Happy Freaking New Year

My Mom used to say, “Man plans, God laughs,” every time something went awry. Didn’t matter if it was a delayed flight, a party that didn’t go well or even having to park far away from the entrance, she’d say it. Kind of like a mantra. I always found it odd since she doesn’t believe in God, but, whatever. I could always count on her saying that when something didn’t work out as planned.

It bothered me a bit. It felt like she was saying we don’t have any control. That there was no free will. Only destiny. If that sounds a bit extreme and pessimistic, then you don’t know my Mother. If you know my mother then you get it. Which also means you know I automatically disagreed with her because she and I see the world very differently.

Of course, the funny thing is that the more adult-like I’ve become, the more I see that I can make all the plans I want and, well…

I had planned to start with the regular blogging again come the beginning of January. Not this crazy, occasional, when I get around to it and when I have time blogging I’ve been doing. And, I was going to work on the WIP more.

We can see how that worked out.

January is already half over and here’s the first blog post of the year. And that WIP? Still waiting. Hmpfh.

Instead of writing and creating I got stuck doing other stuff. Not stupid stuff. Stuff that had to get done. Stuff that had to happen. The stuff that occurs when you’re a grown-up and have to remind yourself – repeatedly – that you chose this path and that it comes with the territory.

Hmpfh. Again.

And, the super-annoying part? I logged in to Word Press this morning and see that everyone else has managed a whole bunch of blog posts and working on their projects and have been producing and creating and blah, blah, blah.

Hmpfh. Yet again.

Yup. Man plans. God laughs. You were right, Mom. (Don’t tell her I said that. I’ll never hear the end of it.)

It’s Hard to Be a Grown-Up

Long absence, I know. But that’s because I’m a grown-up and have “responsibilities” and such. Things I don’t want to do but have to. Some of them are legally required of me, some of them I just have to do because I’m a grown-up. But, man, it is tough sometimes.

(I know, I know, a lot of what I’m about to say falls into the category of “first world problems” but, due to lack of anything else, that’s what today’s post is all about.)

Like this blog post. I’m sitting here basically not doing it (even though I am) because there are other things I don’t want to do. Like mend a pillow case and paint some shelves. Easy things that will probably take all of about two seconds to do.

Then, there are the harder things, like waiting back on 2 email responses that I really don’t want to deal with. I mean, they are things that need to be dealt with and that’s part of being a grown-up. But I just don’t want to. I realize that if no one else does it, it won’t get done and then I will suffer the consequences, hence my taking the lead on it, but… Yuck. I really hate dealing with stupid stuff. Actually, that’s not true. Sometimes I just hate dealing with stuff. But, that’s part of being a grown-up.

And, I’m not even sure when this grown-up thing happened. I kind of woke up one day and said “How did this happen?” I don’t remember a ceremony marking the occasion. Or getting an official written offer that I accepted. It just kind of happened. Sure, there are some aspects of being a grown-up that are awesome. Like right now, it’s 10 AM and I’m still in my pajamas with no plans to leave them anytime soon and in a few minutes I’ll probably have a mid-morning power boosting snack of coffee and donuts. And, since I don’t work the day job today, I can go outside and play in this beautiful weather (probably the last one for the year).

Play. Like a kid. Only it will be grown-up play which is more like exercise, really. Like riding the bike and cleaning up the yard, checking on the fall/winter crops (OK, last surviving crop) in the garden. Adjusting the Halloween decorations. Which really isn’t play. It’s the grown-up version of play.

And then, oh, yeah, gotta work on the WIP, too. Trying to create a compelling character is rather hard work. I had hoped it would be an easy, natural process. Nope. I’m excellent at creating flat, boring, cardboard characters though. So, there’s that.

OK, enough whining. Off to work and all those other grown-up things I have to do.

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.

 

 

Tuning In

I really need to delete the TV Guide app from my iPad. That thing sucks me in every time I look at it. Well, almost. Even with 140+ channels, some days there is just absolutely nothing to watch. Other days, there are way too many things to watch and I start with one and the next thing I know I’ve lost hours and hours to TV land.

Thank goodness I don’t have the DVR option enabled. I’d become the couch.

I was planning on writing Sunday night but I was tired (love those allergies and the Benadryl I take to combat it. My brain is constantly fried these days) and thought, “Well, I’ll just glance at what’s on TV tonight…”

Uh-huh.

One of the things that sucks me in most is classic movies. Turner Classic Movies is one of my favorite channels. I’m a sucker for that stuff. And Sunday night they were running the 1968 release of Planet of the Apes. The best movie out of all of them, in my opinion.

I’d be a liar if I told you I was always a fan. While I love sci-fi and speculative stuff, those monkeys scared the crap out of me as a kid. I did not like that make-up. As an adult, it’s a different story. I can appreciate the nuances and the technical skill it took to create those characters visually. No CGI. Just make-up, prosthetics and a lot of technique. But man, that was the stuff of many a bad dream in my youth.

I know I’ve seen the movie before. Mostly because I know how it ends (spoiler alert: it’s awesome!), and I’ve seen the “Get your paws off me” scene. And I remember the bits in between those two scenes and some of what comes before the paws scene. But, for the life of me, I couldn’t remember the beginning. Yet, I know I’ve seen the movie. So, I decided to watch instead of write. Because I had a foggy brain and really wanted to see the beginning which I couldn’t remember.

The first hour was a complete mystery to me. It was kind of cool, in a sense. I was seeing it for the first time. And it’s good stuff. On the other hand, if I’m so sure I’ve seen it before, why didn’t the beginning stick with me?

Which got me thinking about writing and story telling in general. A really good story should stay with you from the beginning to end, shouldn’t it? While I couldn’t tell you exactly how the Harry Potter story opens, I can tell you the beginning. It’s about this kid who lives under the stairs at his Aunt and Uncle’s and they hate him and (again, spoiler alert), turns out he’s a wizard (among other things going on with this kid). See? I didn’t look that up at all (and the Internet’s right here) and I remember it. So, why the heck can’t I remember the beginning of Planet of the Apes.

I think the obvious answer is: I hadn’t really seen the whole thing beginning to end. Because it’s such a great movie and such a great story that I should have remembered it. Right? Good stories stick.

But, from a writer’s perspective, it was even better that I couldn’t remember (or hadn’t seen) the beginning. Given I knew the ending, it was fun to watch the beginning knowing what awaited in the last few frames. I could see the subtle clues (and the not so subtle ones) that were sprinkled in the dialogue. Here and there these little tidbits were dropped that kinda sorta let the viewer know what was going to happen. Not exactly, of course, but enough that if you were paying close attention, you wouldn’t be quite so shocked at the end. Impressed, but not shocked.

Ah. Good story telling at it’s best. A twist ending that you mostly saw coming because the writer let you in on the secret without giving it away. How I wish I possessed that ability without having to try so hard at it. But, those are the breaks I guess. Rod Serling I am not.

And, if you weren’t paying attention, the ending is still pretty cool. It’s a twist, but it totally fits. In so many ways. Also the mark of good story telling, I think. A twist ending that makes you say, “I did not see that coming,” but you don’t feel cheated or tricked. The Sixth Sense is an excellent example of this. A twist ending that makes you go “What?” in the first breath then “Oh, cool!” in the second. It’s the twists where you go “What?” in the first breath then “No way,” in the second but not in a good way, that make you think of bad story telling.

And with no way to end this post, twisting or otherwise, I’m off to critique and work on my Friday Phrases tweets for Friday.

The End (an absolutely classic ending)

 

A Writer’s Mind

Sometimes, I Google stalk people. I should probably be ashamed to admit that out loud, but, come on. We all do it sometimes. Right? A way to blow off work, pass the time, satisfy some curiosity, morbid or otherwise. It’s to find out the information about all the people we aren’t Facebook connected with (and don’t want to be) without anyone knowing about it.

In any event, I was doing it today and an image came up that was slightly bordering on porn. It wasn’t gross or anything, just very… revealing is the word I want. Which got me to think about another person I’ve been Google stalking from time to time. I can’t quite seem to find her, but, every time I Google a certain variation of her name, the Porn Star with the Same Name comes up first.

No over the line images, though. Thankfully. (Side note, if you ever mistype the web address for Google, you’re in for a shock. I won’t post it here, but I was at work when it happened and COULD NOT get it off the screen. I had to hit the power button to make it go away.)

I’m pretty sure the Porn Star with the Same Name isn’t her. The pictures don’t look remotely the same. Sure, there’s that whole possibility of plastic surgery thing, but that would have to be a hell of a lot of work to make her look that different.

So, I’m wondering if the Person I’m Google Stalking knows about the Porn Star with the Same Name? And, if she does, what does she think? And, does it work the other way? Does the Porn Star with the Same Name know about the Person I’m Google Stalking. Not that I’m Google stalking her, obviously, but that she exists? That would make a great plot twist, though. The Porn Star knows that I’m Google stalking the Old Friend, but Old Friend doesn’t know. Hmm.

Yup. This is how a writer’s mind works. We start one place and end up someplace related, but weird and twisted and, frankly, kind of messed up. But those messed up, meandering thoughts can lead to some pretty great stories. It’s what we do. Take our crazy, weird, twisted thoughts and make them entertaining.

What is it Worth?

Happy Hump Day!

I haven’t said something that silly since about 7th grade. Not gonna lie, though. It makes me laugh. A tiny, tiny bit.

Given it’s Wednesday, it’s my regularly scheduled day off work. It might be an unscheduled day tomorrow, too. But, let’s focus on today. I made a list of stuff to accomplish today. It included things like “laundry,” and “return crap to Target.” Normal stuff. It included a few outside the ordinary things like “finish thank you notes,” and “buy socks.” Nowhere on the list did it say “work on WIP.”

It struck me this morning when I was reviewing that I hadn’t put that on the list. Did that mean I wasn’t planning on working on it? Did it mean I would only work on it if I finished everything else on the list like a reward? Did it mean I intend to work on it and don’t need to write it down because, of course, I will?

The mind works in mysterious ways. Also, I doubt I’ll ever know. Or care.

Yesterday I was discussing Twitter making me dizzy. Since it’s day time and my mind is a little clearer, I flipped through my feed again. It didn’t make me as dizzy as yesterday. Though it was still quite cluttered.

What struck me, though, was how many people were discussing their newly published works, whether that was through a traditional publisher or independently. Lots and lots and lots and lots of books. I’ll probably read a few when I get a chance. Hard to pass up a 99 cent book these days (even though I’m hating Amazon right now).

It takes a lot of work to write a book. This I know. But, it also seems, it takes even more work to get your book noticed. You’d think this would be made easier with the invention of this Internet thing, but it seems to me (and I’m no marketing/PR guru so what do I know?) it’s that much harder to be heard and noticed. Now, I’m not wondering so much what does it take to get noticed, but I’m wondering if it’s all worth it.

I mean, in some respects, it will always be worth it because I’ll never stop writing. I can’t. I don’t know how. But, it’s not paying the bills right now (which is fine. That’s what the day job is for), and I can’t do it for free forever. So, I’m wondering if I will ever call it quits and say it’s not worth it. It’s harder and harder to get noticed these days and I can think of plenty of indie writers who were turned down by the big publishers, only to find success (however that is defined) self-publishing, but that looks like a bunch of work, too, and by my very nature, I tend toward lazy.

Like this rambling blog post. What a great way to procrastinate not just the list, but the WIP. At least I’m writing.

I’m So Old School

I am freezing my butt of right now waiting for my car. In another second I will either have to drink the crappy (but free!) coffee or flip up the hood on my hoodie and look stupid. Maybe both. I don’t care. I’m freezing.

As I’m waiting, I’ve procrastinated working on the WIP as much as I can. I’ve checked Facebook and Twitter and my email. I read some articles and researched a few things and dealt with some other “pressing issues.” All that’s left is the WIP. And I can’t use the “my devices ran out of juice” excuse because A) I’m sitting next to a power outlet and have my chargers with me. Also, they have a free charging station here! And B) I do all of my plotting on paper.

I suppose that kind of dates me. The fact that I still do some of this stuff with paper and pen. Not the actual writing, that I type. But the plotting is still old school. I find I can’t outline on a blank screen or with a keyboard or whatever. Pen to paper. With music in the background. It sort of reminds me of college. This next part will absolutely date me. I went back in the time before iPad’s and laptops and all that nifty stuff. It was taking notes with a pen. If you went to class, that is.

And I still have to do it that way. Plotting and planning in a notebook with a pen. And, since I’m on the subject, so is editing. I have to print the thing out and get out my red pen and make notes and cross stuff out. Very old school. My brain doesn’t work otherwise. For the editing part, I really wish I could. I hate waisting all those trees. Because, of course, it’s not like I can’t do one draft. That would be cool, but, very unrealistic. So every time I have to edit, many, many trees die in my service.

I plant trees whenever I can to make up for it.

Old school or not, my hands are freezing. I think I’ll step outside for a few minutes to try and warm up before I get to it. That or brave the coffee.