Friday, September 9, 2011

A closer look at doors . . .

Doors are extremely communicative objects. As with us, much about their personalities can be learned from just a minute or two of careful observation. Notice, is it painted? What color? Is it screened? Dead bolted? Dented? Weathered? Wide open? Decorated? All of these verbs say much about the door itself, and something else, too, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

If the door sticks when you try to open it, chances are it’s not used very often. If it bounces back at you, never quite closing all the way, incessant slamming might be to blame. Or perhaps a heedless eye has neglected to mind the holding capacity. And we can empathize with the door’s unwillingness, can’t we? Oh, how many zippers and buttons alike, have met their tragic demise at the hands of these three gritted words, “It . . . still . . . fits!”

Knobs and handles can also be telling. You need only a second’s glance at your refrigerator’s handle, and immediately it’s obvious whether or not children are present in the home. They speak in silent volumes, dictating a heavy traffic flow or signaling their decrepitly obsolete status.

It must be said, however, that whether we use them many times in a day or bi-annually, all doors are crucial and necessary. But . . . I would bet not a single one of us stops to think about how many doors we enter or exit in a single day. Nor do we ever take a moment to murmur an acknowledgement of thanks as it tucks us safely inside our vehicle, shields our naked form while we attend to personal matters, renders our clutter invisible, keeps in the cold, blocks out the heat – or vice-versa. Why? Why do we overlook such a valuable commodity, expedient and necessary to nearly every human on the planet? I know I’m guilty. Don’t think much of doors? I dare you to remove one and see how long it takes before you realize your misconception. Lindsay Lohan, Freaky Friday. Anyone?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Celebrating the little things . . .

*** Before I begin this most indulgent post, I must first say one thing: Somehow, someway, I must have an Asian baby. I apologize to all my Latino, African American, and Caucasian sisters and brothers for this slight, but it is only my biased opinion that Asian babies far exceed the cuteness of all other races. Note to friends, family, and acquaintances: If you happen to have an Asian baby, I suggest you do not let me babysit -- you may never see him/her again. :) Now on to writing! ***

In life, there are moments to mourn, moments to embrace acrimony, and moments to ponder the Great Questions life has to ask of us -- and then . . .  there are the moments to CELEBRATE!

I happen to be in a season of celebration, and I refuse to take it for granted. Complacency calls for my devotion, hoping to distract and lure me from the blessings all around me. I won't be so easily diverted, however. It is with great humility that I step up to my laptop each morning and begin yet another day of working on my novel. My novel . . . Writers, have we forgotten the tremendous beauty this gift entails? We have been called to write! Do not let monotony and lackadaisical mood purloin your glory!

Admittedly, this longevity is rife with struggles and exasperation, to the point where the "Are you sure you want to permanently delete and remove this document?" option starts to look really good. But isn't that essentially what makes any ambition in life worth pursuing? Or more importantly, worth loving?

When I think of the people, passions, and even the insignificant, beloved hobbies I frequent, I understand that they are all the more cherished because there is a certain strife concurrent in their eventual enjoyment. It is not with a faint or apathetic heart I finally sit down on a Saturday night to devour a four course meal at The Cheesecake Factory. No. Not even remotely. The experience is made all the more sweeter due strictly to the fact that I have ran, lifted, stretched, curled, squatted, lunged, biked, eliptical'd, and benched for those Vietnamese tacos, Luau salad, and Bistro Shrimp pasta. I earned, I sweated, I panted, and I pained for each and every single one of those delicious calories. All week I shouted, "No, Cara!! You may not have that bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, In-n-out shake, or Chiptole burrito. You will put the carbolicious item down and back away. That's right . . . You march on over to the freezer for a delicious water-pop and tell yourself it's what you really wanted all along. Yes, it's a lie; but it's a lie that will not show up below your bum in the morning."

Same goes for the tedium of brushing my teeth twice a day -- thirty seconds in each quadrant -- or the laborious two hours it takes to primp and preen before I deem myself officially ready for a dressy affair. The prep before the baking, the endless paper towels and Lysol taken to the bathroom, the last handwritten invitation, these activities all require time and a willingness to suffer, if not just a little, if you want to enjoy them to their fullest potential. My teeth are a gift, a clean bathroom is a gift, a party is a gift. Instead of moaning and complaining, try appreciating the process of getting a little sticky before enjoying the fruit.

This, of course, holds a certain amount of levity, but does not make it any less true. This certain truth absolutely pertains to more serious occasions, such as the times I enter into a discussion or argument with a friend or loved one. It is only because I cared enough to allow myself to be convicted, hurt, or angry, and then work toward reconciliation, that pushes me to endure discomfort. Quite easily I could pretend and ignore the brown, wafting stench of  "awkward" floating about the room, but what good would that do me?

Greatness and importance is found in the meaningful. And the meaningful can only be achieved with commitment and persistence.

And so it is with writing.

I do not know what this day holds for me. I may open up my document and find that I have very little to say this morning. Or, my fingers may take flight like the tail feather's of a painted bunting or lorikeet, smearing my prose across the page in rich color and palpable vibrancy. I don't know, and that, too, is a facet of the mystery and magic of being a writer. The same tears shed in unnerving frustration and turmoil, fall from the same eyes that leak tears of gratitude and thanksgiving for the gift in which I have received . . .

Because, let's be honest, it's only a matter of time before my face looks less like the sweet Asian delight above, and more like poor beJoey'd Dawson below.

Aw, Dawson, it's okay buddy. Shortly you will go on to star in Varsity Blues. And who didn't love that epic film about testosterone laden boys, the objectification of girls, and creative usage of sundae toppings. I know I sure did.  

Today I celebrate. Feel free to click the button and dance/sing along with me and Kool and the Gang. Come on . . . You know you want to!  ^_^

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Poor Me

***This post is not about writing, though it is directly related.***

Why is it so easy to complain?

I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.  ~Jane Wagner

Complaining takes zero effort. In fact, it takes immeasurable effort not to complain. When I attempt to not complain my jaw starts to ache, my stomach becomes a trash-compactor, and I usually develop some form of a nervous tick. It's instinctual; something terrible, frustrating, confusing, hurtful, or inconvenient happens and what's the first thing I do? Complain. I could be gushing blood because I rammed my shin into that damn drawer that secretly inches its way out overnight, and even before digging out the peroxide, Neosporin, and band-aids, I will make the time to stop, find something with ears (animals suffice when a human is not present) and proceed to tell them what horrible thing just happened to me. And then I will complain because I don't have the right size band-aids. Just those little circle ones. And I don't want those band-aids; I want the rectangular ones with the little ventilation holes so my skin can breathe and the fatal wound heals properly. The circle ones are pointless. Who gets a circular injury!? Name one time anyone has received a laceration  that was in the shape of a cheerio. Why are they even here!? Who put the freakin' ugly, dumb, COMPLETELY LAME circle band-aids in MY variety pack?!?! Who did it!???!!!

Sorry . . .

Here are some of the things I have complained about in the last twenty minutes.

Friday, June 17, 2011

How to know if you're married to a writer.

I am a writer.

Basically, this means I am insane.

No . . . really.

On any given day ... this is what my sweet Michael is left to deal with.

This too...

Some of this.

A lot of this.

And on the really fun days: this.

I know what you're thinking ... and the answer is no.  But I am presently accepting med. recommendations.

Michael: My demonic inner voices and I love you very, very much  :)

So ... Are you a writer?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Proverbial Novel Destroyer: S-E-X


Oh yes, yes I absolutely did.  In the profound words of Salt N Pepa, "Let's talk about sex baby"

Where to begin. . .

This is a very hard subject to-- Oh dear, that doesn't sound right. Ahem.

Keeping abreast on all the-- Oh my! Let's try this again, shall we?

I do my best to stay on top-- Gasp.

Okay. Enough with the innuendos already. You’ve got it, right? The point I want to make, is that there is no way to casually broach the subject of sex. And for good reason. Sex, whether it be monogamous or meaningless, is never casual.  Sex impacts and affects us in the real world, so why would it be any different for our characters, who are no less real to us?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Brain Sparkle: A new writers workshop forum

We all have's ok, there is nothing to be embarrassed about. You lock your keys in the car, leave your child in a shopping cart and don't realize until you get home, and you delete and re-write a perfectly good scene in your book...Brain Farts! But what do we call it when we have that magical moment, where ideas effortlessly flow to thoughts and then burst onto the page with every breath? Brain Sparkles! Now I have to admit, the area surrounding my "writer's desk" definitely smells more than it sparkles, but there is always hope right?

This forum is designed to do just that (see tab above). I always hear people talk about "digging themselves out of a hole," and to be quite honest, I feel like I'm in a hole much of my time writing. But the more I think about it, can someone really dig themselves out of a hole? Wouldn't the digging part kind of make you sink deeper? You should just stop digging now and start calling out for help! You need a rope, not a shovel, and more importantly someone on the other side to pull you out. My hope is that this forum can create many ropes attached to many other writers, so that when you find yourself in a hole, there are many more hopeful Brain Sparkles than Brain Farts.

It is a passion of mine to not be selfish with my experiences, both good and bad, and partner up with others on this bumpy road of writing. The Brain Sparkle forum can hopefully one day be a wealth of information and strategies for any writer at any stage in the process. Since today marks the conception of such a venture, it is pretty empty....actually completely empty. Partner with me in using your gifts and talents to encourage one another, and hopefully provide a place full of Brain Sparkles :-).

(Note: I will be looking for great suggestions and strategies to feature in the "Tool Shed" on the forum. This will be a condensed and easy way for others to locate specific strategies and tools. With each tool, I will feature the authors name, a mini-bio, and links to his/her website or blog)

Friday, June 3, 2011

I surrender!

I've hoisted my white flag.

Cats got my tongue, temporary finger paralysis, writer's constipation; however you want to phrase it, the simple fact is, the writing just ain't gonna happen.

Rousing two hours earlier than my usual 8:15 a.m., in order to take my quasi-carpenter brother-in-law and his cheftastic girlfriend to the airport, subsequently led to inertia creeping in around noon -- right after I flushed the last of my coffee buzz down the porcelain tornado. Good news is, I grabbed Bella, a bag of pita chips, and my favorite book and hunkered down in bed for an hour nap. Bad news is, my brain refused to wake up and is currently on strike. On a positive note, we're in negotiations with the union; however, it could still be a while.

Like most people, including my friend Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, I tend to work better with a brain. I don't have to be a psychic to know that, should I start in on edits for chapter six of Awakening Foster Kelly, I would start the following day reediting my editing. Slightly counterproductive if you ask me. What to do, what to do...

I surrender, that's what. That may sound very unwriterish of me, but you know what, I really don't care! Part of being a healthy writer means you know when to give yourself a break. Your creativity is your friend. You treat it like a slave and eventually that whip'll turn around and slap you right in the face. So, if the words don't be a flowin', then off to the beach, library, cupboard beneath the stairs, you need to be a goin'. Anywhere you're not tempted to have another round in the ring with your laptop. Don't worry, it will be waiting right where you left when you get back. But isn't that part of the process, you ask? Pushing through the block and putting it down on the page anyway? Yes. But even Muhammad Ali, three time heavyweight boxing champion, knew better than to fight injured and risk permanent damage to his God-given gift. It's no different for the writer. Instead of a broken nose, fractured ribs, or a concussion, you'll sustain a broken heart, fractured self-esteem, or despondency.

If you love it that much, know when to say, "that's enough." 

And I'll tell you now, if you haven't been able to do more than give your cursor a thorough voyage on the stagnant sea of white paper, it's time you anchor down and jump ship. Okay.. enough boxing and sailing analogies. My point is ( I say this alot, don't I?) your brain needs some downtime. And no... writing in your head doesn't count as downtime. That's right. I see you. Put the mouse down and back away slowly.

You'll thank me later.