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Archive for the ‘Annoyed’ Category

I don’t think I hide the fact I like a good vulgarity every once in a while.  Oh hell, who am I kidding?  A slew of expletives can be as fun as baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies with the kids.  They pepper my language regularly and I even turn the ordinary into words something profane.  Example:  New bakery in town is called “Buttercloud,” which I have now turned into a word that can’t be used by anyone without snickering.  But all this jovial fun of offending others comes to a screeching halt with the dirtiest word of them all–process.

It looks innocent enough.  Defenseless with it’s unsuspecting meaning.  “A systematic series of actions directed to some end,” says Dictionary.com which only adds to the normalcy of it.  The exact reason it’s the worst thing out there for people like me.  People who can’t stand idly by as those “series” slowly trudge by while you have your hands in your pockets.  When did systematic mean “taking fucking forever?”  Don’t even get me started about the last part with the nose turned up snobbery of “directed to some end.”  What am I supposed to do with that?  What if I get to this “end” and it’s really just the start of another process?

A picture of "process" -- faceless and empty

You may be asking what has brought on this rant (and frankly, why you are still reading about it)?  I have written four novels in the last three years.  It’s easy to see now that I really vomited a bunch of words the first time and called it a book.  The following two improved, but still lacked the needed voice to land an agent.  I’ve taken my medicine of rejections because it’s the necessary part of learning.   If I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t have understood how I missed huge chunks of the writing process and my books were suffering because of it.

On this fourth book, I decided to go completely opposite of what I had done in the past.  Call it the George Costanza shift where I hope to get the exact opposite result if I do everything contrary to what I believe and did the first three times.  It started with a written outline.  I ditched my panster* status and went to putting a structure on the idea I had.  Next was a conference where I learned the first draft is only the beginning.  Bob Dugoni, a great speaker, said it was like climbing Everest.  The first time you are just happy to get there.  The next times are where you carve a clearer path.  After many trips and a lot more practice, you can bring someone with you.  (That’s you, reader.)  The conference also brought the realization in the need of critique partners, which I was lucky to find two I’m very happy with.  (Here’s Amy’s view of the process.)  But in all this desire to create a better product, process partnered up with patience for a double punch of difficult for me.

Accepting the process is easier said than done for a person who feels the need to fill in every second of the day with something.  This may explain my new addiction to Pinterest or diving head first into baked goods.  It’s not because I don’t want to write.  It’s the opposite, I’m jonesin’ to get back to the WIP.  I want to roll around in it, cover myself head to toe with the characters and immerse myself back into that world.  I even want to jump in the query process, cross fingers, and hope this is the time.  Those are all my gut instincts, and in true Costanza fashion, I have to resist.

It’s going to take all my energy to embrace this new frenemy of mine, process.  We’ve had our disagreements in the past where I left shaking my head and wondered what process was thinking.  There’s frustration with the time taken when going through the systematic series.  I’ll even admit there has been a few cuss words thrown around because of it.  And they weren’t the funny kind.  But one thing I have come to give process in this writing journey is respect.

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It’s true.  Safeway is running their damn free sandwich campaign again.  It almost makes me not want to go in to get a sandwich until it’s over.  I certainly can’t take Hubs.  If you don’t remember why, read here.  Enough said.

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A recent article in Vanity Fair spent many words on Robert Pattinson to go along with an Anne Leibovitz pictorial.  For those of you not familiar with Mr. Pattison’s most well-known role, he is the brooding lead vampire from Twilight.  If you fancy vampire over werewolf, you would proudly wear a shirt of “Team Edward.”  The article focused around the teen fans swallowing him up whole with obsessive behavior, relentless pursuit, and cited one who clamored outside his hotel to “touch his hair.”  Suggestion before reading this article is to get out your violins because this one is singing a sad song.

I’m not sure how Mr. Pattinson will feel about the slant of the interview.  To me, it reeked of “poor me with all these fans” with stories about teens hacking into his email and turning him into a shut-in reduced to being unable to even write.  (Seriously…he said that.)  The author, Nancy Jo Sales, also slipped in last year’s paycheck of $27.5 million to make sure the reader had no sympathy for his plight. (Can you imagine the accumulation since the first Twilight?)  She describes his shy, every day Joe nature of a misunderstood actor who only wants to be able to dedicate his life to his craft.  Hold on please…I just threw up in my mouth.  If you want the whole story, read here.

The most obvious question is if you are an actor, can’t you play the role of the life you want to live?  Can’t you put on a wig, big sunglasses, and walk into any mall in America?  Most people don’t care what others around them are doing and probably 99% don’t even look at each other.  But yes, if you put yourself up in the swankiest hotel in the city in the penthouse suite, people are probably going to be interested and word will get out. 

I always laugh at these types of interviews.  I’m guessing Nancy wants the world to see him as a self-absorbed diva.  She details his wealth, his beautiful girlfriend, his career of choice, and the freedom to do whatever the hell he wants.  Now, I know he would come back with people are always grabbing, screaming his name, and taking unflattering pictures.  He never has a moment of silence and dreams of the days of old when he could be himself.  Excuse me, those are the same hardships of being a parent.  I freakin’ can’t even go to the bathroom by myself!  There is a constant stream of the word “mommy” in the background, always dirty fingers pulling at the seam of my shirt, and check out here for the unflattering pictures the kids have taken of Hubs.  Unfortunately we don’t make $27.5 million a year for this role, but admit we did choose it.  Luckily the positives outweigh the negatives and I’m satisfied with my decision.

It’s a good example of the perspective of the author.  She makes this story what it is.  Maybe he is a diva, maybe he isn’t.  I will never know because I doubt we will meet.  Well, only if he opens up the window when I’m begging to touch his hair.  But I hope when I have my spread in Vanity Fair I don’t sound like a spoiled brat.  If I do, please write a scathing blog about it and send me the link.  (Also, I’m not letting Anne talk me into the alligator.)

*To the music of Prince’s “When Doves Cry.”

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It’s Christmas Time

I’ve been frantically working to get all my “traditions” in order.  Wreath hung on the door, decorated tree propped in the house, the smell of cookies wafting in the air, and of course the writing of the Christmas card.  Now Christmas cards have definitely evolved over the years and some things not for the better.  I have two strong opinions and luckily I have a blog to share them.

First, (and everyone I know reading this has heard me say it before) I fucking hate the Christmas letter.  I know all you newsletter writers out there are scoffing at the statement (while my mother gasps at the language.)  Serious issues require strong language.  The reason at the top of the list not to write the “letter” is–it’s annoying.  It’s a brag feast that says “look how great I was this year, what’d you do?”  It condenses the boring out of it so the receiver only has the syrupy goo of your ego dripping off the page.  The other huge reason is because it’s so impersonal.  You are either saying “I have so many friends you are lost in the shuffle” or “You weren’t worth the time for a real card with handwriting in it.”  (BTW, just signing your name at the bottom of a store-bought card is NOT better.)

Second, and one I am guilty of, is the obligatory picture of the kids.  This is a tricky thing because while you were fascinated with how your friends’ kids have morphed into looking like the people you grew up with, now you are stuck with the damn photo.  Do you put it on your refrigerator, hang it up in your cubicle at work, or put it in your wallet and pretend they are your children when trolling the divorced crowd.  I am officially letting everyone off the hook by speaking for all parents and saying, “it’s okay to throw the picture away.”  I don’t expect you to have a scrapbook of my children growing up through the years in a Christmas card montage.  Look at it, snicker, and throw it in the trash.

I know what you are saying–“Who the hell are you to tell us what to do and what to send?”  I’m the person who receives them.  I love to get the kids photos and a personalized note from a friend I haven’t spoken with in a year.  I enjoy feeling the connection again by hearing their voice in my head as I read through their note to me (not the 157 other people who got the same thing.) 

And yes, I follow the rules myself.  My hand is cramped from writing cards and I will throw away even my niece and nephews picture after the holiday is over.  Cold hearted?  Bah-humbug!

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Credit for Everything

While driving, I saw the bumper sticker “God made asphalt so yuppies have something to four-wheel on.”  Now, I could take the road of writing about bad bumper stickers and who gets paid to write this shit, but something else struck me instead.  Why does God get credit for everything?

When a football player makes a touchdown or a pitcher throws the final out, they complete the sign of the cross and kiss the sky.  When things go people’s way they say they are blessed by God.  Even my everyday saying for getting out of boring meetings “Thank God” is giving credit for something I’m sure God had no part of.

Have we become that unoriginal we assume someone else must be in charge of our story?  Does God really write all these little details or do we fill in the gaps with our assumptions.  Now this blog is not taking a religious stance.  We all have our own opinions.  (Well, the three of you that read this blog–thanks Aaron.)  But it does ask why is everyone so quick to credit God for the mundane? 

Maybe I should with the bad writing of bumper stickers.  This is probably a much safer topic.  So…what’s the worse bumper sticker you have ever seen?

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Interestingly enough, sometimes I drive my husband crazy.  Go figure.  This morning the alarm goes off and I’m exhausted.  After tossing and turning, moaning and groaning, and fighting the need to get up, I made the mistake of saying, “I’m so tired.”  Fearing the dreaded “I told you so” I expected from him, he instead said “I love you.”

Assuming he wasn’t just looking for a romantic angle, I sat up and asked “Why?”  He responds, “Because I told you to go to bed earlier last night, but you always have to wait until exhaustion.  What I love about you is that you worry you’ll miss something if you go to bed.”  Luckily, he leaves out the additional comment about being like a child in this respect.  Instead, I smiled and realized he means it because he only says exactly what he means.  (That’s what I love about him.)

This is a small piece, often mistaken for insignificant, that I often overlook in my characters.  I’m so busy building their world, their friends, and mostly their hair I forget these little things that are so them.  Things that drive them to make their decisions and the  special way they view the world.  These are the small things that make them tick.  The same things that make them real enough to stay with you long after the story is over. 

With this reminder, I will go back into my novel and make sure the characters have these quirks to make them real.  Because these are the things we love about them.  What about you?  What’s your thing that makes you, you?

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It may seem a little harsh, but in the world of a struggling writer, it is truth.  A conversation with my husband tonight about Julie and Julia reminded me of my hate for Hollywood’s propaganda of the ease in which it takes to get published.

When I realized that I was going to have a completed work, I focused on getting it published.  I went to Stephanie Meyer’s website who gave a fairy tale account of a first time publisher.  I don’t know what deal she made with the devil, but it was a doozy!  Her first writing experience finished in three months.  Her query letter written, read, and picked up by an agent within six of her first thought put down on paper.  As all writers striving for publication know, this is unheard of.  Only to be followed up by getting the best publicist in the world who marketed millions of dollars of wares to a hungry frenzie of teens.  It was the perfect storm book publishing.

I finally got over my hate of Mrs. Meyers (well, maybe I recognize in that last paragraph that not all bad feelings are behind) I followed it up with a trip to the movie, Julie and Julia.  It depicts a struggling writer in a dead end job looking for something to fulfill her life.  She decides to fix Julia Child’s recipes and write a blog about it.  In the end, she is profiled in a newspaper article.  When she returns home that night, there are sixty-seven messages on her answering machine begging her for a book deal!  Sixty-seven!  OMG!  WTF?!?  No way.  I know everyone wants to capitalize on a popular thing, but are we suppose to believe sixty-seven different sources picked it up and offered her deals of the century?  That’s bullshit.

Hollywood has taken this approach with most of its depictions. In the climax, the struggling writer gets published because they believed in the work.  If this is the only criteria, I will have an agent by the end of the year.  And if that happens and my characters are made into Barbies, I will take this all back and tell Hollywood how appreciative I am.

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