Sunday, November 06, 2005

Idea Overload: Adventures in (trying to finish) Editing

Well, as further proof that I am perpetually too excited by ideas for projects to stay focused on just one, I've been working on an article when I should be editing my fiction manuscript, Visions.

People often ask writers, "How do you get ideas?," not understanding that once one learns to think like a writer this is never an issue. Inspiration tends to strike around every corner--the hazard is in trying to juggle the overstock. These I hastily jot into a trusty four-inch spiral notepad--I have a Palm Pilot but typically stick to pen and paper lest fleeting ideas leave before I can switch the PDA on and try to remember the Graffiti equivalent to the letter K.

The inspiration now competing with my book for shotgun seating began as a conversation with a coworker. Both of us being film buffs, we were lamenting the endless smorgasboard of leftovers Hollywood has been dishing up in the form of remakes, sequels, prequels, and spinoffs. Neither of us had any hard facts to this effect, but we FELT it. Suddenly I decided this sixth sense warranted further investigation, and the idea for an article was born.

The first draft of Visions had just been gingerly tucked in for a pre-editing hibernation period when the idea hit, so I felt I had spare time (after a fashion) to undertake the new project. Makes a good story, anyway. Days stretched into weeks, then we picked up and moved, and suddenly the manuscript began whining for attention from its lonely box in the corner. So now my writing personality is split into fiction/nonfiction components, with research, interviews, and queries fizzing away part of the day, the fiction manuscript suffering brutal strokes of my editing pencil the rest.

Then there's my recent arts and crafts binge, which I blame on idly clicking a Cool Site of the Saw a tote bag made out of woven magazines and have gone purse crazy making these out of family photos as well as magazines for fun, family, and posterity. I need a crafting intervention, and I need it now.

In any event, though my desk looks like a paper mill exploded and the dining area has enough fabric, magazines, and supplies to warrant an entire crafts fair, the work progresses on all fronts. The book is fifty pages into its second editing revision; research for the article is complete, the query written, and interview questions being undertaken; my newfound craft will help solve the dilemma of what to get the womenfolk on my Christmas list.

And I swear that once this article's finished I won't start anything new until after the book is finished and query sent out. Except there's this neat window hanging from dried orange slices I need for my kitchen. And the other day I had a fun idea for a story about a haunted clock. And then there's that great idea I'm going to have tomorrow. ack.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

On Head Banging and Writing

I’m ashamed to have it noted for all posterity that my previous entry was circa February. All I can say is this: one moment I was giddily blogging about the ceaseless joys of writing, the next I was in an emergency room trying to remember whether I had any allergies (and incorrectly reporting the baby’s as my own). Leave it to me to suffer a concussion at my own hand, not by anything glamorous like having saved an old lady from an oncoming train, but by answering a telephone at work in too big a hurry. CLANG.

Not just any concussion, either, but one that brought with it all the wonders of Post Concussive Syndrome: a fabulous ride through the murky depths of trying to relearn how to braid my hair, remember whether I’d brushed my teeth thirty seconds earlier (wet toothbrush suggested I had), and the ever popular "Will I Ever Be Able To Write Again?" Well, I’m here to tell you that there’s no better Blog Crusher than the inability to think, let alone write, in complete sentences. (While I will allow for the fact that some material out there suggests this does not stop everyone, that’s a topic for another time.)

I found it interesting to note that, once the CAT scan came back negative, my biggest fear was whether my writing had suffered a fatal blow. Sure, it bothered me that I could not view a computer screen nor read a book for the first few weeks, and had to wear glasses to manage it for weeks after that. Of course, the jumbled spaghetti-toss that had become my thought process did not bode well for someone in the midst of a college semester. And no, I didn’t tap dance over being forced to sit in the dark to combat a light sensitivity that even moles would respect. Still, what was really keeping me swirling in a swamp soup over the whole affair was wondering how far down the mountainside of writing progress I’d slid–and whether the equipment I’d been honing for years was too damaged to regain the loss in altitude.

While the answer to this may be obvious by virtue of my humble return to this blog (or, perhaps not), it has brought about some reflection on my part as to why this part of my life was so important. Why must I be able to write? It’s not my bread and butter, nor even the financial equivalent of an olive on my table as of yet. And, while some may consider it self-defeating to downplay one’s hopes, I am practical enough to wager that within my writer’s soul I do NOT hold some genre-defining Tolkienesque masterpiece, nor a H.G. Wells glimpse into a future which will inspire scientific discovery, nor a work of Lovecraftian horror so chilling and astute that it would become a high marker on the totem of frightful comparison. In light of this, it is doubtful that my removal from the writing community would hold any major repercussions for society. Yet, when I am caught up in thoughts of my current work, a future idea, or, as noted above, the thought of NOT writing anymore, it carries a tantamount importance which consumes and, at times, startles me.

I suspect the answer has as many facets as a diamond, and I shall turn that crystal over in my hands for further examination as time permits. For now, I have settled on this one facet of who I am as a writer: someone who must tell a good story, and who relishes the challenge of defining the world around her in new and (hopefully) thought-provoking ways. Or, perhaps I’m just trying to get out of household chores. There’s always room for another facet.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

No Really, I Meant Literally

Something funny happened to me on my way back from writing class the other day...

Well okay, something happens to me after every writing class. I get happy. No, happy doesn't cover it, really. Giddy is a better word choice. Doesn't matter what we did in class, either. Whether it be a low energy day or a Writing Is Great session, by the time I pull into work (creative writing bumps against my work shift twice a week) I feel like I'm marching onto the center platform at the Olympic Games. Halfway down the hall, the sensation bubbles up until I want to spin around, arms held aloft. Then I remember where I am. Work. Hospital. The place with a special ward set aside for grown women who spin themselves about in the halls. So I refrain and the gears begin to downshift. Poof! Mood wears off. Rinse and repeat next class.

This not being a common thing for me, I felt obligated to Email my writing instructor. After all, if I must risk admittance to the Special Ward every time I leave class I think the college catalog should post a warning label about it. Bless her wondrous, creative soul, she replied saying I have good ability for using words to express feeling. While I don't mean to shun a compliment from a writing teacher, I do believe she thinks I was engaging in word play. No REALLY, Teacher, I Want To Spin Around After Your Class. Literally. Telling here, not showing.

Do I want to pursue this further? I'm going with no. For all I know, the school has a Special Class for students who tell their teachers they want to spin around. But I've learned a valuable lesson about myself. Writing Really Makes Me Happy. Yeah, pretty simple. But many of life's greatest truths are.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Crossroads As A Way Of Life

Just about everyone can relate to the concept of periodically coming to a "crossroads" in life, where the fork in the road will forever shape destiny. In my own journey, however, these crossroads are such an annoying constant that my path corkscrews into an endless spiral with little hope of moving forward. True, some may say life is about the journey rather than the destination, but at times the dizzying twists and turns of fate get tiresome.

The latest fork in life's road is school. Again. For the past two and a half years I've been in the process of pursuing a two-year nursing degree--a pursuit which will require another two and a half years to complete. At this halfway point I stopped to regroup, largely because the more I write--and learn about writing--the harder it is to give the bulk of my mental energy to a career with good financial prospects but which dangles so far from my dream.

This semester, expected to be my last before the grueling nursing curriculum, I decided to march ahead on BOTH sides of the road. I am taking a science class that will do my transcripts good, but am also flirting with DreamLand by using a writing course to meet my Humanities requirement. Yes, I've taken several already. But this will force me to "have" to find time to write while still plodding along the responsible path.

I know what you're thinking. (Not the part about me being crazy.) With one foot planted firmly on each side of the forked road you're wondering how long I can travel before my legs have stretched too far and I must finally snap along a single path. So am I. But, for a while at least, in the midst of classes on bedsores and botulism I will have an island haven to retreat to. I wonder if I can come up with a good Haiku about nursing school?