Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Makes Me Wonder....

Across the street from the clinic where I work, everyday, there's a group of old guys sitting in folding chairs underneath the shade of a large oak tree. I see them in the morning when I pull in to the parking lot and they're there when I leave in the evening. Granted, I don't know if these are the same men, or if a shift change occurs in the middle day.

Some days I envy them. Especially on a sunny, breezy day like today, when for once the Alabama heat is timid and not scorching.

Some days I feel bad for them. They must be unemployed I suspect. In this economy I know it can be difficult to find a job.

Some days I envision that they are in fact a super secret council that meets in the open, hence no one suspects that they are super secret.

Some days I'm happy for them because they're a bunch of retired men planning their bucket list.

Some days I think their gathering is an informal daily poker tournament. Bring your lawn chair and chips.  BYOLC&C?

Somehow this post is pertinent to writing. Seeing these men day in and out sparks a bit of my imagination, and isn't imagination one of the key ingredients for creative writing?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Real Life Teenage Angst

I know a lot of us out there write YA, and I'd like to think that because of it, we're more in touch with our young side. But there are some things, such as perspective, that dramatically change from the age of 18 to 30. And I didn't realize how much it had changed until this real life encounter:

Me: So how's your summer going?

Teenage Patient: Alright. I guess.

Me: What's going on?

Teenage Patient: Well, my girlfriend is going to Florida for a week. (the kid's frown turned down to his chin and his head was hanging so low I couldn't see his eyes. Which is um...kind of important when trying to do an eye exam).

Me thinking to myself...ok....it's not the end of the world.
Teenage patient can tell by my facial expression that I just don't get it how dire his circumstances are.

Teenage Patient: Well, we've been dating for like a year and four months. So you know.... (head hangs even lower)

Me (straining to keep a straight face): Sounds serious.

Teenage Patient: Well, yeah.

Me proceeds to check his peripheral vision and fail miserably at holding back a smile.

Teenage patient can tell that my smile is a reflection of me laughing at him on the inside.

Me: I'm sorry. When I was 18 and if my boyfriend was leaving I'd be upset too. But, now if he left for a week. I'd be like See ya.

Teenage patient then proceeded to ask how old I was, and then made my day by saying that I looked like I was in my early twenties, and told me about the new tattoo he was getting today of a skull with wings coming out of it's ear sockets that would span the width of his back. Thank you teenage patient for not only making my day but teaching me a good review on what true teenage angst really is.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Would You Hire a Professional Editor?

Today I received this email from Authonomy/ Harper Collins:

Save 20% on Editing Services from CreateSpace
As an authonomist, you'll know better than most that no matter how well you write, a simple typo or a stylistic inconsistency can disrupt the reader and potentially derail the meaning of your work. But you don't have to face the challenge of editing and proof reading alone. Our partner, CreateSpace, offers professional editing services to help refine your manuscript and prepare it for publication.

My first instinct after reading this email was...umm....NO. 

Reason #1: I want to personally know who's going to be editing my manuscript. I know grammar is grammar. But I think finding "stylistic inconsistencies" is subjective. What if their subjectivity doesn't jive with my style or vision?

Reason #2: Isn't that what Beta Readers are for? After much searching and networking, I've met a few beta readers that I really trust AND they understand my vision for the manuscript. AND I like them as people (that I've never met), but I'm sure they will treat my work with the same respect and sincerity that they treat their own with.

Reason #3: A service like that can't be cheap. And if it is, I would seriously question the quality of said service.

Maybe, I'm making incorrect assumptions. Maybe some of you have hired professional editors and had wonderful experiences. What do you guys think?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why Not Writing Can Be a Good Thing

No, I'm not just saying that to make myself feel better about my low word count. I'm not going to tell you all the reasons why I've been too busy to write, because face it, you don't want to hear that. But I am going to tell you why NOT writing sometimes can actually be good for your manuscript.

Reason #1 Sometimes we need to spend some time in imagination land without immediately putting our visions on paper. Just frolic in your fictional worlds. Wiggle your toes in the mythical sand on your fantasy island (yes, I'm going through LOST withdrawals, hence the island reference).

Reason #2 To protect your wrists. Too much typing with poor wrist posture can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Reason #3 To have time to contemplate your character's motivations. I'm a firm believer that a character must have clear cut motivations for why they do what they do when they do do the do. In fact, my recent stint of time off from writing helped me realize the major motivation why supporting character "A" traveled to "X" where she met "Y", and it was all because of retaliation from a broken friendship with "Z." Hey, it was groundbreaking for me.

Reason #4 You can't rush good writing. Sometimes you need to sit back and examine the big picture, but at same time comb through all the fine details. Is that adverb necessary? Is that scene to gimmicky?

I'm sure I can come up with more reasons not to write, which are equally as good as the four above, but I'm going to open it up to you guys instead. What are some reasons not to write?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Inspiring Places to Write

This morning I had the 6:30 am pleasure of filming a Ninjitsu combat video in the Japanese Gardens at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The air was crisp, cool and the morning light soft. As I pulled my ten ton camera case behind me, I saw visions of myself penning away my novel within the confines of the garden. There was a wide swinging bench shaded by tall trees. Inside the bamboo forest we discovered a hidden alcove with a small stream trickling through. It was so enticing! I wanted to drop all my equipment, whip out a piece of paper, and start writing my master piece.
Perhaps later this week, I'll spend an early morning in the gardens. And this time....scratch...scratch....I won't forget the OFF.

Have you ever come across a place that just literally moved you to write?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Grown Up Books

Sometimes I get a bit embarrassed by the fact that I often find more pleasure reading middle grade and young adult books rather than grown up books. Give me the Deathly Hallows, Eragon, or Twilight any day. I'm open to reading books of all genres. But reading about the fantastical gives me a girlish thrill.

A few months ago I recommended cough...cough...Twilight....to my friends and the suggestion uh....left me feeling young, immature. One friend loved it. The other friend, was like, ummm...I couldn't get into it. It was too teenagey. My insides turned red like Bella's forever blushing cheeks and I was needless to say, abashed.

Apparently most thirty year old girls like reading stuff like the Verghese, Vidal, or Vonnegut. I'm sure they are excellent writers and I wouldn't mind reading their work. I know a lot of you write for the young adult or middle grade audience. Do you ever get a bit a embarrassed by your taste in books?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Writing FAIL

My writing has been as scanty as a can of RAID in a cockroach infested shanty. My best friend got married over the weekend and I gave my maid of honor speech donning a blond wig, pretending to be Phoebe Buffay.
Pic on left:
From left to right. Bridesmaid, Bride, and me

Below: Sarcastically Delicious (aka boyfriend) wearing the blond wig from my speech. Little does he know it's a Hannah Montana Wig! It kind of makes him look like an 80s rocker that now works on Wall Street.

So as I said, I've had a lot going on, with little time to write. So I decided to schedule in writing time, just like I schedule everything else in my life. Writing time was supposed to be this morning from 5:15am-6:30am. What did I do? I hit snooze on my alarm and woke up at 6:15.