My Crazy Inventions

In certain areas of life, a helpful contraption, machine, process, method, etc. to take care of some of those pesky problems we have to face would be immensely helpful. I frequently come up with great ideas for inventions, and if there was actually any chance I could make them, those patents would make me a fortune. Here are some recent ideas:

  • Pre-sliced tomatoes that stay fresh.
  • Something that instantly removes cilantro (or other herbs) leaves from stems. Comes with an attachment to chop or mince the leaves if desired.
  • A device that will instantly transport all bugs out of your house. Where does it send them? I don’t care, as long as I never have to look at any of those many-legged brain-snatching alien bugs again.
  •  A real magic 8 ball. You don’t get to see the future, but it will accurately tell you if something will turn out ok in the end.

I actually think the bug thing is the one I’d most want to be real, but of course this is quite ridiculous. But just imagine. No more fruit flies, instant spider removal, no need to deal with creepy centipede-y icky things. You just press a button and they’re gone. I mean, their natural habitat is outside, so really, it would be helping.

If you see any of these inventions out in the world, please sue the creator for me or alert me, as these are all my intellectual property. ;)

I have had many story ideas in my life

Hi, I’m a writer. I thought it was prudent to state the obvious at this time.

Not too long ago, but long enough that I don’t remember when it was, I decided that it would be a good idea to keep a list of all my story ideas in a word document. It’s in google docs so that I can access it from any computer or my smartphone. (I know, I’m a genius). I started doing this because I know that if I don’t write down an idea, whether it’s good, bad, interesting, weird, conventional, or whatever else, I’m quite likely to forget it. We have to many things clamoring for attention. I’ve forgotten enough story ideas to know that this is a real thing that happens. It may not be the most pressing problem, but for a writer it is frustrating.

I currently have:

  • 17 novel concepts
  • 5 short story concepts
  • one note to just write microfiction pieces as I come up with the ideas

Then, there’s a different file, containing:

  • 9 plot summaries for modern fairy tales

… making a total of 31 story ideas. This does not include a whole bunch of partially-written stories and first drafts that still need work before they can be allowed to have contact with readers.

I’m sure I have forgotten countless other ideas and will continue to think up, write down, and forget many more.

This should be my most important to-do list. I suppose it is. But it should also be the most urgent, and it is not, because attempting to be a responsible adult takes that spot.

Another Life #33

Every morning I set off into the just-risen sun, trekking the twenty-five minutes from whatever comforts there are in my home to my workspace. About half the time I wake up and enjoy a cup or two of coffee before I go; the other half, I swoop through a coffee shop on the way, sometimes ordering two coffees to get me through the day.

I rent the basement of a three-story house by the lake. The three main floors are divided into office space for people doing whatever kind of work they do. I never see them. I just head to my subterranean lair through its private door, neatly avoiding any distracting contact with people (ten minutes of small talk can turn into an hour or two of internet surfing afterward…). Once I’ve disappeared, I start to pound and hack away.

When You Can’t Write

Lately one of my many story ideas has been fighting for prominence in my thoughts. I don’t remember exactly when I first had this idea. Sometime in the past six months or so. I liked it a lot then, but for whatever reason I don’t often start new stories unless I can see the entire basic outline of the plot–for novels, anyway. Short stories I don’t mind just diving into. But I like to be able to see a full novel before I begin, fully expecting many of the details to change, of course. So I haven’t written any of this story yet, even though I did a basic outline. Now, it’s like the thing’s knocking on my door. (Brain-door?) “Hi. Remember me? I get that you have a lot going on, but you said we’d hang out. Just give me a little time, please?”

And what can I do? My “responsible” side (that I’m currently hating) keeps telling me that I have to take care of my obligatory work first, so that I can pay bills and afford to eat and stuff like that. I have a tendency to listen to that side because I’ve always been pretty responsible. But now my creative side is getting angry at being neglected. She will not stand for it any more. I have a feeling she’s just going to keep bothering me until I give in.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t want to. There are two reasons. One: I cling to that silly notion that I need to be in a better financial place before I can really give my attention to writing. Maybe this means I’m not a “true artist.” Maybe it means I live in a ridiculous economy and like everyone else I have to pay for things. I even have to buy my own health and dental insurance. Two: Even though I want to write, right now, more than anything, and I can honestly say very few things would make me feel as good as writing this story that’s jumping up and down, waving its arms at me, when I think about actually sitting down to write it there’s a certain resistance. I’m not sure where that comes from, exactly. I’ve been trying to pinpoint what that feeling is. Maybe it’s the knowledge that I still sometimes rely too much on cliches. Maybe it’s being kind of out of practice in fiction writing, and wondering if I still have any talent and imagination or if the real world sucked it all away.

Or it could be the certainty I have, when I look back at the last seven years or so, that I’ve already wasted so much time I could have spent pursuing things I wanted to learn, do, feel, experience. Some of you reading this (people who know how old I am) will I’m sure say that this is ridiculous, but I feel very old these days. It seemed ok to be adrift and uncertain when I was 24. I was young, just starting to live on my own (sort of). Few people actually have anything figured out at 24. Not anymore. As I get older, more and more people my age are actually finding full-time, stable jobs or starting businesses or families. This tells me that it’s my fault I’m still in such an unpleasant, uncertain life situation. They say you shouldn’t compare yourself to others, but I bet “they” do it too…

So anyway, this story is about love. A fair bit of it takes place in dreams, and it will sort of explore and/or blur the line between dreams and waking. I’ve actually had a lot of story ideas that involve that aspect. I also like the idea because I can include a lot of fantastical elements even though the story is not in the fantasy genre. I’m hoping that I can push through all my doubts and obstacles and start writing it. I hate asking this but please, click “like” or comment if you think this story sounds interesting.

The Reader Speaks (and updates a page)

Once in a while I actually remember to update my “What I’m Reading” page, and today was one of those days! I’m in the middle of numerous books right now and I have a huge TBR list right now that’s likely to only get larger. I have a Goodreads link on the sidebar that you can check out if you want to see more of the books I’ve read and want to read.

I can definitely say The Crane Wife is my favorite book that I’ve read in the past few years at least. I really loved it and I plan to read it again several times in the future, after I get my own copy of it. For some reason I can’t seem to find it in any bookstores… I don’t think it would necessarily be everyone’s taste, but it is absolutely perfect for me. I almost wish I’d written it.

If I find another favorite book, then that section of the page will be updated, but The Crane Wife will also stay.

Seeking Microfiction

Writing has been hard these days. I find that at any given time I either have nothing to say or too many things to say. It’s probably a stress thing. I should meditate more, and drink less coffee. Or more coffee.

Yes. It’s becoming clear to me that I’m not drinking nearly enough coffee. I should rectify that.

Then again, maybe I should drink less coffee after all…

I’m feeling indecisive. Can you tell?

I’ve been thinking that I want to start writing microfiction again. I was very into that style for a while, and it just dropped off suddenly for reasons I could not identify.

Flash fiction is something that has probably been around longer than we think, but has gained traction in the past few years. It does not seem to have a fixed definition. Some people will say under 1000 words, others will say under 1500 or 2000. Some people say anything that’s no more than a few pages is flash fiction.

Microfiction is sort of a subcategory of that, also without a firm word limit, but in my experience it defines works up to the 500-700 word mark. It can be as short as a sentence or two, or as long as a few paragraphs. In theory, the short piece contains an entire story, or enough of a story that the reader can fill in the missing details. Personally, I think there’s a danger of reading that criterion in a limited way. Yes, the intention is to try to fully communicate the piece in that rather small word count, but I don’t think that means packing a plot into that space. Many of my microfiction pieces are more along the lines of snapshots, moments in time, rather than trying to have a narrative. I think the form lends itself to that use and so I took full advantage of it.

I don’t know why I stopped writing them. I suppose I just stopped experiencing things that inspired me in that way. Or I got distracted by adult life and became separated from my imagination. Or both. So I tried to remember how I started writing them, and I remembered–of course, I started by reading.

One book I can go back to is Lydia Davis, Varieties of Disturbance. I would also like to find some microfiction I have not already read. Do you have any suggestions?

 

Losing Summer

It is now the first day of fall. I noticed how perfect the weather was today when I went out to get my groceries. The sun shone brightly but the air was cool. A few of the trees on my street have already started to change. THIS is the best of weather.

The turn of August to September saw a flare-up of oppressive heat, but that seems to be the last surge of summer. It’s cooling off again; it seems the season is ready to accept defeat. As usual I had that moment of regret for all the days I didn’t spend at the beach, and having only sat outside at a restaurant with friends or family a few times, despite walking by such patios constantly. I barely wore sandals and I spent far too many days inside.

Every year now, I find a moment to complain about how summer is not very exciting as an adult. When you’re a kid you get the time off from school, and depending on your circumstances, your parents will take you somewhere for a vacation (even if it’s just a two hour drive to a town in the same state). For the rest of the summer you read, you spend time with friends, you hang out in someone’s pool (I always knew someone with a pool). You eat a lot of ice cream, go to barbecues, and don’t have to wake up early.

Then you start to get older. For most people, summer jobs start somewhere in the mid to late teens. Some start much earlier and a few won’t have jobs until after they graduate from college–but those will probably spend the summers volunteering or studying. (This story does not include those people who never have to work. I have no frame of reference to talk about them.) Suddenly, you don’t have all these days off anymore. Teenagers’ jobs are often part-time, so although they sacrifice some of their free days, they still have quite a lot of time to eat ice cream and hang out in their friends’ pools.

But then you enter the “real” world. You have a full time job, or two or three part time jobs, and you don’t have the time to enjoy the beach or spend a day wandering around town with your friends. You have responsibilities instead. If you do have the time to do these things whenever you want, chances are you don’t have the money. Much of your summer free-time goes to waste lamenting that you’ll barely be able to pay your bills this month, so instead of going to the beach, you scour Craigslist for a new job. Gone are the days of being free to enjoy the summertime. Just like they said it would, adulthood sucked away all the fun (I don’t know who “they” are exactly).

As summer becomes just another part of the year with the same schedule, the same stress, and the same lack of time, we long for the time when summer actually meant something more than just wondering what the hell you can wear that won’t cause you to die of heatstroke on the way to/in the office.

 

When you think about it, though, what exactly are we losing? Think back to being a kid during the summer. Really think. My memories of youthful summers are getting a little vague and fragmented at this point, but I’m fairly certain that I ended up bored and ready for summer to be over somewhere around the beginning of August. If I could go back and talk to my ten-year-old self, I’d say “Find something to do and be grateful for your lack of stress.” But unfortunately, hindsight never benefits us. I was always pretty eager to go back to school, even excited.

Of course, I got sick of being back at school after two weeks, instead of two months. I think I just liked the change, the feeling that things were moving forward. New teacher, classroom, notebooks, clothes. Sometimes new friends.

Leisurely summers feel like a story someone told me, rather than anything that really happened. Maybe I block them out because they make me feel guilty for not doing more with my free time when I had so much of it. Of course, I was a kid then, and kids don’t need to be responsible for “getting things done.” I think the problem is that now I know what I would do if I could spend my time how I chose without having to worry about adult things. I’ve felt like there could be so much art, music, friendship, love, etc. in my life, if only I had enough time.