Category Archives: The Road to Fame & Fortune

Getting from Point A to Point B

Dust Bunnies and the Voice of Responsibility

It’s been over two long, tortuous months since I’ve written anything substantial or worthwhile, unless you want to count (a) telephone messages, and (b) the few abbreviated paragraphs I’ve written in my personal journal. I don’t count those, though, since phone messages don’t meet minimum word requirements (“call Dick on cell”), and, while I can get downright verbose when complaining about the universe and everything in it, what I write in my journal isn’t motivated by creative impulse; I’m not at all picky about how many run-on sentences there are, or how many times I use the word, “stupid.”

I love to write. I want to write. I can’t think of anything else but writing, unless I’m thinking of ways of getting out of it…and, technically, that’s still thinking about writing. I wake up on weekends, excited at the prospect of a private rendezvous with my laptop, but I’m invariably diverted by the forbidding, ominous Voice of Responsibility, snidely asking me, “are you sure there isn’t something else you ought to be doing?” It hits me with the same cold bucket of guilt I get doused with every time I see a dust bunny provocatively lying in the middle of my hallway. My first inclination is to ignore it instead of sweeping it up, hoping it finds companionship with friends under the sofa, but guilt always sends me looking for the broom.

And if the Voice of Responsibility fails to completely derail my good intentions, its best-buddy and second lieutenant, the Voice of Let’s-Do-Anything-But, adds its two-cents worth. Last Saturday, for instance, I woke up excited about having a day to myself to write, to get lost in my imagination, with no one to wait on, or do for, or think of. Hubby was gone for the day and the dogs weren’t going to be a problem because they’re pretty much self-sufficient as long as there’s food in their bowls. But, the Voices had other ideas:

“You’ve only got about thirty pages left to read in your book,” they whined. “Why don’t you sit down with a cup of coffee and finish it? It’s so good, and even though this is the thirty-fourth time you’ve read it, the best part’s just a few pages away!”

I immediately agreed. I filled my coffee cup one more time, sat down, and finished my book.

The next thing I hear is, “You know, you should wash the sheets on the bed. Remember that article you read last week on Yahoo! about dust mites and dead skin, and how you should wash your sheets in hot water at least once a week?”

Oh, yeah…so I stripped the sheets off the bed, and decided to grab the rest of the laundry while I was at it.

The next thing I hear is, “You hungry? It’s about 11:30…there’s leftover pizza in the frig.”

Pizza!?

Well, things went downhill from there. After the pizza, I folded clothes, vacuumed rugs, let the dogs out, let the dogs in, unloaded the dishwasher, and then practiced playing “Variations on the Theme from the Celebrated Canon in D” on my piano, which is something I generally don’t do unless I’m trying to avoid writing. That actually turned out to be my one saving grace, because the piano is in the same room as my computer. I eventually got up, took the two steps needed to reach my desk, and sat down. I adjusted my chair. I flexed my fingers. Then, after browsing Facebook, checking all my e-mail accounts, and surfing the net (which was how I learned all there was to know about dust mites), I opened up my word processor…and the only thing I could do was stare out the window (wow, can’t believe how big that tree’s grown!)…at the wall…at the shelf on said wall, piled up with all sorts of books about how to write…and, finally at the blank, desolate, unmoving (and unsympathetic) computer monitor. I waited for something—anything—to miraculously materialize, but, alas, no luck.

It suddenly occurs to me how ironic is it that someone like me—who has no trouble personifying globs of dust and dog hair—can’t seem to write about anything other than writing, or the lack thereof.

Apparently, if I ever want to write a novel, and I do, it’s going to have to be about writing…

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Calling in the Cavalry

I’m a Platform-Building Campaigner.  What, you might ask, is that, and why is it such a big deal?

It’s a big deal because writing is, by its nature, a solitary pursuit.  Unless you’re lucky enough to be a member of a writing team for someone like David Letterman, chances are you’re stuck by yourself, all alone, in an office or other converted space, pounding away on a computer or, what they used to call in the day, a “typewriter.”

It’s a big deal is because through this Campaign, I will become part of a growing community of writers, many of whom are in the same proverbial boat as me, i.e., a complete novice at this writing thing.  I also won’t have to waste valuable time making all my own mistakes…I can make just a few, while learning from the mistakes others have made before me.  It’s a good deal, especially since it’s extremely likely their mistakes aren’t nearly as fatal as mine usually are.

Like many (if not the majority) of writers out there, I’m not too keen on promoting my own work, or my own name, or my own brand (like I even know what a “brand” is).  I’d like to believe that once someone reads what I write, they’ll graciously deign to tell all their friends, relatives, acquaintances, and co-workers what a great writer I am and boy they should really check out my blog because it will change their lives for the better…forever.

Who says I don’t have a fantasy life?

Anyway, that isn’t gonna happen (unfortunately), so I’ve got to take my destiny—and my reputation—into my own, feeble, inexperienced hands.  Joining the Platform-Building Campaign will not only teach me what a “platform” is, it will, hopefully, go a long way towards improving my comfort level in blowing my own horn, and, just as importantly, the horns of all the other Campaigners out there.

Stay tuned…I’ll let you know how it’s going.  In the meantime, click on the Shield at the left to see what I’m talking about.

Mark Harmon & Other Nifty Seeds of Creative Genius

I’ve been doing this blog-thing for a little while now, and I’m doing my best to post something consistently, just like all the expert bloggers advise (“expert” denoting anyone who knows more about it than me, which means there are a lot of experts).  If I’ve learned anything at all during this little exercise, it’s that with writing a weekly blog comes a significant amount of pressure.  It seems the closer my self-imposed deadline gets, the more time I spend in the middle of a creative desert, with no water to drink or anybody to talk to.  Yes, I know that there are others out there writing daily or hourly, and I can’t speak for them; but this weekly gig  is about as easy as climbing out of the Grand Canyon, on your knees, alone, sans donkey.

However, all is not lost, because, being the dedicated, hopeful, and persistent writer that I am, I will find a way to forge a path across said desert to arrive at the lush, green, idea-filled oasis that is rumored to exist on the other side.  I just have to figure out how I’m going to do that.

I need a plan that, ideally, will not involve research, because I hate research…and not because it’s hard or boring.  I hate it because I cannot stay focused on just one topic.  Something I read while looking for something else always sends me tacking in an entirely different direction, and before I know it, I’m reading about jelly beans when I should be learning about polar bears.

So, anyway, I stumbled upon the following set of questions while recently not researching on the internet, the answers to which are supposed to provide some needed inspiration.  I wish I could tell you where I found them, but alas, no one said anything about taking notes.  They were much harder to answer than I thought they would be; I probably know more about the guy who delivers my morning paper than I do about myself, which I find quite ironic, given my answer to the first question:

1.  What do I feel strongly about?

  • Self-awareness – Everyone should understand why they cut in front of me in the fast lane on the highway and then slow down to five miles per hour under the speed limit.
  • Punctuality – Not being somewhere on time is equivalent to breaking a contract, in my opinion, and offenders found guilty should be required to attend a time management course every six months for life.  I’m sorry to say that without tort reform, this will never happen.
  • My weight – Let’s just say this is up there with world peace.
  • Mark Harmon – Who doesn’t feel strongly about Mark Harmon?!?

2.  What excites and motivates me?

  • Joe Bonamassa – Smooth, incredible, sexy blues!
  • History – I suppose this could go hand-in-hand with self-awareness…how can we know ourselves if we don’t know from whence we came?  For example, it’s highly probable that I’m a writer because my father played the accordion.
  • Fear – This motivates me to run. Very Fast.
  • Laptops – They come in designer colors and have pretty, sparkling lights when they’re thinking.  And I like that.

3.  How do I spend most of my time?

  • Thinking about writing – Isn’t it obvious?
  • Regretting the past –  Why, oh why, did I put all that money into those slot machines?
  • Worrying about the future – Will social security be solvent?  What kind of world will my grandchildren inherit?  Will my 16-year old dishwasher flood the kitchen?
  • Dazed and confused – Caused by worrying about the future and regretting the past and thinking about writing.  All at the same time.

4.  What events have impacted my life?

  • Marriage – Both of them.
  • Divorce – If one must lose weight really fast, this diet works wonders.
  • Birth of my son – This event, more than any other, has made me the grandmother I am today.
  • Cancellation of “Star Trek” – This, and the release of  “Star Trek – The Motion Picture” sent me into a blue funk that lasted until “Star Trek – The Wrath of Khan.”

5.  What types of reading do I enjoy?

  • Anything other than William Faulkner – I have no more brain cells left with which to comprehend what he’s talking about…they died a long time ago.
  • Biography – And only if the subject has been dead for a while.
  • Books with time travel in them…the last remaining, totally fantastical subject matter that has absolutely no chance of becoming reality.
  • Nutrition labels – Fiber, fiber, fiber.

So, do I feel inspired?  Yes, I think so.

Shoot – I could do 750 words on Mark Harmon alone!

All Twitter-ed Up and No Place To Go

I did it.  I can’t believe I actually opened a Twitter account. Strike me dead if I’m lyin’.

Actually, strike me dead anyway, because now that I’ve got it, I’m not sure I know what to do with it.  I’ve read articles and blogs on how Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites are necessary if I want to get my writing out there (wherever “there” is), but most of them assume I know a lot more that I do.  They assume I’ve learned to read.

They assume incorrectly.

Now, I need to write a short bio and toot my first tweet (or vice-versa), but just thinking about what to say in 140 characters or less is incredibly intimidating.  How can I possibly weed through the chaos in my head, and select only 140 characters, and then arrange them in whatever order is necessary to express a complete thought?  I can’t believe they expect me to do this! It’s like sorting through a junk drawer where all the little miscellaneous doodads and gadgets end up (you know, the little stuff you’ll never use, but don’t dare throw away, and there’s no where else to put it).  That’s my head…one humongous junk drawer within a stuffed, cluttered, disorganized hall closet.  Haz-mat suit required.

I really should set up a filing system.

Until then, though, I’m stuck rooting around in there for anything upon which to base a tweet.  It has to be something thoughtful (slim chance) or inspirational (slimmer chance), or downright life-changing (impossible – I don’t keep stuff like that beyond it’s expiration date.)

Maybe I should just settle for mildly coherent and hope for the best.

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