plans or jewelry (I can see my husband rolling his eyes as he reads this), but I am serious. I went and bought $2.00 valentines at Target and I have put one under my husband’s pillow each night the past week. They come with mustache tattoos and yesterday we realized they actually say, “Hairy Valentine’s Day,” which made us laugh for a while. Instead of using the tattoo, I draw a little face on and include a message.

Hairy Valentine's Day!

Hairy Valentine’s Day!

My point is this. Valentine’s Day is not inherently bad. It has just gotten a little out of control and there is too much pressure, but let’s just get over it. Let’s listen to the birds mating, laugh, and say an extra I love you today. And if you still haven’t laughed today, watch this: http://screen.yahoo.com/flip-side-valentines-day-000000989.html

Happy Valentine’s Day. 🙂

Monday Funday?

11 Feb

What is it about Monday that is so, I don’t know, blah? Monday. Just the sound of it makes you cringe, doesn’t it? It’s the beginning of the good old work week, when freedom becomes captivity.

So, I thought I would take on an ambitious task this Monday: come up with ten good things about this little day that comes between Sunday and Tuesday. What can I say? I’m a Virgo. I like lists.

1. You can still say “This is going to be a productive week!” with that childlike promise.

2. Monday Night Football.

3. It’s probably the only time your fridge is full of groceries.

4. Twitter is abuzz with #monday tweets, which make you feel better for hating Monday.

5. Once a year, you can find lots of great Internet deals.

6. Others are more forgiving if you drink in the office.

7. You can use the excuse, “It’s Monday,” for quite a few situations.

8. At least five holidays fall on Mondays.

9. You get mail again.

10.  It’s the perfect day to head to happy hour.

Maybe that little fatty, Garfield, was wrong. Perhaps Monday isn’t so bad after all. 🙂

Married writer seeks critique partner.

8 Feb

An important part of writing, or any job really, is critique.

You are working away, feeling like your practically Hemingway, thinking about what you will say to Oprah when she interviews you about your book (because it was an obvious choice for Oprah’s book club) and then you give someone your work. And like a kick to the gut: who is this character? I don’t understand what’s happening here. This doesn’t make sense. I’m not connecting with your story.

I guess Oprah will have to wait.

I enjoy others critiquing my work because it makes the work better, bottom line. But, finding a critique partner is a delicate dance. You want someone who has a little more experience than you, someone who is a little ahead of you in the process, someone who is frankly, a little better than you. Now add “work that you enjoy reading enough to spend time critiquing” and “a partner that gives constructive feedback” and you may have found the perfect relationship.

It’s like Match.com for writers. It always come back to Match.com, doesn’t it? No? Anyone? I’m married, so no more need for the real Match.com. But when I moved to St. Louis, I wished there was Match.com for friends. Before you judge, you relocate to a new city as an adult and tell me you wouldn’t want something like that. Now it seems I am using Match.com for writers.

I first showed my work to a writer friend, Amy Simpson, who absolutely picked my first chapter apart in the best way possible. I then found a website where you can seek out other critique partners and swap work, which has been hit or miss. One woman asked me if I wanted to try and work together. She looked over my work and gave me a few notes, and then I spent a good hour reading and providing feedback on her work. No response ever again. Even if she thought I was too harsh or didn’t care for my feedback, she could’ve taken the ten seconds to write “Thanks for your input” in an email. I want to take the ten seconds to send her an unsolicited email that says, “You’re welcome.”

I am now working with two other writers and so far, each is a good fit in different ways. Although, I’m still not sure if either is “the one.”

What does “good” mean?

6 Feb

So far, my novel is written in present tense, which I recently learned is not very common, somewhat trendy, and maybe even “wrong.”

I hadn’t really thought about it. I’ve read plenty of books, but I was too busy looking at the pictures to pay attention to the tense.

There are so many things to consider when you write fiction, aside from the actual writing. I have definitely considered the point-of-view, character back-stories, the time period, etc., etc., but I just started writing in present tense without much awareness. I guess I didn’t have a good grasp on how many novels are written in past tense. First of all, my memory is horrendous. Sometimes, I have trouble remembering what a book was about, let alone what tense it was written in. Second, I was a film major. Screenwriting is always in present tense.  I guess I don’t really have a third reason.

I was talking to my husband about this last night. He said there are always going to be things some like and others don’t. This is true, but it got me thinking. What makes you good at what you do? (Actually before that I thought, “What do you mean some people will not like my work??”) In so many fields, money comes with being “good.” Although, if someone says to you, “Bob is successful,” she typically means, “Bob makes a lot of money.” He also might have some clout or power in his given field. Does this necessarily mean he is good at what he does? You would think a writer could come up with something a little more creative than Bob…

While in this day and age, where everything is up for debate, there are still markers that measure if someone is good at something. However, when you are talking entertainment, it gets so tricky. A book can make you laugh, cry, think, escape, but whatever it does, at its core, it entertains. Judging someone’s creative work always has a little bit of an asterisk, a halfsterisk, if you will (nerd alert). While it might be based on a very qualified opinion, it’s still based on opinion.

So, what the hell am I getting at?

Basically, I just want to be able to fall asleep at night with my Pulitzer in one hand and my cold hard cash in the other.

Happy Wednesday!

Forcing creativity.

5 Feb

I was supposed to blog yesterday. Blogging three days a week translates to Monday, Wednesday, Friday, but I was a little heartbroken after the Super Bowl, and waking up Monday morning in a cloud of despair, I ended up in “novel mode” all day and lost track of time. What is it about being a little emotionally charged that helps you write?

Creativity is elusive. There are rare occasions when creativity strikes without prodding, but this is about as common as finding that lone sock you’re missing. It happens every now and then, but you’re probably better off just buying some new socks.

So, if you aren’t feeling a little emotionally charged or “in the creative mood,” you’ve got to force it a little.

It’s like when you’re in your sweats, settled in with a Law and Order marathon and some kind of dinner from the microwave on a Friday night, and a friend calls and invites you out. You’re not just going to hop up and go. You’ve got to give yourself a little pep-talk. And by pep-talk, you’ve got to make yourself feel super pathetic for watching four-plus hours of Detective Stabler and Benson…and for wearing sweat pants…and for eating from plastic on a Friday night (although I always eat microwave meals from real dishes; it really classes them up). You’ve got to get up and make yourself a little cocktail. You’ve got to put on some music. You’ve got to force it a little.

And for the most part, you’ve got to force creativity a little to get yourself going.

Get some coffee, find the right space, put on some music (maybe some Beethoven instead of Beyoncé in this case), and just work until it flows. Not flowing? Bring out the big guns and watch some videos of animals rescuing or being reunited with their owners. That might kick-start your emotional charge a little. But be careful, you just want to open up your emotions, not add a baby Clydesdale element to your story. But seriously, after Sunday, doesn’t everyone want to raise a baby Clydesdale, send him off to Budweiser school, and then reunite with him years later at a parade. I’m getting teary-eyed just thinking about it. Time to get back to the novel.

 

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