Thursday, January 27, 2011

Some truths on a Thursday

What? It's a day that starts with T, give me a break. So I was all set to write about one of my new year's resolutions but instead I think I'll distract you with the shiny keys of randomness today. I'm busy, but I don't want to neglect my lovelies.

1) So this whole zodiac sign thing? Actually tripping me out. I mean, I don't read horoscopes, I don't follow the signs or anything like that, but apparently I still very much identify myself as a Taurus because I'm all weirded out that I'm supposed to be an Aries now. I kept this feeling to myself until I told the partner-in-crime (also a Taurus) about the changed signs. His reply? "Taurus for life!" I echo the sentiment.

2) Okay, Vampire Diaries has some cheesy acting and some cheesier dialogue, but I'm a squee bit addicted to it. Blame it on Ian Somerhalder's face.

3) I think The LiLa is on to something with this whole shiny new idea thing. You strike a balance between pushing yourself and beating a dead horse. Although I guess the trick is knowing when to put the defib paddles to the horse...

4) I'm not impressed by the iPad. THERE I SAID IT DON'T SEND THE APPLE MOB AFTER ME. I just think it's a giant iPhone. I was impressed with the touch screen awesomeness of the iPhone when it first came out, but now like any good technology follower it's already invoking a sense of ennui in my book. Give me five minutes to get used to it and I'll tell you I'm already bored. Le sigh.

5) I keep thinking I'm waiting to hit that magical moment when my "life" starts, but I'm starting to get worried that this is it and I'm missing it because I haven't had enough coffee. I also conveniently use this excuse when I want another cup of coffee.

What are your thoughts for today? And I promise I will post something useful one of these days? Oh, wait...look over here! Shiny!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Roni's got an awesome contest you should let me win

So Roni over at Fiction Groupie is throwing a Mega-Awesome Query Contest in which she's giving away a whopping SEVEN query critiques this week. One of them even happens to be from Anita Mumm at Nelson Literary, and since I cyber-love Kristin Nelson that kind of has me fangirling out a bit.

Now I'm going to tell you to go over there and enter because this is an amazing opportunity and Roni's pretty much a staple of the writer's blogging community, but what I really mean is let me hoard all the contest entries and win them for myself because I probably need a critique worse than you (they can be three pages long and have at least two paragraphs about how much my mom loves it, right?)

So...go check it out. And tell them your name is JEM :).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Quantifying the suck

It's easy as writers to get caught in the "this is so terrible, I'll never write like Suzanne Collins/Stephen King/Nora Ephron/Dr. Seuss" mindset. It's also easy to forget that you're reading the final spit-polished version of a story that everyone and their brother has weighed in on to make it the best book it can possibly be. We're emotional people, the creatives of the world, and it's as easy to send us into a tailspin of self-hating depression as saying two words: I suck.

And you know what? You do. I do. We all do. Are babies awesome at walking from the get go? Have you ever watched a baby giraffe (called a calf, which made me giggle) try to walk for the first time? Hijinks ensue, let me tell you. Every person and every thing in the world sucks when they first try something. Michael Phelps doesn't swim a gold medal run every time he trains; he trains to be able to swim that gold medal run when he needs to. We can't look at the final version of years of effort and assume our first draft WIP that's only half-way done sucks in comparison. Of course it sucks. It's supposed to suck. Our job as writers is to identify how it sucks.

Enter the quantification of the suck. It's not enough to say "this is terrible." You have to know why it's terrible. Are your characters falling flat? Are you not grounded in the scenery? Is the dialogue stilted or does it contain too much realistic speak that trips up the flow of the story? Have you shamefully abused your adjectives and adverbs? Does your piece not keep a consistent voice throughout? These are all questions you should be asking yourself during the revision process. If you hear a beeping sound in your house you don't stand around going "man that's annoying. I wish it would stop beeping." NO. You go FIND the source of the beeping. So go find the source of your suck.

Me? I le SUCK at setting descriptions. I can do them, sure, but it's like pulling teeth to get me to think of it and then give an interesting description of a building. It's a building, people. Can't you visualize that? Apparently not, according to my writing class, my crit group, the P-i-C, and anyone who's ever read my writing. Does it annoy me to holy heck that I have to go back in and describe all these things I don't care about? Yes. Will I ever be as good at it as L.M. Montgomery (that woman could go on about trees six ways till Sunday)? No. But will I eventually put in enough practice to make it good enough that it doesn't trip other people up while they get to the good parts of the story? I'd better.

Despair not, friends. Or at least know that I despair with you.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tell the truth Tuesday

1) I envy Lila and their cheating ways. Lately my creative brain (and, let's face it, the rest of it) feels like a piece of toast that's been left on the counter for three days. You can slather that baby with strawberry jam but it won't change the fact that it is DRIED. OUT. I'd love to be led astray by a shiny new idea.

2) I have Animal by Neon Trees stuck in my head on a definite loop. It's so flipping catchy. I didn't want to like it because the lead singer has crazy hair and I have strict rules about how my favorite bands should look, but it's infected my brain.

3) Somewhere along the way I've now allowed myself to have more than one cup of coffee a day and it is A SLIPPERY JITTERY SLOPE PEOPLES.

4) I am sorely tempted to drive past my exit for work and keep going just to see where I end up. It's the dreamer in me.

5) The actual desert is disappointing when compared to the Hollywood personification of it.

6) Yes, this list is random.

7) I'm disappointed in Shakira. She rocked in Spanish, and Donde Estan Los Ladrones is one of my favorite albums, but now she dances around in gold bikinis and animal cages and pretends like blonde hair doesn't make her look like every other singer in pop culture. For shames.

8) The partner-in-crime has gotten me into unnecessary and excessive pluralizations.

What's your truth todays?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Down the rabbit hole

Okay, confession: I don't really know what that title means. And I'm not going to look it up. However, in the context of this blog post it means: imagination.

I find that adulthood has really put a crimp in my imaginative ways. I was a child lost in a dream world of my own making, so many stories and characters cropping up that I never minded being alone; in fact, I relished the opportunity to carry on with my stories. There was a lack of imagination (at least to my level) in most of my playmates, so I preferred to share my stories with the characters themselves. It helped that we lived on a street that dead-ended into a wild wood, and that my mom didn't seem to mind if I disappeared into the trees for a few hours. To this day I find myself lost in nostalgia when I pass a wooded area. I also used to lay at the end of my driveway for hours - at least until the ants got me (it is Texas, after all) - watching the stars and telling all my secrets to them. I thought if I could just live among them, dance their sparkling dance, I would discover my true self.

Now, outside of writing, I don't find much room for creativity. It seems to me the older I get and the more I interact with other adults, the passion for creativity has died out of a large part of our population. Things we indulged in so freely as children are now ridiculed or looked down on. What if I want to wear hot pink leggings under a flowery skirt? What if I want to break out in random dance on the street? What if I want to sing at the top of my lungs in my car? What if I want to make a living telling stories about stars and lost princesses and supernatural powers? Sure, I can do these things, but let's not pretend they won't earn me strange glances from the people around me. What's cute in children is considered crazy in adults.

But here's my question today: Why? Why why why? Why does being an adult mean putting away childish things? Why are children the only ones allowed to wander the world in wonder? Why can't I giggle and clap my hands with excitement when I watch a show at a planetarium? Why can't I be fascinated that volcanic stone floats on water (which I STILL am)? Why can't I pretend, if only for a moment, that I secretly hope I'm a fallen star or intergalactic battle hero? Why does imagination as an adult make us weird?

As an unpublished (but hoping to be some day) writer, I have this feeling that people consider you crazy until you reach success with your writing. Then you're a visionary; until then you're a little touched in the head. But the truth is, you've done all the hard work by the time you actually reach success. All of the work that went into your story, all of the imagination and playing that you (if you're like me right now) kept hidden from the rest of your "real world" peoples, all of that happened before the agent. Before the publisher. Before the sales. Before the success. Giving in to imagination has to happen before you can find that success.

So I don't know about you today, but I think I'll dance when I feel like it. Even if it's in the middle of an Outback Steakhouse bathroom (if you don't follow Lisa and Laura Write, you should).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tell the truth Tuesday

1) It took me a good hour this morning to figure out it was Tuesday. Yesterday was my anniversary with the P-i-C, which meant champagne, which meant I fell asleep on champagne's schedule and not my own, which meant I blissfully thought it was Saturday for a good hour this morning. Damn.

2) I am fast learning that I am a writer who needs ABSOLUTE SILENCE to write most effectively. Music? No way. The static hum of the television? Nope. the P-i-C lumbering about the house? Drives me crazy. Must work on this...

3) I'm getting dangerously addicted to multiple cups of coffee and eating out for lunch. It's not a habit, guys. I can quit any time. But you touch my coffee and suffer the consequences.

4) I think I'm good at multitasking. I'm not.

5) I am craving Long John Silver's right now. CRAVING it. I should not eat fried things. I probably will. And then regret it, but not after the sweet oily fried goodness of fast food quality fish (judgment free zone, people).

What's your truth today?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Just a thought...

Gentle readers, I had a thought this morning as I looked in the mirror and found a slight crease in my forehead from excessive eyebrow raising:

A well preserved body is a sign of a life not lived.

What are your thoughts this happy hump day? (I normally eschew the term hump day, but it was too alliterative to resist).

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2011: The Year of Realizing Dreams

If you'll allow me to be cheesy for a moment (and you'll have to, since it's my blog), I find myself waxing philosophical at this time of year. I've had lots of conversations with the partner-in-crime about what I want 2011 to be; much of this comes out of a general feeling of frustration with 2010, but it also comes from a place of fresh beginnings and hope for a new year (however arbitrary the demarcation may be). Being the lover of words that I am, I've been compiling two and three word phrases to characterize my hopes for the new year, and I thought I would share. Because sharing is caring. Except when it comes to herpes.

I've organized it like a poem because it makes me feel better (what up, Shakespeare?).

2011: The Year
The year of chasing dreams
The year of taking risks
The year of daydreaming
The year of random dancing
The year of better eating
The year of more smiling
The year of appreciation
The year of realizing dreams

Your turn!
The year of ________ (this is where you fill in the blanks)

Happy New Year, gentle readers!