Monday, March 31, 2014

April Events–You ready?

First thing’s first. Tomorrow begins Camp NaNoWriMo 2014. If you’d like to message me, my camper profile is HERE.

I’m going to be working on a project that I’ve had in my head for years, and I need to get a rough first draft down so I can fully move on to other things. It’s not going to be an easy one to write, but it just has to be done.

The A to Z Blog Challenge 2014 will begin tomorrow as well. I’ll be posted some short entries about 80s and 90s television shows here. With the Camp NaNo stuff going on, I may not be able to have too much to say about the shows, but I have wanted to do this theme for a while.

I hope you all have a wonderful April doing whatever projects you have planned.

Good luck!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sports and charities

I’ve been bothered by this for a while, and I know I’m not alone in being confused by it, so I’m going to write a post and get it over with.

I’m not into sports. That’s nothing new. I kind of understand how it’s entertaining, but I don’t understand the obsession we have with it. It almost seems like Gladiator times, or The Hunger Games, to enjoy watching people risk injuring themselves and compete like that on television. It seems like the same thing over and over, but I understand being loyal and supportive of your city, or country.

However, I don’t understand why we have to associate sports with charitable donations. This included marathons as well as Sports Relief. I understand that people want to raise money and awareness. And I totally understand those who have been severely ill or injured and have been able to recover and be active again as well as help others with the same health issues. But why do we, as the public, only give to charity because someone will put themselves through pain and agony to do a race for a day or a week? Why doesn’t it have to be about sports?

I know when we had the London Olympics, people were all up in arms about how much money was spent on the events. Granted, I like the Olympics because it brings countries together in unified peace for a least a couple of weeks. So, why do we require people who aren’t professional athletes to do the same things in order for us to consider being charitable?

And the celebrities. This is what I really don’t understand. Celebrities are rich with rich friends. Do they really need to go through horrendous pain and almost kill themselves over a race so they can get people to donate money to help people in need? Are we that shallow of a community? Do we really need to see a television personality suffer, risk their life, put stress on their marriage and family, before we’ll give a dime to help other? Are we really that stingy that we need someone to physically prove themselves to us before we’ll drop a few coins in a donation bucket?

Personally, the charities that I give to are the ones where I am told, “Your money will go to do this specific good work for this specific group of people. Here are some good works we’ve already done for others. We have proof and video and testimony.” That makes me want to be involved. I don’t need to have someone convince me by running across the country. I don’t think anyone else should either.

Why do we need one person to entertain us with their “physical challenge?” I don’t even understand why that’s important. Benefits of exercise have to be continual. Why do we need to prove to ourselves that our bodies can be broken and twisted to make us feel alive? I’ve sprained my ankle jogging – that really sucked. But these people are in horrible pain and still run because they have to entertain us.

Because a celebrity survived a gruelling race that they chose to do on their own – is that the only thing that makes them strong, commendable, and an inspiration to others? Why do we feel we should we make idols of athletes and celebrities? They do what they do because they enjoy it and they’re good at it, just as we all should do, but it doesn’t have to be about sports.

People exercise every day. They do the Insanity workouts, and lift weights, and run all over the place to lose weight, gain muscle tone, and improve their health. It’s an on-going process that has to be kept up all the time. Some of them enjoy it, and they’d do it every day. Some people donate to charities on a regular basis already. This is why I don’t get why we force these two concepts together. Why do we need to see people physically labor for charities? Why do people feel they’ll let us down if they don’t almost break their bodies and their spirits? It really seem sort of sadistic to me.

“Will you help me help someone else?”

“I don’t know, what will you do to entertain me?”

“Um, I can run across the country and almost permanently damage my body.”

“Will it be on television?”

“Of course.”

“Okay then. Here’s £5.”

For those who do marathons to raise money for charities, I commend you. You’re doing something you believe in and if it’s helping people, great. I just don’t understand why people won’t help you, or others, when you’re not running, biking, or swimming.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Are you really writing for yourself?

You know how I said yesterday that Twitter was quiet? Well, I take that back. Twitter decided to engage me in a conversation today about writing (no one answers questions unless it has to do with writing because writers like Twitter because it distracts them from writing. Seriously, I hear that all the time.)

So, without posting a link to the article because A. I don’t want to start any kind of bullying discussions toward the writer and B. I honestly don’t know the link because I randomly saw it this morning on old Twitter feed from yesterday, I’ll explain the post I read.

A self published author was saying that all the writing, editing, promoting, marketing, etc. was really not worth it. (She was also asking if other writers felt that same kind of concerns.) She was saying that it won’t give us recognition or money, and we should just do it for ourselves. She had written, say ten books, and she was wondering if it was really worth it.

It was meant to be motivational, but it really didn’t come across that way at all.

Granted, I don’t think the writer wasn’t saying that writing wasn’t worth it, she was saying if the effort put into the publishing was worth it. I mentioned this on Twitter, and found myself in conversation. Tons of writers started replying with, “You have to just write for yourself.”

But is that always true?

If you didn’t think anyone would ever read and/or care about your stories and it was all a bunch of wasted effort, would you still do it? I’m not talking about how we discovered writing as kids and wanted to make up our own stories, I mean now. Now as we’re adults with life decisions and time management to consider. I would just keep a journal like I did as a kid if I didn’t think I would have even a small readership.

We have these millions of writers on Twitter for a reason. We want to let people know who we are (as the writing tips tell us) so we can get the word out about our work.

Of course it is. Personally, having a completed book, self-published or traditional is worth the time because it’s a connection to the outside world. We want to share a part of ourselves because that’s just part of human nature.

Granted, writing is the thing we do, not because it’s “fun” but because it is what it is. It’s our thing. It’s what we know we’re supposed to be doing. But doing something just for yourself, without any hope of anyone else knowing or caring. I just don’t think that’s 100% true for writers.

With self publishing, we know we can have something out there. The “fun” in that is the satisfaction of a finished product. Yes, the marketing and the business aspect is irritating, but we’re willing to do it so we’re read and recognized. We want to do it for ourselves in a self-gratifying way. We want someone to acknowledge our existence. I don’t think any of the millions of indie writers on Twitter talks about writing unless they want some kind of recognition and kudos. And that’s 100% perfectly okay.

Favorite quotes on the subject:

“When God hands you a gift, he also hands you a whip; and the whip is intended for self-flagellation solely...Writing stopped being fun when I discovered the difference between good writing and bad and, even more terrifying, the difference between it and true art. And after that, the whip came down.” ~ Truman Capote

“There is only one real sin, and that is to persuade oneself that second-best is anything but the second-best.” ~ Doris Lessing

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your dreams. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you too, can become great." ~ Mark Twain

"We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world." ~  Marianne Williamson

“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else.” ~ Gloria Steinem

Anyway, at least Twitter entertained me today. I had some good writers with nice books get into the conversation, which is a rarity. 98% of the time, I get responses from the same people who are pretty like minded, so it’s interesting to see Twitter isn’t completely dead.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

19 Things for the 19th of March

  1. Have stupid back trouble, so I have to stay away from the computer chair. No where near as bad as it was this time last year, but it's not great either. (Back is better today, hence my ability to post this from my computer desk.)
  2. Been watching Breaking Bad. Just started Season 2 last night.
  3. Have been working on outlines, but every time I write one I feel stumped on how to execute the plot. Have decided to write outlines, then set them aside after knowing how I want the plot to go. Trying to adhere to them zaps any creative flow for me.
  4. Have to find a theme for Blog Challenge A-Z for April.
  5. Have to decide which book to work on for Camp NaNoWriMo. (Well, nevermind, I just put my book info down, so I guess I know which one I’m going to work on.
  6. I am the worst at decision making. I keep thinking I’m wasting my time on the wrong book, or jumping into projects without thinking about them enough. Now that I have outlines and a pretty good sense of the characters, I think I can get to work on a book with a decent, logical plotline.
  7. How to keep up the pacing is a new issue though – now that I know what happens in the book from beginning, middle and end, I need to get it in the 50k word mark for a first draft. I hate the idea of adding filler if I get through the plot points too quickly too. Ugh! Organization is so tough!
  8. I didn’t get involved in any PitchMadness because I don’t have anything finished and polished. The indecisiveness keeps me in half-worked projects all the time.
  9. Must finish things. Must finish things. Must. Finish. Things.
  10. Is being a “best seller” really that big of a thing? Sure, a NY Times Best Seller is, but for Amazon, best sellers can change daily, can’t they?
  11. What is up with Twitter? It’s so quiet anymore. I can ask questions, use hashtags, and try to get involved in discussions and a rarely get responses (and they’re generally from the same people I chat with regularly.) I wonder if it’s run its course, this Twitter thing.
  12. We’re thinking about getting another cat since I keep worrying that ours is lonely. Of course, I don’t like the idea of having twice the amount of cat fur all over the house, so we may not.
  13. In April I plan on going back to the gym (to help the back, mainly) and getting a new set of tires on the car. That’s as exciting as it gets, so my blogging and NaNo-ing should be fine.
  14. I finally figured out how to get the always available classic books from the library via the Overdrive app on my Kindle Fire.
  15. The weather has brightened up around here, but it’s supposed to get cold (surprise) again by Friday.
  16. Last two movies we saw in the theatre were Frozen and The LEGO Movie.
  17. I have a one book project that I could do, but I don’t want to because it would require some intense-ness. Anyone ever have that?
  18. I could be going to a writing workshop today, but I’m sort of gun shy now, so I’ll stay home.
  19. I’ve decided that my next phone is going to be a Nokia 920 because my Samsung Galaxy S3, while having a nice camera, does not like WiFi. It gets hot while it tries to find WiFi and won’t connect to it. Steve and I can go to Frankie and Benny’s and his Nokia will work fine, mine will sit there and struggle until I finally give up.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Well, today I got kicked out of a writing workshop

Well, not really kicked out, but sort of. Here’s my email to the library that conducted the workshop (I’ve been to one last year that was just a day event.) That’s going to be the only one I go to there, apparently.

Dear Staff:

On Wednesday I specifically queried about the course starting on Friday, and was told I was signed up for the course, and could even pay £60 for the 10 weeks. This course, which is listed for today as a 10 weeks course, ends today. Therefore, I just wasted time and money on travel getting into the city to go to the course, only to be told there was no purpose for my staying as this was the final day for critiques and wrap up.

I do suggest you re-evaluate how the events are listed on your website, as this is no longer a course which can be signed up for. I was quite embarrassed and frustrated this morning to find this out the hard way. It makes me wonder if any of the event dates are accurate, or if some of the events are already in progress (or nearly over.) I was told that there are many of these writing workshops going on and without prior knowledge or speaking with the workshop leader directly, there is no way to know when the workshops really begin and end. Perhaps if the course were listed with "Week 10 of 10," then the public would be able to know how far along the workshop has been in session.

Thank you.

I guess the way it was listed implied that it was the 10th lesson, but that wasn’t clearly stated. Plus, I asked the librarian, and if it were the last course, she should have known. Also, if that’s the last course, and it’s not longer available to the public, why have it listed and/or allow someone to be registered for it? Also, this library is an old, historical library that requires membership for literary types to use the resources. I get the idea that it’s kind of an exclusive thing to be involved in the workshops there.

But, yeah. That was pretty much my most embarrassing moment of living here. (No, the learning to drive thing was probably #1.) Both cases created much tears.

I just feel incredibly stupid in situations like this because here I am, the dumb American, who is shut out of all the outside events I enjoy: writing, library events, and teaching. It isn’t a good feeling to be a stranger in a strange land. It really isn’t. I honestly about cried when I had to get up in front of all those people and leave the library. Horrible feeling.

This is why writing has to be such a solitary act. I knew I shouldn’t go today either, and I’m mad at myself for not heeding my intuition. (Most of the time, I think my intuition is making an excuse for myself.)

Oh well. Lesson learned. No more trying to force something that isn’t right.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Writing and the question of “Why?”

“When you get stuck – and you will get stuck – remember to ask yourself questions. Instead of stating the problems – “the princess is trapped in the high tower” – phrase it as a question – “how can I get the princess out of the high tower?” It’s amazing how much creativity can be unleashed with a question mark. For a squiggly line with a dot on the end, it wields untold power.” – Outling Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success

I’ve found this helpful as I’m working away at trying to get a basic outline done for a few projects. I’m rubbish at outlining because it feels so foreign to suppose what will happen next when I’m not writing the scene. I usually have a beginning, premise, scenes, and an ending idea (though I don’t have the ending exact all the time.)

Generally I make notes and jot down ideas, then completely disregard them until I need to look up a place name, or sequence of events to make sure the continuity is all right.

Sadly, I lost a whole scene in the shuffle of writing on the word processor and pasting it into another file. It’s just completely gone. In my mad obsession to back up every file two times, I think I just saved the original version without the new additions. Of course, the word processor needs to be cleared out all the time so…it’s gone.

I’m currently shopping for a portable external hard drive to keep all original files from the word processor somewhere safe. I’ve had this happen twice now and, as you can imagine, it’s quite maddening.

“Why do you want to be published? It might be a dream of yours, but what’s behind that dream? Is it a need to prove something? A desire to be someone? A need to leave your mark on the world? A desire to be rich and/or famous? Do you feel that being published would justify your existence, as I once thought? If so, I’d like to urge you to re-examine those reasons…Being published is a nice feeling, but so is having a chocolate bar. Neither on will align the planets of your solar system or bring you ultimate peace.” – The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction

I had to think about this passage for a while. I think everyone wants to be validated through publishing, but I also think there’s a lot of us that just know we should be working towards publication for our career. Now, granted, with self-publishing, we can work on our books, put it out there, and move on to the next. I find that the readership is the main motivator for me, and get there through traditional or self publishing is fine by me.

Granted, this quote brings up the same point that Anne Lamott makes in Bird by Bird about publishing not being the ultimate goal in writing.

“I tell my students that the odds of their getting published and of it bringing them financial security, peace of mind, and even joy are probably not that great. Ruin, hysteria, bad skin, unsightly tics, ugly financial problems, maybe; but probably not peace of mind. I tell them that I think they ought to write anyway.” – Bird by Bird

When I take the pretence of just writing so I can have a book birthday, or the pretty cover to show off on my website, I can focus on getting the job done. Granted, I need deadlines and goals though because right now I’m in this world of more than one project on the go and no real end in sight. However, organizing each one a lot more than I have been is helping matters, I think.

Monday, March 3, 2014

What parents say about parenting

A child-free couple is a total outsider when it comes to the details of parenting a child. As intelligent consumers, we see this as a research method; read the reviews from those who have said item that we may be interested in having ourselves.

Parents, you make parenting sound just awful.

I know you all love your kids, I’m not disputing that, but as a person without children in her home, I wonder why on Earth anyone who hears the things parents say would ever want one (or more!) of their own.

Before anyone jumps on my case for being insensitive or misinformed, I’m merely stating what people who have children have said themselves. I don’t know if it’s true or not – I don’t have a baby running around here.

Here’s a list of things I have heard parents say within the last week, month, or year:

1. You’ll never, ever do anything you want ever again once you have a kid. Just make a list of everything you like to do and burn it.

2. You’ll never sleep. Babies don’t sleep. Toddlers don’t sleep. Kids, just don’t sleep – and neither will you. EVER. You’ll lose so much sleep you won’t think straight, you’ll forget to wash your hair, you’ll be a zombie. This lasts for years before the kids sleeps through one full night.

3. Kids use their pooh to destroy bed sheets, mattresses, and walls. But it’s adorable…isn’t it?

4. Babies eat diapers. (I did this when I was little. I must have been bored.) They’ll also be allergic to diapers so the idea of just buying cheap diapers may not work because your baby may be allergic to them.

5. Kids have to eat everything that is as natural as possible. Everything has toxins in them, especially baby formula, so you have to only give them raw vegetables and a “clean” diet. You don’t want to give chemicals to your kids. (This means they can’t ever have soda, or McDonald’s, or sugar, or full fat milk, or anything we took for granted in the 70s and 80s.)

6. Having a kid is like being in jail. You’ll never be alone again. The kid needs you 24/7 and depends on you for everything, so you will never, ever have a life of your own again. (But it’s a good jail.)

7. Wives get jealous of the attention the kid gets from the grandparents and the husband. The husband gets jealous of the attention the wife gives to the baby. You use to be happy, then you had a kid, and now everyone is sleep deprived, resentful, and miserable. Your honeymoon is over.

8. Breastfeeding is horrible, but you have to do it because your baby won’t be healthy otherwise. If you don’t do it, other mothers will look down on you. Your doctor will tell you there are no real toxins in baby formula, even though everyone else told you it did. You have to feed the baby all the time, and it’s painful. The baby will not eat with a blanket over him either, so you have to expose yourself everywhere, even if it’s inconvenient, because you have to feed the baby. Your husband will get jealous of all the time the kid spends with your body as well.

9. You will never be able to go to the toilet without the kid trying to barge in on your, or barge in on other people in public restroom stalls. (I believe this one – I’ve had plenty of kids try to open bathroom doors or just crawl on the floor to “visit” me in mine.)

10.  Kids are fussy. They won’t eat. They are like a blender without a top (a Seinfeld quote). They will kick you when you try to change their diaper. They will make grocery shopping unbearable. They makes a mess at a restaurant. They will cry at the movies. Basically, you can’t do anything that makes them happy for long.

11. Kids are expensive. If you’re worried about how expensive it will be, you shouldn’t have kids. Even if you think you couldn’t afford it, you’ll find the money somewhere.

12. If I had to do it over again, I would never have kids.

13. People who don’t have children are happier. Couples who don’t have children get along better too.

14. You never realize how angry you can get until you have children.

15. Kids gets sick all the time. You’ll always take them to the doctor for some kind of illness. In Florida, sometimes they even need breathing treatments because of the weird flu thing they’ve picked up. (For the record neither me, or my husband, where sick like this as kids. I caught some nasty bugs at college and as a teacher, so I can only imagine what kind of weird germs are running around now.)

Now most parents I know seem to be happy and loving to their kids. But, man, when you hear the “dark” side of it, it seems like some kind of beast you’re let run loose in your home. Only a very few parents have said that parenting is fun and it’s the best decision they ever made. I also see the “I LOVE MY KIDS!!!!!” updates and the “Share this if you love your kids” posts too. I’m just saying that when you look at the “reviews” on parenting, the option seems pretty bleak, as if you’re choosing happiness or children.

Personally, I think we would be the “kids are fun” kind of parents. We like kid-like things, and neither of us are preoccupied with a career or anything outside the home. Plus, I like working with kids; they’re funny and sweet. I don’t think having one them running loose in the house would be all bad.

But, I’m no expert.