Swinging at smoke…

Writing is hard.

It’s a very cyclical thing for me. It moves along in stages. What those stages are, how long they last, and whether or not I recognize them as they’re happening all vary on a case by case basis.

Right now I’m in the JFC everything is crap stage.

It happens.

I’ve spent a lot of time staring at my writing folder—like I do—trying to discern what I should be working on. Truth is, I really don’t know.

Once upon a time I went through and summarized all of my “active” projects. It was a lot more difficult than it should have been. And I’ve been trying to do an updated version of it with the current active list for…a long time. It’s an exercise in brevity and it’s incredibly difficult for someone like me who has a tendency to ramble incessantly, especially when it comes to talking about writing.

I want to write a brief summary of the plot, a few notes on where my brain is at on the given project, and a snippet of text from the actual story. Problem is I could go on for hours about each one when “summarizing” the plot. (I might need to lookup the actual definition of the word summarize, because clearly it doesn’t mean what I think it means.) As for where my brain is at with each one, a lot of it generally comes out as fuck if I know. And when it comes to pulling out a few lines of text…I want to take paragraphs.

And then I have a twenty-thousand word post.

Give or take.

I’ve considered doing an individual post on each one in a series. Then I could ramble all I want. But it’s supposed to be about brevity. And while that’s clearly not one of my strong suits, that’s what I want it to be.

So as it goes with everything in writing, I keep hacking and slashing until it resembles something I’m more or less okay with.

Or I shove it back in the drafts folder and forget about it for awhile.

Fair warning…this whole thing is five-thousand-some-odd words. (The last one I did was 3000+…so…)

So much for that whole brevity thing, I guess.

Hey—it’s fairly brief commentary for each story. But once you pile them all together…

Continue reading “Swinging at smoke…”

Holding down this spot…

It’s three in the morning. I have an appointment at 10AM. Sleep is for the weak, apparently.

I’ve been trying to sort out the latest writing debacle happening in my head and I think I’ve only served to confuse myself further.

I am good at things.

It’s no secret that I repeat myself constantly when it comes to writing. (And everywhere else, but we’re not talking about that right now.) When a story loses steam or interest, it gets shoved into the archives and sits until I decide to start poking at it again—either to pick up where I left off, or to mine it for ideas.

A lot of my repetition, however, is unintentional. I’ll have pages and pages of text sitting in front of me and suddenly, something reminds me that I’ve written this before, or at least something very similar. Or a character will start out on a given path that veers off toward territory occupied by a character in a different story. I’m running into this with the projects currently eating away at my brain.

Fostered… Ryan and Hallie struggled for years trying to have a baby, hindered by Hallie’s health issues, and make the decision to pursue adoption. Several years into the foster-to-adopt journey they finally get a promising placement with Emery, a teenager who has been in the foster system for half his life after his mother died. It’s a rough road to heal all of the emotional damage, but they figure things out with a whole lot of trial and error, and a whole lot of patience and unconditional love. And, inexplicably, a stuffed mouse.

I’ve been working on this one for about a year and a half. It’s currently the longest story in the active pipeline. It’s just kicking my ass on the narrative front. Par for the course.

Lightning v2.0 *… Parker and Alison have been married for twelve years, together for twenty, and friends for nearly thirty. Currently they’ve been separated for five months after two years of a declining marriage following a painful struggle to have kids. Divorce isn’t on the table, but the effort to fix their problems has thus far been entirely one-sided as Alison tries to get Parker to acknowledge they need help. Everything gets knocked off its axis the day Parker’s sister shows up and asks him to keep her son Tyler for the weekend. It doesn’t take long to figure out that she has no intention of coming back anytime soon, if ever. The sudden arrival of their nephew forces Parker and Alison back together and to finally deal with their own issues while balancing an emotionally damaged, recently abandoned teenager and his unexpected health problems.

There is an unintentional connection between these two stories with Alison, like Hallie, struggling to get pregnant. The two main differences being Hallie knows why she can’t have kids, whereas Alison can’t find a doctor who can figure it out. And Ryan and Hallie’s marriage holds up to the trauma of infertility, while Parker and Alison fall apart because they don’t deal with it in any healthy way.

I also feel like I’m starting to turn Tyler into Emery 2.0 with his damaged emotional state and overwhelming fear of rejection.

Emery…age fifteen.
Father disappeared before he was born.
Raised by a single mother until age seven when she died unexpectedly from meningitis.
Spent half his life in unhealthy foster homes.
Highly emotional, sensitive, doesn’t trust anybody, and expects everyone assigned to take care of him to reject him.

Tyler…age fifteen.
Father died when he was a baby.
Raised by a single mother until age fifteen when she dropped him at his aunt & uncle’s house and disappeared without explanation.
Spent last five years in an unhealthy home with a presumably mentally ill mother.
Highly emotional, sensitive, and fears rejection from his extended family in the same way his mother rejected him.

 

The more similarities I find, the more I wonder if I should be making significant changes to this tale. There is a lot that I can trace back to some older ideas too, but those have been sitting in the stalled folder for quite awhile and probably won’t be making any moves anytime soon. Bouncing ideas off Bob, he suggested making Tyler less damaged (not too far of a stretch) and changing the reason Parker and Alison are having marital troubles (harder than it should be). Tyler’s general personality is drastically different from Emery, and I think it’s adequately conveyed in the story. And in terms of damage, Tyler has had other family to mitigate a lot of it, whereas Emery has been shipped from one foster home to the next with no constant support in his life.

Though unless I start letting other people read all these stories—in their wildly disjointed state—does it really matter how similar they are? As long as I’m writing, and not just staring at a blank page, I consider it a victory.


* v2.0?

There was already a story with the code name Lightning and then Basil intervened and I haven’t figured out a new name for it.

Alison and Parker were once best friends and had a falling out that ended their friendship. Meanwhile Alison gets pregnant unexpectedly by her fiancé and he leaves her because he doesn’t want kids. Currently Alison is a single mother to fifteen-year-old Tyler and Parker comes back to town for familial obligations, bringing the pair face to face once again. Reconciliation should be on the agenda, but Alison is preoccupied with problems with her kid—inexplicable personality changes and a whole lot of aggravating silence—and doesn’t have the mental fortitude to rehash the fight that ended her friendship with Parker. Romance isn’t necessarily in the cards for Alison and Parker, but he does help her figure out what is going on with her kid, if only indirectly.

Initially Parker was named Stephen and I couldn’t figure out why things seemed so off until I realized I had Stephen and Tyler and awkwardness ensued. Stephen became Parker and I considered changing Alison to Olivia but then I would have Liv and Tyler and then I started to wonder if Tyler was the problem or if I should just relent and use only Aerosmith songs for the soundtrack. Instead Alison became Hannah and then Parker was changed to Justin, and Tyler is still the scheming teenager in between them trying to rope his mother into dating her once best friend.

Emerson Mouse just wants more live O.A.R.

Me too, critter.

So stay…it’s okay…

1.) The beginning of this week was sixty degrees. It snowed on Thursday. (Barely a dusting that didn’t last but it still snowed.) Today didn’t even get above freezing. Oh hey, Minnesota. You finally figured out it’s November.

2.) On a recent stop at Chipotle, we saw Chris Colfer’s teenage doppelganger. I noticed him standing in line and had to do a double-take because his profile was so distinctly similar it was bizarre. I wanted to point him out to Bob, but couldn’t figure out a way to be subtle about it. When we got home, one of the first things he said to me was, “Did you see that kid in line that looked just like that kid from Glee?” It’s like he knows me. Not-Chris-Colfer sat awkwardly at a table with two teenage girls (who were not eating anything and just giggling and smiling) and it took all I had to not pat him on the head and pinch his cheeks and tell him how bloody adorable he was when we walked by on the way out.

What.

3.) Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find tennis shoes that aren’t freaking DAY-GLO colors? I just want some decent shoes. I don’t want people to see me from twelve miles off. I needed a new pair of tennis shoes because the ones I have pre-date Bob, and they don’t have a whole lot of cushion left in them. Cold weather is here and I’m gonna have to retire my Chucks for the season. I managed to find a pair that are navy blue and white and have not a single spot of neon anything. Yes, I realize the 80’s were thirty years ago and everything horrible eventually comes back in style, but seriously. Neon? Stop it.

4.) Bob is currently in a FFXIV dungeon with music that reminds me so much of Farscape and now I want to rewatch Farscape again, even though we just rewatched the entire series last year.

5.) Wednesday was November 18th. That marks eight years since my first date with Bob. One year for every hour we spent together sitting in that Caribou on a cold and snow-rainy Sunday afternoon. He is the absolute best.

6.) I made myself a yellow cake with chocolate fudge frosting for my birthday. It came out a little dry. Despite following the recipe, I think it baked too long. But it’s covered in enough frosting to make up for it. Someday I will find a good white/vanilla/yellow cake recipe that turns out right for me. (That doesn’t call for a whole dozen egg whites FFS.)

7.) I am thirty-six years old. What. The hell. (Hunter is going to be 18 in January and he’ll be exactly half my age. Auntie Sara is old.)

8.) Sometimes I find myself sitting on writing ideas for a long time before they really manifest into something worth putting down on a page. Then I spend even longer poking and prodding them, trying to spread them out into a full-fledged story. More often than not, they end up in the scenes without stories pile because that singular idea doesn’t really fill out an entire plotline. If I’m lucky, I find other ideas to combine them with to make something worth while. The gears have been turning on some ideas that have been in the arsenal for quite awhile and I finally started putting words down on the page. I’m not entirely sure where it’s going to take me, but it almost forced me out of bed at some ungodly hour to work on it. I was unbelievably tired, so I did manage to get back to sleep instead, but sometimes giving in to the gremlin poking me in the brain pays off.

9.) It’s taken me about a year and a half to reach this milestone number, but progress is progress is progress. (See: Giving in to the gremlin.)

Also, this song is still like a punch in the gut.

Every.

Damn.

Time.


(Train … Bulletproof Picasso)

Leave the door wide open…

Every time I sit down and try to compose a coherent blog post it just turns into a massive train wreck of gibberish.

No, no. MORE than usual.

So listing it is…

1.) Last Friday morning I woke up with a scratchy throat, which got progressively worse throughout the day, and now I’m on day eight of nondescript plague. It’s like it’s trying to be a chest cold, but it’s spinning its wheels at the bottom of the hill. It’s not quite as miserable as the chest cold from hell I had a couple of years ago (and lasted well over a month), but I’m ready for it to be gone. I wake up countless times a night as it is, only now I’m coughing and wheezing and struggling to breathe through my nose that has apparently decided to swell shut. It’s fun. And by “fun” I mean EFFFFFFFF YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU.

2.) I used its/it’s so many times in that I’m pretty sure I used the wrong one at some point.

3.) The dire need of an update to my blog template is starting to drive me crazy. But every time I open the style sheet for the new template I want to use, I sit and stare at it, at a complete loss for what I should be doing with it. It’s fun times. And by “fun times” I mean EFFFFFFFF. YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU.

4.) Every time an update for iTunes comes out—especially a whole new version number—I drag my feet in installing it because inevitably things are going to be even more fucked up than they were in the previous version. And I’m always right. I finally allowed it to update and it was an even bigger clusterfuck than I had anticipated. It’s [mostly] figured out now, but still…ugh. If I didn’t have thousands of DRM protected songs I’d lose access to, I’d put more effort into finding a possible alternative.

5.) Also the new red icon for iTunes just further proves iTunes is actually Satan at work.

6.) I’m typing all of this one handed and the first time I tried to type Satan I actually typed Sara. Apparently I’M THE DEVIL.

7.) I stopped typing mid-sentence while writing because I had to document progress.

Bob looked up from his computer, shaking his head, and told me, “That’s what screenshots are for.”

Yes, I know. But it’s just not the same.

This is only the second project (to my recollection) I’ve hit that word count with, without all of the side story/back story/what-if story/what-have-you story. It’s a slow build and there are gaping holes in the narrative, but it’s nice to see considering I feel like I’m not making any progress on anything at all.

8.) I picked up a story idea that’s been sitting around for a long time and started reconstructing the character list. I had some new…ish ideas and things started falling into place. Then I stuck in a character I hadn’t originally planned for (but fit surprisingly well nonetheless) and suddenly the entire dynamic of the plot changed and it is not at all where I intended it to go and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Do I go with it and see what happens? Or do I work things back to the original plan? Or do I stuff it back in the stalled folder and forget about it for awhile again?

9.) Since the writer’s block has been overstaying its welcome around here, I find myself digging through projects that haven’t been touched in a very long time. And I spend a lot of time staring down the seek therapy folder, poking at things that exist solely for my demented entertainment. There is one in particular that keeps reeling me back in—a collection of scenes and conversations with a group of characters that don’t have an actual story to hold them. (Scenes without stories.) There is some writing in there that I REALLY LIKE for various reasons and I keep wondering if I could somehow turn it into a legitimate story project. I’ve done it before with other plans (and varying degrees of success). I’m just having a difficult time figuring out how to fill in certain holes that would actually make it work.

10.) In my oxygen-deprived insomnia this week, I started watching The Flash. Why? I don’t know. It seemed like a good idea at three in the morning. It’s a superhero show, so it has its campy tendencies, and it’s not bad, but some of the acting can be a little bit rough and wooden. However, I’m a sucker for Tom Cavanagh and his ri-god-damn-diculous blue eyes. Also Grant Gustin is precious (and so young) and plays awkward and nerdy quite well. And I love the character Cisco. Cisco is awesome.

Sometimes I drink…

Actually sometimes I WISH I drank.

Like right now.

So I could dull the pain of a uterus who is a demonic sonofabitch trying to kill me.

1.) Next week is Christmas and we haven’t even put the tree up.

2.) Last weekend (a four-day weekend no less) we both had a mystery plague that tried to be a chest cold, but couldn’t quite get over the hump. So that was fun.

3.) I spent about two hours in bed and then something woke me up and apparently that was all the sleep I needed. (see: demonic sonofabitch)

4.) Writer’s block both sucks and blows and not in the fun way.

5.) My obsessive O.A.R. listening has them rapidly closing in on the top three slot of Last.fm. Can’t stop. Won’t stop.

6.) Today is Bob’s last day of work for the year. I am very excited about this.

7.) We have grand plans to get things done while on vacation. If we accomplish just one of those things, I’ll consider it a gaddamn Christmas miracle.

8.) I finally broke 50K on Emerson Mouse’s favorite project. It only took six months to get there. And it’s nowhere near finished.

9.) Emerson Mouse is a surly little fuzzball who likes to stare me down when I’m not writing. Or when we don’t have any cookies. Mostly when we don’t have any cookies.

10.) I need to bake cookies.

Maybe I’m just high…

I was looking at spice grinders on Amazon and everything appears to be marketed towards pot smokers.

I just want to get a consistent texture in my Italian seasoning mix not make pot brownies.

Whatever.

In my current—never ending—writing drought, I find myself still fixated mostly on one project. I might not be making progress, but it’s holding my attention. That’s something, I suppose. I’ll eek out a few lines here and there, but not much. And then I find myself spending three pages having a discussion about mint brownies—and now I just managed to connect spice pot grinders to my writing.

What.

Apparently I have a reoccurring theme of mint brownies in my stories. I can name five projects off the top of my head wherein there is an unnecessary amount of focus on them. There’s probably more, I just can’t think of specifics right now.

I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising. Considering how much I repeat myself EVERYWHERE, it should come as no surprise at all that I’d have a recurring food theme too.

Either that or my subconscious is telling me I need to make mint brownies.

In that case, I should probably listen to it.

The Nug just thinks there are not enough subterranean bunny pigs in my stories.

Wrecking ball came crashing through…

1.) WordPress updated to version 4.0. I haven’t found anything significantly FUBAR’d…yet. I’m sure I’ll find it soon enough. Because there is always something. (And I still haven’t figured out how to fix the formatting of the “now playing” line since WP FUBAR’d that.)

2.) This morning as the neighbors were loading into the car to go to school, I noticed the mother speaking at a human volume with a pleasant tone. Then I realized there was an extra person getting in the car with them. Lady, you need to have company to impress at all times so I (and the rest of the damn city) don’t have to listen to you SCREAMING at your kids.

3.) I’ve been asked to bake a cake for a four-year-old’s birthday party with two days notice. In all my kitchen experiments, a successful cake is not on the list of Hey it worked! So…right then.

4.) Somebody I went to school with followed me on Instagram…I…what? Hi? (Yes I do kind of hate myself for having an Instagram account.)

5.) The same band keeps favorite-ing my weekly Last.fm stat tweets that auto-post to Twitter. They seem to really like the fact that I really like Andy Grammer. Also…I’m assuming it’s some sort of ploy to get me to listen to their music. (It worked. I did. It’s not bad.) I’m suddenly having myspace flashbacks.

6.) Apparently 40,000 words is a cursed number when it comes to writing.

I get to that point in a story that’s going well and…

Nothing.

I stare at the blinking cursor and produce exactly zero.

The idea well hath run dry.

Head.

Desk.

So I go back and read through what I’ve written. I fix typos and cull the borderline psychotic volume of commas. I love some of it, I hate more of it, and am on the fence about most of it. I write side story and back story and what-if future story, none of which has any actual bearing on the current story. And then I start poking around in different project folders and that generally doesn’t end well.

Or I just keep rereading the current project hoping the words will somehow magically manifest on the page.

This writing thing is the love of my life and the bane of my existence both at the same time.

Hallie watched Emery sound asleep on the couch, her mind reeling. When she’d left the house in the morning, she knew her life would be forever changed by the time she got home. It had been building for months—or really since she was nineteen—and as the day inched ever closer, the magnitude of the situation grew increasingly more overwhelming. It was terrifying and exhilarating and exactly what she (and Ryan) had been hoping for, for so many heartbreaking years.

She was a mother.

Ryan was a father.

Emery was their son.

It didn’t matter that he didn’t share their DNA or that he was mere weeks from his sixteenth birthday. Today he officially became their son. Today they officially became parents. Today they officially became a family of three.

In truth, they had been a family since the first day they’d brought Emery home. They might not have fully realized it at the time, but in hindsight it was easy to see. Hallie and Ryan had each had an almost visceral reaction to meeting the teenager. There was something distinctly different about him from any of the other children they’d taken into their home and it had nothing to do with his age. It hadn’t taken them long to completely fall in love with him and realize that he was the one—destined to be theirs.

And now he actually was theirs.

Officially.

Legally.

Forever.

As she watched him sleep, tears slipped down her cheeks, grateful and elated and relieved. She wanted to wake him up and cuddle him and tell him how happy she was and how much she loved him. And while she knew he wouldn’t resist the gesture, she also knew it would be better to let him sleep. He needed it. They’d had several late nights in a row with the stress and anxiety over their court date keeping him awake and sick. Now that they were on the other side, it had all caught up to him. They had barely been home long enough for him to get his Wild hoodie and his mouse before he was dead asleep on the couch. She would let him rest for now. She could smother him with hugs and kisses and I-love-yous later.

She looked down at the phone in her hand and the picture on screen she’d taken minutes before of Emery sleeping. She attached it to the waiting message and hit send to the prepared list of family and friends who were anxiously waiting to celebrate with them.

     Emerson James Hale Kincaide—officially ours forever. <3

7.) And then I go back to compulsively listening to O.A.R.


(O.A.R. — Place to Hide)

Still want to canoodle with Marc Roberge. Or Chris Culos. Or…the whole band.

(Not all at the same time. Individually. Cripes.)

8.) Also Andy Grammer.

(Both the compulsive listening and the canoodling.)


(Andy Grammer — Holding Out)

Only AG can write a song with a reference to p0rn and loud-neighbor-disrupting-sex and make it sound adorable.

Seriously.

Scratch ticket lottery…

Do you have any idea what it’s like to walk down the hallway in the dark in the middle of the night and find a Tonberry in your path?

Way more disturbing than it should be for a foot-tall stuffed animal.

It’s after three in the morning. My mind is racing on a million different things. I might be starting to get a little bit tired, but it’s only fitting that sleep is giving me the finger because I have shit to do tomorrow. (Today. Whatever.)

I think I just found more flaky, dried glue in my hair. It’s been a whole week FFS. Where has it been hiding?

Wednesday night I went to bed feeling incredibly wiped out and ready to crash. Ten minutes later my brain was loud as hell, jabbing me incessantly.

Hey. Hey. Hey. You need to get up and write this thing I just came up with. Hey. Get up. Hey. Get up. Hey. Go write this down because there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell you’re going to remember it in the morning.

So I got out of bed, had Sheep make me some tea, and we sat down spilling nearly 5,000 words on some new idea that may or may not turn into something worth reading. I didn’t get back to bed until after 5AM, but I don’t consider it a total loss on the sleep front because it’s more than I’ve written in…way too damn long.

It’s currently sitting at about 8,000 words so we shall see where it goes.

Rooster Teeth is making a live-action (sci-fi comedy) movie. You bet your sweet ass The Bobs™ are all over that shit.

Matt Nathanson and Train both released new songs this week.

Oh yes.

The new O.A.R. album also came out this week. Andy Grammer’s next is due August 5th. Better Than Ezra is out September 9th. Train is slated for September 16th. Matt Nathanson is reported to be releasing a new album “in the fall.” And Carbon Leaf has a new Pledge campaign to “revisit” their Indian Summer album for its 10th anniversary. Life Less Ordinary was my introduction to that band so color me quite intrigued.

And there’s probably something I’m missing in that list.

But still…

Muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuusic.

Also, the new Dragon Age game comes out October 7th.

Need to win the lottery to fund my obsessions entertainment supply.