A writing marathon

Yesterday I took a break from my studies and went on a little excursion with my writing group.  We ventured south from our corner of suburbia into an eclectic downtown neighborhood known as Deep Ellum.  It has the kind of charm that comes with age -each building has a tale to tell; every face a story. 

Organized by my fellow WC-er Bill Chance, the trip was intended to spark our imaginations.  You can read about his experience with a recent New Orleans writing marathon [here].   The idea was to walk through the streets, take in the sights, draw inspiration, brainstorm, and then find a comfortable corner to write.  We wrote in 20 minute bursts, then shared.  I wasn’t big on the sharing part at first, but I warmed up to it.  I’m glad I did.   If there is one thing I’ve learned over the last couple of years, its that raw honest feedback is invaluable to a writer. 

I haven’t written much fiction since the end of August when I chose to put my WIP aside, and focus on that damn Geology class and lab.  Regrettable, but necessary.  However, now that the semester is winding down and all I’ve left on my plate are finals, I am itching to get back into the fray.  This trip was a good way to kick start the creative juices and reconnect with my old friend, Anna.

Where did she lead me in Deep Ellum?  She led me to a crumbling Roman brothel where she met with a drunken ex-KGB operative – her maternal grandfather and the man who murdered her father.  She longed to put a bullet in his brain, but instead, she swallowed her dark desires for retribution and asked for his help.  I’m not sure how this is going to work out.  I like the idea of this man; I like the familial connection; I like the conflict.  I wonder how Anna will reconcile her feelings toward her grandfather – will she pity the drunken shell he has become?  Will she give into her baser desires and avenge her father’s legacy? Or will she simply take what he can give and walk away?

I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out. 

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Things I learned this week

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

― Charles M. Schulz

I learned this week…

…that, at the ripe age of 40, I’ve finally taught myself to swim.  I have kept this under wraps for a while.  I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing – not my friends; not my family.  I’m sure they are going to be shocked because they’ve put up with my number one phobia for a very long time:  drowning.  It’s kept me from doing a lot of fun stuff over the years.  However,  I am thrilled to announce that this week, I did the front crawl from one end of the pool to the other – without stopping.    And I did it a dozen times.  All by myself.  With my daughter cheering me on.  Of course, being a 40 year old unaccustomed to the physical exertion of swimming, I nearly collapsed and drowned.

…that my daughter is an evolving enigma.  She has quirks and habits that I’ve come to accept, even rely upon, as evidence that she is an independent spirit.  Take for instance her hair.  She is cursed blessed with thick honey blonde tresses that frizz curl wildly around her beautiful face.  She hates every strand, and insists that she not be seen without it firmly secured in a slick-backed pony tail.   This is non-negotiable.  If, by chance, there is an instance of variance from the norm, there will be long sighs, nasty glares, and even tears.  This week she rocked my world.  Out of the blue, she announced, as she pulled the band from her hair and let it flow freely down her back, that in a year or two she just might start wearing it down.  The truly remarkable thing, and what threw me into a state of shock, was that we were at our neighborhood pool.  In public.  Surrounded by dozens of strangers.  Who have now seen her with her hair down.

…that the next installment in the Jason Bourne saga (sans Jason Bourne) has been unleashed on the nation.  In the past, I have railed against Hollywood’s dirty habit of unnecessarily rebooting and remaking movies in order to capitalize on the viewing public’s need for familiarity at the box office. I won’t rehash my feelings – you can read them for yourself, if you are so inclined.   I have to admit, I don’t understand the need for another Bourne film, especially one without its namesake.   When I first heard rumor of it, I thought it ridiculous.  I swore I wouldn’t see it, but curiosity got the better of me.  I saw it.  I hated.  As I write this, I am watching a the original Bourne trilogy in hopes that it will wash away the stench of The Bourne Legacy.

For some additional reviews of the movie, check out:

Om Malik

Movie Talkies

Sweep the Legs

IMG_2213…that a girl in China was found to have spider living in her ear – for a week.  A lot of things creep me out.  Spiders, oddly enough, are not one of them.  However, upon reading this article (and viewing the pictures), I was struck by a sense of familiarity.  Then it hit me – that spider’s brother took up residence in my car two months ago!  It may be time to dig out the old bug bomb.  I now have serious case of the heebee-jeebees.

…that I can check “staying up late(ish) to watch a meteor shower” off my list of things I must do before I die.  I stayed up.  I sat in a lawn chair in my driveway, stared up at the sky, and – got nothing.  I didn’t see anything, but low flying airplanes.  Well, there was that one thing, with the flashing lights and erratic flight pattern.  I told myself it was a weather balloon – because they’re always weather balloons, right?  By and large, though, I was bored out of my freaking mind.  I bow down to my geeky science loving friends who have the discipline for such things.  I, obviously, do not.

…that while working on my WIP this week, I discovered that Anna’ brother is a lot more trouble than he’s worth.  Luckily my writing group was more than willing to come to my rescue.  If you write and don’t have a writing group – get one.  You won’t regret it.  Unless your group sucks.  Then you might regret it.  So choose wisely.  I did.

…this week’s awww moment is brought to you by these water droplets clinging to a spider’s web.  I know, there really isn’t anything warm and fuzzy about it.  So what.  I like it and it’s my blog.  Enjoy.

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Things I learned this week

“Lost a planet Master Obi-Wan has.  How embarrassing.”  – Yoda

I learned this week…

that Snoop Dogg has changed his name to Snoop Lion.  I’m so relieved.  I don’t know about you, but I was beginning to question the longevity of his career if he should continue on with such a moniker.

…that I should never be trusted to do two things:  dress myself or pick out eye glasses.   I think it’s a pretty well-known fact that if given a choice between a pair of respectable black slacks and a pair with obnoxious stripes, I will pick the stripes every single time – and wear them with a printed top.  I am a fashion failure.  I get it.  I embrace it.  A few years ago I got glasses.  I went down to my local optical mart, tried on a few dozen frames, ignored the annoying optician’s suggestions, and took home a set of glasses that would never leave their handy-dandy carry case.  I hated them.  This week, out of necessity – my eyes have decided to act their age – I went to get a new pair.  I opted to go back to my optometrist’s office because it was convenient – and I get a discount.   I chose a few frames, and asked the peppy little optician for advice.  She took one look at what I had chosen, said no, no, no, and promptly made me start the process over.  As it turns out, my taste in glasses is just as flawed as my taste in trousers.  I am now the proud owner of a pair of glasses that I like – and wear.  Yay for pushy, obnoxious optician lady who is immune to my stink eye and biting sarcasm.

…that I have the best writing group on the planet.  This week our meeting turned into an impromptu photo shoot when one of our members came dressed up in an anime costume.

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There’s a special place in my heart for this girl.

…that I won something.  I never win things, but this week I found out that I won a copy of Tania L. Ramos’ new book Be Still.  She is an independently published author who still maintains her day job as a registered nurse.  I admire her tenacity and dedication to her craft.  I can’t wait to read her book.  Go check her out her blog.  Oh, and while you’re at it, check out Nerdy Book Reviews. Some good stuff over there, too.

…that dress shopping with my daughter is going to be a test of my resolve.  She is entering 7th grade band and unlike last year when the required concert uniform consisted of a black embossed polo and khaki pants, this year she will have to wear a black dress.  Yes, my friends, a dress.  My daughter doesn’t wear dresses…or anything that might be construed as girly.  She is a jeans and t-shirt kinda gal.  If she ever feels the need to spice it up, she might go so far as to slap on a button up shirt and a pair of low top Converse sneakers.  But that’s where she draws the line.  We hit a few stores this week in search of this black band dress.  We didn’t find one, but I was rewarded for my efforts with lots of heavy sighs and eyes rolls.  Can’t wait to tell her that she won’t be able to wear her sneakers with the dress we’ve yet to find.  That ought to go over well.  The last time I got her in a pair of dress shoes was the last time she wore a dress – her brother’s wedding.  She cried over the dress, and exchanged the shoes for a pair of bright blue Crocs as soon as the ceremony was over.

…that IKEA on a Saturday is torture.  Two visits to IKEA on the same Saturday is a special kind of Hell that is beyond adequate description.

…this week’s awww moment isn’t an awww moment at all.  It’s just one of my Chihuly exhibit photos.  The reflection of the glass gives the appearance of paint bleeding through the water.  I think it’s kinda cool.

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Things I learned this week

I learned this week…

…that it’s turning out to be a rough year for music.  This week we lost another great – Robin Gibb of the Bee GeesAs I said last week, the Bee Gees were a staple in my house growing up.  Many of their songs rank among my favorites, many of them from the disco era, but the tune that I love to listen to over and over is this one:

No surprise that it was released in the sixties – the greatest musical decade in the history of rock & roll.  RIP Robin Gibb.

…that I smell clean, or so a woman at my local mall informed me this week.  I’m going to take her unsettling observation as a compliment, because to do otherwise would cause my overactive imagination to kick into overdrive and I will begin to believe that I am destined to die at the hands of a deranged serial killer whose taste for blood is triggered by the April fresh scent of my fabric softener.

…that the loss of my tooth crown virginity is a momentous occasion – at least to the staff at my new dentist’s office.   I have to say, I’m confused by their level of excitement.     This is how the conversations went:

Hygienist #1:  How many crowns to do you have?

Me:  None.

Hygienist #1:  None?  This is your first?

Me:  Yes.

Hygienist #1 (with a giant grin on her face):  Awww.

One week later at final fitting and placement:

Hygienist #2 (as she studies my panoramic x-rays on a computer monitor):  You don’t have any other crowns?

Me:  Nope.

Hygienist #2:  Really?

Me:  Really.

Hygienist #2:  Oh wow!  Your very first.  Awww.  (she then gives me a motherly pat on the shoulder)

I think someone should inventory this office’s supply of nitrous oxide.

…that a bit of positive feedback goes a long way in boosting my creative confidence.  I unveiled the opening scene for my work in progress rewrite this week to my writing group.  I’ve agonized and obsessed over this particular scene for weeks.   I was apprehensive about their reaction.  They can be a tough crowd, but the scene was well received.  I made it through an entire read without any snickering or side jokes regarding some unintended sexual innuendo or inadvertent Yoda-speak.

…that I have a new theme song.  Sara Bareilles is on of my favorite singer/songwriter/performers at the moment.   She just finished a grueling tour schedule and is now going to enjoy a little time off before she heads back into the studio.  As a parting gift she gave her devoted fans a five track EP.  It’s musical perfection, as usual, and I have a new favorite.

***Warning:  This is not a song you want to crank up at work or in the presence of your children.  There is quite a bit of crude language so considered yourself warned.  Enjoy.

…that last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by the elusive Blue Jay who feeds in my backyard.  I’ve tried for weeks to sneak up on the wily little bastard to snap a picture or two.  My patience finally paid off.

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