Tag Archives: musings

09Mar/15

When the Package is the Message

A family member called me today with a special request: she wanted to buy a copy of my book and have me autograph and send it to someone. I was more than happy to oblige, of course, so I wrote a short note in one of the books and was preparing to package it up. Then I wondered if I should also send a separate letter of some sort, something to encourage this person or say something extra. My husband walked in while I was pondering this, and after a moment, he started laughing.

“You don’t need to write a separate letter. You already wrote the letter. The letter is 200 pages long!”

I never really thought about my book that way, but I like it. I’ve always liked writing ridiculously long letters.

01Jan/13

Obligatory New Year Post

Hello to my handful of readers out there! I hope you are all feeling happy and healthy on this fine day. My entire family is sick at the moment – the kids with the flu, the adults with colds – so we have been watching movies and cuddling together on the couch for the last few days. I think it’s the quietest New Year I’ve ever had.

I spent the morning going through my writing journals and seeing how I did in 2012, and despite a whole lot of real life and death getting in the way, I see there were a lot of awesome things about 2012. Here are a few highlights:

*I got my first story published!

*I wrote over 200,000 words while participating in #WIP500

*I completed a rough draft of a script during Script Frenzy and a novel during NaNoWriMo

*I taught 6 piano students, ranging in age from 5 to 30.

*I read 46 books (68 if you count the entire Fruits Basket series)

*I made a lot of new friends on Google+ and became a mod for one of the biggest Writers Communities there.

*I started running with a friend and training for an upcoming Spartan Race. I’m still a weakly loser, but I’m getting stronger and feel much healthier.

When I started the WIP500 challenge last year, I wasn’t sure how it would go. It was kind of insane to see the numbers piling up over the months. Now that I know what it feels like to write 200,000 words over the course of a year, I know that it’s a manageable goal. So here’s what I’d like to do in 2013, if all goes well:

*Get a draft of my novel Illuminated out to beta-readers.

*Write 200,000 words again.

*Write at least one short story a month for publication. Write flash fiction often.

*Continue submitting finished stories until they get picked up, or until I have a decent collection to self-publish.

*Read 50 books.

*Blog more often. This year, in addition to flash fiction and writerly updates, you might see me post some of my collage art, since I’m joining a Mixed Media challenge. I love having a lot of creative things to do, since it seems to help when the writing gets stuck.

So what about you? What did you do in 2012, and what do you hope to do in 2013? If you wrote a new year’s blog post, feel free to link me up in the comments and I’ll come check it out. I hope you all have a very happy 2013!

19Dec/12

Post-Operative Impressions

I could swear the last few weeks have been trying to break me. There has been a sudden downpour of conflict from all sides. In my real life, it’s painful and hard. In my writing life, I’m learning some excellent things about how to better develop a character (hint: make the sky fall down on them when they least expect it).

One of the less pleasant things I had to do was get oral surgery to remove my wisdom teeth. The teeth in question had decided to make pain for me in my old age. I kid, I’m only in my thirties, but that seems to be old for these kinds of things. Recovery took me longer than I expected and it was a good 6 days later that I finally felt human again.

And somewhere in the middle of that recovery, I scribbled down the following lines, trying to grasp what I’d been through. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as my bizarre recollections make me laugh now. And no, I never did figure out who zipped my hoodie on me.

image by http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Jascha400d

image by http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Jascha400d

Post-Operative Impressions

I remember they took my glasses. Maybe that’s why I never got a good look at the doctor’s face. They took my glasses and tied down my hands.

I was wearing a short-sleeve shirt, and wires, and tubes.

Now I’m in my hoodie, my jacket, my scarf. I notice a hot tear running down my cheek.

“Who put my clothes on?” I ask. He seems to think it a funny question but I don’t recall his answer.

There was a wheelchair I was expected to get into. I can see the blur of it, off to my right.

“I could hear them,” I say. “I could hear the beeping. I could hear them talking.” He tells me it must have been when I was waking up. It must have been.

My hoodie is zipped up. It’s not easy to zip. I was in a short-sleeve shirt. Who put it on me?

“Did you come get me?” I ask. He is amused that I don’t remember.

I remember there was a wheelchair I was expected to get out of. I remember the feel of it under my hands.

I can see my jacket and scarf in a pile across the room. My hoodie is still zipped snuggly on me where I lay on the couch.

“Who put my clothes on?” I ask. He says I was dressed when they brought me out.

I remember the wheelchair, but not the time I spent in it.

“I could hear them,” I say.

“You told me,” he says.

I was in a short-sleeve shirt. My hands were tied down. The doctor asked me a question. I slurred out half an answer and faded.

I am fully dressed now, my mouth full of gauze, missing my teeth

and my memories.

16Oct/12

To Lose is to Learn

My almost 9-yr old boy joined a new Chess Club last night. As part of a talk on sportsmanship, the head teacher shared the Chess Club motto: To Lose is to Learn.

That little line resonated with me in a big way last night. Earlier in the day, the kids had asked, “Mom, did people call you a nerd in high school and college?” I’ve told the kids how I was teased in school for being smart, and how they might be teased for the same thing and how to deal with it. But we had talked mostly about elementary school.

It took me a minute to think of the answer. I was teased in high school, but not in college. College was a different place, where most people attended because they were smart and where they wanted to learn things. In fact, I was not a nerd in college. In college, I wasn’t even that smart. And that was one of the hardest things I had to experience in my life.

See, everything was easy for me growing up. I was that kid who helped the teacher grade papers for extra credit because I finished my work so early. School was a breeze. I understood everything. I got As on all my papers. I was in the top percentile for everything. And I thought it would always be that way.

Then I got to college, and I was a nobody. All the great things I had done, people there had done better. I wanted to be a piano major, but since I’d only had lessons for six years, they wouldn’t let me. I was last chair in the university Symphonic Winds, despite filling the first chair and winning state festivals every year in high school. In the 80-member Honors Program I was in, I was probably the least accomplished of the entire bunch. Others had already read all the great books, they understood the great philosophical ideas, they could put together a presentation and speak to a group. Not me. I still don’t even know how I managed it all most of the time.

In all my years of “gifted” programs, I had never learned how to study and work. I had never learned what it meant to be a beginner at something. I was always the best. So when my big fishy self was taken out of my small pond and tossed into the ocean of real life, I was absolutely lost.

It still frustrates me to this day. Now I want to be a writer, and I’ve poured a couple of years into studying the craft. Still, I’m a beginner. My stories keep getting rejected. I still don’t have a body of work I can self-publish. There are other writers out there who seem to be magically great at it, but it’s hard work for me. And some days I just want to call it quits.

So I was really thankful to hear that wonderful motto last night.

To lose is to learn.

I’m glad my son is learning that now. I’m glad I’m learning that now. It means I can’t quit. I have to keep trying and keep learning and keep practicing until it becomes easy for me.

And in case you’re curious, those piano professors couldn’t keep me down. I didn’t get my degree in piano, or even music, but I still teach piano lessons to several fantastic students in my home these days. And that’s another thing I’ve realized. There are people who will think you’re not good enough, but there are others who will find you amazing. I think half of success is learning not to listen to either of them.

17Jul/11

The Study of Humans

My dad picked up a funny habit after watching the movie Men in Black. When we went to public places together, he would always point out the people he thought might be aliens. “What about that one?” he’d ask. “Not quite right, don’t you think?”

We’ve always been people watchers, my dad and I. The irony is that I usually consider myself to be the alien. It’s always been that way. I’m fascinated by human nature and all the twists and turns that make people do things the way they do. I think it’s part of being a writer, or it somehow feeds into that writing part of me. If I were part of an alien race, I would be the one pretending to be human in order to observe and collect as much information as possible.

It can be difficult for an introvert like myself to be in these public places often. Which is why I have a favorite form of people watching: Public forums.

I love forums. I have been forum-hopping for years. Forums are fascinating places. They bring together thousands of people with a common interest: pregancy and childbirth, hobbies and interests, education, diseases, technology. Think of a topic, and there’s probably a forum somewhere with people talking about it. But it doesn’t end there. Find a forum big enough and active enough, and you’ll suddenly have a diverse group of people with fascinating opinions on just about every controversial topic there is. Religion? They’re on it. Just be quick – those threads get locked fast. Politics? Check. Mothers-in-law? Of course. Put together a few strong minds, some ill-formed opinions, sprinkle in a dose of sarcasm, and you have a recipe for explosive people-watching that is unmatched in history.

Why am I telling you all this? I’m not sure. Maybe I’m rationalizing my forum addiction as a form of story research. I have been addicted to forums for all these years, spending hours pouring over ridiculous threads that really have no bearing on my life (the woman who feared her husband had died on a fishing trip when he had really lied about the trip, the boy who was kicked out of school because of his parents’ religious beliefs, the disastrous Chuck E. Cheese trip that ruined a friendship). While I have met some of my best friends in forums, these are strangers for the most part. And it’s not just their stories that are so fascinating. It’s also the opinions of others who chime in to tell them that everything they do is Right On or everything is Absolutely Wrong. I love it. Please keep posting your life’s troubles in forums, people! It allows this introvert to go people watching in the comfort of my own home.

And lest you think I’m just a lurker, I believe in forum participation. I’m usually the one popping the popcorn. đŸ˜‰

04May/10

On Motivation

StairsI finished Script Frenzy. Yes, indeed. I filled 101 pages with drivel and dreck, but I finished it. Some people who won got highly excited. Sadly, it was easy for me to discount the accomplishment, knowing the quality of the writing involved.

However, in the 4 days since Script Frenzy ended, I have come to realize just how much I did during April.

I wrote. That was the point, right? I wrote at least 6 days a week, sometimes more, and even I can admit that *some* of my writing was quality. Even those few lines and a shaky skeleton of a story is more than I had before the month started.

But how do I keep up that motivation the rest of the time?

When my main creative outlet was Digital Scrapbooking, I used to join challenges and creative teams that gave me deadlines galore. I thrive on them! I realize now that, given a deadline, I can easily organize my time and energy over a period of time to meet it. But for some reason, I can’t seem to follow through on self-inflicted deadlines. I’m not sure why.

Deadlines motivate me, especially if someone else is on the other end keeping track of my progress. So I’ve asked a friend, a fellow writer, to bug me. So far, it’s working. I promised her I’d post on the blog this week, so here I am.

What about you? What motivates you to continue on in your creative endeavors? I’d love to hear any ideas you have about self-imposed deadlines too – because I really flounder without someone on the other end to stare angrily when I let them down.