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

 

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

 

What’s With My Laptop?!

What's With My Laptop?!

Two weeks ago I stated I was going to go beyond this corner in what I call “the computer room” where my ugly orange pressboard desk and my comfortable padded chair sits. I didn’t think it would be this hard to think of other things to write about. It’s clear that I’m obsessed with writing.

Back in July, my husband bought me a laptop saying it was my birthday present, which, at the time, was two months away. We went to Walmart thinking I could get one relatively cheap there.

There it sat, first in the line of many others, an Acer. The first computer I ever bought was an Acer, way back in 1996. At the time, I wasn’t online. I guess I could have been but I was oblivious to the idea. Chances are it would have been quite a hassle back then anyway. Anyway, I thought it was duly appropriate that my first laptop would also be an Acer. Walmart isn’t what it’s cracked up to be though. It didn’t have any in stock and they wouldn’t let me take the one on display. They didn’t even give me a rain check. Walmart sucks.

We went to Staples. All of their laptops were actually tablets with the keyboard you can attach. I wanted a laptop. Besides, their tablets are way out of my price range. Can you imagine paying over $800 for something that wasn’t really what you wanted anyway? I couldn’t.

I ended up calling Dell. I should have done this in the first place because my current PC is a Dell. By buying another device from them, I got a few bonuses in services. I was an idiot for wasting time at Walmart and Staples.

It took me a while to figure out how to get the wireless to work. I still am having problems syncing it with my PC. Again, it’s my own fault. I changed how verification is done before I thought it all the way through. Trying to find a time when I’m extremely calm and alert so I can get this done has been impossible lately. The verification comes by way of a phone call giving me a random four-digit number. This wouldn’t be hard at all if I had two hands to use or I didn’t have short-term memory loss. Even getting rid of one of the assets and I could still handle it, no problem–I think. As it is though, I must be at my very best mentally. However, there’s no such thing these days. Therefore, I can’t sync my two devices. In addition, I think I’m going to have to call Dell anyway on this because I can’t see all files at DropBox when on my laptop. I dread the thought. Me and virtual help get rather confusing, both for me and the technician on the other end.

I’m still stuck in my little corner when I write on my WiP. I keep on wondering if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Would I be more inclined to write more if I could go outside on the carport to write? Out there I know I’d have old Jake, our oldest “outdoor” cat keeping me company. There’s a possibility that I’d probably have Wilma, Ashes, and Ciders there too. In my little corner, I have Miya, our oldest “indoor” cat snoozing away on the floor just in reason for a love pat every once in a while.

Where would I get the most inspired writing done?

To tell the truth, I think I might be better staying where I am. I don’t have to move anything to get set up. My hot coffee and bottled water are just a room away. My books on writing sit in a weaved bin on my ugly desk where I can reach them with ease. I just need to get husband moving on helping me make my corner a more desirable place to be.

This doesn’t mean my laptop was a dumb buy. I do use it. There are times when husband is home and yet I want to be absolutely certain I’m completely alone while I write. This is usually when I’m adding to my private journal. I go to the back bedroom where my laptop sits under the bed. I pull it out and place it on a stadium blanket that’s been folded several times. I stuff pillows behind my back while sitting on the bed half Indian-style, and hammer at the keys.

Maybe my hassles are because I’m not thinking outside the box.

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~Sylvia Plath

 

Out of Sync

Image provided by DJ Lein https://www.flickr.com/photos/djlein/
Image provided by DJ Lein
https://www.flickr.com/photos/djlein/

I know. I missed the last coffee clutch. I could tell you I was busy working on my WiP, which wouldn’t be a lie. I could tell you I’ve been painting stain onto a piece of plywood I’m going to be putting on my desk. That wouldn’t be a lie either.

But… the reason I wasn’t there to have coffee with you is because I’m slightly out of sync.

I’m in that mode where I’m waiting for something, yet I can’t figure out what that is.

I, almost literally, pull myself out of the funk to continue the work on the character sketches. I want such deep POV that the reader is going to feel like she [and he even though most readers will be shes] is right there in the story next to the character that has top billing for that scene.

The second I get up to get more coffee or another bottle of water, my mind goes into that foggy mode again. I sit back down, yank myself out of the mist, and work on the settings for my book. The main location is a town I wouldn’t mind living in, close to another place I lived in that I still miss a great deal. Of course, working on this can throw me right back into that stupid funk.

My evenings are spent painting and washing out the brush. I have the plywood on a large piece of plastic in the living room with 4” by 4” four-feet-long railroad wood on either size. I sit Indian style painting the stain onto the plywood while in some daydream I never remember. I, once again, come back to the real world after finishing a coat. I lay press board over it using the railroad wood to keep it off the plywood. I lay the rest of the plastic over that and tuck it in. This way Miya, Marble, and Nutty won’t be putting their paws all over the wet stain. My brain gets foggy again as I run the warm water on and through the paint brush. During my mind’s vacation, I’m rubbing the bristles to help get as much of the stain out as possible. It’s the oily feeling on my fingers that brings me back to reality. I have to wash my hands with dishwashing soap to get the stain off my hand and scour the sink with a Brillo pad too.

Where does my mind go? What is it in my subconscience that has me so fascinated? I’d like to think that the darker side of me is inserting notes that will help me write this book. I do believe that I do have a place in me where the shadows are long, inky, and transcendent. They don’t necessarily produce nightmares or evil thoughts. The shadows are just hiding places where thoughts I, for one reason or another, do not bring out into reality.

To bungle my days even more, the laptop is resisting synchronizing with my PC. I’ll have to get in touch with the cable company about that.

Being a realist in my daily life, should insure these thoughts stay hidden. However, to be what I consider a decent writer, I must force them out. Could this be the reason for all the murkiness going on with me right now? I’d like to think it is and that soon it will dispel.

Do you ever find yourself in a fog or out of sync?

Knowing our personal mission further enhances the flow of mysterious coincidences as we are guided toward our destinies. First we have a question, then dreams, daydreams, and intuitions lead us toward the answers, which usually are synchronistically provided by the wisdom of another human being. ~James Redfield

 

#weekendcoffeeshare: The Groove and Laptops

Diana at Part Time Monster hosts a weekly link-up, where you can submit a link to your post and browse everything else that’s been submitted, or you can use the #weekendcoffeeshare hashtag on Twitter or Facebook.

#weekendcoffeeshare: Quirks
Image provided by Dave White
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrdestructicity/

The coffee shop is crowded today. There isn’t any point in even going inside. We hop back into our vehicles and head on over to Wal-Mart where there’s a small snack counter with seating in one of the front corners of their building. No one is in there except the clerk at the counter.

(Your dialogue is in purple. My dialogue is in green.)

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The coffee isn’t quite as good but there are free creamer and sugar packs. There aren’t any free goodies so we splurge for donut sticks.

Everyone must be shopping at Big Lots this morning. I almost canceled this morning.

You peer at me as you stir the sugar into your coffee.

Don’t like me anymore? Was there something going on?

I like you fine; you know that. I’ve had a busy week. And all of it was my own doing. I was grappling with my writing the week before, actually for the past few weeks. This time last week it was disgusting. I’d write maybe one hundred fifty words, maybe up to two hundred, and then nothing, absolute void in the brain. I tried doing some chores, tried reading, even tried exercise. Nothing was working. My brain kept on taking unauthorized vacations.

You laugh, having to cover your mouth because you took a bite of donut. The French vanilla creamer is okay but not terrific. Still, I sip the coffee anyway and open the film surrounding my donut stick.

Sorry, but you are funny. Why are you having these problems all of asudden?

I think that it’s a case of me trying to be a pantser when I’m de facto a plotter–even if my stories are character-driven.

And why would this make you cancel our coffee time? Couldn’t wrap your head around it or something?

That’s what was happening a week ago. After I got home last Saturday from our coffee clutch, I wrestled with my conscience about what I wanted and what I need to do to get what I want. I read something Sharon Bonin-Pratt wrote–I don’t even remember if it was in her blog or in an email now. She said something to the effect that a writer has to figure out his/her own way of getting into the writing process; and once that’s done, the writer will get on with it. I know I have problems remembering so I need to take care of this annoyance to get what I want. The solution is sketches, summaries, and written research on anything having to do with my WiP–PERIOD.

One coffee isn’t enough for me. I pay for two more coffees, one for you and one for me, and carry them, along with more creamer and sugar packs, to our table seated against the opposite wall.

You’re still not explaining why you almost canceled.

I’m getting to it. I hid my yWriter within a folder on my Start page of Windows so I wouldn’t even consider trying to write on the story. I developed three new character sketches, did real research on the main location of the story, and wrote seven scene summaries this past week. I still have more research and character sketches to do. I need to write setting sketches, and do at least fourteen more scene summaries before I get the story out again. I’m a little hyped up about this despite how much I’d just love to tear into the story again. I got up at 5:30 yesterday  AND this morning just to work on this stuff. I debated whether I wanted to stop so I could come have coffee with you. I was in that marvelous groove.

My mouth is dry. I take in three gulps of coffee before setting the plastic mega-cup down.

This took you all week to only get this much done?

Yes. It’s the research that takes the time. I changed the location from the original. It’s now set in a place I like better even though I’ve only spent a couple of hours there, and that was several years ago. I had to go get reacquainted by going through photos at Bing. I still haven’t read everything I’ve bookmarked about the town.

How long do you think you’ll take before you’re writing the story again?

At least another week, probably more like two. I don’t want to get lost somewhere along the way again. Something else is happening that I’m hoping will help.

#weekendcoffeeshare: The Groove and LaptopsMy eyes have grown to twice their size as I wait for you to react.

What? Did you win a million dollars?

No, no. Back in May, husband offered to buy me a laptop. At the time, I didn’t think it was worthwhile to have. I was doing just fine waiting until he was off to work to do my writing in “the computer room”, our spare room. Now that I’m feeling this invigoration that is so bizarre to me, I realize I may need that quiet space when he’s home; or worse, when he’s asleep. This “computer room” of ours doesn’t have a door on it. It needs a whole new door frame before putting on a door. The other bedroom I use for sleeping when husband’s snoring is blaring is a better option. The laptop is a good idea all of asudden.

When do you get it?

It’s ordered and is supposed to be delivered by next Wednesday. I’m staying way from Hewlett-Packard. Husband’s PC is a HP and it’s a piece of crap. I opted for a Dell seeing that’s what my PC is.

Now then, what have you been doing?

Do you know how hard it is to find bicycle marathons not connected to some cause that’s overrated or shouldn’t need any more money for a while?

Seeing that I don’t ride a bike anymore, I can’t say that I do, but I’m sure you’ll tell me. Go on.

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Rules for #weekendcoffeeshare

  1. Posts should be framed as a chat over coffee or some other beverage.
  2. Posts should be current (written within the week).
  3. Links go on the link-up, not in the comments section.
  4. Comment and share each others’ posts using #weekendcoffeeshare on Facebook and Twitter.

“But this I know; the writer who possesses the creative gift owns something of which he is not always master — something that at times strangely wills and works for itself. If the result be attractive, the World will praise you, who little deserve praise; if it be repulsive, the same World will blame you, who almost as little deserve blame.” Emily Bronte