Sunday, January 24, 2010

Good Words Gone Bad

Today I wrote the same scene twice, once from the hero’s point of view, and then again from the heroine’s. This was not an intentional exercise to serve some purpose in characterization or a practice in sensory description. This was simply a process in my writing, and one that happens to me all the time.

I was writing a scene of sexual tension, which is harder than other types of writing for me. The first go round came across as creepy, a male thinking about a female in inappropriate ways considering the situation. The second version, in the female point of view, still didn’t feel right, and I couldn’t put my finger on why. And then on the drive home from the coffee shop, I had an epiphany. I have the action happening in the wrong setting. Time for the third re-write. I have no doubt that will require several passes before I get it correct as well.

To me, that is the crux of what it is to be a writer. “To write is to re-write,” so they say. I think I generally delete about 75% of my very first words on the page. Even this blog has been an exercise in deletion. My first words are always so bad, I refuse to even call them a “first draft.”

So why do I keep at it? Because that moment of epiphany is like a drug, a moment of extreme satisfaction that goes beyond merely putting words to paper. And because I can’t not write. Writing, even re-writing, is a joy for me. The weight of my laptop is like a favorite blanket as I puzzle out the words on the page. Each piece has to fit perfectly against the next, until the entire picture becomes whole. Between the epiphany and the puzzle of words, I love the satisfaction of finally getting things “right.”

To all you other writers out there, here’s to inspiration and to getting things “write.”

Friday, January 15, 2010


Facebook, it’s everywhere. Everybody who’s anybody has a Facebook page. But, I’m old school and was resistant to hopping on that trend train. My fears of privacy and security warred with networking with other writers. After much encouragement from a few of my writer friends, I created a Boone Brux FB page. I rationalized away my fears by creating positive goals. I would open myself up to those that wanted to be my friend. I would support other writers by reading their blogs and books. I would develop a following of my own. Never could I have imagined the nefarious traps that waited within that den of temptation and time wasting.

If you have an addictive personality, Facebook is not the best place for you to spend your time. The first inkling that I might have a problem came when I began “friending” people. I received a thrill when a total stranger accepted me as their friend. The reason for this reaction probably has its roots buried deep within my junior high years. I started with people I knew, but quickly began taking the suggestions that Facebook provided. I had every intension of being a good friend, but as the numbers grew, the task became overwhelming. Then the guilt set in. Was I giving these people false hope that I would support everything they wrote and posted? I realized it was time for me to step back and reassess my friending. I received a few friend requests, which I happily accepted, but realized I was not being heavily pursued. That created a bittersweet reaction. No requests solved my urge to over friend, but I questioned my value as a Facebook friend. Like I needed more self-doubt.

Just about the time I’d gotten my friending under control, I found the applications. Oh you dirty scoundrels, tempting me with the promise of hours of pleasure. The first step I took down that path of mindless time wasting was Happy Aquarium. Wow, cyber fish, and I got money if I kept them fed, clean, and alive. I embraced Petey the penguin, Jaws the clown fish, and Calypso the crab. I made a home for them, loved them, and decorated their tank. But wait, what is this? I can look at my friend’s tanks? BIG MISTAKE! One of my friends had fabulous squid and aquatic paraphernalia, but her fish were hungry. Oh my God, her fish are starving, and her tank was dirty. Didn’t she check? Can I feed her fish for her? No? No? But I need to help. I need to save her fish!!!!!!! I sent her an urgent message, but still the fish went unfed. Finally, she popped up on the Facebook chat, which is a whole other blog, and I pleaded with her to feed her fish. She laughed as if it was nothing, and promised me she would. Whew, now I could go back to my writing.

But wait, somebody sent me an invitation to start my own zoo. Oh, I love animals. And so, the vicious cycle began. I adopted every animal possible, bought kiosks, hired help, found lost gold, shook my money trees. I even made another Facebook page under my real name so that I could adopt animals from myself. As you can see, I was sinking into the abyss of applications. However, my downward slid was not done yet. Tikki farms appeared, Happy Fish, yes more fish, and the Fairy Garden. How many hours a day was I spending feeding my fish, adopting animals, looking for gold, and harvesting my crops? It got worse. My friend sent me free chips to play virtual slot machines, Texas Hold’em, Word Challenge, Trivia Challenge, and the worst of all…Farkle. If you’ve never played Farkle, don’t start. Hours I’ve wasted Farkling my day away.

This was a problem. Where was my manuscript? Where had the characters of my imagination gone? What day was it? When had I last eaten? Why were my kids still at home? Had I forgotten to take them to the bus? I was only moving from my computer to get more coffee and pee. When I finally shook the hypnotic hold that Facebook applications held over me, I knew I had to do something drastic. Delete, delete, delete. Gone went Word Challenge, gone went Happy Fish, and yes, bye, bye Farkle. I stood up from my chair like a phoenix rising from the ashes. I shook my legs, trying to get the feeling to return to my butt cheeks and feet. Stretching, I smiled. I had done it. I had walked through the valley of FB applications. I had stared down the throat of the time-suck monster, and I had survived. I shut off my coffeepot, showered, rinsing the sticky residue of Facebook desire from my body, and drove to the store to buy groceries. A new day had dawned. The sun kissed my face and I smiled, knowing that I was a stronger, wiser, writer having Farkled and survived.

Friday, January 1, 2010

My New New Year's Resolutions

So, I’ve thought a lot about this over the past few weeks—the pros and cons of New Year’s Resolutions—and I’d pretty much talked myself out of doing any for the year. Let’s face it…most of the time they fail and I’ve had the same freakin’ resolutions for the past ump-teen years (lose weight, write more, get organized). What’s the point? I’d decided to go into 2010 just keeping in mind that I really needed to do all these things but I wasn’t going to do a “resolution” or start a new plan or suddenly jump back to Weight Watchers (cuz you know the lines are huge the first week in January).

Then, I found myself walking through the bookstore. I was just there to get a cup of tea but I was on my phone with a friend who was telling me about how stressful her Christmas had turned out to be. I couldn’t find a way to break into the conversation while I ordered a 16-oz English Breakfast tea with room for cream, so I wandered the store.

I skimmed across the new books and saw one on getting organized. I’ve bought a half a dozen of these kinds of books over the years and never make it through. Who has time to read all this stuff? I need to be organized now!! Well, this book is split out into weeks and every week you do one bit of organizing. Means I don’t have to read the whole book until I’m doing each section. I like that.

Then my wanderings continued and I found myself in health and fitness. Sigh. All the books and plans and I almost walked away. I’ve tried a bunch, I know I should work out, I know I should eat better.

But then a realization hit me…at the end of 2010, I might not be a svelte, organized, writing mogul but you know, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try. And even if I don’t completely succeed, any sort of effort will mean improvement. I know from experience, I won’t follow a strict meal plan to lose weight but if it stops me from hitting the donut cart twice a week, that’s a good thing.

I walked out of the store with 2 books—one to be organized and one to improve my fitness/health. I’m not calling them “new year’s resolutions” (the last time I was “resolved” about anything I was in debate class) and I’m not going to begin today (a Friday morning just seems like a bad time to change your world). I might not succeed but I’ll have made an effort and that counts for something. Who knows? By this time next year, I might be able to see the top of my desk. There’s always a chance.

Happy New Year!

And the Blatant Self-Promotion Side Note
Taking Shape is now available from Ellora’s Cave! You can read a hot, sexy excerpt at my blog.