Saturday, July 28, 2012

Writers Are Passionate People, But Can They Be Multi-passionate? Yes, They Can!

I’ve written before whining and moaning about my writing difficulties and insecurities.  But have I told you about the other things that I'm passionate about?  For one, I like to make jewelry.  I find myself staring at women in the street, the bus, the train or when I’m out to lunch.  No, not that way; I’m looking at their jewelry and trying to deconstruct it with my eyes so that I can figure out how it was made.  Then decide that I can do that. 

Another passion of mine is Archery and I try to enjoy the sport whenever I can.  Sadly it isn’t as often as I would want, but I try to do it once a month.  I’m also passionate about Halloween and love to dress up and make my own costumes which can be a bit time consuming.

Next up on the list of passions is that I like to go to The Renaissance Faire.  Last year, I dressed up in a blue Renaissance gown and pretended to be a Princess.  I had my hair braided with flowers and gave a slight bow of the head when the occasional peasant curtsied before me saying “My Lady”.  I really enjoyed that part.  Soon, it’ll be time to go again so I started looking online for a new gown because a girl, I mean a Princess, can’t go to The Renaissance Faire two years in a row wearing the same gown.  It’s a rule, look it up.  It’s in the guidebook of Renaissance Faire etiquette that I made up.

I found several gowns that I liked but unfortunately they were priced a bit beyond my budget.  Apparently my kingdom’s coffers aren’t as full of gold and jewels as I would like.  The reality is that I don’t have a budget for such things but you know how it is.  When you really want something you figure out a way to get it even if it means siphoning money from the utility bill payment.  Not that I would do that, of course, but I did think about it and was sorely tempted.  

But something happened instead.  I got this crazy idea.  You see, I looked at these dresses and decided that I can do that. Why not?  Just cut a few pieces of fabric, pin them together, stitch and voila – instant Renaissance gown.  This crazy wonderful idea wouldn’t leave my head, so I bought the fabric and I’m going to dive right into making this gown.  I don’t have any formal sewing training but my motto is “make it work”, so I’ll repeat it over and over like a mantra until the gown is done. 

Hopefully the end result won’t scream "amateur home-made dress!" So this is now my latest passion that I have to schedule into my life and maybe it won’t intrude into my writing time too much. I might do another post and upload progress pictures.  Wish me luck!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Can't Find The Time To Write? Make Time - Use A Kitchen Timer

I like to visit writing websites for tips and ideas on improving my craft.  Recently, I came across an article giving a helpful tip for those of us who have a busy schedule and can’t find the time to write.  The tip is to not only turn off phones, not check e-mails, visit social media sites or even surf the net, but to buy an analog kitchen timer.  And my first thought was “yeah right, I have a kitchen timer app on my phone; I can just use that.” – then dismissed the tip.

But then I remembered that the article said to turn off phones because phones are a distraction – calls coming in, checking voicemail, calling your teenage daughter to see where she is and what she’s doing, who she’s hanging out with today.  See?  All of that distracts you from writing.  And the point of the article was that we all have the same twenty-four hours to work with.  There isn’t any extra time.  So we have to carve time out for ourselves and not allow anyone or anything to distract us from it.  Basically, we are to set the timer for twenty minutes and write unimpeded.  Once the timer rings, we’re to stop writing.  Maybe some of you can set your timer for longer but I thought this was a great idea because twenty minutes doesn’t seem like a lot to ask for.

Last Friday, I set out to get the kitchen timer.  I knew just where to get it, Bed Bath and Beyond – a place that I can’t go to without adult supervision and a 20% off coupon.  I went anyway by myself sans the coupon and yes, I put quite a few things in the shopping cart.  Why was I pushing a shopping cart when all I went there for was a kitchen timer?  I don’t know.  I have a problem.  The good news is that at the end I put everything back and only bought the kitchen timer. 

Okay back to that.  Every kitchen timer I saw had a face: owls, pigs and even a very cute ladybug.  I didn’t want a kitchen timer with a face because my crazy imagination runs rampant sometimes. Okay it happens all the time and I didn’t want to imagine the ladybug telling me in a nagging voice: “That’s all you wrote?”  So I kept rummaging the shelves until I found the One!  It’s a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket timer and I thought perfect!  This timer is a symbolic representation of celebration and it was the last one and at $3.99, I said “Sold!”

I haven’t used it yet but I’m anticipating that I will carve out twenty minutes this week.  I’m very excited!  Of course, I’ll be even more excited if someone sends me a 20% off coupon so I can go back to Bed Bath and Beyond.  Just kidding!  I told you I have a problem.  Maybe I’ll write about it or maybe I’ll browbeat my friends into handing me their coupons.

Anyway, when not in use it’s stored on my wall cubbyhole so that it’s in front of me gently reminding me to use it and also as a sort of Law Of Attraction subconscious nudge.

P.S.: This post isn’t really about writing.  It’s about my insane obsession with getting 20% off coupons for Bed Bath and Beyond.  You know what?  Why don’t you scan your coupon and email it to me?  Will they accept that? I wonder…

Friday, July 13, 2012

Book Review of Become by Ali Cross

Become is the fabulous story of Desolation, a girl torn between two worlds - Helheim, where she grew up and Midgard where she now finds herself. 

Desolation struggles with the decision to become what her father, Loki, wishes her to be or to give in to the warmth she guarded deep in her heart. The warmth she knew came from her mother - a Guardian - a mother she never knew.

Desolation is placed in the care of fallen humans under her father's command as she deals with past memories, unresolved turmoil, self doubt, and the urge to take the easy way out and return home. Her only source of comfort came from Lucy, a woman who embraced her with love.

Loki expects her to Become - to give in to the darkness and transform into a being that personifies mankind's depravity. She despises her name and what it signifies for her to transform into that which her name means. Instead she insists on being referred to as Desi – her small attempt at rebellion knowing that in the end her father will get what he wants. In order to Become, Desi is to assist Miri, an alcoholic and tortured soul end her mortal life, but in the process Desi opens her heart and instead chooses to protect Miri.

Things get complicated when she discovers that Michael, an Angel of Asgard and the boy from her memories, goes to the same school. She's conflicted by feelings of warmth and love whenever she's with him - feelings that spark old memories of a garden. It’s too much to bear when she looks into his golden eyes knowing he’s an Angel and she's a demon – and demons can’t love nor do they deserve to be loved.

Akaros, her father’s right-hand man and the demon who trained her in combat, is preparing for war. He’ll stand at nothing to either force Desi to Become or destroy her in the process.

Now the time has come to make a decision - to fight and protect Midgard or Become as her father has commanded.

I really enjoyed this book. The story flowed smoothly and the characters were believable. Desi had to choose between Helheim, the world she’s always known, and Midgard, a world in danger of destruction and the world where her friends live, while at the same time learning to believe in herself and her destiny.

Desi is a strong character, who is full of self doubt but her inner strength grows as the story develops. When we first meet Desi, she’s a character with amnesia, whose brief remembering of old memories leave her fearful and impotent but in the end she discovers her true purpose and gains the strength to fight for what she believes.

My favorite aspect of this novel is the way the author infused it with Norse Mythology. It's a refreshing change from the heavily saturated Catholicism that permeates most stories of good versus evil.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Time Out For Writing

I’ve been away for a while and my reason or better yet my excuse for going away was that I needed the time to get back to writing.  Yet my focus remained foggy and redirected to other areas.  I guess that’s fine.  Sometimes, life gets in the way of things and people can’t just sit around and write all day and forget about every aspect of their lives.  It would be nice if things just sorted themselves out so that I could while the hours away daydreaming all sorts of adventures.  But after a while, the laundry piles up, the dishes need washing and the dust bunnies are larger than my cats.  Then there are the other aspects of life, like the relationships that we have with our family and friends.  How the dynamics of these relationships will not survive nay tolerate neglect.  And even though I took that time off for myself to focus on the whole “I’m a writer” bit, it didn’t actually happen.  Not the way I had envisioned it would, anyway.

I worked on a book review for the book I finished reading called Become by Ali Cross.  It took me forever to get it done and I sweated and struggled through every bit of it.  I’ve never done a book review before.  How could I call myself a writer if I can’t write a book review, right?  After all, writing a book review is writing, isn’t it?  Eventually, I finished it and that is the product of my time off.  Can you believe it?  One page - just one page of writing in over a month.  But the real secret is that it didn’t take me a month to write it.  For the first two weeks off, I did nothing!

I’m amazed at other writers who manage to amass 1-2,000 words a day.  When I try to write keeping track of my word count, I freeze up.  The word meter plummets instead of rising.  I’m weird; the way I write is strange I guess.  Usually inspiration hits me and sometimes it actually feels physical.  It’s like a left hook that leaves me reeling and other times it’s an almost electric nervous energy that courses through me.  Each time and regardless of the symptoms I must get the story out.  I type and type heeding nothing else - not food, drink, or household chores and often don’t stop until I’m about to collapse from sleep exhaustion.  If, I don’t let this happen; if I restrain myself from letting the story, chapter, scene whatever it is out – it dies.  I lose it never to regain it no matter how hard I try.  And let's not talk about plotting; that's like pulling teeth.  It's either painful or it puts me to sleep because there's nothing happening in the gray matter.

So I began to believe that I must be a writer because normal people don’t go through this.  Do they?  Yet at the same time, I think that no, I couldn’t be a writer because the compulsion to write everything down doesn’t touch me.  I detest journal writing – could never write my personal feelings down – ever.  What if someone were to read them?  I don’t write about what happened on my vacation, not like I’ve had one but you get the idea.  I make lists but that’s different.  I relate that more to a sense of organization.  If I don’t make a list, I won’t remember everything I need to get from the store.  It’s as simple as that.

Well, I don’t know what I am but I hope someday to finish the novel I’m working on.  Maybe then, I can say I’m a writer and all this nonsense about what I am and what I’m not won’t matter.