#weekendcoffeeshare: New Momentum Tactics

#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.]

§

If we were to have coffee…

We are back at The Sisters’ Diner. Although Starbuck’s was great fun, the price of a cup of coffee there is a little steep. The diner does have flavored creamers, plus they have tea too. Yes, I have switched over to tea.

After the waitress takes our orders, you ask, “Why did you order tea? I thought you were a die-hard fan of coffee.”

New Momentum Tactics“As you know, I have been fighting digestive issues for some time now. I read an article about the benefits of tea, and especially of green tea, although regular tea is supposed to help too. That is what got me going on the tea kick. As it turns out, I like the effect of the caffeine in tea better than the caffeine in coffee. I still have a little trouble with my digestion but it is nothing like it was before”

You give me a look of disbelief.

Once our orders are in front of us, you doctor your coffee with the French vanilla creamer while I butter a small sourdough roll.

“Was it one of those articles on the internet?” you ask.

I shrug my shoulders. “Yes, but it was at the site WebMD so I figured I could trust what I was reading. Sure, the caffeine is stronger but it also does not make me irritable like coffee sometimes does.” You cock your head slightly sideways as you eat a buttered croissant. “Besides, tea has become one of my new momentum tactics.”

“Tactics for what?”

“I decided I need to make more of an effort to do more of the preliminary work for writing a novel. In other words, I am making a full-blown attempt at being a plotter.” You roll your eyes at me. “Yes, I know, again. Nonetheless, I am determined to write a novel all the way through to that final draft–that is, before sending it off to an editor.”

“So you think you are going to make it all the way through this time, uh?” I grin at you. “And what makes this time different?”

I really cannot blame you for your skepticism. I have one finished first draft and three unfinished ones in addition to the one I am tackling. “For one thing, one of my tactics is to do a better job on the profiles of the main characters. I am using two questionnaires per character, plus I am writing out each profile in prose. I will be doing a questionnaire and a prose for each scene too. The whole idea is to know the story pretty much completely before I even write it.” I take a couple of gulps of my tea. “On top of this, I have strapped a pillow to the back of my swivel chair so I sit more upright when I type. This way I should be able to be at the keyboard a little longer per session.”

“Maybe it will work. Especially the idea about the pillow. You do sound eager anyway.” You sit across from me with your cup close to your lips as if you are going to take a sip at any moment.

“I have already done a lot of research too. Oh, and I am going into a genre that is, in point, foreign to me–historical/paranormal.” I look at you straight on waiting to get your react.

You look out into the middle of the room with your eyes not seeming to be fixed on anything in particular. Finally, you take that sip of coffee and face me. “And what is the point of changing genre?”

“I think I am bored with what I have been writing so I changed it up.” I am happy with this choice I have made. I want you to be pleased with it too but only if you truly believe it is right for me.

You give me a noncommittal smile.

The rest of our chat revolved around hushed judgments about the other customers in the diner. We make remarks about how a man is dressed, how a woman drinks her cup of whatever it is, and how a child is being so unruly. We do not know any of them and, of course, we would not say these things to these people. They are just little bits of perception that we share.

§

Quick note: I have a Facebook Page now. If you are so inclined, stop by and click on ‘like’.

“Life always begins with one step outside of your comfort zone.” ― Shannon L. Alder

 

#amwriting – It was Him? [part 3]

As my fourth post of the month, this post is attributed the Twitter hashtag, #amwriting. It is the third post of my story, “It was Him?”.

Did you miss part 1 or part 2 of this story?

[part 1] [part 2]

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It was Him? [part 3]

All during her shift as she bagged and sealed the ingredients and folded the ends of the boxes for the next person in line, Caitlin tried to figure out who would give her a message like that. You’re next. Next for what? Is the person going to blow my head off? Or is he going to beat me up? What? Maybe it isn’t a he, but a she.

By the time she got home, she was exhausted from the dread and suspense rolling around in her head all day. Unexpectedly, her landline rang. She tripped over the corner of her overstuffed chair landing face first onto the hardwood floor. “Augh!”

From there she crawled to the in-table where the phone continued to jangle. “Uhmm… Hello.”

“This is Officer Tanner. Just calling to make sure you made it home safe.”

I was safe until you called. “Thanks. Yes, I’m safe.”

“We haven’t found the culprit but we’re looking. Be sure to lock up. Have a good night.”

“You too. Goodbye.” She hung up the phone and, pulling herself up, sat haphazardly on the smaller chair. Abruptly, she jumped up and retrieved paper and pen from the first kitchen counter drawer and sat at her beat-up kitchen table.

She wrote down everyone she knew in her building, including the superintendent, Mr. Hall. Looking at the list, she tried to determine who she might have pissed off unintentionally.

She had raised her voice at Candy because of her stupid dog. The dog had gotten away from her and gone bouncing down the stairs tripping Caitlin up as she was climbing to her floor. Candy hadn’t seemed bothered at all. She said, “Sorry,” and grabbed the leash yanking the pooch to her side.

When the Mr. Hall knocked on her door the other night, he informed her she’d need to find another place to park next week because of road repair. Caitlin’s response was, “You got to be kidding! Where am I going to find a parking place that isn’t five miles away?”

As he sauntered down the stairs, he said, “Not my problem.”

She had countered, “Thanks a lot, lazy butt.”

Could he be angry enough to threaten a tenant?

She dutifully locked her door to the outside hall and trudged to the bedroom hoping to sleep.

The next morning Caitlin walked out of her apartment and locked her door a smidgen earlier, and trotted down the stairs. She knocked on Mr. Hall’s door and stood so he could see her clearly through the peephole. He threw open his door.

“What do you need, Cat?” His robe was cinched at just below his waist. Tuffs of hair decorated his chest in the middle. She could see the top of his white underwear.

“Are you mad at me?”

“You knock at this hour to ask me that?” He gave her a perplexing stare.

“Someone wrote a message in ice on my windshield yesterday morning. It was kind of threatening. At least, to me it was.”

Mr. Hall began to chuckle. Before long it was an all-out belly laugh. She stood in the hall utterly baffled. “What’s so darn funny?”

He leaned his arm against the door frame to get the laughter under control. “Cat, you’re next.”

A horrified look crossed her face. She slowly backed away from Mr. Hall’s door.

“Don’t go, Cat. I wrote that the night before. You’re next to get your walls painted. Remember the note I gave to you a month ago? You need to find someplace to be for three days while I get your apartment painted. I’ll have your windows open for ventilation.”

At first, she could tell she was losing her balance. She shifted from one foot to the other until her head cleared. “So I’m next to get my walls done, right?”

“Right. In two weeks, the painters will be in your place stinking it up. You need to find someplace to stay.” She frowned. I’m being thrown out twice! “When you come back from your job this afternoon, stop by so you can decide the color.”

“Oh! I have a choice?” Her index finger moved up to her mouth as she thought.

Mr. Hall grinned. He said goodbye and closed his door.

THE END

§

Please don’t feel shy about giving me feedback.

“…What happens is of little significance compared with the stories we tell ourselves about what happens. Events matter little, only stories of events affect us.” ― Rabih Alameddine, The Hakawati

 

#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.]

§

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

 

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.

§

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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