Monday, December 13, 2010

An Insanity of Writers?

Two things seemed to chase me around this weekend -- haiku and fairies.

Not literally of course. But references to both kept popping up. And I think as a creative person, it is my obligation to not only accept weirdnesses like these but as well to embrace them. Revel in them if you will.

Shopping with a friend, I saw so many fairy statues and pendants and related items that I finally gave in to the message and picked up a fairy for an author friend, Signe Pike, whose debut memoir you can find here: Faery Tale

I felt much better for listening to the message the universe was sending me in that moment, and that coincidentally is part of what Signe's lovely book is about.

Then the haiku started. I will admit, the haiku MIGHT have been related to the wine. Or the scotch. But mostly I think the haiku was related to being around a bunch of writers. The synchronicity (and drinking) that occurs when a bunch of writers gather is an amazing thing to me and it is both energizing and exhausting. And potentially hang-over inducing, but really that is another story entirely.

As a side note, I have always wondered what the appropriate appellation is for a gathering or group of writers, and I am not quite settled between 1) an Insanity of Writers or 2) an Inebriation of Writers. But I think both are appropriate. Any others I should consider?

Over a 24 hour period, the haiku ranged from Extemporaneous Bar Haiku, themed "Things We Eat With Scotch," to Random Book Signing Haiku, and finally to Zombie Haiku. All great fun, but I'll tell you the part I like best...when you ask writers to quickly produce haiku, inevitably their inner editor gets involved right away. The result is a person staring off into the far, far distance, while their inner editor makes them count syllables. You can tell they're counting because as writers, most of us aren't necessarily math geniuses, and we use our fingers to keep track.

Yeah, I think I'll settle on An Insanity of Writers. Quite perfect, that.

Back to the words.

The Final Snippet: I didn't eat all the pink ones...I just kept sticking my hand in there. (What? It sounds dirty? Pink and white frosted animal crackers people. Sheesh. With thanks to "Cookies" Fahnestock for the shoplift opportunity. )

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

DebNoWriMo and ACK, it's the Holidays!

My personal extension of NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as DebNoWriMo, is shaping up, but very slowly. I set my goal at ~22,000 for the month of December. Am averaging about 500 words a day, and am just past 4000 words for December.

Other than liking the way DebNoWriMo sounds (all pretty to my already overblown ego), the point of DebNoWriMo for me is to continue the daily writing habit I acquired during November. November is, I think, a kind of suck month for a gargantuan commitment like 50,000 words, but I think it's only really suck if you aren't in the habit of daily writing. I was not.

If I can make myself average ~20,000 a month for a few months in a row, I think the habit will be ingrained enough by next November that I can do 50,000 in one month. The big plus-up for me though will be having finished a draft of Mantourage somewhere around the end of January, and be in revisions/editing mode with it, and simultaneously working on drafting the next project over the summer. I will look forward to NaNoWriMo next November as a chance to push myself a bit harder, and hope the habits I am forcing myself to keep will stand me in good stead.

All this of course assumes that I don't get derailed, because, by the way, if you haven't noticed, It's The Freaking Holidays!!!! So much to do. Must get it all done, or pare back on the list. And must stay on track for writing goals.

As such I have eliminated most holiday baking, except for making my Great Grandmother's Hard Table candy (a sort of Welsh fudge) and my mom's traditional thumbprint cookies (The Boy would disown me otherwise).

How will you manage your writing goals during the holidays? What are you willing to give up to do so?

Back to it.

The Final Snippet: Right now this will take a back burn (overheard in a meeting by someone who clearly misunderstood the reference entirely)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

You Know What's Great? (Post NaNoReport 2010)

I hereby report that I did not make 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo. I wasn't sure I would, or that I could, but damn I wanted to. I am a little disappointed in myself, but even as I write that I realize that I DID finish 22,000 words of a new project in one month. 22,000.

That's a damn lotta words.

In fact, 22,000 is probably the greatest number of words I've managed on a spec fiction project in a single month since...well, since I can remember. And it is no small accomplishment.

So, my excitement at seeing this project grow through November, and my now conditioned need to continue seeing the word count grow has led me to declare December DebNoWriMo...which basically means the rest of y'all can slack off, but I plan to grind out another 20,000+ words in December. And another 20,000 in January, which will be DebNoWriMo 2. At which point I will have achieved the ~60,000 words I estimated will comprise my first draft of Mantourage.

Then I will of course descend into editing Hell, which is where all the truly hard work will get done. But I am looking forward to that, my writerly friends. Boy am I.

To steal a motif from my pal Margaret: You know what's great? Learning the lesson NaNoWriMo has to teach us. That's what's great.

What lesson is that? That writers write, every day, every spare second, without apology, without battling their inner critic over every little word. That writers don't just talk about writing, they pass up lunch dates to get another 800 words in. That writers spend Friday night after work at their computer cranking out a pivotal scene instead of at happy hour with their degenerate colleagues.

This is a thing I once knew innately but which I had lost sight of. Thanks, NaNoWriMo for giving it back to me.

And now, back to it.

The Final Snippet: Why is it that our purchasing of lottery tickets must always be hindered by discussions of the supernatural? (I'd try to explain this, but it barely makes sense even to me)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Just finished reading: All three Steig Larsson Lisbeth Salander books. Reading an awesome author makes me question sometimes whether I have what it takes. But then I remind myself I may just be awesome in a different way than said author. Also, the first 88 pages or so of Dragon Tattoo should have been edited out. Just saying. Also, I want to kick some ass....

Just returned from: Marrietta, Georgia. Am now a fan of Taco Mac. Keep finding Taco Mac mint wrappers in my handbag. Have acquired a cool new Tshirt proclaiming my enrollment in the Taco Mac Brewniversity. My brother, CW, has wrecked me by exposing me to such awesomeness that does not also exist in Colorado. Whatever shall I do?????

Just listened to: The Drop Kick Murphys. Theoretically I have hear them before, but did not really know what I was listening to. Irish Screamo. With bagpipes. Every bit of my personal history all rolled up in one band. So much awesome in any single song that I may need to head to Taco Mac for a Guinness.

Just decided: I will do NaNoWriMo next year but will plan my month better so as to minimizes All Other Activities Which Could Possible Distract From Word Count. Might even take the month off from work (I wish).

That's about as much random as I can muster the energy to address, though I assure the universe, there is much much more random in my life than these four bits.

Back to writing....

The Final Snippet: Beer is not an anti-inflammatory -- except maybe for your emotions.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Writing Above the Clouds

I am tooling along at 33,000 feet above sea level, in an airplane, somewhere halfway between Colorado and Georgia. And I'm blogging.

Out my window is a blanket of cloud that makes me feel like I am flying over a giant iceberg, and at the horizon, white meets bluesky as if it has been photoshopped into a sharp transition. Too real to feel real, this view.

What words will fly from my fingers at this lofty height? Probably nothing any better or brighter than usual...but they'll FEEL different. Lighter, more effervescent, misty, breezy and ephemeral as the clouds below me. I may have to book flights just to get this sense of important writing....If my wallet can handle it. Or maybe I'll just have to let my words take me to new heights.

The Final Snippet: For the love of all that is unholy...(overheard on the flight deck)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday, By the Numbers

Fresh Bartlett Pears for breakfast: 1
Borderline anxiety attacks over flying: 2
Pounds lost this week: 3
Loads of laundry to do for trip: 4
Number of people who came to PPW Night: 5
Phone Calls I need to make: 6
Times I had to holler for teen to wake up: 7
Number of people I wish had come to PPW Night: 10
Words to be written to make NaNo goal: innumerable

The Final Snippet: It's not a grope; it's a freedom pat (Fake TSA Bumper Sticker)

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Little Stress Goes a Long #&%@*!#& Way

Some years I really adore the holidays. Some years I can take or leave them. This year aligns with the latter versus the former.

Behind with NaNo, traveling for Thanksgiving, neither of which I normally do in November -- I grossly 'misunderestimated' the impact that these things would have on my baseline mood never mind on my ability to sit down and write. Add some other unexpected life stuff and it all adds up to stress. Not the good productive kind that keeps you moving forward, but the kind that gets in the way of just about everything you try to get done.

I realize that while I have figured out how to write during short chunks of time (which I thought I could not do), and how to make myself sit down after work and get more done when I really don't feel like it, I have not yet learned how to distance myself from stress and get to the writing.

It's not writers block. The stuff is there in my brain to be written. But stress is impeding my ability to let it all out -- I can't let go of that which is causing the stress long enough for the worlds to tumble from my brain to my fingers and thereby onto paper.

So next year, I won't combine NaNo with a 5 day trip to the East Coast, and will try to minimize other life interruptions...but you know, life IS that thing that happens when you're trying to write.

How do you find time or otherwise manage holiday stress which might impede your writing?

The Final Snippet: He could be home with a honey-do list, but instead he's at Borders with a book (Overheard at Borders followed by giggling from the several women moving in on the married, but attractive older guy who really just wants ro read)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Plus, You Can Repeat Words!

Don't you wish you had a job like mine? All you have to do is think up a certain number of words! Plus, you can repeat words! And they don't even have to be true! ~~Dave Barry

Sigh. NaNoWriMo is hard. I am hopelessly behind, and am resigning myself to not reaching 50,000 words. I won't add extra words for word count, and I won't write crap just to make word count. I just didn't have it in me to work on my project last night, so I wrote something else.

I suppose it's good that I wrote. Now if I can just get my brain to the point of performing on demand on the specific project I need to work on.

How do you make sure the words are there for what you need to write when you sit down to get to it? I don't believe in writers block, but sometimes there's just nothing to say.

Back to it.

The Final Snippet: We should nip that right in the butt.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Feeling Kind of...Orange

New design. Fits my mood lately, which is swirly and open and bright. Writing begets writing, so I suppose NaNo has convinced me to write even when I don't particularly want to.

Even when I have nothing to day.

Not sure that's a good habit for a blogger to be in, so I'll just dip back out.

But yeah. Orange and swirly. Not bad.

The final snippet: Is that his girlfriend, or just a ho-worker. (made beer come out my nose)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Making Your Reader Cry

Like many Pikes Peak Writers members, I am participating in NaNoWriMo. I am not doing a particularly good job at making my word count, but I will admit to being fairly happy with what I am writing. I am also fairly happy with the level of discipline I have gained -- I am spending my lunch hour writing, a thing which I would have insisted a month ago was impossible, and I am writing every singe day.

Happiness with myself notwithstanding, I hit what I think is a common week 2 crisis which went something like 'how in the world did I ever think I had the talent much less the time to try and write anything and how dare I have the hubris to think I might have something to say which might mean something to anyone but self-indulgent self." Or something like that. And I reached out to a few trusted pals for some reassurance. And they reassured me...but I didn't feel all that reassured.

I have a dear friend who is going through a life crisis, and it occurred to me while chatting with her on the phone that my NaNo project is about her exact conflict, about being on the other side of the journey which she is undertaking. And I told her this and asked if I could share the draft of the last few pages (yes, I write out of order). Indulging me, she said yes, and I read maybe 400 words to her over the phone.

While I read, I understood maybe for the first time the intended emotional impact of what I wrote. I mean, I understood it before, but in a clinical way, a 'these words should accomplish this thing" way. In that moment, I really got the visceral impact of the scene, and I realized when I finished that my friend and I were both crying. We cried for our own reasons, overlapping a bit, me for her misfortune, and for having a breakthrough insight into my own work; her for the simple fact of the unchosen life journey she is undertaking, and for realizing there is an end to it, eventually. We cried together, and the instigator of that moment were my words.

When she said she would love to read the finished product, I realized I had just been paid the ultimate compliment for a writer -- the reader-writer contract was fulfilled in that moment and she and I occupied the same emotive space. Through my words.

We write for so many reasons: out of need, out of a desire to be published, for wanting validation, for fulfillment artistically, but at the basis of every book is a simple premise -- that the engagement of the reader with the words the writer has provided will make for an experience of sorts. Without the reader, we may as well toss our words to the wind, without the writer, readers would have no way to fill that space in them that wants the words.

So maybe I am filled with hubris, thinking I have something to say that might mean something to a reader someday. Hell, I still have to convince myself of it, then an agent and then a publisher. But I think I do have something to say, and when I say it, I hope I evoke what I managed to in that small moment, that emotive connection that made my reader cry. And I am reassured.

And now, back to writing.

The final snippet: It's not rocket science. It's beer. (overheard at Southside Johnny's).

Monday, May 24, 2010

Windy Monday Thoughts

I'm not entirely certain if it's the Monday that is windy, though it is, or the thoughts that are windy, which they might well be. Whatever the case, it's Monday, I'm thinking, and there's wind. Add 'em up how you will.

Random things on my mind:

Why do I like Jason Aldean so much? I would swear I am not a fan of country music, but damn, he adds a fun rock thing to the mix and I can't seem to get enough. Same with Jace Everett. Also, how did I go so long without ever hearing Mike Ness?

Why do people add a trailing 'so' to an otherwise perfectly declarative sentence? By this I refer to the following sort of sentence. "We went to the store, and Jessica couldn't find what she was looking for, then we went home. So....." And the thought ends there, with the 'so' dragging out like it's a cue for something. Am I alone in not understanding the function of the trailing 'so'? What am I supposed to surmise -- that there is more to the story but the speaker is sparing me? That the speaker is so uncomfortable stating a fact that he or she needs to waffle a bit at the end in order that I might interject some opinion? When did this become a convention that is ok? Why does it bother me so much?

How is it that I feel like I am generally a happy person, but that a good number of my Facebook status updates would lead people to believe I am dissatisfied a good portion of the time? Like griping about Monday on a Monday, or wishing for the day to be over far more quickly than time normally goes. Am I conditionally unhappy and only delude myself into thinking I am happy? Or is this some weird Facebook habit I have acquired. Would people freak out if I posted nothing but status updates filled with happy for a while? Would that even be natural? Do I care?

Will I ever walk normally again? If so, when. Please, I need to know. I admit to being super impatient over this whole walking thing. Or rather, not walking thing. And yes, this counts as griping. But my body is desperate for some sort of intense exercise, and I cannot yet accommodate it, and that feels physically icky. It's just a matter of time, I know. But I am so ready.

I have more. But I've bored myself, and everyone else, quite enough. Go think your own windy thoughts.

The Final Snippet: And that's why I have to charge the shock collar (overheard at a BBQ in my yard this past weekend. )

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rhyming the Un-rhymable

I can't say enough good things about writing groups. I met with one of my groups, a sort of hit or miss conglomeration of writers who have known each other for years, on Saturday for "Write Night."

Write Night with this group features dinner, drinks, readings, critiques, and sometimes caps with some time in a hot tub. Lots of social stuff, mixed with writing.

My favorite thing about writing groups in general (and this one specifically) is that I get instant HONEST feedback on my work by other writers, who are all in varying stages of their careers, and all brilliant in their own ways. I find this immensely helpful to my process. Not just getting feedback but getting honest feedback. One of the best things a writer can hear in a workshop situation is 'This is not working for me because." It's even better when the criticism is accompanied by examples of what might have worked better.

This is a frightening process, I understand, but the first line reader, which is essentially what your group partners are, have the response that any reader might have, paired with a critical eye. There's a reason why I call them partners. And their criticism really is meant to help you, not to make themselves feel superior or better. A level of trust is required to believe this to be true, and I have established that trust with these folks. This trust has also enabled me to sit in with other groups both as a critiquer and to be critiqued, and listen with an open mind and a critical ear, and walk away better and more productive for the experience.

The title of today's blog, 'Rhyming the Un-rhymable', was originally going to be 'What Rhymes with Matisyahu'. This was a recent shoplift of mine, which makes no real sense, so I decided against using it, even though I still adore the sentiment. But the idea of rhyming with something that has no rhyme made me think of the ways in which groups of people fit together and establish trust. Maybe nothing rhymes with Matisyahu -- sometimes things just don't fit. But when you rhyme the purportedly unrhymable, and find your group of people, amazing things can happen with your writing.

Find your people, and rhyme your rhyme. Do it.

The Final Snippet: He was in an abusive relationship with himself. (Since I said it I don't think it counts as a shoplift, exactly. More just me patting myself on the back. Yeah, I do that. Now go away. Go write or something.)

p.s. (or should that be post blog?): Thanks Chris, Aaron, Matt, Sue, Jodi, Morgen and Terry. You are all awesome. Adn I still think Glittery Monkey Wrenches is a good name for a new group, even if I'm not in it :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Win, Fail or WTF

Some weeks are just weird. Well, if you're me they are. To cap off my weird week, we'll be playing a little game I like to call "Win, Fail or WTF?" in which I relate some things that happened to me, and you guess if they should be designated as a Win, a Fail or a WTF.

Hint: there's a lot of WTF or this wouldn't be any fun at all.


My boss, upon being distracted by my hair (?!) which is curly today as opposed to blown out straight, says to me "You look kinky today..." Win, Fail or WTF?

My male friend, after hearing about the Great Kinky Boss Incident of 2010, sends me a text message which reads "You look kinky today..." Win, Fail or WTF?

Another friend, who writes a lot about odd sports in remote countries, asks me to "Cross my pelmenis," in order to assure his team will win. Win, Fail or WTF?

I receive a note from the school that my gifted and brilliant child, who has an A in Honors Geometry, is almost failing. Cooking. Because he didn't turn in something called the "Beef Booklet." Win, Fail or WTF?

I have, via text, the following conversation: "Him: You know when we get married, you aren't marrying into money, right? Me: Clearly I am marrying you for your ass tattoo. Duh." Win, Fail or WTF?

A guy in a meeting I am required to sit says repeatedly "Ok, we'll notate this" as he reads. every. word. verbatim. in the file were were supposed to review before the meeting. Win, Fail or WTF?

Someone actually did this: Embroidered Wonder Bread . Win, Fail or WTF?

Thanks for joining me, your host, Deb Courtney, for this week's installment of Win, Fail or WTF? Have fun trying to figure them out...I sure did. Or something.

The Final Snippet: Procuring the Epsom salts cut with crack cocaine was hard enough, but you want how much tapioca pudding? (I could explain this but frankly, I just don't want to.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Herb Encrusted Lamb Shoulder Chops..and Stuff

I, Deb Courtney, made a rather stellar dinner last night. Yes, I know, I am patting myself on the back for this, and publicly too, but any of you who have known me longer than 5 minutes, know this behavior is entirely in character for me.

It was a dinner of much great, however, all filled with win, and by win I mean this: Lamb Shoulder Chops in Herbs de Provence and kosher salt, seared and served medium rare, with a side of garlic mashed potatoes (skin on) and fresh green beans fried up in a bit of pork sausage and onions, with a tiny bit of wine to steam in some flavor. Simple, yet elegant, and I had the satisfaction of watching it be inhaled around the table.

It got me to thinking about scenes in books regarding food, and what those scenes can do for you as a writer, notwithstanding that any character that feels real to your reader needs to, you know, eat and sleep and feel tired and stuff.

I recall a couple of book series that had a main character who made elaborate and messy sandwiches and ate them standing over a kitchen sink. Usually with a beer, of which some description was given. The solitary act of making such an elaborate meal only to eat standing, always stayed with me. It was lonely, but indulgent on some level, and spoke of a quiet confidence (no fast food or frozen meals for this guy, but rather imported cold cuts, fancy condiments, rare onions, lovingly described) and practicality (they were messy, these sandwiches, and it was impractical to try and eat at a table, with a plate and such).

So, food, and the way in which it is prepared, can go to...character. Food scene anyone?

Of course this leaves me wondering what my food habits say about my character....probably that I'm hungry.

The final snippet: "You must socialize the idea before it can propagate." (not really a shoplift, but an awesome example of saying something simple in too complex a manner)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Recovery, Revelations and Xrays...

Oh my.

Finally feel human again -- took almost two weeks to recover from Pikes Peak Writers Conference this year. Partly it is because this conference is almost overwhelmingly good, what with all the learning, discussing and meeting and such, and partly this year it is because walking around for 4.5 days on the pressure boot I am STILL wearing on account of a broken leg was brutal and exhausting.

But oh so worth it.

So while I am recovered from conference, I am not yet recovered from the broken leg. On my way for Xrays this afternoon to find out if I am healed enough to ditch the boot, but apparently I will need several weeks at least of physical therapy. I'm a bit freaked at the idea of walking around normally again, even as I long for it.

As I was thinking about this, the concept of both longing to rid myself of this encumbrance, and the realization that I have been burdened long enough to actually get used to it, I thought of what it might be like to write a character who was similarly burdened. Physically or emotionally, it matters not. What kind of plot would call for an afflicted main character whose struggle may not be solely with their affliction, but is instead flavored by it like my life has been by this damned boot for almost 8 weeks.

Or, not what kind of plot would call for it, but what would the affliction do to a plot? To a mystery? To a romance? How would a character deal with the wearing of a cast or a sling or a splint, and what would their reaction to it say about them?

I think this would be a very revealing way to deal with character. Postmodern, probably, to show the imperfections and the ugliness of real life as opposed to a character presenting only in their best or most attractive ways.

Coming soon to a plot near me....chick with a broken leg in a pressure boot. Hell yes.

The final snippet: "What's it like to be killed by Death, man?" (video games were most certainly involved)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Staying Focused

Instructions: For each question, please select the most appropriate answer from among the choices given.

When trying to meet my self imposed editing deadline yesterday, I:

a) realized my refrigerator needed to be cleaned out immediately;
b) came to the shocking realization that I was out of grass seed;
c) experienced an odd compulsion to entertain 12 friends for dinner;
d) remembered I hadn't yet spoken to my mother;
e) all of the above.

While planning to spend the evening working on revisions, I:

a) unexpectedly end up chatting on the phone all evening;
b) realize that i can't live another moment without knowing how Season 2 Episode 3 of Mad Men ends, even though I own the whole season on disc;
c) conclude that the cat box must be changed. Now. Which requires a trip to the store and while I'm there I should get laundry detergent, tank tops, and look at cute flip flops for my vacation;
d) that I MUST create an itinerary for my planned beach vacation, which commences in 6 weeks;
e) all of the above.

Sigh. Why is it so easy to let any old thing get in the way of doing that which we purport to adore.

The Final Snippet: I slow down slowly (from a friend explaining why the brakes in his car are better than the clearly defective ones in my car).

Friday, April 30, 2010

Huh? By which I mean, Huh?

Today's Shoplift is a piece of conversation I overheard while at a going-away lunch for a colleague. The context I believe, has to do with why one co-worker brought a laptop to the restaurant and was working while eating.

"Sometimes you are the horse's head, and sometimes you end up in the retarded monkey's lap."

That is all.

Please proceed with your normal routines now.

If you can.

I know I'm still tyring to figure out what this could possibly mean....

Monday, April 26, 2010

When Writers Get Talky

So, I spent the last four days at Pikes Peak Writers Conference, my 'home' conference, if you will allow me the indulgence. I have volunteered with PPWC (or the parent organization, Pikes Peak Writers) in some capacity or another since 2001. I love this conference, I love this group, and I love the people who comprise it.

I come away from conferences completely energized AND completely exhausted. I am trying to coin a word that accurately captures the state, but am still too brain dead. This year I taught four classes (three, technically I taught one twice), and ran the Flash Fiction Onsite Writing Contest. I made it to a few sessions, a lot of meals, and even managed some bar time (no mean feat what with the gimp leg). Exhausted.

But oh so excited too. So much new information, so many things to do to move my own work forward.

Part of me wishes I could do a conference every month -- the exhaustion would be an okay trade off for the enthusiasm. Maybe. Okay not so much.

Wasn't too exhausted to shoplift though. Here's a sampling:

"I can't make an effective doorstop." Truly I overheard this and am unclear whether the person was attempting to BE a doorstop, or was attempting to make one out of something else. Either way...weird.

"...and at my wife's Mental Health Conference..." Right -- this one isn't that odd until you think we were at a writers conference, where people try to gain writing skills, so all I could think was that his wife was trying to gain mental health skills. Do hope she was successful.

"You don't have to say 'hello' when you start with underwear." Yeah, there's an explanation, but I'm not sharing.

And my three favorite 'lifts' of the weekend: Pepe Negro, who played a role in an amusing practical joke, Organic Ben Wah Balls, (you only wish you knew what this meant), and the best euphemism ever, perfect for any occasion: "cover your cookies." (spend a few minutes with it, you'll see why I adore it.)

The Final Snippet: would be redundant.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

That's What She Said

Usually, when I am in conversational shoplift mode, I write down things I overhear without putting any context in. Usually I recall where I was, who said it, and the context. Even why it sparked my interest.

Sometimes, though, I go to the notes function in my cell phone (where all my Shoplifts end up since I am umbilically attached to the damn Crackberry), and I come across something I don't at all remember hearing or capturing. then I wish I habitually supplied myself context.

Like for this:

"All she really needed was a trip to Belize."

I'm stumped -- who said it, where was I when I heard it? And how much wine was involved?

I get why I was taken with it. Fits my life perfectly at any given moment. There's a story in this one though. Good first line for something. Now that I re-discovered it, I am taken with it all over again.

I sense a short story coming on....

The Final Snippet: Extra exclamation marks are NOT an acceptable substitute for substance in an argument. (while I do know the context for this one, I'm not sharing it. It's a life learn it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

SAT Level Analogies...for Writers

"Saying he sustained a traumatic brain injury is more diplomatic than saying he's brain-damaged." says one writer to another

"Right, just like immortal sounds so much attractive than undead," replied the other.

With thanks to JA.

The Final Snippet: "I'll drive myself to hell in my own hearse, thank you." (said a friend upon begin given a religious tract with a picture of a hearse on the front.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Recently Lifted Bits and Pieces

Various bits of conversation lifted from random locations....

~Forget everything I was just about to say. Ummm....okay. Sure. Shouldn't be too difficult.....

~I like capers a whole lot. I'm not sure this was worth lifting, except it cracked me up every time I thought about having heard it. Lifted from an overly loud conversation taking place in a booth behind me in a fave restaurant.

~I vaguely remember youthful exuberance. Yeah...don't we all.

~It's like two guys fighting in the ocean to see who drowns first. For this I cite David Brooks on Meet The Press. Much taken with the visual.

~Maybe my ear canals are unusually small. Ummm...okay. Sure. Also, TMI. Dude, really.

~Per the Valentine's Day Freeze...I swear this came to me in an email and was software related, but seriously, it was like a vicious commentary on my personal life. And therefore worth lifting.

~Hey...she spat wine on my haiku. Proof that controlled substances and writing really oughtn't mix...

And my fave...

~Sorrow was last week's emotion. No explanation.

Now go do whatever it is you do.

The Final Snippet: would be redundant now wouldn't it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Grieving and Celebrating

I always find it interesting how we are never really of one mind, as humans -- how we can feel complex layers of emotion and somehow manage to function with a multitude of emotional threads clamoring for our attention.

It should come as no surprise that writers who create characters who also feel layers of emotion manage to create characters who are as real as ourselves, and who can become friends of sorts, whom we revisit over the years. And even though their stories may stay the same, what we bring to those stories changes as we do, and therefore what we take from those stories also changes and fulfills us differently each time we visit.

I remind myself of this as I am both grieving for the loss of possibilities, a life I used to live, and also looking forward with much excitement to some things which will take place this year, in the life I currently live. I hold both despair and hope in my heart, knowing hope eventually will win.

As a writer, I know I need to use these layers, if not exactly how I am living them, then some simulacrum of that. This is as honest as I know how to be -- using my real emotions in a character, so that a reader can live for the moment in a place which feels as real as their own reality. This is raw and intimidating and leaves me feeling exposed and vulnerable, but it is dishonest, I feel, to try and write in any other way.

Let yourself experience your emotions as deeply and as fully as you can. Do not shy away from them. Then let your characters do the same. Then, and only then, you can write truth.

The Final Snippet: "You are going to hell in a ham-basket." (overheard during a poker game, by someone who did not hear the original phrase correctly).

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Short and Silly

The final snippet is also the only thing I am posting today. This is too fun to bury it under my whining (which is the only thing I'm good for today anyway):

There is a giant inflatable Bozo in my office now.

(shoplifted from a Facebook update)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

If You are Not Part of the Solution... are part of the precipitate.

Gotta hate a week where nothing really is wrong enough to complain about, but during which lots of small stupid things bubble up and lurk about and just generally are aggravating.

Right -- nothing really to complain about. But damn do I wanna bitch and moan about something.

In the interest of not giving into that self-indulgence, will aggregate some stuff from my life. Stuff that I CAN'T bitch about. Well, I could, but you'd all think I was off my rocker for it. Sigh.

Reading: "Lives of the Monster Dogs", a first novel by Kirsten Bakis. Interesting. Slow-ish. Fairy-tale feel. Overall, like.

Also "The Little Friend" by Donna Tartt. Like wearing a heavy blanket in the summer, this is a ponderous Faulknerian experience, and I was unfortunately disappointed by the end which I saw coming about 2/3 of the way through. On the other hand, Tartt plays with words deftly, and I immersed in her world.

Cooking: Vegetarian. Made seitan for the first time (Seitan Lives!). It's...okay. I am a meat eater, and generally not happy with meat substitutes. This was better reheated, in the Curried Udon with Seitan that I made just to put the seitan in. This was very yum, though the seitan was so-so. After it sat overnight in the fridge and was reheated, the seitan had a better consistency.

Listening to: New Jazz. Classical guitar. Billie Holliday.

Wishing for: the beach.

2010 off to an anti-climactic start.

The final snippet: Sorrow was last weekend's emotion.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Just Keep Writing....

Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing, writing, writing...*

Yeah. That.

I'm bored with reminding myself...can someone else remind me for a while that the way to get stuff written is to write and write and write?

Also, whole you're at it, remind me that I love writing. Really, I do. Even when it feels like crawling arouond on my hands and knees in coffee grounds and broken glass, looking for that damned contact lens. Again. hurts good.

I swear.

Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep....


Getting back to it.

The Final Snippet: Life is just better when cords are tidy (lifted from Elliot, with gratitude).

(*apologies to Dorrie for shoplifting this...please don't sue me)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Some Days

On a good day, there's not much difference between what I want to say or do, and what I actually say or do.

Some days are easier than others, however.

Some days, I wake up jazzed to write, and I end up instead on my hands and knees paving my own road to hell -- oooh -- look -- a good intention fits here...and here...and here...and here....


Some days I wake up jazzed to write, and instead spend a lot of time thinking about writing but procrastinating the actual writing until I fall into my bed and dream of all the words unwritten.


Some days I wake up jazzed to write and instead of writing what I planned, I allow myself to get dragged off into that peculiar type of procrastination which results in something getting written, just not what I planned. As if I were possessed by some demonic anti-muse who will not ever let me forget that while I seem to have been productive, I in fact just fooled myself into avoiding what needed to get done.

Really depressing.

And some days I wake jazzed to write and manage, through nothing short of a miracle to actually get done some or all of what I had planned, without self-criticizing, or self-editing myself into stopping, and the words are there, where they always are, on the other side of the keyboard, or transmogrified from inside a pen through nothing more than my will.

That's a good damn day.

Here's hoping 2010 has a lot of those good damn days for all of us.

The Final Snippet: "You can always hope for the West." (overheard in a meeting, much to my delight, where the speaker intended to say 'You can always hope for the best." I love this sentiment and vow to use it in every meeting possible until the end of time.)