Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Creative Research

*Note: this post was written sometime last week when I got a job working with a bunch of petition people with too much energy. You know those people who knock on your door in the middle of dinner and ask you to sign their petition because it's for a good cause? That's them. And you know that person standing behind them with the pained expression? That's me.

I'm dreading going to work today. I started yesterday. I know all the reasons I should be grateful to have a job, the biggest one being that it's so freaking hard to find one nowadays. But it's hard to remember to be grateful when I'm standing on top of a hill in the cold, at night, with a big sign in hand and a heart attack looming.

This reminds me not only how out of shape I am, but that I'd rather be at home clicking through my DVR recordings than power walking up a hill. But I had a revelation standing on that hill. As I stood there thinking about my DVR and mentally writing my will in case my heart really did combust in my chest, a train zipped by on the tracks a few feet away from me. If you've ever stood close to an ongoing train (a fast one), you know what it's like: like the world is shaking and screaming and ending and that question about if the world will end in fire or ice is suddenly redundant because you understand it will end in lights.

It only took a few seconds for the train pass me, but it left me with a thought, a moment of clarity: I had two choices. One, I could stand on top of that hill, huffing and puffing, and hating my job. Or two, I could follow that train with my eyes until it disappeared and then file the whole experience away for later. In fact, I could make my night one big experience to file away for later.

Sure, it was cold and I was tired and I couldn't breathe. But I was also in a part of town I'd never seen before and there was so much to see. There was the train, and over there was a tiny forest of trees, and over there was an alley and an abandoned warehouse.

It's not that hard to figure out which I chose, the huffing and puffing or the "seeing." I'm a writer, and among the many gifts we have or acquire is one gift that I think supersedes the rest. I call it creative research. It's different from regular story research, where you take notes on things like how long rigor mortis takes to set in (three to four hours, and twelve for maximum stiffness; just in case you were wondering. Maybe you weren't.) or eighteenth century weaponry. Creative research is the taking notes on life, usually as it happens.

I can't be the only person who has ever walked into a hospital and started taking mental notes of everything I see: the people staring vacantly at magazines in the waiting room, the kid running up and down the hallway, the really cute male nurses who smile shyly at you when you check out their butts. I can't be the only person who opens the cupboards and drawers near the beds, like I'm taking inventory. So I might press a button or two on the computer when the doctor isn't looking, just to see what's behind the screen saver. Don't pretend like you haven't done it.

The writer part of my brain will milk as much creative research out of a situation as it can. It isn't concerned with the fact that Bee is lying in a hospital bed, drugged up and covered in dirt because she fell off a mountain while biking. I am concerned with this, but the writer part of my brain is not. The writer is wondering how much pain Bee is in and if it can be conveyed in words.

Sometimes I'm ashamed of this. Sometimes I forget how useful it is. Sometimes I love it. But regardless of how I feel about this part of my brain--the part that will try to spin everything into a something that I can use in a story-- I need it too. My writing is better because of it.

I'll probably never enjoy this job, and I'll never smile while I power walk up a hill, and I'll never enjoy carting around a sign as tall as me. But when I think about the train and the alley and the forest and the abandoned warehouse, when I think about how I now have the pictures in my head of what these things look like and can come back to them later, I don't dread tomorrow so much.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Music: "Chicago" by: Sufjan Stevens

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thoughts on Jellicoe Road by: Melina Marchetta

*My first book review! Tell me what you think!

Book Summary:

"What do you want from me?" he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.

Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn't a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.

In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.

My Thoughts:

This book kept me awake until 4 AM, huddled in the corner of my bed with my book light, which was dying so fast I had to keep tapping it and squinting at the letters on the page. At some point, I got to page 380 and I just had to get up and dig around my handbag for some AAA batteries because I knew I wasn't going to sleep after a few more pages like I'd promised myself an hour before.

When I picked up this book, I didn't think I'd be sucked in. In fact, I felt a little left out. Between the italicized passages, the lingo, and the territory wars, I couldn't figure out what was going on. The only things that kept me reading were:

 1.) I loved the first line: "My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted." 

2.) I needed to figure out what was going on.

The first line is provocative (you love it too!). And I needed to figure this book out because it confused me so much. The story of the five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road (Fitz, Narnie, Tate, Webb, and Jude) is so complex that I almost didn't want to understand it, but it was like I didn't have a choice. I needed to understand who these kids were so I could understand Taylor and her life, because those five kids lives' and Taylor's and Jellicoe Road are intertwined; that part is clear from the beginning. It's the why that's unclear.

Melina Marchetta is a genius. The simplicity of her writing is breathtaking. There's no adornments, she is talking about the past and the present, and pain and rage and she's doing it in a way that doesn't make it pretty, but real. Her dialogue is quick and funny, and you might want to be careful reading this book in public because there will be times when you literally throw your head back and laugh (I'm telling you this from experience. People will look at you like you've lost it.) Then there will be times when you want to cry or slam the book shut and never pick it up again.

All this to say that this book is worth buying and reading and should get its own pedestal above your bookshelf. It's one of those books that you don't get, you know it's a good story but you don't get it or why it matters or what's going to happen next. For most of the book you don't get it. Then everything starts to fall into place and when this happens, it's freaking amazing. Honestly guys, I'm still thinking about this book and I finished it a week ago.
The Characters and Some Memorable Quotes:

  • Anyone who has ever been disappointed one too many times can relate to Taylor Markham. Her character resonated with the cynical side of me, which I loved because sometimes I read books and I don't relate to the character at all. When that happens I always feel like I'm pressing my face up against a glass, watching the story unfold from there.  Anyway, Taylor has issues with wanting more from the people around her and not wanting anything at all, thinking that caring about someone or something was too dangerous. It's understandable, considering how her mother abandoned her at the 7-Eleven on Jellicoe Road.
  • Jonah Griggs is a refreshing change in the male leads I've been reading in books lately. Or maybe refreshing is the wrong word. One doesn't think "refreshing" when they think of Jonah Griggs, a Cadet perpetually in his uniform and boots. I doubt anything I can say would do him justice, so I'm going to let him do the talking. Here's a quote from the book, Jonah is basically calling Taylor on her shit:
"If you want romance, go be with Ben Cassidy. Maybe he'll fawn all over you or play a beautiful piece of violin music. I never promised you romance. And stop finding a reason to be angry with me...I just asked if you ate at restaurants."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Where I Go #5: The Zone

by: Maggie Skye
I love The Zone. That moment when reality vanishes around me, and there's nothing but the sights and the sounds of my world. All it takes is a rustle in the room to bring me back to reality, realizing once again how I've totally disappeared.
This is where I go when I write.
Okay, maybe it's not always that picture perfect, but that's a true scenario that happens to me a lot, particularly when I'm drafting.  It’s one of the best things about writing; the ability to not only create a world, but to step inside of it, and leave your own life and problems behind. Just for a bit.
My writing journey began when I was 10. I sat down at a round, wooden table with a sheet of paper and a pen, and proceeded to write the beginning of a story, starting with a princess waking up and getting out of bed (which after about one page, I discarded in favor of a typed-up novel). That’s where it started, and I haven't stopped since.
Most of the time, when I write, it doesn't really matter where I am in person, since ultimately, I'm going to be in my own world. (Well, unless I’m revising. Then I’m probably questioning my decision to be a writer, and likely my sanity.) Living in a family of seven, you learn how to create a space for yourself basically anywhere that's quiet, and (preferably) comfortable.
My spot of choice is usually my bed. It's right by a window (hallelujah! I can’t live without windows!), it's comfortable, and it's mine. I'll also rotate between my desk, the kitchen table, the bonus room, a coffee shop, etc. Wherever I can be that's reasonably comfortable, and reasonably quiet.
When it comes down to it, I think where I write (and why) depends on my age and current living situation. Right now I live with my family, and I'm used to finding the quiet nooks and crannies. Eventually if I go to college, I imagine I'll learn to grab even five minutes to get some writing done. Headphones might become extremely important. (They are already, in cases of coffee shops with obnoxious music or evenings when the family's all at home). One day when I have children of my own, I'll probably write while dinner's in the oven, during nap time; any time I have, really.
The one thing I know through it all, no matter where I am, is that I. MUST. WRITE. It's not a choice. I'm always brimming with ideas and inspiration. It makes me happy, and it makes me feel complete. So wherever life takes me, even if it's by hand in a notebook, I'll ALWAYS be writing one way or another. I'll make a space for myself wherever I am. A space to be comfortable in, until I ease into The Zone, and leave the world behind.
Maggie Skye is a 17-year-old writer, photographer, and tea-drinker. When she’s not writing or lost in some book or another, she spends her time taking/editing pictures, having adventures, and enjoying anything sweet. She helps run Write On!, a blog for teen writers and readers, and blogs personally HERE. You can always catch her on Twitter (@DancinTravelbug) or via email (lizzy.skyeATgmailDOTcom).


For more info on this guest submissions series, visit the "Where I Go" submissions page

Friday, September 30, 2011

Choosing To Write

Some writers say that they chose to be writers, that it's not possible for writing to choose them. I've never agreed with this because, quite frankly, writing is hard; so hard that if I'd had a choice, I probably would have gone with something that didn't make me want to poke pencils into my eyeballs, something a little more glamorous.

Maybe I would have been a rockstar, I know at some point I wanted to play the guitar and be in a band. Or do something adventurous and humanitarian like be a philanthropist. I could see myself trekking through the Amazon jungles, looking for exotic plants to cure the common cold. But I'm not. I'm sitting on the floor of my bedroom thinking about my characters even as I type this.

I am a writer.

I don't believe it's that clean cut, just getting up one day and saying, "hey, I'm going to be a writer." But then, it also is, to an extent. That's where it gets confusing. All writers, ultimately have to decide that they are going to write. In fact, I think we have to decide twice.

First, we decide to write.

Then, we decide to keep doing it.

Two choices.

I decided to write when I was nine and sat down to pen my first story. I decided again when I was fifteen and had about 95 half-completed stories under my belt. It's that second decision that counted the most, it's what got me through my first completed novel, as crappy as it was it was done and it was mine.

That second decision drives me everyday. It made me finish a second book and start a third. It keeps me going when I'm sitting in the dark, staring at a blinking cursor with no idea of how to make it move.

With that said, I believe that writing chose me, as it chose you, Other Writer. The ideas come--in the early hours of the morning when we're half asleep, they come during a phone call from a friend asking us to hang out--most of the time when we want nothing to do with them. We don't ask to be nagged by persistent characters caught in love triangles and century old curses, we don't choose that.

What we do choose is the part where we roll out of bed and stomp to the computer before we've even had coffee, where we tell our friends "not today, I'm writing." This is the choice we make, even as we're thinking "Good God, man! Couldn't this damn idea wait until after my alarm went off/after dinner with *insert friend's name* ? They were gonna pay!!"

The writing chooses us, but we have to make the choice to choose it back.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Where I Go #4: Dark Sky, Bright Stars

by: Ellen Faith

The night’s always been mysterious to me. When the sun goes down and the moon takes its place, casting a white glow over my backyard. When creatures scuttle out of their home into the world. It’s like a whole new world after seven pm for me. So I suppose that should explain why I always find it easiest to write at night.

Because when I’m in the dark and I can’t see three or four feet in front of me, my imagination runs wild. Even swimming in the pool at night with its light turned off has me terrified, imagining that there’s going to be a croc stalking me there since it’s a pretty normal thing to happen where I live.

But if the atmosphere isn’t right then the words don’t come out. It’s as simple as that. To write I have to be in the right frame of mind. I have know my characters before I can sit down and write their story, or else their personality is all over the page (seriously!). I have to know where the story is heading each step of the way, or else I go off track. Getting into the right frame of mind is hard sometimes, though when I put these boundaries in place. Especially recently since I haven’t felt like writing at all, even though I know I should be.

Then, one night while I was sitting outside on our swing, I ended up writing almost a thousand words. It felt great. The words kept coming out—like word vomit, but nothing embarrassing. I was writing again and the atmosphere—snuggled in a blanket with my Dalmatian Luna against my legs—was simply perfect. And an owl hooted. That was very much the second highlight of that day after the writing that I did. I love the sound of owls hooting. It truly does add to the atmosphere.

Since I journeyed into writing professionally I’ve learned that even the smallest of sentences about atmosphere can change your story. One sentence about if the air was hot and thick, if the lights were flickering, or even if the street was completely empty can change a scene’s atmosphere. Every little thing affects your writing so it’s important to make sure that when writing you’re not only in the best frame of mind, but that you’re in the right place. At least for me, that is.

Ellen Faith is a sixteen-year-old Aussie writer, reader and blogger while completing grade eleven (which makes for an interesting schedule). Ellen wants to be published, become a lawyer (in case she doesn’t get published until she’s 80) and travel/live in Europe one day. With her loony Dalmatian and her sanity by her side, she hopes she one day succeeds at all three.

Vist Ellen's blog at writingsmydrug.blogspot.com


For more info on this guest submissions series, visit the "Where I Go" submissions page

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Great & Terrible Things & Making Cupcakes at Midnight

Great thing number 1: I got front bangs.

Terrible thing number 1: I got front bangs.

I've had mild variations of the same hairstyle since middle school; straight and parted a little off the center. Up until recently, I've never had a problem with it. It had been dubbed Brittany's Hairstyle. But then, I started thinking about all the weight I'd lost in the past few months and wouldn't it be great if my hair was as different as my body and my mind suddenly were. I could be a whole new person. Let me just warn you that if you ever find yourself thinking "Wouldn't it be great if I didn't look like old me anymore. Maybe I'll hack my hair off..." you should stop right there, stop before you actually hack your hair off.

The great part in this is that I got what I wanted. I look different. When styled right, I look like someones first grade teacher or that girl next door who will bake you cookies when you're sick (I'm not proud of this, but Bee says it's cute). The terrible part is that my forehead is hot 80% of the time and when my hair is not styled right, I look like an frightened peacock.

Great thing number 2: I have my own apartment!

Terrible thing number 2: Technically, it's not wholly mine because I have roommates!

The great thing about this is pretty self explanatory; I have my own space that I'm paying for with my own money, and even though I finally understand the appeal of Top Ramen to a broke college student, it's still my own place (read: There's nobody to tell me to make my bed!) And my roommates are probably the best roommates I could ask for. One of them is always gone and the other one is too sweet to question why I sit at the kitchen table in my pjs with my laptop for hours.

Great thing number 3: It's my birthday!

Terrible thing number 3: I made my own birthday cake/cupcakes at midnight.

When you make cupcakes and birthday cake at midnight, expect everything to start out wonderfully.

Expect to sing Three Little Birds a total of fifteen times before the first cake is finished mixing. Expect to shove that sucker into the oven whistling in a very arrogant I've-done-this-a-dozen-times-and-it's-gonna-be-awesome way. Expect everything to go downhill from there.

The whipping cream you bought will turn out to be crappy so there will be no coffee almond filling that rivals clouds. You'll move onto plan B and make coffee almond butter cream icing instead. This will taste nothing like you expect it to. It may taste like toffee, it may taste like the butter in your butter cream wasn't whipped out enough, it may taste like a mystery; you haven't figured it out yet.

The cupcakes will look like this:

but taste better. If you close your eyes and eat them, you will almost be able to convince yourself that the $65 you spent on ingredients was worth it. You will not be ashamed of your epic failure, but you also will not offer anyone a piece.

Then, at some point, maybe around 4am you'll be reminded that you are lactose intolerant. Expect to wonder if you should kill the birthday tradition of making your own birthday cake.

But don't be discouraged, one thing you cook today will turn out perfectly:

It feels good to be 18.

Listening to: Boy With A Coin by: Iron & Wine

Monday, August 22, 2011

Where I Go #3: How To Be Alone

by: Becca Christiansen

The question of where I go to write is more complicated than a matter of physical location. It has a lot to do with my age and what stage of my life I’m at, and the steps I’ve taken to get here.

I wrote my first novels when I was twelve, and at those ages I would stay up until ungodly hours in the morning, typing away madly at my dad’s computer in his basement office. I wasn’t allowed to be down there, but since I was so gripped by stories I had no choice but to pound out the words any time I could grab a spare moment alone.

I started writing seriously when I was fourteen. I’ve been a writer since I learned how to form words with a big, red Kindergarten pencil, but fourteen is the age I began to commit to it. No more stolen hours at Dad’s computer for me. I stopped writing by computer and started writing longhand. When I think back on that, it boggles my mind. I wrote seven novels by hand, on loose-leaf paper borrowed from my school binders. Seven! While my hand aches just thinking about attempting this now, at the time it made sense. I had to write whenever I could, and writing by hand meant it was portable.

And so I became The Girl Who Writes Stories. I had a yellow folder full of pages of scribbles, and I never went anywhere without it. I wrote underneath my schoolbooks in class, I wrote on buses to field trips, I wrote all the time. Only an hour or so after school would I really sit down specifically to write, but the words accumulated anyway from my stolen moments during the day.

My schoolwork suffered. I almost failed a few courses in grade nine because I spent all my time and energy writing. I also was a whole lot less social than most kids my age. Instead of going out to parties with friends, I stayed in and played with the people inside my head.
If you want to be a serious writer, that is one skill you have to perfect: the ability to be alone. No matter whether you’re writing in a coffee shop, library, or in your own bedroom, you have to have the drive, determination, and focus to be able to be by yourself for long stretches of time.

There’s a reason most of us writers are introverts. We draw our energy from our time alone, rather than from socializing, and writing is the perfect opportunity to close a door and tell the world, “I’m busy, don’t bother me.”

These days, I write and live in a tiny, messy bedroom in my family’s home. I’ll be turning twenty next month, but I’m still living with my parents, and plan to for some time yet. At my age and income level, living on my own would mean living with roommates, and with roommates, I’m not guaranteed the time alone to write that I can get now. Roommates may not understand my need to be in solitary confinement for large portions of the day. They might worry about me and contemplate calling the local psych hospital. At home, with family that understands my strange habits, I’m safe to close the door, retreat into myself, and create.

Because even though the ability to be alone is crucial, it’s also important to have a family that is there for you when you need to socialize -- and understands that socialization, for crazy writer-types, tends to happen in manic bursts of desire to play board games all night long.

Becca Christiansen is a 19-year-old YA writer and blogger. She is Canadian and, by default, a rabid hockey fan. Visit her blog at nerdgirlreadsandwrites.blogspot.com

For more info on this guest submissions series, visit the "Where I Go" submissions page

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Week of Silence

It feels like a year since my laptop died, but really it's only been a week. The other day I asked my mom what she did back in her day (she hates when I call it that) when they didn't have computers and dinosaurs roamed the land (she hates that one too). She said, "I read."

I don't get it. I read too, but no matter how much I love books (which is quite a lot) they couldn't replace my need for blogs or twitter or email! I need a daily consumption of all--preferably in that exact order--to get by. And don't get me started on Word. Really don't. I miss it too much and the thought of it makes me want to cry with longing. Whoever invented pen and paper should be slapped.

But, this post is not about writing longhand or my vendetta against it or about how much I love the Internet. I'm dropping by to let you know that I haven't forgotten you. My week of silence has given me a lot of thinking time which means I have a lot of goodies to post, including (but not limited to) my first day of college, novel month, and 2 Where I Go submissions that I'm insanely excited about.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Novel Month Day 6

Day Six

I'm having a hard time balancing my writing life and my regular day-to-day life. Usually, this problem is very familiar and kind of expected, and I deal with it. But lately, this problem seems amplified by a million. There's a cruel balance between writing life and real life, and even though I know this I've seemed to lost the knack of getting it right.

The last time this happened to me, I was working on the final draft of my first completed novel. That was December of 09 and I started querying in February of 2010. I remember spending nine hour days working on that novel. I was writing in a bathroom at the time, sitting on the toilet with my laptop on a plastic hamper between my knees. I spent all day hunched over that hamper, breathing in my own stale air, lost in the words on the page and a dozen tea cups by my feet. I was as obsessed with my story and getting it done as I'd ever been.

I feel the same way now, like I'm more grounded in my story than in the real world. And if I could carve out nine free hours, I would spend them sitting in my hotel room with my back against a wall and my laptop on my knees, writing until I reached "The End."

This seems to be my process when I'm getting close to the end of a book.

So, my point is a question: When you're close to the finish line, does your writing process change, and if it does, does it conflict with your everyday life?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Novel Month Day 3

Day Three

Have you ever written a scene for your characters that you knew wasn't really for them, but was for you? That's the problem that I'm facing right now. I know that in the end, this scene will be cut but I really want to write it. A part of me feels like I need to write it in order to get my mind caught up to where my characters are. But another part of me feels like that sort of indulgence is just that: an indulgence, one I can't afford today.

Every single word takes a little more out of me today. All my energy has been poured into packing and more packing and then registering for classes and a whole list of other things that I don't have the energy to get into. So, only 475 words were written today, all of which have substance and are not indulgent. My characters are happy but I'm still thinking about that scene like it's a cake batter ice cream cone on a hot day.

I think I'll indulge myself on the car ride back to Southern Cali. Or maybe when I get to the hotel. Or maybe I wont.

Music I'm listening to: "Home" by: Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros

**If you haven't read Aleeza's "Where I Go" submission, go read it now!! It's inspiring and full of pictures.

Where I Go #2: Writerly Spaces

by: Aleeza

So, writing spaces. I’ve always wished for one of my own—an actual writing space, where I sit down every day to write, where I store all things writerly, notes and books and whatnot. In my mind, it looks more or less like this:

But since I’m a teenager living with my parents and three siblings, that’s exactly what that is: a wish. Instead, I don’t actually have a specific writing space. I write mostly wherever I can, which most of the time includes one of these three places:

My little brother’s room (we call it his room, though all of us are always lounging there), where the desktop is located:

My own bed:

The drawing room:

Yeah, not exactly ‘luxurious.’ But that’s the thing: when I write, where I write doesn’t matter that much to me. It’s what I’m feeling while I’m writing that matters. Happy, sad, angry, etc. I find it incredibly important to be in the character’s head while I write, and as long as I’m doing that, it doesn’t always affect me.

That’s not to say it doesn’t affect me at all. The weather, for one thing, is a really important factor. Here’s one thing about me: I do not function well in heat. In fact, I turn into a monster-version of myself when I’m too hot. As I live in Karachi, Pakistan, which is really humid most of the time, combined with the fact that my apartment doesn’t have air-conditioning, this can become a bit of a problem at times.

When it’s cold, though, writing becomes a lot more fun. Winter just creates this atmosphere for me, one of comfort, one that just always boosts my spirits.

All in all, I have to say, when it comes to writing spaces, I’m pretty choiceless. But I still keep on writing, because that’s just what I do. I could never let my surroundings limit me—unless if I lived in some jungle and always had to be on high alert, maybe. Jokes aside, though, one day I hope I’m able to carve out a neat writing space for myself, that, even if not high-maintenance, is at least organized and, well, writerly! Like this one, for example:

(If you’re wondering, yes, I do have a bit of an obsession with author’s writing room. I just find it very interesting, and I like dreaming of owning a place similar to it.

Aleeza is a 17-year-old Pakistani-American YA writer & avid reader. She loves libraries, cricket, Pepsi & Gatorade, long drives, NEW ZEALAND!, among lots of other stuff. She's aiming to become an accountant in case her novels don’t bring in sufficient income. 

To read more from Aleeza, visit her blog Aleeza reads and writes


For more info on this guest submission series, visit the "Where I Go" submissions page 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Novel Month Day 2

Day Two

I've spent most of today packing and cleaning. I am officially moving out, going off on my own, starting a new chapter of life...or any other cliche you can think of that emphasizes the fact that I am leaving the nest.Tomorrow is road trip day and I'm excited, even though I know that means I'll have to wake up extra early if I want to get my writing done before we leave.

I haven't written anything today besides this blog post. I keep thinking about how I should be writing, but I can't seem to make myself actually go do it. It seems like there's so many other things, more important things to be doing. If I'm being honest with myself, I can admit that most days there are a million other things (sometimes "more important" things) I could be doing instead of writing, that I probably should be doing instead of writing. The days where there's absolutely nothing that demands your attention but the story are few and far between.

Most days are about sacrificing something for your writing; an episode of True Blood for one chapter, exercise for a few hundred words, a day on the beach with your friends for one sentence of utter brilliance. Sometimes, even food gets pushed to the back-burner.

So, if I'm being honest with myself, I can admit that today is no different than yesterday or the day before. The only thing keeping me from writing is me. Tonight, I think I can sacrifice that hour I was going to spend watching Suits for a few hundred words.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Novel Month Day 1

Day One

I'm going to finish my novel this month. That sounds more profound that it actually is.

I've been working on The Book That Wont End for over a year. This is the longest it has ever taken me to write a book and maybe that's why I'm starting to get a little antsy. I was hesitant to start this book because I knew how hard it would be to write. And it is. It's hard every single day. Writing this book is new on so many levels. There are so many things that I've learned or am learning. I'm a Contemporary writer writing an Urban Fantasy. The doubt that I'm cut out to write this book never goes away. A part of me wishes I could give it to someone else and let them finish it; another part of me understands that no one would be able to write TBTWE the way I will, not because I think I'm the epitome of writerly brilliance, but because this is my story and no one else can see the vision of it that I do.

I'm starting Novel Month with 38,000+ words and hoping I'll be able to get to 90,000 by the end of the month. Okay, maybe it is a little profound, for me anyway. That means I'll be writing a minimum of 1,500 words a day. I'm not sure how I'll manage to do this, I just know that I have to try.

Music I'm listening to: "My One And Only Thrill" by Melody Gardot

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Things to Think About

1.) How to Become a Writer Or, Have You Earned This Cliche? by: Lorrie Moore.

2.) Amy Winehouse. Enough said. I haven't listened to Back To Black in years and I've spent most of today  playing all ten tracks on repeat, feeling like crying because I just realized how much I wanted the next album, the one that will never come.

3.) I'm gonna need you to fight me on this: How Violent Sex Helped Ease My PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) by reporter Mac Mcclelland.

4.) "On Being Paki-American" by: Aleeza

Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Where I Go #1: Everywhere

by: Gracie

I went for a bike ride the other day.

As I rode down the streets behind my dad and brother, tires whizzing along the pavement, I soaked in my surroundings (along with the raindrops that had just begun to fall from the sky). We rode on the winding path next to the creek in the area near my house. I marvelled at the large cattails that grew in large patches in the mud next to the creek. They were beautiful stalks, bending gently as one in the wind. We rode past a once completely flooded field, now dried up to a large puddle and dead, yellow grass. I breathed in deeply the distinctly swampy scent that the field gave off. It reminded me of the marsh at the lake I went to for a week each summer.

I took note of all these thoughts, feelings and senses as I pedaled, soaking wet, up the driveway to my house.

Out in the world. That is where I write.

I know that, technically, I’m not continuously scribbling endless paragraphs of stories everywhere I go. But I am gathering scenes, characters, bits and pieces of stories, everywhere I go. And that’s the important stuff, anyway, the stuff that is the clay I mold my writing out of.

I’ll be sitting in the car, waiting for my mom, and across the parking lot I’ll spot a man in an old, pale yellow truck. My imagination starts up and my brain is filled with questions: Is he waiting for someone? His wife, maybe? What’s his wife like? Why is the hood of his car up? Is it broken? Later, this scene will be incorporated into the actual words I type out on my computer.

For me, where I go to do the physical act of writing (or, typing, really) doesn’t matter as much. Usually I’m just on my bed or at my cluttered desk in the basement (or “dungeon” as I like to call it).

The magic really happens when I’m out in the world, living life. Taking people, events and places and then, from that, creating my own, unique story. With just a little bit of complete imagination thrown in too, of
course. ;)

Gracie is a 17-year-old writer, reader and blogger who likes using pennames on the internet. ;) She's dreamed of becoming an author ever since she can remember, and has been writing since then along with trying to get published in teen writers' mags and win writing contests. (She has been successful twice so far). She lives in Canada with her quirky family and two cats.

To read more from Gracie visit her blog at I Am Writer...Hear Me Roar

For more info on this guest submissions series, visit the "Where I Go" Submissions page.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Online School vs. Traditional Schooling Part I

"When I told my friends I was going to online school they were confused. They couldn't understand why I would want to subject myself to that type of isolation..."

This quote was said by the valedictorian of my high school during the speech she gave at our graduation. She was standing in front of the podium in the shapeless navy blue gown that we were all forced to wear. The graduating class of 2011 formed the backdrop behind her as she smiled at the 70-something parents and family members sitting in the auditorium seats below the stage.

There was a sense of kinship between the graduates that day, and not because we were wearing the same cap and gown. We'd never seen each other's faces or sat at a table together to eat lunch. We'd never gone to parties together or passed notes in the back of a classroom. We'd never done any of the things that "normal" teens were supposed to do with each other during those four years of high school that seem to last forever and not long enough. But despite that, we knew each. All of us were bound together in a way that only similar experiences bind people. We understood what sitting on that stage in our cap and gown meant and that was enough to make us into a secret society.

I started out high school in the traditional way: I went to public school with the kids I'd known since middle school. My Freshman year went by in a flurry of Taco-Bell scented ignorance, peer pressure, and a big shrug to all things related to homework or tests or good grades. I was caught up in the new sense of freedom that high school provided, and spent too much time (more than I like to admit) ditching school to do things I shouldn't have been doing.

I've come to think of my Freshman year as all four years of high school packed into one. Every single perk and downside of traditional high school that one can experience, I experienced then. If I didn't have Bee to keep a leash on me and rein me in when I got out of control I don't know what kind of situations I would have gotten myself into. She was the voice of reason.

The summer before Sophomore year, I started to dread going back to all of that. I didn't want to get sucked back into a world that seemed separate from reality. I wanted to slow down, to understand...something, some part of a bigger picture I was missing; or maybe just my place in it. I would never have thought online school was an option because I didn't even know it existed. The idea of going to a high school based solely on the Internet seemed too good to be true even as the idea of isolation from my friends was cripplingly lonely.

It was Bee who found it out about it just a few days before school was due to start back up.

My family likes to joke that Bee can sell ice to an Eskimo. She probably could, too. She convinced my mom that we needed to give online school a try on the day we were shopping for school supplies to go back to school. This was a pivotal moment. My mother could have easily said no, and I still don't completely understand why she didn't, I just know that it was the best decision she could have made. It was the best decision I could have made by signing up.

Sitting on that stage, that's what all of us knew, me and Bee and our classmates. We knew that going to online school was the best decision we could have made. We weren't isolating ourselves, we were making the decision, for whatever reason(s), to give ourselves space; space to grow, and think, and learn. We were finding our place in a bigger picture.

Music I'm listening to: "Misguided Ghosts" by Paramore

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tomorrows: Endless, yes. Scary, maybe.

High school ended for me on June 14th, and since then I have been sitting in my living room watching all the Hulu my little heart (and eyes) can take. I've fallen in an obsessive love affair with Glee, I've taken a trip back in time to Grey's Anatomy's season one, I've been pulled deeper and deeper into the mystery that is Lost.

This is what I do. In the midst of all this, there is a shower, maybe even a hair brush if I'm feeling lucky, and a little writing on the side. I am okay with this routine...or, I was.

A few nights ago, I was meditating, searching for some burst of latent inspiration when I found something else. Often times when you look that deeply into yourself, you never find what it is that you're hoping you will. I know this, but I was still surprised. Instead of finding the solution to a tricky scene in my story, I found fear. A crippling, paralyzing fear. The kind that looms over you, and you just stand still, knowing it will hit any minute now but hoping like hell that it wont.

So what was I afraid of?

I sat in my dark, little office for an hour, legs crossed half lotus, thumb and index finger touching in wisdom, eyes closed. I separated myself from the nonsense chatter in my mind, and waited...and waited...

...and waited...

Eventually, the tension fell out of my neck and hips, even as my legs fell asleep. But that pain was secondary to the fear in my chest. It's instinctive to want to push that much fear away from yourself. Who in their right mind would want to sit down in the center of it?

Obviously I wasn't in my right mind, because I was pointing my finger at it and saying "Yeah, you, c'mere!" 

It did come come, right when I was ready to give up. And again, it just wasn't what I expected. I'm always afraid that I won't succeed, not just in my writing, but in every aspect of my life; that I won't live the best life I possibly can. I'm also afraid of spiders, and heights, and drowning.

But I didn't find any of those fears. I found a fear of change, of how fast everything in my life was changing, faster than I could comprehend, faster than I'd thought possible a month ago.

 Before graduation, I was insane with anticipation. I was going out into the real world, it was finally my time. Post graduation, the possibilities stretched endlessly before me. And I was, am, afraid; of tomorrow, of the day after, of making my next move, of not making it, of making it too early or too late. The fears of my future are endless, and it was these fears that had me hiding away.

Uncertainty was suffocating me.

When I opened my eyes and uncrossed my legs, I felt like I was waking up from a really long sleep, weeks of deep sleep. I was still scared, but today when I looked at myself in the mirror, I told myself that it was okay. Yes, everyone, I did talk to myself. I said, "It's okay. You're afraid and it's OKAY." I also told myself to stop looking at the uncertainty of the future as something apocalyptic and daunting. Those same endless possibilities that frighten you should excite you. You can make a mistake tomorrow and fix it the day after. You can cry like your world in ending today and tomorrow you can smile until your cheeks snap in two. There is no telling what tomorrow brings, and it's so exhausting to spend today stressing about it. In fact, it doesn't even make sense.

So, instead of slapping your hands over your eyes (like I did) and hiding away, you should embrace tomorrow with wide eyes and open arms. Give it a big hug and a sloppy kiss.

There's someone out there right now who is just as scared as I am, or was, and I'm not telling you that you need to meditate for an hour in order to recognize this fear and deal with it. I'm telling you to take it a step further: get off the couch, brush your hair, and smile, carry on with your day instead of hiding from it, know that it's okay, that you'll be okay. That's all it takes to make the most of today. And if you get up tomorrow and do the same thing, you'll be making the most of that day too. That's the future: endless, yes. Scary, maybe. But one day at a time, it isn't so impossible to comprehend.

PS: Sorry for staying away so long.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Routine

Another lazy Sunday, at least for me. I'm drinking too much coffee and reading too many books, searching for some internal spark that will propel me to go write. And though I haven't found it yet, I did find something else just as brilliant. 

I was surfing the internet for inspiration and a little voice in the back of my head (the one that usually tells me I need to pay more attention to what's going on in the world so I can sound cultured and aware) told me to check The New York Times.

Usually when I go on this site, I read a few articles and go straight to the New York Times Bestselllers list, but today I stumbled upon something else. It's a series of articles written by writers and creative people and even politicians where they talk about how they spend their Sundays. This doesn't sound extremely interesting, but it's surprisingly inspiring.

Sundays are so slow and calm. Sometimes this standstill can be peaceful and sometimes it's just boring. But what I loved about this series is that there seems to be a common thread running through the articles, one that reminds to relax and enjoy the fact that I'm doing nothing. 

I wish I had discovered this earlier today so I could share it at the beginning of the day instead of when the day is about to end, but it's better late than never.

Next week, I may even give this talking-about-my-Sunday thing a try. Until then, click on the link and take a look around. Who knows, you might find something great.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Few Things on a Melancholy Monday

A few reasons why today sucks, aside from the fact that it's Monday...

1.) I just realized that finals and graduation are around the corner, and all the time that I had this year to slack off and read when I should have been writing and writing when I should have been doing homework are over. Over. Right. Now. The painful, stress-inducing part came in when I also realized how behind I am in most of my classes. I knew for the past few weeks that I was barely hanging on, but it didn't seem as immediate as it does now.

Now it feels like graduation is coming in a minute, or an hour, and OH MY GOSH I didn't shave my legs, or buy shoes for my dress or pass all my classes.    

In reality, I have two weeks, but with how quickly everything else is moving. I'm terrified that the next two weeks will be over before I've typed the last period in this blog post.

2.) At about nine this morning, my counselor paid me a lovely call (whose ringing woke me from a vivid dream that I'm not talking about) to remind me how close I am to tanking my classes. Her exact words were: "You need to beat it out, girl!" So yeah, I'll be "beating it out" today. I love this chick.

3.) Let's not talk about how desperate I am for a summer job. How I iron my clothes (I never iron!), and practice my smiles, and try to be charming when I hand in my application (I'm never charming!). Let's not talk about how adult life is four months away and when I move out there will be no one to put money in my outstretched hand.

Look, it's already starting. Don't you see my hand failing in midair? It's empty.

4.) Game of Thrones is getting so good! I love watching the court politics and the scheming and backstabbing. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, Game of Thrones is a series on HBO that's just divine. Think Tudors, with a little more grunge and dirt and blood, and the king is not as cute as John Rhys Meyers. The only thing that bugged me about last night's episode was the throw down between Lord Stark and that Lannister dude, it was pretty sad. I mean, I kept waiting for Stark to bust out some ninja-like moves and show this guy who's boss. It didn't happen.

5.) The rain here has a very twisted sense of humor. I think it knows how badly I want it to fall, so it only starts when I'm asleep. But I'm hopeful today, today it's going to fall, even if I have to set a bonfire on my front lawn and dance naked. 

So, maybe this post isn't completely melancholy. But because I'm not feeling so hot and because melancholy starts with an M that goes so well with the M in Monday, the title is staying.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Small Beginnings Part 1: Mrs. Gardener

Last year, I took the SAT for the first time. Despite being a writer, I was so sure I would bomb the writing portion and then the humiliation of that would cause me to bomb the following English portion. And then because I still count with both hands (and sometimes both feet) , I would bomb the Math portion, and ultimately become a failure.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I opened up that little booklet and read my writing prompt, which basically asked me what I thought was more important, creativity or logic and reason. Um, hello? This is probably the most indulgent question you can ask a writer. The answer is so obvious. It's like they were asking me if I would prefer laying on a tropical beach with Leonardo Dicaprio or reenacting the Titanic. And no matter how cute Leonardo was in the Titanic, we all know he dies in that movie. So, I'm taking the beach.   

Needless to say, I didn't bomb the writing portion. I wrote my essay about my fifth grade teacher and how she changed my life by assigning a creative project, thus explaining why I thought creativity was limitless, which explained why I thought it was more important. While I wont be sharing my essay with you guys, I am going to share my fifth grade teacher.

Her name is Mrs. Gardener and she is still the best teacher I've ever had. I think what made her such a wonderful teacher was the fact that she was dedicated to her job. That dedication showed in everything she taught me, and I'll always thank her for that, because it makes a difference. At least, it did for me.

As all stories start--Once Upon a Time, Mrs. Gardener handed out an assignment to the class after hanging three paintings on the board. She told the class to choose one and then write a story about it, which didn't sound all that fun to me. But her enthusiasm for the assignment was contagious. It was almost as if she was inviting me into a secret world, giving me a set of keys, and telling me "go ahead, open the door."

I rode on that enthusiasm all the way home and wrote my very first story. I don't remember what the painting I chose was called, but I do remember that it had to do with a book being eaten by vines. From that I got 12 wide-ruled pages about a girl whose mom drove her to the library and told her to make some friends, and in an effort to do so, she befriended a girl working at the checkout counter and ended up checking out a book that was said to be haunted. She then goes home, opens the book, and the vines reach out and pull her into the book, trapping her forever. I know, I think it's pretty brilliant, too.

I wrote this laying in the middle of my bedroom, writing so fast that my words were illegible. Sometimes, I think that I'm still laying there writing, only now, I'm older and the stories are different and I'm typing on a laptop. Sometimes, I believe that Mrs. Gardener really did hand me the keys to a secret world and once I went in I never came back out.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Small Beginnings

Other than myself, there are a few people that can be held accountable for the fact that I became a writer.

1.) My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Gardener.

2.)  My twin sister, Bee.

3.) My mother, who I still call Mommy. 

There has been a lot of people who have supported me and believed in me and my writing over the years, but these three people are the people that actually got me to sit down and write. Whether it was their words or their actions, it changed my life forever. And every time I think about where I began this journey, I come back to them and the small but important part they played in my creative life.

There's not enough space in the world to describe how they changed my life, but I'm going to try and contain it in a few posts throughout next week.

Until then...have a great weekend everyone.        

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Single Minded Writer Syndrome

Single Minded Writer Syndrome plagues thousands of writers in the world. Every ten minutes another writer is diagnosed with Single Minded Writer Syndrome...

I might have made that up, but it gets my point across. I'm not alone, and neither are you! There are other writers who forget life outside their books and walk around their houses with dark circles under their eyes, unbrushed hair, and a tea cup permanently attached to their hand. This isn't pretty, but I've never met a writer who looks cute in the throes of Single Minded Writer Syndrome.

SMWS can last anywhere from a day to a few weeks. I think how long it lasts is however long it takes the writer to realize they have it. The reason I'm writing this post is to talk about my own bout with SMWS. You may have noticed my absence for most of last week, that's because I spent that time catching up on homework that I'd either procrastinated on or forgotten about. I know what you're thinking: how does someone forget they have homework? And honestly, I don't know. I can only blame it on SMWS.

My brain usually says "After I do this assignment, I can go write," this is rational and normal. In the midst of SMWS all that rationality gets thrown out the window and my brain starts chanting me to the office: "WRITE WRITE WRITE!!!Whatthehellareyouwaitingfor?!!"  And me, seduced by all the pictures of future scenes in my head, I give in.

Without realizing it, I gave into this voice for most of April. Everyday was a race to the office. In the morning it was always "how fast can I shower, make coffee, and stuff that toast in my mouth?" and then when that took too long: "What about multitasking? Can I eat toast while I shower?" I was so caught up in my book that everything else fell away, nothing was more important than getting the next word, the next scene, the next chapter.

This mindset can be beneficial in small doses. In big heaping doses it becomes destructive (I'm using myself as an example).

So, how do you recognize the symptoms and what's the cure?

I'm not sure I could accurately write all the symptoms of SMWS without asking Bee and my mom what I'm like when "I crawl under my rock" (when I'm in my office 208994 hours of the day). So, I'll let you guys draw your own conclusions for that one. In fact, I would suggest you ask the people around you what you're like when you get "in that mood." They'll tell you the truth.

Anyway, once you realize you've contracted Single Minded Writer Syndrome, the only way to get over it is to type one last sentence, close the word document, and step out of the office. Immerse yourself in the real world again...and brush your hair, your computer might not judge you but other people will.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

First chapters and cheesecake

I have a twin sister, Bee. I have mentioned this before, but for those of you who are just tuning in, I felt the need to say this again, just so there isn't any confusion. She's not just my sister, she's my twin sister. But that's not the point.

The point is that she is amazing!! I do not tell her this enough because half of the time I just want to wrap my fingers around her neck and...well, you know. But something happened yesterday.

She made pumpkin cheesecake!


She gave me my first chapter!

I would have been happy with the cheesecake, but in typical Bee fashion, Bee knows what I'm thinking before I do. So, two cups of coffee, two slices of cheesecake, two cups of tea, and a melodramatic speech about how I don't know why I bother, she finally says "Tell me where you left off, I'll write it for you."

I know what you're thinking, you think she actually wrote my first chapter and handed it to me polished and shiny. She didn't. But she may as well have. She stretched her fingers, rolled her shoulders, did a few more stretches, and started typing with this determined expression on her face. Bee isn't a writer, she isn't a reader, she doesn't even like libraries. But she is amazing. Did I mention that? I think I did. Anyway, by the time she was done and I read what she wrote, I was smiling. No, I was laughing. I realize now that this is probably the reaction she was aiming for. But at the time, I was just so amused and slightly astonished at how she somehow managed to tell me without saying it out loud that I was overthinking everything.

And I was.

I think that is why I've always had trouble with my first chapters. I told Bee yesterday that I don't want my first chapter to be "good" or "great!" I want it to be "Excellent!!!!" So this is where I set the bar for myself and aim to touch every single time I sit down to write. Having this standard in mind, I write a sentence and dissect it. I write another and dissect it. The process repeats itself until I really just want to delete everything I've ever written and start chasing Life Long Dream #2 : become a ballerina. Then I realize it's too late for that and my knees crack when I stand and that, too, goes out the window. And it's back to Life Long Dream #1.

I'm starting to realize that I might just set the bar for myself a little too high. I mean, it's one thing to strive to do the best you can, but it's something else entirely to strive for perfection. If I'm being honest with myself I can admit that I have perfectionist tendencies. In my defense, though, I'm not always aware of them. That's what Bee did for me yesterday. She made me aware that I was so hooked on getting it perfect, that I was questioning everything I wrote, and by questioning everything I wrote, I was building up problems within my story that didn't exist.

So, I know better now. And hopefully this short little tale can be a precaution for some other writer sitting in a dark room, struggling with their first chapter...and eating cheesecake.

I will eventually share with you guys what she wrote and what I wrote. But we'll save that for later.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Writing habits--the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

I've been writing for a long time. Nine or ten years, to be exact. But what just hit me is that while I've learned a lot, there is still so much out there that my little writer brain hasn't even touched yet. It made me wonder if we writers ever really stop learning and just start knowing.

*Wait a beat of silence*

I just realized how stupid that was. To know everything would imply perfection, and no one is perfect. Not even if you're J. K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer or Oprah. Though sometimes I wonder if Oprah might just be some alien from a different planet that's so much more awesome than ours, thus giving her super-awesome-alien powers that allow her to do a million things at once. But that's besides the point. The point is we never stop growing and learning and so I wanted to talk about writing habits; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good
These are things that we should all be doing.

1.) Write Daily.
I don't care if you're tired, or if a new book came out that you just-cannot-put-down (City of Fallen Angels, cough cough). I don't care if your fingers fall off, then you should probably write with your toes. I don't even care if your dog ate your story. Writing daily is essential, see why here.

2.) Storyboarding.
Every writer writes differently, and I would never presume that just because something works for me means it works for you, too. But this works. Trust me. If you find yourself staring at a blinking cursor wondering what the heck happens next, you should probably make one of these. While it wont give you the answers to what happens next, it will keep every single thought you had about your story so organized that it'll make finding out what happens next easier. To make a story board all you need is a white board, sticky notes, and dry erase makers. I could go into all the details and steps but they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so...

and again, every writer is different, so your storyboard doesn't have to look like mine or anyone else. See all the jumbled writing on the right? That's how my mind works.

3.) Cookies, Doritos, and doughnuts. Not necessarily in that order.
Do I even have to elaborate on this one? Tell your body and your personal trainer that it's for "creative purposes" and if that doesn't work, tell them it's "Brittany's orders". And then do five jumping jacks to lessen the guilt.

4.) Family = free cheerleaders.
Give me an A, give me a B, give me a They-have-no-choice-but-to-love-anyway! So don't shut them out. Tell them how your story is going, tell them you love them when they buy you cookies for "creative purposes."

5.) Confidence.
When you get up in the morning, take some time to grab this and shove it in your pocket. Carry this with you everywhere; to the bathroom, to work, to the office. Never let anyone take it from you.

6.) Write Freely.
If you're passionate about it, write it. When it comes to writing, where your heart leads you is probably the right direction.

The Bad
These are things you should not do...like ever.

1.) Compare and Contrast.
Unless you're in English class, you'll want to avoid this. It never turns out well, you will not get a gold star or an A. There will always be someone who writes better than you, and there will always be someone who doesn't. If you focus on either, you will start doubting yourself or your ego will expand to Godzilla proportions. The trick is to be fazed by neither.

2.) Call writer's block, Writer's Block.
If you don't call it by it's name, it does not exist. All the power is in the name, people. Let me tell you why. Once we say we have writer's block, it's like we accept its existence and the fact that we can't change it. So we wait, and wait...and wait for it to leave. But in doing this, we waste precious time and creative juices watching bad reality tv and feeling sorry for ourselves. If we refuse to call it by its name, that means we refuse to give up, we refuse to accept the fact that we're suck. I'm starting a movement to de-name writer's block. I have a feeling this needs its own blog post.

The Ugly
These are worse than the bad.

1.) Hi, my name is Suck.
These are days where your writing sucks and you suck and life and the universe and everything ever invented sucks (with the exception of cookies, Doritos, and doughnuts). There is no cure for these days, you must just Step Away From The Computer.

There's tons more Good, Bad, and Ugly. But I can't think of anything else. Feel free to share if you think of something.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I found the secret to writing

Yes, you did hear me correctly. I have discovered the secret. So, brace yourself, this is going to blow your mind.
The secret to writing is to Just Do It, Just Write. That's it; it's that simple and that hard. It's not a secret at all, when you really think about it. But I didn't know this. It made me realize that there are probably a million other writers, newbies and pros alike, who also haven't figured it out yet, who keep asking the question: "how do they do it?"

I'm going to tell you.

It sounds so easy (Just Do it, Just Write). But all you writers out there know that this isn't the case. You hear all your favorite authors talk about how you have to make a routine and stick with it; how you have to guard your writing time; how you have to dedicate yourself and show up for the job even when it's the last thing you want to do and the-world-is-ending-O-M-G-this-is-torture. And they're right, imagine that. You have to do all these things. You have to get up and drag yourself to the computer and that damned blinking cursor. You have to drink endless cups of tea and coffee and forget to eat. You have to wrack your brain and then come up with nothing, and then start wracking again. And you cannot stop. You have to keep going. It sucks and then sucks some more and then...yes, more sucking. You wonder why you even bother and if it's too late to opt out and become a go-go dancer. And then, all of a sudden, in the midst of all the suck, the clouds part, music starts up, and it doesn't suck anymore.

Yesterday, the very foundation that I built my writing career on shifted. Actually, that's too light a word. It flipped upside down. My writing has always come in great bursts of muse-induced inspiration where I could write for nine hours at a time only to then not write for another week or two. I told myself that I was covering so much ground during those nine hours that this pattern was okay.

Last night I figured out that it wasn't okay, and that I had it all wrong. Most days the muse doesn't show up, but I think I speak for all you writers when I say that on the days it does, it's like Christmas and New Years and Thanksgiving and Mardi Gras, all wrapped up into one adrenaline, sweat-soaked, caffeinated package. It's the days that the muse is gone, though, that really count. Sometimes those days are good, sometimes bad, sometimes they're simply okay. The point it to not shy away from the office just because the muse isn't waiting for you there. You might only write 3 words, you might write a 1,000. But every single one of them count.

I don't know if it's just me, but on the days where the writing isn't coming smoothly, I do some of my best thinking. Because let's face it, if you can't write, you're just sitting and thinking about writing. I think about my characters and why they do the things they do, I think about that one comma and if it really needs to be there, I think about plot and structure, and every other messy detail that comes along with writing a book. These days days count.

The days where inspiration is pouring out of your ears count.

Everyday counts.

The moral to the story is what they've been saying since the beginning of time: Just Do It, Just Write. Like right now...why are you still reading this sentence, GO!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Drop it like its hot

Am I the only one who thinks this commercial is funny? Am I the only one slightly obsessed?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What the rain does...

Besides make everything wet? We'll get to this in a minute.

Let's start with what I really like about California--at least the southern part of it. The weather is predictable. If you walk outside, you know it's going to be sunny, and if it's cold, it'll probably still be sunny in a few hours. But, I've realized that Northern California is not so predictable on the weather front, and I've come to hate it. I'm never sure if I should or wear flip-flops or a coat...or both.

With that said, it's been raining for the past week. And while most people are hiding inside and feeling insanely miserable, I'm SO HAPPY!!!!! I'm very much aware that I'm probably one of a handful of people the actually enjoy the rain. I'm also very much aware of the nasty looks I get when I say this. But I can't help it. I LOVE IT!

People seem to forget all the possibilities that rain brings, and so...

1.) You remember that Spider-man kiss in the rain, and I'm know I'm not the only one who wants to give this a shot...all I need is a spandex spider suit and a guy to stuff it in. Any volunteers?


2.) Rainbows! 'nough said.

3.) Okay, lets be honest here. You can drink hot chocolate any day, but you know that it tastes better when it's raining outside.  

4.) Reruns!! Watching past seasons of your favorite TV shows and eating Doritos. This is a two in one: the TV's so loud you can't hear the phone ring and you get to cheat on your diet. And if you need a suggestion on what to watch...

So, there you have it four reasons why rainy days are the best. There's a million more, but this usually does it for me. What does the rain do for you?