Monday, November 15, 2010

The Latest In Security Theatre

Not to do with writing directly...

[I say directly, because if you're traveling with anything electronic (as many writers do), you should know that you may be subject to taking the battery out [at least], booting it up, and—depending on where you are and who you're dealing with [much like dealing with police officers, a lot of this stuff winds up in the Discretionary Actions pile]—possibly having the thing confiscated. Granted, as far as I know, the intrusive examination and/or confiscating of electronics has only happened with U.S. Customs and "Homeland Security" and not TSA, however....]

Note to self: Never travel with anything you're not willing to lose.

I think this includes one's dignity....

Traveler to TSA: If You Touch My Junk, I'll Have You Arrested

Ladies and Gentlemen, we've arrived just as scheduled. Please return your Right to Privacy to the complimentary imagination bin overhead and keep your protestations of sexual harassment and bodily violation to yourself. You forfeited them all when you chose to purchase a ticket and fly. (Maybe next time you'll wise up and take commuter rail.)

Welcome to Fucked, ladies and gentlemen. Do enjoy your stay.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Feminism Fridays: Fictional Heroes - Ellen Ripley

(This post has spoilers for the Alien Quadrilogy.)

Ripley & Jonesy

Lt. Ellen Ripley.

A savvy, sharp tongued, take-no-bullshit woman who fights and survives where all the other men (and a few women) have fallen.

What's not to like about that?

It wasn't until recent years that I discovered that the writers of Alien, while attempting to create all of the characters as gender neutral, assumed the role of Ripley would be played by a man. (Which wasn't a hard assumption to make at the time. It's not even a hard one to make now.)

I can imagine a man in the role.

But it's just not the same.

Which is interesting because Ripley isn't portrayed as overtly feminine. Nor overtly masculine.

The movies don't shy away from what we typically see as "feminine" qualitiese.g. her motherly relationship with Newt in Aliensbut they don't shove them in the viewer's face as though she's some kind of zoological exhibit. (And in this next cage, if you look closely, you'll see the rare and beautiful female action hero.)

They stay true to her totality. She's portrayed as a person harboring a number of qualities we would see as masculine and feminine.

When we meet Ripley, we meet a serious, determined, protocol-oriented Lieutenant who's looking outfirst and foremostfor the safety of those left on board the Nostromo (when the ground crew comes back from their epic fail of an expedition) and then working her ass off to survive (and keep everyone else alive) while the rest of the crew collapse under the pressure of having a human-eating monster aboard. 

And these qualities are reinforced throughout the sequels. 

Even as we're given more of Ripley's back story, more feminine qualities (and thus more chances for the writers to drop into some female-character-in-a-horror-movie-cliche) Ripley maintains her determination, her intelligence, her wit, and her no-nonsense demeanor.

This wasn't something consciously on my radar when I was a kid... But I know that I liked Ripley (when I first saw Aliens, around age seven or eight) because she was strong. Because she didn't scream and freak out and fall and twist her ankle while she was running away from the monster. Because she was pro-active. Because she was a survivor. 

It took a few more years and a number of movies before I realized that was something of a rarity. A main female character who isn't a damsel in distress. Who survives not because of luck or the timely appearance of a man (arguably Bishop in Aliens, but he's technically an android, so....I digress) but because of her own strength and ingenuity. 

I think she's a pretty fine example of a well-rounded female character and quintessential hero. 

This was originally where I was going to end my post, except I realized something about Ripley in just the last few days as I was discussing horror movie tropes with my partner.

And, sadly, these tropes play out in the Alien films.

In Alien it can be argued that Ripley fits the "Final Girl" profile. She has no real sexual identity. She's chaste (or sexually unavailable). She confronts the monster and survives. 

In Aliens we find out Ripley has a daughter (a sign that she has had a sexual relationship). And there is an obvious sexual tension and flirtation between her and Hicks. But, she remains chaste. Battles the monster. Survives (if a little worse for the wear). 

In Alien 3...Ripley has sex. Faces the monster. And subsequently dies. Granted, she died by her own hand (though she would have died regardless) and the alien embryo was implanted before she lost the "protection of chastity" so you could argue that it doesn't really fit the trope. 

But, the end result is the same. Woman has sex. Woman dies.

It's a kick in the teeth.

"Walking the Aisle"

Head bowed, he breathes deep and chokes on the odor of flowers, the subtle cloying scent of lily and sharp tang of lilac settling on the back of his tongue.

She’s next to him, holding his arm; he can feel the soft swell of her breast against his tricep and the sturdy warmth of her body molded against him from torso to calf. She breaks away as the double doors open, twining her fingers with his, and guides him down the aisle to the resonant thrum of organ music; his gait hitches right along with his breath.

At the front of the room, he finally raises his head, falters and loses a step, shiny black shoes scuffing the threadbare chapel carpet.

The coffin, draped in flowers, sits on the middle of a dais with lights beaming down on it; if he didn’t know any better, he’d think he was staring at the opening scenes of some play, but the bowed heads of people in the pews, the whisper-soft sobs and rasps of tissue against wet cheeks remind him that this is reality.

She slides onto the hard wooden pew reserved for family and he follows her, looks at her, waits for her to tighten her fingers around his hand and then he turns his face forward—breathes out, breathes in—and whispers:
Goodbye, brother.

First appearing at my blog over on the Six Sentences Social Network.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

[Six Sentences] "Unseen"

I learned a long time ago that the dead are all around us.

You know those flitting shadows you sometimes see out of the side of your eye—those things you dismiss as imagination (or the cat)?

Yeah, that’s them; and once you realize that’s them you get better at seeing them. They go from flitting shadows to lingering figures with shape and form and faces.

Of course, as you get better at seeing them, they start to notice you watching; a lot of them don’t mind, they’re glad to be seen and anxious to communicate, but others, well, they don’t take too kindly to the living being able to see them and there’s more than a few who’ll do something about it. You hear about freak accidents from time to time—people decapitated by elevators or ripped apart by wood chippers, that kind of thing—but I have it on good authority that a lot of the time, those aren’t just accidents.

first appearing at my blog over on the Six Sentences Social Network.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"The Part When People Start Screaming"

He can’t exist.

He's not supposed to exist.

Except on the safety of my television screen.

But I come out of the office and he's standing in the middle of my living room, in a navy blue button down, with his hair in haphazard spikes and whirls, and his eyes dark and intense without the distraction of thick framed glasses; behind him, the television that had been showing the NBC rerun is black, sparking, and gives off the faintest odor of ozone.

Whether it's my quick exhale of his name or the sudden resonating thud of my heart against my ribs that alerts him, I'm not sure, but he looks at me and I half expect his pupils to dilate like a cat's; every muscle in my body goes rigid when he steps forward—lips parting to draw in a soft breath, like a sigh of anticipation—and raises one hand before he stops short, head tilting, eyes narrowing and says, "You're not one of us…but you recognize me; who are you?"

I open my mouth and find that I only seem to be able to make basic vowel sounds; what exactly do you say to a fictional, psionic, serial killer who's suddenly appeared in your living room?

A self indulgent piece inspired by Heroes and first appearing at my blog over on the Six Sentences Social Network.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Villains in Sweater Vests

I've been watching Heroes.

Yes, the year it's canceled is the year I start watching the show. (But, that's actually better than starting a show, getting hooked on it, and having it canceled as you're eagerly awaiting the next season. I know what to expect going in.)


I'm watching Heroes and...Gabriel Gray. (O.K. and Sylar too. Granted, same person, different facet.)

And this just gives me a kick in the head to ask:

What is it with me and crazy characters in glasses and sweater vests?

No, really.

See, one fascination:

Dr. Jonathan Crane (as portrayed by Cillian Murphy in Batman Begins)

And now...

Gabriel Gray/Sylar (as portrayed by Zachary Quinto)

(And note...they even have a similar expression.)

Granted, Sylar doesn't maintain the Uber-Geek look (which I do love by the way; see also: Dr. Spencer Reid in early seasons of Criminal Minds) because, hey, after you start gaining infamy, you want to cut an intimidating figure and all black with spiked hair and sexy stubble is a much better way to do that...

Case in point:

Some days, I think I might have the beginnings of a problem...

Is there an Anonymous group for this type of thing?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

[Six Sentences] "On the Second Date In as Many Months"

"...So," she finished and sat down her empty coffee mug.

And he sighed, "Yeah…" and cupped the back of his head, pressing his fingers to the base of his skull, trying to stem the strange sensation—part magma, part glacier water—that had settled in the pit of his stomach and was winding its way up to his temples.

She’d shifted away from him on the couch, putting her back to the arm, watching him and...did she expect him to say something else? "Well..." his tongue had grown fat and clumsy in the cradle of his jaw and his brain was full of black noise, smothering the words he wanted to say; the words that maybe he should say?

But she shook her head and stood, the same no nonsense look on her face that she had the night she'd given him the run down of exactly what she liked and how she liked it, before taking a condom—too old, he should have bought new ones—from the pack lying on his bedside table, pressing it into his hand, and bearing him down to the bed with a kiss. "I've got an appointment tomorrow at the clinic," she picked up her purse, "and you don't need to do anything, but I told you I'd tell you if anything happened and I keep my word; I'll see you," she finished, and he watched her turn hard on her heel and walk out the door.

First posted on the Six Sentences Social Network

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Nail Files

My week in summary: Submitted a flash fiction to an eZine. Got rejected.

Within the space of two days.

I'm not sure whether to be insulted or thankful...

I'm leaning toward the latter. Because, really, I'd rather be rejected immediately than tortured with weeks between the submission and the (more than likely) rejection. Apparently, I got it in just in time for the batch read. (Also, I must remember to recognize assistant/multiple editors in my salutations. Whoops. Bad writer etiquette, no biscuit.)

And here it is:
Thanks for letting us read your submission. I’m afraid we are going to pass this time. Unfortunately, we get too many submissions to offer personal feedback on each one. Best of luck placing it elsewhere.

As rejections go, it's...even keel, even for a form letter. I've had worse (form letters). More blunt. With no "bests of luck." (And I do appreciate those wishes for luck.)

Because that's really what this is all about, in the end. Finding the right market and Editor, with the right story picked out--from one of your gazillion files--and submitted at the right time.

Tell me there's not just a bit of need for the "luck of the draw" in that?

With a smidge of talent thrown in on the top, of course.

Oy vey.

I suspect every writer who attempts to be an author (yes, I do separate the two) has a bit of a masochistic streak inside.

Otherwise, I don't think we'd keep doing this to ourselves...

"...the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and kept on writing." - Stephen King, On Writing

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Things Every Writer Needs: A Writing Hat

Interruptions are a part of life. At home. In the office. In the home office. At the coffee shop. Wherever.

You can't get away from them.

Everything from phone calls, to knocks on the door, to co-workers needing your opinion, to loud children, to cats clamoring for a position on your lap, to your partner deciding to share [quite exuberantly] with you a new and interesting topic he's just learned about.

These interruptions make a convenient excuse when it comes to not writing.

But that's all they are: excuses.

Writers write. And that (often) means writing around, through, and even during distractions.

I seem to recall that I had a much better grasp on writing through distractions when I was a teenager. To my mother's chagrin, I'm sure.

Sometimes I wish I could easily access that selfish mindset that comes with adolescence. Writing is, after all, a pretty selfish pursuit; time consuming, exacting, and internal. As a teenager, I think I was more likely to be pardoned for such a disposition than I am as an adult. Also, in the past few years, I think I may have swallowed some of that societal garbage that says I need to be "less selfish" with my time and attention. ("Less selfish," I often find, translates to: Putting everyone else first. Which is pretty detrimental to your own health and well being.)

Either way, I find it harder, these days, to write through interruptions. But I keep trudging.

And I find that some interruptions are easier to deal with than others.

I can ignore, for instance, a ringing phone or a child playing loudly outside my window. (I've mentioned before that head phones and music are a common companion.)

It's much harder to ignore someone who is physically present in my space and intent on talking to me. (Though I have been known to continue scribbling away while giving monosyllabic answers. What I find amazing is that this doesn't deter some people.)

Since it's probably not a good idea to go around gagging everyone who interrupts your thought process, you have to consider other options to get the fact--that you are not available for conversation--across. Which brings us to: the Writing Hat.

That is, a literal Writing Hat. (That's mine on the left.)

Much like setting aside a specific time or place to do your writing, plopping an actual hat on your head can help you get into the writing mindset.

(Well, maybe.)

If nothing else, it serves as a physical sign to other people that you are, in fact, busy (even if all you seem to be doing is staring at a blank Word document or playing an endless game of Spider Solitaire).

Of course, you'll likely have to set aside a moment to introduce the people in your life to your Writing Hat, with a clear disclaimer that when you're wearing it, you're not to be disturbed, on penalty of death, dismemberment, or disemvoweling. (I'm not certain the latter works outside of the written word, but if I'm annoyed enough, I'm sure I could find a way....)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Music Mondays - A twofer

I have plans for the blog. Honestly, I do. I just keep getting distracted by actual fiction writing. And work. But, I have this Friday off and I intend to spend the majority of it with my keyboard at my fingertips.

This Monday's music choices are a bit apart in style and genre, but they've both lent themselves to creative ideas.

Three Days Grace's "Animal I Have Become" currently maintains a place in my novel (NaNo '09) Soundtrack:

I found it to be fitting for my main male character, particularly when the plot erupts.

Next is Emilie Autumn's "The Art of Suicide."

A while back--last year? my days run together so often now--on a particularly lazy summer day, this played through my headphones while I lay in a warm stupor on the couch; I found myself in a rather lucid dream that involved a Victorian asylum, a complete bastard of a husband, a young wife, and a rather innocent and optimistic doctor. And recurring butterfly imagery.

When I woke up enough, I scribbled the dream out in my notebook. I'm hoping to turn it into a short, though I haven't done the necessary research as yet. (I'm distracted by the characters in my aforementioned NaNo novel.)

Those kind of moments...when a song just takes root in your brain and brings, without effort, all these images to the forefront...those are some of the creative moments I live for.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Today, the caffeine is not working.

And I've a warm cat cuddled up next to me; the other three are fast asleep in various areas of the living room.

Perhaps that explains why I'm so drowsy... I think the sleep of cats--particularly kittens--is catching. They look so peaceful.

I only wish I could sleep that well.

And I wonder what dreams fill their little heads?

A bit ahead of Music Mondays, but here's my pick for inspiration this week:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Music Monday: The Old Ways - Loreena McKennitt

Suddenly I knew that you'd have to go
Your world was not mine, your eyes told me so
Yet it was there I felt the crossroads of time

And I wondered why.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Music Monday: Music and Writing

I'm a music whore.

There, I said it.

As a very little kid one of my prized possessions was a plastic record player. After a few years went by it was a small, purple portable radio with a cassette player, which usually held either a Michael Jackson cassette or Snoopy's Christmas.

I got my first stereo system, complete with a CD player, when I was 11. At the time I think I was listening to Lari White and Mariah Carey, with a bit of Vanessa Williams and The Eagles thrown in. All music reminiscent of my parents' tastes.

As time progressed, my musical tastes grew and technology, quite obviously, improved. (Though I side with the people who say there's a warmth in the sound quality of a vinyl that you just can't get with digital.)

I tested the waters, developed my own aesthetic tastes in music, and tried various sounds and artists on for size, genres varying from rap to heavy metal, folk to synth-pop. I developed a pretty eclectic taste, that I largely tried to keep hidden during the last few years of grade school; certain music just wasn't in .

But, eventually I got rid of the juvenile need for peer approval about my auditory tastes, embraced my likes wholeheartedly, and today I have in my music library everything from Selena to David Bowie, Death Cab for Cutie to The Dresden Dolls, Loreena McKennitt to X-Japan, The Judds to Emilie Autumn, Opera to Swamp Rock.

You get the picture.

And music, over the years, has become more than just something to listen to.

It's a back drop for my life and a back drop for my writing.

I think the first piece of music that I ever wrote fiction to--a bad piece of fan fiction, I admit--was Loreena McKennitt's "Samhain Night". Her beautiful lyrics and haunting vocals seemed a perfect soundtrack for a story about moving between worlds.

After that, it became more common for me to set a piece of fiction to music or for the music to act as a springboard for a story. My headphones or stereo speakers became a regular compatriot in my writing time and some of my favorite pieces have been developed because of a certain song. (Bauhaus's "Hollow Hills" comes to mind; I have a particularly creepy, Gothic skeleton of a short story with a setting inspired by the lyrics.)

These days, I listen thoroughly to the music in my library, chasing story ideas throughout the lyrics or the melody; and I'm always on the look out for new and inspiring sounds.

That I can also use music to block out the sounds of the world around me--from colleagues to pets to significant others--while I'm writing, is a nice side benefit.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"In Wood and Water, Earth and Air, A Silence Is Everywhere."*

There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you.... In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself. ~Ruth Stout

I hate the cold. (A combined total of 11 years spent in the deserts of Las Vegas and Phoenix destroyed whatever tolerance living in south Georgia and Spangdahlem, Germany had managed to build up.)

But I love the season of winter.

Particularly when it brings snow.

We took a midnight walk through our apartment complex, across parking lots with patches of ice that nearly took our feet out from under us several times. I caught snowflakes on my tongue.

The lake is half-frozen over.

It's beautiful.

There's something so quiet, and soft, and reserved about winter nights like these.

The snow fall is slow and steady. The flakes, little more than whispers of ice.

And the ground glistens and sparkles. Like stars. Like moonlit mirrors.

Nights like these capture a little bit of that magic that seemed to abound when I was a kid.

The world under a layer of ice seems alien and exotic. And the question "what if?" that has run through my mind with fair consistency since I was little seems to be that much stronger.

What if those prints in the snow are from the hooves of a satyr? What if those long shadows under the frost laden branches are sylvan spirits come out for a breath of winter air? What if something's lurking beneath that ice on the lake?

The cold itself makes me pull inward, long for a cup of tea or coffee, the soft warmth of my bed, the pull of a good movie or book.

But the snow, the quiet hush of a world that seems to be holding it's breath beneath a white blanket, makes me want to pull out a notebook and see where my pen takes me.

(Title: From Loreena McKennitt's "Snow.")

I'm hopping today.
(I'm kind of amazed I had an old post that would actually fit in this category.)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Starting the year off right...

The New Year is seven days old and I've finished two novels.

That's a good start for me.

The first is the near-epic in length Stephen King novel, Under the Dome.

Strangely, it only took me about five days to get through this one. The Stand took me a year.

...But I did take a sabbatical of about six months after I read the first half of The Stand because I wasn't ready to read about the rebuilding and restructuring of society.

I think I'm an apocalyptic gal at heart.

The second? Libba Bray's Rebel Angels. Which I read cover to cover last night.

In addition to apocalypses, I'm also a sucker for a Victorian setting and a decently strong female lead character.

So, I guess what I need is a woman battling against the odds during a Victorian era apocalypse and I'll be all set...

Monday, January 4, 2010

What’s Your Writing Style?

1. Are you a pantser or a plotter?

A little from column A, a little from column B.

Longer stories require more pre-plotting. Sometimes that's journaling, in character. Sometimes it's writing flash fictions for different characters. Sometimes it's outlining or note-taking or character profiling.

Shorter stories...those are usually "pants to the chair" types. It's the only way I can get them done. Otherwise, I wind up getting an information overload--more stuff than is feasible to go into a short story and then I have trouble deciding what to cut and where.

2. Detailed character sketches or “their character will be revealed to me as a I write”?


I have one novel idea for which I'm writing flash fictions for the main characters. It lets me get into their heads a little bit.

Some characters take well to doing a profile sheet (name, age, desires, etc.).

Some require actually delving into the novel/story content before they'll talk to me. Just depends on their personality.

3. Do you know your characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts before you start writing or is that something else you discover only after you start writing?

I have a general idea of some of them. They're usually minor and play only a side part to the overarching goal/story/plot. The rest usually come as I write.

4. Books on plotting – useful or harmful?


Anything on writing, I think one must keep at arm's length. Read, consider, learn...get rid of what doesn't work for you. Not every person's process works the same. One exercise or piece of advice isn't going to work for you the same way it works for another writer.

5. Are you a procrastinator or does the itch to write keep at you until you sit down and work?

A little from column "A," a little from column "B."

An average writing-night for me might go something like this:

Cup of tea. Write a paragraph. Cup of coffee. Delete half a paragraph. Write two paragraphs. Clean the kitchen. Write a paragraph. Watch an episode of Buffy. Write a few lines. Delete a few lines. Write a sentence. Clean off the computer desk. Cup of tea. Write three or four paragraphs. Dance around to some music. Write a 500-1000 word flash fiction. Food break. Write a character sketch.

On a non-average night, when everything's clean (definitely not average) and there are no interruptions (from the partner or the cats), I can probably put my pants to the seat and get a good rough draft or outline of what I'm working on.

6. Do you write in short bursts of creative energy, or can you sit down and write for hours at a time?


The day job can be hell on my creative spark. Sometimes I just don't want to mess with words after I've spent all day doing just that... Sometimes I just want to veg out. Or I want do something physical (take a long walk).

During those times the creative bursts of energy are the one thing that can usually get my pen moving.

I'm getting better at making myself write, even if I don't want to and can come up with a million excuses why I should be doing something else.

But, I still fail a lot.

7. Are you a morning or afternoon writer?

I'm a night person by nature, a morning person by necessity. I can write at any time, in any place, and, usually, with any kind of distraction. Sometimes the best stuff comes in the mornings, when I'm still half asleep, waiting for the caffeine to kick in. Sometimes it comes late at night, when I'm, again, half asleep and starting to think the pillow would be a better head rest than my keyboard.

8. Do you write with music/the noise of children/in a cafe or other public setting, or do you need complete silence to concentrate?


In general, I can write with distractions. Drafting, editing, character sketches, whatever. You have to be able to do that, because there's always going to be someone who's interrupting you, invading your space, talking to you about something they think is interesting. Even if you have your "writing hat" on. (The one that has a sign on it that says: "Unless something's on fire, don't disturb me.")

But I have moments--if I'm trying to figure out a transition, or get through a particularly hard scene--where I need quiet. I need everyone to leave me the hell alone and let me get through what I need to get through (even if they occasionally hear sobs or muttered cursing coming from my general vicinity).

9. Computer or longhand? (or typewriter?)

All of the above. Some works come out easier long-hand and halfway through I move to the computer. Some works come out easier on the PC. Sometimes I use the electric typewriter for the industrial click-click-clack of the keys that make it sound like I'm working really hard.

10. Do you know the ending before you type Chapter One?

Sometimes--for novels or novellas--I have a general sense of how they'll end. I may not know the exact scene.

For short stories, I generally have a good idea of the ending scene. It's the middle I have problems getting to...

11. Does what’s selling in the market influence how and what you write?

In the business sense: hell no. I will admit that I'm influenced by fiction I read... Just as I am by music I listen to, movies I watch, art I see, etc.

If I wrote for the Market, I'd never get anything done.

It's better to write for yourself and have no audience, than to write for an audience and have no self.

I try to remember this.

I don't want my writing to turn into this mind-numbing, soulless occupation. It's something I enjoy. I want to enjoy it. I can't do that by trying to anticipate what other people want to read or what the markets want to sell... And, anyway, by the time I finish something the market will have changed yet again.

12. Editing – love it or hate it?

I love refining words. It's like sculpting. You already have your material (words on paper) so it's a matter of pushing and pulling and stroking and smoothing things to suit your needs and the needs of your characters.

When editing bugs me, it's for the same reasons as writing bugs me. I'm blocked. I can't figure out a transition. I don't like/can't work with the POV I've written in. Certain pieces in the story don't fit well together or events seem out of order or over developed.

I have some stories where, in the editing process, I've found I need to scrap (or come close to scrapping) the entire story, which is endlessly frustrating because I've already spent so much time drafting and sculpting.

And a Happy 2010 to you.

According to my "Get Your Words Out" spreadsheet, I wrote 108,213 words of fiction in 2009. I fell short of my goal of 200,000.

Though, knowing me, I probably wrote more than that and forgot to record it.

And when you add in blogging and private journaling and the writing I do for work, I probably jetted past the 2k mark. (Though such words don't count for this challenge.)

So, in all, not too shabby a year. Word-wise, at least. The rest of the year...well, let's not dredge that up. It's not all bad. The came at intervals.

Let's look ahead.

2010 is off to a slow start.

I blame the weather. (Between you and me, I've largely been lazy, but I maintain the weather plays a part. It's been below freezing; my blood turns to ice. Seven years in the desert removed whatever cold resistance I built up during three years in Germany.)

On Friday I finished Stephen King's Under the Dome, a book which I hadn't planned on reading but picked up post-Christmas at B&N and got sucked into. Took me five days. I could have finished it sooner had I not needed to take breaks from it every so often because some of the characters were so corrupt and downright evil that I just couldn't turn another page without taking a breather.

I enjoyed that aspect very much.

King is wonderful at writing corrupt, power-hungry fundie-religious political characters with good ol' boy syndrome.

And dogs. Mustn't forget the dogs. Heroic Corgis and German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers.

Saturday and Sunday, I spent curled up in my bedroom in my apartment, with my heating pad, my laptop, and piles of pillows and blankets as well as four cats--who rotated their presence in the room, occasionally napping on my lap and sharing their furry little body heat--drinking coffee, tea and having a Xenomorph marathon (Aliens Quadrilogy, AVP, and AVP: Requiem).

In those two days, I managed to write...wait for it...a paragraph.

Not even a good paragraph.

It's a load bearing paragraph.

And the load it bears isn't that much. But it's a footstep back into the short story I was working on before I got sucked into NaNoWriMo '09, so I won't complain too much; I can't expect the characters and the mood to just jump at me with open arms after a two months long abandonment. (While I didn't do much during December, I did manage to wrangle some research for the NaNo re-draft and do some plot journaling.)

This story is next on my plate--as I continue to fiddle with the NaNo re-draft--something short and fairly contained that I can have a reasonable expectation of completing in a couple of days to a week.

If the seat of the pants keeps to the seat of the chair.

I digress, to say that all of this is, in a roundabout fashion, leading to my tasks for the year.

Not resolutions, because resolutions get broken.

Tasks. I'm used to tasks.

The tasks?

To stop making excuses for my lack of writing. If I don't write, it's because--barring heavy illness or broken fingers or major emergency (fire, flood, hemorrhage, etc)--I didn't want to.

To wrangle the muse if he or she's in reach; to trudge forward if he or she isn't.

To write fiction everyday, even if it's only 100 words.

To write fiction sporadically, if need be, instead of waiting for a stretch of time in which to settle down and write.

To tell my Inner Critic to fuck off whenever she starts to come out during the drafting process.

To allow myself to write shitty first drafts.

To allow myself to write shitty second drafts.

To allow myself time, without guilt, to chase some of those strange and interesting topics that have nothing to do with my story when I come across them while researching. (You never know, they could come in handy later.)

To allow myself time to read without feeling guilty about the fact that I'm not writing.

To put words before play. 100-500 words and then I can read Facebook or check the blogs I follow. 600-1100 words and then I can play an hour of Borderlands. Or Arkham Asylum. Or whatever other game is currently swallowing my psyche. (Games are wonderful inspiration for me, especially atmospheric RPGs, but they're a double edged sword.)

To submit "Drawing Shadows" to the next market on the list and not worry about whether or not it will be rejected, but enjoy the fact that it's out there, making the rounds.

To submit the flash pieces I've been sitting on for the last six months.

To worry less about being an author...

...and focus more on being a writer. With all the headaches and annoyances and neuroses and pleasures and internal successes that writing brings.

At the moment, I'm at work, sitting in my icy cubicle--in my corner, I get the brunt of winter chill and summer heat--and trying to reconfigure my brain after having taken a week and a half off for the holidays. I'm going into a meeting at 10:30. I'll probably have internal meet ups before that.

But, until then, I'm going to refill my coffee cup.

And write 100 words.
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