Things I learned this week

“There is no monopoly on common sense, on either side of the political fence.”

– Russians.  Sting, 1985.

I learned this week…

…that the gender of certain species of tortoise is determined by incubation temperature.  Who knew?  Becomingcliche did, that’s who.  Check out her blog for some more fun facts from the reptile house.

…on this day in history, Ronald Reagan said:

“Americans are brothers not because we share the same past and the same ancestry, but because we share the same ideals and the same hopes for the future.”

I think in recent years, we have lost sight of this unifying concept of American brotherhood.  If the current political climate is any indication, I don’t think we are destined to rediscover it any time soon, either.

…that procrastination is an art form that must be nurtured and practiced if one is to become sufficiently proficient.  This weekend I was supposed to write a paper on the socialization process of Palestinian children growing up in the war-torn region of Gaza, specifically Rafah.  Instead, I decided to do a little cleaning – or clearing, if you will.  I completely cleared off my DVR.  Wasted an entire day doing it, too.

…that the film Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy is a brilliant and spellbinding Cold War era political thriller.  If you like this sort of thing, which I do, I recommend that carve out a little time to see this one.  You will not be sorry.  It is based on the 1974 novel of the same name by John le Carre.  I will admit that I have not read the novel, and I understand that doing so will give clarity to certain aspects of the movie, however, I didn’t feel that this hindered my overall understanding of the plot.  Check it out.  Or don’t.  Whatever.

Check out bookfilmblog’s review for a better understanding of the film.

…that there was an entire season (to present) of Once Upon a Time episodes piled up in my DVR queue.   I don’t like clutter, therefore, it was necessary (from a mental health standpoint) for me to rectify this situation.  I spent all of this past Sunday watching nothing but episode upon episode of this ABC show.  I initially set the timer for my daughter.  No, really.  I had no intention of giving this show that time of day.  It was about fairy tales and princesses and crap.  I don’t do princesses.  I do murder and intrigue.  My preconceived notions are rarely wrong (stop laughing), but I’ve got to say that this show sucked me in.  Sure, it has a sort of odd dual storyline that takes a bit of getting used to, but it is surprisingly well written and totally unexpected.   I love a show that leaves me gaping at the television in stunned silence.  Example:  Red Riding Hood (in the fairy tale world) is not a victim of the big bad wolf, she IS the wolf – who just ate her own lover.

Whoa.

…that one goes through stages similar to those of grief when coming to terms with failure.  I have moved into the acceptance phase.

I’ve accepted that my novel is crap.

Stay tuned for my Sunday updates (yes, I promise to be better about posting them) as I start the writing process all over again.  I think this time will be better.  It has to be better, right?  Right?  Hello?

***Warning – Pet Peeve of the Week***

…that I am a stickler for personal space.   Johnny Castle once said:

“This is my dance space. This is your dance space. I don’t go into yours, you don’t go into mine.”

That Johnny Castle was a smart guy.  Cute, too.

I digress.

I was patiently waiting for the cute little girl at Target to ring up my purchases the other day.   Beep, beep, beep.  As I waited, a woman, not much older than me, pushed her buggy into line behind me, unloaded her groceries, and then came to stand next to me.  Right next to me.  I mean, so close that our elbows brushed.  It was all I could to keep myself from having one of those impulsive ticks.  You know, the one where your fist balls up all by itself and clocks the person standing next to you.

…and finally, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this little…um…rodent.  Hamster?  Kangaroo mouse?  I don’t really know what it is, but it sure is cute.  I also do not have the original source, and I sort of think it may have been manipulated, but I don’t care about all that nonsense.  It’s cute.  It made me smile.  That’s all that matters.


Just Write: Sunday Self-shaming Update

In the past, I’ve been reluctant to write about my writing process, or lack thereof.  I admire those who write blogs, documenting their failures and successes; giving advice to help ease the way for newbs like me.  I don’t feel that I can compete with those writers.  I don’t mean to imply that this is some sort of competition and that I am advocating my skills by screaming “hey, look over here!  I’m a better writer than so and so over at blahblah.com.”  No, my reluctance comes from the knowledge that I have nothing useful to add to the mix.  I’m still trying to find my way out of the fog and find my voice as a writer.

This lends to a personality trait that some might call a flaw.  I am a watcher, not a joiner.  I like to stand on the peripheral, and take it all in – learn from what is going on around me, and silently, walk away.  Not necessarily a bad thing, right?   Maybe not.  But in this realm of my life, I am discovering that this quirk is a clear disadvantage.

Recently, my creativity has hit a bit of a road block.  Well, if I’m to be completely honest, “road block” seems to be a bit of an understatement.  I have run headlong into a brick wall, spray painted with the words “You, a Writer?  Dream on.” in big bold letters.  Now, as I lie on the ground, thoroughly bitch slapped by self-doubt, and stare up at those mocking words, I am faced with a dilemma.  Get up and try it again;  or lie here, lick my wounds, and consider knitting as a safe alternative.

I will get up, of course.  I hate knitting.

But now the question is:  How do I prevent this sort of thing from happening again?

I need a platform that I can chronicle my failures and successes.  I am learning that even though I am not a seasoned writer, my process is important.  Even if only to me.  Surely, by whining about my writing/plot/character problems, and sharing my successes, I will find a way to cleanse my convoluted creativity and unburden my mind enough to actually make a dent in this novel – a manuscript that has plagued me for the last year.

The answer:  I will blog about it and torture my few followers.  Brilliant!  Misery loves company, right?

I am not one to make New Year’s Resolutions.  I think they are a recipe for failure.  I’ve only made one other in my life.  I succeeded in that – losing 50lbs.  However, I accomplished that feat, not by making an all-encompassing pledge, but by making small attainable goals for myself and then resetting them once they were met.  I will apply the same school of thought to my writing process.

DSC01542December 20, 2011:

Novel:                            Retribution

Current Word Count:      24,001

Number of Pages:               124

January 1, 2012:

Novel:                                Retribution

Current Word Count:       24,940

Number of Pages:                129

Not a lot of progress made in ten days time.  But, in reality, it is.  In that time, I dove in and did a lot of word purging.  A painful process, but a necessary one.  In all, I wrote and rewrote some three thousand words or so.  I also was able to realign some plot issues, create a new character conflict, and deepen a main character’s sense of purpose, clarifying her goals.  Of course, as often happens in these situations, my character spontaneously goaded me into alluding to a twist; one that will be difficult to incorporate, but you never know.  We’ll see where it goes.

Lesson of the week:   Accepting that sometimes a fresh scene is poorly written and perhaps lacks the precise tone of the flanking scenes, but, at least, it is out of my head and “on paper.”  I can fix it later – after I’ve typed those sweet words – The End.

New goal:

What:                        3000 words written; Including 2 new outlined scenes

Completed by:           Next Sunday – January 8, 2012