And that's how my back gave me super powers

I've had muscle spasms in my back on and off for the last couple of months, but I gotta say this week... this week has been a doozy. I've been trying to be good with stress, and eating well (dessert doesn't count), and taking the right supplements, and EXERCISE! I admit I'm having a hard time finding that balance of not too much and not too little. In fact, this all started when I started working out again. I just thought I injured myself, and I would get better, but I haven't. And now that my body has had a taste of the exercise... it wants more! I mean, what the hell, body, this is the addiction you're gonna choose? I don't even like exercise, and besides it hurts!

I can't find the thing that's setting off the muscle spasms, or strike the right balance of activity. All I know for sure is my body doesn't like to sit for long periods of time, which is kind of a problem when you're a writer. Staring at a computer is a big part of the job. Or have to drive a car. Or want to binge watch TV.  I've been sitting (heh) with the issue, meditating more, trying to figure out what I'm doing (because I know it's something I'm doing - probably something silly like "don't cross you're ankles while eating oranges, oh and you're secretly worried about such-and-such"), and I'm still coming up with nothing. So I was turning the old tarot cards one night (because, yes, that's something I do when I'm stuck) and I was getting messages about shut up and listen. So I listened and listened hard, waiting for divine insight, the profound epiphany that will help me resolve my back spasms, and I don't hear anything except the cat meowing. So I start talking to the cat, and she meows back, and my husband is giving me the eye as I'm wiggling in pain on the couch in discussion with my cat, and I'm wondering why the heck is he looking at me like that?

It turns out... that no one could hear the cat except me! She was outside the whole time. But she did want to come in, so I'm pretty sure she was communicating with me telepathically. I mean, clearly, the muscle spasms are just the psychic ears opening up. It seems obvious now. I'm sure soon I'll be able to chat with whales, or possibly fairies. So cool, right?

(I reserve the right to refuse sense while in pain.)

 


Better Question

Last week I had the rare occasion of an unplanned day. That’s not to say that I didn’t have things to do, because I always have things to do. It was just a period where there was nothing critical and, without any sense of urgency, I had foregone setting up my day. No lists, no schedules, not even an appointment or activity I had to drive someone else to. It was really almost an accident. I was wandering the house when I realized the day was luxuriously wide open.

Now usually when I have a sudden break my mind goes to “the list”. But for some reason, on this particular day instead of thinking, “What needs to be done next?” or “What should (guilt guilt) I do?”, or even “Crap! I’ve got to make a list.” Instead of thinking any of that, what popped into my head was… “What would make me happy?”

???!!

That’s not something that normally occurs to me, to ask myself what would make me happy. I am an adult, after all. I have things to do. That's my job. But I asked it anyway and you know what? It felt fucking great! In fact, it felt like a radical act. Like a fricking evolution of the mind/soul! Like something I should be doing all the time. It’s a question I can immediately answer in almost any given moment. What would make me happy right now?

The funny part was, the thing that would make me happy at that particular moment… it wasn’t being on a beach somewhere, or stuffing dollars down a hot stripper’s pants, or eating loads of chocolate… it was clearing off the table so I could decorate it pretty. See, that’s something that would have been on “the list” anyway. Most things that generally make me happy are everyday list items. But the thing about lists is sometimes they turn things into obligations and chores and urgency, even when they (and I mean me) don’t mean to.

(Such huge things, those little shifts in perspective. World shattering really.)

It feels much better to ask myself “what would make me happy”, instead of “what do I have to do next”. Because I’ll always have critical stuff to do.

But the majority of it, especially on those unplanned days… well, I think giving the happy ones priority seems like a really good idea. Almost radical.


Drips and Drabs

I’ve completely pooped out on NaNoWriMo this year. I participated a couple of years ago for a serious writing push for The Byways (previously named Through the Holes), and it worked! I mean, I didn’t make 50,000 words but I was writing every day and I completed about 20,000 words, then, two months later I finished my first draft. (Four drafts to follow but worth it!) So I absolutely believe in and love the incentive NaNoWriMo can give you. I figured this year I’d use it again to jumpstart my second novel.

The problem was I wasn’t sure what my second novel was. Or rather, WHICH novel was my second. I have two tussling it out in my brain: one, funny and outrageous and short-ish (perfect for a month jumpstart), and the other, longer and compelling and niggling at me but without the details worked out yet. I started the funny one and then lost my funny. I switched to the other and wrote in drips and drabs. I toyed with switching back. I googled stuff about llamas. I stared at the keyboard. It was basically the writer’s version of doodling during a test.

But! I did finish writing my query letter, synopsis, and author bio for The Byways this month so… YAY!!! ‘Cause that shit was tough, yo. And I was a fricking marketing writer.

So yeah, poop out. It’s funny, though, I don’t feel the least bit bad about it. In fact, I’m pretty happy with the way the month turned out. In esoteric circles they say that winter is the time for dreaming. It’s a time for going inward and preparing for the growth and action of spring, just like nature does. Now, knowing me, I can’t guarantee that I’ll stop working the entire winter, but sometimes it’s fine to step back and plan, rather than do.

Especially when you’re just farting around anyway.


Life Preserver Please

I'm on the third big revision of my book and I'm at that point where I feel like I'm slogging against the current. And by current, I mean me. I am the fricking current. I know what I want the book to be, it's alive in my head, and (except for some details here and there) I know what the finished product will be. It's probably 90% there.

I'm just having a hard time digging in consistently. There are parts I'm still very excited about, and there are parts I'm just really tired of staring at. 

Here's the thing... there are a million major and minor revisions happening while you're just trying to get a first draft of your story complete.  Then it's finished and oh, the dancing and exultation! THEN you go through the entire thing and do a revision of all the crap that bugs you. You get feedback. Then you do another revision fixing the things that don't make sense to everyone else. And fixing all the glaring rookie novelist mistakes. More feedback. And then you take out all your word crutches and repetitions. Etc. 

Then you do another revision putting in all the really truly important stuff in your head that you pushed aside while you were just trying to get the plot/grammar/timelines down.

Then you really hope you didn't forget anything. And then you paddle frantically against the tidepool swirling around your head.

Dun dun DAH! Will our intrepid swimmer make it?!

Sigh. I sure hope so.


Winged Cotillion

My house is full of moths. I think there's a moth portal in here somewhere. (That's like a fairy portal, but for moths. But I don't know what those look like so I can't find it. It probably looks like something innocuous like a shimmer in the air or a cheerios box.) There are all sorts of moths, big ones and little ones, feathered and delicate and dusty. They pop up out of nowhere in every room in the house. Sometimes they smack me in the face, because they are nearsighted and need new glasses (obviously). And sometimes they eat my clothes. (Not cool.) And the cats don't eat them. Which is strange because I've seen the cats eat pretty much anything. I figure the cats feel bad for them because the moths are probably really chill and good conversationalists and they're always getting compared to butterflies and they probably don't get asked to dance as often at parties and THAT'S gotta get old so maybe the cats are cutting them a break or something. 

So I suppose I can cut them a break, too.

Go to the optometrist.


Five Minutes to Complain About Dialog Tags

So I finished my novel in January and I'm working on revisions. I keep running into articles and comments on the web that, frankly, are frustrating me. Mainly because I view many of these conversations as opinions on style preferences, and not as infallible "rules of writing".

For example, there is a school out there that believes dialog tags should only ever contain the words "said" or "ask". We'll call this School of Thought 1 (ST1). As in...

    "But it was always blue," she said.

    "No," he said, "It was wet."

    "What about dinner?" asked the dog.

This school believes that in general dialog tags should be fairly invisible or eliminated when possible. ST1 does not believe words like "insisted" or "commented" or "complained" (like I'm doing) should be used.

Then of course, there is another school of thought (ST2) that thinks these tags are fine. Language is rich! Use it to its best advantage! 

Still, a third school of thought thinks that dialog tags should never be used AT ALL! All indication of the speaker should be shown through action. For example...

    "But it was always blue." She yanked down the ostrich feather.

    "No." Mark lobbed toilet paper at the ceiling. "It was wet."

    "What about dinner?" The dog made a jump for the feather, knocking one of the toilet papers awry.

(Now my problem with ST3 is how do you know the dog just asked that? It could have been the woman. This is where "he said" could be really useful in letting us know the dog is a genetically enhanced pooch with the ability to communicate. Or you could use "he woofed" and then we know the dog is just thinking about his dinner and the stupid humans can't understand him. Again. Poor puppy.)

In my writing I use a combination of all of these methods, depending on what's happening and the pace I want to set.  It's just how I've always written.  It's even... dare I say it?... how I was taught!  (GASP! You mean, you were taught more than one method?!  Yes, yes I was.)  Because, truth be told, NONE of these methods are INCORRECT. 

I just want to put that out into the universe.

This would be an incorrect use of dialog tags.

    "But it was always blue," she shimmied.

    "No" He gnashed "It was wet."

    The dog, playing the flute, said, What about dinner?

Not to say I don't need to edit or eliminate my own dialog tags. That's what revision is for. We all know that reading is completely subjective. But for other writers out there who might be confused by conflicting advice, I just want to say... sometimes style preferences are subjective, too.  

Just like opinions. :)


Go

So I've been working on my novel. I know, right!? Finally! And this is where I start blogging again so I can blather about nonsensical shit for fifteen minutes or so while my brain reboots. I am about 30,000 words in, or about a third way through the plot. I'm not exactly sure because I'm halfway between a pantster and a plotter.  (Those are writing terms. Impressive huh? It's like I know what I'm doing!) Like I've got most of the story living in my head, where it's been living for about five years and I tend to write when a certain scene or dialog just grabs me.  That's the pantster part, aka by the seat of your pants.  But I'm too anal retentive in real life to not go over accurate details (thank you google) and perfect timelines (a plotter specialty) and stare at hastily drawn maps, write out notes, etc. etc.  So the bottom line is... I write slowly.  I'm trying to get faster.  I'm trying to write every day.  I'm trying to separate writing time and editing time. I'm doing all that shit. 

Oh, but did I mention how we had a water leak and now we're renovating much of the bottom floor of our house? No?  Yeah, there's that.  Oh, and a whole bunch of other stuff happened because it's been like two years since I've really maintained this blog. Anywho, moving on.

But... I think the biggest news that has happened in the last two years is that the fricking voices in my head are now MANAGED!  Meditation has made such a difference.  Any breaks or journeys or to be continues it took to get to this point in my life and this state of being have been totally worth it.

Fricking hippie.            

Love always,

               - wg  


And then bugs flew at my face

Lately insects of varied flying ability have been swooping into my face for unknown reasons.  They have done so with forceful persistence and periodic consistency.  This is not an affliction I've been burdened with in the past.  Like,  you know that brother of a friend of your cousin's who everyone says attracts mosquitoes like a zapper so you can never invite him camping.  I cannot for the life of me think why my face is suddenly so appealing to bugs.  I've gotten hit in the cheek, the forehead, my neck, several times!  I've narrowly avoided swatting them down my shirt.  Because who wants a moth in their bra?  (You know that's going to smear.)  No one else in my family seems to be experiencing the love dives of gnats besides me.  It's utterly baffling.  And kind of creepy.  I have been taking a meditation class for the last few months and the only thing I can think of is that my chakras are now so blazing bright that I am like a beacon in the dark for small winged creatures. 

So just in case you were wondering what the downside to enlightenment is... it's learn to keep your mouth closed or you might inhale a moth.                     - wg


"Ignore the bells and pings. You are not Pavlov nor his dogs."

I wrote this as a note to myself. I forget for what exactly, clearly I was irritated, probably something distracting me from the task at hand.  But now I feel this should be emblazoned on a t-shirt and/or needs to be the mantra of my life.  Sadly, my first thought was to put it on facebook or twitter, it is so utterly twitterable, and I wanted to remember it and share it and nod sagely at it, but that is just feeding the chimes.  Then it occurred to me that I could put it up specifically and with intention on where the bell tolls... except I really don't hold truck with the younger gen's notion of doing things, big and small, "ironically".

Call me old-fashioned but I think we should stumble ignorantly and spectacularly into our irony, the way it was meant to be. Flames shooting from our tresses, ashes on our shoulders.   

Now give me a treat.