Writers’ Dementia

I totally forgot that today is my day to post here. On the rare times that I remember, I get it done one or two or even three days earlier, and use the handy little scheduling tool to set it to post automatically.

But this time I forgot. Again.

I suffer from Writers’ Dementia. I forget things in real life on a regular basis. Second notice on a bill? Pick up the mail at the post office? Buy groceries? Oops. Forgot. Leave wet clothes in the washer for three days? Neglect to put out the trash three weeks running? Run an errand without realizing that my clothes don’t match and I haven’t combed my hair? That’s me.

And yet ask me a question about the hero and the heroine of my current work, and I can answer it without thinking. I know where they are, what they’re doing, what they’re feeling and thinking and what they’re gonna do in the next chapter. They never forget to pay a bill or schedule a vet appointment for their puppers or write a blog. I keep their lives — their lovely, problem-laden, complicated lives that DON’T EVEN EXIST ANYWHERE OUTSIDE MY HEAD — in perfect order while I can’t even tell you what day of the week it is in my own real world.

Hmm . . . I just realized what Sophy should have said to Sean when she saw him again for the first time. Better write that down before I get back to whatever the heck I was doing on whatever the heck day of the week it is.

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Keeping up with technology

I got me a netbook last week.  It’s the latest “toy” I just had to have.  As I set it up to do the things I wanted it to do, I started thinking about how my instruments of writing have evolved through the years.  (And for those of you younger than sliced bread, believe!)

I’d like to tell you I began writing with crayons when I was four years old, but that would be a lie.  Actually, as a child, I was more an actor than writer.  Because I was the oldest kid on the block, I bullied the rest into playing whatever story I had for the day.  I kept the characters familiar…Tarzen, cowboys and Indians, Army, etc.  But I didn’t really start writing down my stories until high school when it was a requirement of the class.  They were written in long hand (printed, not cursive) and no copies.  If the teacher marked it up enough, you had to totally re-write.  To be unblushingly vain, I usually got A+ on all my assignments.

Later, when I got to college, I had a Smith-Corona typewriter…a birthday gift from my mom who was soooo sure I was going to come out a doctor.  Ha!  Instead, after three pathetic years, OU suggested I go away and decide if college was a good life road for me.  On my brother’s advice, I went into the Marine Corps where my writing went none existing, probably due to all the hangovers.

However, I did become a Star Trek fan in those days and once married and back in Oklahoma, a very nice lady named Karen Fleming introduced me to ST fanfiction.  Then I went back into writing, hot and heavy.  Again, I had my faithful SC typer, but this time I learned to ALWAYS keep a copy.  Now, young padawans, there weren’t any copy places…or at least none I could afford, so I used carbon paper.  Yuck!  What a mess!  And the copies smeared if handled too much.

Luckily, my husband “allocated” an IBM Selectric typewriter for working at home…and he let me use it.  What luxury.  If I made a typo, all I had to do was back up, erase it with the magical white tape, and go on.  What bliss!  Of course, it wasn’t perfect.  When it came to self-editing,  any major re-write meant you still had to re-type, but still…  When it came time for the divorce, I made sure I got custody of the kids and the Selectric.  I let him have his ugly recliner.

Then on a visit to my sister, I got to try out my very first PC.  An Apple computer.  Not only could I correct typos, I could also delete whole sections or insert them or ever…gasp!…move them around.  I loved it.  After a long weekend, I was totally addicted and immediately started plotting how I could get my own.  Since money was always tight, I could justify the cost of a computer, but a friend recommended a Smith-Corona word processor.  I checked it out and it was perfect.

Didn’t have the bells and whistles of a computer, but I could write like on the Apple, save, and print out my pages.  Best of all, thanks to the insurance money I got back from putting braces on my oldest, I could afford it.  I went to town and wrote my first book.  Selling that sucker justified the anguish my son underwent getting his teeth straightened so his mother could buy her word processor.

Of course, the sale made it easy for me to convince myself that I HAD to have a real computer.  I mean, I needed spreadsheets to keep track of sales, the Print Shop for promotion, email to stay on top of markets, didn’t I?  So there came my first computer though I did abandon Apple for Windows.  (Hmmm, wonder if I would do that again?)  And because I was a “real” author, I had to have a laptop, right?  My wonderful 386 that worked like a charm and carried like a 22# suitcase.

Since then, I’ve upgraded my PC five times and my laptop four times.  And then there is my AlphaSmart…the portable word processor that let me write away from home for short trips like the doctor’s office or workshops, etc.  But after ten years, my AS gave up the ghost and I decided instead of getting another, I would get my netbook.

It wordprocesses.  It doubles as an eReader (replacing my eRockets), and I can also use it to Goggle research, check my email, or waste time surfin’ the ‘Net.  But last week, my dad sent me a link about what’s called a “bump keyboard”.  OMG!  I have to have one!!!

Giving Up

A good or a bad thing?

Depends on what you’re giving up, right? Smoking is a good thing to give up as is any thing that is not healthy. That is why it is so wrong to be eating full fat ice cream and watching Biggest Loser!

What about when you feel as if  you are no longer creative? When writing is a dreaded chore and scrubbing toilets holds more appeal?  That’s not me, not exactly. I’ve discovered another creative outlet — my yard. I’ve never had a house that I landscaped, and I still don’t have one but I’m getting there. Creating a world — a place to escape of my very own–where I can relax, dream, surround myself with beauty no matter the season.

I’m not producing words on a page but in my head ready to grab at a moment’s notice. The blisters, raggedy nails, sunburned shoulders, sore knees and sweat stained clothes are small prices to pay for success.  Write on!

30+

They say 50 is the new 30.  Really?  Then tell that to my body!  At 30, I didn’t have to wear a pair of “cheaters” to read the warnings on a medicine bottle or the menu at my favorite Mexican restaurant.  This morning as I was putting on my make-up, it really ticked me off that I had to put on my glasses so I could read the labels.  I couldn’t tell which eye shadow was Peach Puff or Vanilla Sugar.  And if that wasn’t insult enough, I had to use the flip side of my mirror, the side that magnifies, to even put my eye shadow on.

When I was 30, I played soccer five days a week. After a tough game, I still had plenty of energy to go to dinner, and then do a little mattress dancing.  Now after just doing a little yard work, the only thing I do on a mattress is snore!  My knees have so much gravel in them my doctor calls me Mrs. Flintstone.  I had a complete physical the other day. On the plus side, my cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure were perfect.  On the downside, he says I need to lose more weight.  “More weight?” I asked.  “But I’ve already lost 50 pounds. I’m still working on lose more.  I walk two hours/day, stay below 1200 calories a day, but the weight just comes off so slow,” I whined.

  And you know what he said?

“Getting old will do that. Once you hit menopause, you just don’t lose it as fast.”

Gee thanks, Doc.

There are some benefits to being 50.  I’ve been around the block a few times since I turned 30. So now, I’m a fountain of wisdom.  Seriously, just ask me anything and I’ll have an opinion about it. I figure at 50, I’ve earned the right to speak my mind.  In addition, to being 50, I’ve also been married for 28 years.  There’s a huge plus to that too. I don’t have to worry if my guy notices that my rear-end sags, because his does too.

Oh, yeah, for our anniversary, we bought each other matching rocking chairs, ‘cuz we’re grandparents now. And that’s another great thing about being my age.  I can sit back and I watch my son chase his eleven month old, who has learned to walk and get into everything, and smile because I don’t have to change diapers anymore. I can spoil that boy rotten, then hand him off to his momma when he’s stinky.

So on the whole, 50 is not so bad. But it sure as heck isn’t 30!

Same-Old, Same-Old

Publishers have long believed that if a particular story sells well, then their best move is to inundate the market with that type of story. To some extent, they’re right. (Though I’m a firm believer that the lack of variety is largely responsible for driving a great many readers from the romance genre completely.) You want a vampire book? We’ll give you a hundred. Secret babies your thing? Here’s a whole passel of them. Or do you prefer millionaire heroes? We’ve got billions of ’em on our list.

This can be both good and bad. If you’re intrigued by the idea of someone waking up in a whole new world, not knowing even his/her own name, then the simple mention of “amnesia” in a blurb will draw you in. If you’ve sworn you won’t read one more word about adorable precocious kids — his, hers or anyone else’s — then “secret baby” or “family” will make you put that book back so quickly its pages won’t stop fluttering until you’re long gone.

I’m not much on hooks. I never read a Navy SEAL book that I found remotely accurate in its depiction of either the Navy or the SEALs. (Too many years as a Navy wife.) Granted, I haven’t read that many, because as soon as I see the magic word, I run the other way. Ditto with vampire books. Demons. Futuristic/alternate-reality warriors. Super-secret covert agencies full of prime hero material agents. Ooh, serial killers . . . kill me now, please, before I have to see another! 

On the other hand, I like fantasy. Medieval romance. Funny witches. And yeah, I do find the idea of waking up not knowing who you are pretty intriguing. “Amnesia” will always make me flip through the book, read the front matter and the first few pages. I may not buy it, but it stands a way better chance of going home with me than one about a cowboy or a virgin or a mistress.

So how you feel about the same-old, same-old? Do you love a particular type of story? Are there any hooks you avoid even knowing you might be missing out on a great book? Is your hunger so great that you’ll read one blood-sucker after another . . . or one knitting book after another . . . or one cowboy millionaire book after another? Or do you get hook overload and wish for a little more variety to choose from?

Writers Hoard!

Have you seen that new reality series about hoarders?  This is a show about people who can’t stand to let go of anything.  Some are so bad, they even hang on to used fast food boxes.  I have to admit.  I tend to collect things, though I’m not so bad that I can barely get through my house.  I just can’t dust and trust me, I don’t say that like it’s a bad thing!  Anyway, I’m making the effort to clear some of the stuff out, if nothing else but to save my DIL to pain of a garage sale.

This morning, I read a news clip about an old legend set in 1910.  It supposedly took place in Alfalfa County, OK, though there is not much proof.  Anyway, 1910 was the year of a Halley’s Comet visit.  There was a lot of hysteria everywhere, but it seems it got a little out of hand in Alfalfa County.  One of the local religious cult leaders decided that the comet was punishment for the sins of the world and needed a blood sacrifice to save the planet.  So his merry little band kidnapped a beautiful farm girl and tied her (Naked or in a white gown with floral headdress…take your pick) to a stake and got ready to use a big honking knife on her.  Just in the nick of time, the local sheriff and his deputies rescued her after a fierce hand to hand battle with the crackpots.

Okay, tell me you guys didn’t immediately get a tingle, a germ of an idea.  I know I did.  Before long, I found myself starting GMC on the handsome, heroic sheriff, the beautiful, plucky farm girl, and the sleazy, crazy villain.  OMG! 

I looked into my story idea file which is already 8 pages long.  Just what I need…another story idea.  Then I realized that goes with my lifestyle.  I just have to thin out the file.  Hmm,  maybe the one about the hero from a colony world who becomes the Stud of the Month for the homeworld temple.  No!  I love that story!

Okay, how about the one with the warrior princess and the sorcerer?  Or the spacebar owner who ships out with the male scientist to save the universe?

Dang!  Ain’t goin’ happen.   Okay, I’ll agree to clear out my house.  But the only way you’ll get my story ideas is to pry them out of my cold, dead hands!

The Odd Couple

That describes my husband and me right now. He is 6 days post-op from his right shoulder replacement. I have a sorta cool–but not as awesome as Marilyn’s–brace on my left knee. We look extremely odd going into places. He’s got his right arm velcroed to his belly, a row of staples from the middle of his deltoid that disappears beneath the wife-beater shirt. My limp is not as noticable unless I’ve been on my feet a long time.  Being a writer  you would think that I could concoct a thrilling story.

At our Chinese food restaurant, the owner told Don that if he treat me better, I no have to hit him. She’s so cute that we laughed. Har har. 

So I ask our faithful following to create a nice cover story for me that I can deliver with two or three lines.