Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

A kick in the ass means a good night’s sleep

I found WordPress and I said I wanted to blog every day.  Yes, this was a lofty goal but I was committed.  I had ideas. I was inspired.  I had opinions to share and a need to rant about my pet peeves.  So much positive energy and yet I have blogged with no regularity.  I have only disappointed myself, someone who claims they want to be a writer.

 Drastic steps had to be taken.

 I called upon Lulu, my alter ego whom also happens to be perfect.  Some have good angels who sit on their shoulders.  I have Lulu living in my head, prompting me to do the things I know I should do but seem to avoid.  Lulu is who tells me the justifiable excuses I am using in my defense are nothing but manure for the gardens in the backyard.  She is the reflection in the mirror when I am being completely honest with myself.

I grabbed a bottle a wine, (red, dry) and two glasses.  I’m not crazy but the second glass makes me feel like I’m not drinking alone.  I grabbed a cake pan, a lighter and sat at the table with a notebook and my favourite pen, affectionately named Herb. I was not leaving the table until I had listed the reasons excuses I was not committing one hour a day to a blog.

With Lulu at the helm and a pleasant glow from the wine, I had a fabulous, honest productive evening.  I faced the fact I didn’t know what to write.  I knew this when I first started the blog but I was trying to believe writing everyday was going to help me answer this question.  I didn’t blog – I found no answers.  I was also forced to admit I am scared to share with the world.  Another attribute not desirable in a want to be writer.  Like every self-help program tells you, the first step is admitting the problem.

In a symbolic gesture to the writing gods (Is there one?) I placed my pages of reasons, excuses, doodles and summary points into the cake pan and set them ablaze.  While I watched the challenges I faced burn, and pieces of ash dance about the dining room (an unexpected benefit) I listened to Lulu telling me that I needed to make a plan, map out the path to success.  I agreed but heard my bed calling me. The bottle of wine made me susceptible to the beckoning.  After a large glass of water and a couple of Tylenol, even Lulu felt a good night’s sleep was in order.

In the morning, the cake pan and its contents served to remind me of the honesty of the previous evening and inspired me to move on to phase two.  Plan your work, work your plan.  I did this, Lulu encouraging me all the way.  While she can annoy me and flip on the inner guilt switch at any time, she can also be my biggest supporter.  She reminds me I am a writer, a technical writer.  I am learning a new genre rather than a new craft.  I hear her telling me of all my accomplishments, some expected of me while others were surprises.  Lulu tells me she believes in me.  Having decided a weekly blog was a better goal and designing my outline and listing upcoming topics, I put my notebook next to the laptop and Herb in his case.  Then I bitch slapped Lulu and sent her back into the depths of my mind.  One can handle only so much honesty at a time.

Kharma is a bitch. I got rid of Lulu and nine days later I still have not posted a blog.  I had a plan! I did all the hard work.  I left my notes next to the computer.  All I had to do was spend a couple of hours in the upcoming week writing a one thousand word blog.  Let me be clear.  I have the abilities to do this.  I have the time to do this.  I offer no excuses.  I simply did not do it.

Lulu wouldn’t let me off this hook this time.  I called on her, again, and the first thing she did was give me a swift kick in the ass.  This time, no planning, just doing.  “Write anything!” echoes through my head.  She promised me she would not let me have a good night’s sleep until I posted something.  Lulu’s threats are not to be taken lightly and quality sleep is important to me.

So here I sit, confessing my insanity.  More importantly I am posting a blog.  Most importantly, I will sleep well tonight.

Funny can’t be forced

I am not quick on the draw.  I am the type that thinks of the perfect comeback an hour and a half after the moment has passed.  I laugh by myself a lot.

The hubby seems to have a comedic comeback to almost any situation.  His sense of humour is the secret to the success of our relationship.  In the worst situations, he still makes me laugh.  I don’t care that he’s losing his hair but if he loses his ability to laugh, he is out the door.

He never has to think about it.  He doesn’t try to be funny, he is funny.  Give him some time to think about a situation and he only gets funnier.  When he is at his best, my writing gets better. I think it’s because laughter gets me to relax and I stop thinking.  I don’t try to write, I write.  It’ s a very Yoda concept. 

Funny is important because there is not enough of it in this world.  We want it.  We need it.  We actually seek it out.  The most popular videos on YouTube?  The ones which make us laugh.  The more popular blogs?  The ones which make us laugh.  A theme is developing.  We want more haha in our lives.

In the middle of a stressful day, kids sick, husband working late, boss on your ass about your absences, you cannot just sit down and giggle.  Maybe you can force a smile when you recall a particular memory but we lack the ability to laugh on demand.  We had it once but we lose it  over time.  We exchange our sense of humour for ever-growing responsibilities. 

Watch a child, specifically the kids whom have yet to start school.  They laugh all the time.  They laugh at anything.  Their laughs come from deep inside their bellies.  A fabulous thing about this type of genuine exuberance is that it is contagious. I challenge you to surround yourself with laughing children and at the same time be a miserable troll.

Funny can’t be forced but it can be encouraged.  We should embrace every opportunity we can, to laugh loud and proud.  The chances are rare so jump on them.  If you miss and fall flat on your face, laugh at that too!

A week of learning

  • No matter how creative or motivated I feel, I cannot write with the television turned on.  Even if it is only the news or Sportcentre, turned low, in the other room.  I am easily distracted.  For the record, this is not new news to me.
  • Blogging means something different to everyone.  Some use the forum as a personal confessional.  Funny how it seems so easy for people to share their deepest secrets with the world, while writing how they will die if their husband/wife/friend/mother/father/sister/brother should ever find out.  I’ve read other blogs that seem to be elegant advertising in disguise.  There are an amazing number of bloggers who appear as professional as daily columnists of the big papers.  I blog as a daily commitment to improve my writing.  If you read blogs, you understand.
  • I like WordPress.  I admit I haven’t used any other blogging host.  However, I haven’t quit yet, this is a good thing. Some of the simple things elude me.  I still can’t set the correct date and time.  Those who know me, know there ain’t no way I was up at 6:18 am posting anyting on the internet.  I also know that I did blog Thursday and not Friday.  But I do love a challenge.  I am continually playing with the themes.  I know sooner or later the page will become what I want but until then I will click and cancel and see what happens.
  • I still have issues with sharing my posts. I allow myself an hour to blog and I am finding it easier than I expected to keep this commitment.  My inner, anal editor has not given her approval to anything I have posted.  I find my blogs are great brainstorming sessions. They are not reflections of what I want my “reputation” of a writer to be.  Sharing things I feel are incomplete is difficult.  Getting easier but still scarey.
  • I continue to prefer paper and pen over a keyboard and mind numbing screen.  I find the flashing cursor intimidating and the blank screen stifles my creative process.  I like to doodle between thoughts and scratch out and highlight.  I like to write in a spiral bound notebook, several of them on the go at once. 
  • In the back of my head, I find myself always trying to find a unique spin on a routine situation.  I think others call this humour.  I don’t recall ever being so aware of possible writing topics.
  • When I write, I prefer to be outside or near a window.  I find greater inspiration in the outdoors than I do in any set of painted walls.

I’ve been saying I want to be a writer.  Writing on a daily basis has only reaffirmed this desire.  A week into this experiment and I am only feeling better about my decision!

Beep-beep, 2 way traffic

Tell me the things you want to say to the driver you encounter coming down a one way street the wrong way.  In a nutshell, the idjit (I have been told idiot may be considered a derogatory term.  Who knew?) missed the messages.  No doubt there was a sign, if not two, at the intersection where the moron made the wrong turn.  Message sent but not received.  The jackass still turned down a one way street the wrong way.  And yes, we have all been the idjit.

      Successful communication flows two ways.  You might hear my words but do you understand my message?  Think of your favourite expletive; mine is the popular fuck. Should you hear me blurt this from the kitchen, the word itself does not tell you what is happening, it is how I said it that tells the story.

A loud sharp bark, often preceded by a crash, indicates bad happenings, stay away.  Repetition of the word in a soft voice typically means a spill or broken egg.  If I’m giggling while I curse, I’ve probably opened the same cupboard door, three maybe four times, each time forgetting what I’m looking for.  One single word with so many meanings; it’s the tone which tells the tale.

When communicating through the written word, how is tone expressed?  Yes, I can be careful to select what I feel are the perfect words but how are you reading them?  Inserting smiley faces 🙂 throughout an essay doesn’t seem professional but until you know me, how do you interpret my words?  I give you my blessing to laugh when you want.  If you think I’m offensive, I’m probably trying my hand at humour.  If you think I’m an egotist, it’s only self deprecating humour that usually serves only to annoy.

Back to my original point…  Communication works in two directions.  This poses certain challenges to a writer when reading is generally accepted as a solo activity.  Can you imagine the conversations you might have had with J.K. Rowling as you were reading Harry Potter?  How about having the opportunity to discuss Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple with Agatha Christie?  How would their later works have changed?

Until I’m rich and famous, making the talk show circuit, showing the world my fun side while still appearing brilliant, I will work with my words in an attempt to do the same thing.  I will do my best to choose my words so that you don’t find yourself going the wrong way down that one way street.  If you crash it’s my fault.

Two down, a lifetime to go

When I made the decision to start a blog, I thought it would be easy.  I am competent, not afraid of computers and I have never been responsible for any great technological catastrophe.  The internet makes everything simple, right?

Sometimes more is too much.  Have you ever Googled “free blog hosting”?  Over 86 million results were returned.  Yikes!!  I knew there would be some work sifting through all the “ideal” sites but I was not prepared to spend a year of my life clicking links leading nowhere.  It was time for Plan B.

Using the old-fashioned land line, I reached out to those friends and coworkers whom I know blog.  Yes, it was some help but not as much as I had hoped.  I did discover one friend is leaving his current job for another.  A girlfriend gave me the fabulous news that she and her hubby are expecting; she’ll be blogging about it.  A technogeek pal of mine jumped right over the topic of where to blog and directly into how a blog can make you extra money.  An afternoon well spent but not productive.  Time for eeny-meeny-miney-moe.  For no other reason, I landed here.

Of course, the first thing WordPress wanted to do was tax the creative side of my brain.  Sign in names and user names are not easy to think up.  I thought I had several great names and titles, all of them taken.  I’m guessing the rest of the world has not been as reluctant to blog as myself.  Once I set up Sweet’s Ideas, I had to deal with widgets and calendars and RSS feeds.  These are the things that attract others to a blog, not the writing.  Pity.

After picking a theme and pushing my frustration level to the max, trying to figure out all the technical stuff, I moved ahead to Plan H.  The most important part of this new habit is to write.  Stephen King has a wonderful mantra, “read a lot, write a lot”.  I say these words to myself over and over and over again.  My mission is to write every day.  All the small details will work themselves out over time.  I could easily spend hours tweaking my new site, making it visitor friendly.  The truth is it would be an act of procrastination, something to keep me from practicing my craft.  I am here to write.

So here sits my blog with a simple theme and nothing but a calendar.  It will grow and change as I do.  I will learn how to use links and to how to attract readers.  Most importantly, I will write every day.

Today I Blog

          I will procrastinate no more.  I am putting it in words for all of the world, (maybe not everyone), to read.  I want to be a writer.  To be clear, I want to be paid to write.  I want to earn my living by playing with words.  My challenge:  I am standing in my own way. Great writers practice their craft every day.  Paid writers share their words with an audience.  I do neither yet continue to tell friends, family and whomever else asks that I want to be a writer when I grow up.  Did I mention I’m in my forties?

 

I have never heard a specific career calling my name.  I tried factory work but developed an allergy to physical labour.  The brain numbing desk jobs I had did nothing but give me headaches and secretary’s spread.  After those life-altering experiences, I made the choice to apply to university rather than run away with the carnival, again.  Five years later, with a B.Comm (Honours) in hand, I accepted my first job with “manager” in the title and had my own business card.  Nope, that wasn’t it.

 

I have worked in the auto sector and at financial institutions; held jobs in the fields of tourism and property management; I even held ISO Auditor status for sometime. The same problem plagued me at every job.  I was smarter than the boss. I started my own small company and I plugged along until the divorce.  Banks are not the biggest fans of the small business operating less than three years with no collateral.  I needed work.  Found a job, left a job, over and over again.  I want to break the cycle.

 

No matter the job, communication has always been a responsibility I happily carried on my shoulders.  Contracts, manuals, reports, speeches and newsletters, I have written them all.  I loved every minute of the process and believe I’ve always done it well.  Unfortunately, it has always been a small part of my overall position.  Now is the time for change.

 

Proclaiming myself a writer does not make it fact.  When my words are paying my bills, I can call myself a writer.  My challenge:  I don’t know what to write.  I need to explore my creative side and see if the Great Canadian novel lies within.  Perhaps I have the gift of brevity and short stories are my thing.  I love preaching from my soapbox, which might lead to the greatest collection of Letters to the Editor ever.  No matter the path, writing every single day can only make me better.

 

Putting the words together is only part of the challenge.  Once I have carefully prepared a ramble or rant or short story, I’ve got to learn to share it with the world.  I have written for specific audiences only.  I have always known exactly who is going to read what I write, or I have convinced myself this is the case.  I’m not sure that I’ve been able to fully wrap my warped mind around the fact that with a few keystrokes, people around the world can read my work.

 

Whether or not I am ready, today I become a blogger.  Sweet’s Ideas has been birthed into the blogosphere.  For better or worse, once it is on the internet, it cannot be taken back.  If this isn’t sharing, I don’t know what is.