Why Write?

I've been out of town this weekend (my first trip to Canada, WooHoo), so I'm a little late on the Happy Thanksgiving wishes to all of my online friends. So happy belated Thanksgiving everyone.  I hope your day was wonderful!

I have a lot to be thankful for this year, not the least of which is getting to know so many of you.  Forgive me for getting a bit personal on a writing blog, but on this Thanksgiving I want to say what writing has meant to me personally over the past couple of years.

In January of 2007  I was a stay at home mom with one two-year-old little boy and the wife of a graduate student.  I was active in my church and community and had several good friends.  I had quit my career about a year before we adopted our son .   I LOVED being a stay at home mom.  I had no desire to go back to work and leave my beautiful child alone during the day.  I loved my life, and I was grateful for it.  Yet, I felt the desire to do something personal, to set a difficult goal and accomplish it, to prove that I still had a brain capable of tackling things other than impossible stains on my son's clothes or trying to figure out how to make dinner without ever cooking.  I was craving mental stimulation.

I didn't want my college education to feel like nothing more than a certificate printed on nice paper.  Unfortunately, my college brain... mush (it happens after sustained periods without adult conversation, I learned).  I wondered what to do.

Then one day as I was jotting down random thoughts in one of my notebooks about characters I was imagining I realized the answer was staring me in the face. I had always loved writing, but I guess I'd never considered that I could actually do anything with it.  But with more alone time on my hands (my husband working and going to school and my son still young and napping) I decided that rather than watch Oprah or the like in the afternoon, I would apply myself and write a novel.  What could it hurt?

At first I was very private, even a bit embarrassed about what I was doing.  After all, who was I to write a novel?  I was no expert in law or medicine.  I didn't have epic or tragic life circumstances.  I was just a simple stay at home mom with lots of random characters and places floating around in my head in a sort of mishmashed, chaotic way.  But then I was talking to my wonderful and supportive best friend, Kasie, and she mentioned that she was writing a book (I think she had already written a couple by that time), and I told her I was writing one too.  After that we began holding weekly writing groups with just the two of us.  We would discuss what we had read and what we thought about what we had read.  We discussed our own work and read each other's drafts.  We read agent blogs and decided to start our own.

Looking back that was the best decision we made along the way.  A new world of information and friendship opened up to us.  We also joined a local writing group that met twice a month.  We connected with writers of various genres and experience.  In short, we immersed ourselves in the writing world and culture. 

Since that time some wonderful things have happened. I've had the opportunity to get to know some of the most creative, most fun and most wonderful people around.  I've gotten to meet several of you in person (Jenn, Michelle, Natalie, Jenni, Linda, Tricia) and found that you are every bit as wonderful, intelligent and full of life as your blogs would suggest (I just have to put a plug in here for Renee too, because, thought I haven't met her, I feel like I have!).  Many of my blogging friends (including Kasie)  have finished multiple books, signed with agents, sold books and had personal successes, or overcome personal obstacles.   Every time something wonderful happens in your life, I sit and my computer and cheer for you.  I love seeing dreams come true on a regular basis. 

You have all taught me so much about writing, friendship, balancing life's demands, and believing in yourself.  You've taught me that I don't have to have extraordinary qualifications to be a writer, but I do have to work hard and persevere.

About a week ago I told my husband that I worried that writing had become too big a part of my life.  I worried that it took up time during the day that I should be doing other things (like cleaning for instance).  I said something like, "Maybe I should just walk away from it all."  He said to me, "Only you can decide what's right for you, but I just have one thing to say, The Candi who writes is much happier than the Candi who didn't write.  I don't think twenty years from now our children will remember how clean the house was, but I do think they'll remember that their mother was happy and that she pursued her goals. It seems to me that's a lot more important than a clean kitchen." (I know, isn't he the best!) 

So this year, I'm thankful for supportive friends, family (all of my wonderfully supportive siblings and parents), a loving husband, a totally impatient son (what else could be expected from a four-year-old), and the joy of writing in my life, and you!

Abracadabra

Yes, I'm falling behind on my NaHoCleMo.  Let's just get that out of the way.  It's a bit embarrassing, but I do have three good excuses.  1) I've been sick.  2) I was out of town for three days  3) I don't like cleaning the house.

I was trying to figure out what I wanted to post about today and nothing really came to mind.  I think I've been too caught up with finishing yet another edit on my book (which is done, YAY!).  But then I remembered this book I saw when my husband and I were wandering the book store on our last date.  Which, by the way, we totally saw the guy who plays the PC on the Mac commercials.  He was doing a reading from his book (hilarious).  Apparently, he was a professional literary agent, turned journalist, turned book writer, turned Mac commercial dude.  Anyway... I digress. As we were wandering the bookstore together, because it was a date, I passed into the "New Age" section on the way to the "Philosophy" section (it was where my husband wanted to go and we were taking turns, otherwise you would never find me in "Philosophy" while there were still novels left to be read).  I discovered that there are just as many if not MORE books about vampires and witches and "mythical creatures" (I use quotes because this was a non-fiction part of the store) in the New Age sections as  there are in the YA section. And in the middle of them all was a HUGE shiny book of spells.

These were real spells, people.  I looked.  Like potions and chants and symbols.  Now I'm not one to buy into the mystical arts (at least not in the self-help/non-fiction sort of way), but if I were, I would probably try and figure out the right combination of things to say and do to magically create the perfect book.  It would definitely take some trial and error, but since I did a rewrite this week that I'm rather happy with, I might start with a few key ingredients from the last seven days and go from there.  My spell would include the following elements:

1. A trip to see someoneI adore.   I took a trip to attend my VERY (sorry Jenny) pregnant sister's baby shower.


 She's going to kill me for posting this, but it's part of the spell.  I had to do it.  And Jenny, lets face it, you're a babe! Besides pregnant is totally in right now.


2. Dayquil and a whole lotta germs.  I got sick on the way home and completely grossed out the passengers who were required to share my air for six hours. Every spell requires something disgusting.  Consider this my proverbial rat's tail.


Dude, What's your problem? 

3.  Mood Music.  I just downloaded a new Sarah McLachlan and Michael Buble song.



 I love my shiny, blue box of musical wonder.


4. Writer's brew.  Some of you may disagree on the choice, but really there's only one place with 60,000 combinations.  



Seriously, Sonic should start compensating me for all the free publicity I give them.  I would  accept limeades as payment.

5. And last but certainly not least, a Coven.  Otherwise known as Betas.


Don't be offended.  You guys are WAY hotter.  This is just the expression I imagine when you're reading my first drafts.

 

What would be your magical book-writing potion ingredient?

Juxtapose this!

First I want to say thank you to two lovely ladies who gave me the lovely blog award this week, Natalie Murphy, and Mary.  Two lovely blog awards, I must admit I'm flattered and surprised considering I drew stick figures of horrible death last week. But I will accept them thankfully and, in part, because I like the juxtaposition of pink roses and delicate teacups next to death and horror and my frightful lack of drawing talent.  Thanks ladies!

Now on to the business of today's word rant. (In case you haven't noticed, I like words.  I'm guessing a lot of you like them too since you're writers.)

Juxtapose: to place two or more items side by side, especially in order to suggest a link between them or emphasize the contrast between them.

Unlike last  week's word, literally (I shudder just to type it again), I actually love the word Juxtapose.  For starters, it's just a cool word.  How could it not be with both an x and a j in it?  How rare is that?  Jinx, Jax, Jukebox... It's like one of four words in the English language (yeah, that's a total guess) with that combination.  And as we all know, rarity equals high points in scrabble, one of life's staples of entertainment (also the only game I can ever beat my husband at).

Cool fact about the word, Juxtapose: If you could somehow link two other words together and use all of your seven tiles in scrabble to spell it, it would be worth 73 points (assuming the letters you linked were a and o because those only count for one point).  That's 23 points for the word and 50 points for using all your tiles.  If you were on a triple word score, it would be 219 points, and if your x was on a double letter score it would be 243.  Wow, you just won the whole game with one word.  How many words do you know that can offer you that?  Not literally(it's worth a lame 11 points).
Juxtapose is for sure the only cool word in scrabble.


Then there's the matter of the way it sounds.  If you didn't know what it meant, it could be almost anything, like an awesome invention:
  
"Have you seen the juxtapostion I just bought for the laboratory?"



Or maybe a deadly ninjitsu move:




"Surrender or you're going to feel the wrath of my roundhouse juxtaposition!"



It also works as a slang.



"Dude, don't be such a Juxta-Poser."


If you're willing to ignore it's meaning, the list of uses could be endless.  And it's non discriminatory.  Did  you notice how I used it for geek speak, tough-guy talk, and colloquial gangsta'?

In conclusion, Juxtapose, only a word, but if used decisively, may win you friends, influence people and unite geeks and gangsters.


***After reading the draft of today's post my husband said, "Next time someone asks you what you write you should say, Juxta-prose."  I love a clever man. ***



Of pets and peeves: Illustrating my point...literally.

Here's a little ground work for my stick figure rant today.

Literally–adverb
1. in the literal or strict sense: What does the word mean literally?
2. in a literal manner; word for word: to translate literally.
3. actually; without exaggeration or inaccuracy: The city was literally destroyed.
4. in effect; in substance; very nearly; virtually.

Usage note:
Since the early 20th century, literally has been widely used as an intensifier meaning “in effect, virtually,” a sense that contradicts the earlier meaning “actually, without exaggeration”: The senator was literally buried alive in the Iowa primaries. The parties were literally trading horses in an effort to reach a compromise. The use is often criticized; nevertheless, it appears in all but the most carefully edited writing.  


Confession time.  The misuse of the word literally drives me crazy!! How can a word that means one thing have a usage that means the exact opposite?  It doesn't make any sense.  So often people say literally when they actually mean figuratively, but I can't get the image of what they've said out of my head.  And usually it's not pleasant. 

I'm going to illustrate my point here.  I literally am.  Here are a few examples, and I know you've all heard these before.


Someone says, "I literally fell to pieces when it happened."

I think, really, you literally fell to pieces?  And this images pops into my head. 



Thanks a lot random person.  Now I have to walk around with a scene from Mississippi Chainsaw Massacre in my head all day.

Or how about these?


"I literally died when I heard the news."


Great now I'm thinking about The Ring
 


"I'm literally going to kill myself if he doesn't call."

What horror movie doesn't have a terrifying phone call? 



"I literally had a heart attack when it happened."
"My heart literally burst from excitement."
 
There's just no way any of this ends well.


See?  Literally and horrible death go hand in hand.  You say literally, and I see this:
Sorry if this is morbid, but it's not pleasant for me either. So lets just agree that you won't ever misuse the word literally.  Or maybe you shouldn't use the word at all.  I rarely do even when it might be considered appropriate.  Like today.  I would like to say that misuse of the word literally is literally a pet peeve of mine, but if I did this is what would come to mind.



You guessed it,  as soon as my pet, Peeve drinks the water... Gremlins.

It's official.

I'm a once a week blogger.  It was already the case, but now I'm making it official.  I blog on Thursdays from here on out.  I've been thinking a lot about the time balance in my life and what I need to focus on, and blogging is one of those things that, though I do sporadically, I still feel is a time drain and pressure that could be eliminated.  But I enjoy it and I love staying connected with all of you, so I've decided to blog once a week.  And I'm excited about it.  My posts will be much better, I think, because I'll actually want to do it.

I know that it may seem that nothing is really changing, but making this once a week blogging thing official relieves the self-imposed pressure I feel to do more.  Now I won't be thinking everyday that I'm failing at being a blogger.  I'll be thinking, WOW I'm the most consistent blogger around! And you all will know what to expect.  For me it's the perfect solution to how I spend my writing time (lets face it, blogging was never going to be my thing).

I just want to give a shout out to Lady Glam here. She is so honest and thoughtful and the very personal post she just wrote really made me think about what I really want. Thanks, Michelle!

So starting this week, I'll see you all on Thursdays!