Just Keep Spinning

There’s a spider that’s moved on to my house. I say “on to” my house because he’s outside. I don’t actually know if it’s a he, but I nicknamed him Pete (as I do with all the spiders I find in my house – I don’t know why) so it’s a he.

He’s living just outside my door on my porch and has chosen the sidelight to build his web. I’m not particularly creeped out by spiders, bugs or other creepy crawlies, but I’m not one for having them so close to me. Especially to my face. But, there’s a nice piece of glass separating the two of us, so we manage to make it work.

It’s been a few weeks since Pete’s moved in and I’ve become utterly fascinated by him. He’s nocturnal, so during the day he hides out just above his web in the framing of the door. He bunches up into a ball and, I don’t know… Sleeps? Hangs out?

Then at night, this happens:

My new friend Pete.

My new friend Pete.

As you can see, he comes down from above and hangs out in the middle of the web. Classic spider stuff. And, yes, he is as big as he looks. I haven’t measured him, but he’s bigger than the spiders I’m used to seeing.

I’m not going to lie, If I saw Pete in the house, I’d be a little freaked out.

After the first week, I noticed one morning that the beautiful web he spun (hard to see it in this picture), was destroyed. Most of the inner circles were gone and the bottom was almost non-existent.

I was sad, but it happens. Circle of life. I figured he was done and moving on.

Except the next morning I came downstairs and noticed that the web was back. Good for Pete, I thought. Another meal will be served.

A few days later, I noticed the web was destroyed again. And, I was sad again.

But, this time, as I was heading upstairs for bed, I saw the most amazing thing. I saw Pete spinning the web!

I’d post the video, but it’s not that great. Pete would walk around the spokes of the web, the webbing trailing from behind him, and at each spoke he’d take a leg and guide the webbing onto the spoke, making it stick in place, walk to the next spoke and repeat, creating the web.

I was utterly mesmerized. At first I wasn’t sure I was sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. I couldn’t really see the web as he spun it. It almost looked like he was walking on air. It wasn’t until I looked back at his work that I actually saw what was being created. He would lay the web and move on to the next part, but I couldn’t see what he just spun. The webbing is mostly transparent at first. It wasn’t until Pete was maybe three parts over that the web started to become more opaque and thus, more visible. And each time around the web added a layer and eventually, Pete had a complete web.

He didn’t stop, he didn’t look back, he trusted his process. He just kept spinning.

Watching him do this has inspired me to adopt him as my spirit animal, and I could use one right now. I know a spider don’t seem like a likely choice for spirit animal, but it’s hard not to want to be like Pete. He moved in and set-up shop like it was no big deal. When the web was destroyed, he went back, fixed it and moved on with his life. When the web was destroyed again, he fixed it again. And even though it maybe wasn’t immediately clear or obvious to me what he was doing, it was to him. When I watched long enough, things came into focus for me, too. They became real to me, just like they are to Pete. And Pete keeps spinning.

There’s a lot going on right now. Not just for me, but for everyone. Even for people I don’t know, haven’t yet met or may never meet. And I’ll probably never know what they’re up against, and they may never know what I’m up against. And that’s OK. But, I’d suggest if you’re feeling lost, out of focus, disconnected or just plain blah, find a Pete and watch him spin his web. Because we all need to keep spinning our web, and eventually, whatever it is will come into focus for all of us.

I have Nothing. Or Too Much.

Boo!

As the name implies, sometimes I have time to write. Sometimes, I don’t. This was one of those “don’t” times.

I have a feeling that soon enough, it will be one of those “do” times. In spades. The layoffs at work have begun. They say it’s seasonal, and maybe that’s true. Summer is a slow time and maybe it will pick up again in September. Then again, it tends to be slow in summer for a lot of companies in many different industries and they don’t lay off. Especially unexpectedly and without warning. I have my doubts this is “seasonal.”

In any event, I decided now was a good time to fire up the resume and start looking around. Just in case. While I’d love nothing more than to have time to sit around and write (until I got frustrated and started banging my head against the desk) the reality is that there are bills to be paid and therefore, I need money. Like an actual reliable, I can count on this being in my checking account twice a month kind of job.

Way back when, before this “I’m gonna be a writer!” thing, I was a manager. A person in charge of hiring and firing. A person with a master’s degree. A person with a lot to offer.

In an entirely different field.

And, by that I mean, not a writing field. Not a journalist field. Not a marketing field. Not a new media field. Something totally different. So, while I have a lot of experience and an advanced degree, it’s not in the right field. Not even a related field.

Which is not entirely true. I’ve been freelancing for a while, so I have a body of work, but nothing very current and with my name on it. That’s the funny thing about the Internet. It changes. Constantly. So, stuff I did, say 2 years ago, is gone. I have the originals but no active links on the Internet. That means it doesn’t count.

Lots of people don’t really want to talk to me because of that advanced degree and experience as the in-charge type. They make assumptions about the amount of pay that I’ll work for or what kind of team player I would be. Sure, they call me in for an interview because they have to, to make their hiring pool look good, but then I get in there and it’s a whole bunch of questions that make them wonder why I’d even bother applying in the first place.

It’s hard to say in an interview, Well, I never should have gotten that degree to begin with. I just wasn’t ready for the real world and it seemed kind of interesting, so, you know, I did that, even though, deep down, I never really wanted to it’s just that I lacked good guidance and certain skills to say that and sort of ended up there and I don’t know how but I just woke up one day and there I was in a job I really loathed because of choices and mistakes I made years ago. Then smile sheepishly, because that’s always cool to do in an interview.

It’s tough, I know. I’ve been in their shoes. On the one hand, I don’t really fit what they want in a candidate. And the next 16 applicants do, so why would they hire me? On the other hand, I’ve got an advanced degree, so obviously I must be kind of smart and persistent and all sorts of cool sounding corporate buzz words, but what’s to say I won’t get bored with the job and leave when something better paying, more interesting or more ______________ comes along?

I’d love to start each application with: Look! I’m a writer. Obviously, I’m not in to big pay checks and glory. And I’ve been working for peanuts for the last year! Clearly I’m willing to compromise on everything!

But I would say it in a much less desperate way. because no matter what I can or can’t offer an employer, I’m a writer. That’s what I do. Make it all sound better than it really is.

On to Something New

I’ve talked before about Twitter and how I’ve been finding all sorts of writing prompts and games on there. They’ve been fun and have led me to write some interesting things and to explore topics I may not have thought about otherwise.

One of the prompts has encouraged me to ditch my current WIP and try something new. Completely new. This won’t be the first time I’ve abandoned a project, but it will be the first time I’m going to try and write in a different genre.

It will be interesting, to say the least. And, I think, challenging, but I’m hoping challenging in a good way. Like, in a way that allows me to complete a project and actually send it out instead of just talking about it. Or pushing to get to nowhere.

So, here goes. Out with the old. In with the new.

Memorable Writing

Someone remembered my writing and used it as an example!

Of bad writing.

(Oh, come on. You had to see that coming.)

I can’t say that I disagree, per se. It wasn’t my best work and could have used some polishing. However, that’s not why it was used as an example. Of bad writing. (I might be a tad bitter.)

I know up front that I still have a lot to learn about the craft of writing. Loving to write, needing to write, being unable to stop writing, isn’t enough. That’s the truth I’ve come to grips with lately. Loving it isn’t enough. Very few of us are naturally “that good.” Most of us are good, but have to really work at the “that” part. I’m one of them, and that’s fine.

The reason it was held up as a bad example wasn’t because of the writing but because of where it started. Specifically, because this reader didn’t care about the character yet. There was no emotional involvement so why do we care about what is happening to the character.

OK. I see what she’s saying. Really, I do. But.

(Because you knew that was coming, too.)

Don’t you automatically care about the character because you picked up the book? Part of me wanted to say, isn’t that what book jackets and synopses for? You’re reading the book because your friend said it’s awesome, right? So, don’t you automatically want to know what happens even if you’re not emotionally connected to the character in the first 200 or so words? You don’t just give up on a book after 200 words do you? If you’re an agent, maybe, sure, but a reader? Don’t you keep reading a little further, just to see?

Personally, the soonest I’ve ever given up on a book was about 3 pages in. A record for me, to be sure, and it wasn’t because I didn’t emotionally connect with the character. It had to do with some really bad writing about testicles. Don’t ask. But that’s more than 200 words.

Don’t misunderstand. She wasn’t saying she had to like the character, which is a totally different thing. She just needed to connect. And that’s fine, for her. Not everyone needs to connect with a character just to keep reading.

Take The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I loved that book. But the first 70 pages. Yikes. What the hell was that? I couldn’t understand what all the fuss and hype was about. But, people told me not to give up and I didn’t. And I’m glad I didn’t. And, in turn, I shared that advice with others who wanted to give up. Don’t, I said. I promise.

I didn’t connect with any character in the beginning because, frankly, there was no one really to connect with. Lots of set-up, no action. Boring. When I was reading it I remember thinking, I could easily condense this into about 3 pages and move on, but, that’s not how that book was written. I would have missed out if I had given up after 3 pages just because of the lack of connection.

So, what does this all mean? While the critique was coming from a good place, I just can’t agree. I started in the right place. Perhaps I needed more characterization for context and connection, but, no, I was right to start where I did.

And I’m going to keep going.

You Never Know Unless You Try!

Just a quick note.

There are all sorts of things to find on Twitter – beyond the promoted posts and click bait. There are lots of writing prompts to help you improve your writing. One of those is 200 Word Tuesdays. Each month there’s a theme (or two) and you write a story to fit said theme, but use only 200 words. It’s not nearly as easy as it sounds.

I don’t generally think of myself as a short story writer, but given how the novel thing is coming along, I probably shouldn’t rule anything out.

So, I tried! And succeeded! Read Beautful Armor here and follow on Twitter at @200WordTuesdays (and the fabulous person behind it all @ReeDwithaBee).

The Inspiration Well

I’m very glad I opted not to participate in NaNo this month.

I thought I had a very good plot outline going, then I looked it over and decided I didn’t. I was making some tweaks to it and got stuck, distracted, overwhelmed and uninspired. Among other things. And now, it’s the 17th and I’ve written exactly 0 words. Is there a badge for that?

It doesn’t really bother me in the sense that I wasn’t planning on participating (officially anyway). It does bother me that I’ve been unable to find the right way to fix what’s wrong. I know exactly what’s wrong but can’t find the words or ideas to make it work. And I planned on writing this month and it’s half over and I’ve accomplished nothing, save for irritating myself seeing how little I’ve done.

Which also doesn’t bother me, per se. I know that sometimes it takes me time to find the right idea and work it out so it makes sense. If I ever do get the hang of this writing thing, I know for certain I won’t ever be called a “prolific writer,” the kind that cranks out a book a year. Or every other year. Or every five years, I’m guessing. And I’m OK with that.

What is bothering me is the other thing that’s inspiring me right now: angry letter writing. Actually, angry email writing to be exact, but you get what I mean. There’s an issue I’m trying to deal with and it’s something I’m passionate about and if you read my last post, you probably have some idea how I feel about the whole thing.

I was sitting in the office doing what has become my afternoon ritual of listening to Pandora and beating my head against the desk, trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with my WIP when an email response finally came in to something I’ve been expecting. I waited two whole weeks for this response. That’s a long time for me to keep my mouth shut when I feel strongly about something.

I took a deep breath and a walk (and by walk I mean into the kitchen to wash the breakfast dishes with a pit stop in the laundry room to switch loads) before I responded. Fortunately (for both of us) the person I’m now dealing with seems friendly and warm and actually willing to listen to my concerns instead of hurl insults (don’t ask). But, I’m still annoyed with the foot dragging and stalling. I needed a few minutes to compose my thoughts and make sure I didn’t come off as utterly obnoxious, given “something else” has come up and now she can’t examine my stuff for another few weeks. (Side note: uh-huh. Sure, you can’t. Whatever.)

So, I’m typing the response, and it took about 30 minutes to compellingly craft a five sentence response that was kind yet firm. And that was about 25 minutes too long, in my estimation. See, my mind kept wandering, I was so inspired by writing this response that I found myself drifting to another project.

This blog post. Sigh.

I found myself composing the paragraphs for this post while I should have been working on those 5 sentences. I kept thinking about all the things I wanted to say and rant about, and how it would be an excellent blog post. It was hard, but I managed to force myself to finish the response first before I came over here to craft his amazing blog post. (I know, it’s nothing special, but I need this right now.)

Well, it’s not the WIP, and it’s not perfect, but I guess it’s something. I know that realistically, as a writer, I can’t wait for the muse to show-up (thought it would be nice if it would show up at 9AM, coffee in hand, ready to go like I am). I have to chase it. Or work without it, But my current frustration isn’t that I’m not inspired to write. I am. I just don’t want to write a bunch of jumbled nonsensical crap that I end up throwing out. I know that’s my specialty, but I’d really like to diversify.

I wonder how these prolific writers manage. How do they crank out a book a year? I know there’s rumors about ghostwriters, but assume they aren’t. How do they do it? How do people work when the muse is AWOL?

Inspiration can come in many forms, I guess. I just wish what so easily inspired this blog post could inspire the WIP. That would be nice. Less frustrating. Or, if something, anything, could easily inspire the WIP. But that doesn’t seem to be happening, so I’m back to beating my head against the desk. It helps. Happy Monday!

Tuning Out

I’ve been trying to write this post for about an hour, but I keep getting distracted. I had a whole other topic in mind for today but I’ve forgotten what it is. I’m sure I’ve got it filed away in my brain somewhere, but I can’t seem to find it. Knowing me, I probably wrote it down somewhere, but I can’t find my notebook. I think it’s in my car, but I can’t find the motivation to get up and get it so I can see what I was thinking about the topic for today. I think it was about writing. I’m not sure. I don’t remember.

See, I did something stupid. Actually, I’m still doing it. Right now as I type this. I’m allowing myself to be distracted. I say “allowing” because I could stop it. I could close all the active tabs on the computer, make the Internet go away, tune Pandora to something less fun, close Twitter. But, I can’t.

Mostly, I’m fascinated by Twitter right now. Either I’ve never stayed logged in for this long or today just happens to be a very active tweeting kind of day. Every time I look, there’s new tweets. I go to refill my coffee cup, 2 more tweets. I open them, find an interesting link, click it, read the article, finish and, 3 more tweets. I look at them real quick, get up to pee, come back six tweets. Open those and… You get the idea.

There’s no real reason for this. Let’s face it, most of the tweets aren’t particularly earth shattering. Some have links to interesting writery things. Those are OK. Sometimes things are funny and I laugh. But, truly, most of the tweets are time wasters. Sure, you could say that the writer related ones are work related, what with me being a part-time writer and all. But, it’s not like most of the tweets are going to advance my career. It would be cool if they could, though. And, of course, there’s all the links to the quizzes and all the other click bait I fall for.

It took me about 10 minutes longer than it should have to type that last paragraph because of all the incoming tweets. Seriously! What is wrong with me? Don’t answer that. Because, I’ll answer it myself.

I’m having a case of doubt. Ever have that? Sure, we all have. And, this isn’t my first case of doubt. I don’t know what number it is, but I know it’s not the first, or the last.

My latest WIP is actually my third attempt (or maybe 4th?) at a novel. Non fiction I can do. Essays I can do. Ghost writing I can do. Rambling blog posts are clearly not a problem. Novels, though… Ack. I have a good idea, but it’s vague and as I develop it becomes a little less vague, but not clear enough to coalesce into anything resembling a novel. It’s not just the telling not showing thing, I can’t quite figure out how to end it. Or the direction it should take to the foggy ending. It’s like a road trip that starts off really well but then the GPS goes out and you don’t have cell service and you kind of go, well, OK, whatever, lets keep going and see what happens and you drive and drive and drive and eventually drive off into nowhere and run out of gas. The end.

Not a very good road trip. Though possibly how a good story starts.

So, I’m allowing myself to be distracted today by the tweeting (7 sitting there right now. I’m sure I’ll check in a second) to avoid the fact that I am, once again, stuck. It’s difficult to be stuck, because I don’t know how to get unstuck. I have a great idea, but that’s about it. No where to go with it. I’ve tried a few times, but run out of gas.

What’s funny (to me) about this whole thing is that for as many times as this has happened to me, I keep coming back. Trying again. Starting over with another foggy idea. Or beating the old one because I’m not totally convinced it’s dead. Yet. I hope that’s the definition of grit. Persistence. So that when the day comes that I have done it and I have finished it and it’s published I can say I didn’t give up. I kept trying until I succeeded because I believed.

But right now there are 4 new tweets to waste time with. Believing can wait until later.