Tuesday, July 07, 2009

New Blog; New RSS Feed

If you’re seeing this in your blog reader, please update your RSS feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/spyscribbler 

I’ve got a new design, a new (FAST-LOADING!) blog, and it’s on WordPress, which makes responding to comments a SNAP! I’m so excited. Please come by and let me know what you think!

New Blog: http://www.natashafondren.com/writing

New RSS feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/spyscribbler

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

In The Works

image Lots of cool things in the works this summer. I’m excited and a bit nervous about it all. It’s alternately exhilarating and terrifying, LOL.

So anyway, I’m gonna disappear for the summer. I’m definitely going to miss you. But please drop a comment any time; I’ll read it and respond. I don’t want to miss anything important in your life! Or drop me an email (see above handle… @gmail.com).

And I can always be found on Facebook. Except it’s been really slow the last the couple days. I’m not sure if it’s my machine or Facebook. :-)

So what have you got in the works for this summer?

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Boundaries and Inspiration

image I’ve said it before, but I still haven’t done it: I need to set office hours. It’s a little ridiculous. I work all day because I feel guilty that I’m behind or not getting more done. But I never catch up. And so I sit at my computer from 9am – 11pm.

The problem is that what I get done in fourteen hours is probably not that much different than what I would get done if I limited myself to eight or ten hours, you know?

So along with taking the time to be inspired, to think, to read, and to imagine, I’m setting boundaries. Starting tomorrow. I have no idea what I’m going to do with the extra hours, but… I am more productive if I take the time to read, work out, go to a movie, take a walk, whatever.

Speaking of productivity, last week I discovered FocusWriter. Oh. My. God. (Melanie, the first theme is for you. :-)

It’s a full-screen text editor, but what’s cool is you can set your own background image. (Desktop wallpapers work really well.) You can also set daily word count or time goals, but the beauty in the program is creating a writing environment that inspires you.

You can create multiple “themes,” one for each story you’re working on. Here are mine:

image

image

Inspiration is not something I bothered about for the last nine years, but this year? I need it. I’m even writing with music, and you know how I feel about background music. And now I’m addicted to FocusWriter!

So how do you keep boundaries on your work/writing time? How do you keep yourself productive? How do you inspire yourself when you write?

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Running Out of Time

image You know what I hate? What I’m really uncomfortable with when it comes to writing?

It takes time to think.

It takes time to think about life, about philosophy, about what I believe, about what fascinates me. It takes time to wander around Borders and see what catches my fancy, to click around the internet chasing yet another fascination. It takes time to be curious.

It takes time to read, to watch movies, to watch TV shows, to absorb story.

It takes time to let all of that input simmer together. It takes time to put a lid on it, leave it, and go out to the woods and just breathe. It takes time to block out everything but you, your own thoughts, your own center.

The 500 words, the 1,000 words, the 100 words may only take an hour to write, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. And there’s no point in writing if there’s no you, if you don’t bring what is distinctly--and only—you, to the page.

My greatest frustration is that I’m always itching to write, and my brain is constantly bleeping: Need more input.

And there’s this niggling voice going: You’re running out of time.

Ever feel like that?

Just for fun (and to explain the pic above), here’s a three-minute video on success:

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

What’s Up For Your Summer?

imageRight now, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! Although, it’s very odd. First, I can’t WAIT until Saturday night, because, for the first time in FIVE MONTHS, I will be ALL CAUGHT UP.

Wow.

And second, I can’t wait until Sunday, because I get to see my best friend and my very darling niece, who I have the hugest baby-crush on. Even though she’s no longer a baby. But I think she’s the coolest girl on the whole planet even though, at this point, I hardly know her yet. It must be some weird ingrained thing, but then my best friend is the best friend a girl could have on the whole planet, so it naturally follows that her daughter would be the coolest girl.

BUT, Glenn leaves. On Saturday. So it’s very odd, because I DON’T want Saturday to come. So half of me is dragging my heels, and the other half can’t wait. If only I could have Sunday and few more days after that before Saturday came.

I’m not really making sense, am I?

Anyway. It’s late.

I’m mostly looking forward to writing slowly. To tweaking. To having the time to go over and over my work and make it do exactly what I want. To play with plotting and play with putting a story together. To finishing up a couple projects that aren’t done yet, to writing three very cool shiny new ideas I can’t wait to write. Ooh! And I promised you guys a story, but I think I’m going to give you a darling I have to cut from one of my shiny new ideas. I think it’s the first darling I’ve ever had, because I typically don’t like what doesn’t work, so it’s not technically a darling.

image I’ve also been playing piano up a storm. My students inspired me. :-) And my schedule for the summer is looking nice, so I’m going to have time to play a lot, do something special for the kids, and write.

I think it’s going to be a totally awesome summer. (Yes, I am totally putting out of my mind the fact that Glenn won’t be here. Putting out of my mind that we are going to only talk for ten or twenty minutes a week. *sigh*)

What about you? How’s your summer shaping up? Got any plans? Writing time? Creative time? Play time? You time?

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Just So You Know…

image I’m as fond of made-up words as the next person, but there are some words that Just. Don’t. Work. They’re just not meant to be together.

So Glenn and I pull up to the Arby’s drive-through, and I tell him to order himself a roast burger.

”What’s a roastburger?”

”It looks good,” I lie; I just want to know what the heck a roastburger is and the pics weren’t helping.

He spies some white-looking stuff in the picture.

”What comes on that?”

The guy explains, “Mustard, Ketchup, and Three-Herb Mayonnaise that’s grilled on.”

Glenn shakes his head at the speaker. “I don’t want any mayonnaise.”

”Okay,” the speaker says. “Just so you know, it’s called ‘grillaise.’”

As I snicker uncontrollably at ‘grillaise,’ Glenn stares at the speaker, completely uncomprehending. “What’s that? No mayonnaise, right?”

When we pull away, he mutters, “I don’t like mayonnaise in the first place. I certainly don’t want it after it’s grilled.”

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Believe You Can or Act As If

image It’s funny how our self-perceptions can have nothing to do with reality.


This last year, I let a parent totally demoralize me. They didn’t even say stuff that was true, but still, it got under my skin, real deep. And so in the days and hours leading up to this recital, deep inside and hidden from the students, I sort of felt defeated inside.

In fact, for the first time ever, I cried on the way to the recital. Part of it is that my seniors are leaving, and they’ve been the “leaders” for ten years. My studio will be different now, completely different. So it’s the end of an era.

The other part was the demoralized part. I knew I’d be able to get through the recital because you can always miraculously “pony up” when you have to, but I was a little afraid I wouldn’t be able to work up the energy I needed in order to exude the confidence that some students may need to feed on, you know? LOL!

But the recital was actually awesome. I acted confident and relaxed because I had to for the kids, and I was somewhat surprised, halfway through, to actually be feeling confident and relaxed.

image The students rocked. I have one student who asked me, at the beginning of the year, if he’d “really” be able to play his piece “that fast.” Of course I replied without hesitation and complete confidence that “of course he would.” But still, I was pretty shocked and thrilled he actually did.

There’s a point, in learning piano, where your fingers must go faster than your ears can hear each individual note. A lot of students get stuck at the speed they can hear (around 110-130, sixteenth notes), and it’s a struggle to break through that. He got up to 160-170 because he believed me when I told him he could. Phew! And nothing really goes much faster than that, LOL.

Then the little boys acted as if they were on the top of the world with all their grinning. And the older ones were great, too. When I gave one award, he went, “Yes!” Another boy, who I’ve spent all year on relaxing and breathing and feeling confident and having fun when he plays, has been walking around this past month like he knows exactly how good he is, which makes me really happy.

The girls were so lovely. Girls are so different to teach. It’s more like they NEED something from the music. All my girls are like that, like they need emotional support from their music-making, rather than using their music-making to express themselves. I don’t know. I can’t explain it.

Boys have a tendency to believe what you say, while girls have to prove it to themselves. So a lot of the girls don’t automatically practice the way I tell them to, and this leads to problems.

image But the girls who’ve been struggling with performing as well as they practice this year, listened to me when I told them how to peak at the recital. And those girls NAILED it. I was so thrilled for them, because they both really wanted that badly.

The kids are playing so musically, it was fun just to sit back and listen to the music. It was all enjoyable, even for me, the teacher! And they’re all so poised and comfortable and seemingly relaxed on stage, it’s amazing.

There were a ton of smiles, so that’s cool.

Personally, I was shocked at how far my students have come this year. We’ve taken our studio to a whole new level. The kids all played music from a place of true, mature understanding of the language.

So I guess, at the end of this year where I’ve felt more demoralized than any other year, I have to say that we learned more this year and came farther this year than any other year before. What’s sort of ironic is that it has been more inconvenient to the parents than any other year, and I don’t know how to reconcile that. Should I really become a worse teacher and give the students less of an education so that my parents (the majority of whom really don’t know the difference and don’t have the foundation to even see the difference or understand the difference) are happier?

Bit of a self-indulgent post today. :-) Sorry about that. I’m just so pleased and proud of them.

So have you ever found reality and your self-perception to be at odds? To be getting leaps and bounds better when you feel worse inside?

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Late-Night Thoughts

image I’m up late working on my speech for the Spring Recital. Which is silly, because as soon as I mention my seniors, I’m going to start crying and have to amend my speech anyway.

I’m going to be dreadfully busy this week, but I wanted to leave you with this bit to chew on:

O seeker,
These thoughts have such power over you,
From nothing you become sad,
From nothing you become happy.

You are burning in the flames
But I will not let you out
until you are fully baked,
fully wise,
and fully yourself.

~Rumi

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Stuff. Breathing, Editing, Voicing.

image I like to journal privately, but I kinda like to type in something sorta pretty. I know. It’s silly. Penzu is a lovely place to have a private diary just for you and no one else. It even has a double-locking feature if you’re particularly paranoid about keeping your mental craziness private.

I set it as one of my homepages and spill out gunk every morning, sorta like morning pages.

image
I’ve also been addicted to Instant Boss. Working on a computer makes the internet a bit of a distraction. It’s the tiniest little app, and yet it allows you to work in spurts and reward yourself with a break. There’s a little alarm when it’s time to take a break, and a little voice says, “Aw, man!” when it’s time to get back to work.

You can adjust the work minutes and break minutes to whatever suits you.

image Whenever I go to Borders and wander the stacks, I can’t help but think, “Oh! I want to teach my child that! Then that! Then that!” And yet, the possibility of children feels like it’s slipping away every day. Patience, hope, and trust, I guess.

I’m managing asthma much better now. I’m pretty proud of myself. I’d learned how to manage an attack, but I didn’t understand the daily life bit, until falling asleep every hour forced me to figure out what the heck was going on. My attention span has improved DRASTICALLY since I started making sure my brain gets enough oxygen. Go figure.

                                     *****

image I’m not at all pleased with the novella I’m writing now. My one little pub is so busy, I usually just get an “I like it” unless I beg. I suppose I’d rather have the higher pay than an editor, at this point, but my attention is so distracted by the studio and teaching and writing a non-fiction essay, that I feel this novella is not my best work.

I also tried a lyrical voice with it. I’m not sure why. I’m constantly writing stuff that demands a lyrical sort of voice, and yet I feel my strength lies more in the short and snappy and rhythmic.

I rarely write that way. Maybe it’s so different it makes me uncomfortable. Or maybe it’s better suited to genres I don’t actually write. I tend to think of it as my spy thriller voice, but if we were all holding our breath for that one, we’d all be dead. ;-)

What little apps do you use to make your life easier? How do you manage your attention span when there’s so much waiting to distract you? Thoughts on voice?

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Love and Laptop Stickers

image I decorate my laptop with stickers and things that remind me how I want to live my life. (Want – I fail more often than not, I’m sure.)

On the little edge above the screen, I have LOVE on each side of the webcam. I also have a sticker that says, “Live, love, laugh, and be happy!” (With the exclamation point.)

I also have three stickers around the keyboard, where the speakers are: “Sing your own song in your own special way.” “Keep growing, keep dreaming.” “Dance to your own special music.

And finally, in big words around my mousepad, I have my favorite quote: “May the beauty we love be what we do.” The rest wouldn’t fit, but it’s the whole point, for me: “There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” ~Rumi

I’m struggling with writing something, and I recalled that I generally can’t write unless I can find the love. I have to connect with love, whether of character, the story, or the readers, in order to open the gates of writing.

Funny enough, I consider myself a very practical person. I don’t put much stock in woo-woo stuff. With business, I tend to distance myself from emotions.

image But at the end (beginning, actually) of the day, writing is all about love for me. My husband and best friend both describe me as “passionate,” which I’m pretty sure is their generous way of saying “emotional.” (They’d be right.)

When a book on philosophy mentioned that we all live by a philosophy of life, whether we’re aware of it or not, it asked us to finish the sentence: “Living is _______.

My mind immediately said, “Living is feeling.” Then it added, “Living is loving.”

It sort of cracks me up how my self-perception (as a practical person) can be so unsupported by my, um, laptop stickers. And my thinking. And reality, LOL.

What about you? How would you finish the sentence, “Living is ________.” And are you aware of any self-perceptions you have that fly into the face of all obvious evidence? Any self-perceptions that may possibly even be wrong, LOL? Or opposite to how others perceive you?

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother’s Day!

image


So what are you doing today?

I’m sorry, I start to do my blogging routine every day, and then I run out of time before I get past the first few blogs in my reader. Things should ease up soon. I hope. I keep saying that.

I keep meaning that, LOL.

I have been keeping up on reading your blogs, though, but I still feel like I’m missing out! So what’s up, lately? How’s life? The writing?

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Changes, Goals, Living, Thriving.

image Change is in the air. So many people are talking about change, that I googled astrology and discovered this prediction for May 2009. Basically, we’re all in for change, LOL.

Change has been a big part of my life, lately. There’s little things, like I recently noticed the days of not wearing makeup are not as kind as they once were. That I need to wear lipstick. That I need to dye my hair. That I need to put shine on my hair.

They’ve been emotional changes, too. Where my life used to be career- and goal-focused, I am now focused on living each day in a way that makes me thrive, that lets me be me.

Goals that, when I started this blog, meant a lot to me, now don’t inspire me in the least. I used to want to be published by New York. I worked every day so I could eventually attain that goal.

Now, I want to play piano every day, teach a few days a week, and write every day. And I’m not willing to spend days just surviving anymore. What’s living if you don’t position yourself and arrange your life so that you thrive?

image If New York will help feed me doing that, cool. But my daily life is my focus, my goal, my desire. Not some tangible sort of attainment thing. I’m having to come up with a new self-motivational system, you know?

I also work differently. I’m now a slow and steady sort of worker, and I have to plan my deadlines accordingly.

So what about you? Are your motivations changing? Have they changed? Your work process? How do you arrange your life so that you thrive instead of survive?

What changes are you expecting in May? In the coming year?

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Seriously? Movies Make It All Better.

image I keep forgetting that I need to go to the movies nearly every week. When I say need, I mean need. It relaxes and balances me again. Puts me in the zone.

I don’t watch much TV. Some weeks, I’ll watch about three hours, and oftentimes, whole weeks will go buy where I don’t ever turn the TV on at all. 

But there are shows I’ve fallen in love with this year: Kings (OHMIGAWD, epic and wonderful and amazing!), Dollhouse (just cool), and Brothers & Sisters (although if Kitty breaks it off with the Senator I am DONE).

And Chuck.

Which I wasn’t crazy about at first, but is now one of my must-see, love-the-most, crazy-about shows.

But every year, the networks piss me off:

imageKings: CANCELLED, the idiots
Dollhouse: Crew is looking for new work, so…
Brothers & Sisters: renewed, yay!
Chuck: maybe. MAYBE. MAYBE?????

*sigh*

If you want to which shows are in and which are out, here’s the link. It’s updated daily with new news.

So which shows are you rooting for? Upset about? Disappointed in? Thrilled they’re renewing?

And Edie hooked me on Cute Things Falling Asleep. I must watch daily. Kittens and babies. :-)

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Incessant Hyperventilation

image You ever have weeks like that?

I’ve got an essay that my mind is freaking out about. I keep rearranging it. It’s driving me mad. The Genius was kind and generous in helping me without telling me I was losing it, LOL.

And then teaching. I’ve been begging students for MONTHS to bring their music so I can check that they have the proper materials for guild auditions. Now it’s the week before, and they STILL haven’t brought them.

And guess who the parents will blame if they don’t have the proper materials for guild? ME!

I was just talking to a private school teacher who was stressed because she gets judged on AP exam scores of her students, but whether the kids study or do their homework is largely out of her control.

I feel the same way. I plan for the students, but if they don’t do their assignment, or they don’t practice, or they practice the wrong things, they aren’t prepared.

And people blame the teacher for this, nowadays. People judge teachers on how the kids play, and yet it sure feels like at least 40-70% are out of our control.

So I’m in a state of incessant hyperventilation this week.

It’s one of the things I love about writing. How good or terrible I write is up to me. It’s all my fault. I kinda like things being all my fault, LOL. Then I have the control to make them better.

How’s your week going?

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Change: The Inevitable

image I went to a Cleveland Orchestra concert last weekend. It was a wonderful, brilliant performance by both the orchestra and Mitsuko Uchida.

But I left slightly depressed. The orchestra has changed. Completely. They used to have such a classical sound; now it’s brighter and more Vienna-ish. (In my mind. I don’t know how else to describe it.) I suspect they are tuning higher, too, but my ears are a bit out of practice to know for sure.

Their sound has been changing since the new conductor, but now the new sound is completely gelled. What was the Cleveland Orchestra sound is no more. I wouldn’t recognize them on the radio, nowadays.

Times have changed. As they should. And all the above changes I have, at some point, wished for them! Now that it’s here… I’m sad. I’m terrible!

Which brings me to fiction. People are reading more online. Writing online means shorter sentences, shorter paragraphs.

How soon before this style pervades fiction?

It’s already starting. The days of one or two or three paragraphs per page are pretty much over.

imageThe Internet has been blamed for the shrinking attention span. This weekend, I’ve learned my concentration has changed. I need to write out of order, if I’m to continue to produce.

My writing identity is that I pants and I always write in order. But I’ve changed. I’m different. I have to change my process.

In the first few years of writing, I used to try to discover “my process.” But a nice, safe, comfortable, predictable process is an illusion. We change. We grow. We learn new things. Writing will always be as much an internal adventure for the writer as it will be for the characters.

How boring would it be if the adventure were always the same?

How has your process changed in the last few years? The last ten years? The last year? Do you see a rhyme or reason to the changes? Or have you found a reliable process that works, every time? What is it?

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Friday, April 24, 2009

It’s a Battlefield Up There

image Hello, Resistance! That’s what my mind has felt like lately. It’s been a rough month, and I’m tired. I am still behind. Are you sick of me saying that yet? I’m sick of me saying that.

I can see why writers start to freak out at deadlines. I’m usually better than this, but this spring (actually the past year-ish), they are just killing me.

When you get behind on one, everything sort of… gets crazy. Because if you work on another while trying to catch up on one, generally they both start getting late, and the writing is harder because you’re scattered between two.

And I’m writing slower. Way slower. Every way I turn it or shake it, I am just way freaking slower than I was a few years ago.

I used to write about 1K an hour. Now I’m trudging along at 400 words an hour or so. Am I just slower now, or have I forgotten how to get in the flow?

Gosh, maybe I need to focus on learning how to get in the zone again. I used to be able to snap right into it. Maybe I should start doing more performing again.

I’m not sure really if I have a point or a question. Except never get behind, because once you do, it steamrolls.

I don’t know.

How’s your life? How are things? How do you snap into the zone, into the flow?

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Immigration Adventures

I never expected my husband to ever meet the INS, but it’s a different world we live in, now. On the way home, Glenn had his own immigration adventures, even though he’s an American citizen, LOL. He cooks on a processing boat in the Bering Sea that holds about 200 people.

image

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses desperate enough
To take on crappy jobs at crappy wages
That even unemployed American deem 
        beneath them.
Then when the work is done,
Get the hell out of the country.

They tend to get a good amount of legal immigrants in the processing factory on the boat (the company is very strict about making sure papers are in order), so it’s normal for a two or three Coast Guard and INS officials to board the boat every couple years, set up in the galley, and go through everyone’s papers. 

BUT, the Somalian pirate thing happened. There were Somalians on board. You can make your own deductions about that.

imageAnyway, as soon as they were off the coast of Seattle, a whole TEAM of over a dozen INS and Coast Guard officials boarded in full swat gear, with sawed-off rifles and yelling and everything. They ran through the halls and cleared everyone to the deck.

Everyone had to wait up on deck for hours as they searched every inch to make sure no one was hiding. Men with guns paraded both the upper and lower deck.

Instead of going to the galley to interview each person and double check their papers, they did it up on deck.

image In the end, they were stuck outside for most of the day, and one American (an outstanding warrant) and three Somalians (papers didn’t match) were arrested.

Considering the company runs a background check and triple checks papers before hiring, I personally find it suspicious that of all the countries well-represented on board, ONLY three Somalians had unmatching papers during the Somalian pirate incident.

I don’t like it. I know that our freedoms and rights are balanced by our safety. It’s a gray area, but I’m definitely more comfortable on the edge of freedoms and rights. In a black and white world, if given a choice, I’d choose human freedoms and rights over my safety any day.

Does Bush’s legacy still live on?

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Help! Book Suggestion Needed!

image I felt guilty about feeling like I have nothing to read, when I have a TBR pile that’s fifty or sixty books deep.

But I realized that I read three categories of books simultaneously.

Usually I’m reading some non-fiction. Actually, I usually have about 3-4 non-fiction books going. I’m good with that pile.

The second category is drama or action or something meaty. Or lush. Or rich. Something that I can really sink my teeth into. Long. Deep. Emotional. Gripping.

And finally the last category is something light and comedic and friendly to relax. I’ve read all the Janet Evanovich books, and now I’ve read all the Charlaine Harris books.

Now I have nothing to read from that pile. Any suggestions? I prefer mysteries, prefer series, and I want it light and quick and funny and relaxing. Something like Janet Evanovich or Charlaine Harris.

image It doesn’t have to be a mystery, actually. Just something very easy-reading. Fun.

Any suggestions?

And do you read one book at a time, or do you read several categories at once? What are your categories? Do you prefer series? I confess I prefer my light-reading to be series: it’s like hanging out with a group of friends.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Impressions of Michigan

image First off, I've have so many piano studio emails and so much writing to do today, I finally asked Glenn to just drop me at Barnes & Noble so I can work all day. This was just not at all a good time for me to go out of town.

Last night I was upset about this, but this morning I'm thrilled. I'm more accustomed to working. It's more comfortable. And I go through withdrawal if I don't get my 30+ hours a week in the bookstore.

So Glenn dropped me off, drove away with his cell phone off, and the sign says they are without power. The whole freakin' mall. On a sunny day. Thank goodness I have Glenn's laptop (he wanted me to fix something), which has power, but not the stuff I need to work on. My laptop with the writing I need to work on has a drained battery.

So I've spent the whole morning at Burger King getting no work done, which is irritating, because I wanted a full day of work.

But Michigan:

image First off, we've accidentally passed more music stores than EXIST in ALL of Ohio. This makes me happy, because if Ohio were any indication, then piano and music are DYING. But if Michigan is any indication, then Ohio is dying, LOL. I'm fine with the latter, not so much the former.

Secondly, there are a TON of cancer advertisements in Michigan. This makes me think of two things: first, cancer is a profitable business, which makes me feel a little queasy; second, there must be a lot of cancer in Michigan. Is the Lake really polluted? The water? What's up?

Michigan also has the "cyberknife," which sounds a bit scary to me.

Third, every exit stop seems to have an RV dealership, sometimes two or three. Wow. And what's even more bizarre is that you cannot stand in front of a row of houses without 1-4 RVs being in driveways in your visual range. Even from the highway, there is ALWAYS at least one house with an RV parked in the driveway in your line of sight.

In all of Chagrin Falls and Solon, I think I've seen two RVs.

And finally, Michigan only has rest stops on one side of the road. So if you're going South, you have to pass the rest stop, go ten miles to the next exit, turn around and go north for ten miles, and then use the potty. And then you have to drive five more miles North, get off the exit and turn around and drive the 15 miles South you've already covered.

image Going to the bathroom involves a freakin' hour of driving. I wonder how much money they get in taxes on the extra gas this consumes?

All these observations make me realize how writing what you know is nearly impossible. If I lived in Michigan, this stuff would probably seem too ordinary to mention. There are probably a million ordinary things about Ohio that I've failed to notice, simply because it seems normal and unremarkable.

Oooh... the mall has power now! I get to work!

How are you guys doing? What's up this week?

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

What Does It For You?

image I'm trying to take a vacation. I have two projects to finish that, if things go well today and tomorrow, I can finish and take a "real" vacation. And then Glenn comes home, and we're going to sleep in the car and drive until we hit sun.

The thought of doing without my blog buddies leaves me a little jittery. So I might break down.

But I'm curious: what part of story-telling came first for you? Was it the writing? The imagining? The story? The need to express through words? Which part compelled you?

image For me, I think I could easily leave off the writing bit, but I could never stop my mind from living in story worlds and weaving story lines.

Writing just gives me an excuse, a reason not to feel a bit crazy, LOL. :-)

And what triggers the "vacation feel" for you? When do you relax? When do you let the normal world fall off your shoulders? How do you escape?

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

What’s In Your Toolbox?

image Debra’s post on Stephen King’s On Writing reminded me about toolboxes, which reminded me why I’m really studying my process:

I need to know what’s in my toolbox.

I forget. I run into trouble, and I don’t remember how I fixed it before. If I can be more aware of what tools I own and which tools have fixed what problem, then maybe I can save some writing time for… more writing. (What else, LOL?)

My toolbox is a mess. I have all these little things I do, little tricks and techniques, but I can never find them when I need them.

I need to organize and label them.

image The other thing that’s great about organizing the toolbox is that I look at what tool I’m currently using, and I start thinking: how’s this tool working out for me?

After yesterday’s post, I realized my current methods aren’t really working out as well as I’d like. Interesting. Time to try a few new tools, or dig some old ones out from the bottom of the box, methinks.

My process is just not reliably working the way I need it to. Nine years in, and it’s about time for a crisis, I guess. I suspect most people have figured something out by now.

Not me. *sigh* Time to experiment.

Do you know your process? Do you know what’s in your toolbox? How often do you experiment? Ever throw everything out and buy new tools? Ever need to remind yourself how the tools work?

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Part II: Hen-Pecking, WIP '09 #3

image I’m doing this series on “How I Write” because I truly want to see how I write. I think I am least aware of my writing process. I’m biased, looking through tinted glasses. I’m thankful you’re tolerating it! ;-)

So I abandoned the first thousand words of my WIP. This is unlike me, but I will probably use 700-800 words of it in the second chapter. Getting paid by the word definitely teaches one to write with economy.

One would think it would teach one to bloat one’s sentences, but for me, I’ve learned not to write words I’ll delete, and not to waste the words I’ve deleted.

And yes, there have been times I’ve highlighted a section, counted the words, opened up my calculator (so not kidding), calculated the cost, and said to myself, “Can I really delete $135?”

It HURTS. Let me tell you, it HURTS.

But I was noticing today that I “hen-peck” a lot. As I write, I edit. I write a spurt, then I start at the beginning of the section and edit. Then on to the next spurt.

During this edit, I delete as many words as I can. The less words in a sentence, the stronger it is. I extract words as if I’m doing fine surgery.

What words can I remove from this sentence and still have the same meaning and same effect on the reader? What sentences can be removed altogether?

I think this is a survival process, too. If I delete little bits at a time, I won’t mentally calculate the money in the trash can, LOL. I won’t notice the word count going down too much. (I try not to look.)

image When I write, I also “zoom in” and “zoom out” a lot. I’ll read the whole chapter, hen-peck at sentences, write some bits of a scene, zoom out, double check that it fits and there’s a purpose to it, zoom back in and hen-peck, zoom out to make sure what I’m about to write fits in the overall plot, zoom in a little to check the character arcs, and then zoom all the way back in to write it.

So… do you hen-peck? Zoom in and out? Do you do all of the above during separate “drafts” or all during one session? Do you edit as you go? Is it all mixed together into one process, one draft?

When do you hen-peck, and when do you zoom?

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Jeffrey Archer’s Process

I find this process fascinating. I’m a slow writer. People get that now because I’m slow all around, lately. But people used to think me a fast writer because I’d write 20K a week. But I’m not. I spend a whole lot of time writing and reading. Probably 40 or 50 hours a week, and another 40 hours or so on teaching and piano.

Well, I don’t have kids. Glenn’s away. There’s really nothing else for me to do.

Anyway, people write that much in 10 hours a week, which is why I say I write slowly.

But I have never done 16 drafts. Wow. That is something. Here’s Jeffrey Archer’s process:



And this is just hilarious:

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Boat Broke.

image It sorta looks small in this picture, but it actually houses about 300 people or so. Those are little boats dropping off fish, and this is by Dutch Harbor. Yeah, those are the Deadliest Catch waters.

It doesn't look like it would hold that many people, but that's a big mountain in the background, and I think it throws the perspective off.

But it broke. Glenn caught a cell tower on the way home, and called to say that he would be late. The boat is, evidently, "limping home." He should be home by the 14th if "all goes well."

*sigh*

The extra money is going to be nice, but I was really hoping we could spend spring break together. Oh well. We might get a few days. I haven't been in contact with him for a week while they were making their way wherever they are, and I haven't actually heard his voice for about three weeks.

Boy, I really miss him big.

I do have lots of work to do, so I guess the time to do it will be good. I can get it done before he gets here. Gosh, I really miss him.

So anyway, it's (nearly) Sunday. How's the WIP? How's it writing? Is it in the flow stage, the regular stage, the grinding stage? How are you? What's up with you?

Oh--they ran into two storms, too. Here's a "fun" video of the Bering Sea, where he was. These are the little boats. Glenn's on the big boat, which Glenn tells me is perfectly safe. Even broken. (Can you imagine the expression on my face right now?)

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Friday, April 03, 2009

Self-Indulgence Again.

CD2 072This is Dixie Ann Doodle. I don’t know why I’m showing you pictures of my cats, lately, but I’m just looking forward to Glenn being home and our family all together again. I miss him, so I think this is how I’m coping, LOL. One more week! Dixie thinks Glenn is the Center of the Universe. I mean, she thinks he is the shit.

When I’m a little down, I stare at cat pictures. I love I Can Haz Cheeseburger, and I’ve just found Cute Overload. Don’t ask me why staring at cute kittens is an important part of my day, LOL.

CD3 302 This is Leo. Leo died.
:-( He was the best. I know cats have feelings because Dixie was depressed for about seven months after he died. It was something. He was one cool cat. 

CD2 077 This is my first cat, Choo-Choo. It absolutely KILLS me when she covers her eyes to sleep. It’s so… human, LOL. She was the only cat for awhile, so it took her about five years to adjust to having other cats in the house.

CD3 329 After Leo died, we got Ittle Bittle. He’s still the baby of the family. He does not clean himself. All the other cats hold him down and clean him. He is also allowed to steal food from any of them without repercussions. He’s a spoiled one. :-)

CD3 485 This is Caesar, who was as sleek as a race horse when we got him from the pound, but who became a lump within a week. He’s a loving lump, but he’s a lump all the same.

I leave you with a picture of Ittle-Bittle on the kayak, and one of Ittle-Bittle taking a walk. Neither of which he’ll do anymore. :-(

CD3 444
CD3 449
So… tell me about your babies. Got any pictures?

Okay, one more.I can’t help it.

CD3 454

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