Wednesday, September 29, 2010

When You Are Four...

Four is a great age. It's an age of discovery and questions. Fortunately, when you're four, your mother knows EVERYTHING. She has all of the answers, and saying "I don't know" is like pulling the rug out from under those four year-old feet. (And usually results in some kind of emotional melt-down.)

When my son asked me where the hot water came from, I showed him our hot water heater. Easy, right? Then he asked me where the cold water comes from. Well, I don't know where the cold water comes from. I told him it came out of the pipes that way. Which, by the way he did not buy at all.

I'm a writer. I like to think I have a great imagination. But I also like to tell him how things are. So while I could have told him that the cold water came from the city under the house manned by small earthen creatures, I just endured the meltdown.

Has your child ever asked you a question you couldn't answer? And can somebody PLEASE tell me where cold water comes from? (Real and imaginary answers are welcome.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Kitchen Floor is Dirty

And it's your fault.

My friend, Patti, is having a blogfest starting September 27 in which we record how much time we spend writing. I don't really keep track, so I'm going to play. I unofficially started today.

I wrote 30 minutes while my son was in preschool.

I wrote 2 hours after my children went to bed.

2.5 hours! Over 1000 words, too! (Way more words than I typically write in 2.5 hours, by the way.)

I thought I'd calculate my blogging time, too...

Um...

Between preschool and after bedtime, I clocked ALMOST the same amount of time blogging as I did writing.

I like to blog, but it needs to me nipped in the you-know-what.

So. I like you. But I am going to try and like you fewer times per week.

(I don't really blame you for my kitchen floor. I actually accept full responsibility, but I've been planning on scrubbing my kitchen floor for way too many days now. I keep blogging instead. It's sticky. Ewe gross.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

PB vs The Novel

For those of you who came looking for a post about peanut butter, I'm sorry to disappoint you. However, I've used the word "book" in the last two out of three post titles. And I do hate to be redundant because being redundant is something I hate. Now, because I think I'm soooooo smart...

1) PB's are a lot shorter than novels. Who would have known? Significantly shorter. I'm thinking my novel will end up with at least 75,000 words. My children's book...293 words.

2) PB's take less time to write than novels, but more time to write than novels. I spent a good three or four hours on 293 words. Less time than my novel, right? However, it's relative. If I invested that much time into each word of my novel, it would take me a total of 61,443 hours. Really, I did the math. That is seven years of nonstop writing (absolutely no breaks for eating and sleeping).

3) I can read my PB to my son. I can't read my novel to my son. No matter which way I spin it, he's not interested in my novel. "Once upon a time there lived a girl named Tess who suffered from feelings of intense loneliness..." Not exactly bedtime material.

4) Your character and plot arcs are infinitesimally smaller than in novels. Your problem needs to be resolved pretty quickly, and your character needs to figure him or herself out even faster. It's the reason a lot of my PB attempts have fizzled out. I've just shaken my head and asked, "Where is this GOING?"

5) EVERY WORD COUNTS. There is absolutely and under no condition never ever any extra superfluous word usage. Okay, technically there shouldn't be extra words in your novel either, but those can slip a little.

Now onto my secret: I did send out my PB to some dream agents. I want to play this awesome game called Query an Agent! that everyone keeps talking about. And a girl can hope, can't she?

Note to my critique group: I did remove the chicken eggs.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Long Grasses

When we first moved to the house we live in now, I was very excited for the BACKYARD. My husband and I had never really had one before. See...

apartment: no backyard
House We Cannot Sell: has a backyard but is in the city and I never went in back because I thought I might get shot (probably not a selling point)
duplex: backyard but no backdoor
house: BACKYARD!

However, it is TOO much backyard we've discovered, and is A LOT to mow. Saturday we ran out of gasoline, so all week the back half of our yard has been longer than the rest.

Well, last week I was walking some trails in a park with my sister. In between the trails where the grass and wildflowers grew over our heads, there was a sign that read: PRAIRIE RESTORATION AREA.

Are you catching my drift? Why not stick like sign in my backyard? Then we can have a break AND be environmentally conscientious.

Maybe I can make a sign for my front yard, too. I don't know...would that be pushing it?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Picture Book

My son loves stories. Usually my stories are just made-up, strung-along, nonsense stories, but it is one of his favorite things.

Sometimes he'll jump in and finish. Unfortunately, they aren't always happy endings for me. The other day he turned me into a tree and flew all over the world by himself.

Every once in awhile I'll think, "That idea isn't so ridiculous." So I'll write it down. Then I will think, "Yes, that idea is so ridiculous."

However, the other day I wrote down one of our stories. And it worked. When I called my sister and said, "Listen to my book" (and she groaned and I said, "No, not that book-my 293-word book"), she laughed at almost all my words. Maybe I'll write another.

And another.

(Don't worry, Tess of Pieces. You are my first love.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Unwanted Book

Remember the Transformers my husband gave our son for his birthday? Well, I gave him a book, among other things. (Yes, he's spoiled rotten.)

I was with my sisters and parents at B&N where I purchased the book, and they thought it was a terrible idea. In fact, they laughed. Yes, it was a little gender specific, but how often are we guilty of buying something for our children because WE wanted it? Well, I wanted this book. (It's a BOOK, I tell you!)

And my husband? Well our conversation went something like this.

Him: "That's not a book."

Me: "Yes, it is."

Him: Take it back.

(But it IS a book! See?)

(For the record, my son liked it for a couple days. Maybe my daughter will appreciate it more.)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ambition

My crit partner, Patti, recently posted a list of goals for Fall. And so, I'm going to copy her and post her goals...I mean, my goals.

1) FINISH MY BOOK. Actually, I've been very happy with my progress lately. I just finished rewriting a couple of chapters, and I feel like I'm ready to move forward again in drafting (second drafting).

2) RIDE MY NEW OLD BIKE. I recently bought a bike at a garage sale, and I'm determined to ride it every Saturday morning. Freedom AND exercise. I started this past Saturday. It's been years since I've been on a bike, and I'm happy to report I did not fall off once.

3) READ TO MY SON DURING THE DAY. I read to him every night, but I want to read to him during the day. At night, when we read, I feel a little rushed. I'm trying to get him to bed then, so I don't linger over every page like he wants to. We started reading during the day, and he loves it.

4) LEARN HOW TO POACH AN EGG.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

More than Meets the Eye

For my son's fourth birthday, my husband bought him Transformers. Yes, I did spend an inordinate amount of time trying to transform Optimus Prime into a truck. (When at first I told a horrified husband that I could not transform Octavius, he asked, "What is he? A Roman?") And yes, I still can't figure it out. And YES, there is a writer's analogy attached to this Autobot.

I think you all know what I mean when I use the terms "word tinkering." You know, when you sit in front of the same paragraph for two hours adding and mixing and taking away words until it sounds and looks just right? (If you don't know what I'm talking about you're not invited to my blog.) (I was just kidding. Come back. I only have 133 followers. I need you.)

And I was thinking about how before I started writing, I had no idea how much went into each sentence and paragraph and scene and chapter AND BOOK construction. I mean, you just don't know until you are sweating over the words yourself HOW HARD it is to transform them into something that comes off the page and paints a picture or inspires an emotion or makes you love a character.

I read once that once you start writing, you'll never read the same again. And it's true. There is so much more effort behind those words than I ever, ever knew. (Unless you are a genius, and the words just come out perfect the first time for you. In which case, YOU are not invited to my blog.)

(Okay, come back.)