Monday, August 30, 2010

Motivated Monday

Yesterday, Shirley at Clever Chronicles left a comment on Friday's post that inspired me to write this one. Thanks, Shirley!

Her comment referred to having time but not having any motivation to put it to use.

So many things are non-motivators for me. Anything to do with housework. Hate it. Maybe I have five minutes and need to dust the living room. Likelihood I'll grab the Pledge? About a million to one. What makes me finally do it - whenever that is (and probably not when I have the five minutes free time)? Knowing someone is coming over or when it finally reaches the point where I'm screaming to myself, "I can't stand it anymore!"


But here's where writers have it lucky. Writers, artists, any creative types or even non-creatives who are forced into working on a creative project. Pay attention.


Look around you. Close your eyes and listen. Close your eyes and taste. Close your eyes and feel - fabric, bark, a wall, whatever. It doesn't matter. Inhale. Exhale. You can do all these things from a bed or chair, inside or out. At the mall, at the zoo, on your patio. You don't have to do anything ... except remember.


Let the sensations flow over you, through you. Put them together with feelings. How do you feel when the breeze blows over your skin.? What does the scent of spring remind you of? Does the blue of the sky remind you of your mother's eyes?


These are the things unmotivated writers can do. We can store them away for when we are motivated to write. And we'll wonder where this line came from. How we thought of that. It's because we were writing even when we were unmotivated.


Sorry about the extra white space. It's a Monday Blogger thingie.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten things about time:

10. It moves as fast as you do.

  9. Morning comes too early.

  8. When you need it, it's never there.

  7. If you have too much, there's nothing to do.

  6. Clocks

  5. Time Out / Time's Up / In Time / On Time / Over Time

  4. Right now!

  3. Einstein

  2. What does a light year really mean?

And the #1 thing about time:

  1. There's never enough. Ever.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lovely and Beautiful

Clarissa Draper at Listen to the Voices has presented me with the One Lovely Blog Award. Thanks, Clarissa. It's lovely!


I can truly see why Clarissa won this award. Her blog is not only gorgeous, but it's filled with loads of good stuff for writers. Check it out.

Again, I don't need to do anything other than pass this award along to five others with Lovely Blogs. I choose:

Claudia at Claudia Del Balso, Writer
Jan at Crazy Jane
Sharde at Realm of Randomness
Shirley at Clever Chronicles
Teresa at Journaling Woman

All of these blogs are beautiful and wonderful with the unique perspective of their authors. I hope you'll visit.

Speaking of lovely, we've all heard the old saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So I'll leave you with Miss Piggy's version:

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye."

Wish I'd said that.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Who Has the Permit?

Aha!

You know that moment. And that feeling.

It happens the instant a new idea gels in your mind. All of a sudden, you're dancing around the room, pumping your fist, shouting, "Yes!" to the world. Or to the cat, who thinks you've finally flipped the big switch.

You ignore the cat and keep dancing.

Then - you know what's coming - the BUTS.

I hate those suckers.

This is good, but. . . .

I like this part, but. . . .

If I let her do this, he'll do that; but. . . .

And on they march.

It's your job to take control.

Sit each but down, have a conversation. Let him tell you his problem. Once you know his concerns, then you can work out a solution and move forward. If you don't, the buts will organize and parade through your manuscript as if they own it.

Not a pretty sight. Don't issue them a parade permit.

Remember our slogan - No Buts Allowed!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten American family vacations:

10. The Beach

  9. Family Cruise

  8. Grand Canyon

  7. The Mountains

  6. Branson

  5. Yellowstone

  4. The Lake

  3. Camping

  2. Washington, DC

And the #1 American family vacation:

  1. Pick a Disney

Monday, August 16, 2010

Footprints

Everything these days has a footprint:
Buildings
Homes
Gardens
Carbon Footprints
Footprints in the Sand
Starting to sound like a Top 10 :)

Today I'm talking about footprints on our manuscripts. Not the Arf and Woof kind when that stack of pages fell on the floor, but our own footprints pressed onto the pages by our words.

An editor says, "I need a story about a boy and his dog." One writer produces Clifford the Big Red Dog. Another, Old Yeller.

If the editor handed each of those writers the other's manuscript and said, "Something's missing here. Fix it," imagine how different each of those books would be.

Our footprints are beyond voice. They are everything we bring to the table. Our experiences. Our loves, our hates. Our personal points of view. Even when we write in the viewpoints of our characters, we are still the writers of our stories. It's possible to blur our footprints, especially if we're writing to strict guidelines or in deep point of view; but in my opinion, it's impossible to hide them.

Don't believe me? Ask ten people to complete a sentence, or even to fill in more than one blank in a sentence. You will not receive ten identical answers.

Unless you ask ten of your neighbors to fill in the blank of I live in (city, state). Or something similar.

But you knew what I meant.

Right?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten things I didn't do this week:

10. Slide down an emergency exit chute

  9. Sing in the rain

  8. Write War and Peace, Volume II

  7. Fly to the moon

  6. Pose for Leonardo Da Vinci

  5. Eat dirt

  4. Visit a European capital

  3. Meet my doppelganger

  2. Sculpt a masterpiece

And the #1 thing I didn't do this week:

  1. Sky dive or bungee jump

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My World

Like every other writer out there, I live in two worlds. And each of those is divided further.

In my writing world, there's the me that sits and thinks and stares into space. Types a few words. Repeats.

Then there's the me that blogs and emails and belongs to groups and all of that.

And the me that receives blog awards :)

Thanks to Sharde at Realm of Randomness for presenting me with the From Me To You Award:


Sharde hosts a great blog with new fun stuff every week.

All I have to do is share this award with five other blooming ... excuse me, I mean blog friends. It's always hard to choose, but here we go:

Aubrie at Flutey Words . . .

Hannah at Musings of a Palindrome

Laura at A Shift in Dimensions

Patti at Patti Lacy Blog

VR at VR Barkowski

Then there's the me in the real world. Here are a couple of views from there:

A sunset viewed from the front of our home a few weeks ago:


And the furry boys, Shiner/Arf on the left and Wrangler/Woof on the right. We're doing some advanced training. Here they were practicing sit/stay:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Truth or Dare

Truth

Many of us here are fiction writers. We create people. We place them in stressful situations. Our creations lie, cheat, steal, make love. They embarrass us, make us laugh, make us cry.

Or they should.

If our characters don't make us experience their emotions when we write them, they won't make a reader feel them either. In order for our characters to come to life, we can give them deep dark secrets and make sure they show us the truth.

Let's call our character Lucy. Is Lucy afraid of failure?

If so, have her tell us, Show us in something she does. Maybe she doesn't put in for a promotion because she's afraid she'll mess up and lose her job. Maybe she pushes others away because she's scared of failing in a relationship. Show us how she feels.

The reader needs to be able to smell her sweat, taste her tears, feel the pounding of her heart, her frustration, her fear.

But the real truth comes from the writer. We have to be true to ourselves. We must be unafraid to explore these emotions and set our characters free to experience them. Sometimes this requires us to dig deep. If we don't bare our emotions, our characters fall short.

Dare

After you've shown us Lucy's truth, dare her to try something new. Something important. Something she must try and can't fail doing without severe consequences. Force it on her.

Take her emotions and whip them into overdrive. She won't comply willingly. Narrow her options until she has no other choice. Watch her squirm.

Truth or Dare.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten wisest ways not to start your story:

10. It was a dark and stormy night.

  9. Once upon a time. . . .

  8. It all began long before she was born, when her great-great-grandmother. . . .

  7. The story I'm about to tell you. . . .

  6. He answered the phone, but little did he know. . . .

  5. He yawned and stretched after turning off his alarm.

  4. Her heart pounded when the bullet zinged by her head, but then she woke up.

  3. She ran toward the subway, her long raven hair flying behind her, afraid of missing her train and not thinking about her breakup with Eddie.

  2. He was tired, wet, and hungry.

And the #1 wisest way not to start your story:

  1. Once upon a time, it was a dark and stormy night. The story I'm going to tell you began long ago when her great-grandmother ran toward the subway, her long raven hair flying behind her, afraid of missing her train and not thinking about her breakup with Edward, who was tired, wet, and hungry. Her heart pounded when the bullet zinged by her head, but then she woke up. Edward yawned and stretched after turning off his alarm and answered the phone, but little did he know. . . .

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Coast Guard Day

Today, August 4, is Coast Guard Day. You can read all about it here.

And what better day to announce an award than Coast Guard Day? This one even looks like a life ring with a heart in the center!

I'm honored to have received the Circle of Friends Award from Medeia Sharif. Medeia's blog is chock full of interesting things, and I always learn something when I visit.


The rules are simple:
Pass the award to five other bloggers.
Post a link to their blogs on yours.
Notify them they've received an award.
Easy-peasy ... 1-2-3!

The five bloggers I'm passing the award to are:
Donna at Donna's Book Pub
Ann and Jen at Long Journey Home
Jennifer Shirk at Me, My Muse and I
Holly at Scribbles and Splashes
Lola at Sharp Pen/Dull Sword


And to all Coasties out there . . . Happy Coast Guard Day!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Blink . . . Blink . . . Blink

In the beginning . . .

there is a blank screen.

And a blinking cursor.

You type a word and sit. The cursor still blinks. Another word. It isn't waiting for coffee. It doesn't want to play a game. Or send an email. It's waiting for you.

It doesn't judge or berate or urge you forward. It blinks. It's the all seeing eye. Waiting. Lurking. Ready to grab hold of the tail of the next word and pull it across the page.

The cursor is a worker bee. It can back up, play hopscotch, highlight. It can run a marathon or take the faltering steps of a baby learning to walk.

It waits for us to give it input, then it gets busy.

Perhaps as writers, we should be more like the cursor. Open our minds. Don't judge or berate our characters. Don't nudge them forward.

Listen to them. Catch their thoughts and words, and drag them across the page.

The characters tell the story. We're just the cursor, pulling those stories across the page.