Writing is a journey, not a destination.

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Friday, September 30, 2011


Grace may think 500 words a day won't kill you, but I'm not making it. I can write 300-350. That's a page and a half for me. Takes 45 minutes to an hour.

I'm not entirely certain anything I'm writing at the moment will stay in the book. I'm just putting something down to get my brain moving in a forward direction.

I realized last night I've told the non-furry people in my life to leave me alone to write, but I haven't yet communicated the request to the furry people. I'm thinking maybe a walk for the dog and some laser playtime for the cats before I start anything. That might give me an hour of clear-of-obstruction screen time.

Of course, that means I actually have to walk the dog and play with the cats, something out of the normal for me. I might accidentally wear myself out and defeat my own purpose.

But a page and a half is something. I've got to be the turtle with the artichoke.

TT: Actually, it's the turtle with the cherry tomato, but I don't like tomatoes. Artichokes are delicious but hard to eat and occasionally painful and fibrous and annoying. Kind of like writing a novel. Getting to the end is great, but the spiky parts in the middle require careful management.

Mostly, I seem to be out of the serious writing habit. I've let other, easier parts of life sprawl around and take up space, and I need to squish and hack and stomp them out of the way until I have some clear brain-space to exercise my creative muscles and get this novel out of the oven and onto the cooling rack.

I don't think I can mix any more metaphors, so I'll get on with my day and let you get on with yours.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Inspired - Not So Much

Grace Bridges set the goal of 500 words a day. I have no idea what she's writing, but she claims 500 words a day won't kill anyone.

TT: Of course, the last I heard, she was trying to exercise and write at the same time. That doesn't sound terribly safe...

Anyhoo, last month was dismal in the writing department. I'm starting to wonder if books 1 and 2 were flukes. Past Ties went back into the drawer mid-summer with the sinking realization I may have written that book 17 years ago and there's no way to excise the cheese without killing the recipe. I've had Justice For All, sequel to Star of Justice, open on my computer for 2 months. Time to get serious.
So, I'm grabbing at that 500 word a day goal and giving it a shot. I've only made it once, but I've gotten close several times and, hey, at least I'm writing something new.

I may be writing total crap but it's on the page where I have a chance to make some useful compost out of it.

I have absolutely decided my writing progress suffers because of poor time use. I won't go without sleep to write, so something has to go during my awake hours.

One of those things has been Farmville - to a degree. I'm rather upset with Zynga at the moment, but I'm hoping they'll come around. To ease some withdrawal pangs, I've been stopping by my farm once a day to do simple chores and help out neighbors who haven't called it quits yet. Should Zynga continue to act like horses' hinder ends, I expect to renounce Farmville entirely. As I said, I'm upset.

Another thing that's falling by the wayside for a bit is people. I'm sorry, folks who like me for some odd reason, but I can't hang with you and finish a book at the same time. You want the book, you'll have to wait. I've changed my answering machine to reflect this - in a slightly nicer way, mom - but here's a more formal announcement.

I'm writing. Please leave me alone. Unless I call you to gripe about plot complications. Then listen politely for no longer than 10 minutes, tell me to put on my big girl panties and get back to work, and hang up. You may appear briefly in the book as a beheading but I'll probably remove that in the editing process.


Having declared my intentions publicly, I'll no doubt lose any desire to continue with the goal but that's the risk I take in posting to my blog. On the other hand, since I resolved this, I have moved the plot forward, fixed a few glaring errors, made some major plot decisions and resumed thinking constructively about the story at odd times during the day.

In short, I'm writing again.

This is good.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fun Facts About Motion Sickness

I've suffered motion sickness from the tender age of 3 months. It's a constant companion, the violently nauseated elephant in the seat next to me on any ride anywhere of any duration.

My family learned early to give me the front seat in the car. My friends' parents learned late, which is why I had few friends in elementary school.

TT: I grew up in the age of the Chevy station wagon, that marvelous invention where all children can pile into the very back of the vehicle next to the smoking tail pipe with no fresh air and press their noses against the back window and look the wrong way at 35 mph. Oi. My stomach turns just thinking about it.

I stopped riding with non-family by the age of 12. I was tall enough at that point to put my foot down and mean it. I would rather walk home than puke in one more car.

Buses were out. Carnival rides? Don't make me laugh. Do you know how boring Worlds of Fun is when you can't ride anything, including the trolley from the parking lot?

Motion sickness only got worse with age. I hadn't realized how much it affected me until a 20 mile trip put me in bed for 24 hours with light blindness and nausea (the symptoms of motion sickness are much like those of a migraine headache -minus the pain- and can last just as long). That left some time for reflection on how telescoped my life had become. I don't travel much outside a 10 mile radius from my house, and motion sickness may be the reason.

This spring, I took the plunge and got those motion sickness patches everyone raves about. I had a wedding to attend and I didn't want to find a bucket to match my dress.

The patches worked. I was very careful, of course, to ride up front, keep my eyes forward, not bend over, not eat anything that might cause hiccups or a blood sugar spike - in short, I didn't trust the patches. But they seemed to work.

Huzzah! Freedom!

I used another patch on my recent trip to the Kansas State Fair, with fabulous results in the motion sickness department.

However, one side effect not mentioned by the pharmacist who gave me the patches is blindness.
Not permanent blindness, thank God, but when I lost the ability to read fine print on the last day of my trip, I thought 40 had caught up with me in one fell swoop. When my reading ability returned 3 days later, I thought brain tumor.

(It's not a tumor. It's not. Not a tumor)

Turns out scopalamine is a very powerful dilating agent. I suspect my eyes were wide enough to have a cop yelling "Out of the car! Who's your dealer?"

TT: Not that I think cops would actually behave that way. I'm exaggerating for humorous effect here, people.

Anyhoo, it's not a tumor and 40 caught up with me by making my eyes better. So much better, in fact, I now must drop a wad of cash to buy lenses that don't over-correct my improving vision.

The moral of the story? The next time a child tells you she must ride up front with you or bad things will happen to your upholstery - believe her. Some smells just don't come out.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Round Pants?

My most recent jeans-buying excursion this summer (after I can't tell you how many years) led to the exciting realization I fit into size 10s.

TT: Personally, I think clothing manufacturers have fiddled with the sizes. In the last ten years, I've worn things marked "6" that are bigger than things marked "8" from 20 years ago. Yes, the turtle still has clothes from 20 years ago, despite the fact she hasn't fit in them in almost that long.

Anyhoo, happy that the nice pants fit, I bought them and took them home, where I noticed the black pair are round at the top.

TT: The most annoying part is they fit well in the store. I have no explanation for it except magic.

So I have these pants that fit my legs but leave an inch plus gap between waist and fabric. It's a bit like an egg cup. Who's built like that?

Women fall into three general shapes: apple (top-heavy), banana (no waist) and pear (bottom-heavy).
The majority, myself included, are pears. I don't know anyone who's egg-shaped, so why are the pants made like that? Maybe they're supposed to hug my hips, but if that's the case, my rise is too low, cause when I put the waist around my hips, I need silk boxers and a heavy gold chain to complete the look.

Tis a mystery, and one of the reasons I don't shop for pants all that often. Most annoying part of the whole thing is I'm not sure they can be fitted. It would require all these little darts and denim just doesn't dart that well.

So, I'll wear them with baggy tops, pretend I'm a marsupial and stash stuff in the over-indulgent waistband instead of in the useless low-cut pockets, hoping, of course, it doesn't slip out through a leg.

Tailors, FYI, fashion in this decade is stupid. No wonder America is fat. You're making our clothes too big.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Too Much Food?

One of the beauty parts of my new job is all the food.

I'm starting to wonder if one of the down-sides to the new job is all the food.

Typical of life, isn't it? The thing you like the most is the thing that does you in.

After four weeks, I was starting to wonder if a day went by without food in it. People aren't bringing carrot sticks and cucumber slices, either. I'm talking cake, cookies, enormous cinnamon rolls, cupcakes; things absolutely on my list of "rare indulgences." Things that will make me fat if I ran those six flights of stairs eight times a day instead of walking four times a day.

I can't afford to eat like this, in any sense of the verb. Granted, this week (that would be yesterday, if you're paying attention) no one brought anything, so maybe I just joined up at a weird point in the cycle. Doesn't matter. The turtle is pulling back on the office offerings. I've already sworn off vending machines (that way lies obesity and poverty). I can swear off silly snacks every day.

Naturally, I make exceptions for the really good snacks. As that sage Joey Tribianni teaches, "If you're gonna do it wrong, do it right."

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Not quite a week since Mica took The Long Step. I can't stop thinking about her.

I listen for her. Her constant, nagging, bone-shivering wail ended Tuesday, but I wake up in the middle of the night, straining to hear it.

I pull food out of the refrigerator and cry when I don't have to lock her in the bathroom to keep her from eating it before I can dish it onto my own plate.

I come home and wonder why I don't have to clean up the undigested contents of her ailing stomach.
You might think I should be relieved about all this.

I'm not. Not yet.

You see, I seem to live in a fantasy world where I can heal all hurts and solve all the problems plaguing my charges. I seem to think I have the power to extend life beyond its natural bounds simply because I wish it to be so.

I don't have that power, no matter how much or how often I wish I do.

I can't keep a cat alive. I can't stop death from taking my friends one by one, not even if I had all the money or medicine in the world.

I can't stop missing them when they're gone, even if they are annoying, sickly, or troublesome in their old age.

I loved Mica. She wasn't always troublesome or sick or annoying. We had many good times known only to us.

I'm so sorry, my friend. If I had the power, I would give up some of my life to have kept you here.
You know I would.

Please forgive me.

Please let me go.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


"My heart is filled with silence. My friend stopped running today."

2 Samuel 12:23
See you on the other side, my friend. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Stringing Along

This Annie Dillard book I'm reading...

TT: I should be done with it. The thing's like 20 pages long. OK, maybe a 100. I could read it in an hour. But it fits really well in my purse, so it's become my "purse book." You know, that book you carry around for when you have to wait in a doctor's office or the drive-through? The book you never actually have time to read until you don't have it with you? That book. Which means I'm reading it in one or two sentence snatches. Once I buy a Kindle, I won't have this problem.

Back to topic.

This Annie Dillard book I'm reading... She doesn't really have a point I can see. Maybe that's the point. She'll give involved metaphors for the writing journey, then she'll give some straightforward accounts of her writing journey. I like those better. She'll quote some famous authors about their writing journey, then give two conflicting accounts of how writers write.

Like I said, I occasionally wonder what she was ingesting while she wrote it. She claims coffee and cigarettes, but she doesn't specify what kind of cigarettes.

I guess it's a book to show the variety of ways people write.

What I'm taking from it at this point is her idea of stringing sentences together. That's all writing really is. You can never capture the idea in your head with words, any more than you can capture the image in your head with paint or charcoal or ink (one of the reasons I stopped drawing when I hit adulthood). You're not supposed to. The idea starts the process, but in trying to capture it, you end with something completely different, like Monty Python.

This happened with Star of Justice. The original idea was to bring the reader on the journey of translating the Words of the Oread. As the story developed, that goal moved farther back in the minivan until it now rides the bumper. Is that bad? I don't think so. It was hard to let go of that original idea, but I did.

All I can say is Annie Dillard is helping me write sentences. I string them together until something pretty happens (keep stringing) or something awful (cut the string and try again), but the key is setting aside the time to string.

Writing is about the process. If I don't have a process involving writing words, I'm not a writer.
Simple as that.