Everybody’s Doing It

Crappy writing.  Everybody’s doing it.  Published, unpublished, if you’re writing a MS you’re doing some crappy writing.

This is meant as a pep talk, I swear.  I’m having one of those crummy weeks where work is hard and I’m cranky and tired and have a million things to do.  Every time my phone rings I want to throw it out the window.  Work, you expect me to work?  Write, you expect me to write?  Be a member of the human race, I’m supposed to do that too?  I’m jealous of my dogs right now.  They have the freaking life.

When I’m in one of these moods and I start writing I get tunnel vision.  I hate the things I put on paper, but I write them anyway.  I get stuck, convinced I don’t understand deep POV or my character would never, ever do that and then I whine to my critique partners, because hey, the whole point of having a CP is to get some free therapy.  Then I go on Facebook because I’m procrastinating and can justify that type of procrastination as “building a media presence”.  I have to limit my posts though, because all my brain can think of is “I need more coffee” and “screw everybody”.  What can I say?  It’s a miracle anyone puts up with me.

Then I see the following posts from other writers I admire:

“My brain escaped before dawn. I’m writing today but expect most will be gibberish. *sighs*”

“So after several rewrites, in every possible direction I could think of, I’ve come to the conclusion that the original version of the problem chapter still feels the most “right.” And I still haven’t a clue why. So, onward and upward. I have to give myself permission to write crap (which, as a control freak, I loathe), with the hope the characters will eventually take over. I am addicted to this process, the challenge of it all, but it’s a wonder more writers haven’t gone insane… lol”

The first made me laugh.  The second definitely struck a chord.  Half the time I let myself write crap while I’m in a bad mood, it turns out infinitely better than I’d imagined.  If I give myself a few days distance and come back, I realize I was spot on.  Even when it’s really, truly crap it helps me figure out where my plot isn’t going, who my characters are not, and what they would actually do.

Embrace the power of writing crap because you always have the ability to cut it out.  Cutting has become my good friend over the last year.  No matter what, your characters belong to you, your words and your style are yours own.  You can write 2,000 terrible awful words, cut them and pretend that they never exist.  Because you, as an author, have gotten to the point where you know you can do better.  That’s a pretty awesome thing in my book.

So go forth and write some crap!  It might turn out better than you expect.

American Men and Shopping in Bulk

Our friend A and his wife live in the UK, she’s British and speaks Geordie fluently.  We have constant confusion when trying to translate her sayings and phrasings into American, as well as an ongoing debate over who speaks English the right way.

The other day she posted a picture of five eggplants (which she calls aubergine) with a tag “this is what happens when I send my husband shopping”.  He immediately responded, “I thought you liked eggplant.”  I died.  All you ladies out there know exactly what I’m talking about.  Take a man into Costco and you’ll be there for four hours and out four hundred dollars.  This applies to my dad, my brother, my husband.  They all freaking love Costco.  I’ve never been brave enough to take all three of them at the same time, but that sounds like a promising idea for a Survivor style reality TV show.

The comments on her post shed a little more light.  Apparently bulk shopping is an addiction specific to American men.  Who knew?  Of course H jumped into the conversation and proclaimed, “I love Costco!”  He’s not kidding.  There are three things he’s guaranteed to come home with if I send him to Costco:  pasta sauce, yogurt and some kind of sausage.  He’s particularly inclined to buy new weird things because if you average out the cost “they’re cheap and we’re saving money!”  Not if it’s gross and we don’t eat it, my love.  I still have a massive box of black bean pasta in my cupboard because I can’t bring myself to throw it out.  Warning:  black bean pasta has many things in common with cardboard.

To be fair, I knew exactly what I was getting into.  As part of a project in college, a professor took him to a restaurant supply store.  H came back with a jar of pickles the size of his torso and proceeded to carry it all day to classes as well as down the streets of Boston.  This story is still infamous in our circle of friends.  What can I say?  Dude loves his pickles.

So here’s to our beloved friends and their week full of eggplant.  What’s the weirdest thing you or your SO have ever bought in bulk?

Ninja Cat versus the Ham

I recently read an interview with romantic comedy author Tawna Fenske.  She said that she’d tried to write full time, but without exposure to the outside world through her day job, inspiration lagged.

I feel her.  When I tell people that weird things happen in my life, I wish I could explain the magnitude of weird.  The animals keep things interesting, although my husband adds an element of unpredictability to rural life in the country.  For example, I provide the story of Ninja Cat and the ham.

Ninja Cat is also known as Hunter and has some “crazy rescue cat lady Kelly” beginnings.  I trapped him in Boston and by the time I could get a low cost neuter appointment he’d been hiding under H’s bed for a few weeks and H decided they were bonded.  They were not bonded.  Ninja cat hated H slightly less than he hated all other human beings.  He continued to hate everyone and refuse to let people touch him, or to come out from under the bed during daylight hours, for at least another year.  He’s actually gotten very snuggly, but he loves H best and likes to threaten to kick my ass from time to time.  If you tell him not to do something, or swat him off the kitchen counter, he will charge you.

That’s cat gratitude for you.

A few weeks ago, Ninja cat busted his way out of a door I hadn’t locked properly, got sprayed by a skunk and came back into the house.  Needless to say, house and cat smell like skunk.  I called the vet and offered them any amount of money to bathe Ninja Cat.  I told them they could sedate him if needed.  Imagine my surprise when the vet declined and informed me it would be “traumatic”.  For him.  Since I was traumatized by the smell, I tried to bathe him myself and that went as expected.  The cat does have some ninja skills after all.

Meanwhile, he still believes that he is strong and mighty enough to conquer a skunk.  Or a thirteen pound ham.  That’s right, we’ve gotten to the ham portion of this story.  H is currently getting his MFA in photography and thanks to our awesome Virginia location was inspired to do a series on artisan cured meats and the changing food industry.  I can’t do the idea justice here, but it wound up in us buying a thirteen pound country ham, which has been cured and dried to shit and which you reconstitute with water.  It came in a burlap bag and its bulk was equivalent to a thirteen pound boulder.  Inside the bag the ham was wrapped in paper.

Enter Ninja cat who managed to undo the drawstring and shove his head inside the burlap bag.  From the living room we heard crinkle….crinkle….crinkle crinkle crinkle.  I yell at the dogs.  Crinkle.  Crinkle.  Crinkle.  I go in the kitchen and see the front half of the skunk smelling cat shoved in a burlap bag trying to drag a salty thirteen pound ham rock onto the counter.

You have to give him points for confidence.

Off the Wall Dreams

I’ve been wondering lately if authors have particularly bizarre dreams. Mine seem to take a couple of different forms. Sometimes I dream story lines. My latest WIP, Love in the Lens, is an expansion on a snippet of dream I remembered. So was Love in Progress. Often I tend to remember really intense emotions and let me tell you, converting them to written form is a bitch. Other times I dream about friends and family members. I seem to dream about my friends from home and their weddings pretty often, probably because they’re one of the few times we’re all in the same place. Twenty three years of friendship is kind of crazy when you think about it, but that’s for another day.

The last group of dreams are the ones that make me wonder if my husband is slipping me LSD before bed. The other night I dreamed that I was surviving the zombie apocalypse with my critique partner and friend, Jules Dixon. Her adult daughter was our designated driver, cuz, you know, an apocalypse calls for a lot of drinking. And being drunk doesn’t impede your ability to avoid zombie bites AT ALL. Like any logical person who also happens to be a lawyer, my dream branched into a moral debate with myself as to whether or not designated driving laws apply in the apocalypse because there are no people or other cars to run into. Based on my viewing of the Walking Dead, everyone seems to run off the road in an apocalypse anyway.

And then I woke up because the dog kraken were barking.  Of course, by the time it was time to get up for work they were sound asleep like this (and yes, Darwin is face planted on top of one of his toys.  Because he’s clearly exhausted from barking at the wind at 4 am)

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Which leads me to some very important questions. Do you dream plot lines? What’s the craziest dream you’ve ever had?