Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm alive...and waiting

I really hate taking any sort of medication for...anything. Like I mentioned, I have strep throat and a bit of a fever so ... I gave in and got the meds the doctor prescribed and I feel almost like myself again.

I haven't written in like, two days though. I haven't thought once about the story I was doing the outline for. I keep thinking about this short story and--I don't know really. I think my brain doesn't stay on anything for any certain amount of time. I'm always falling in love with something different. I can tell you that I have about 100 different story ideas floating around in my head at any given time.

I've been saying over and over for the past few days now, that I seem more able to connect with literary fiction. I suppose this is why the short story was such and easy thing to write. And then I ended up going way over 4000 words--which I had to chop up.

The whole business of writing seems to be a very exact science and I've never been very good at being exact--or scientific.

I have to learn how to do all that other stuff that comes along with trying to get published. I wrote a query letter once, and it got Uber rejected--which is something I can laugh at now because I didn't even know what genre I was writing or the audience I was trying to reach.

I'm not going to lie, I am really used to just writing and blowing people away and resting on that. Now I have to do things like...be organized *cringe* re-read and re-analyze every single word to see if it's a better way to put something, make sure I don't sound repetitive, make sure my grammar is correct--and last but not least, make sure that whoever I'm querying thinks my story is as awesome as I think it is.

This is so...unbelievably frusterating. I sit and I read other blogs by authors or other writers and I try to figure out what I'm missing.

I still feel like I'm not doing enough. Or maybe I'm doing too much and wanting too much in too short of a time period.

This part of it...really isn't all that fun.


Yeah...no title for this one.

I don't really have alot to say. I spent most of the morning in the ER with a fever and strep throat so I'm not operating at 100%

But I did get a good piece of news today from a woman who I happen to think is just awesome, amysuenathan.com

I told her this story about...well..'explaining the coins' and she wrote a blog about it today, which made me feel all kinds of good, strep throat be damned. It's good to know that my ramblings make sense to people sometimes...I'm not a complete lost cause. -lol-

I'm not sure how much writing or editing I'm going to get done today. All I want to do is sleep...seriously.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Six Sentences

So I've been spending a good deal of my day suffering from a really horrible sore throat and 'stalking' other people's blogs. I ran into two really good ones. This one was really interesting to read. It challenges the reader to write story in no more than six sentences. And the ones I've read so far have been pretty good. Check it out and see if you're up for the challenge!


So...a bit of randomness:

I wonder if it's possible to go senile at the age of 28...

I'm guessing...yes.


What was I talking about again?

Happiness is...

My weekend was great really. Mom came and picked up myself and Izzy, and Eric stayed home. We drove to PA to go get my sister and her daughter. It was strictly a 'girls' day out type of thing. (Left the men at home) We ended up going to Franklin Mills Mall and it took us like 10 minutes trying to figure out where to put the money to get these nifty little cart things (that cost three dollars!). I left Izzy's stroller at home so we had to push her around in the cart, which she HATED by the way.

She ran around like crazy, getting into everything (when we did let her get down) and then she proceeded to try and knock every one's lunch onto the floor.

It was just good to be around my own family again. I'm always dealing with my ex's people and most of the time, it's not the greatest experience.

And yesterday, after we put the baby to bed, Eric and I made a cake at like 11:30 at night. We didn't even have frosting. But, oh my GOODNESS it came out great. The kitchen light bulb AND the living room bulb blew out, and we didn't have any more, so we made cake using a flashlight and a candle. It was really funny--but fun.

I did my very best not to obsess about writing, but I would find myself mumbling to myself about plot lines and all that fun stuff and he'd ask 'Are you alright?'
I don't know how many times he asked me that--but I kept telling him that I'm not crazy.

At least not any more than anyone else.

Usually when I go out, I'm always thinking about writing--about how I can turn every little thing I see into words. I think in words and paragraphs and metaphors--it's like a game to me, trying to find out a way to describe something really simple. As much as I said I wouldn't think about writing, I did. I always do.

Oh, I got a reply back from two really awesome writing bloggers, one was Amy Sue Nathan who's link is on my page, and the other was the author of Task at Hand who is also linked on my page. I was inexplicably thrilled--especially when Amy wrote me back. She's a mother just like I am, so she knows all about balancing motherhood and trying to pursue your passion.

Tonight, I'll be editing the short story that I plan on entering into the contest. You know, as I was sitting there trying to get it down to the 4,000 word limit, I realized that there was so much more of the story that I wanted to tell. I automatically fell in love with the characters... and a part of me hated having to chop it off. There's this little thing nagging me in my ear saying 'you should write this all the way out'. And I feel a bit guilty about that as well because I already had an 'outline' for another--

I don't know. I'm just all over the place these days. I'll do what comes natural. I am in love with The Bayou. I didn't struggle with a moment about plot lines or anything. When I struggle with an idea, I end up hating it. It's like something inside of me telling me that I really don't need to write this.

Just like Amy Sue Nathan said--a light goes on. I realize that I may be more comfortable with literary mainstream--something very non-formulaic. It comes surprisingly easy to me and I'm still trying to figure out why that is. I also realized that I enjoy writing about the human experience. So those are definitely two things that I really need to consider when I begin writing.

Once I'm finished editing, I will post an excerpt from the story here. I don't know when it'll be, but it'll be sometime this month.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A hard decision...but a necessary one.

Alright so, I removed the short story I had posted up here for all of maybe--two hours? While I love the concept and the idea...I just don't feel confident enough about it to post it here just yet. Like I said, I am a perfectionist when it comes to writing and I found myself keep coming back and wanting to change things immediately. Kinda amateurish.

So for now, I'm going to nix the story of the month idea for the time being.

I'm going to keep writing like it's no body's business and take it from there. Eventually...hopefully, my work will speak for itself.

In the next few weeks, I'm going to be doing some serious research about expanding my writing horizons. I've realized I have a thing or 20 to learn about networking. I'm interested in blogging for different news publications, or really any other venue and I have to figure out how to 'net-whore' myself.

It's Friday, and I'm actually sitting here fretting about it. Seems like there is more that I should be doing.

I'd love to spend another hour or two online researching, but...that's not going to happen today.

I'm frusterated and annoyed with myself. Classic case of doing way too much at once.

Anyhow folks, time to go pick up my daughter. Shopping with mom and sis tomorrow...and that's ALWAYS a hoot. I'm sure by Monday I'll have some interesting and weird conversations to share with you all.

Have a good one!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Two Dimensional 'Cube'

I don’t know what I want to write about today. I’m having one of those days where I’m just extremely unsure of myself right now. And it’s only what? Three days into that damned Snowflake Method Outline thingie and I’m already getting extremely annoyed with it. Maybe it’s for people who have absolutely no idea what they want to write about because it’s meticulous to the point where it’s verging on redundant.

So I finished the outline. I’m doing as much as I feel I needed to do—and I’m done. Now I realize why I can’t follow the concept of an outline—it’s because I just can’t follow someone else’s idea of structure. I just—write. And yeah, it gave me a good start, but that’s all I need.

I’m the kid who has an idea of how to ride the bike. Just give me a helmet and a steadying push and I won’t even come back—I’ll go faster than a speeding bullet. Superman has nothing on me.

I have the three main characters mapped out with detail and their own story lines and that’s all I need. I was reading the instructions on how to do the outline and it felt like I was just filling in what I was supposed to fill in just to get to the next part. And then the author of the outline says—and I’m paraphrasing and exaggerating now, “Now this is the fun part…you get to spend a day and half writing the same thing again…even more. Because you’re a moron and I enjoy torturing you.”

I mean yeah, the idea is good. The concept is…decent. But for a writer like me, it only works in theory. If I don’t start writing, I’m going to lose the moment—and I’m already getting annoyed with it and myself. It’s like (for girls at least) you get those pre-menstrual cramps and you KNOW you’re about to get your period but you keep praying for another day of freedom. If you’re not a female, you are SO not going to understand that analogy.

So I’m done with the outline for a while and I’m just going to write it now. And even with that, I’m going to wait a day or two before I begin to right. I can’t believe I put myself through that AGAIN. Outlines KILL my desire completely. I’m meticulous when it comes to my writing anyhow—so doing one seems obsolete. Oh well…it’s outside of the box for me. I’ll just come along and sweep the mess into a neat little square and call it my two dimensional ‘cube

That being said, I did a search yesterday for a few writing contests, and there’s one being given by Writer’s Digest which happens to be a short story contest. I haven’t entered many…and the last one I entered, I was in eighth grade and I won second place. So I’m considering entering, even if there is an application fee (I’m poor, but I think I may have a shot). I realized that I already have an idea in my head and I’m more excited about that than actually sitting down and starting this book.

I don’t know—today, for some reason I’m feeling very ridiculous and I don’t like it at all. I can’t believe I let a stupid little outline shake my confidence like that.

Stupid snowflake.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Beauty in The Breakdown

By the time I got home yesterday, I was sore, tired, I had to pee and I was vaguely hungry. I'm not all that used to coming home to an empty apartment--and I admit, sometimes I'll fret about it. But not yesterday. My daughter was sleeping over at her grandmother's, the other half was at work, and I had the apartment gloriously to myself.

The first thing I decided to do when I got home, was to write without any break in between. But I only lasted about a few minutes before I realized I was entirely too tired to do anything remotely constructive. I realized that I was already becoming frusterated, and that damned migraine was coming back again, so I decided to take a nap.

I slept for a few hours--maybe two or three and I woke up refreshed. I went and ordered some chinese take-out, ate dinner, showered, grabbed my pencil and I began to work on the outline again. Sometime during those moments, I kept getting distracted by Family Guy and King of Queens (which are both hilarious shows--to me at least)

While I was writing, I kept thinking about when I stood at the bus stop yesterday, waiting to catch the bus home. I was remembering how my arms felt empty without holding a baby in one arm and a stroller in the other.

I remember watching the same people day in and day out trying to sell stuff out of their duffle bags and purses, and feeling slightly embarassed for some reason.

There was a tall, skinny black man with a scraggly beard and bright, yet hollow eyes clutching a duffle bag to his side that seemed to weigh more than he did. He eyed me when I walked past and hoarsly whispered, "I got Dvd's and cd's for sell--3 for five dollars."
I had that smile. You know that smile? The one so false you were certain it would dissolve in water... and I said,"I'm good."

Then there was a lady, kind of overweight with that hard look in her eyes and the sort of face that may have been beautiful once. And she was selling her bus pass. She kept saying "Three zone bus pass for sale! Three zone bus pass for sell!" She seemed angry when she said it--she had one of those voices in which you were sure she could bully you into buying it from her. I could tell by the desperation and the way she moved that she was looking for her next high.

I've lived in this city too long not to be privy to the hustles played out everyday on the corner of North Broad and East State street. There are cats that sell packs of cigerettes for five dollars and there's always some amazingly pretty girl who's trying to sell you perfume out of her bag.

And I'm embarassed. I try to find things about this place that I actually love--and there's nothing. So I write about it. I take moments spent outside, and I create characters--broken down characters who are usually generic staples here in the Gray City, and I try to...I don't know what I try to do. Give them life perhaps?

But these people, even in a city that embarasses me sometimes, I use these people in a breakdown of the human psyche. I figure if I can pull them apart in my head (excuse the gory detail) and create a past for them (even if it's not all that accurate) I'll be a better writer.

So I watch them. I watch everyone. I make mental notes about them--take mental snap shots. Like I remember this woman who is of no particular interest generally--I remember her crossing the street, coming from one of the shops near the Commons, and the sun made her appear to glow and I noticed that the reflection of the sun on her shiny shoes look like they were on fire--just the tips of them.

And then the bus came and I thought of nothing else aside from whether or not I wanted to stop at the corner store near my house to get a pack of ramen noodles for dinner.

The time had come and gone and I ended up walking right on past.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Baby Rage

Alright, so this particular entry has nothing to do with writing. But I had the funniest conversation with my friend as she helped me whore myself--I mean, network myself around the in-tar-nets.

Now, it has already been established that I have a daughter, and at only 16 months old, she is sufficiently ebil and angry randomly.

See exhibit A.
She looks like one of those Japanese Animation characters. Believe it or not, she was screaming 'I keel you mom!' (Alright, that's a total lie, she wasn't--she was just screaming to release her baby rage.)

Anyhow, my Izzy has nothing on my friend's five year old that attempted to steal a car. Oh yes...yes she did--and the conversation goes like...this:

her says:
I really did catch her doing that.
her says:
she stole my sunglasses, kaytlin's cell, the car keys and some money
her says:
she was heading out
me says:
-is laughing so unbelievably hard right now-

her says:
You have no idea. I just moved- and I found a box with a toy nerf gun, a pirate sword, plastic ninja stars, rope, and duct tape
her says:
and I todl her I found it
her says:
And you know what she said?

her says:
She raised one eye brow and looked at me and said "You are not supposed to touch the box"
me says:
her says:
her says:
alicia- my kid has A BOX
her says:
and it's full of kid weapons
me says:
And she's..how old?
her says:
and she is always talking about how someday we will all be part of her minion army
her says:
5. she just turned 5.
her says:
she had 85 bucks in cash
her says:
you think she's playing, i'm telling ya'll, i have birthed evil and she is coming for you.
me says:
She's Lara Croft gone terribly short and terribly bad.
her says:
She doesn't really want to do bad things..
her says:
She just wants to do things HER way.
her says:
Her way isn't that bad, it's actually kinda great, but for fucks sake, I think she'd eat Samuel Jackson to get there.
me says:
It's just that if you try to stop her...she'll kill you.
her says:
That's what I'm saying..
her says:
That's what I'm saying..
her says:
Oh and it had a plastic bow and arrow
her says:
I cant forget that. Because she counted the bows.
her says:
Like each had a purpose.
her says:
She can't even tie her shoes.
me says:
Congratulations, you just gave me a new blog entry
her says:LMAO

Thank heaven for little girls? I think NOT.


I didn't finish the outline last night. Oh, but I had every intention of finishing it! It started with a bad migraine that didn't disappear until the wee hours of the morning. My boyfriend Eric gave me a head rub that worked for a little while and then he made me some valerian root tea--and pardon my frankness, but it smelled like some one's sweaty butt on a humid July afternoon.

But that wasn't the gist of it. I picked my one year old daughter up after work and she fell asleep on the way home and slept for like..an hour and then woke up right after Eric came home. I'm laying on the couch brainstorming, and the next thing I know, Izzy's climbing all over me and Eric is just nonstop with the talking. I had to tell him to be quiet for like...five minutes--not that it helped anything.

I guess I shouldn't complain, I actually got alot done. But I think I would have gotten MORE done if I didn't spend so much time trying to perfect brainstorming ideas. I think I'm beginning to become a bit obsessive compulsive like one of the story's characters. All that being said though, I really loved what I had so far. The ideas weren't hard to come up with, since I'm only re formatting a story that I had already started. There were points in the day where I was wondering if I could really do this--and if I wasn't wasting my time. Apparently self-doubt is a constant companion of mine.

Realistically, the outline probably will take about a week, if not more to do. And as I was reading his guidelines, I realized how the 'snowflake method' comes into play. It's actually really clever--and it WORKS! I'm usually the sort to struggle with it on my own, but I actually like this.

Today, I took the day off of work to write and hopefully network myself a little more. Actually, this blog is one little net in the...uh...work? I was thinking of submitting some short stories for a magazine or something as well.

I was wondering if I could write a few short story publications on the side, and work on this novel...and play mom and girlfriend as well?

And I came up with...yes, I can. (Sorry, the Obama kool-aid kicked in) But seriously though, my apartment is crappy and I swear the new superintendent is on drugs or something.
Not to mention, fairly recently, my neighbor from upstairs stole some money from my neighbor from downstairs (after getting sloshed together) and then the downstairs neighbor's cousin and brother beat the crap out of the upstairs neighbor and he ended up jumping out the second store window to get away from them--meanwhile, my daughter slept through all of it.

I have to tote a stroller, my groceries and a very squirmy baby that likes to kick off her shoes, on a crowded city bus--and then people are rude and give you dirty looks when you accidentally bump into them with a toddler, or milk. So I'd like a car. Maybe a cheap little Pinto or something. I don't even care if it smokes and you have to prop up the front seat against a tire.

Incentive is...being able to take care of my family...moving out of a crappy neighborhood with slightly scary neighbors (not so much the building itself...but the whole city)...and eventually...not needing to get up at 6:30 in the morning, taking a lukewarm shower and trying to get a kid dressed at the same time.

Right now, even after saying all of that--it's not so bad. I mean, you do what you have to do to survive and it's worth it. I look at my daughter and she reminds me of why I want to write. She reminds me that every day is a chance to see something new and experience something new...

I don't know...it's just crazy right now, but I find myself appreciating this chaos even more. Suddenly...it's worth the headaches.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Descend into the pages.

You know, the most frustrating thing in the world is wanting, needing to do this great thing; having the ability to do this great thing--and then constantly falling short somehow. So for me, finally, after fifteen or so years of writing and failing miserably--I've finally wizened up( or so I'd like to imagine) and decided to take a different approach.

If you look in my drawer at home, I have at least eleven or so stories that I've started and then cruelly abandoned. I'd liken it to a teenage mother leaving her newborn baby in the trash, but that's a bit melodramatic. Though I'm sure you get where I'm coming from. Eventually I find them again, usually when I've decided that I can't stand the cluttered mess called a bedroom, shared by myself and my one year old daughter Israel. I sit down on floor, leaning against the bed and then I start reading the yellowed and stained pages--slightly surprised I came up with such a great idea. So imagine me sitting there reading this, and then it comes to an abrupt halt in the middle of a sentence and I'm thinking, "What the f@#$!". And then, for the life of me, I can't remember why I stopped writing it.

This has happened to me about a million times. But I've always been of the mind that I'll get that one brilliant idea and then I'll write it as it's in my head and I won't need anything silly like an outline, or plot synopsis...or anything that will take away from my actual writing time. So after all this time, I've FINALLY realized that I may have been...wrong.

I've always relied on my raw talent. I know I'm a pretty good writer. I know that I'm really imaginative and I don't mind thinking outside of the box. But at the age of 28, I've also realized that I need some sort of structure to hold all of that 'outside of the box' in so that it makes sense.

A very good friend of mine, one of the very few people that I've allowed to read my writing told me that I have these moments where I just seem to fall into the paper and everything comes together the way its meant to. And it's usually an occurrence I'm not even aware of or trying to replicate.

I know I get stuck with trying to 'sound' like a writer, and I end up losing myself in trying to create a persona for myself--and it NEVER once worked out for me.
It has caused me to realize that I am a very silly and stubborn girl (or maybe I've realized that a long time ago, and I'm finally at the age that I can accept that I can be utterly ridiculous at times.)

So...my good people, today is the day that I try it another way. My dream is to become published. My dream is to be able to write these amazing stories that inspire an emotion not yet tapped into--and be able to support my daughter while doing something that I love almost as much as I love her.

This blog will be my documentation of...well...my descent into the pages so to speak. My failures, my triumphs and everything else in between will be here for your view. I imagine that one day, once I am published, I'll go back and read this very first entry and realized that I had an epiphany that actually lead me somewhere.

So the other day I was spring cleaning while my daughter was with her grandmother this weekend, and I look in the top drawer of my dresser (which has been recently dubbed by my boyfriend and as 'the crap drawer') and I see this notebook folded in half with coffee stains on it. The first page is torn at the bottom so I could only read the first half of it. I forget about reading for a while, and I'm leaning against the wall reading this story--I think when I first wrote it I called it Theory of Adam or something like that. And it wasn't just a few pages--it was like 30! So as I'm reading it, I find myself laughing out loud at some of the banter between these two characters and actually feeling empathy for this alcoholic bus driver named Benny. I actually started to believe they were 'real' people.

I couldn't believe I wrote that! After nearly two years of writing utter tripe (at least I viewed it as tripe) I had come upon a gem and then just dismissed it. I get entirely too discouraged with myself and I realize that I've been doing myself a huge disservice.

That's not to say that in the course of picking up this project AGAIN, that I won't get discouraged, that I won't be tempted to toss it aside--because that would be a huge lie. I know myself too well.

But I think I'm going to ride this one out; win, lose or draw. I'm not really going to be putting up chapters or anything here for obvious reasons. These ideas are hard enough to come up with, without someone plagiarising your stuff. I might decide on excerpts somewhere down the line, but for right now, I'm going to take it one step at a time.

Day 1 the *cue dramatic music* Outline

Outlining. I'm not gonna lie, I kind of--hate doing it. I tried it once and it totally killed my mood to write--for like a year straight. I found myself trying so hard to follow the format that I was spending more time thinking about the outline than actually writing and it left me really dejected. *insert obligatory sad face here*
However, there's this strategy called the 'Snowflake Method that I heard about from a published author by the name of Randy Ingermanson. What's awesome is that he managed to explain it in a way that doesn't seem difficult at all and he doesn't sound completely narcissistic about it either. But basically, his approach is starting small with your story and then building it into something epic (in a manner of speaking, cuz yanno, snowflakes aren't necessarily something I'd call epic. But you get the picture). Here's his site. http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/art/snowflake.php

So tonight, once I get home and provided my daughter gives me a moments piece, I'm going to try and get the outline done tonight.

Here's hoping it doesn't completely suck.