Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Polarity of Writing, And A Clip From Psych

Yesterday, I felt compelled to write. 

What a wonderful feeling. I must confess, it didn't start out that way. I always feel like my manuscript and I are magnets of the same polarity. Repelling one another. Which is why I need to set aside time in which I must write--while in the company of other writers.

Writing with others keeps me accountable to the goals I pledge to myself.

So, yesterday, I made myself go to the library, made myself open the computer, made myself look at my manuscript.

And when my writing time was up, I wanted to keep going, and going, and going.

It's been a very long time since I've had this happen. Too long.

Now, it might seem weird that my general feeling about writing is repulsion. Since I spend most of my time thinking about my novel, planning it, knowing it, wanting to write. But the actual act of sitting down and doing so repels me on some level. Even though I write every day (or nearly every day).

I don't know if it is about confidence, or fear of failure, or self-fulfilling prophecy, or the next big psych term.

And maybe that is why the show Psych works out so well--Shawn is a crazy character who could never push himself into the confines of being a traditional detective. Even though he feels compelled to solve crime. Instead, he pretends to be psychic. So he can be silly and witty and fun. (I'm breaking out into "I Feel Pretty" lyrics in my head.) He works with his compulsion, not against it. He works in a way which suits his personality. He solves crime, not in spite of himself. Because of himself.

Okay, my favorite nickname for Gus, Control-Alt-Delete, didn't make it into the clip. :)

We need to write because of who we are, not in spite of it.

Not to say I don't need to push myself. But I don't need to push myself to be something which I am not.

So, I find out what works for me--what makes me sit down and open up the document. Because once that document is open, it compels me to do something with it. Whether write or revise. Once I'm in, I'm in. Yesterday I was compelled to stay in. If I could have written all day, I would have. And it would have been good. Good writing. Stuff with pitch and power and pizzazz.

I don't think it makes me less of a writer that I am compelled and repelled by writing all at the same time. I think that is why writing is so difficult. And I imagine every form of art and expression brings with it some ambivalence. Some push and pull. And when we are strong enough to wade through the repulsion, we create something worthwhile.

Writing is risky.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Do you react similarly to writing? Or to creating? Do you struggle with the push and pull? What tricks do you use to help you write?

Maybe next time I open my manuscript, I'll pretend I'm psychic. That I know what my characters will do and go through. Oh, wait. That is something which I already pretend. :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Meeting: Super Powers

So, I gave a birthday shout-out for my daughter, but didn't yet for my hubby. His birthday recently passed, and I have to mention it on this thanks-giving week.

One thing you must know about my husband--he's an amazing gift giver. He gave me a gift this fall to meet Erica Orloff, a writer whom I consider to be a mentor, at an amazing conference:

This picture is of me, Joe Williams, and the amazing Erica Orloff, at the James River Writers conference. It was one of the most valuable experiences in my writing career. Truly priceless.

He's that good.

You see, gift giving is his super power. My super power? This game. Yup. Totally useless super power.

I gave him what he asked for on his birthday. Because gift giving is not my super power.

This week, he gave me a dress from the show Project Runway. This dress. (It's the simply delicious cream dress, in case a different one pops up when you click over.) It wasn't my birthday (in fact, it was right after his), and there wasn't any rhyme or reason to give me a gift. Other than he had been waiting for the dress to be stocked so he could buy it for me. And that he loves giving people gifts. And that it's his super power.

What an awesome super power--to bring joy to people. He uses it quite well.

So, on this week of giving thanks, I will thank him for all the wonderful gifts he brings me--the experiences, the special things, his support for my writing, and the gift of him in my life.

Happy birthday, babe. And THANKS.


Do you have a super power? Is it useful? Do you use your super power for good or evil? What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Version of Save The Cat, In Which I Actually Save A Cat

A few weeks ago, I came home from my kids' swim team practice to the sound of a kitten crying. My kitten, OF COURSE. Somewhere in the neighborhood. It was dark. It was 10pm at night. The kitten's cries sounded scared and pitiful. I grabbed a flashlight, and hunted down my petrified kitty. She was two doors down, and two stories up. Crying in a tree.

I spent two hours--until midnight--trying to coax her down. Flashing my flashlight down the trunk of the tree, bringing out food, calling to her. She just couldn't figure it out. She cried to me, and walked down each branch, parallel to the ground. My heart sank. I waited for my neighbors to call the police on the hooligan waving the flashlight in the grove of trees behind their house. It became clear to me that short of climbing the tree, that kitten was not coming down. I reassured myself that cats are nocturnal creatures, and that she would be fine during the long night in the tree. Maybe she would come down to eat the food.

Her cries followed me home, and into bed. I couldn't sleep.

And, in the morning, she was still crying. Up in the tree. I won't lie. The term "dumb kitten" definitely escaped my lips. I was tired, and worried, and wondering. How long can a cat survive in a tree? I had never heard of one falling out out of a tree.

My neighbors were divided into the camps of call-the-fire-department, and she'll-come-down-on-her-own. I was of the idea that since I have small children, I might need the aid of the fire department in the future, and didn't relish pissing them off due to a dumb kitten. In fact, they had already come to my aid once. But that is another story, for another post. :)

And, anyway, I had a plan.

I attached a stick to a long rope, and asked my husband to throw it over the branch, much to the concern of the very nice Irish woman who came running out of her house to find out what we were doing to her trees. I was amazed that she hadn't seen me out there the night before, or so early that morning. Once she saw our beautiful, sad kitten, she became our biggest fan.

My husband successfully looped the rope over the branch, and I attached our cat carrier bag to the rope, with the top open. I threw some cat food in there for good measure. Hubby pulled the carrier up to the cat, and like magic, the cat stepped right in. We lowered it to the ground, and I grabbed the kitten out. Finally safe, back on the ground.

The writing lesson for this? Well, you might be stuck right now. Stuck on a scene, stuck in the middle, stuck because you've been writing fast and furious and climbing those branches through NaNo. Wondering whether to call the fire department, or just to wait it out. And my advice to you is that you already know the solution. Your subconscious is working it out. It might not be conventional. But go ahead and think about what tools you have at your disposal, and build that cat elevator for your novel. Save the dumb cat. :)

For your viewing pleasure, here are some pictures: (keep in mind that I was emotionally involved with saving the kitten, and the pictures I snapped off are pretty awful. :))

See her eyes up there? They haunted me all night long.

Pitifully, trying to walk along the branches to safety.

Amazingly, she climbed right into her cat carrier.

Jelly's personal elevator. :)
Safe (relatively speaking), in Superman's arms.
So, how do you save the cat?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Meeting: Getting Into the Groove

After an action packed weekend, I am more than ready to get back into writing. I'm meeting with writers at our library each day for a few hours. We have a sunny room, and lots of outlets nearby for our laptops. I am way behind any NaNo goal, but right on target for where I want to be with my drafting/revisions. I'm turning my face towards the sun this morning for a quick run, and then I'll be writing.

How about you? Let me know what your goals are this week. Let's keep each other accountable!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy 6th, Cowgirl

I can't believe that Cowgirl is six years old--and already giving out horseback riding lessons!

I hope all your midweek writing plans are going well. I'm getting into a good morning writing rhythm, and the fact that the internet access is unpredictable at the library is actually helping my wordcount.

Are you keeping to your goals? Would you like lessons from Cowgirl? And, yes. Cowgirl and her doll (which she named after herself) are dressed identically. :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Meeting: Thunder Snow and Other Lessons

Last week, I learned that Thunder Snow is not something to be scoffed at. Or maybe my scoffing was the issue. It made Thunder Snow want to prove to me that it was a force to be reckoned with. Knocked out our power for two days and nights. Which probably wouldn't have been a big deal, if we hadn't had 20 degree nights. Oh, and if it hadn't been right before Halloween.

Life lesson: Never mock mother nature.

Zoom in on me making this costume by candlelight:

Which my son loved. And wore for the exact time it took to snap this picture. Then he stripped it off, and went trick or treating in street clothes. Sigh.

Life lesson: Never try to constrict a boy's nature in a box. Even if the boy insists.

Fast forward to my daughter walking, no, running, to school. Debris from thunder snow litters the sidewalk. Daughter trips, flies forward, and lands on her face. Does not use hands to break her fall. Loses (literally) her tooth. I spend the next 48 hours looking for tooth, and watching for concussion.

Life lesson: Magic makes everything better.

All this gave me perspective this week. When I try to control things is when I get into trouble, in my real life, and in my writing. When I leave myself open to what my subconscious has already worked out about a particular scene in a book, or when I leave myself open to the unexpected turns and twists of life, I am better equipped to handle where writing and life is going.

This week, I am hoping for a less action-packed week, and more action-packed writing.

How are you? Do you have writing goals? What are they? Do you have wordcount goals this week? Lay them on me!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Have You Met Kyla?

In case you guys missed the launch of my new (whenever I feel like it) Friday blog feature, inspired by How I Met Your Mother, here's another one. The idea is that I introduce you to someone awesome, someone who just might be fun to get to know!

So, Haaave you met Kyla?
Okay, she is larger than this in real life. If I had my act together today, I would have actually asked for a picture instead of stealing one off her blog. :)

Kyla is a wonderfully warm, generous writer who pens funny vignettes of her life over at her Growing Muses blog. She also writes for the World Moms Blog.

She is jumping right into uncharted territories this November by doing Tara Lazar's fabulous PiBoIdMo, so if you do click over to say hi at Growing Muses, make sure to cheer her on! She has volumes of energy for writing and friends, and I am lucky enough to benefit from that energy both online and in real life.

She has been a major force of inspiration for me in the past few weeks, at her blog, over coffee, and over the lane lines at the pool. (A friend who encourages healthy writing, and healthy exercising? That is a truly valuable friend!)

I am so lucky to have her in my life, and I encourage you to bring her into your life as well, by creating that all-important blogging connection.

And, since we're doing introductions, why don't you tell us all what you are up to on your blog, and link to it in the comments. That way, I can make sure not to miss any awesome reads this Friday!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I Shake My Fists At The Tech Gods, Once Again

So, when you try to comment on this post, you will discover the dreaded pop-up window.

Now, I have heard several bloggers discuss how this is not the best way to allow comments, simply because it takes more time for people to comment. I loved it when my comments were embedded below the post.

Okay, this is a much more fun type of pop-up. Although I can't hear this song without thinking, that's not really ironic. I still like it though. I wonder what that says about me. :)

And, I want to make it easy, peasey for y'all (okay, I am so NOT from the south, but that puts me in mind of a delicious southern drawl, which makes me feel warm and cozy and like I can pretend that I am not on the verge of another disastrously cold NE winter) to comment. Above all else.

The problem with the embedded comments? In the last month, I have heard from two VIP in my virtual life, who went to extraordinary measures to let me know that for some reason, they are no longer permitted to comment on my blog.

I checked my settings. Everyone is permitted to comment, even anonymous users. I don't even have comment verification on the site. There is no reason why people shouldn't be able to comment.


Although in this case, I think it might be the Google Gods giving me grief.

So, I hope you survive the pop-ups for a while. Let's see if everyone can comment.

I'm so bummed out that people couldn't join in the conversation here.

Has anyone else had this problem? How frustrating! For those of you who are more tech savvy than me (really not difficult) please enlighten me if I can fix this issue permanently, and revert back to my embedded comments. Pretty please! (I'm looking in your direction, Tom!)

Can't comment on this blog post? That's ironic. E-mail me at hegkelly at gmail dot com.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Forced Un-plug

Just a quick note to say that I am very happy to have power back at our house. It was not (much) fun to have a forced unplug this weekend!

Now that I'm back, here are some truly fun items:

Today, you can find me in The Practice Room, where there is an open chat room with hosts from 9am-3pm est. No one needs write unassisted. :) Whether you are NaNo-ing or otherwise!

I will be unplugging over there to get some writing done today, I hope you will too!

Also, I must wish a Happy Book Birthday to Anna, and her MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE. See, here are pictures of me reading the ARC over the summer!

The first one (aka, the GINORMOUS picture) is in front of my town's library. The second one is in front of the Narragansett library.

If you want to win a copy of Anna's book, today you can play a twitter game-- what has been your most unfairy tale moment? Answer that, with hashtag #myveryunfairytalelife, and you might win!

I hope you all are warm, safe, and plugged in Tuesday!