One Day

Photo Credit: Kelly Rowles,
Pix|elation Photography
(link below)

I am living a lie.

It’s not an interesting lie. I’m not an international spy. I don’t have some second family secreted away in another state. I’m not a princess playing a peasant. No, it’s much more mundane than that. I just had the privilege of learning that the life I’m living is not the life for which I was meant.

Last weekend (so yes, I am a bit late on this post), I had the extreme pleasure of getting to model my gorgeous wedding gown at the MayFaire Moon Corsets and Costumes fashion show at Dorian’s Parlor. On that one day, I met some incredibly talented, beautiful, and overall wonderful people who embrace—no—live their creativity. It was that creativity, buzzing like an alarm clock all around me that woke me up to the fact that I’ve lost my creative self in the day to day life that I’ve been living. On that one day, the Universe bestowed upon me a moment of clarity necessary to change my perspective.

Right now, my life is very much about the daily grind, and getting done with everything that needs to be done to pay bills or keep promises. It’s not that my daily life is that bad.  But what became so clear to me in the presence of all of those fabulous people, is that they truly live their creativity while I always seem to put mine on the back burner. The life I keep telling myself I’m working toward is the one for which I never seem to have time. At the end of the day, after all of the other deadlines and expectations that my daily life requires are met, my own expectations are the only ones I can blow off without any repercussions.

Or can I?

The repercussions are that I’ve not met the goals that I’ve made for myself. Blowing myself off is why 13 Morbid Tales still isn’t finished. Blowing myself off is why I can’t lose that last 10 pounds (okay 15). Blowing myself off is how I’ve created a life in which all I have to look forward to is more of the daily grind that was never meant to be anything more than a means to an end. Blowing myself off is the reason that I look in the mirror and see that I’m a stranger in my own life, feeling trapped like a prisoner by that damned daily grind!  And this goes beyond finding balance. I tell myself that if I’d just “find a balance” all of this would work out, but it doesn’t. Telling myself this lie is just another way of making light of the issue and giving myself permission to blow myself off even further, as if finding balance is a simple fix that I have all the time in the world to make. And while I continue to tell myself this lie, the life I want continues to pass me by.

I’d like to make some declarative statement that “I’m done with this!” and move on, but this is something I frequently struggle with, and I tend to find myself in need of that one day to put it all back into perspective. I am so grateful that every now and then I get that one day to put me back on track. I owe a very special thank you to all of the amazing and creative people in my life who never fail to make that one day possible when I need it the most.

Now for the end-of-blog-post questions we have all come to expect, recognize, and dare I say, love: What is your ideal one day? What kind of things help get you back on track?

Also, please give some love to these fabulous people:

Photography – Pix|elation Photography
Clothing – MayFaire Moon Corsets & Costumes
MUA – The Changeling Room

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Summer

Summer, like the Starks say about Winter (you’re welcome, GoT fans), is coming, and I want the carnivals and festivals, the beach, and a base burn (as unhealthy as I know a burn is, I know that if I burn once, it won’t happen again for the rest of the summer). I want to drive around a neon lit town with the sunroof open to the smell french fries, pizza, and boardwalk burgers on the night air. I want to pretend, or rather, truly believe, that I honestly do love everyone in the beach side bar.

But what does this mean for my writing? As spotty as my progress has been, I notice it waning even more with the warm weather, the sound of night bugs, and that smell of summer. And I can’t deny, I’m most prolific in the Fall, when the weather, and general feel of my part of the world, changes.

How do you, especially those with demanding jobs in addition to this writing thing (this most certainly includes stay-at-home-motherhood), stay on task when the weather outside is your preferred weather?

Finally, Some Productivity!

I have recently been reminded that if there is something about my life I don’t like, it is up to me, and no one else but me, to change it.

This led me to a productive weekend. Rather than sitting around sulking or dreading Monday morning’s arrival, I set myself a list of things to do. While making a list is not really different from any other weekend, this weekend was different because I actually tackled the list.

The biggest entry on the list was to get some writing done. I’d actually had quite a few ideas running back and forth in my head, and it was time to get them from my head to the paper.  As I’d mentioned in a previous blog, getting the thoughts on paper hasn’t been going so well for me lately. Getting frustrated with my lack of results, or more accurately, what I believed to be low quality results, made it easy to procrastinate.

But I had some extra motivation in the form of my upcoming one-year wedding anniversary. Because my husband ordered me not to spend any more money, and because I felt I still owed him another gift, I decided that I would write him a story.

Of course, this is still me, so it’s still a morbid tale (meant for inclusion in 13 Morbid Tales), but he was the inspiration for it and so it should be “his” story.

I hope this momentum keeps up. After all, it is up to me to become the writer I want to be.

How do all of you keep momentum going?

A Writer’s Funk: Writing Plenty, Producing Nothing

I have not forsaken the blogosphere. Normally I would blame my absence on the Muses forsaking me, but that’s not even true. I’m in one of those funks.  This particular funk is the no-matter-how-I-write-it-it-looks-like-crap-to-me funk.

Generally, I try to say something profound or at least remotely helpful in my blog. Taking a step back to consider that only posting when things work might be a misrepresentation of the writing life, I decided to post about what’s going on now—the time when nothing at all seems to work.

Gah

That moment when it gets really tempting to say, “Screw this shit! It’s whiskey o’clock!”

I have a couple of undone blog entries and an almost-finished short story for my project 13 Morbid Tales sitting on my laptop.

The blogs are being hindered by two pesky little demons: the Nobody Wants to Read That demon, and his bitchy associate, the What Will They Think of You demon.  The former whispers, “Seriously, who on Earth really gives a crap about that? The few who might have had similar experiences, so you’re not exactly enlightening anyone.” Meanwhile, the latter whispers, “What? You want the whole world to think you’re a wack-job, in addition to the few who know you well enough to know you’re a wack-job?”  Posting this is kind of my way of telling both demons to f*ck off. Hopefully it works, and you’ll see these posts soon.

The short story is another issue entirely. It has, in my opinion, everything a short story of its nature should have, except for that whole being finished thing.  It started with a loose outline, and of course, as the story started taking shape, it evolved well past the outline. Great! It should have done so. I had momentum.  I had direction. Well, I still have direction, but suddenly no momentum.  Every paragraph I write reads back to me a little something like this:

Blah, blah…Is that even a word?…Blah, blah…Bad segue…Blah, blah…Sentence I really like…Blah, blah, blah, blah…and, oh yeah—blah!

A friend and fellow wordsmith once advised me against doing the “writerly” thing, which, in that particular case, meant reworking a whole paragraph over and over to no avail just because I was too in love with the one sentence that was screwing it up to remove it.  Realizing how great that advice was after I took the troublesome sentence out (because I ended up with a great paragraph), I placed it in the great advice file in my memory bank to be revisited any time I saw myself in a similar situation.  Well, you know what I read after I took out that great sentence? Exactly the same as above minus the “sentence I really like” part! So I scrapped the shit. And by that I mean I scrapped the paragraph, not the story. The story is good.

So, for half a second, I decided to turn to free-writing exercises to help unclog whatever has been stopping me up. But that idea was shot to hell by my own screaming at myself to, for the love of Pete, focus on the task at hand!

Gah!

There is no conclusion to this post. No great pearl of wisdom. Hell, there isn’t even a plastic Mardi Gras bead of wisdom. Just know that I’ve not abandoned you. I’ve been keeping up with the reading of posts, even if I don’t comment, ’cause God(ess) knows, I haven’t even been able to write a good one of those lately!

When Reading Something Not-So-Good is Very, Very Good

This past Sunday found me restless as Sundays often do.  Sunday is the day when I inevitably look around and see everything I’d intended to accomplish not being accomplished.  But hey, I’m not going to spend my last day of freedom before the work week begins cleaning out my closet, dusting my bookshelves, or sewing buttons on stuff that’s missing buttons. So I spend the day being restless thinking about everything I should do, but not doing it.  And I know that if I’d just do it, it would only take a couple of hours and then I could spend the rest of the day enjoying the day, but that’s just not how I roll.

So there I was, flipping back and forth between the History Channel, the Travel Channel, and HGTV because Sunday is also the day I relearn what a Civil War era pocket watch is worth, that testicles are chewy, and that home renovations never go as planned. But this time I decided that I wanted to occupy my mind, if only with a little brain candy, and my Kindle is generally where I turn for such things.  I logged on to my Amazon account and started browsing books perfect for a Sunday afternoon of sloth.

Let me be clear.  I wasn’t looking for the Great American Novel.  I wasn’t looking for spiritual enlightenment.  I was looking for some fiction within my genre of choice (dark fiction) to suck me in for an enjoyable while.

It proved to be harder than I thought, because I wasn’t looking for any ol’ dark fiction, but I had a very clear picture in my mind of what I wanted to read; the setting, the hero/heroine, etc.  After a bit, I let out a sigh that my husband, who was sitting beside me at the time, knows all too well.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Nothing.  I’m just looking for a book to read.”  I didn’t have to look at him to know that he was raising an eyebrow.  I’m in the middle of a couple of books right now and have many left on my must read list.  “I’m in the mood for something specific,” I told him.  “I’ll know it when I see it.” And maybe it was just my imagination, or maybe it was my own guilty conscience, but I could swear I sensed something else my husband wanted to say, and I could swear I knew what it was too, so I continued, “I know, I know.  If I can’t find the book I want to read, maybe I should write that book. I get it.”

My husband is one of my biggest cheerleaders, but lately that translates into the person who—metaphorically speaking—smacks my knuckles with a ruler in an attempt to keep me on task.

He smiled knowingly and went back to his computer game.  I continued my Amazon search.  Finally I came across a book that looked promising. I’ll admit that it was the cover that caught my attention. And oddly, it didn’t catch my attention in a good way.  My first thought was, Somebody’s trying to look like Fifty Shades of Grey.  But upon reading the description, it sounded nothing like the Fifty Shades books and sounded like precisely what I was in the mood to read.  However, I learned that it was a sequel, so I directed my attention to the first book…and its Amazon reviews.

Reviews ranged from raves about how people couldn’t put it down, to slams on how the book should be used in creative writing classes as an example of what not to do. For the low e-book price, I considered it worth the gamble, especially because the synopsis looked interesting.

Honestly, I agree with both of the above examples.  I’m refraining from doing a proper review of this book here because, well, what credentials do I have?  I’d feel a little guilty making some of the comments I’d make about this author, who truly does have great potential, while I’ve yet to accomplish what she has accomplished.  Not only is her book out there, but people are buying it. Hell, I bought it.  And truthfully, I’ll probably buy the second book because she does tell a good story, but its faults are pretty glaring.

And I’m guilty of the exact same literary sins.

Some of my own work came to mind as I was sitting there reading and thinking, It’s such a shame that I keep getting pulled from such a great story by poor word choices and questionable grammar.  I’ve made the same word choices. I’ve been that repetitious. I’ve made the same grammatical errors.

And I’ve been too close to the work to see it.  And I know that’s what beta readers and editors are there to catch, but I personally want to submit the most polished piece I can. And I know nothing about this author’s writing process, but I’ve got to wonder who read her work and didn’t catch this stuff.

But as it turns out, this book was a very good purchase.  Not only did I get to read a good story, but I learned lessons that will carry over into the telling of my own stories.

Any writers out there have a similar experience?

Random Thoughts About Writing

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been absent from my blog for quite some time again lately.  This is not actually for lack of trying.  Pages of illegible scribbles in my notebook, numerous one-paragraph-long Word documents, and emails to myself (because sometimes inspiration strikes me at the day job, and a “remember this idea” email is the best I can do at the time), will all prove otherwise.  But not one thought materialized into what I would call a publishable blog.  This happens to me a lot.  It’s my thinkin’ ’bout stuff phase.  But I know if I don’t write something, I’ll just sit and think myself to death.  So I bring you…

Random Thoughts About Writing

1. Technical writing is not the same as writing writing.

To translate my thought for those lucky enough not to be living in my brain: Technical writing is not the same as creative writing.

Well, duh!

Some of you may know that I’m a technical writer as a day gig.  On a good day, I really like it.  On a so-so day, I tolerate it.  On a bad day, well…On the chance that someone from the place that puts food on my table is reading this, I’ll refrain from writing how I feel on the bad days. This, by the way, is not how tech writing is different from creative writing.  I have good, mediocre, and bad days with that too.  In fact, I’ve most likely had worse days with creative writing than I have tech writing. After all, I haven’t been collapsed on the floor sobbing about how badly I suck and how no one in their right mind should ever read or publish my atrocious work at the office yet.

One of the biggest differences between creative writing and technical writing (besides the obvious ones, of course), is how foreign technical writing still feels to me sometimes. While I’ve picked it up quickly—as it turns out, every time I’ve written “Proven ability to adapt to new editorial styles quickly and efficiently” on a cover letter, I wasn’t just talking myself up—it sometimes feels like I’m playing in a world I don’t fully grasp.  The best way I can think of to describe it is buying a shirt that says “yacht club” from the $5 rack at Wal-Mart. I can look the part.  I can play the part.  And I’m very good at my job.  But some part of me will always know that I’m a great big poser where technical writing is concerned.  It just isn’t my world.

2. Am I too rebellious to be a successful writer?

Some of you may be looking at that thought and asking yourself, “WTF?”  But stick with me.

I’ve always loved reading. I read all the time.  I think back to high school when, yes, I read all the time—just not necessarily what was assigned. It’s not that there was anything wrong with the literature I was assigned. It’s that it was assigned in the first place. I was told to do it, and so I did it grudgingly at best. At worst, I refused with the panache that only a poor, put-upon teen can muster.

Now I’m a grown-up and so I follow the rules because I’ve worked too hard and have too much to lose not to, but in a lot of ways, I’m still like that teenager I once was. Tell me not to do something; you best believe that’s all I’m going to want to do. Order me to do that very same thing; it’s the last thing I’m going to want to do. (Just so you know, asking nicely goes a long way with me.)

I, like most struggling writers (and what I mean by “struggling” here is that we still need day jobs and probably will for a very long time), dream of the day when my job is simply to write.  But what happens if and when that day comes?  What happens when I’m given a deadline to write precisely the stuff I like to write, and told to just do it? Will I still love writing as much as I claim to? Will I wake up in the morning excited for my day, or will I come to hate it simply because it’s what I’ve been told to do?

For the record, I’m pretty certain I’d still love it in spite of my rebellious nature, but since this thought kept me awake one night, it was worth addressing.

3. What in the hell kind of god am I?

“Whoa! WTF did she just write?”  But again, stick with me.  I’m not a weirdo. Well, actually, I am.  I’m just not that brand of weirdo. And truly, this thought isn’t even all that original.

Writers create worlds and they create the inhabitants of those worlds.  So as far as Word files and stacks of paper are concerned, writers are gods. That’s all I’m saying. And, like I said, it’s not even an original comparison. So, moving on…

What in the hell kind of god am I?  It’s actually a conscious decision that must be made.  If a piece is to be character driven (as the best pieces are), that means giving the characters free will.  Okay, got that.  So what if one of my favorites, my chosen (okay, maybe I am having a little too much fun with this metaphor) does something stupid that could get them killed? Do I let them die, or do I step in and throw them a bone?  And what made that character my favorite to begin with?  Was that character the most godly (the one most like me)?  And what about the characters I had no problem offing?  Am I a vengeful god? Did they have it coming? Did I create them solely for the purpose of being offensive enough to kill? And if so, what does that say about me?

And what about those characters I’ve abandoned altogether?  I have tons of work that just wasn’t working so it’s been put aside. Do my characters lament being abandoned by their god when I’m not working?

Like I said, I’m not that kind of weirdo. I am aware that my characters live only in my mind and on paper, and so I would have to write characters lamenting for them to do so. But it’s a fun little brain teaser for the next time you’re lying awake thinking about a writing project.  There are endless questions that can be considered along this line of thought. So I invite you to examine them for yourself, unless, of course, you actually want to get some sleep.

So that’s what’s been going on in my head lately.  Aren’t you glad I didn’t try to make any one of these topics its own blog?

Why It’s So Damn Difficult to Blog Daily

*Note: I changed the blog title shortly after this post.

I have to say that I had never really intended to blog daily, hence the name Devon’s Not-So-Daily Blog.  No, the name isn’t at all creative.  I know this.  It was one of those things I just slapped down when I realized how incomplete my profile really was, much like the bio blurb on my Twitter profile that reads, “I spent way too long trying to think of something clever to write here.  I gave up.”  I realize, that as a struggling writer (with experience in marketing, advertising, and public relations), these little blurbs may not be the best way to present myself, unless they are taken for self-deprecating humor, as I will claim was intended.  And if the blurbs are not received that way, I can always change them when the time comes.  But I digress.

Part of the reason that I never intended to blog daily is that, in hard truth, my life is just not that interesting.  While I’d like to think my fiction is pretty damn engaging and entertaining (see, friends, I’m not always hard on myself about my work), real life is pretty boring.  I get up, go to work, come home, do some other mundane stuff, and then go to bed so I can get up at the butt crack of dawn and do the same stuff all over again.  Sure, I get some writing done.  I attend social events when they come up.  This very night is game night.  But I question how blog worthy any of that is.

I certainly muse about any number of little life experiences in any given day, but does anybody really care about my theory that you can profile an entire personality based on how a person drives on the interstate?  Maybe someone might if it was based on some scientific fact or some research or experimentation, but it’s not.  It’s really just made up of the mean things I think when some dillhole cuts me off or insists upon driving 55mph in the left lane when the speed limit is 65mph (usually after cutting me off).  It’s much more likely that blog followers will profile my personality based on my obvious lack of tolerance for others who share the road.

Is anyone really interested in yet another opinion post about the pros and cons of social media?  Are there any people out there with burning questions as to why I signed up for Twitter months ago but have still only composed a handful of tweets?

Without the proper dark/supernatural fiction credentials under my belt, does anyone really care what I thought of last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, or last night’s episode of Supernatural? (I will take a moment to say I’m a fan of both.  And now the moment’s over.)

If any of the above interests you, by all means, let me know. If you would like to read something from me not mentioned above, I’ll take requests. Until then, I will leave you with this:

“Wise (wo)men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” -Plato