Being Decaffeinated

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What I wouldn’t give for a cup of coffee right now. Alas, caffeine and I aren’t on speaking terms. Though I know that in reality it makes me a shaky, anxious mess, in my head it is is a golden elixir, liquid from the gods imbued with the magical power of focus.

And it’s true, for a few hours. Until the other symptoms kick in. Then it’s less of a gift, more of a curse, and once it’s there, it’s there.

Sigh.

Oh well. All that means is I get the opportunity to draw upon my moral fortitude to get through the list that seems to be getting longer each time I look at it. Actually, it is getting longer each time I look at it, because I keep writing things on it. Funny how that works.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m having one of my grindy days, the kind where tasks seem larger and my desire to complete them much, much lower than the minimum threshold required. The caffeine would give me that extra boost, the hands clasped together so I can step into them and haul myself over the fence of my to-dos.

But caffeine doesn’t clasp its hand together for me anymore. Or if it does, it sends me flying over, crashing hard on the other side.

Huh. That was kind of an odd metaphor, but I really liked it in the end. My unfocused brain comes up with some interesting stuff.

Maybe one of the ways to get going is just to get going. Inertia and all that. Glance at the list, pick a task, and jump in, because before you know it, you’ll be finished.

And here’s “blog post,” done and ready to be crossed off. That’s almost as satisfying as caffeine.

Almost.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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How I Let Myself Be Weird

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Voice is a big thing in writing. That is the way that readers hear you; that is what, overall, comes across. There’s a lot of talk about “finding your voice,” and whether a writer has “found his/her voice,” but how do you know?

You’ve found your voice when your work sounds like it couldn’t come from anyone but you.

Easy, right? OK, fine, not so much. It’s something that takes a while to get to, which is fine, because while you’re working on it, you are improving the mechanics of your writing.

Everyone who puts pen to paper, or pixels to screen, starts out with grand literary plans, with the idea that he or she will become The Next Important Writer. And that perspective generally results in some pretty bad work, if you’re ready to be honest. Seriously, go back an check out early attempts. Overblown prose? Check. Pompous choice of language? Check. Too much…everything?

Big check.

So you get that out of your system, and one day, you sit down with the idea that just won’t leave you alone. You know it’s not like other ideas, you know it’s not quite like something other people might do, and you really can’t be sure anyone would like it.

That’s right. You unfurl that freak flag, and let that sucker wave in the wind of your words.

See what I said right there? That’s weird. You know what else? It’s utterly me.

My thoughts have always been a little off-kilter when taken with the rest of the world. I see the funny in the absurd, and when I can push it, I like it all the more. I’m never going to write something that appeals to everyone. I’m only ever going to write things that, at their heart, have a dose of weird. Even my cozy mystery, which is far more mainstream than, say, Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) retains some of that sense of being off-kilter, because that is my way of seeing the world.

I accept my weirdness, completely, and with that, I can share my point of view with other people, ones who think like I do, and others who don’t, but find it a new, interesting way to see.

You don’t have to be weird. You don’t have to be funny. You have to be you while you’re writing. You and no one else, and the voice will come.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Philosophy of Snow

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So you may have heard we had a huge snowstorm here in Chicago. About 20 inches of snow fell over a day, turning cars into unrecognizable lumps, loading up the branches of trees, coating the roads nearly as quickly as they could be cleared.

I stayed in and watched it from a distance, cozy inside, the sounds of the world muffled by the snow.

But the thing I found remarkable was that there were people out in it. People jogging in the paths of the park as though it wasn’t any different than any other run; dogs frolicking with a level of glee I could see all the way from my window. People on snowshoes. Cross-country skiers.

Even one of the worst blizzards in Chicago history — officially, it is the 5th largest — didn’t stop Chicagoans who wanted to be outside. In fact, a friend sent me a pic of her very determined 4-year-old son, bundled from toe to helmet, sitting on his training-wheel-supplemented-bike on a freshly-cleared sidewalk.

It’s even in the kids.

There will always be barriers in life. There will always be snowstorms, some so heavy it seems like snowing is the new permanent weather. We can lament the snow. We can complain about it, and we certainly do. We can exchange wry smiles in the elevator, smiles that acknowledge that we know it’s there and get on with it anyway.

And sometimes, even at its darkest, even when it falls in impossible sheets, when the break comes, we can go out and play in it.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!