#weekendcoffeeshare: I Have Lost My Impulse

#weekendcoffeeshare: I have Lost my Impulse
Image provided by Dave White
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrdestructicity/

The Daily Post sponsors the #weekendcoffeeshare. If this is something you’d like to do, whether it be weekly like it’s supposed to be or the way I do it once a month, you can get the lowdown about it at the link above.

[Your dialogue is in purple.]

[My dialogue is in teal.]

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If we were to have coffee…

We’re having our powwow at your choice spot, which I gather is Starbuck’s. After all, there aren’t many places in the US that can beat the variety of blends of coffee and creamer that are find there. Pricey but if we don’t use this place all the time, it can be managed.

We find a table away from the noise of the register and the hoards of people at the counter trying to make up their minds. We didn’t hesitate when we placed our preferences. I knew exactly what I wanted by the time I reached the counter. Chances are you knew what you wanted before you got to the door.

“I wonder why so many people can’t make up their minds about what coffee to get. I mean, most of these people have been here before numerous times.”

“Chances are they’re thinking about something else while they wait in line. Or it could be there’s so much to choose from, making their decisions are almost impossible. Still, they should come prepared, or, at least, step out of line until they’ve decided.”

“Exactly. You look tired. What’s up?”

I sip my coffee trying to find the words that will acutely describe what I’m going through. “I may be more distracted than some of these customers in here. I’ve lost my impulse with my writing. Not writing altogether but for anything that would prove I’m an author of any sort. You know, something meaningful.”

You finger your mug as you look down at the light brown swirls inside. You peer up at me. “You are an author. Your blog proves that. It’s meaningful, isn’t it?”

I have Lost My Impulse
by Michel Moreau
https://www.flickr.com/photos/xmaes/

I shake my head and stare at the cravings edged on the table. “Anyone can write in a blog as long as they have access to the internet. That doesn’t make anyone a writer, really. You know that. If I had a strong following, sure, maybe I could say I’m an author of sorts. Even so, I don’t think I could call myself a journalist at the point I’m at right now. Being a journalist would be okay. I don’t find anything wrong with that. Basically, that’s what being a good blogger is, writing articles for the masses to read. If the topics were enticing, it would be kind of fun. Nevertheless, what I write in my blog cannot be considered journalism, by any stretch of the imagination.”

It’s your turn to shake your head at me. You take a swig of your coffee and emphatically set it down. “Did you take one of those writer tests online?” I nod. “Did any of them say you weren’t a writer?” I shake my head. “Do you like writing?”

“Of course, I do. I’m just not all that good at it and probably never will be.” I sigh.

“Maybe you need to explore what type of writing you really and truly are happy doing. It could be you’re on the verge of the kind of writing that suits you perfectly but because you won’t get off the treadmill you, evidently, are on, you aren’t recognizing it.” You sit giving me a canny look as you cup both hands around your mug and sip the brew.

“I sure can’t be a reporter, not with my mobility issues. And the thought of writing a tech. book makes me cringe.” I case the shop and, finally, find a clock. “I’ll need to get going in a few minutes.” I take a gulp of my coffee.

You reach into your bag and bring out a notepad and pen. “Do me a favor and check out this site.” You write http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/. “There’s an article there listing thirty types of writing that aren’t associated with writing a fictional book.”

I stare at the note, then smile. “Thanks.”

§

Have you ever been balked by your own writing to the point where you feel you can’t go forward?

“It’s a lack of clarity that creates chaos and frustration. Those emotions are poison to any living goal.” ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

 

Write Wherever… Whatever…

First, let me say this post for the second week of the month is supposed to be about me personally in some way, something preferably not related to writing. This week’s post is supposed to be designed so you, the reader know me, the entire person behind the tap, tap, tap on the keyboard. Be that as it may, I felt–do feel–this subject will reveal something about my personality and my daily life.

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Write Wherever... Whatever...
by Asheboro Public Library
https://www.flickr.com/photos/asheborolibrary/

A few weeks ago, I received a newsletter in my email inbox from David Duhr, one of the two founders of WriteByNight. He suggested I try writing in some way that would be unfamiliar to me to get the juices flowing.

Each and every day I sit down at my PC with my first mug of coffee, banging on the keyboard doing battle with my WiP, crafting a blog post, writing a comment on someone else’s blog, or scratching out an email to an online friend. My rear end is firmly in the chair during the day except for housecleaning, quick meals, appointments, minute exercises, and, of course, bathroom breaks.

David proposed I try writing differently. To be sure, my line of thinking went straight to where I physically am. This comfy chair is molded to my butt, after all.

Well, I do have a laptop I’m neglecting with some remorse, although not enough to leave my chair. I could bring it out from under the bed and set it up on the kitchen table where the light streams in from the deck’s sliding door. However, I’d have to wait for the gizmo to sync with my WiP folder at Dropbox. That may take only a couple of minutes, or it could take hours. The extra natural light would be sensational, though. I do hesitate nevertheless because I doubt the height of the table and chairs in the kitchen are going to put my fingers at the right angle for ultimate use on the keyboard.

Doubtless, there’s the spiral notebook and pen I could always divert to, which would give me the freedom to sit in more unusual places. I used to have pretty penmanship. Due to being left-handed, my slant goes the opposite of the way it should be. I position my paper so the top is to my right instead of to my left. My handwriting was small–dinky, in fact–but precise. I wrote longhand all the time before I was introduced to the personal computer. The thought of using a typewriter would furrow my eyebrows and vulgar words would spill out of my mouth. The hassle of having to set up the damn thing was something I didn’t want to endeavor. Nowadays, I cringe at the prospect of longhand because my penmanship has become scrawls that even I can’t read at times. I still write out the greetings for Christmas cards every year but I screw up at least five of them through the process. The ones that are sent out do not have that pretty handwriting. It rates as being legible at best.

It did dawn on me that I could get so foreign as to go outside the home altogether. Take my laptop or spiral and pen to the local library, for instance. Except for the height of chairs and tables, and the disgrace of my handwriting, the library would probably be inspirational. It would be quiet, yet give me something new to look at when I mull over on what to put down next. This is plausible if I can get a ride. The car husband and I have is a stick-shift. There isn’t any way I can work with that because of the disability. I’m mulling this over, finding the solution to the one hang-up with this idea.

Indeed, David wasn’t just referring to the physical aspect of writing. I write prose. I love stringing words along to spawn thought, concept, opinion, or story. I want to be elegant at this, which, of course, I’m not.

David suggested trying an alternate form of writing. The mere conjecture of me being able to write a poem is inconceivable to me. Sure, I wrote poems when I was in high school. Disgusting free-verse garbage about war and prejudice. Looking back at those, they didn’t say anything worth recounting in any way. Prose would have been so much better.

I don’t know the first thing about writing a play, whether it be screen or otherwise. Yes, I’m sure I could find a class to take to bring me up to snuff–kind of anyway, but I have zero interest in this type of writing.

Other writers have advised writing in a different genre in their blog posts. This has caused me to pause and consider, although I haven’t even come close to deciding which genre I should try.

I know I should try something altered from the normal hollow I know I’m saddle to somehow. After all, I keep on telling everyone I like change. Diversity is my buddy. It keeps me from falling asleep from boredom. This shouldn’t be difficult for me. Yet…

If you still can’t guess, the revision isn’t going well. I’m set on changing the entire story from first-person to third. This is taking up so much time and effort that is boring me almost to the point of tears. As I do this stodgy work, all I see is me telling a story. I only get glimpses of showing it. Ugh! Before I can even consider anyone else reading it, I’m going to have to rewrite the whole thing. Yes, I know first novels are like this. Nevertheless, I think I’m going to have to do this like a relay race, a snail-slow relay race.

In between this ugly WiP, I’m going to start sketching characters for a new story and make a determination as to what the new genre for me will be. Additionally, I’m thinking about actually taking one of my best online friend’s advice by trying my skill at essays. [Thank you, Tess. ]

Has this post unmasked some aspects of my personality? There are times when I’m extremely mulish. It takes me a while to be insightful but I do get there more often than not if given the time. Sometimes I’m self-loathing.

I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within. ~Gustave Flaubert – QUOTES ABOUT WRITING

 

Assails

Assails
Image provided by Moonlight 徐宇峰
https://www.flickr.com/photos/9706990/

It’s three days until New Year’s Day. Have any of you made a list of resolutions to work on during the coming months? I’ve never been one to make such a foolish list because, for me, it would jinxes anything I want to accomplish. Yes, I’m one of those who firmly believe in hexes, especially the ones I seem to put on myself.

This last year has been sorely disappointing for any advancement in my writing. I had such high hopes for this past year. I had been so certain I could get that first draft done and get, at least, halfway through the second one. As it was, I barely made it to the beginning of the middle of the first one before finding myself beating my head against a formidable wall of indecision,anxiety, and apprehension. Only through great stubbornness have I sat at this desk to try to go on every day.

My health problems these last ten months just added to the mental torture I insisted on flinging upon myself. Who would have thought as a scantily senior, I’d begin to suffer with the digestive problems my mother didn’t have until her late eighties? All I can do is be prepared to cope with them, which, I’m finding, isn’t any small matter. One thing is for sure. It wants to cut into my writing time.

At any given time over the past twelve months, I could have taken a break. I could have concentrated on the house, my relationships with ones I love, made more of an effort to make friends with the outside kitties, anything but keep on struggling at the WiP. My health might have improved, or, at least, learned more ways of how to cope with it better.

I tried conversing with other writers about these disputes I’ve been having with my WiP. All had excellent suggestions and advice. Somehow, though, nothing they were offering to me seem to fit with the tribulations glaring at me from the screen. I even tried taking bits and piece of what I was given, trying to weave a cure for the multiple dilemmas I saw before me.

You’d think I’d give up, right? I just couldn’t, still can’t. I’m obsessed, possessed, bewitched. What gets me is that it’s all a self-made plight. Maybe I need some time in a loony bin.

I’m hoping this next year will be more amicable. I’m still fixated on writing every single day. However, I’m becoming rather jaded with this WiP that’s been brutalizing me for months. Slivers of other stories are dancing in my head, sometimes calling to me in a sing-song voice.

No resolutions though. I stay firm on my belief of ill winds.

§

“Writing is really just a matter of writing a lot, writing consistently and having faith that you’ll continue to get better and better. Sometimes, people think that if they don’t display great talent and have some success right away, they won’t succeed. But writing is about struggling through and learning and finding out what it is about writing itself that you really love.” ― Laura Kasischke

 

In the Mood

In the Mood
Image provided by Universal Pops
https://www.flickr.com/photos/universalpops/

No, I’m not discussing the song, “In the Mood for Love”. What I want to explore is what gets us in the mood to write. This can be a vast subject seeing that depending who you are and what you like can vary beyond a person’s imagination. I thought it would be good to start with the basics though.

Maybe the best way to handle this topic is for me to tell you what works for me and, hopefully, you will tell me your strategies in the comment section.

Random or Special Places

I guess I need the special place. The smallest bedroom in my house is converted into “the computer room”. Although I’d like to write in other rooms like the kitchen or living room, when I do that, I feel my surroundings are strange and distracting.

I bought a laptop just for that purpose, switching rooms once in a while. So far, the only other room that doesn’t disconcert me is the back bedroom. Maybe it’s because it’s cooler in there, which must be good for the laptop. Right?

Noisy or Quiet Surrounding

Kristi faithfully visits a coffee shop in Texas to do her writing. She takes her laptop and tries to snatch the same table every time. Somehow all the commotion with people talking works as white noise for her.

I know other writers who have music going while they write. They tell me they need it to set the mood or for the rhythm of their writing. I understand what they’re saying, but it won’t work for me.

I wouldn’t get any writing done if I tries to pound on the keys in a public place or with music blasting. Even a library gets me feeling a little daunted when it comes to writing, yet it sure is quiet there. The library intimidation could be that I’ve not spent a lot of time in one since the turn of the century. I use the resources on the internet now. Maybe I just need to reintroduce myself to the building.

Until that time comes, I need utter silence in my environment while I try to weave a tale. This can be troublesome at times. My husband loves noise. This wouldn’t be such a grave issue except “the computer room” doesn’t have a door. I’m not sure that would do much good anyway though because one of my cats, Marble, would continuously scratch at the door until it was opened. Whenever my husband goes someplace without me and I know he’ll be gone for more that a half hour, I try to use as much of that time for writing.

What Items are in Reach?

Jacqui has two monitors for her computer. She also has a personal library of books she uses when she writes. Her desk is so clean and tidy. Judging from the pictures I’ve seen, she’s well organized.

My collection of items to use while writing is minuscule compared to Jacqui’s arrangement. I have a traveling mug that will hold three regular mugs of coffee. There’s no way that sucker is tipping over either because it’s got a weight in the bottom of it. I have yet to have liquid all over the keyboard. I have a small bin to the right of the monitor that stores my books about writing. The plastic tray that sits in front of the bin holds Advil, post-note pads, a dinky spiral, and a flashlight. I keep my pens in a McDonald’s Happy Meal glass.

Weather

The weather, for the most part doesn’t seem to affect my desire to write one way or the other. I’ve known writers that have a hard time during the glorious days of summer or can’t seem to find that groove in the winter. Sometimes, but not often, the wind will play havoc with my ability to write. I wish it would have the opposite effect on me.

Without these things, I have a hard time getting in the mood to write. Sometimes I wonder why I even bothered getting the laptop when I rarely use it. Yes, I know, I should get more adventurous.

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Now, even with all this said, I know some writers wait until they’re in the mood to write. I have a hard time understanding this logic. You could be waiting for years for that mood to hit you just right. Some of the best writing I’ve done has been when I’ve had to insist that I get my butt in the seat and just start hammering in the keys.

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What gets you in the mood to write?

“There are times when I think that the ideal library is composed solely of reference books. They are like understanding friends—always ready to meet your mood, always ready to change the subject when you have had enough of this or that.” ― J. Donald Adams

 

Assessing Time

Assessing Time
Image provided by skyler817
https://www.flickr.com/photos/sky817/

Back when I was in high school writing short [very short] stories and poems in a spiral notebook while sitting on my bed Indian style, I wrote until I had nothing more to say or until I heard my mom yell for help in fixing the evening meal. I didn’t give one inkling of thought to how many minutes equaled a “good session of writing”.

Most of my poems were free verse with three parts to them. Sometimes I’d write at feverish speed as if I might forget the complete thought before I got it all down. There were instances when this only took five minutes at the most, and then I was done. I’d open the bedroom door and go spend time watching TV with my brother or go offer a hand in the kitchen.

Other times, I’d painfully struggle to get those poems out of me. I’d have to write the first stanza, stare out the window for I don’t know how long, and try for the next one. Those poems could take me days to write.

The short stories were done much the same way, though I always had some idea of where I was going with them. I knew where I wanted to start and end.

No place during those years did I worry about what constituted a “good writing session”. I just wrote. When did all of this change?

Life got busy and complicated until I was in my late forties. At that time, I decided to take a correspondence course through Writer’s Digest. The class was based on the assumption that I knew grammar up past the level of high school, which I did. It was designed to get the creative juices flowing and teach me how to submit my work.

Within all those pages and lessons, there wasn’t one indication, tip, or hint about how long a “good writing session” should be. I can only surmise that I should write until I was done for that day, that morning, that afternoon, or whatever.

It was in 2013 that I felt the urge to get serious about writing again and hopefully stick with it for more that three or four years. I subscribed to a hoard of blogs owned by writers in the hopes of learning the finer points of the craft/art.

Most of the blogs I followed talked about the writing process, writer’s block, and gave prompts and exercises. A little over a year ago though, I’ve seen a shift in a few of these blogs. I’m not sure I agree with the switch. I’ve come to know these bloggers and think of them as reliable for information, yet I’m reading something, not every time of course, about what establishes a “good writing session”.

Although good habits are bound to make life easier in many ways, when it comes to most activity requiring creativity, some of these habits can be too restrictive, making it almost, if not completely, impossible for a person to be imaginative or resourceful.

I tried taking the advice I was reading, but found myself getting stuck as if I was thrown into a bin of glue. I’d sit myself down at the time I had deemed to start my session and begin to write. Within twenty minutes at the most, I’d find my muse refusing to cooperate and flying off into space. The damn thing wouldn’t come back until the following day, and that was only if I was lucky.

Should writers have a strict schedule? Maybe some need it. Maybe some were raised with rigorous rules set down by their parents and have kept up the habit. However, I don’t see how this should apply to every writer. Many writers are the free spirit type. They may not start a project until three in the morning, work frantically for a half hour, and go to bed and sleep until noon. This does not mean they’re lazy. It means they have an unconventional life style.

I consider the above example a little extreme, but I’m certain some writers work that way. I was brought up with rigid rules: set meal times, set bedtimes, laundry day, meatloaf on Tuesdays, and so forth. I only make meat loaf about four times each year now so I think I’ve moved away from the do-or-die schedule.

Most days I want to write as soon as the house is quiet in the morning. I sleep regular hours when I can sleep so morning is when I have the most brain energy. However, while husband watches sports channels in the evening, I’m known to sit my butt in the chair to pound on the keys furiously for a couple of hours. Still, I don’t have a set number of minutes I gauge.

I write until I feel done.

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How do you feel about writing sessions?

“Dance above the surface of the world. Let your thoughts lift you into creativity that is not hampered by opinion.” ― Red Haircrow