The Achilles of Concerts

I’m not big into technology, mainly because I live in the bush and unless it can help split and stack wood, I don’t have a huge need for it. But, I am starting to get several different types of electronics, like a cell phone for one. Although, typically I keep it in my purse and turned off. But as is the case with these things, I have been edging into the twenty first century without planning it. For example, the other day my Fitbit informed me that I had walked 10.5 kilometers while mowing my lawn. I pushed that mower up and down banks, side stepped steep hills, and was chewed on by those little bastard black-flies that make this time of the year a living hell. To top it off, every step felt as if someone was stabbing the back of my heel with a burning knife. It was my Achilles tendon’s way of saying, “Fuck you’re stupid.” It took two long agonizing hours.

The only reason I mention the above is because today I went to a school concert, it lasted two hours. Two grueling, excruciating, torturous hours. The second I sat down on the most uncomfortable chair on the planet, old forgotten memories resurfaced. Oh yes, the butt remembers! But by then, it was too late. Too late to recognize that I’d sooner volunteer to cut 20.5 kilometers of grass on the side of a mountain than to sit through an elementary school concert, ever again. Fading affect bias is a real bitch.

It not that I don’t like children, it’s just that I don’t like to be around them. I don’t want to be touched by their sticky little selves, see their jam stained little faces, listen to their banshee screeching little singing, or spend the next two weeks recovering from whatever illness the little plague-infested miscreants have infected me with. Because they will infect you, no matter how much antiseptic lotion you bathe in. Now don’t get me wrong, I like, even love, the scabby-kneed, snotty-nosed short people who happen to be directly related to me, but the others...oy vey.

So there I was, squirming on a wooden plank designed by a sadist. My back ached, haunted by distant memories. My butt see-sawed between numbness and torment.  And my brain, without conscious effort on my part, began to survey the room, planning my escape. Then the singing started. Here’s a question, why do music teachers hate everyone? Are they driven to homicidal thoughts while sitting in their classrooms, day after day, listening to out-of-tune instruments being played as if they were being thrown against a wall? Or did they have to sign a pledge in order to graduate from Teacher School? I solemnly promise to use only the following books: Songs Written by Muskrats, Horrifying Songs Made Even More Ghastly by Children in Groups and Songs That Cause Brain Hemorrhaging.

For a while, I took my queues from the hubby. He seemed to know when to smile, when to say, “aw, how cute,” and when to clap. It’s like there’s this whole secret language I know nothing about. Eventually, I began to resent him for it and started to feel stabby.  On top of this, I hadn’t eaten breakfast. Good thing I didn’t have access to the nuclear codes.

Then I was saved, in the most unbelievable fashion ever! I pulled my phone out of my purse and turned it on to take a picture (cause that’s what the hubby was doing) and lo and behold, I had a message.

Lisa saved me. I love you, Lisa. Suddenly, I had me and ally. Someone to share the misery with. I didn’t even have to tell her about the chair from hell, she already knew. Then she sent me a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger doing a voice over of Blue Oyster Cult’s, Burnin for You, and all was right with the world. I’m beginning to understand the world’s obsession with technology, and am beginning to grasp its usefulness, even without a cord of wood in the vicinity.

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This is my brain on sleep

My eyes will no longer stay open more than half mast. I am seriously bagged. So much so that it’s an effort to put my pajamas on and crawl into bed. The hubby has been sleeping for hours, he’s been in the soft-snore zone for a few hours.

It’s warm, dark and sleepy time should happen in, five, four, three, two and one…

My Brain: Hey, what cha doing?

Me: Going off to night-night land.

My Brain: Remember that story you were working on the other day? It was like, five months ago. You were so excited, you had the whole thing plotted out in your head and then forgot to write down the outline?

Me: Yes…?

My Brain: Well I just remembered it. So fucking exciting!! There’s that thing, and the girl, in the place, with the bushel of wheat. You remember?

Me: I do now.

My Brain: You should really get up and write it down.

Me: Now? Seriously? I can’t even keep my eyes open. And I think I put my pajama bottoms on backwards. You want I should get up now?

My Brain: Well, sure. If you don’t, you know you’re not going to like yourself in the morning.

Me: Can’t you just retain that information? It’s only eight hours. How hard could it be?

My Brain: Fuck no. I have other shit to think about. Like, did you remember to take the laundry out of the dryer? Um, no. And you know it’s towels. You know they’re going to smell moldy if you don’t get up now and pull them out.

Me: Oh crap. Why didn’t you mention this six hours ago?

My Brain: Hey, I have more important things to do. Like what number was that poisonous red dye they used to put into candy and shit. And where did I leave the good shovel? And did I just feel a wood tick crawling up my leg?

Me: I have a wood tick crawling up my leg?

My Brain: Maybe.

Me: (feeling around my skin for the little fucking menace) There’s nothing there.

My Brain: Whatever. Now I’m way too worried about my steps. I can’t remember if I plugged my Fitbit in. Hmmm, I should re-read The Martian. Wait, I think I’m hungry…hang on. Nope, just need a drink of water. Fuck, now I have to pee.

Dinosaur Porn! It doesn’t get better than this.

Sqeeeeeeeee! That is how excited I am about discovering Dinosaur erotica.  Never in a million years would I have thought that such a thing exists. Finding that online was like a treasure trove of giving. There are also books on refrigerator erotica, grocery store erotica, Amish erotica and sentient vegetable erotica. Really and truly, it’s like a cornucopia of never before considered possibilities.

Who writes it? And why? Do they do it for pay? Is there a specific readership for each genre? Or can you call them individual genres? Like sub-genres within the porn world. I want to download one, a dinosaur one, just to see what’s in it, but then I don’t for three reasons.

  1. I’m way too cheap.
  2. I don’t want to open my computer for the next six months and see, Because you downloaded A Billionaire Dinosaur Forced Me Gay, we thought you would enjoy….
  3. I don’t want to.

Me: Oh MY god! There’s dinosaur porn on the internet.

Hubby:

Me: Listen to this title, Mating With the Raptor.

Hubby: I don’t even want to ask.

Me: It’s dinosaurs, having sex with people. And vegetables.

Hubby: Dinosaurs having sex with vegetables?

Me: No, vegetables having sex with people.

Hubby:

Me: And porn about sex in a grocery store.

Hubby: With vegetables?

Me: God, I never even thought about that. I was just thinking about people in the freezer aisle when suddenly their clothes fall off they would have to get close together to keep warm to survive. You know what happens to people when they don’t have any clothes on in the freezer aisle don’t you?

Hubby: They get cold.

Me: No, hard nipples. According to Lisa, hard nipples always lead to grocery store sex.

Hubby: With dinosaurs?

Me: Maybe.

Hubby:

Me:

Hubby: Okayyyyy. So I have a question. What the ever loving fuck? Seriously, why are you so excited about this? Gay dinosaur vegetable porn?  Are you trying to tell me something?

Me: I could totally write something like this. And my friend Lisa said if I sold a million copies, I’d be rich. Well, she actually said if she sold a million copies then she’d be rich, but whatever. She can write about Amish erotica or bicycle erotica.

Hubby: You? Write erotica? You?

Me: Yes. Me.

Hubby: You get squeamish writing a kissing scene. Didn’t I see you tearing your hair out when you were trying to write a two-page scene where no one loses their clothes?

Me: Yeah, but that’s my real writing. This would be something I’d do under a pseudonym.

Hubby: What the fuck’s a pseudonym?

Me: A pen name. Like a fake name that you use when you don’t want your real name associated with a work.

Hubby: Why don’t you just say a fake name? How come you always have to drop words like sued-do whatevers on me? And who’s Lisa?

Me: She’s my new best friend on the internet. We’re writing soul mates.

Hubby: Where’s she from?

Me: *waving my hand* Over there somewhere?

Hubby: Over there? Where’s that?

Me: In the world, somewhere. I love her. Like not, fall down in the mud and lose our clothes love or anything. She just gets me.

Hubby:

Me:

Hubby:

Me: What?

Hubby: Dinosaur sex. Strange women from the internet. Walking vegetables. If it leads to us getting millions of dollars, go for it, just don’t tell anyone about it.

Me: Oh, I already posted it on Facebook.

Hubby:

Me:

Hubby: You didn’t mention my name, did you?

Me: I said it was all your idea.

Hubby:

Me:

Hubby: I can’t even…I’m going out into the shop. I have to fix the harbinger on my chainsaw.

Me: Okay. I have a LOT of research to do. Lisa’s going to help me.

Hubby: *door slams behind him*

Me: Oh my god! The Creamy Astronaut! There’s astronaut porn.

Busy World of Death

So, here I am, done all the minutiae of life. You know what I’m talking about: laundry, bed making, floor sweeping and pulling ticks off the dog. Or at least I’m done what I wanted to accomplish before I sat down to write a few words. Things are going good, the computer fired up just fine, the internet is working and I have a hot cup of tea with which to restore myself in between: gahs! and, for fuck sakes, she would never say that!

Then the hubby walks in the door…

Him: Hey, you busy?

Me: Yup.

Him: Wha cha doin’?

Me: Writing.

Him:

Me: Tap, tap, tap, tap.

Him: Seeing as you aren’t busy, can you come give me a hand?

Me: *takes two deep breaths* I am busy. See—look—tap, tap, tap.

Him: You’ve got like, fifteen tabs open on your computer, looks more like you’re surfing than writing.

Me: I’m doing research…

Him: *snort* You have Facebook open, and recipes, poultry feed and banking stuff. How’s that writing?

Me: I have Facebook open because I was having a hard time figuring out if I should use i.e. or e.g. and wanted to ask writer-type friends if they knew, I have recipes open because I’m trying to find a dessert that will hide the flavour of some household poisons, then I found out that they put arsenic into chicken feed to make them grow bigger and thought I could use that instead, and I also need to find out how someone could break into a safe built in 1973. It’s all for my story.

Him: 1973? Why 1973?

Me: My protagonist’s grandmother built the safe in 1973. I’m having a hard time finding any information…

Him: What’s a protag-nist?

Me: Protagonist. The main character of my story.

Him: (Pause) So, seeing as you aren’t busy, can you come and help me in the garage. It won’t take long. Five—six hours at the most. I’m trying to build a replica of the flyer the Wright brother’s used for their first flight.

Me:

Him:

Me:

Him: So, is that a yes?

Me:

Him: Why are you grabbing that knife?

A Writer in Editor’s clothing

Raise your hands if sometimes you forget your editor’s hat on when you are trying to write a first draft, so you do this instead.

Type, type, type, type, type, type…Oh this is the best stuff I’ve ever written…type, type, type, type…

Suddenly, the door crashed open and a wild-eyed man lunged into the room.

Oh yeah. I’m awesome.

Type, type, type, type, type….

Wait, what did I just type? Suddenly, the door crashed open and a wild-eyed man lunged into the room. What the ever loving fuck?

Delete, delete, delete…edit, edit, edit. Suddenly, the door crashed open and a tall grim faced man lunged into the room. Okay, much better.

Type, type, type, type, type, type…Wait, what did I change that last bit to? Suddenly, the door crashed open and a… Holy hell!

Delete, delete, delete…edit. The door splintered off its hinges as a tall grim faced man lunged into the room. Much better.

Type, type, type, type, type…Did the door open, or bang open? The door splintered off its hinges as a tall grim faced man lunged into the room. For fuck sakes. Really?

Delete, delete, delete…edit. The door splintered. Shards of jagged wood sprinkled across the room. A grim-faced man stood in the opening, his meaty hands, curled into fists.

Seriously? Sprinkled? Like glitter. You’re an idiot. <Checks thesaurus: Scattered, dotted, strewn, showered, peppered…> Hmmm, I do like me some peppered. The door splintered. Shards of jagged wood peppered the room. A grim-faced man stood in the opening, his meaty hands tearing the door from its hinges. Now that’s some good writing. Call me John Steinbeck.

Type, type, type, type, pause…Wait, what was… NO! Stop it! Just keep typing. You can do this. But I hate meaty hands…wahhhhhh!

Beta Readering…Rendering…and an apology to all editors.

I’ve only dabbled my toes in the dark and dangerous waters of online writing groups. Writers, desperate for help in the form of beta readers, are putting out calls. Believe me when I say that those calls can quickly turn into the howls of a wolf pack on the scent of an injured deer. “I’ve written the most AMAZING, AWESOME book on the planet, but I just need a wee bit of help…”

Over the years I have been lucky enough to have had some of the most incredible writers and readers help me with my projects. I am, and always will be, grateful to everyone for the support and encouragement I’ve received. That’s why I try to return the favour in a pay it back and pay it forward way.

Even though I am not the best person to come to if you have questions about the correct use of punctuation, proper sentence structure or who, or what, is modifying a preposition. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I was attacked by a preposition the other day, it leapt out of the bushes and hit me over the head with an adverb before it skulked away to hide amongst a herd of nouns. But when it comes to picking out flow, hunting for authentic voice and identifying sections where the writer is trying too hard, I’m not too bad.

My writing used to consist of me writing for a few hours, then me thinking what I just wrote was crap, then me, fighting the urge to delete everything because I knew it was the worst thing ever committed to paper in the history of paper, including papyrus. It took a long time for me to gain the confidence that, on occasion, some of the stuff I come up with wouldn’t automatically induce uncontrollable vomiting. So I’m very cognisant of the fact that some people need to be handled with kid gloves. But I also know that if I don’t give an honest critique, the writer will never have a chance to improve and expand. Telling someone that their work is great without providing examples, is not helpful, telling a person that their work sucks, is also not helpful. Consequently, when I do a critique I spend a lot of time on the piece. Sometimes hours and hours. I don’t get compensation, nor until this point, do I expect any for this effort.

With this in mind, I’ve walked into the lion’s den completely unprepared. Given some of the material I’ve seen, instead of doing a critique, or beta read, I should just pick up a two-by-four and pound a couple of long spikes into it and then hit myself in the head—repeatedly. It would be less painful. It seems that the more confident and secure a writer is, the more horrific their work is. And instead of considering any of my suggestions, they choose to argue each point, ad nauseam.

Me: You’ve used loose in this sentence when you meant to use lose. ‘One thing Millicent knew in her heaving bosom was that, even though he was a demon from Demonland, she would never loose hope in Damion’s goodness.’ Plus get rid of ‘heaving bosom’ it’s a cliché and you’ve used it five times in the first page.

Writer: I see your point, but Millicent is so in love that she can’t bear the thought of his loss…it makes her breathe a lot.

Me: Loose means the opposite of tighten, or it can also mean to set something free. Lose is the act of having lost something. And I can tell you, being a woman, my bosom only ever heaved after I ran straight up a mountain and my body threatened to kick my own ass if I didn’t stop and suck in some oxygen.

Writer: Exactly, she doesn’t want to lose Damion’s love and it feels like she’s run up a mountain.

Me:  Well, show it then. And switch the word to lose. And get rid of heaving bosom.

Writer: Every one of my other beta reader said that this story was perfect the way it was and she wouldn’t be surprised if it was on the best seller list by the end of the month.

Me:

Writer:

Me:

Writer: Are you still there? Can I send you chapter two now? Hello?

Me: Hang on, I’m considering becoming an alcoholic…and a drug user.

Dear Every Single Editor in the World. I get it and I am so, so sorry.

Writing Romance

I sit in front of my laptop and stare at the last sentence I typed and start swearing like a sailor. ‘She quickly strode into the back room to where the coveralls were kept to keep the women from seeing her discomfiture.’ It’s shitty writing and in need of punctuation and a rewrite. I delete it, then type the exact same thing again. I can’t get my poop in a group.

So I check Facebook, then get mad at myself for procrastinating, go back to Word and stare at the sentence some more. It just sits there, mocking me. So I play a couple of games of Words With Friends to teach it a lesson. I seriously consider starting a game of Spyder Solitaire. What the ever loving fuck?

According to a couple of my Beta readers I need to add some mushy stuff to a chapter in order to make a better impact. I figure I can get away with another two thousand words. I’m at 825 words. I suspect that 821 of them have formed a club and have passed bylaws not allowing me in. Bastards. I should sow the entire field with punctuation mark bombs. Take this you double-crossing, shit smelling, back-stabbing assholes…*”!–&

I delete the sentence. Now I’m down to 804 words. I can’t write mushy. I was born without those genes. Why did I agree with my Betas? What do they know? Fuck…they’re right though. I consider ordering a romance novel, but can’t do it. It would be wasted money, I’d never read it. I stare at the new sentence; heat is suffusing my main character’s cheeks. GAWD this is painful. Okay, I can do this. Just type.

Five minutes later, rant completed, new sentence deleted, down to 794 words. I look out the window, water is coming out of the sky like someone inverted the lake. The perfect weather to go for a walk and think mushy thoughts.

Taking A Break

Me: It’s a beautiful day, well, beautiful days if I’m being honest with myself. I’ve been writing and editing non-stop for months. Time to take a break. Not even thinking about firing up my computer, time to do outside things.

My Brain: Blood splatters, actually more like molecules of blood, were enough to set the hunter on the right path…

Me: Stop it. Look, I’m going to pick up this shovel and work on this patch of ground that the chickens dug up.

My Brain: The ground looked like a bomb field, dirt and grass strewn about, as if overnight the yard had been visited by shoemaker elves bent on destruction.

Me: No, I’m not falling for it. There isn’t a story here. Go away. I’m taking the dog and going for a walk.

My Brain: It was only her and the dog now. Her life as she knew it was over. Everything of value destroyed. He had packed up and left the night before, suitcases swinging against his calves as he stepped out the door. Dana was gone back to school and the only food in the house was a half-eaten piece of cake, left over from her retirement party…

Me: Hmmm, that’s interesting. Why did he leave her? And why is there a half-eaten piece of cake…wait, no! I know what you’re up to and it won’t work.

Me: Hey, Dog! Stay away from that rail, you’ll fall into the river.

My Brain: The concrete crumbled near the rusting rails, she edged closer and peered down. Was it safe enough to use that route again, or was she trapped.

Me: Oh, that is good. And the body of the rat is missing. I totally know where this is going from here. Come on, Dog. I have to go fire up my ‘puter.

Spring Day

I feel like death, but it’s the first nice day since Batman rode into town and I’m going outside. I haven’t been for a walk in what feels like months. Sure, it’s only been a few days, but when all you do is sit and edit, the space-time continuum malfunctions and time slooowwwwwssssssss.

I take a dose of snot suppression drugs, turn off all electronic gadgetry (seeing as I cannot bear to spend another minute with my manuscript anyway) and I dress down for the occasion. Did I say it was a nice day? That term, nice day, is pretty subjective here on the east coast. Sure it’s overcast and raining, yes it’s muddy and sloppy, but there is a definite joie de vivre feel to the air, foreshadowing better days to come.  Did I say foreshadowing? I meant auguring—hmm—I’ll have to work on that.

Hubby has finished boiling down his second batch of maple syrup. It turned out to be even yummier than the first. He’s also done working on his trebuchet for the day. From what I can tell, it looks to be coming along nicely. We will soon be prepared for any possible invading Saxon hordes.  Now he’s relaxing and thinking. (That can’t be good.)

So, I have on my play clothes, I lace up my Keens, throw my jacket on and step outside. Immediately, I step back inside and change into my raincoat. If anyone was brave enough to squelch through the mud after me, they could probably hear me singing, ‘It’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood’ as I listen to the pitter-pat of rain on my hood.

Writers are Strange Folk

“People who write are weird,” the hubby announces.

By the self-satisfied look on his face, I can tell that he’s come to what he thinks is a profound conclusion. My ire is immediately ruffled. (Side note: ires are easily ruffled on both sides of the marriage bed when you’ve been together since saber-tooth tigers roamed the plains. Same goes for upping one’s dander. )

“Oh yeah, why’s that?” I say, eyeing the knife sitting on the counter. I’m not really considering stabbing him. I don’t think.

“Well, why is it that you can tell me, without missing a beat, how to send a nuclear bomb into space and where to detonate it to cause the most damage with its EMP blast. But, when I say that I need help gerrymandering a flukelibber, you act like I grew a vestigial tail.”

“Listen, the minute Luke needs to learn how to gerrymander a flukelibber, I’ll be on your doorstep…”

“What? I didn’t say that. I said circumnavigate the poshmeadow. And who’s Luke?”

“Luke used to be Norman, who at one time was Alice and Chad, but their timelines were causing too many conflicts in the story arc. So—Luke.”

Hubby:

Me:

Hubby shakes as if trying to rid his head of bees. “Are you even from this planet? I give up. Anyway, I have to go see if I can clean out the buddhaboot. Can you hand me the nose-hair clippers?”

I hand him the nose-hair clippers.

Hubby: “For Christ’s sake, I didn’t say nose-hair clippers, I said wrench dibblers. Never mind. I’ll get it myself.”