Archive for January, 2006

What About Me?

January 19, 2006 | Writing

I’m enrolled in a Writer U’s class, entitled Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors, taught by Margie Lawson. It’s a fantastic class, and she’s a great instructor. We’ve named and identified those behaviors that stop us from writing. Her lectures are clear, easy to understand, and hard to do. I say hard to do because, we have to be honest and confront what is really bothering us. Once identified, we have to plan how we plan to overcome these behaviors to be successful. Yesterday, I was considering becoming a used car sales person. I haven’t totally given up on the possibility, but I made a plan and a commitment to myself to use 2006 to push myself as hard as I can to be a published writer. I want to be published, I intend to be published, which translates into putting my ass in the chair, let it flow, and let it go. Writing is hard, it’s very hard. So is playing tennis at my age, but I do it. I do it well some days and some days I’m lousy, but I keep doing it. I have to concentrate, remember to keep my eye on the ball, remember to turn, remember to follow through on my shots, remember to keep my feet moving, remember that damn ball is 99% of the time coming back. Same with writing, I have to concentrate, I have to have focus on my characters, my dialogue. I have to remember to cut all unnecessary words, I have to remember that as many times as I submit, it’s probably going to come back.

So as I participate in this class and read what others are saying, I hear words my daughter often says to me. “What bout Me?” I hear these words when I’ve bought or done something that didn’t include her. “What About Me?” It’s not like this child has EVER been neglected or mistreated. If your husband, life partner, or children have never said this out loud, listen for the unsaid. I can guarantee you’ve heard it. I thought, “‘What About ME?” What about my writing? What about me having time alone to figure out a plot point? What about me trying to write a synopsis I think will truly engage an agent or potential publisher. What about you not going to the movies, it’ll be out on video in a month, and stay home so I can work?

I’m not trying to say we should totally ignore our families needs, but when you make your daily to do list, where does writing fall? At the top, in the middle, at the bottom? And when you cross off all the things you’ve done that day, do you cross off writing? Or do you put if off until the next day? Balance is extremely important in my life. My Change Coach from Margie’s class, sent me an article about how multi tasking does not make us efficient. It causes us NOT to give a particular task our full attention, because we’re concentrating on more than one task at a time and our brain can’t remember everything. I am trying to stop myself from muti tasking, I may not feel like I’m accomplishing as much, and it might take me longer, but I think my memory cells and brain will appreciate it.

However, I’m pretty sure I can not fold clothes and watch Battlestar Galactica at the same time.

Tomorrow is SCIFI FRIDAY!!


I Could Sell Used Cars

January 18, 2006 | Writing

I met with my critique partners, Beth and Sloane, last night. We celebrated Sloane’s sale to Triskelion with champagne, talked about writing for awhile, and then, they proceeded to kick my butt until 11pm. I was prepared, open, and took it like a trooper. Then I decided that maybe selling used cars, would be a much better career. I’m not saying anything derogatory about used car sales people. I’m just picking on them. I can at least take heart in the fact that my story is solid, my characters are developing, the black moment between Elizabeth and Stephen is about to happen, and I’ve got point of view down. It’s me and comma’s, and I’ve exorcised my fascination with the word ‘that’, but apparently picked up a couple more. Easy fixes and I made notes and will correct all of the problems, PLUS, rewrite my basement love scene. Somewhere along the line, I went out of point of view and all sensuality disappeared, like the heat in the basement. So, this evening, I’ll read the lecture Beth wrote on writing love scenes, put on some Barry White, put myself in Elizabethan point of view, close my eyes, and hope my son and husband don’t come in the room and think I’m having a seizure. Well, I know hubby won’t think it’s a seizure, but he’ll get other ideas. I don’t think he wants me asking questions about what he’s feeling, physically and mentally during our ‘private time’. So he would just turn around and leave.

Yes, sell used cars. It’s not a bad job. I could get lots of fresh air, meet different personalities, schedule my own hours, and even write while working. I want to hear my name called from a microphone, and as a sales person it would be. “Yasmine Phoenix to the showroom.” “Yasmine Phoenix, where are you?” “Yasmine Phoenix, your agent on line two.”

So this morning, I’ll clean up around my house, scan and make notes on Strunk and White’s, The Elements of Style, and run errands. Then this evening will be free to get back to line editing and get the entire manuscript for them to read before I send it out.

Writing is in essence a lonely career and harder than it looks. If we’re not beating own selves up, some agent or publisher is doing it for us. When we get the call, and finally see our story in print, friends and family either wonder what took us so long, or think ‘Hey, that looks easy.’ It took Tom Clancy over ten years to get The Hunt for Red October published. As writers, we go ‘there’, as Beth calls it. We go where our characters live and love. We feel their emotions, and put it on paper. Then we tear up the first draft and do it again.

It’s like I was taught in tennis, one point at a time, one game at a time. Writing is one word at a time, one sentence at a time, one emotion at a time, one paragraph, one story at a time. So, I’ll keep the car sales position in the back of my mind, but I’ll keep working on being a damn good writer. What job have you thought would be easier than writing? I hear they’re looking for owl vomit collectors?


Happy Martin Luther King Day!

January 13, 2006 | Family & Life

Today is the beginning of a long weekend. Federal and state offices will be closed Monday, no mail. So if you were expecting a contract by snail mail, you’ll have until Tuesday, and hope it has enough postage. I’m looking forward to the weekend, and not just because it’s just SciFi Friday. I don’t participate in any King holiday celebrations. I remember the man and what he stood for, correction, stands for. I was a part of the demonstrations in Washington, D.C. to make his birthday a holiday. I heard Rev. Jesse Jackson speak, Stevie Wonder sing. I was in graduate school at Howard University. I really felt part of the movement, having lived in the segregated souths’ capital of the Confederacy. I remember my father keeping me home from school when King was assasinated for fear of riots, that tore through the black community. That area is just now being rebuilt. How long ago was that? My father, raised in a more restrictive south than I was, wouldn’t allow me to watch too much of the television coverage. It was painful, but we watched the funeral together. Can you imagine how his death would be treated in today’s media? The death watch over Sharon has been inundating.

I just can’t seem to get up enough energy for the ‘King Size Sales’, that are happening. I actually heard that sales pitch on the news this morning for a mattress company. Kings’ birthday started out being celebrated in a soul stirring reverent way. Community breakfasts, religious ceremonies, speeches, recitation of his Washington, D.C. speech. It still is, but for every spiritual message, there’s a secular one as well. Come on in and buy. I hesitate to think, yet I realize, most young African Americans, know his name, know they’ve got a day off from school or college, but have very little understanding as to what it took for them to get into that particular college, what sacrifices King and others made for them to walk into any store or restuarant and be able to be seated anywhere without Coloured assigned seating. They expect to be treated as a person, not a person of color. And for me there’s the rub. They are a person of color and as such should respect and remember what it took for them to be treated as a person. My husband made our daughter sit down and watch all the episodes of Eyes On the Prize. We’re introducing it to our son. History taught, history learned, history to be understood. Don’t take for granted – anything. Because everything has a cost.
Have a great weekend. See ya Tuesday.

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Miss Me?

January 11, 2006 | Writing

I haven’t blogged in a couple of days, due to a physical ailment that resolved itself. Unfortunately, it didn’t until I drank two bottles of a barium cocktail for a CT scan. My insides are all normal and glowing, thank you very much. Luckily, the scan wasn’t for my brain.

Right now, I’m taking a couple of online classes which are really fantastic. Line editing my book, and I WAS reading a couple of short books on writing. One of them, I’ll be posting on my Favorite Article and Book page soon.

But all of this knowledge started wearing heavy on my brain, making my eyes hurt. My brain went into overload and damned if I thought I couldn’t write a single word! Is there such a thing as too much information? I’m not talking about the kind of information you get while sitting in a bathroom stall and the woman next to you is discussing on her cellphone how she caught her husband cheating, and was asking her friend what should she do? True story. In January, all of the writing magazines, and other magazines do it as well, are filled with articles on how to write, how to set goals, how to start the year off writing. Getting goals for losing weight, saving money, etc. How to, how to, how to. If you read all of them, which unfortunately I almost did, you could start doubting if you’ve gotten the right characters, or point of view, or even the right genre. Articles that tell you how to set schedules, deadlines, meet your goals. Then if you read and make notes, you’re supposed to sit at your desk and write. Write ,with all these ideas swirling around in your head? Write, when you’re trying to make sure you printed your spreadsheet out correctly to track your daily work? Write, if your muse says, ‘Forget it, I’m not going to be put on some schedule like a train!’ Then leaves you high and dry, as to try to write an emotional, highly charged sex scene! How dare she!

Well, take heart. Or at least one sentence or paragraph from an article. Or, have critique partners like Sloane Taylor and Beth Anderson, who have already written blogs and articles that you can cut and paste to fit your writing style. The major word – your. I know I fall somewhere between those who write by the seat of their pants and those who keep detailed journals. I know I need to plan days maybe weeks in advance, and leave open spaces for those emergencies that pop up. I know my muse will haunt me in my dreams for nights on end, if I don’t sit my butt in my chair and write every day. I know I need to track my work, not word by word, but for me scene by scene, chapter by chapter. I know that there are some things I can control in this writing life of mine, and other things I can’t. I need to keep clearly distinguishing between the two. What motivates and keeps me on track, may put you in writer’s hell, stunt your creativity. We all write, but we don’t all write the same way. The trick is what works for you, so that one day, YOU can write an article on how to write!


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