Thursday Is Not Monday, but here is a post

whats-your-storyIt is currently 6 a.m. on a November Thursday morning. I missed Monday’s post again. It is getting more and more difficult to post on my work week.

I may have to go down to two posts a month rather than one every week. That is something I will have to consider later. Right now it is November so that means it is Nation Novel Writing Month.

Truthfully, I did not plan on participating this year. I have so much going on I did not intend to add one more thing. That was before vampire slaying hobos happened though. (Long story.)

So now a friend of mine and I are writing novels about the same characters hoping that by the end of the month, between the two of us, we will have an actual readable book or at least a few short stories. We only have working titles right now but look for our finished project sometime in January.

Right now I have some writing to get done. Since both kids are home sick I need to get to it while they are still asleep. Have a great day everybody and happy writing!

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Same Story, Different Voice

A_picture_is_worth_a_thousand_wordsPeople tell me things.  I don’t know why but they do.  I can be ringing up items at work or standing in line at the bank and people start talking.  Some days there is even a theme.

There was a night at work, not too long ago, where everyone I came across had a divorce story or a child custody battle to tell me about.  (My cousin is going through something like that right now.)  I have heard all about ex-husbands and wives, favorite dog breeds, the trouble with banks, what milk tastes best, health issues, money issues…you name it.

whats-your-storyThe thing is, even though the faces change and the details differ, the story remains the same. People tell me about heartbreaks, about joys, about pain and sadness.  Sometimes the story isn’t spoken in words.  Sometimes the words just frame the story, like the story of loneliness.   Loneliness usually starts out with “When my kids were young…” or “When my wife was still alive…”  The beginnings aren’t always the same but the core of the story is.

That is why they say everything has already been written.  Everyone has the same stories, MedievalWeavingTLLivingWisdomSacredthey are just colored by our point of view. That is a good thing.  The common thread joins us together.  It is what makes people focus on stories.  The voice telling the story gives it enough separation from what we already know to make interesting.

When writing, the “originality” of the tale doesn’t matter as much as the voice we tell it in.  A college student, a widow, and a cat lady have all experienced loneliness.  It is the voice of the person telling of the experience that makes it different.

Seriously?!

facepalm kittenThis isn’t the post I said was coming on Monday.  I still owe that one.  However, I just found out about some Stupid and had to comment.  Now this information is several days old.  I tend to miss a turn of the jump rope when I work.   But I was just reading a new post over at Comet Tales by Stephanie Osborn and it had me face palming at the audacity of some people.  (This is a rant expressing my opinion.)

There is an article over at Huffpost entitled “If J.K. Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It”.  I am not linking to it. If you want to read it, it is easy enough to find.  The Dumb should not be available from my blog, unless it is something I write dumb5myself.   I did go check out the article after finding out about it, just to see if it was really that bad.  It is.

I didn’t even have to make it very far before coming to this conclusion.  The second sentence in the second paragraph, in reference to the Harry Potter books, is:  ” I did think it a shame that adults were reading them (rather than just reading them to their children, which is another thing altogether), mainly because there’s so many other books out there that are surely more stimulating for grown-up minds.

Open book magic on blackI am a fan of the Harry Potter books.  I’ve read them all and thought they were fantastic. (I have only seen a couple of the movies though.)   However, you could loath Harry Potter and still take offense at that sentence.  Exactly what is the shame in an adult reading a children’s book?  What is the problem with an adult enjoying a children’s book?   I don’t understand this.  I read them all the time.   I LOVE Diana Wynne Jones.  I adore C.S. Lewis, Neil Gaiman, Madeleine L’Engle, Ronald Dahl, Lewis Carroll, Susan Cooper, and Lloyd Alexander.  There are many many more wonderful authors I could name as well.

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult smart kidfor grown-ups, then you write it for children.”   -Madeleine L’Engle

“I don’t write for children. I write. And somebody says, that’s for children.” -Maurice Sendak

tumblr_m490bucc8P1r2taqzo1_500“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.” – Lloyd Aleander

Some people seem to think that just because a story is written for children, or children enjoy it then, it must be too simple for alice22adults.  I feel sorry for these people.  They must miss so much in life.

The rest of the article goes on to complain about how J.K Rowling is now writing for adults and whines about her selling so many books.  The fact that J.K. Rowling is a well selling author and that her fans like to purchase her books  some how seems to preventing people from buying books from other authors.

…I guess that makes sense in a world where it is shameful for an adult to read a book that resides on a child’s book shelf.   It doesn’t  make much sense to me, but hey, I read children’s books so what do I know?

If you want to read what some other writers think about this same article I offer the following:

http://accordingtohoyt.com/2014/02/24/you-are-not-entitled-a-guest-post-by-amanda-green/

http://madgeniusclub.com/2014/02/25/balph-eubank-lives/

http://stephanie-osborn.blogspot.com/2014/02/on-jk-rowling-and-books.html

 

“I don’t write for children. I write. And somebody says, that’s for children.”
Maurice Sendak – See more at: http://www.relevantchildrensministry.com/2013/09/15-quotes-about-writing-for-children.html#sthash.mg9aeeYB.dpuf
“I don’t write for children. I write. And somebody says, that’s for children.”
Maurice Sendak – See more at: http://www.relevantchildrensministry.com/2013/09/15-quotes-about-writing-for-children.html#sthash.mg9aeeYB.dpuf
“I don’t write for children. I write. And somebody says, that’s for children.”
Maurice Sendak – See more at: http://www.relevantchildrensministry.com/2013/09/15-quotes-about-writing-for-children.html#sthash.mg9aeeYB.dpuf

 

 

Watching the snow fall and a word about morality tales

snow in the treesIt is 6am.  I have been awake for around an hour and a half.  A hot cup of tea is to my right and a cat sits on my window sill to the left.  He is making these distracting purring/chirping sounds because he wants to go outside but the porch is cover in snow.

We received about six inches of fluffy white stuff last night.  I went out when it first started falling and covered my car with a table cloth.  Then around 11pm I went out with a bowl and scooped up snow for snow cream.  The kids loved it.

After filling our bellies full of snow and sugar, the three of us crawled into my bed and moving castlecuddled together while I read them the next chapter of Howl’s Moving Castle.  By the end of the chapter both kids were snoring softly.  Putting the book away with a head pillowed on each shoulder was a little difficult but I managed.

There is no school today so when the sun comes up and my two lovelies awake, we will probably go build snowmen (or snow daleks) after breakfast.  Once sufficiently chilled we will come in to warm drinks and hot soup.  I may write a little, but more than likely I will end up curled up on the couch with my daughter watching Doctor Who.

I have spent the past hour catching up on blog posts I’ve black-41201_640missed this week and doing a little writing work so I won’t feel guilty later.  I also purchased Reflections:On the Magic of Writing  by Diana Wynne Jones.  It is a collection of essays and speeches.  I’ve been reading it slowly.  It is one of those books that makes you want to stop and think after every chapter.

A blog post that I read this morning also made me stop and think.  (You can check it out over at Comet Tales or follow the link above.)  It was in regard to the debate about what writers should be striving for in their writing.

Is it our job to teach?  Is it our job to send messages to our readers?  Should we be standing on soap boxes or telling stories?  Is there a way to do both?  Should we do both?  soapbox_webThese are all questions I gave some serious thought to after reading Stephanie Osborn’s post.

Writer-once-upon-a-time-1024x576In the end, my answers to these questions were simple.  Just write the story.  Anything else that should be in there will fall into place naturally.  People (or at least me as reader) like to read stories.  They don’t often like to read lectures.  Morality tales were the only plays allowed once upon a time.  I think that is one of the reasons Shakespeare was such a breath of fresh air and has survived so long.  He was prolific and gave people variety.

I have no historical accounts to back this up right now.  In fact I imagine my time is just a little off and I do know there were other playwrights that wrote things that were not 284646_432685473474603_712801232_nchurch approved before.  I could look it up. I may do a blog post on that alone one day.  However, this post is running long and my tea cup is empty.  That means it is time to wrap this up.  I encourage you to read Stephanie’s blog post yourself and come up with your own answers.  As with everything in writing, answers to questions like this seem to be author specific. Not all answers work for everyone.

A Chilling Post

Monday’s post wasn’t really a post, so I thought I would make up for it with this one.

tissuesI went to bed sick last night.  I’m still not feeling that great this morning.  I had nightmares all night, (I always do when I get sick), and I woke up with a pulled muscle in my right shoulder and a slightly swollen left eye.   I am not sure what I did to earn either of those, but I am guessing I wrestled with something in my sleep.

It is cold outside. The local weatherman says it is 25 degrees right now, my computer reports 22.   The kids did not want to go to school this morning and I don’t blame them.  Still, I did the evil mom thing and made them go anyway.

However, after dropping them off I could not force myself to return home.  I do dumb things sometimes, and this may prove to be one of them, but instead of going home I took a walk. I haven’t seen “outside” since last year.  It feels like the last sixteen days have been nothing but a repeat of: work, home, school, grocery store.IMG_20140116_074816_035

There is an entrance to The Greenway, a walking trail that goes all over town, just down the road from the school.  So despite being sick and injured,  I decided to stop and take a stroll.  It was great.

I do not like being cold.  It is near the top of my list of things I don’t like.  That’s what makes my impromptu side trip even more odd.

IMG_20140116_074145_770But as lost feeling in my nose and my toes turned into icicles, I also forgot about the pain in my shoulder.  I remembered crunching frozen mud puddles as a kid and I marveled at the steam rising from the small brook that runs near the trail.  The grass was frozen white and reminded me of frosted mini wheats.

There was just one cloud in the sky. It stood like a fluffy white pillar in the distance and IMG_20140116_074504_990gave me a great idea for a story.  Shivering I returned to my still warm car and drove home.

The warm cup of tea I am currently sipping seems like the best I’ve ever had, even though it’s “the cheep stuff” sweetened with a spoon full of honey.  My walk only lasted fifteen or twenty minutes, but it is good to remember what cold feels like every now and again. It makes you enjoy warmth that much more.

A New Year Confession

confessionalI have a confession to make.  I didn’t write very much in December.  In fact, I had a great internal battle about whether I should give it up entirely.

Anyone who is a writer knows, you can’t just stop writing.  It is something that comes out if you want it to or not. (And more likely when plathyou don’t want it to, rather than when you do.)   I pondered for a while but I didn’t talk about it.  First, I was afraid my friend would think that I was looking for sympathy or pats on the head.  Second, I was afraid my friends might deliver swift hard smacks to the back of my head.  (Or even scarier, what if they agreed that I should give up my silly writing dreams?)

Eventually, the simple fact that I was afraid I would be told to give it up, finally sifted through my self doubt to make me realize I didn’t want to.  Because if I did, wouldn’t I be feeling relief rather than dread?

anime_dragon_1024x768-634320I am still wrestling with that dragon of self doubt. It keeps asking me questions that I don’t have the answers to.  Am I good enough? Does anyone want to even read what I write?  Why would someone chose one of my stories over all the many others out there?  What if I finally get my stuff where people can see it and they scoff and toss it aside before giving it a chance; because I over looked something simple, like a spelling or grammar error?   (That last one really scares me. I have friends that do that so I know it isn’t just paranoia.)

Writing is a very solitary thing.  You spend a lot of time in your own head.  This means you face the good and bad about yourself all the time.  You struggle with it.  When you can, you pen it down on a page. (Pun intended.)

I am not writing this to seek sympathy.  I am writing to…well, write it out.  Things look o'connormuch clearer on a page than they do all jumbled up in your head.  I am not giving up even though I still feel a bit downhearted at the moment.  I am told that many writers go through the “Am I good enough?” struggle.  Big names with many book contracts under their belts still doubt themselves sometimes.  It’s a hazard of the occupation.

The important thing, the thing I have to remind myself, is to just keep putting one word in front of another.  If I can do that then I’m bound to get somewhere eventually.dream time

 

Good Weekends

snoopyI would just like to say that if this post reads like it was written by a drooling two fingered alien, with only a tenth of the mental capacity of the average human…well that’s not too far off.  At least that’s how I feel this morning.  I have a hot cup of coffee sitting here.  I am waiting for it to cool enough for me to drink it.  (It’s instant.  I couldn’t wait long enough for the real stuff.)

Anyway, now that I have the disclaimer out of the way, I had a great weekend.  The kids were out of school all last week for Fall Break, but I had to work until Wednesday so I didn’t get to spend as much time with them as I would have liked.  Wednesday and Thursday are kind of a blur for me because I was still adjusting back to being awake during the day.  Friday afternoon we went to the library, came home, ate dinner, read a book, and went to bed.

Then Saturday dawned.  My cousin, who is something between a craftsman and a mad scientist, had a booth at a tractor show in the next town over.  I had never been to a tractortractors show so we decided to check it out.  I even donned overalls for the occasion, much to the embarrassment of the kids.  (Picking on my kids is one of main reason I own overalls to begin with.  I am a terrible gardener, I don’t own any live stock, and I rarely work on cars.  Even when I do, it is more of handing my brother the appropriate wrench type of thing.  I do love all of the pockets in overalls though.)

My daughter’s best friend came along and we had good time viewing tractors, petting cows, and climbing on trailers for hay rides.  My daughter’s friend decided to spend the night, so I took all three kids hojack o lanternme to carve pumpkins and roast hot dogs.  The girls stayed outside well after dark and only came in near bed time.

Sunday morning we drug ourselves out of bed for the country fair at Prater’s Mill.  It was a lot like the tractor show but with more booths, less tractors, and more clog dancers.  There were canoes to paddle as well, but with three kids I decided I didn’t want to chance it.  (I know my two are good swimmers but I wasn’t sure about the blacksmithother girl.)  We ate barbeque sandwiches, got faces painted, bought random trinkets and learned about blacksmithing, spinning and weaving wool, and carving wooden bowls.   (We also came home with sunburns, because it is the middle of October and I didn’t think about sunscreen.)

I met some interesting people and decided I really need to invest in a digital recorder.  (Many writers have them to record ideas or to keep notes.)  Murray County Paranormal Investigations had a booth near the face painters.   So while waiting on the kids to be ghost giggleturned into dragons, I introduced myself and had a pleasant conversation. If I had carried a digital recorder with me then I could have interviewed them for my blog.  They were kind enough to answer my questions and informed me that they do ghost tours.

Now I am the first to admit that I am a coward. I do believe there is more out there that what can be seen with the human eye.  I also firmly believe that if whatever it is will stay away from me, then I will stay away from it.

That being said, they are doing a ghost tour this coming Saturday at the Historic Wright wright hotelHotel in Chatsworth, Georgia.  This would not be too far of a drive for me and they said if I come they would be happy to do an interview before the tour.  I would find it tempting except I have to work Saturday.  I may try to go anyway depending on what time it starts.

Another fascinating person I met at the country fair, was an artist by the name of Roland J Rankin.  I fell in love with his paintings.  They were amazing.  You could almost mistake them for photographs.

roland j rankinI spoke with Mr. Rankin for a little while and exchanged contact information.  After I told him I was a writer, he smiled at me and told me to “keep at it” and to not give up.  Words from an almost stranger, but they hit me hard.  I think it was because of the fact that I don’t really know him that the words meant a lot to me.  It’s funny how encouragement comes to us sometimes.

Before I left his booth, he gifted me with some note card prints with some of his work on the front.  I intend to frame and hang them on the wall where I can see them while I write.  roald-dahl-inspiration-quote-motivation-life-advice-believe-in-magic-glittering-eyes-childrens-author-writer