24 June 2010

Five Essentials for the Slightly Neurotic, Sometimes Obsessive, But Almost Always Interesting Writer

Mood: Is it Friday yet (that about sums it up this week)

On Tv: Nothing (I swear, occasionally I do turn it off!)

I recently reconnected with a high school classmate through Facebook and she asked me what she would need to be a writer - how she would go about starting the process. My first thought was: "why is she asking me?" Obviously, with one (truly awful) completed manuscript and several unfinished (but probably equally awful) manuscripts to my name, I'm hardly an expert on the subject.

But, in the name of old PTHS spirit I gave her question some thought. Of course, there were the obvious things: proper tools (pens, pencils, computer, etc.), connecting with a community of supportive writers (like the #amwriting and #amwritingparty crew over on Twitter) and a good story idea with an excellent hook (duh).

Then, I thought deeper. What is it, aside from the obvious, that I really need as a writer?

Rhonda's Five Essentials for the Slightly Neurotic, Sometimes Obsessive, But Almost Always Interesting Writer

1. You will need a vice. I don't care what it is but it needs to be bad for you (although, ideally it won't kill you) and it needs to be something easily accessible.

For many writers this takes the form of a beverage of some sort. Coffee, wine (although the raging alcoholic writer is so 1920s so be careful here) and Diet Coke are some favorites but anything will do really, except water. Water is not a vice - it is a vile liquid that nutritionists and doctors insist we drink for our health (and to keep living, blah, blah, blah).

For other writers, like me, this takes the form of food. Now, I'm not talking about bean sprouts and celery sticks here. I'm talking real writing stress food full of everything that Dr. Oz tells you not to eat. Chocolate, ice cream, cupcakes, etc. are all winners in this category.

2. You will need distractions. Trust me. There will be times when you sit down at the computer and the blank page and flashing cursor are mercilessly mocking you. Are you just going to sit there and take that? No. You have better things to do than just stare at that flashing little bastard!
I personally recommend Facebook (hello? Cyber stalking your friends and family, playing endless rounds of mindless games all without leaving the comfort of your computer - what could be better?) , Twitter (for when Facebook is too boring) and a blog (even though I'm possibly the world's most inconsistent blogger). I've also been told that dogs and cats serve this need quite nicely as well - I cannot attest to this personally as our apartment managers are big meanies and won't let us have any pets! (and yes I'm pouting!)

3.) You will need a supportive spouse or significant other who will understand that sometimes the world you're living in isn't, well, exactly real. Therefore, they should be able to jump easily between discussing  grocery shopping and the best dagger to kill an evil werewolf without missing a step and should be at ease spending dinner discussing the adventures of your main character (brownie points if they refrain from reminding you that your main character isn't a real person - because your main character totally doesn't know that he/she isn't real and you don't want to hurt his/her feelings).

4.) You will need an understanding employer. Ideally writing would be done around the writer's "real" life but this doesn't always happen. Sometimes you'll find yourself madly writing at 3:00 am because you're on a roll (which leads to the occasional 'falling asleep at your desk' incident the next day) and sometimes you'll be so blocked that the words won't come - until 2:00 pm on some random Thursday afternoon (when you'll use up your entire supply of post-it notes trying to capture the brilliance that is just pouring from your artiste type brain).

5.) You will need become comfortable with the fact that some of the things you're going to do as a writer? Are going to make you look downright weird. You may find yourself balancing a dagger in your hand, feeling the weight of it, trying to memorize the texture and feel of the metal and then asking your husband if he thinks it's both big enough to kill someone and small enough to be concealed (don't be surprised when the old lady at the booth next to you suddenly turns and runs in the opposite direction). Or, you may find yourself staring unashamedly at a handsome young man in the food court because he looks exactly like you envision your main character to look (and you will even toy with the idea of asking to take his picture - hopefully someone will stop you before the poor kid calls mall security).

*Ahem* Not that these things have happened to me personally *looks around innocently*.

Luckily, society has long accepted the stereotype of the eccentric artist so just have someone follow you around giving everyone in your path a sympathetic look and a whispered "she's a writer" as an explanation for your obvious insanity.

There it is. The top things that I think every aspiring writer should know about what they need to survive this crazy endeavour we call writing.

So, what is on your absolutely essential list?


13 June 2010

Sunday - The Day of Rest?

Mood: Stressed (Really? Murphy and his law are having too  much fun with my day!)

On TV: Food Network Challenge (Toy Story 3 cakes - am I the only one that didn't like the Toy Story movies?)

The hubs and I were awakened this morning by the unsettling sound of the airconditioner motor dying an early and unnatural death. Since the hubs was  snoring like a saw sleepy peacefully, I decided to get up and investigate. Luckily it turns out that the airconditioner wasn't exactly dying - but it was completely frozen over. Well played heat and humidity. Well played.

Hubs and I dealt with the frozen compressor and then decided that we hadn't had quite enough home improvement type projects so we headed out to Wal-Mart where we bought a much needed new bookshelf. Why was it much needed? Well, this is my *old* "big"  bookshelf:

As you can see, it's well more than overloaded with books. I also have a smaller  tiny bookshelf that is just as packed with books AND I also had the leaning tower of books. Alas, I neglected to take a picture of the leaning tower of books but it was a tower of books on the floor next to my bed that had grown so large that it was, you guessed it, leaning (see how clever I am with the naming things thing? If I had a baby, I'd probably name it "baby" - so yes, it is a good thing that the hubs has had the big snip).

Anyway, two hours, several curse words (seriously? The instructions were written in Spanish with pictures in Swahili), a few smashed thumbs and many false starts later, we ended up with this:

Just imagine all those books stacked up in a tower with no home to call their own. *sniff* Now they're properly shelved and happy! Oh, and because no bookshelf is complete without it:

Also, I totally have empty space on these shelves - you know what that means??? Hello B&N!!!


11 June 2010

Requiem for a Laptop...

Mood: Tired (it was a long week but it's finally FRIDAY!!!)

On TV: Judge Joe Brown (I love that people are willing to put theirstupidselves out on tv like this for my entertainment)

Dear bloggie friends, it is with great sadness that I announce that I have come to the end of an era. *sniff* For the last three years, my laptop has been my constant companion. She has allowed me to keep up (or not) with my blogging and my writing. She allowed me a gateway to the idea of Twitter and Facebook. She bears scars from my watch hitting her below the keyboard, spots on her keys from the occasional soda spray and is fully accessorized with a matching purple pendrive and carrying case.

However, recently she had some issues with overheating. The hubs worked on her, he added new heat grease to her processor and I restored her operating system. We thought we'd saved her and, in a way, we did - but - she's not quite her old self anymore. She's kind of like someone's beloved old auntie who isn't always quite as sharp or fast as she used to be. She randomly shuts down programs as I'm using them and reboots herself quite often when she should be just putting herself into sleep or hibernate mode. No amount of setting changes seem to rectify the situation.

Finally the hubs decided that, since we were getting a new desktop for him (lightning strike) that we would get a new laptop for me. I should be happy (the cost aside) but I'm not. I'm in mourning for my current laptop. She was a gift from the hubs - his way of saying "I have faith in your ability to write and I'm willing to provide you with the proper tools to do it". She's pretty and purple with flowers and I super sparkly heart her...even if she doesn't work as quickly or reliably as she used to.

However, hubs is right. I can't depend on her not to crash in the middle of a blog post or a marathon writing session so she needs to be retired to "light duty". We will use her as a back up/ travel laptop. She will get to enjoy her retirement by accompanying us on trips, seeing different places and enjoying making connections with different networks where ever we go.

She will always be my first laptop love. Maybe I'm weird for having such an attachment to my laptop or maybe it's a writer thing but I'm having issues letting her go. Even now, with my new laptop is sitting on the table, still in the box, I chose to post this one last blog post from my old friend.

Well done, good and faithful servant.
P.S. My trusty old laptop has crashed this blog post at least 3 times already. I think she's trying to make the transition a bit easier for me.

06 June 2010

I Don't Think We're In Kansas Anymore...

Mood: Grateful (that all my family is safe after last night's tornado touch downs), overwhelmed (by the amount of damage that was done) and hopeful (that the injured are well on the road to recovery).

On Tv: Judge Judy (Nothing like a cranky judge to take your mind off of reality)

As some of my Twitter peeps already know we had some more than interesting weather travel through our area last night. Tornado warnings (yes, plural) were issued, tornadoes were sighted, tornadoes touched down and stayed on the ground for more than 20 miles through two towns.

Luckily, the worst of it just missed us. The town where some of my family lives was not so lucky. The tornado, as tornadoes go, was a relatively small one. An EF2 on a scale that goes up to EF5. However, even this "small" tornado did an amazing amount of damage. Here are a few pics we managed to snap this morning.

Keep in mind that we were not able to get anywhere near the areas of severe damage - these were just the neighborhoods/areas with "minor" tornado damage.

Here's a shot of some healthy trees that were knocked over and some were completely uprooted.

And here's another shot of an uprooted tree:

The classic tornado shot - a piece of a nearby metal silo rammed through a power pole.

A stop sign in a corn field. We have no idea where the sign came from. The nearest corners still had theirs (bent, but still intact).

And finally, a brand new barn building...thankfully the house escaped any  major damage. Unfortunately, my aunt's family farm wasn't quite so lucky.