Just a Thought

I have a friend who is struggling with an eating disorder. She's awesome. And she's chronicling her journey for all to read, which I find incredibly brave. (You can check it out on her blog here.) After reading her latest blog post, I had some thoughts. I commented on her post, but I thought I would share here, too.

Before reading the blog post, I read a quote posted by a different friend on Facebook. It was from the Velveteen Rabbit. The Rabbit asks the Skin Horse how to he got to be real. And this is part of the Horse's answer:

"You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand." (from the Velveteen Rabbit)

I am not perfect, but I am real. I am a real mom. A real sister. A real, charitable person. I have bags under my eyes, the skin on my face and pretty much everywhere is sagging, and I have a few extra pounds because running children everywhere and planning ward Christmas parties and writing books and baking cookies for the people who just lost a father and husband and so many other things, is time consuming. I don't exercise as often as I'd like, I sometimes have to eat what's available and not what's healthy. But I'm real. So I can't be ugly. Except to those people who don't understand. The trappings are irrelevant. What's inside is what's real. Those who love us, see what's real. And hopefully one day, we can be the ones who see that, too.


Smoke and Death writing prompt

Julie from my writing group challenged us all to do a writing prompt this week. I finally made some time tonight to work on it. It's a little cliched, but it was fun to get the creative juices flowing.

She had smoke in her eyes and death at her back.

It hadn’t taken long. A few minutes at most.

She didn’t turn around or cover her mouth. Enah wanted them to see her confident as she walked away from the carnage.

But even as she did it, that little worm of doubt nibbled at her insides. Was this the path she truly wanted for herself? Or was it just the easy one?

Miviam and Canessa stood at the top of the next rise, their stances casual. As if a lone woman killing an entire gang of armed bandits was everyday stuff.

Miviam had her arms crossed under her chest, the tight leather bodice she wore showing off a disgusting amount of cleavage. Enah had never understood the desire to show off your body to attract men, but Miviam seemed steeped in it.

Canessa wore her conjuring cloak, even though it had to be sweltering under there in this heat. Enah had never seen her without it, which made her extremely glad she hadn’t chosen to apprentice to a conjurer last year.

The two of them waited until Enah reached the trough in front of them before turning around and heading to the silver maple that grew near the bend in the river. Neither of them congratulated her on completing her assignment. Neither gave correction either, so Enah knew she did well.

When the ground evened out, she took a cloth out of the bag strapped over her leggings and began wiping down her daggers, careful not to nick herself in the process.

Each swipe brought a different man’s face to mind. A man who deserved to die, she told herself with a grimace.

The blades clean, she holstered them behind her hips and stuffed the cloth back into the bag. Her fingers brushed something there and she pulled it out.

The drawing she’d found as she’d walked out of the camp. A drawing of a little girl with long, dark braids and a smile on her lips as she danced.

A man with a family.

“What’s that?” Miviam had reached the tree and turned around. Her words startled Enah.

Folding it up, she shoved it back into the bag with the cloth. “Nothing. Just some scrap paper I found. Thought it would come in handy to practice my scribing.”

Miviam didn’t look pleased, but she didn’t protest. Instead she grabbed Canessa’s hand with her left and held her right out to Enah. “Let’s go.”

A moment later, they were back in their own camp next to the ancient silver maple that grew at its center.


New job and a Seasons quick write

Today I started a new job.

Which is good, since the whole writing thing isn't going so well.

Exce-e-ept . . . the job is to be the adviser for a creative writing club at a local high school. Sigh. Murphy's Law is a powerful thing.

Apparently none of the teachers at the school cared much about the club, which is why I got hired. But today, my first day, there was exactly 1 kid who stayed as long as me. The group high was 4 kids for about 20 minutes until I gave them a writing prompt that was far too much to ask of the casual creative-writing-group/club goer.

Whether or not that goes well, I did the prompt with them, and thought I would share. The idea we started with (for the prompt) was to write about each day of the week as if they were a person/character, but I guess some author did an entire series about that--which they'd all read, of course--so we changed it to the seasons instead of days of the week.

Here's mine:

Summer burned through his stack of paperwork, checking the approved box in all of the applications whether they had the right information or not. He couldn’t concentrate or care today. Hopefully the underwriters would catch anything he missed.

Putting his feet up on his desk, Summer leaned back in his chair and put his hands behind his head. Staring at the blue sky outside, his mind wandered to the waves and sand only a half-hour drive from where he sat

“Hey, Summer.”

He yanked his gaze away from the window, yanked his thoughts from the beach. Fall had one hand on the door frame, her head barely peeking into his room. She always seemed to be trying too hard to be young—her hair dyed a bright red, clothes covered in an array of color. Today she wore a cardigan that looked like a confetti cannon had exploded behind her and covered her arms and shoulders with flecks of orange, red, yellow, and fushia. It was awful.

“Hey, Fall. What’s up?”

“Oh, nothing.” She moved to stand in his doorway and tripped, whacking her shoulder against the door frame on the other side. “I was falling asleep at my desk so I decided to take a walk. If they didn’t keep the lights so dim over the cubicles, it would be easier to stay awake.”

Summer tried not to roll his eyes. Fall was always such a downer. Before he could think of a reply, another figure stepped in behind Fall. Winter. The boss from the frigid nether regions of corporate feminism.

“Fall. I see you’re away from your desk. Again.”

Fall looked like she might pee her pants. “Sorry Miss Winter. I’ll be . . . I’ll be . . . going.” She gestured with both pointer fingers down the hall in the direction Winter had just come and then stepped out of Summer’s line of sight. He could imagine her weaving down the hallway in a flustered attempt to both hurry and not look rushed.

Winter took Fall’s place in Summer’s doorway.  The tendons stood out on her hands as she put them on her pointy hips. “Are you through the approvals for the week.”

Summer beamed at her as he pulled his feet off his desk. “Yes, Ma’am.”

Her frown deepened. “Underwriting says there’s been a spike in approvals in the last few weeks.”

Summer shrugged. “Guess the applicants are getting smarter.”

“Underwriting also says there’s been a spike in mistakes on the applications they’re getting.”


Once again, Summer was interrupted before he could come up with a good excuse. This time it was Spring. Dressed in sea green pants rolled at the ankle, canvas deck shoes, and a pink button up rolled to his elbows, Spring floated past Winter and alighted on the only other chair in the room. As he passed Winter, Spring touched her arm and said, “Hello, Winter, Darling,” drawing out all the vowels in his lazy southern accent.

Winter acknowledged the greeting with a terse nod, but her shoulders seemed to relax just slightly. It seemed like everyone relaxed with Spring around. He was easy to talk to.

“Do you mind shutting the door, Winter? I have an important update to discuss with Summer. Chronos said it couldn’t wait.”

Giving Summer an icy glare, Winter turned and grabbed the handle of the door. “The work better improve or there will be consequences Summer,” she said as she pulled the door shut.

Spring grinned.

“Chronos has an update for me?” Summer asked.

“Nah. I just like to interrupt Winter’s rampages. It tickles my insides."


Eggs in a Nest Recipe

I needed something quick for dinner the other night, but I had very little in the fridge that I would normally put together. Then, seeing some leftover spaghetti noodles that had no sauce, I remembered seeing a recipe that cooked eggs in spaghetti noodles. It sounds weird, but it looked tasty in the picture. I looked and looked and could not for the life of me find where I had seen the recipe. So I decided to make up my own recipe. It turned out super tasty! Give it a try.

Eggs in a Nest
1 serving

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup leftover (pre-cooked) spaghetti noodles
2 eggs
1 oz shredded gruyere cheese
1 green onion, chopped
pinch of sage
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add noodles and fry until golden and starting to crisp if left sitting. Crack eggs over noodles. Cook until eggs are desired doneness, flipping if necessary. (I made mine over medium). While the eggs are cooking, sprinkle with sage, cheese, and salt and pepper. Remove to plate and top with green onion.


Sometimes being right is not my favorite thing

I'm kind of obsessed with doing things the 'right' way. Writing my second book was nerve wracking at first because I had learned that there are 'right' ways to write a book. And if I know the right way to do something, it would be ludicrous to do it the wrong way, right?

But. That's not how writing works. First drafts are all kinds of wrong. First drafts are all the wrong stuff in the right place or all the right stuff in the wrong place and sometimes they're just the wrong stuff over and over and over again until you can get all that wrong out of the way and find the shiny right stuff buried at the bottom. Kind of like that scene in Labyrinth where the junk lady is handing Sarah all of her old stuff and Sarah finally has that Aha! moment and remembers all that stuff isn't want she wants anymore.

Image found here.
So in writing, sometimes doing it wrong works in  your favor. And in life, sometimes being wrong works in your favor, too, which was highlighted for me this past week by the one-and-only, glorious big box store, Walmart.

I've had bad experiences with Walmart changing my oil in the past, but this last week was crazy and I only had so much time to both do the grocery shopping and get the oil changed before driving the 60 miles to see my parents. So, I put my prejudices aside and went to Walmart. I drop off the car, do my shopping with three kids in tow, and come back to pick up my car. At which point, the Walmart employee informs me that one of the 'associates' broke the dipstick off in the "oil thing" (no--he didn't even know it was called an oil pan) and they couldn't get it out.

I would have to take it to a mechanic, he said. They'll reimburse me he said. No, there isn't anything in writing about that reimbursement thing, he said.

Well you can bet my arse I wasn't leaving until there was something in writing. So the shaking twelve-year-old employee wrote a note on my receipt, and then I drove it up to my parents house the next day (since it was already after 6pm), got a mechanic to get the old piece of dipstick out, and had him change the oil.

Walmart will not ever get my business for oil changes again. I wish I could say they would never get my business again, period, but in a town that only has Walmart and a grocery store, that just can't happen right now.

So I've got another moral for you tonight: Don't be afraid to be wrong. Sometimes it works out for the best.

(Thanks for the insight Chuck.)


Write new friends . . .

I need to write every day.

I love to write. It soothes me. It gives me something to look forward to. It gives me purpose and direction.

Also, writing every day makes writing easier. I get into a rhythm. It gets easier to ignore distractions that call to me every time I sit down at the computer. Who needs Facebook? I get to write. This fun story--I'm in it and it's flowing and I don't need no stinking social media. Because these fictional people are at least as cool as the real people I know (but shhhh don't tell them that) (the fictional ones will get big heads).

I'll get by with a little help from my friends
I'll get by with a little help from my friends

Of course, there are those times when I try to write every day and it's not flowing. And then I feel like I have no purpose, no direction, and nothing to look forward to. There is no soothing. Those times suck. But luckily, they don't last either. Eventually you get out of those times, usually with the help of one of those non-fictional friends. Because non-fictional friends are cool like that.

The moral of the story tonight: Write new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other's gold.


#2bitTues and #1lineWed

I finally decided I needed to figure out what #2bitTues and #1lineWed were. I've been seeing them on my Twitter feed for ages now, and I knew it had something to do with posting lines from either books or writing, but I never participated because I wasn't sure on the details.

Here's what I found:

#2bitTues is run by Angela D'Onofrio (@AngDonofrio). Each week she posts a new "theme" for the hashtag and you put up a line from your current WIP (work-in-progress) that goes along with that theme. You can learn more here: http://www.angeladonofrio.com/between-the-lines/how-i-spend-my-week

#1lineWed is run by the Romance Writers of America's Kiss of Death Chapter (@RWAKissofDeath). Each week they post a theme for the hashtag on their twitter feed and you can post a line from your current WIP. I wasn't able to find more info than what's on their twitter feed, but the posts each week make the rules pretty clear.

So that means we get to play this game twice a week. How fun is that? A great way to find other talented authors to follow and to support them by retweeting and liking. Also a great way to dive into your manuscript and make sure you're putting in those punchy one-liners that make a novel fun to read. *Rubs hands together*

Here I go!