#AToZChallenge: Village

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By Vera & Jean-Christophe from Europe (Vicuña) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

A wise, much-maligned woman once reminded us that “It takes a village.” Not only is that true with children — the original context — but much of life itself. And as writers, we need to find our villages.

Some are annual, like this challenge, where we discover new friends and find old friends alike, each of us supporting one another in the daunting task of blogging 6 days a week whether or not we have something to say. Some villages collect over time, those kindred spirits you come across who share your view on the work of writing.

The latest village making me warm and fuzzy is the one that emerged organically yesterday, the one I’ve dubbed #MAYkingItWork (uh huh),  a rag-tag bunch of us, all confessing to moldering unfinished work, all committing to pick something abandoned to work on in May.

Have something you’ve abandoned and want to give it another try? Feel free to join us. Everyone’s welcome in this village.

In this modern age, we’re no longer limited by geographical boundaries and distance. Our villages can include anyone from anywhere. Our A to Z village spans the globe, over and over and over again.

Take that, xenophobia.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

#AtoZChallenge: Unfinished

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Uakari male; en [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ally from The Spectacled Bean got me thinking about unfinished things with one of her recent comments. About getting started but not getting further.

About all those beginnings stored somewhere in this computer far away from hopes of endings.

Maybe some of them aren’t meant to be finished. Maybe some are just stubs of ideas and nothing more. Or maybe that’s just a pseudo-poetic way to justify moving on to the next shiny object.

Hmm.

So here is my pledge. When I finish the short story I’m currently writing (it has somewhere it needs to be!) I’m taking one of those unfinished pieces and completing it. Who’s with me? Hands up!

We can do this!

Probably.

UPDATE: Looks like a bunch of people are in for what we’re going to call #MAYkingItWork! Yes. I’m really calling it that. Yes, I totally insist.

 

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

 

#AtoZChallenge: TV Talk: TV!

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Sue, the most-complete T-Rex ever found, at the Field Museum in Chicago.

Silly me, racking (grammar nerd alert: I checked, and the correct racking in this cliche is the one without the W. Are you surprised? I was) my Monday-morning brain for a T-word when the obvious choice was right in front of me. Literally.

I love TV and I’m not at all embarrassed to shout it from the rooftops. Well,maybe not rooftops, because that’s a really good way to convince people that you’re somewhere on the other side of off, and then they can’t quite look you in the eye when you pass in the lobby and it’s all kinds of awkward.

Sounds like the plot of a sitcom, dontcha think?

Anyway, it’s possible I don’t always watch TV for the same things other people do. Or maybe we’re all doing it, but we just don’t talk about it. Like my UK police procedurals I treat as my own private tour, from from London to Shetland and around again. Never focus on the bodies; always focus on the sweeping views and the interesting nooks and crannies only the locals would know. If you look around the death and depravity, they’re very charming.

I haven’t watched one set in Ireland yet, though, so if you know of one I can stream, please share!

There are my “bottom of the pile” shows, ones I watch because I like seeing between the cracks of what people mean to show us. Those shows include the so-called “Housewives” (none of them seem to be real ones), where over-privileged women screech at one another that they’re owed apologies. Those shows are a form of people watching, but only if you don’t buy into their sleight of hand, only if you look at the corners they’re desperately trying to hide.

And then my favorite group: the Pinnacle Shows. Combining superior writing, acting, and almost always, cinematography, they’re my event shows. “Doctor Who,” “Orphan Black,” “Fargo,” “Better Call Saul,” “Wynonna Earp,” “Call the Midwife,” “Outlander.”

No doubt shortly “The Handmaid’s Tale.” And probably “American Gods.” There are many on the streaming services as well: “Grace & Frankie,” “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Orange is the New Black,” (if it recovers), “Transparent.”

There’s no particular genre; no particular aesthetic. Their common thread is superior storytelling paired with extreme talent in all aspects of the production. Some of them — “Breaking Bad,” its prequel, “Better Call Saul,” and “Fargo,” — are far outside my usual genre selection, but they are too special to miss.

It’s as though television has swapped places with film; it’s the long format now, offering worlds up on worlds with mere presses of buttons.

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

#AtoZChallenge: Start Something New

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By Epicawesomewolf (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

I was in a TJ Maxx recently, browsing. And in the part with all of the ready-made art, there were a bunch of little wood blocks with words. One caught my eye:

“Start something new.”

I knew I was going to need to write a short story for a guest blog over at  Fiction Can Be Fun, but I thought I’d work from a beginning I’d written a while ago. And yet I never got around to re-reading that beginning.

Start something new.

Then, in a fit of procrastination, I was emptying the dishwasher when inspiration hit. Silly inspiration. Ridiculous inspiration. I was off.

And I’m having a ball writing it.

Sometimes that’s all it takes to get going when the writing gets tough. Sometimes all you need is something fresh, something with no expectations, something that can be whatever it will be.

Start something new.

It was my sign from the universe; and now it’s yours.

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

#AtoZChallenge: Procrastination

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Panda at Chiang Mai zoo taken by user:KayEss {{gfdl}}

If you are the one person who doesn’t do it, who has a task, sits down, completes the task with nary a dreamy glance out of the window, please, please tell me how. Right here, in the comments, break it down for me, in detail, what it feels like, what your mind does, when it’s a straight shot from A to Z.

Case in point: as I was writing this, I decided I wanted to open the blinds more fully, which then alerted me to the streaky gray of my window. Was it inside? Outside? Obviously that’s a question that couldn’t be answered after finishing this post, so I got a cleaning cloth and checked.

Inside.

Huh. Making it streakier, I needed to dry as I cleaned. Great. Oh I need the stepladder to get the top of the window. Hang on, hang on, blog post. It can be cleaned after the blog post.

And here we are.

Here’s the thing. It’s not that I don’t get things done. They happen. Sometimes I think the diversions are just my brain taking the time to work things out without my input.

But there must be a clean, minimalist beauty to knowing something must be done, and without hesitation, doing it. Deadlines get me there; it’s one the reasons my timer trick — setting the timer and getting on with it — is so effective for me.

But on the other hand, sometimes you just need a clean window.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

#AtoZChallenge: Memory

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I know, I know, giraffe doesn’t start with M. Can’t resist today, though. Like many of you, I suspect, I was watching a giraffe with her brand-new baby (I missed the birth, but so it goes) when suddenly I remembered: I’m supposed to write a blog post today. Right. Yes.

Which got me thinking about that elusive thing called “memory.”

(Ponder that for a second, I’ll be right back, just need to look at that baby giraffe again. And see if s/he is standing yet. Baby giraffes are precocious.)

Almost. Not quite. OK, back to memory. It loses things we need; it clutches things we really don’t, like that one time that thing happened, and it was so embarrassing and you’d like to forget it but it loves to pop back into the old thinker right when you’re trying to go to sleep.

My own memory has always been a bit of a murky mess in some ways; relentlessly detailed in others. I don’t always remember people I’ve known; I have a friend who reminds me of things I’ve long forgotten, marked and inventoried. We joke she’s my historian.

(Why yes, I did just pop over to see the new giraffe again. Admit it. You did too.)

It’s strange that something lasting can be so ephemeral; so real yet unreal at the same time. It forms our basis as we learn from our mistakes and successes. It haunts us. It bathes us in remembered warmth.

(Nearly made it that time! April is standing between us and the camera. A couple inches to the right, April. We’re making memories here.)

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

#AtoZChallenge: Lax

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Gotta admit it. I’ve been lax in my blog visits the last two days, and I really couldn’t tell you why. It’s my favorite part of the challenge, reading what people come up with, discovering new blogs, sometimes seeing new places or admiring the skills of others.

I’d like to blame it on the new format this year but it’s not that. It’s just as easy to go through the links on the A to Z site, or find posts on twitter, or find others through comments on posts. The blogs are everywhere.

Could it just be that I’m having a streak of another L word?

Laziness?

I admit I am preoccupied with the goings-on of the world, with tensions high and an utterly unpredictable person in the White House, someone who’s proven his readiness to use violent, powerful weapons at a whim. And when I need to be writing, I am like this sometimes, staring at a block instead of working my way around it.

So if I’ve neglected you recently, I apologize, believe me, every unclicked click is cannonballing itself onto my pile of guilt. But there is an upside to  it all.

Lax is an l-word.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!