Friday, March 27, 2009

Don't Say I Didn't Warn You

Friends, Readers, Fellowfish,
Lend me your ears.
Actually, more like your eyes, but that's neither here nor there.
I digress.

Anyway, check out this link.

Don't Say I Didn't Warn You

It just got posted today. I'll be sending out emails later to family and friends and basically everyone I know. At the moment, I'm too giddy to concentrate on that so for now, I'll just post it here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Going Back to the Classics

Sometimes it's good to go back to the classics. Here are two online libraries of classic children's stories. Children's Classics

American Literature: Short Story Library for Children

Happy reading!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Falling Down the Stairs

Have you ever fallen down a flight of stairs? A whole flight, I'm talking about, top to bottom, not just a couple of measly steps. That is one of those things that I've always wondered about the mechanics of, you know, for research purposes. What if I wanted to write about a character falling down the stairs? What would it feel like? Does she fall head over feet or slide down feet first? For obvious reasons, I wasn't about to conduct said research on purpose.

Well, today my questions were answered when I slipped off the top step of a flight of stairs and bounced all the way to the bottom, feet first, like I was riding a slide. What did it feel like? It hurt. Weird thing was, for the first thirty seconds I had no idea exactly what hurt. It was like my brain didn't register the damage. In the end, it worked out for the best. No broken bones, no concussion. If you ever plan to fall down the stairs, this is the way I would recommend doing it.

You're probably wondering "what is the point of this stairs thing?" Well, the point is this. In the moment I was awash with emotions: embarrassment (did anyone see?), anger (why do those steps have to be so slippery?) and frustration (why am I such a klutz?) Then one magic little word occurred to me.


Lousy things can happen in life. Sometimes you have crummy days or weeks. Sometimes you embarrass yourself so badly, you wish the ground would swallow you up. Sometimes bad things happen and just when you think it can't get worse, it does. But no matter what, it can always serve as research. Whatever happens, good or bad, it always has the potential to become a great story.

So if I ever have to write about a character falling down the stairs, now I know exactly what it's like.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Ah, first day of spring, and what a beauty of a day it has been. You know that giddy feeling that you get on the first warm, sunny day and it feels like you could do anything if you just set your mind to it? Well, I feel like that today.

Problem is, my springiness isn't channeled in the direction that I want, namely into my writing. Instead, it feels like the visual-spatial side of my brain is on overdrive, while the verbal and logical parts of my brain are still hibernating.

I have this design in my head for a really nifty beach bag, crocheted in cotton yarn. It has a handle that doubles as a drawstring and a false bottom so that it can fold in on itself for easy storage. Since I can't translate 3D shapes into flat drawings, the only way for me to record said design before I forget it is to make the darn thing. So that's my new spring project: to make this bag before the design evaporates from my brain.

That's the thing with spring. It gives me the itch to start new projects but not necessarily the motivation to see them through the end. So I've devised a rule: no new stuff until the old stuff is finished. No writing new short stories until I've finished a draft of the current one. No starting new knitting or crochet projects until I've finished at least one that's still pending. (I have to cut myself a little slack with that part of the rule because if I wait until all pending projects are done, I won't get to start something new for the next three years. Maybe longer.)

My hope is that this rule will force me to clean out the clutter of old projects and make room for the new. We shall see.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Computer Deprivation

I'm sitting at my computer and I can't seem to get myself to write. It's not that I don't want to write, I do. I just don't know where to start. I have at least half a dozen books filled with writing exercises next to my desk, but nothing seems give me the jolt I need. I've got writing tools galore. My image file, filled with weird photos and drawings I've collected, oozes story ideas. My word box is full of fascinating words I've accumulated that beg to be used in a piece. And of course there are the countless writing games designed by yours truly that are supposed to spark creativity, not squash it.

I think I need a major kick in the backside. Something drastic. Something huge. Something so gigantic that I won't be able to not write. Today is the day I resort to my most extreme measure: computer deprivation.

That's right. For the next 12 hours, I will not use the computer for anything. No email. No internet. No word processor. Nothing. I will even do something I never do when I am home; I will turn off the computer.

Today I will channel the creative vibes from writers living in the days of yore. I will do it the old-fashioned way: with pen and paper. If I need to do research, I won't resort to the almighty Google and its sidekick Wikipedia, I will get my behind out of my chair and walk to the library.

So this is it. The time-stamp on this post marks the beginning of my 12-hour marathon sans-computer. Adieu virtual world, hello real world. Here goes...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

An Ode to Scrivener

O Scrivener, my Scrivener!
My computer friend,
You help me to write
From beginning to end.

Your millions of features
Spark my 'magination,
As well as my penchant
For procrastination.

I play with the cork-board
From morning 'til night
And almost forget that
I'm supposed to write.

And outliner, O what a
Wonderful tool
That helps me to come up
With stories for school.

From morning 'til night
I do nothing but fiddle
And sometimes I don't write
Not even a little.

So maybe, just maybe
A notebook is best,
And maybe I should give
My Scrivener a rest.

In all seriousness, though, Scrivener has changed the way I approach my writing, allowing me write my current novel out of order and still keep everything organized. I don't think I'll ever be able to go back to linear writing. All I'm saying, though, is that Scrivener should've come with a warning label: Procrastinators Beware.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In Medias Res

I've been staring at this blank post box for I don't know how long and I can't seem to think of the perfect way to start my blog. This being my first post, I suppose it should be grand and important and I should have pearls of wisdom to share with the world. Yeah right.

So instead of agonizing over the beginning, I'm going to do what I usually do in most of my writing: start in the middle. No introductions. None of that "I live in Antarctica and I measure people's toes for a living" nonsense. You're just going to have to figure all that out as you go along.

And so we begin.

Have you ever hung upside down and looked around you? It's amazing how different things look. The ceiling, which is usually the most boring part of a room, suddenly becomes the perfect roller rink. And there's so much space without all the clutter from the world below... or above, depending on how you're looking at it.

The other thing about hanging upside down is that it jiggles your thoughts around inside your head and you wind up thinking things you wouldn't have thought otherwise. That and it makes all the blood rush to your head so your brain works harder. There's a science to hanging upside down. I should know. I made it up.

When I was a kid, I used to do this all the time: in the playground, hanging over the back of a chair, lying in bed with my head over the edge. In more recent years, I have abandoned this habit and I don't think I've been the better for it. My thoughts need jiggling and my cerebrum needs brain food.

I think I'll go hang upside down for a while.