Tuning in by Tuning Out

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Das dynamische Standbild Hammering Man an der Mainzer Landstraße in Frankfurt am Main, 2005 geknipst. By No machine-readable author provided. Ruediger Nassauer assumed (based on copyright claims). [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Hammering and drilling, drilling and hammering. It’s a day of indistinct noise, and in some ways, it’s much like life at the moment, synchronizing with the constant hammering of our democracy into dust. Even if you don’t look, you can hear it.

Robert Mueller can’t possibly work fast enough.

It’s the drumbeat to my day, the unexpected horrors unfolding at a rate that would be alarming if it hadn’t become usual. What a terrible thing to get used to.

Meanwhile, NaNoWriMo looms just around the corner and I wonder if I’m going to give it another shot after a few unsuccessful years. Last year I was roaring along, right until November 9, when the world we knew ended and we were thrust into this terribly-written alternative reality.

I mean terribly written. I really don’t understand most of the characters’ choices, and at until we get some backstory that would persuade us, the viewers, that they have valid motivations to refuse remove this unstable person who seems to want to end the world, my disbelief will remain unsuspended.

So what do you do? You ignore the hammering and get on with it. Or you incorporate the hammering into your work. Hammering is our reality now.

I’m working really hard to avoid a regrettable pun about being nailed.

I almost did it. Almost. But I digress.

Distractions appear, distractions evolve. There will always be distractions.

But I think we can agree that some distractions are more distractiony than others. The end of the world, the end of society as we know it, well that’s definitely one of them.

For more on my thoughts about Charlottesville and rising bigotry, please read An Open Letter to My Friends of Color.

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!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

 

 

A Spider for a Role Model

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20160921_103851There is an enormous spider outside my window. It’s just building a web, as though building a web outside my window is the most natural thing in the world to do. It’s undeterred by the wind or the height or the fact that it finds itself smack-dab in the middle of a vibrating metropolis.

It’s just building a web.

I wish I had that kind of singular focus. Alas.

Last night I volunteered to create yet another prop. Why? Don’t ask me, I have no idea. But one of our actors is going to have to bite a blood capsule. A writer and I did some blood experiments, and apparently the pre-made capsules taste horrendous.

Horrendous.

So I wanted to make him some capsules that won’t make the rest of the show so unpleasant for him. Homemade blood is extremely easy to make.

Maybe I wanted to be a mad scientist. Just a tad.

Monday I talked about my magpie focus, and over the last few days, it really hasn’t abated. One task at a time. It’s so tough to take on one task at a time.

Unless you’re a spider.

In or near Chicago in October? Come see “Me Inside Me Presents: Witch, Please,” on October 1, 8, 22 and 29 at Donny’s Skybox Theater at 7 pm. Tickets available at SecondCity.com.

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!

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

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Monday Morning Magpies

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Rubens Peale [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Rubens Peale [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve got a little case of the Monday Morning Magpies. Well, maybe not a little one. Maybe kind of a big one.

What are those, you say, hypothetical reader? They sound like a minor-league baseball team, or maybe an indoor soccer league?

Why thank you for thinking I’d be so sporty, hypothetical reader! You always know the right thing to say. But no, not that at all.

My eyes are falling on everything and anything shiny. Oh look! An email! Oh look! A tweet! Oh look! Another tweet! That’s more tweets!

You get the idea.

I meant to use my go-to grounding technique, the humble to-do list, but something grabbed my attention before I grabbed the pad and pen. I’m pretty sure it was coffee, but I wouldn’t swear to it.

Didn’t quite catch that, hypothetical reader? Why not do it now? Because right now I’m blogging. See? The blogging? Of the blog?

In the genius words of a genius writer, so it goes.

Often this kind of distractibility precedes a spate of creativity. I think it’s my brain’s way of preparing to catch the ideas as they scatter, darting in all directions to collect them like some kind of video game. It’s a signal to get the net ready, because when they go, they go.

It’s times like these that my mind forges strange connections, stockpiles “what ifs.” That harvest moon isn’t only for crops.

I think the writing season has begun.

In or near Chicago in October? Come see “Me Inside Me Presents: Witch, Please,” on October 1, 8, 22 and 29 at Donny’s Skybox Theater at 7 pm. Tickets available at SecondCity.com.

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!

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

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The Return Return Return

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Why hello again. Yes, you, hypothetical reader. I am, indeed, talking to you. Hi there. Hello. Yes, I really am here, typing away at my blog. It is not a mirage. It is not a drill.

I admit that I may have been a bit seduced by the somnolence of summer.  And then there was my big trip, which I’ll talk about later in the week. And my recovery from my big trip, which I’ll probably talk about ad nauseum.

But it’s that time again, that back-to-school time, and no matter how old you get, when the notebooks and pencils and rows of slick boxes of crayons with their excited perfect posture line the shelves, it’s time to get serious. In the immortal words of that mystic Florence and her trusty Machine, the dog days are over.

Metaphorically,  of course, because it’s going to be over 90 again here in Chicago, and that’s pretty laze-inducing, which is where I think the phrase originates, but I can’t be sure because I’m reduced to writing this on my phone while my computer updates and my tablet…well I don’t know what’s going on with my tablet, but it has some kind of amnesia because it thinks it’s two-and-a-half weeks ago.

What’s that, hypothetical reader?  I’m digressing? Just like old times, my friend, just like old times.

I have returned a bit renewed, and more than a little inspired. I think there should be some kind of travel program for writers, a sponsored way to see the world so that we can create new ones with fresh ideas. There is so much beyond our small bubbles. So many people leading similar lives or lives that seem completely foreign. So many bridges to build.

Like my computer, I think I have finished updating. Let the countdown to new work and new seasons begin.

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!

 

 

Writing is the Internal Battle of Wills

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There was a time when I’d treat a sluggish brain with a nice dose of coffee and be on my way with whatever it was I needed to do. Sadly, that time is no more; for a myriad of reasons, I can no longer have caffeine.

On the plus side, shakiness and a pounding heart are (mostly) a thing of the past. On the negative, though, I don’t get that quick hit of alertness.

I miss that quick hit of alertness. Especially on a Monday morning when my brain is trying to do anything but think. So what is there to do?

As is nearly always the answer, get on with it. Maybe my brain will have to do a few laps before it gets circulation to the crevices. Writing (and editing, which is where I am right now) is, at its center-most point, a contest of wills.

Yours against yours.

Sometimes we can use crutches like coffee. Sometimes we simply can’t. Sometimes people use crutches like alcohol. That one you really shouldn’t.

We all have to face the page somehow, whether it’s nearly blank one with a blinking cursor at the end and nothing but white space ahead, or one that’s chock-full of words you have to shape into something remotely readable. It’s that battle, I think, that is the hardest in writing.

Well, I may have lost one of the weapons in my arsenal, but I haven’t yet lost the war. Productivity is a choice, sometimes made minutes at a time.

Sluggish brain or no sluggish brain.

My books are free to read with KindleUnlimited or borrow with Amazon Prime!  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) .

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Writing Too Much and Too Little, Simultaneously

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Writing is weird. There are times when you don’t have a single idea in your head, and it’s as though every word in the language put its belongings in a little red handkerchief, tied it to a stick, and threw it over its shoulder to head off to parts unknown.

Other times, there are too many ideas to focus, so many tempting notions coming from all directions, and it’s tough to figure out what to grab first. Right now, I’m between the two, which is typical, as I have a manuscript–well, two–I’ve been neglecting.

I envy the writers who seem able to grind through it, no matter what else the universe has in store for them. I’m so easily distracted, so easily wrapped up in the drama of my actual world that the drama of my imaginary one gets shoved aside.

I know. Bad writer.

If want to get what’s in my head out of my head, but my sluggish fingers on a reluctant keyboard seem so clumsy, so inefficient. I need a direct data link, though, as a lover of science-fiction, I know how that will turn out.

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Writing Through Noise

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Let’s talk about constant noise. They’re doing work on the facade of my building, and there it is, the dull rounded, distant sound of the concrete drills on the one side; the higher-pitched vibration as the reverberation echoes through the walls. Awesome.

Meanwhile, of course, I’m trying to write. Focusing on something like a blog post, or even an article like the ones you can find under “The Other Stuff I’m Writing” on the sidebar seems to be fine. But a novel?

Nope.

It’s a strange trick of perception, the ability to push the omnipresent noise to the background in some cases, while in others it fills your ears, pushing through to your brain until you can’t be sure if it’s inside or outside of your head. But the noise will be here for quite a while, so the two of us will have to learn to coexist.

I can’t write with music that has lyrics, so when it’s time to work on my current novel, a sequel to my cozy mystery, I plug in the noise-cancelling headphones and crank up the classical. I find it actually gets me typing faster, depending on the piece. But not Beethoven’s 9th. Especially not the Chicago Symphony Orchestra version conducted by Sir George Solti. No, that will stop you dead in your tracks. It’s too glorious to share your attention.

But that’s the thing with writing. It’s all a mental game when it comes to distractions.

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