Sunday, July 16, 2017

Time to Grow Up?

I was talking to a friend on Twitter today about writing goals and aspirations. He is working diligently on a screen play and obviously is very invested time-wise with his writing career. The subject of my second book came up and he very innocently asked if I had started it.

If Twitter had sound effects, a derisive snort would have accompanied my response that I not only had started it, but that it was done...and, truth be told, it's partially edited. Making this admission to him had an interesting effect on me. The first is that I realized that I have written two books. I've always dismissed the second book as not counting because I haven't yet published it. But, saying to my friend that the book is done and really not far away from being published... Well, I totally see myself in a different light. 

I think I may well be a writer.

Maybe not well-paid. Maybe not well-sold. But I did write two books. That's got to count for something.

And I've written short stories that have been published in minor publications, as well as written all the other short stories and poetry that I never tried to publish. Maybe I'm not like all the other "I've written novels since I was two and would die if I didn't write" people. But, maybe--just maybe--I really am a writer.

The second effect was that I thought, "What the hell is wrong with me that I'm not just finishing and publishing the damn thing!" It's been five years--Five years!!--since I started writing the thing and I just keep dragging my feet and ignoring the pleas coming from my laptop to finish the little darling and set it free.




I know I've mentioned this curious procrastination here before. This reluctance (inability?) to get unstuck truly boggles my mind. I have a sneaky suspicion that anxiety is involved somehow. I'll go to write or to edit--I'll WANT to write or edit--and then the What-If's creep in (what if it sucks, what if I suck, etc...) and I just don't.




Yesterday my family and I went to Lincoln for one of the concerts of the Meadowlark Music Festival (Saxophonist Marco Albonetti with percussionist Dane Richeson). Before the concert we went to Barnes and Noble and I went back to the Writing section--a little reluctantly, believe it or not. 
Sitting on the shelf was a book called Fearless Writing by William Kenower. I'm not saying this book is going to be the savior of my procrastinating self. Last night, though, I read through the introduction and feel better because if someone wrote a book about "how to create boldly and write with confidence" then it's not just me with this problem.

Do I feel silly? Yes. Part of me is rolling my eyes at the part that is reading a writer's self-help book. But, I want to write. I want to finish my story, I want to figure this out.



Have you heard of the book Fearless Writing? Does fearless writing come naturally to you? 

Friday, July 07, 2017

Funny Friday Photos: Cute Squirrels, Dead Ducks and Delusional Deer.

Happy Weekend!

Things I learned over the last two weeks:

1. I better write posts on Friday nights, because if I wait until Saturday it won't be written.

2. How I define creativity needs adjusting. The first week of living an artist's life was fun, but I found that viewing creativity as an end product (ie. something I could see or read) was incredibly limiting. I did find that I was eager to be creative each day, so even just in a week my motivation improved. But lack of tangible "product" ideas made me stop the second week. I've decided that I'm going to commit to another week of daily creativity, but it's going to be writing focused. I think I'll include editing as an acceptable creative act, as well. Even though it's not new writing, I figure you have to use creativity to fix old writing.

3. My thirteen-year-old Visla is a bird killing machine. When she was a couple of years old she caught approximately five birds out of the air one summer. This summer she's killed two birds so far - a robin and a baby barn swallow. My children are horrified with her bird killing ways, but I explain to them she can't help her instincts. She would have been the best hunting dog, if we did that kind of thing. I still feel bad about the baby bird, though. She didn't crush it outright, so it was still living when she gave it to me, and it died in my hands. :(

Well, now I need some funny photos! Are you ready? Let's go!








It's expression in the bottom picture is exactly how excited I get when I catch a new Pokemon in Pokemon Go!






Yes,  I know this is an elk, but did you know that elk are one of the largest animals in the deer family? So I wasn't wrong when I called it a deer in the title. Yes, I actually worried over that and looked it up.




Pun!



I don't really have a favorite this week. I think they're all kind of cute.

Have a lovely weekend!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Artist's Life

We could probably start this post by talking about a sort of identity crisis I had when I moved.



Let it suffice to say that when I moved I was stripped of all the ways I used to feel important and special. It's just what happens when you change up your life completely.

Family



I've always been mom and wife, though, even after moving (of course.) Over the last two years I've learned that those are the two roles that mean the most to me and make me most proud of who I am. Perhaps that's why, if I have a choice between spending time with my family or working on a story, I'll most likely choose family.  Over the last two years, I've decided to not feel bad about that fact, either. My kids will grow up and eventually I'll have all kinds of time to to write and edit. I want to fill my memory with as much love and children hugs as possible now while I can still get them.

Career

After the first year, due to monetary issues (ie. lack of...) I returned to social work.






And now I've comfortably reclaimed social worker as another part of my identity. Different population and different type of social work, but it turns out I really do enjoy helping others, and seem to be pretty good at it. Nobody enjoys the paperwork, but I feel good when I get it all done, so there's that bit of silver lining.

Writing

When I released Finding Meara I added the role of author to my identity, even though (because I self-published) I felt a little like I was cheating. Now, five years later, I don't know what to think. Am I an author, really? Or because I haven't been making writing a priority does that mean I'm a big fraud and never was a writer/author? If I do still consider myself a writer, what kind of writer am I? Will I ever be disciplined enough to actually finish editing Through the Fairy Ring and write more/new stories?


I honestly feel like I am a writer, but I sure don't act like one!

And then, when I do try to write, my muse is...well, absent? I don't know, but I don't really feel all that creative. I'm trying to pump water out of a dry well. I plan to write every day, and I really do want to. I WANT to write. A month ago I plotted a flash fiction story for a Wattpad contest. I thought it was great, right? Went to write it out a couple of weeks ago and realized it was...well...crap. I mean an honest to goodness craplet. I can't seem to work on anything that gets me excited to write. I'll have little brushes with words and ideas that make me believe I'm going to turn on the writing mojo and get cracking again. But it just fades away or gets stalled out.

What's a writer to do?

This week I was driving to do home visits in a nearby tiny Nebraska town and heard a John Mellencamp interview on NPR. He said that one day he'd realized he'd become someone he didn't like. He was focused on how his records were performing and getting frustrated if they didn't get a lot of acclaim or do well. He was living a "rock and roll" life, focused on the money, glory and how his music benefited him instead of living "an artists life" and was determined to change that.

He decided he was going to "create" every day. It didn't have to be any certain type of creating, he just had to create. He paints, or writes, or plays music, or whatever. And he found the muse became readily available to him. He'll be painting something and all of a sudden his Muse will overwhelm him with something he needs to write. He'll be writing and a melody will come to him. He said that the act of choosing to create every day has enabled him to get out of his own way and just make art. He doesn't worry about if it's good or bad, or whether it'll be profitable or if people will like it. He just creates. Every day.

So, I figure, what the heck? Why not give it a try. Let's see if by creating anything I can start writing something. I'm not terribly talented in many artistic areas. Most of the creative arts I've been involved in require other people (acting, drumming.) But, I figure it doesn't matter, really. I will just try out some new things. I'll draw, or paint, or write, or craft something (scrapbooking page? beading? wire art?)

I've decided to commit to one week of living an artist's life. I know myself well enough to know that I need to make a declaration of my doable goal in order to even have half-a-chance of actually doing this. Here it is, my declaration. You, reading this right now, are my witness and it's to you I'll have to report to next weekend.

Today, obviously, this blog post is going to be my creation. Tomorrow, who knows. But I think it's going to be fun to find out. And that might be what I've lost in writing. Why my muse doesn't want to come and play. I'm no fun to be around. Hopefully I'll find that changed, even if just a little bit, by next weekend.

How do you maintain creative flow in your life?
Are you a "show up and work" kind of creator, or do you have to have inspiration to create?
(I really do want to know!)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Silly Saturday Photos: Assassin Turtles

First off, Happy Weekend!!

Secondly, I'm so sorry! I didn't realize until Sunday night I'd not made a post for last week. I weighed going ahead and writing one up, but decided to just wait for this week's post. However, I'm not going to let not posting become a habit again. It was just a really busy weekend!

We're lucky because there's actually funny photos! I hope you enjoy the pickings this week. :)

Actually, not very LOL at all!



Boy 2 is begging to get  a Leopard Gecko. They are cute, aren't they?









The boys were asking me what you put the "rectangles in to hear them, like in Guardians of the Galaxy." Took me a bit to realize they were talking about cassette tapes and tape players. Egads, but I'm getting old!
Caption by DJAussie




Puns!








Photos this week came from a variety of places - the ones not marked came off of icanhascheeseburger or pinterest (which means they could be from anywhere.)

I personally liked the turtles, especially the one threatening a "mostly slow" death.

Have a great week and see you next weekend!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Lazy Saturday Photos: A Cozy Mystery Setting?

It's been tough to find funny photos the last couple of weeks, so I thought this week I'd do a random photo post, instead. Welcome to Lazy Saturday photos!

I've been toying with writing  a cozy mystery. I know, I know. I have a contemporary fantasy I need to get finished and really shouldn't be thinking about anything else. But, I haven't written anything new in a really long time, and I think I'm finally sorting through my writerly issues and am ready to soldier on (I'll need to do a blog post on that some day.) And the plotting of a new story is some of the best fun I have in writing.

So, anyway...back to why I should write a cozy mystery... I love Murder She Wrote and mystery dramas on television, read reams of cozy mysteries, and realized many of the thrillers I've enjoyed over the years owe much to the mystery genre as well. Even my own books are kind of mysteries hidden behind a fantasy veneer. And my love of mystery, specifically of the cozy variety, came early to me, as I loved the Encyclopedia Brown books, Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew as a child.

My home town (the current one) kind of lends itself as a setting. It's not very big (25,000 people) but still big enough to have complex relationships. We've got a college, a community college, a museum, library, courts, crime, (limited) retail, a nifty downtown area, bike paths, and will be at totality of the solar eclipse this summer. Seventy-five percent of the population is retired, and people still wave and smile at each other, go to the parks on a hot summer day, and attend high school sports events. And it's beautiful here! Lots of trees, green grass and flowers. There is a seedy underside, of course. My husband is a probation officer and I hear about some of the problems of the area from co-workers, too. It's not perfect, but it seems like a nice setting for a cozy mystery, a la the Cat Who books.

So, I thought I'd take you on a tour of our town today. My family and I went for a bike ride this morning, and I took some photos of a couple of the places we went by. I'll share just a few that give an idea of what I find appealing about this little town.

We started off by going to the park where bricks were made many years ago. The stacks are still standing and the size of the park is immense. It's more like an over-sized meadow than a park, with lush green grass and graceful trees sharing the space with an amphitheater and some pretty ancient playground equipment my kids adore.

This picture was actually taken on a different day.




Then we headed downtown and decided to stop for a bite to eat.




I always forget how expensive Jimmy Johns is. So much time passes between our visits to the restaurant, because of how expensive it is, I forget and then am always shocked at the tab when we do go. Today was no different. It will now be another 9 mos to a year before we eat at Jimmy Johns again.



This is one panel of a connected row of buildings whose rear exteriors are painted in a colorful mural along the bike path. I liked this one because of the flying moose. Just joking. I'm actually quite perplexed at the flying moose. It's not like there are moose in Nebraska. In any case, all the panels are whimsical and bright. Very interesting to look at, and I imagine have meaning to the area.



Just a picture of my family going down the bike path. I'm so enchanted with the amount of trees in this town. Very different from where we lived in Wyoming.



The bike path follows a viaduct over the train tracks. I love how train tracks look when seen from above. They seem to hold a promise of travel and novelty. Even if you aren't going to be hopping a train soon!



This was new along the path. We can't tell if it's someone's personal tree house or if it was built along the path for the public to play in.

And then finally we ended up at a different park than the morning. Actually, by taking the bike path in a big (10-12 mile) circle, we managed to go through the three major parks in town. This one has new equipment, old equipment and a spray park. We enjoyed all three, proving once again that playgrounds aren't just for children, they're for the young at heart.


I hope everyone had as nice a Saturday morning as we did. I decided to limit my social media/internet usage today, so as to not taint the day with the craziness of the outside world. I wish all of the world could have some of the peace and contentment I had today.

Have a wonderful week and I'll see you next Saturday!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Silly Saturday Post - A Conglomeration

Happy Weekend!

All right. I give up. I've been looking at photos for at least an hour and a half, and could only find just a few photos. I'll include a funny video at the bottom, instead. My boys showed it to me, and it really did make me laugh.

How has everyone been? May is turning out to be a stressful. Work is stressful because I've been buried with assessments. I've also been glued to the internet about all this political stuff. I waste a ton of time trying to figure out all that's been happening. It's all so overwhelming, and I'm going to have to give myself a time-limit. It's making me crazy, cranky, and uber-distracted.

Last weekend I had a lot of fun coming up with a story idea for a Wattpad challenge, but still have to write the actual story. It's flash fiction--very, very short flash fiction--so hopefully I'll get it done this weekend. My other happy times this week have been listening to my kids practice their musical instruments and going for walks. One son is playing What A Wonderful World on his cello (among other songs, but that's my favorite), and the other is working on Ain't No Mountain High Enough (again, among other songs.) We've been exploring Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, 50's, 70's, classical and recent pop music. It's been a lot of fun.

Okay! Here's the photos. Hopefully they at least make you smile!





Do you think this is photo-shopped? If not, that's actually a scary picture.

I visit Nursing Facilities and can never find the front door. What do NF's have against marking their entrances clearly?


Not funny - just cool!
We do have a pun this week!




And a video.  The boys found it. It's from Bad Lip Reading's YouTube channel. There's all kinds of videos there, including other funny Star Wars ones.




I hope you all have an awesome weekend and next week. Now my children are out of school, I might have more relaxed evenings. That would be nice. :)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Silly Saturday Photos: Penguins, Camels and Adam Lambert

Yay for the weekend!
And Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers!

I hope you all had a wonderful week! I think mine was good. Quite honestly, it was a whirlwind and between my kids' end of school things and the state of politics, it was over before I knew it. Which is probably a good thing, but it means most of my writing was done in my head and not much on paper.

Let's see some photos... (Found on icanhascheeseburger.com)

I looked it up. It's true penguins were nicknamed "arse-feet" in the 1800's!


For some reason it reminds me of Patrick Stewart?


Last night I had a dream I was riding a camel, and forgot until I saw this picture.
It was a weird dream.

Well, I think that's it for funny photos. Despite getting distracted by watching Adam Lambert videos on YouTube, this post is still taking way longer than it should to pull together. I have scrolled through lots of funny photos and I'm ready to call it for the week.

The thing about Adam Lambert is he is creatively inspirational to me. I can listen to any song - not just the ones I have on my Through the Fairy Ring playlist - and I get that itchy-to-create feeling. I'm not sure if it's the music or his talent for entertaining that makes me want to explore my own creativity. The persona he puts out to the public is unafraid and unapologetic. His music helps me to remember to be brave and overcome the fear of creative rejection. Here are some quotes from him that I like:

"I started rejecting the proper way to sing and I started singing."

"There's not a blueprint for me to follow."

"I think the more we as artists share ourselves openly, the more someone out there may feel inspired to do the same." (Flaunt Magazine, 2016)

So, yeah! Thanks Adam Lambert, for being an artistic emotional support!

Here's one of the songs that I attribute to Arden's character arc in TTFR. It's called Runnin' and is from the album Trespassing. It's not a video, just the music.



And with that, I'll call it a week!

Do you have an artistic emotional support system? What do you find motivates you to create?




Saturday, May 06, 2017

Silly Saturday Photos: Squirrel Games

Welcome to the weekend!

How was your week? Mine was crazy busy! I'm behind with paperwork at work, Boy 1 had an orchestra concert and Boy 2 had his birthday. It's all behind us now, though. On to the weekend, and editing and relaxation, right?

I found enough pictures I thought were cute that you don't have to read an actual post. I'm wondering what I should write about when I have to write a blog post. I haven't done that in so long!

Anyway, here's this week's offering of photos:


They look so determined!


They may eat my bird seed, but I'm still starting to find squirrels charming.


The way I feel by the end of the week. This is why I don't have friends.


So, that would be a no.


What applying for government assistance programs is like. You understand the direction, but it doesn't make sense.

A little science humor...

I think my favorite is the squirrel games. I laugh when I see flattened squirrels - unless their guts are beside them on the road. Then I feel sad.

I think I'm a little tired. Did I just write that?

Anyway, have an awesome weekend and try to stay sane next week!


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Silly Saturday Photos: Wolverine Kitty

Happy (late) Weekend!

How did your week go?

I'll admit, my week was pretty interesting. If you've been on Twitter, you'll already know that I tried to cut off my thumb with a mandolin slicer. The urgent care doctor glued the skin back down, but the glue is starting to come off and it doesn't look good at all. I can't tell if it's infected, or if it just looks gross.

I bought and read a book about writing short stories by James Scott Bell. I want to get back into short stories, and the book was really helpful. Sadly, I haven't actually written anything yet. I've been working, cooking and editing when I can. I have a journal, though, and I'm working on one story idea a day. Eventually I should find a story I want to write!

Well, let's see this week's photos! I actually saw some that were funny.





My dogs are so old, they only wish they could go for so many walks.




Every single time!!


Who knew Sauron was a girl.


The likeness is uncanny!

A punny joke!



My favorite is the Wolverine cat! It's so funny!

Have a lovely week and we'll see you next weekend!

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