Turn and Face the Strange

Why is it so easy to get comfortable? We call ourselves proponents of change and say that we welcome it, but we settle into this state of happy lethargy and contentment. We might not be fine with where things are or where we are with them, but we’ll choose to be (or at least say we are) because it makes it easier and then we don’t have to think about it. When did it become favorable to never want to push ourselves or test our boundaries in any and all areas of our lives? Continue reading

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On Why I Think Tina Fey Should Be My Best Friend

Oh, Frank. The neglect!

Well, readers, I’m really sorry that almost two weeks have gone by with no post. I’m going to apologize if I seem like I have wicked A.D.D. or if this is really rough. I’m easing back into writing. Building up my chops, if you will. Remember a few weeks ago when I said I’d had about the busiest week that an unemployed person could have? I lied. That was actually last week, carrying over into this week. And let me tell you, it wasn’t all very pretty. But I’m here now. And also, since I had a lot of time on my hands at the end of last week to sit and worry about something over which I had no control, I decided to read a book. My criteria for this book included being funny and being smart.

Enter Tina Fey.

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An Inadvertent Writing Lesson

Sometimes I could swear to myself that I wasn’t a creative writing minor in college. I could swear to myself, in fact, that I’ve never taken a fiction-writing class in my whole life. The basic fundamentals just seem to escape me every now and again, and I’m not sure what that means. Either I’ve internalized them to the point where they’re no longer always a noticeable cognitive step for me, or I’m just a really bad writer. Okay, I suppose there could be some middle ground there.

I don’t really remember how old I was exactly when my fascination with writing started. It was pretty early, maybe somewhere around first or second grade, and it began simply as a love of creating something. Even if I just wrote a bunch of nonsense or someone else’s song lyrics down on paper, I was already moving in that direction. And I did it because, at least on some level, I recognized that I wanted to emulate the people who wrote the books that I loved so much.

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Word Vomit and Creative Constipation

It’s flu season. That must be it. It’s the only reason I can think of that, with all my verbal spewage, my creativity seems to be all blocked up. I hope it’s not a result of too much cheese (in my writing, I mean). Whatever it is, it’s starting to become painful.

Oh, sure. I can talk a good game. “Here are all the ways I’ve gotten myself out of writer’s block before because I don’t really believe in it.” My tried-and-true methods have, for some reason, failed me.

I have writer’s block.

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It’s Complicated

I don’t remember the last time I sat around moping because it was Valentine’s Day. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say it was probably the last time someone made me help pick out flowers or a present for someone else and said something like, “Now which do you like best? If it were you getting this, what would you want?” because you know it’s got that underlying implication: “Wow, that sucks that no one is doing anything for you because no one loves you, but would you just mind pretending for a few minutes?” You know, basically rubbing salt in a wound (perhaps after peeling back most of your skin) before slowly dipping you into acid. BUT… even that hasn’t really happened in a while (the assistant shopper part… not the salt and acid thing).

Last week I was sitting at my computer. It was somewhere around 2 a.m., and I’d been looking at that stupid blinking cursor for about an hour, but I just couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to be writing. I was starting to get really tired and I asked myself, “Why does this have to be so hard sometimes?” Even as I asked it, I knew the answer. Nothing worth having is ever easy and sometimes it takes a LONG time. And then, in a feat of meta-awesomeness, I directed my thoughts at my own brain.

“And you. Why do you pull me in with all of these great ideas and make me feel like I’ve got something to work with before inexplicably turning on me and making me feel like I can’t do anything to please you?”

This went on for a little while longer whilst I wrote absolutely nothing. Just before I fell asleep, I scribbled “writing is a relationship” on a Post-It note and left it next to my computer. I fell asleep wondering what people would do if I changed my Facebook relationship status to say that I’m “in a relationship and it’s complicated.” They’d obviously ask, “With whom?” …because they all use proper grammar. “With writing,” I’d reply. Naturally, they would all assume that I’d really lost it this time. Even more so than when I created a Facebook account for my dogs.

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Therapeutic Writing

Last week I read this article about the correlation between writing and stress/anxiety levels. It summarized a study in which students were given the opportunity to write for ten minutes before major tests. The students who were given the time to write about their concerns and anxieties, etc., ultimately had better test scores than the students who went into the exam cold. It was then noted that writing could, indeed, be quite therapeutic.

I figured that out on my own years ago.

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The State of the Novels Address

That is the absolute worst title I have ever come up with. Moving along…

I haven’t written about the novels recently, and as I did say last week that I would write about those, that’s what I’m here to do. You’ll forgive me if this isn’t the smoothest flowing and most polished writing I’ve ever done. I’ve been writing for most of the day. I can actually hear my brain fizzling. Continue reading

NaNoWriMo 2010: Who’s a Champ? I am!

I get it. It’s December 9th and NaNoWriMo ended over a week ago. I should have posted this then, but my immune system seems hell-bent on taking me down before Christmas. You will forgive my belated post on the matter, I hope!

When I wrote about NaNoWriMo before, I talked about how I hit the ground running. I followed that up by talking about how I survived a long weekend away and managed to write quite a bit. So here’s how it all turned out. Continue reading

Writing My Way Out of the Black Hole of Death

I get cabin fever. I get cabin fever so badly sometimes that I think I will legitimately go absolutely crazy sitting in Central PA, bored out of my mind. Because of that, I try to get out of here as often as possible, but it doesn’t always work that way. I went for four months without leaving and I almost didn’t make it.

Okay, I’m being a little bit dramatic.

But seriously, I’m bored.

This past weekend, I spent a very long weekend out of town for my birthday. I got to see most of my friends and some of my family all in one place. I had people to talk to and things to do. It was a great weekend and I had a lot of fun.

And then I had to come home.

I have this problem: every time I leave home, no matter where I go, I get into one hell of a wretched mood when I come back. I get depressed because I miss my friends. I get frustrated that I live so far away from pretty much all of them. Then I get discouraged because I can’t find a job. It’s totally worth getting out of here any time I can, but dear Lord does it suck for about a week after I get back.

In my last post, I said that I hoped I’d be able to maintain my writing momentum while I was out of town, and I did. I actually added over 7000 words, so I was quite pleased with my … discipline? Well, anyway, I was happy about it. My NaNoWriMo word count stayed above the suggested word count every day, but as I wasn’t writing quite as much as I would have been at home (mostly because I was actually doing stuff for a change), I was only up by about a thousand words when I got home on Tuesday. Continue reading

Case of the Week Twos? Nah.

Now that I’ve made it past Wednesday of NaNoWriMo Week 2, I think it’s safe to blog about it.

All of the “pep talk” emails I’ve received from NaNoWriMo this week have been about overcoming “The Week Twos” as though it’s some kind of a rash, and if you just keep rubbing some kind of ointment (don’t you just hate that word?) all over it, it’ll clear up in five-to-seven days.

I say this as though I have no idea what they’re talking about, but I do. Last year, Week Two was an uphill battle for me. I got to the middle and I started to struggle with my characters, the story, and my abilities as a writer. That’s when I started having a crisis of faith. I know that people struggle through that “mid-point” (it’s not the true middle, but it has that feeling). Last year, I struggled in the middle of NaNoWriMo. I struggled through the actual middle of the novel, I struggled through the middle when I was editing the paper copy, and now I’m struggling through the middle of the second revision. I totally understand the concept of “Week Twos.” Continue reading