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).