#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.”

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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

 

Worse at the Craft

As you can see, I changed the colors and head image of my blog again. My only explanation is I get bored easy. Those who subscribed to my monthly newsletter knew about this permutation last Friday. If you’d like to know of my arbitrary flashes first, sign up for this newsletter in the sidebar.

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Worse at the Craft
image by Christina Xu
https://www.flickr.com/photos/crimsonninjagirl/

Is it possible to get worse at the craft of writing?

It is said, quite often in fact, that a person can improve at whatever he or she does by practice. This means doing whatever it is repeated day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.

There was a time when I sincerely believed in this. When I was an elementary school child, I took piano lessons. I practiced every day for thirty minutes. I did get more proficient at it to the point where the nervousness of the recital was minimal. In upper elementary school going all through junior high school and senior high school, I spent hours learning how to play the flute. Not only did the anxiety of performing in front of others become infinitesimal, I also entered into local and state contests, winning a blue ribbon in various categories.

I’ve written more in the past decade than I have all those years before since grade school. Yet, when I read what I’ve written in these past ten years, my conclusion is I’ve regressed.

How can this be?

It could be I need a refresher course in the basic rules of English. My style is okay but not what I would consider terrific, by any means. I break the rules as I see fit, which may not be the best way to write. True, I read about how it’s okay to do away with some of the rules for the sake of the story but maybe I’ve gone too far. After all, the rules were created for a purpose. Moreover, I could take a course for free. There are several websites offering free basic grammar classes, yet I’ve chosen to ignore them.

It could be I’ve become so accustomed to writing like I speak. My speech is full of jargon and clichés. Of course, this means my writing is full of this junk too. So many people I have contact with are writers and 95% of that contact is through the internet, which means my language is also tarnished with terms that aren’t usually read in the books I prefer to read and write. Yet, looking at my WiP, I readily see these terms that, I’m quite sure, would turn the stomachs of readers. The people I converse with by phone or in person are usually family. I don’t adjust my speech for them.

Yes, I do believe a person can become worse at the craft of writing. The dissatisfaction of my efforts is enormous these days. The impediment my laziness has caused is abominable.

My solution is to go ahead with a free writing course. I’ve signed up to take a course at openlearning entitled Scribble: Writing for New Writers. It’s self-paced so it doesn’t interfere with anything. I know some of the lessons will be repetitive for me, so probably a little tedious. Still, I’m hoping to unlearn bad habits I’ve gotten into during these years.

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How would you judge your writing skills these days?

To be a writer is to sit down at one’s desk in the chill portion of every day, and to write; not waiting for the little jet of the blue flame of genius to start from the breastbone – just plain going at it, in pain and delight. To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again, and once more, and over and over….
John Hersey [from THE BRAINSTORM GALLERY]

 

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#amwriting – It was Him? [part 2]

This is my fourth post of the month. Each month, this post will be allotted to the Twitter hashtag, #amwriting. In this post, I’m continuing my story, ‘It was Him?’. Hope you enjoy it. 🙂

Did you miss part 1 on this story?

[part 1]

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It was Him? [part 2]
Image provided by Josu Mendicute
https://www.flickr.com/photos/supermendikute/
Officer Tanner was a big burly man with clear blue eyes and coppery wavy hair. Sitting at a desk with its side next to the window, he gave the impression of being gargantuan. The steno chair seemed tiny in comparison to his large frame in dark blue. The pen in his paw-like hand looked like it could belong to a child.

Caitlin nervously walked up to his desk. “Officer Tanner?”

He averted his eyes from his work and gave her a grin. “Can I help you?” Before she could answer, he gestured for her to sit in the straight chair next to his desk.

“Sir, something kind of frightening happened to me this morning.” She squirmed in her seat folding and unfolding her hands several times.

He pulled a piece of paper from the side drawer. “Okay, your name, address, and telephone number. I’ll also need some identification.”

She gave him her stats and then, retold the story she had told the first cop. He let her say all of it before he prompted her for more information.

“You didn’t see anyone next to your car earlier or as you were walking out to it?”

“I looked outside when I got up this morning. All I saw was snow and my car along with a few other cars parked against the curb. No one was out there.”

“And when you walked out the door…?

“I wasn’t looking really. I was watching where I was stepping. The stairs were covered with snow and I didn’t know if ice was underneath; there was.” Her eyes rolled upward as if she was in disbelief. “But once I got past the stairs, I didn’t see anyone. I wasn’t very observant, though.” Her cheeks turned a soft pink as she continued to twiddle her fingers in her lap.

“Do you know if anyone is angry with you?”

She furrowed her eyebrows. “I don’t think so. At least, not angry like this. What did this person mean be ‘You’re next?’”

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out here. Did you take someone’s parking spot?” She shook her head so he went on. “Did you get something someone else wanted–for instance, at work?”

She shook her head again but stopped. “This is probably nothing but I did get moved to another line in the factory. The woman who worked across the belt from me at that first line gave me a dirty look. The thing is, I thought the look was directed the supervisor who was standing behind me.”

“I’ll check it out but your assumption was probably what it was. Is there anyone in your apartment building I should check on?”

“No, I think I get along with everyone in the building.”

Tanner indicated that he didn’t have any more questions for her and assured her he’d be driving by her apartment on a regular basis for a while.

Driving into work, she reviewed the questions Tanner had asked. Did she know someone who was enough off his or her rocker to threaten her like this? Did she do something unintentionally to set off a lunatic?

She was caught up in her own world of problems as she walked down the narrow hall to the women’s locker room at the leather factory. So much so, she almost ran into her boss head-on.

“Why are you late, Caitlin?” Her supervisor, Mr. Adams crinkled his eyebrows and gave her a black look.

“Oops! Sorry, Mr. Adams. I’m late because I was at the police station. Some idiot left a threatening message on my windshield this morning.” She looked straight into his eyes, sizing up the possibility of the culprit being him.

“And why didn’t you call?”

She diverted her eyes to her purse to find her locker key. “I should have called. I’m sorry. Are you firing me?”

“No, but you have to be more responsible. You aren’t a kid, you know.” He walked up the hall not giving her a chance to respond.

Once at her locker, she resumed her deliberations concerning Tanner’s questions. The threat didn’t come from her boss; that she was certain of. Did she know her neighbors in her building all that well?

This continues on next month…

Inspired Prompt:

S/he walked out to find a message scraped into the frost on the windshield. —Today’s Author

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Don’t be afraid to give me feedback on this story.

“All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies. Such is the basic goodwill contract made the moment we pick up a work of fiction.” —Steve Almond, WD

Short note: With another month just around the corner, I’ll be changing my header image and my colors again. Yes, I know it’s crazy but I’m bored out of my skull with what I have now.

Also, if you’d like to read my posts just once per month, sign up for my newsletter.

 

Secretive Writing

Secretive Writing
Image provided by ohorella
https://www.flickr.com/photos/islandsoft/

Are you one of those writers who can write almost any place? You find it easy to get your muse going in a coffee shop, at the mall, or while riding the bus? I’m jealous. I’d be so distracted by my irrational suspicions of someone looking over my shoulder.

I didn’t have this qualm when I was younger. During my school years, I usually sat in the first row not giving any thought to what the kid behind me was doing. When I was in my twenties, there were occasions where I’d plop my butt down at McDonald’s with a Coke and write for an hour or two in a personal journal, never thinking someone might see what I’m writing.

Now I find it hard to write when my husband is at home, even if he’s in a different room. Where did all of this covertness come from? Have I gotten more insecure in my old age? Or could it be I’ve gotten more stubborn about what I want–quiet? Or is it that I can’t get to that space where I’m ultimately comfortable writing? In truth, I think it’s a little of all.

It used to be my physical challenges were just that, challenges. As the years have gone by, these struggles have gotten a bit more severe making me apprehensive in more situations. Sure, there’s usually a kind person about whose willing to help me out, but I’m an independent soul, always have been. Me asking for help is like you asking someone to break your arm are for you. The thought of not being self-efficient is a pill I’m having problems swallowing. So instead of taking the risk of needing help at the local McDonald’s or coffee shop, I do all my writing at home where I know I can maneuver under my own power without assistance.

Well, that explains a little bit, but still, this need for solitude still gnaws at me.

I want my writing to be my own. I don’t want suggestions about what my story should be about. This isn’t to say I don’t want selected people to tell me where they think I’m flubbing up, although, as I stated, these people are ones I select. They’re special to me because I respect and trust their knowledge, opinions, and intentions. So far, there are only two people I feel this way about. If I ever get past a second draft, I’ll be calling on these two for critiques. Until then I’m held fast in keeping my “baby” with me.

Does this say I’m bullheaded? Probably. I come by it naturally.

My writing space is far from ideal. Sometimes I get so irked at this cramped corner in the computer room that I go browsing through the pages of the HGTV site to dream about my perfect writing space. Of course, HGTV doesn’t have what I really want. That look is only in my head. Anyway, what I have is barely sufficient, giving me feelings of inadequacy as a writer. I know, it shouldn’t make a difference. Tell that to the emotional side of my brain. It isn’t listening to me.

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And maybe that’s what it all boils down to. I’m secretive because I don’t think too much of myself as a writer. Oh sure, some of you will say I’m doing just fine with my abilities at the craft. I’d love to agree with you but when I look at what I write… It just doesn’t cut it.

Because I’m so stubborn, though, I’ll continue to pound on the keys. My preoccupation with it won’t allow me to do any less.

One of these days I’ll break through the wool of my cowardice and show what I work on so diligently.

“You have to stop and freeze the moment,” he told me I had told her. “You have to make yourself remember by repeating it in your head over and over. You have to write to preserve your sanity.” ― Jenny Hubbard, Paper Covers Rock