Saturday, October 30, 2010

Working Title 2010

Wait…Monday is the first of November? Oh surely you must be mistaken, it can’t be the first yet, I don’t even have a complete outline or more than two characters developed. It can’t be time for NaNoWriMo 2010 already silly, I must have at least three or four more months to go.

Don’t I?

No, really, don’t I?

No, I don’t. The stark reality hit this morning that it all starts Monday…holy crap. I just read through the latest newsletter from the Office of Letters and Light and all of a sudden my palms got clammy. Yes for real. Immediately following the drops of beaded sweat on my hands my stomach did something resembling Shaun White ripping a big backside rodeo 540 and I got all nervous like I was about to try pulling one off too.

And no, don’t ask, I don’t really have a clue what a big backside rodeo 540 is, I just know that it very likely involves flipping around in mid air while plummeting downhill at an insanely fast rate of speed.

I’m in alright shape compared to last year when I didn’t have a single name, profession, or any other character point written, other than my female main character’s name and what she did for a living, but somehow by the end of it all I managed to write in the neighborhood of fifty three thousand words. And when it was finished just a couple months ago it registered at something like fifty eight thousand. (I’m also practicing writing out everything now for word count so instead of only one word by typing '53,000' I get three. Clever, eh?)

And 58,000 is not bad.

So why am I freaking out? I know who my main character is and I have a pretty good handle on her back story plus I already know who her best friend is going to be and I got the super duper inspiration not too long ago for exactly how this story is going to unfold. Oh and yesterday I came up with a pretty good title for this thing based on her profession and station in life.

Um, yeah, I’m way further ahead this year than I was last year. So what gives huh? Maybe I’m nervous because I’ve already done it so now the pressure is on to win again. It's one thing to quickly vomit a whole bunch of words onto a page and call it a book, it's quite another to realize this is the career I want and all that puke is going to have to be cleaned up into something respectable afterwards right?

Or maybe I’m just afraid that I won’t hit fifty thousand words and that whole fear of failure thing is taking a foothold.

That’s much more likely the case. And you know something? I am okay with that because if I don’t go and hold myself accountable for the way this thing pans out no one else will. It isn’t as if the people from the Office of Letters and Light are going to send a torch carrying mob to my front door demanding I finish on or before November thirtieth right? Right. And it also isn’t as if I have an Agent (yet) who is holding a big fat advance check in their hands with my name on it that they aren’t allowed to turn over to me until I finish.

I guess I just need to start writing and let the chips (and mugs full of coffee, plans with friends, droplets of water from the non existent showers in my future, rays of sunshine I won't see for a month…) fall where they may.

After all, it is only a book.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Beautiful Transformation in the Neighborhood?

Insert sarcasm here.

Your landscapers showing up at eight o’clock in the morning with their leaf blower right outside my window is super inspiring.

Ugh. Its times like this that I usually turn on music or the television but at eight in the morning I just refuse to interrupt my own desire for silence. The sound outside is making its way into my house and all the way down to my nerves, this is true, but I’m not the one who was in charge of that noise. Eventually I know it will go away and I can go back to my little Zen space where the only noise I hear is me cutting and pinning a bunch of fabric.

Most days I don’t turn on music. I got out of the habit last year when I did NaNoWriMo because when I listened and wrote simultaneously the emotion in each song started coming through in the narrative and dialog and my characters started sounding completely schizo. Obviously not a desirable outcome in a 230 page book, unless one of my characters happened to be a schizophrenic. But they weren’t. So I turned off the iTunes and opted instead for crime dramas (which now I’m so hopelessly addicted to I should be writing mysteries or cop books…but I digress…)

So most days I revel in the silence of the morning, and sometimes part of the afternoon, until I either start stitching on the machine or clicking the keys to write. Either way, I wouldn’t be doing those things right outside my neighbor’s window at eight o’clock in the morning because, hello, not everyone is on the same schedule as me. Is common courtesy of waiting until a decent hour (say, nine or later when people are typically up and at work) asking for too much in the city? Perhaps, I think with a sigh, but that doesn’t mean I have to be one of those people who are blind to everyone else.

After they turned the blower off all I could think about was the whirring sound of the motor and wondered how much gas/electricity it was burning with every spin of the blade. It made me wonder if they give a crap about the planet at all. Maybe they really do but they have to do that kind of work to survive; no matter what they have to do they will go out there and do it in order to feed their family.

Compromised values in the name of food on the table and mortgages paid? The stark reality of today’s society.

But that is just too deep for such an early start to the day…seriously, shake it off! I know life isn’t light and roses and rainbows shooting out one’s ass at all moments but I can’t bring myself down with thoughts so depressing so early or I’ll end up getting nothing done today while I lament the pains of the world.


Let’s talk about the ways I love the planet. I’m using up the last of a whole slew of fabrics to make all kinds of stuff for the craft fair, but you already know that if you’ve spent any time over here in the past couple weeks.

Want to hear something new? Well okay…a few months ago I got turned onto this gal’s blog, New Dress A Day, which is one woman’s journey to spend no more than $1 per day on a dress or similar thrift shop item that she then transforms into something modern and wearable.

Think 2XL muumuu that she ends up wearing with boots and tights out to a bar that night. I know it probably seems impossible but she pulls it off and with only a minimum of instruments -- scissors, seam rippers and a sewing machine. Not to mention her vast imagination to take the ugly and shapeless and turn it into something amazing and one of a kind. Seriously inspiring stuff!

Because I’ve been inspired by her awesomeness I decided to give it a try. Now I didn’t spend any money on the first 2 items I plan to transform, they came from my grandmother’s old stash of stuff but we’ll see what I can do with them.

First is an animal print top in black and white with a thick, black, mock turtleneck collar, long sleeves, shoulder pads and belt loops (but no belt). I might go sleeveless with that one but no matter what, the shoulder pads will be g.o.n.e. by the end of its transformation.

The other is a top and skirt in a taupey tan made out of a T-shirt type knit. The top has a collar and long sleeves (and absolutely no shape at all) and the skirt has an elastic waistband. If worn like a skirt it would fall at just about my mid shin (the worst spot for me because it makes me look even shorter) so I’m planning to add halter straps or something to the neckline to keep it up and then use it as a sleeveless long shirt dress over tights.

That’s the plan right now anyway. But all that will have to wait until craft fair madness is behind me. Just 4 more days and I can stop making these:

And start selling them instead. Hey I’m going to need a bunch of room in the sewing closet for all of those inexpensive thrift shop finds I scour. Maybe extending the lifecycle of some truly awful clothes in my house will make up for the planet stomping that occurs outside of it. One can dare to dream.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

It’s a Family Affair

Every morning I wake up with a different song playing in my head. Sometimes I can explain it, for instance, if I heard the song right before I went to bed the night before, while other times I have no explanation as to how it got there. Today’s is a prime example of the latter. Now I like this song but ask me to sing more than the four words in the title above and you’ll catch me scratching my head.

So you can probably see the dilemma here. The same four words playing on a loop over and over again as I sit awake, alone, until Matt gets up, is moderately maddening. But instead of heading off to the loony bin, I’m going to go with it and use the song title as a writing prompt. Hey, I’m all about turning the negative into a positive like that.

Speaking of prompt…as soon as I decided to write about it, I promptly lost all steam and motivation to do so. This has been a common problem lately. I think there are a few reasons for it.

First off, I don’t want to sit here and ramble on aimlessly about everything I’ve done lately because I won’t even be able to see the bored look in your eye as you drift off and start imagining what you’re having for dinner instead of absorbing the words on the screen. My life lately has been one long thread. Literally. Pretty much all I’ve done lately is sew.

Which brings me to the second reason. Sewing, unless you’re a seamstress, is a pretty boring topic. Wait, that was the same as the first reason right? Yeah, I guess you can probably understand the inclination to keep it to myself.

So (or sew?? Haha! Oh I kill me…) this is why I had all these grand plans to turn this post into some wonderful tale about my past, something awesome and fun from the 70’s and I would have woven it around my family like the song line had been written specifically for us.

For example, I could do a big story about how I was picked on in grammar school for wearing hand me down clothes that came from my much older cousins. Or I could talk about the time when my aunt tried to talk me out of drinking because my whole family was full of alcoholics but, not only was I not entirely surprised by the information, I think I surprised her by sharing that I just wanted to go to the party; I didn’t even have one drink that night. Perhaps a nice long post about the way two people is quite enough to make a family and that I don’t need to have kids to feel like I’ve achieved that feeling.

But every single one of those topics and more would just fall flat right now because that’s how I feel. As flat as the snowman ornaments I stitched up recently. Flat, listless, languid, lifeless, wordless and inspirationless. (Is that even a word? Probably not but it pretty much perfectly describes my overall brainwave right now so I’m keeping it. Suck on that Oxford Dictionary).

I think I know the reason. I’m saving it up in the imaginary bunker in my brain. The bunker is made of four foot thick concrete walls with a solid steel hatch that only I can access because it takes my fingerprint and retina scan to get in. Yeah, the thing is secure. And for good reason. It is storing the makings of my book inside its walls.

Imagination, inspiration and ability to share a fully fluffed up story, full of good old fashioned chewy bits like warm date nut cookies, will just have to wait until November. (Ooh, cookies…)

So what the hell do I do in the meantime? I guess I could regale all of you with tales of my grocery shopping adventures but somehow I think that might have me losing a few readers. Not that I couldn’t make it funny -- hell I kept everyone reading about me having a cold by sprinkling in crap about puffy heart key chains, local New Jersey townies and Pauly Shore movies -- but something tells me it would just be far too shameless, even for me, to try to add humor to a Peapod delivery. I mean, they weren’t even late and actually delivered everything I ordered so how could I ever twist that one ya know?

Plus I’d never want to insult us by writing an entire 875 word post full of absolutely no content whatsoever. That would just be…well, it would surely be random lunacy, if you will, and I wouldn’t dream of doing that to any of us! Honestly, what do you take me for? Geesh…

While I dye my hair and get ready to go see my mom’s work at the Arlington Open Studios, and then attend my uncle’s big sixtieth birthday party later today, I will leave you with this quote my drum instructor told me yesterday. Apparently it is from a cowboy movie he watched recently.

“Never hasn’t happened yet.”

Yup, you’re right. That quote has absolutely nothing to do with anything I’ve written here.  Just like everything else.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tired Worn Out and Exhausted Never Felt So Good

Life. Sometimes it’s a motherfucker huh? Yeah sorry, I know it’s a little early on a Saturday for a lot of you to read that kind of language so my advice is to come back later and finish up. I really can’t promise it won’t get worse from here.

This isn’t going to be a ‘bitching about everything going on in my life’ post though, on the contrary, I’m kind of in the best mood that I’ve been in a very long time. It’s more about irony. And why, while I love the concept of it, the reality sucks when it happens.

Huh. That kind of defines irony I guess, doesn’t it? How ironic.

I feel like one thing gets under control, hell in my case it’s about four, and life is going great but then BLAM!!, I get hit upside the head with the proverbial curve ball that promptly throws something else out of whack.

So what’s actually under control right now you may ask?

Matt and I started working out about 2 weeks ago doing the very popular at home program P90X. Talk about intense, with six days on and only one day off to rest and stretch my body has been beat to shit. And then after you’re beaten and bloody lying in the middle of your yoga mat, Tony whips you some more and asks you to love it. But I do love it. In fact its starting to get to the place where I can’t wait for Matt to get home at night so we can get to our workout because even though it kills me, by the end of the hour I feel lighter both physically and mentally. Clarity is my new best friend.

The manuscript I started for NaNoWriMo last year is, to my satisfaction, 100% finished now. After a whole slew of editing and help from various people reading it and giving me feedback, I am confident that it is now complete and ready to be published. This isn’t trivial to me so I do feel a little guilty plunking it in the middle of this post, like all it deserves for acknowledgement is a teeny paragraph and no fanfare. I know it is a huge accomplishment to have even written the 230 pages. (That’s why I’m starting it all over again in 23 days. I guess it’s just my career so I don’t necessarily feel like I deserve a big medal or anything; Matt doesn’t get a parade when he finishes a file.)

My brainstorm notebook has been filling up with all kinds of interesting stuff lately, and while I do have a few blurbs for writing the next novel, my inspirations lately have revolved around stuff to sew. This is good because with the FUMC Craft Fair on Saturday November 13 in Melrose, I need as much as I can get! I’ve pretty much abandoned handbags in favor of fun wall art, holiday ornaments and home décor (like pillows & placemats). Of course the threads to make all this loot are still coming out of my reclaimed stash so I’ll still feel all eco.

Yeah that’s about where it ends for feeling reigned in. Okay so maybe its just three things that are really under control. But in getting this stuff together, a lot of other stuff has seemed to go askew.

Working out is wonderful and I’m sure after a couple months of hard core exercise my body is going to begin to adapt but both of us falling asleep on the sofa at like ten o’clock every night (or earlier) doesn’t do much for the sex life. Yeah, that’s all I’m gonna say about that. In addition it means less time out with family or friends because I’m not going out for a pizza anymore and on a Friday night when I should be out laughing it up, I have to prioritize my workout first which leaves a very teeny window before that 10:00 cut off for tiredness.

Writing and editing a full length Chick Lit novel is great and all but so many other venues got shut down in the process. I’m certainly slack on blogging and reading other’s blogs which definitely pisses me off, especially with my long time bloggy friends. And I do consider those people my friends so there’s a nagging annoyance there. Plus I kind of miss writing my other blog. Sometimes.

Preparing to sell my wares in a public forum always causes my energy to have to shift from something else. In this case it has been practicing drums. I sit at my desk and stare at them feeling like time just slips away before I even have a minute to sit and make music. Paying my instructor to teach me the same shit over and over again is a waste of my money and his time. Period.

I do miss keeping up with my friends and family but I guess that’s what Facebook is for now. We can quickly peek into each other’s lives instead of spending hours on the phone or shoving greasy, expensive food down our throat at some restaurant right? And with writing I guess I just don’t care if I keep GLR going forever. It’s just a blog and frankly I’d rather throw my attention on this one. This one is so much more ‘me’. And the fair? The fair is temporary so I know that the drums will once again ring out in short order.

So what can I do? I guess the short answer is I have no freaking clue. Really, I don’t. I know it might sound weird but even though I’m having all of this stuff fall off the back end of life, the things that have taken over are more exciting and dynamic to me than any of that other stuff that seems to be slacking off.

Except the sex. Yeah. I guess it’s just a good thing that I enjoy snuggling too.