Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ramblings on Reading and Writing

I just tried to read some recommended flash fiction and got frustrated with clumsy sentence structure in the first paragraph. Instead of finishing the online short fiction piece, I jumped down to the comments, most of which raved about how "lovely" the piece was.

Is it just me? Am I a reading snob? Or just impatient? My unwritten rule is if I have to reread two sentences within a paragraph in order to glean the meaning, I needn't traverse further.

But I'm mournful about what I may have missed. Others found the piece to be delightful. Maybe they were just being nice? I'll never know, because ... well because I have an unwritten rule that I just put into writing.

Dear Writers: ENGAGE ME in the first paragraph... please!

This is easy for me to say because I have officially sworn off writing. I already blogged about it (, so it must be true. I do not have to live up to my own standards. Ahh, the taste of freedom! At this moment, it tastes like warm yeast rolls right out of the oven, with a dab of butter.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Am I a Writer, or a Wannabe?

I'm a writer wannabe. I have spent a lot more time wannabe'ing than writing.

I have never been paid for my writing, unless you count the monetary prize I won on behalf of a lady who bid $50 for my writing services at a silent auction. After receiving acclaim and $500, she took me to dinner.

The story above is a glimpse into the self-esteem issues of most writer wannabes. We know deep down that we're good at it. We've received accolades from the time we were young. We shine in the universities with our insight and well-turned phrases. We teach and encourage others to write. We don't finish manuscripts.

I had planned a lengthy essay about how important it is for us wannabes to use the "say it and claim it" mentality to motivate ourselves, because if we keep saying we're wannabes, well... you know. I could wax eloquently for several more paragraphs, but the demons in my head are giving me an untold number of reasons to stop.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Blog Envy

I have a Facebook acquaintance who shall remain nameless (because I am about to say something unflattering and I don't like hurting people's feelings. He/She probably doesn't even know about this blog, but the world gets smaller every day) ... Anyway, this person writes things like "finished my moves on my word games" on his/her Facebook status. His/Her (okay, from now on I'm saying "hers" because I'm already sick of this) status updates never consist of anything more profound than "picked Marcia up from the doctor and just got home."

I admit that this person is older than I am and probably not very tech-savvy. Perhaps she doesn't understand the benefits of a social networking site. Or perhaps she simply has no deep or even semi-deep thoughts. Don't believe me? Here's a real-live sample:

Apr 13 1:03 am: Made my moves in word games and heading for bed.
April 16 10:13 am: Haven't been on the computer lately, so trying to catch up with emails.
April 16 10:33 am: Just getting on computer - will catch up on emails then word game moves.
April 17 1:12 am: Finally finished my emails (except gmail)
April 17 1:47 am: Never did get to the word games, but I did update my blog at [actual blog link was here] Going to bed......zzzzzzzzz
April 17 8:55 am: going to attempt to solve newspaper sudoku using ancient sudoku software.
April 17 9:37 pm: Finished the Sudoku in 30 mins 33 secs with some major distractions on Skype
April 17 11:43 pm: Updated my blog at [actual blog link here]
April 18 1:03 am: Finished my moves on my word games.

I know. I know. Riveting. And it's all I can do to keep from commenting on her status updates with that very word. But I don't know her well enough to risk her not understanding my wit. She seems to be very literal, does she not?

If you're the ever-hopeful type as I am, you may be thinking, "Hey, check out the blog she posted. Surely there's something of interest there. Maybe she just doesn't know how to whittle her deeply philosophical, long-winded prose down to a few characters."

Wrong. Yet another live sample below. Some names have been changed to protect the innocent:

I met with Valerie at Webster Insurance to discuss proposed policy for the radio station. I met Leo at the bank with hopes of setting up automatic debit for donors, but only managed to make an appointment for next week. I walked Shari's dogs around the block because I can't release them in the back yard with Joe's guard dog back there. Leah & I went for supper at Arby's then shopped at Mark's Work Wearhouse and I stopped at Ralph's for a socket plug-in while Leah went to Value Den. We came home early and have been relaxing since. I have been watching golf and NHL Playoffs on TV.

Okay, I'm just not going to say anything else about this person. It's not only mean, but it's downright unnecessary to denigrate her. Some truths are self-evident.

But I'm inclined to think there's a reason God put this person in my life, albeit just my cyber life. I have spent a lot of time lately reading some excellent blogs written by very good writers, who just a decade ago would have remained nameless. I'm thankful for the ever-expanding cyber universe where I can pick a topic - any topic - and educate or entertain myself with abandon because thinkers and writers can type on their laptop a half a world away—and immediately engage me.

On the other hand, I am often so awestruck by other writers that I flog my fragile ego with self-depracating thoughts and sit frozen in front of the screen counting the cursor blinks because I apparently have nothing significant to write. That's when I go to my nameless Facebook friend's blog and smile. I can muster up my courage to write about things that are much more salient than going to Arby's , and I can use complex sentences and sometimes even impressive vocabulary to do it. And then I can go play a word game.

Monday, March 30, 2009

To Write...or to Edit?

I recently subscribed to a page called "Writing for Dollars" on Facebook. The first update I recevied from them was titled "Sneak Peak for you-all." Obviously they are not "Editing for Dollars," which brings me to my point: Just write! Edit later. Do edit, of course, but keep in mind that if you pick a grape before its time, (that's the possessive "its," by the way. I can understand if someone might think I meant "before it is time," and therefore believe that I should have put an apostrophe, but I digress because I'm editing while writing)... um... what was I going to say??? Oh yes, if you pick a grape before the appropriate time, the end result may - no WILL - be piss-poor wine.

This was a response to: "Is writing making me dumber? Or, more dumb? Or dumberer? - Writing a Novel is a Piece of Cake... Right?! - The Speculative Fiction Writers Tookit" -

I interrupt this blog for a picture of my imaginary friend

If you were to scroll all the way back to the initial entry of this blog, you would understand why I was so excited to encounter Pegasus AND the Fountain of the Muses at Brookgreen Gardens.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Today's Writing Mission - Accomplished

Earlier today I proclaimed to the world (okay, the three people who might read this blog from time to time) that I would "work" on my stage play for Script Frenzy by reading my NaNo novel from 2007 to get more clarification on how to proceed.

The first monkey with a wrench: I couldn't find it! Holy cow!!!! I looked in every folder on my hard drive that resembled a place where I might have saved it. Panic. Panic. Panic. (Do you hear the buzzer going in the background? It sounds like a Dharma Initiative Alarm. Sorry, I don't know how to spell that sound).

But here's something to remember about Word: When you first open a document up and look at the page count or word count... it won't finish counting for a while. So don't assume that when it says "page 1 of 1" there really is just one page. In fact, there could be 100 pages.

So, I found the document --- all 50,004 words of it. Whew! And I read the additional previously written chapters that I added to the beginning of it so that I could reach 50,000 words. That's when I realized I wasn't stuck with the sucky opening I created last year. Yee ha! I have a plan. That's all that matters right now. I have a plan.

It's not a complete plan, of course. That would have required much more work than I was willing to do today. What I have could actually be called a springboard. And that's all I need to entice me to jump head-first into the deep and empty pool called "ScriptFrenzy."

April 1 is just around the corner, and I'm fool enough.

Today's Writing Task

Since I seem to be SO keen on reading instead of writing these days, I have decided to prepare for Script Frenzy (which begins April 1, and, yes I'm a FOOL for doing it!) by re-reading my 2007 NaNo Novel that I plan to turn into a script. Maybe these brain circuits will start working again when I get back in touch with the wacky characters I invented.

Wish me luck! I'll update tomorrow. Yeah, right.... I promised I'd do Nixy's last Writing Adventure, too. If I don't tell someone I'm going to do something, I'm much more likely not to do it, because apparently it's not important for me to keep promises to myself.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

“WAG #3: A New Friend” . . . but not yet

This week's exercise from Nixy Valentine ( Sit somewhere that you can watch strangers passing by. Choose someone that you don’t know, but you can imagine being friends with. Describe them in concrete terms, particularly whatever it is about them you find appealing (or unappealing!) Feel free to also write what you imagine that makes you warm to them, but don’t forget to describe reality as well!

I had every intention of observing people around me when I went to girls' night out tonight. But I plumb forgot! And I don't get out much, so there's no telling when I'll have another opportunity. :)

What started out as possibly a half a dozen or so of us meeting for dinner, drinks, & music turned out to be three of us, which was great... more chance to get to know one another better (because we don't actually know each other very well). The interesting thing is that all night, I thought there were only two of us. That's because there were, indeed, only two people at my table. Myself and Donna. But where was Shannon? Where was the woman we knew we couldn't possibly miss because she has very lovely BRIGHT RED HAIR that should easily have been spotted from across the restaurant.

Somehow we managed to be in the same restaurant for three and a half hours - arrive at nearly the same time and leave at nearly the same time - and completely miss one another. Thankfully, Shannon brought a friend, so she wasn't alone. AND she was smart - she sat by the quesadilla bar. Normal women would have grazed in that area. Not us! We sat down and didn't budge. After all, there was a young man bringing us drinks and food. Why should we move?

So... By now you've figurd out that this isn't actually my WAG exercise. I promise I'll get to it... sometime. The irony of it is that I was supposed to be observant. If I had been, perhaps we would have been able to enjoy Shannon's company tonight.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Writing Adventure #2

Adventure Guide from Go outside, and sit for a minute. (This can be in your yard or garden, on a city street, in a park, in a shopping centre, where ever you choose!) Soak in everything you see, hear, smell, etc, for a moment, and then describe something that you did not notice at first. This can be anything! Just make it something that you overlooked when you first arrived. Keep your descriptions as concrete as possible!

- - - - - - - -
I open the sliding glass door to my back yard and feel the crisp coolness of morning. A refreshing breeze touches my skin. I wait a couple of seconds, expecting a humid undertone to the breeze, but it doesn’t come. Ahhhhh! We don’t get many mornings like this in Texas.

The sky is overcast with varying colors of blue, gray, and white, but the wind is chasing the darkest clouds north at a fast clip.

The distinct “weeeeeEEEP!” of a grackle in a neighbor’s tree. I look up to see if the whole flock is near, but there’s only a mockingbird in my budding oak tree. Squeak! It’s a blue squeaky football-shaped toy in the mouth of my prancing, teasing, half-boxer, half-tasmanian devil dog. She bows and wags her short tail, saying “let’s play” to her boxer brother, who is busy investigating the fallen tree limb in the middle of the yard.

Swoosh. Squeak. The bus stop behind my fenced yard. Vrom. A passing truck. I bend to pet my sweet lynx-point kitty as I hear the mockingbird taunting him. Click click click click cheeeee! The breeze is still refreshing. Birds of all types are chirping and singing their varied songs.

While most of my small yard is mulch (because no St. Augustine or Bermuda grows where big dogs play), the area I call the “poop garden” is sprouting clumps of green buffalo grass. It’s time to start mowing again.

As I head back toward the back door, I glance up to my oak tree again. The lone mockingbird has been replaced by a flock of grackles. Over a dozen black birds perch in my tree. On the telephone pole outside my fence sits the ring-leader on his throne, stretching his body and raising his head to send another “weeeeeeeeEEEEEP!” There will be hundreds of them soon. Time to go in.

Friday, March 06, 2009

My name is Jackie, and I'm a Twitterer

I admit I have a problem. It all started with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where I hooked up with a few other writers like myself - you know - One-day novelists ("One day, I'll write a novel"). Some of us started following one another on Twitter. One thing led to another and now I've joined the Writing Adventure Group.

So I blog my writing adventure, and then I read other people's blogs about the same writing adventure. Then I click into some of the blogs they have listed on their blogs and end up reading more and more interesting, funny, creative, inspiring blogs.

Then I start following all of those blogs, AND I start following all of those blog writers' twitters. Then I start following literary agents' twitters and then following literary agents' blogs. I knew i had a problem when I went to Facebook and wrote a status message that was unrecognizable to anyone who doesn't follow the same Twitters I follow. (It takes someone reading #queryfail to recognize someone writing about #queryfail.)

I don't know where it's going to end. It's like opening a box of cookies and saying "I'll just eat two." The next thing you know, you've spent an entire day doing nothing but reading... not....writing.

So I'm posting a cry for help on my blog. This way, I'll find out if anyone else has the same problem I have, or if I'm all alone in this cruel, cruel world. Is there a Bloggers or Twitterers Anonymous? A little bit of blog reading can be a good thing. Everything in moderation, as they say. But it's gone too far and I don't know how to stop.

I now think in Twitters... as if I'm doing or thinking anything relevant enough for the world to want to know about in 140 characters or less??

Monday, March 02, 2009

WAG: The Sky's the Limit

Today's WAG Adventure: The Sky's the Limit. "Describe the sky exactly as you see it. Use concrete words, no flowery language or metaphor. The idea is to let the physical speak for itself and to train us to be able to create the idea of “peaceful”, “beautiful”, “amazing” without using those kinds of empty words that tell the reader how to feel. Keep it real. No aliens or imaginings or memories. This is an observational exercise!"

The sky today is overcast with white and gray clouds. If I didn’t know they were clouds, I might think the sky itself was white fusing into darker hues at a distance. But there are hints of blue here and there as I pan to the North, reminding me of the sky’s native color. The white dissipates to blue, as if an artist had taken a soft sponge and dabbed a blue canvas with white cotton. I squint to take it all in because, while it isn’t bright, there is a glare. The sun cannot be ignored, even on overcast days.

Okay, so it's hard for me to write without using at least one simile! So perhaps I failed my assignment. Oh wait! It's not an assignment. It's an adventure.

Writing Adventure Group

I've been neglecting this blog ever since I started the wordpress blogsite. But now I have joined the Writing Adventure Group, so I'll be using this blog for my exercises .... er... adventures. The first one is called "The Sky is the Limit." ( When I get my courage up... um, I mean, when I get focused, I'll add another post in answer to "The Sky is the Limit." Really I will.

Why, you may ask, am I bothering to post about the fact that I'm going to post something? Well that's a good question.

*The previous statement, and the question preceding it are an example of procrastination ... otherwise known as a delaying technique. You've heard other examples of these before. They spew from your teenager's mouth in the form of "huh?" after you ask him a question that you know he heard and understood perfectly well. He uses it to buy himself time to think of a believable answer.

And that's enough about that. Coming up next: "The Sky is the Limit." Huh?