Five Things Friday: August 23, 2013

My life is generally mundane, as usual, but I have learned that it’s the WAY you write about something that makes it interesting, not just the events themselves. (I may or may not have made these mundane things interesting. …Sorry?) If you’re writing about a murder in a really boring way, it’s going to be a boring story, despite the murder.

With that in mind, here are five things that happened this week.

1. I managed to go to Trader Joe’s, at long last … it’s kind of far to go there regularly, which is very unfortunate for me since I love TJ. They have so much awesome stuff there and in some cases they are actually CHEAPER than Stop and Shop, which I consider to be the cheap store (and which I hate quite strongly). I wish I could just shop at Trader Joes’ and farmers’ markets.

I got a few goods to tide me over until the weekend, when I’ll be out of town, and the remaining ingredients needed to make chili. I then ate chili for the next few days, which is fine because it was very good. It’s possible that my chili is actually just spicy bean soup, but I’m totally ok with that.

2. I went to Panera for dinner on Monday, because I wanted to use a coupon and it brought me close to Trader Joe’s (see Item 1). I started talking to two ladies who were there because they complimented the shirt I was wearing, and in the end there was talk of getting together to talk about mythology. I didn’t get any more details, but I love mythology. Where else do you meet new people, if not in a Panera while waiting for your sandwich?

3. Plans were half-formed… and left that way… and I wasted most of my free time on youtube. There was a time, not too long ago, when I barely went on youtube at all, except to find songs. Then I started a vlog, and now I spend far too much time on that site.

4. I didn’t write, as usual, because I’ve been very tired this week. But I thought about writing. See, that’s the thing… I think about writing all the time. But generally, the times when I feel like writing are not good times. At work. On the bus. Etc. When will I get my #$%! together.

5. Fun Friday dinner! I had a spicy meal at Bella Luna. Have you ever had habanero infused tequila? Me neither, before last night. And what’s better than pizza?

 

Nothing. The answer is: nothing is better than pizza.

Nostalgia: …and the living USED to be easy

Fish might have jumped, but were probably swimming  for the most part, and maybe the cotton should stop doing so much drugs.

All right, now that the misquoting is out of the way, on to the actual writing:

 

The ads for fall clothing and back to school sales start pretty much as soon as it’s August, when we still have over a month of summer left. That’s too early. No one wants to hear about the end of summer when it is technically right in the middle of summer. Now that it’s getting toward the end of August, it’s all about “Pumpkin spice lattes are coming!” …Yeah. In a month. Calm down everyone. I like fall a lot but you really are getting a little ahead of yourselves.

But I’m not actually here to talk about fall right now. I want to talk about summer. Which it is–right now.

I actually don’t like summer too much. I used to like it just as much as the next kid. That long break from school was pretty great. Being able to just relax, less rules, more hanging out. One or two-week trips to some location away from home. For me it was almost always in the states and most often in New England, because we’re not fucking rich.

Summer is nothing like that now. Summer as an adult kind of sucks. It’s exactly like every other time of the year, the same schedule, the same stresses, except it’s so hot out that after you get dressed for work, you want to die.

The last time I could really say I enjoyed a summer, I think, was the time before my junior year of high school. The summer before my senior year I wasn’t working, but I was miserable, so that one can’t be it. I can’t remember anything I actually did during the summer I was 16, but I imagine it was a lot of reading, singing (at home, to myself), and spending time with friends. Sounds pretty good, right?

Since then, I’ve either been working too much to have a real chance at summer, or rather depressed, too much to enjoy the free time. Lots of Netflix going on…

I think the summer after I graduated from college was pretty good. I was working, but not full time, so I did have a lot of free time. I had just passed a life milestone I was very proud of and I was going to California that September (a move that failed pretty spectacularly, but had its moments anyway). It was nothing anyone would make a wacky, epic teen movie about, but I can’t say I’d complain about it.

This year, it’s just the regular old full-time work week with a tiny bit of vacation thrown in the middle. Occasionally my weekends are actually rejuvenating times. Not too often. And they keep the office so cold with air conditioning…

So I’m happy that fall’s coming. Bring on the pumpkin spice lattes (not from Starbucks though) and the leather jacket weather. And an excuse to buy new boots.

It’s a Page!

At long last I have an Actual Writing Update!!

 

…Barely, but still. It’s there.

Ok, so here’s the minuscule detail: I started a new story, which I am imagining to be a short story but could possibly turn into a novel, depending on the plot I actually come up with (which I haven’t figured out yet). I wrote barely more than a page (about 600 words, I think). It was good to write and it reminded me that I am actually good at words! Who knew!

I did, I guess, but I often forget that.

The story is based on the glass globe I talked about in that video on my youtube channel. If that makes you curious, there’s a link in the sidebar there.

 

All right. I know it’s not much. But it’s pretty much the only fiction writing I’ve managed to do for months, so I’m still happy with it. …not happy enough to post it, however. It’s much too rough for that. If I EVER manage to figure out my schedule, I’ll be trying to write more often.

Five Things Friday: August 16, 2013

It’s Friday. (Technically it’s Saturday, but since I haven’t gone to bed yet, it’s still Friday.) These are five things. (Technically, it’s fifteen things.)

One

Crazy, half-awake nightmare of a horror-movie spider

Two

Mixed berry applesauce spice muffins

Three

Purchase transactions – two for snacks, one for hair products and toothpaste. Gotta keep those teeth clean. I need whitening toothpaste because I drink so much coffee.

Four

Times when I berated myself for being so scattered in the brain today. I think I got thirty pages of editing done all day (I did some more at home later).

Five

Different ideas for what I might write about this Friday. It’s harder than I originally thought it would be. If I carried around a journal to take notes throughout the week (which I’m sure wouldn’t be such a terrible thing for a writer to do), I could look over it on Friday nights and make up a much more poignant, observations-of-life, thoughtful thing. But I don’t have a journal like that, so I’m always having to come up with things as I go along. It’s hard to feel like anything I think of would be worth writing down.

You try it. Tell me how hard you found it.

An Industry Pining for Bookstores

As with almost everything that is written (that is not pure fact), the arguments are, of course, debatable. But I think these are excellent, VERY important points to consider. I would read an ebook, but I do generally prefer print books, and they’re becoming a less available and more expensive. I used to love bookstores; I would still love them if I had time to hang out in them now, I’m sure, but they’re slowly all closing down. How do people not realize how sad this is?

If you think a book is worth reading then you should be willing to spend a little money on it. Otherwise, go to the library. Libraries are great.

Five Things Friday

Five story beginnings. I don’t have the time or energy to write five whole stories, but maybe the start will be good enough. As you read these, please keep in mind that they haven’t been edited. The stories aren’t really formed. If you would like to comment, the most useful thing for me to hear would be which beginnings make you want to read more.

 

Thanks, enjoy!

 

One

Some said they saw its beginnings as the sky darkened the night before. Still, no one seemed prepared, that morning, to offer any explanation for what they found. Fifteen centimeters deep, a thick grayish mist hovered over the ground. If they looked very hard they could still see the outlines of their feet, which had disappeared below the ankle as soon as they stepped outside.

It was a little bit cold, although not as damp as expected. It was startling, certainly, and made them rather nervous, but as more of them ventured beyond their doors, they found that strange razor-toothed creatures were not waiting below to chomp on their feet. So they went about their days.

 

Two

I knew the dream was strange, but as soon as I began to wake I forgot it entirely. I was trying to hold on to the shreds of its images as consciousness rose, to no avail. Giving up, I turned over, opening my eyes slowly to the soft light of morning. I had no idea what time it was, as my phone was the only clock available near my bed, and it seemed to have shut off during the night. Sure that I had overslept (although I couldn’t remember where I was supposed to be), I groaned and stretched and braced myself for standing.

In the cozy, bright kitchen–but not too bright, I just let sunlight come in and skipped the lightswitch–I brewed up a pot of coffee. I was too tired to notice what kind, but I made sure to measure it out correctly. If my coffee was undrinkable, the whole day would be ruined. Something was strange that day. I was trying to figure it out, but nothing came to mind. Perhaps, after my coffee…

Some time later–still had not found a clock–I was sitting in the sun-drenched, spacious, clean living room, coffee on a coaster, halfway through my plate of eggs on toast, when I realized, quite abruptly, that this was not my life.

 

Three

She had killed the vampire. She was still alive, still mobile, and she had taken care of business.

That was when she really started to panic.

 

Four

Rain fell steadily, just enough to make the ground a little slippery as I trotted along the sidewalk in my heeled boots. I had forgotten an umbrella. That is, there may have been one in my bag, but I couldn’t stop to dig around in there. I glanced back quickly, and sped up just a little. I was sure he wasn’t following me. Almost. But he had been there for ten blocks.

 

Five

In the end, everything looked fine. He sat on the porch, sipping tea from a chipped old mug. A magazine lay open on his lap, but he was not reading it. Instead, he stared at a photograph on the table beside him. The people in that picture looked happy. He thought they looked happy. They were not smiling. He tried to remember what had happened.

It was like trying to catch a fish with his hands. He could touch the memories, but they would not stay. One after the other, they slipped from his grasp and swam upstream.

Weren’t we happy? he thought.

The tea was getting cold. He had gazed for too long.

 

****

 

So there you go. Five intros. Or intros to intros. I have no idea if I’ll continue any of these. Which was your favorite? Tell me! Vote!

 

 

Read This

This is, surprisingly, a short story in the form of a MISSED CONNECTION. For seriously. Craigslist personals are generally something you’d read because the sad and scary things you come across are, for some reason entertaining. I’d imagine. I don’t know, I really don’t cruise Craigslist just for the hell of it.

 

But this is worth reading. It’s a flash fiction, and it’s sweet and thoughtful and rather sad, and while it’s not actually realistic it does a great job of capturing some of the strangenesses of life.

 

 

http://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/mis/3985247459.html

 

For 100% clarity: this is not my writing. I don’t think there is a name anywhere on it so I have no idea what the writer’s identity is.

 

I am the Queen of Bad Timing

As always I felt a sudden surging urge to write, in the middle of the afternoon, when I can’t because I have to do the work I am actually paid for. I often think, good, I’ll go home and write. But I never want to write when I get home. Only when I’m, say sitting on a bus, or at work, or in the middle of watching a movie or a play. Some people might say I’m just being lazy, but you could look at my infrequency of writing as a product of bad timing.

I feel like this phenomenon affects many aspects of my life. Trying to take the T–a train is just pulling out as I’m halfway down the stairs, and I have to wait another 10 minutes for the next train. Getting that item at the store that I need or want–Maybe someone just took the last one (like the last time I bought sushi at Whole Foods, and had to get tuna instead of salmon because there was NO SALMON ROLL left). Buying something right before the price is reduced.

Even relationships, that is, actually becoming friends (or more?), depend on timing. And it’s very strange to consider how easily things could have been different.

Five Things Friday: August 2, 2013

I’ve been blogging for a pretty long time now. I spend a lot of time these days looking at blogs and there are some blogging habits I’ve noticed that I do not understand at all. I’m not saying I’m 100% right, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people agree about these. Here they are:

 

 

Using very small or very large font honestly offends my eyes. Stick to size 11 or 12, please (or possibly a bit larger, depending on the font you’re using). When I open a page and the font size is ungainly in any sense, I will close it before reading it. Please, just think about that as you’re formatting.

 

Using irrelevant tags pisses me off, honestly. As I’m scrolling through my “coffee” feed and there’s nothing about coffee in your post, or it’s mentioned in passing while really being about something entirely different, I’m bothered. Very. There are some exceptions, but only if the post is one I would read for other reasons.

 

Not having an “about” page is just confusing. How much information you want to put on it is a judgment call, although I really like to be able to click on the “about” tab and have some real idea of who you are and/or what kind of blog I’m looking at. A minimal about page is ok, because at least it’s something. None at all just says “spam blog” to me.

 

Not everyone is born to be a writer, I get it. The blog world is a forum that covers people from professionals all the way down to people who just want to put down their thoughts somewhere and share them with others, or… something along those lines. Not everyone has to be a master of wordistry (that’s a real word [now]). But people who seem to lack any understanding of grammar in their posts make me sad. I don’t know what the reason is for this. Maybe some of them had really deplorable educations. Maybe they just don’t speak English very well, but for reasons that just confuse me chose to write a blog in English anyway. Not everyone has an interest in actually being a writer, nor the ability to move people with words. However, I believe that everyone can learn basic grammar and sentence structure. Even if you’re just writing for yourself, you have chosen the written word as a medium and you should have enough respect for it, and the readers and YOURSELF, to get that core knowledge down. (Side note: if you’re writing just for yourself or your family, then maybe you shouldn’t be making your posts viewable to the general public. Just saying.)

 

Blogs that have only been around a short time and have somehow racked up thousands of views make me extremely doubtful. Maybe you had a post that went viral, and isn’t that nice for you … but generally speaking, it takes much longer than a few months to get that level of total views. I don’t mean to offend anyone if you fall into that category of people who happen to be really lucky, but honestly, unless you’re bringing an established fan base from another forum, I am very skeptical of your numbers. Besides which, it makes the rest of us, who have been around a while and get an average (I’ll admit sometimes disappointing) number of views, feel quite resentful of you. Don’t make me want to press “unfollow.”

 

 

 

…I’m just kidding, mostly, about the last one. I mean, it does confuse me, but really it shows that “success,” if you define it in the sense of the external validation you get from having large audience, whatever that audience might be, is somewhat arbitrary. I’d bet you actual money (like $10 maybe–don’t judge, I’m just a responsible gambler) that there are hundreds or thousands of good blogs/songs/youtubers/books/etc./etc./etc. that few people have found because they just have not managed to bridge that gap to the audience. Fame works like capitalism: the more views (money) you already have, the more you tend to gain. The rest of us just kind of scrape for what we can get at the bottom, or lower middle (which, I think, is where I would be).

Word Drawing

I have been a little bit resentful, over the past few years, of the fact that I can’t draw. I have wished that I had been a visual artist instead of a writer. I think that, for people who are very dedicated to the work they’re doing, neither one is really easier. But… but. I am convinced that my finished product as an artist would come across much closer to what I’m trying to express. When I write, I often do not feel like readers understand the work. I say this in part because my very favorite flash fiction pieces are never anyone else’s favorite.

It gives me the impression that no one gets me (as a writer–let’s not to into no one getting me as a person). And how will any publisher or agent ever want to work with me if no one gets me?

That’s part of the purpose of editing and struggling to create the story you really want to tell. The reader can only do so much on their own. It is up to the writer to make it possible for the reader to “get” them.

I’m sure it’s the same, sometimes, for artists. But in a different way. I’m sure artists sometimes execute the picture just as they intended but do not really have any way to explain what it means. As a writer I can get my meanings across often just as I intended (or as close as I could possibly come, and of course sometimes the actual meaning is missed entirely), but I can’t convey the picture as I see it. I can describe a field dotted with trees under blue sky brushed with purple in the early dawn, but is my reader seeing the same field I envisioned? The most likely answer is no. They aren’t.

Imagery is very important in writing because it helps the reader understand and engage with the story and the world the writer has created. However, it’s also very hard. Chances are, no matter how precise your details are, readers will interpret them into various versions of the writer’s original image.

If I could draw or paint, the image, though processed differently by each viewer, would remain the same.

Thinking about it, this just seems like a control issue. So I’ll just say, “Lighten up. It’s no big deal.”

 

*** I was going to edit this, and then I didn’t feel like it, so here you go, totally raw writing.