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Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

While my daughter’s sweaty palms grip the plastic covered arms of a dental chair and she is inflicted with crazy kinds of torture, I sit, a few hundred yards away, in our local diner, somehow lucky enough to snag a deliciously cozy booth at the very back.

 

My intent was to hunt and gather, to try and squash three hours worth of errands into one, to rush. But, as we were leaving the house, my laptop somehow hitched a ride and I’m now imbibing on the creativity a morning away from home is able to squeeze out of my juicer.

 

It’s a writer’s dream. A secluded booth, back to the wall, a bird’s eye view of the little man who looks like someone I once knew, the adult daughter treating her elderly parents to breakfast, the middle-aged couple deep in some mysterious conversation that can only be cultivated by being together longer than they’ve been apart.

 

I relish the comforting heedlessness cloaked in hustle and bustle. No one’s worrying what I’m up to. No one cares how long I stay. No one wants me to stop. The server happily refills my cup as if as much to say; Yes, yes, write to your heart’s content my dear, for you are forbidden to do chores here. (I think she even had a glittering wand)

 

Now this is the point where we all imagine the sound a record player makes as its needle is abruptly lifted, scraping over several vinyl grooves on the way up.

 

I started this post yesterday morning, but just moments after deciding my waitress was in fact the good witch, my writing came to a halt. As it often does, life happened and for the next twelve hours, I was in the thick of it. Somersaulting from one thing to another, I never touched these keys again for the rest of the day.

 

But the good thing about being at this stage of my writing game is that I’m nobody. I have no obligations, no duties or requirements.

 

So basically, the pressure is off. I’m *too small to fail.

Photo courtesy of wallaadoo.com

Photo courtesy of wallaadoo.com

 

 

*Courtesy of the t-shirts the Saints servers wear at my local diner.

 

 

 

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When I was a kid, I hated P.E. I’d do anything to avoid it – hide, duck, dodge…take cover in the outfield…behind a tree if at all possible.

 

Not much has changed. I’m forty-three and I’ve dropped the ball. It’s been eleven days since I last posted something to my blog and even that post was only a simple snap of my husband’s conveniently timed typo’d text.

 

I’ve been neglectful of reading blogs, answering messages, posting to my facebook page and I haven’t checked my Hazy email in months. I opened it the other day, saw that there are over five thousand tidy little envelopes in my inbox to sift through and quickly closed it again.

 

I’d like to say that it’s because I’ve been buried in writing, but that wouldn’t be the truth. I haven’t been writing. I haven’t been doing much of anything. Trapped in a roundabout, I keep missing my exit, running the vicious circle without escape.

 

I get overwhelmed by having so many projects that I don’t know where to begin and end up not starting, working on or completing any of them. My kitchen cupboards need a good gutting of all the cumulative bits and bobs that somebody, not me of course, keeps sneaking in, I have a desk to paint, I need to dismantle my son’s massive loft bed so he can stop sleeping with his nose half an inch from the ceiling, I have an office that has morphed into one over-sized junk drawer and don’t even get me started on the garage. No really, I don’t want to start on the garage.

 

And I can’t type of course, while all of these undone tasks have my fingers tied together with their loose ends, but for the one thing I have no choice in, (thank goodness for deadlines!) my upcoming interview on WOW. My runner-up short story, Magic, and my ridiculous bio, can be found HERE. The interview itself, should be published sometime in April or early May.

 

If it weren’t for my blog and contest excitement, I’m not so sure I’d be writing at all, so today I give thanks for the side of me that apparently wants people to know my name and to the entities that grant me a voice, ensuring I’m heard above my own silence.

ribbon_red_runner_up_to_customize_ornament-r64d1819344ff431bb8a3d9d87817d545_x7s2y_8byvr_512

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Can I just say that I love Ellen? I rarely catch her because I don’t have the luxury of sitting around to watch daytime television but, while I was in the massage chair getting my toenails polished yesterday, ahem, Ellen happened to be on.

 

She was visiting with Mark Whalberg and Taylor Kitsch, discussing their movie Lone Survivor. The two actors were reliving the training they endured to pull off a convincingly realistic Navy Seal facade.

 

During the interview, Ellen proceeds to give credit to the Seals, by recounting a story of a hike she took the day after seeing the movie. She tells of how she developed a blister on her foot while walking, but felt she had to trudge on because of all the selfless work the Seals do. And as a result, she managed to push through it.

 

The humor was there, but it was clear she was serious. Their nobility and valor had inspired her to realize she was capable of completing the hike despite a little pain.

 

Only Ellen can get away with equating something as trivial as a blister with the work of Navy Seals and not be offensive.

 

Now, believe me when I tell you that all I ever do is clean, work and write, but the other night, while my daughter and I sat on the couch, listening to the pouring rain, eating bon bons and talking about how I was about to start the laundry, we happened to come across the movie One Chance.

 

It’s about a bloke from South Whales who loved to sing. Maybe you’ve also happened upon it while couch surfing, popping bon bons and counting raindrops.

 

It turns out the movie did not get good reviews, but you may or may not know, I’m a sucker for singing and an eternally easy mark for an optimistic underdog so I handcuffed my daughter to a Mars bar and…we watched.

 

Paul Potts endured a lifetime of physical and mental abuse from neighborhood bullies, not to mention an unsupportive father. He withstood personal and potentially dream-dashing dogging from Pavarotti himself, plus extreme health and financial challenges, but, like Ellen and the Navy Seals, he kept on climbing.

 

Paul went on to win Britain’s Got Talent in 2007 and is now a successful multimillionaire.

 

Yesterday marked my second wordpress anniversary and the start of my blogging in general, so I wanted to celebrate with a taste of inspiration. It’s easy to let things get under our skin, stop us from chasing what it is we want most…our passions, our dreams and our quests.

 

But when that happens, we need to remember we’re no different than Ellen, Paul and the Navy Seals.

Listen, I got a paper cut on my tongue yesterday, but no way was that stopping me from posting today!

We know we’re also equipped with tenacity, training and a voice. We’re just waiting for the world to know it too.

keep going

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My wordpress popularity really seems to fluctuate somewhere in between that was a fair Idol audition and good God, get off the stage.

 

And that’s okay. I appreciate that certain posts just don’t resonate, but I’d really like to understand the formula. I know there are probably prime times to publish, not to mention better days of the week. Appealing eye-candy for the more visual and just the right tags can also make all the difference.

 

I try to post fairly regularly and of course I always attempt to be fresh and witty…can’t you tell? Yes, I have a facebook page (which you are of course, more than free to share and like) and I do boast my posts through various other forms of social media. However, I’ve never topped thirty-five likes on a wordpress post.

 

I’m pleased with my progress to date, but it confuses me to see bloggers just starting out, that have already garnered thousands of views and the same in followers. I find posts that consist simply of a quote, one photo or a half-cocked thought, with hundreds of likes.

 

Don’t get me wrong – more power to these fellow floggers. I’m just dying to know err, interested in how this comes about.

 

On a more personal, specific level – I wrote a short story a few posts back, called Helena. It received twenty-five likes. Clearly, one of my more popular posts. The next, a continuation of Helena, only got thirteen.

 

Now, Gladys is written in the same style as Helena and continues the storyline from the original. The third installation, Mrs. Statton, is more of the same and hit fifteen likes. A little better, but still nowhere near the first twenty-five for Helena. Eat Crow, the fourth piece…eight whopping likes.

 

Whonh, whonh, whonh.

 

What I’d like to know is – did I post at a bad time, on the wrong day? Did my writing change from audition-acceptable to incapable of carrying a tune? Or, is it that you believe Helena should have remained where I left her?

 

Besides helping motivate continued writing, a writer’s hope is that blogging will bring the crucial feedback needed to sharpen and buff their trusted sword. So, it stands to reason, that in a perfect world, readers will be the worn grit paper and soft polishing cloth at the end of every post.

pen-sword

 

 

 

 

 

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Although laundry as whole has not been a favorite pastime of mine, it has its rewards. Sure, I dread the collecting and sorting, but I don’t mind the washing and the folding quite as much. I despise the putting away, but love the fresh scent that I get to place in the drawers as a result of a task I saw through to completion.

However, I do find that things never quite look the same once they’ve been hung out to dry. That white shirt is never just as crisp and that black sweater always ends up a shade lighter than it once was.

It’s somewhat the same for me, when it comes to writing. I adore the process, but there are things about it that leave me feeling faded and worn.

That story that creeps in and convinces me it’s good, those lines, those words that shout, “I’m the one!” The subject that feels interesting and unique, the characters that promise to slay souls and sink ships.

They are silenced when suspended on the line to be judged. They become meek and mild when unpegged and pulled in. They stop clamoring for first and many times, let themselves fall down into the dirt below.

Luckily though, passion is persuasive and begs to be picked up, shaken out and washed again, as a clean slate offers endless possibilities.

You can read my (yet again) RUNNER UP short story HERE.

Fall 2013 Wow Contest Photo

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Yesterday, I came across a quote that said there is no such thing as writer’s block. It claims that what hinders us is instead fear, procrastination, perfectionism and laziness. And not just laziness, but pure laziness.

I’m interested to know what you think?

Peeking from behind slightly parted curtains, I sheepishly declare that whether you throw exploding tomatoes or rub browning mashed banana in my face, I’m just going to have duck down and simultaneously stand (difficult to do) united with Thrasher.

There’s many a time I sit down full of serious hope and intention with absolutely no idea what’s to come of it. But that’s the thing – if I let my vacant brain off the hook – if I never sat down just because I had nothing, nothing would ever emerge.

Nothing.

Ever.

Of course there’s fear. Very different from the fear that you’ll awake to an unwelcome stranger in the middle of the night or that you’re going to run out of gas going through a high-traffic tunnel. It’s the fear that you’re choosing to play the fool, that someone will laugh, find your work a shabby replica or perhaps worse, all too authentic.

No writer, with any living acquaintance, wants to pen dark, risqué or just plain screwed up and have people believe that that’s what’s really thought or felt by them.

You see no one, other than another writer, can truly understand a writer’s thought process. It’s that what if that’s been so over-exposed. And, I almost hate to bring it up again, but in the end, that is what it’s all about. That little catalytic question that brings a writer to a thought where they, before deciding to write it all down, pray no one ever finds out they conjured it up.

I think this may be the true meaning of irony.

Procrastination. Well damn, that’s an easy one. Hmm, should I tackle the crap that I know I can get done successfully, or should I sit down and type for hours, hoping that I get at least one half decent sentence out of it? Should I make sure my family has food and clean clothes, or should I while the hours away writing something that no one may ever read? Should I show anyone what has turned out to be definite drivel? No? Okay, what do I say I’ve been doing for the past six hours instead of making sure the kids were picked up and the bills were paid then?

Enough said on that.

Perfectionism. I have countless closets, nooks, crannies, projects and plans that remain untackled due to a silent and highly unrecognized, misunderstood affliction called perfectionism. I literally have to talk myself into starting something that I know I only have twenty to thirty minutes to work on. I, to my core, feel that I should not start a project that I don’t have to time to see through, not only to completion, but to painstaking precision. I will literally allow a stain to stay on my floor for a week because I don’t have the time to get down on my hands and knees and scrub the entire wood surface (which includes a kitchen, dining room, hallway, living room and front hall) rather than just swiftly wiping up the singular mark that lies right in front of the kitchen sink. So, you can imagine my dilemma, not having a solid six months to sit down and write an entire novel without stopping.

Perfectionism is show-stopping.

Laziness. This is the one and only point I’m iffy on. Actually, a little more than iffy. This one irks me. Speaking for myself, and any other writer I’ve ever interacted with, whatever the task or tribulation at hand, we’d love to toss it aside to write. Which I guess, could be deemed a different kind of lazy, but that’s not what Thrasher is talking about here. He’s referring to writers who are lazy about writing.

I believe, if you feel in any way, like you couldn’t be bothered to write, then you’re not a writer. A true writer should be thinking about their next opportunity to write any time their eyes are open and they are breathing.  There. I said it.

It’s up to us. No one is cheering us on to be what might be viewed as a sedentary slop. Not a soul is saying, Hey, sit on down. Chill with your laptop. We get it. You’re writing. In reality, many are biting their tongues on words like aloof, rude, lazy and antisocial.

We may not yet be Khaled Hosseini, Stephen King or Danielle Steel, but if we don’t stand up and sit down, we never will be.

Inspiration exists

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I often come to this door, but have never turned the key.

Until this time.

This time, I press against the cold steel and watch my fingers curl around the handle and slowly twist. I can tell by the way I inch forward that I believe I’ll have the chance to choose whether or not I want to enter, after I see what’s inside.

But this is not so today.

The door opens and I’m in with such force that my cheeks draw back and my neck strains against the pressure.

It’s so dark.

Lack of light is not the issue. It’s well-lit. Sharply, in fact. Bright fluorescents so exposing, that I can see all of my smudges and every choice I’ve ever made.

Nonetheless, it’s dark in here.

The blaze of light showcases every setting, subject and sonnet I’ve ever engaged in and holds it up to the heat of the glare. The doubt of it all melts and it drips its hot, inky stain over my skin.

There’s often darkness in light.

But whether or not we turn the key, open the door, step inside or flip a switch, it goes both ways. There’s also light to be seen in the darkness.

We just have to imagine it’s there.

light in the dark 1

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“I know where you live.”

I stop mid pour. The rich smell reaches my nose and it’s glorious, despite not being able to stomach the stuff.

“I don’t think you do.” I say calmly, tipping the pot once again. Little coffee bubbles dance on the old Formica countertop.

“I do,” he says. “Saw you outside the Laundromat last week. You were driving that old green wagon.”

He takes a sip and closes his eyes as if it’s the best thing he’s ever tasted. His lips pull into a wide, flat line.

“Yeah, well I don’t live at the Laundromat.” I joke.

It’s the simple things, isn’t it?” He sighs. “Coffee, black and hot. Cures whatever ails.”

“I don’t drink it,” I tell him. “But I imagine if I did, I’d be dousing it with cream and sugar.”

“Nah, that stuff just smothers the quality of the bean. I like to know what I’m drinking.” His eyes are still closed but they open when he asks; “How in the world can you work in a diner and not drink coffee?”

“Love the smell, can’t stand the taste.”

“Ah, it can be a cruel, cruel world.” He nods and smiles a little wider, exposing surprisingly white teeth from behind his reed-thin lips.

Ding.

Slamming my chit on the spike, I grab his order from under the warmer and set it in front of him. Two eggs, sunny side up, extra crispy bacon and sourdough toast, lightly buttered.

“How long you had that car?” He asks.

As he snaps off a piece of bacon and dips it in the ketchup he’s squirted on the edge of the plate, I can’t help but wonder where his sense of quality is now.

“Four years,” I answer. “My Grandma left it to me.”

The dark moons under his nails loosely string each finger together like a black crepe streamer and his clothes are on the worn side of things, much like his skin, supple and weathered.

“Ah, a treasure then. It’s a ’73, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, how did you…?”

“Lucky guess,” he says. “We used to have one back in the day. I learned to drive in it.” He chuckles. “Showing my age now, I suppose.”

“More?” I hold the pot over his almost empty cup.

He nods. I pour.

Despite his ruffled appearance, I can smell fresh shampoo and sharp aftershave as I lean in to wipe up the drips.

“It was a guilt gift,” I confess. “She wanted nothing to do with me. The car made her feel better.”

“Did it make you feel better?”

“Probably not for the right reasons,” I admit. “It’s the only thing I own. It’s more important than it should be now.”

“I’ll take it off your hands.” He offers and slides his business card across the counter. It claims he’s the owner of the Green Bean Organic Coffee Plant. The same coffee we use in the diner.

“I can’t. I still need it.”

“If you didn’t have it, where would you be?”

“Um, taking the bus?” My eyes shift.

“Sometimes it’s good to rid yourself of things that are holding you back.”

“I told you, I still need it.” I look away. “Why are you so hot for my car anyway?

“I could say it’s because it’s green. Or because, like I said, I learned to drive in that very same car.”

He lightly knocks his fist twice on the countertop. “

“But, I’d be lying. It’s because I know where you live.”

Green 1973 Wagon

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Oh dear. My 150th post and I screwed it up. I knew you guys were discerning readers, but never did I think you’d shy from one slightly rare serving!

Where do I go from here? Is it too late to say I’m sorry? To promise I won’t do it again?

No, it’s not too late. Yes, you’re discerning, but I’m pretty sure tolerance, compassion and forgiveness are in there somewhere too. That has to be true or we’d have parted long ago.

And it’s a good thing, because I’m trying desperately to be a writer. And to quote Thomas Mann; “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

 

Make no mistake – we’re friends because you’re particular.

 

It could be argued that what I did the other day wasn’t writing, but I stand firm that all writing is writing. I started this blog to bolster my commitment. I hoped knew it would hold me accountable for producing something on regular basis. I wanted it to make me think.

I dreamed of it making you think.

I spent years writing in journals. They didn’t suddenly stop selling them in the stores. I didn’t run out of pocket money to buy one. I chose to display my trials and tribulations on a public forum. I decided I wanted you to witness my stabs and my stumbles.

Some things I write to reflect and some things I write to connect, so neither of us should be surprised by the odd, rare roast post.

It’s how I get to know you.

It’s how I hope you’ll get to know me.

It is how we’ll get to well-done.

Heart shaped meat

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Is it too late to start a post? Some would say yes. It’s 11:15am and when I’m still working on it at 3pm and behind on all I should do in a day, I might be agreeing with those people.

But…yesterday, I did paperwork – like, all day – and then again for two hours this morning. Wah. I deserve a break, don’t you think? That is a lot of time spent on something I really don’t like doing. Am I right?

Yes, I’m right. I just wish I could feel right.

You see, paperwork is kind of like housework for me. It’s this illusive, slippery matter that slips through my fingers, no tail in sight. Anytime I hear anyone say, “Oh my goodness, I cleaned all morning. It feels so good to be finished!” I can’t help but ask, “Finished? How are you finished? Where do you get one of these houses you can clean and actually be done at some point?”

Because, I for one, am never finished cleaning.

Except, I don’t mind cleaning. I like the smells and the scents, the sparkle and the shine. It’s relaxing. It’s satisfying. It’s visual.

Paperwork? Not so much. It’s not pretty. It’s not creative. (Well, not in any legal way) There’s very little smell. It doesn’t sparkle or shine. And I have to say, it’s anything but relaxing. I mean, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, money, money, money, crunch, crunch, crunch, sweat, sweat, swear sweat.

and…

Do I need to keep this bill? Can I write that off? Did pay my property tax? What do I do with this? Will this come back to haunt me?

No bliss about, I tell you.

There are some things we have to do and some things we want to do. For me, writing is definitely both of those, so why does it always come one hundred and sixty fourth on the list?

But even at 164, it’ll happen. Although sometimes it means serving up an undercooked post like this one. Just take a Tums before reading and it won’t be so upsetting.

Oops, too late.

when writing isn't a money maker

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