Pinch Me

White Noise – Redux

I posted this on my blog in November of 2014.  Considering all that I’m seeing, watching and hearing, I thought it might be worthwhile to dredge it up and post again.  I’ve become sort of…what’s the word, disenchanted? Dismayed? Disillusioned? 

Assume what you will after reading.  You won’t hear a peep about it from me.  🙂

ORIGINAL POST, 2016 updates in italics:

On this blog,when it comes to certain topics, this is what you’ll get:



When I started back in early 2011, my intention was to focus on what was happening with my writing, with occasional family stuff thrown in, a book review here and there, photographs I’ve taken (strictly amateur), and whatever else I could dredge up I thought interesting.  I knew there would be certain topics I would steer clear of, and to this day, I’ve held true to that conviction.  (2016 update – yep, still the same!)

Topics I am determined not to post about are my religious, political, or ripped from the headlines viewpoints.  And that’s because everywhere I turn, from the TV, to radio, to Facebook, to other blogs, and who knows where else, that’s what I already get.  What do I have to add to the fray?  Nothing that hasn’t already been said.

Anyone can do what they want with their social media.  I don’t care.  It’s their space, their time, just as this space is mine.  Sure, I’ve waded into debates on other sites here and there a few times.  With the last one, I decided never again.  (2016 update – I’ve forgotten about this. Must’ve been real important.)   To the best of my ability, I’ve chosen to ignore being drawn into what can only become an inflammatory conversation.  The few comments  I did make on other blogs never made me feel better, and I knew I wasn’t going to sway any opinions no matter how many facts I lobbed over the internet fence.  It is/was, in my opinion, time wasted.  Besides, too much can be lost in this sort of online dialogue.  Sometimes the hot button topics are just too sensitive and difficult to parse into words that will go out to be consumed without that personal touch of voice modulation (are they yelling?), gestures, (slamming a hand down?) and eye contact, (or not) and a myriad of other human interactions. 

There are some who are very good at sharing their opinions with the right sense of diplomacy, yet no matter how eloquent they may be, somebody’s gonna get pissed.  Somebody’s gonna disagree.  It’s a no win situation.  Call me chicken.  Call me weak.  Hey, maybe call me…smart?  I have viewpoints on all of it, but, do you honestly care what I think about religion, politics or the latest news event?  I doubt it – especially if my opinion differs.

My other point is, what does any of that have to do with my writing goals and journey?  Not a thing.  In my opinion, it would be a turn off if you came  to read about the usual stuff I’m blathering on about, and got blasted with my personal opinions.  It’s not relevant to this writerly space which I consider almost sacred.

In that regard, here will always be like white noise, because there are already more than enough sideline analysts and commentators out there.

Aren’t you glad? 

Here.  Here’s some cloud pictures to look at.  I do a lot of sky gazing.  Every time I look at clouds, that Joni Mitchell song comes to mind, but this stanza where she replaces “clouds” with “life” seems appropriate.

“I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all.”

~Joni Mitchell~




Flash Fiction Addiction

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m addicted to Janet Reid’s flash fiction contests.  They’re fun.  They’re great practice for learning how to use words sparingly while building a story, which must include a beginning, middle, end.  They give you a sense of accomplishment – yay I finished something! – especially if in the throes of a WIP.

Lucky for us, Ms. JR held a couple contests the weekends of May 30th, and June 6th.  For May 30th’s contest, I think blog comments may have prompted a North Carolina themed contest, and the one on June 6th was a suggestion from Colin Smith a “reg’lar” on her blog.  He reads a lot of books by a client of hers, author Gary Corby, whose latest book, DEATH EX MACHINA was released.

Of course I entered both.  As usual, she gave five prompt words, and then we have to write a story in 100 words or less.

Here is my entry for May 30th, where I placed as a FINALIST (whoop!) out of about 75 entries. Prompt words:  balloon, heart, wife, dare, plott (yes, with two t’s)

I watch the sun rise, a red balloon in the eastern sky. Haint stands at the river’s edge while Banner runs nearby sniffing traces of yesterday.

Never had much heart for anything other than these old Plott hounds, God love’em. Last year when that water moccasin bit Lloyd, then Haint, it tested that very fact.

Lloyd had hollered, “Wife! Move your ass, I’m bit!”

Forty years. Never once called me by my name.

I daresay my decision came then.

Is puttin’ a dog ahead of a human a sin?  


I wipe spittle off Lloyd’s chin and watch the dogs.


For June 6th contest which I WON (!)  Double WHOOP!  Prompt words were:  chorus, ghost, actor, crane, stage

Back when I won’t more’n a speck, I heard what sounded like a chorus of voices under my bed mumblin’ some word.

I couldn’t rightly make it out at first, so’s I kept on listening, night after night.

Finally, I got it.


I reckon they was ghosts.

That actor what shot Lincoln? Useless was last word he said afore he died, no foolin’.

Troublin’ what I see when I crane my neck like so. They been hammering since yesterday.

Come dawn, reckon I’ll be center stage.

It’s alright. I ain’t ever amounted to nothin’.


Useless comes to mind.

These are The Shark’s words verbatim, below my entry in the finalist area, “This is a stunning demonstration of how to show rather than tell, and establishing character through diction.”

Reading that was SUBLIME, and then she added this with her determination of how she chose this piece as the winner, “It was very hard to pick a winner this week because all of these stories had things I loved.  In the end though it had to be Donnaeve for a compelling demonstration of craft and story.


Then, I got up and did this:

Happy Dance

courtesy LOL.ROFL

What Could Have Happened

Last week I was at Mom’s house, where I’ve been going once a week now since Dad died.  Of course I take Little Dog with me.

I mean, what person in their right mind would/could leave this little guy behind?


He loves to visit her.  He loves her backyard.  I’ve not worried one bit about him while there.  And then?  Last week something happened and I’m still not over it.  It shook me up to the point I just wish I could erase the memory because all I can seem to do is replay over and over what could have happened.

Avent Ferry Road is where my father, his father, and his father’s father lived, all of their lives.  My dad told me when he was growing up, it was a dirt road, and at some point, it was paved and became two lanes.  When I was about twelve, the City of Raleigh came through with a widening project, and under that rule of “eminent domain,” they took over half of the front yard.   The road went from two lanes to five.  During the project they piled up truck load after truck load of dirt, to the point that by the end, the driveway was at a ridiculous angle, and had become this short steep hill alongside the house.  If you aren’t familiar with pulling in, you’d just as soon pass it by rather than drop in for a visit.

Back to last week.  Mom and I were in the front yard.  Little Dog, who’s been there many times, was with us.  He’s been taught not to go up the three small steps which lead to the steep driveway and to the five lanes of cars whizzing by on their way to NC State Centennial Campus, or whereever it is they go.  I was trying to dig a hole to plant a small bush.

The dirt was like cement due to lack of rain and Mom said, “Let me go get you the pick axe.”

I kept chipping away at the soil, realizing it was pretty useless with the shovel, and thinking I doubt I’m getting this bush planted. Mom came back and I started swinging the pick axe (determined you could say) and finally, after a few minutes of useless chopping at red CLAY, I gave up.

Then, I spotted some poison ivy growing on that ridiculously slanted embankment, and Mom said, “Let me get a plastic bag to put it in and some gloves you can wear before you pull it up.”

She came back, snapped the bag open and I pulled on the gloves and began cramming the poison ivy into the bag.  I realize now when I think back on the work, I’d not thought of Mister. I realize I didn’t keep an eye on him.  I know now, that something spooked him in the time she went to get the bag and came back.

I was bent over pulling at weeds, and she said, “Uh oh.  Donna.  Mister’s in the driveway.”

I looked up and sure enough.  He was standing halfway up it, staring at me.  Do you know how hard it is to control emotions, to keep panic out of your voice, to think clearly when the potential for disaster is so, so close.  TOO close.

I did the wrong thing in that split second.

Alarmed, I raised my voice, “Mister!  No!”

I went up the three steps in split seconds, but Mister, sensing some other “thing” in my voice, bolted.  Up the rest of the drive.  Right to the edge of the highway.  My focus became warped as I saw the backdrop of speeding cars, his hair blowing from their passing, and all I felt was absolute gut wrenching panic.

Frantic, my voice high pitched, I yelled at him again – another mistake, “Mister!  Mister!  No!  Come here!”

Cars didn’t bother slowing down.  He’s less than 4 lbs.  Who would see him?  He cut left and ran down the sidewalk.  Parallel to the road.  I waved my arms at traffic, hoping I could get them to stop, hoping they’d see the fear on my face, hoping they’d see this little dog running for dear life.

I couldn’t seem to control myself, “No!  MISTER!  MISTER!  OH GOD!”

I needed them to STOP.  Instead.  I did the hardest thing there is to do.  I stopped myself from running after him.  I realized it was his only chance.  If I kept running after him, he’d possibly dart right into an oncoming car.

I crouched down on the sidewalk.  He was still running away from his human, the one who’d lost her mind, the one who was no longer the person he knew and trusted.

I pleaded with him,  “Ohhh, that’s a good boy.  Yes, he’s a good boy.  Good boy.”

I see this moment as clearly as if it were happening now.  He immediately turned, and ran towards me, towards my outstretched arms, my fingers splayed like I have them when I want to pick him up.

And I got him.  And I cried – all the way down that stupid sidewalk, and down that ridiculously steep driveway, and into the rock hard dirt filled yard where Mom stood frozen.

I had him.  He was okay.  Still frightened, but it was like he knew I was too, because all he did was lick my tears.

I love this little dog.  And I can’t stop thinking about it.


Mister, a.k.a. The Bundle, on Mom’s back porch.

New Toys

A while back I wrote a post called “I LOVE MY LAPTOP.”  And I do.  Or, make that did.  Much like that car insurance commercial where the young girl talks about her car which she fondly calls Brad.  “I love Brad,” she claims.  Two boyfriends, three jobs, she and Brad have been through everything together.  Then?  She totals him.  “Nothing can replace Brad!” she declares.  Until her insurance company calls.

Brad who?

My old laptop which had to be going on nine, maybe ten years old, was still chugging along, but it would occasionally do some “weird” things.  I’d had the hard drive re-built in February 2014 which was a scary day when I started getting all of those URGENT messages and warnings flashing at me.   Then, I mentioned to my husband the other day how my space bar kept sticking.  And how the screen would flicker when I would scroll.  One thing was a complete annoyance, while the other was a little disconcerting.  What is the “light” source behind a laptop screen?  What if it went OUT?  How would I fix it?  Could I fix it?

Those things I worried about didn’t go unnoticed.  This showed up on Saturday.  This is a Dell XPS.  This is also heaven.  Wireless keyboard.  Wireless mouse.  Big screen.

The Dell All In One

Dell calls this an ALL IN ONE.  I call it magical.

Very SLICK. To say I didn’t know what I was missing is an understatement.  I’m like the girl on the car insurance commercial.

What old laptop? 

The keyboard on this is like comparing the driving of a clunker car to a Mercedes.  And, I’ve not worked on a mouse IN YEARS and simply forgot how easy it makes maneuvering around the screen.  This view is with the desktop showing on the screen, but all I have to do is click on the Microsoft Windows icon…, or SWIPE my finger and then I get all of these pretty tiles with all sorts of “goodies” to choose from.  Weather, financials, cooking stuff, news, maps, reading list, TripAdvisor, and on and on.  This thing has so much fun stuff on it I hope I get my writing done!  And when I swipe my finger, a keyboard shows up on the screen so I don’t have to use the wireless one if I don’t want.

And…, that’s not all! When my husband decides to do something, he doesn’t do it by the half measure.

Monday came and… out of nowhere, this showed up!

Fancy schmancy ASUS Laptop

Fancy schmancy ASUS Laptop

The keyboard on this one will flip around to the back so you can sit the screen on your lap faceup and type on a keyboard on the screen.

Both gifts were a total surprise and my mouth is still somewhere south of my face.  His thinking was the AIO would be too large to tote around when we go somewhere, so I had to have portable and the old laptop just wouldn’t cut it.

I mean, can we say “dayum?”


One Very Happy (and LUCKY!!!) Writer

Me and Mom

Since my father passed March third, I’ve been making a weekly trip to Raleigh to help Mom with everything from estate finances to dragging her trash and recycle bins to the curb.  Before my father’s death, I’d always made an effort to go see the both of them, just not every week.  Usually it was about once a month, sometimes twice. depending on how I felt the writing was coming along.

Now, no matter what, I go.  (Remember the self imposed writing challenge?  It’s actually helped me stay on track.)

Mom will be seventy nine in August and she’s never been on her own.  This “new normal” for her (and me) is going to be an adjustment.  In truth, that’s an understatement.  It’s going to be a reckoning, a realization, because there are some things about Mom I never knew.  Of course I do know she married Dad within five weeks of meeting him.  Right from her parent’s house to his, she never experienced any sort of independence except what came from her being a controlling sort while Dad was laid back enough to let her feel she was calling all the shots.

The thing is, I think all along my dad must have been something of a buffer.  I think he caught the things she did (and does) and held onto them quietly.  Like her need to do what I call her daily brain dump.  Like how she’ll call me and will explain everything she’s done from the moment she wakes up to the very minute of our phone conversation.  She’ll then move on to what she’s going to do next, how she’s going to do it, and what she’ll do when she’s finished.

She dumps. I listen, like Dad.

This past Monday when I was there, we went back to the funeral home to pick up an item.  We didn’t know what it was, and when we arrived, we went into the office area where we were handed a memory book.  It’s very nice, with the pictures of dad, and the online memorials given by some folks, and pages to write down his hobbies, interests and all that.

Mom looked at the on site pastor and the office manager who’d passed it along to her, and said, “Oh, I just can’t read it.  If I do I’ll cry.”

They said, “Well that’s fine, you don’t need to read it now, just read it later.”

I said, “Yeah Mom, best not read it now.”

Well, of course she opened it, began to read and of course she cried.  They handed her Kleenexes, and pats on the back and murmured words of condolence, and I think she needed it.

Soon after, with Mom feeling a little better, we left.  I’d already purchased a bouquet of flowers beforehand and I said, “Do you still want to go put these flowers on Dad’s grave?  Are you okay?”

“Oh, yes, I’m fine.”

Off we go.  When we get there, it’s hard to believe it’s been only six weeks because the process of grieving is a relentless, and all consuming past time.  We can barely manage the fragile steps we must make towards trying to heal and as I watch my mother totter along the uneven ground towards her husband, tapping the ground delicately with her cane, I worry.  Our frayed and ragged emotions which have only begun to feel less sharp are suddenly razor edged – again.  We don’t dare speak as we ease our way across the pollen covered grass to where Dad lies.  We circle and walk and stare at the granite and bronze plaques looking for DAVIS.

Thirty minutes goes by.  No DAVIS. I broaden my search.  Mom’s face has gone red, and she’s hobbling about, back and forth, minute by minute becoming more anxious, more distraught.  Neither one of us wants to admit defeat.

Finally, I say, “We ought to call them.  Maybe the plaque hasn’t been put down yet.”

She hands me her cell phone silently and begins to walk again, refusing to stop.

She tells me with a shaky voice, “I’ll find him, by God!”

She’d always known where Dad was, each and every second of their lives together.  This is unfathomable for her and I see this, and I quickly make the call.  Sure enough, the plaque is due this Friday, and they will call when it’s in place.  We’ve brought flowers and probably walked right over him who knows how many times. Why do I picture him laughing at this?  At us?

I can sort of see the humor, and I go and tell Mom, expecting her to laugh with me.  Instead she starts fuming.

She says “Oh this is absolutely ridiculous!  It’s been six weeks!”

I said, “Mom, there’s no reason to be mad.  It’s just not here yet, these things take time to get right.  I think it’s kind of funny.”

“Well, I don’t.  Not after what I paid!   It ought to be here!”

I said not a word.  Like Dad.

A Story Worth Telling

Blank.  Vacant.  Meaningless.

Those three words describe the current situation with my latest WIP.  This will be the fourth book I’ve written – if I ever get it done.  I felt like this with the last one too, and I did finish it, so yay, consolation there, right?  Meh, sort of.

What’s different is, I’ve run up against a new problem I’ve not encountered before; what is the story?  What am I writing about? I haven’t the faintest idea.  I still love the setting.  I still love the working title.  I just can’t seem to get my act together, and it’s starting to get a little worrisome.

Here’s what I want.  I want to be buried so deep I can’t see anything else but where the storyline is going next.  I want to drift around the house with that perpetual little wrinkle between my eyebrows, as I worry over a particular plot point.  I want my fingers to strike the keyboard fast as they can and still not be able to keep up.  I want to STOP pecking out a few words only to delete them.  I want to stop feeling like the ideas are all a waste of time.  I want to stop thinking I have nothing left.

I’ve sat on quite a few ideas, for days, weeks even.  I started to write, only to trash all within a day or two – usually as soon as I go back and re-read what I have the next day.  Two months ago, I was ten thousand words in on one lame idea, and it just didn’t feel right.  I think what I mean is, I wasn’t excited.  What actually went through my  head was, “God, this is a stupid story.”  If I’m not excited, how could anyone else feel that way?

Since then, I’ve play around with several other beginnings, only to get about two to three thousand words in, and I’m like, “nah.”  I’ve had so many false starts at this point, my folder for the new project has racked up discarded bits and pieces of this and that, just like the donated clothing bin over on Highway 421 with its overflowing trash bags of shoes, sweaters, pants,and coats.  I think I even saw someone’s red negligee fluttering in the wind.  In typical fashion, I think, ah, there’s a story there.  And the brain cells dry up.

I’ve questioned if I’ve pigeon holed myself by choosing this particular place to write about.  I don’t think so.  It’s a swampy area, and the perfect place for something suspenseful to happen.  But what?

Part of my relentless doubt about my new story’s beginning is because recently, I was blown away by a random encounter with an opening line of a story that grabbed me, and held on.  In my mind, it’s one of the best I’ve ever read.

“The boy was on fire.”

This is how THE FIVE STAGES OF ANDREW BRAWLEY by Shaun Hutchinson begins.  The book is not in a genre I would typically read, (LGBT YA), but I found myself absorbed instantly in the story.  Much like the last post, the writing once again only underscored the point that if the story is good enough, if it pulls a reader in and keeps them intrigued, it’s a story worth writing, a story worth telling.  It has heart.  It has tension filled moments.  It has a MC I want to get to know better.  I want to know how he ended up where he was, and what might happen to him.

If I didn’t know it before, I know it now.  This is why I’m still searching.  It’s why I haven’t yet found what I want to write about because until I’ve got something that snags at my heart strings the way the beginning of this story did, it does no good to start and stop.  If I have any confidence at all, it’s in the fact I recognize this and know it’s all part of the process.

It will happen – eventually.

Bottom line, I really just want a story worth telling, don’t you?

World Of Spam

Having a blog inevitably means having to clean out spam.  Just this morning I spent about fifteen minutes deleting crazy comments.  I hadn’t done it in a while so I had well over 100.  Some made me laugh and I thought I’d share a few of the best ones.

Yeah, yeah, I know.  What is there to write about when your brain is fried?  I guess Spam.  Here they are:

  • The prominent Cοnfucius said each and eѵery time you open a book, you learn something.  If you exchange thе word “book” with “post”, then this blog is the same – each and every time I open it , it teaches me something…

I guess I should be flattered.  Except it came from a site called sex-fetish blog spot.  Uh, okay.

  •   Wow. Fascinating viewpoint. I liked how you covered this matter….
    A couple of points I dont accept but hello… thats a different
    outlook. I’m super-keen to examine the next post.
    Is it possible to make the next one more comprehensive?
    Thanks 🙂

And then…

  • Wow. Fascinating point of view. I enjoyed how you protected this issue….A couple issues I dont accept but hi… thats a different viewpoint.

    I’m super keen to read the next post. Can you make the next one more thorough?
    Thanks 🙂

Yeah.  Almost the same exact comment.  I think they mean to say “but hey, that’s a different viewpoint.  (Hi?  Hello?)

  • 1 oz pineapple juice

They forgot the splash of vodka, which I need about right now.

  • What if I can’t make the April 15 IRS deadline to file my taxes?

IDK.  I could possibly write a story for you explaining to the IRS why?

  • Scallops and Cheddar Grits with Chorizo

To go with my splash of vodka and 1 oz of pineapple juice?

  • Undeniably believe that that you stated. Your favourite reason appeared to
    be at the web the simplest thing to understand of.
    I say to you, I definitely get irked even as folks consider issues that they plainly
    don’t realize about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the highest and also outlined out the whole thing with no need side-effects ,
    people can take a signal. Will likely be again to get more.Thanks

That person has had at least 100 oz of pineapple juice and 10,000 splashes of vodka.

  • BUGSY replies: “So did the CBO so your point is?”

Al Capone:  My point is, who is the CBO and why do I care?

  • look at spelling on quite a few of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very bothersome to tell reality on the other hand I surely come back again.

Oh, please do.  Can’t wait.  Really.

Quite a few more were jibberish, or strange symbols, no words.  I have to say WordPress does a great job capturing Spam.  They store it separately and you have the option of categorizing it as spam or not, and then deleting it permanently.

Well, that was fun.  Back to work!

Corn Maze

Something’s got to give, or this is going to be one long, hot summer.  I said this last year when my editor rejected my first 100 pages. I don’t mind hot, or the fact that it’s summer, but I sure would like to spend it revising instead of writing “x” number of endings over and over.

I’ve surpassed the previous word counts for the first two books.  This one’s at 98,000 – thus far – can we say dayum?  Yet, here I am, struggling (still) to find the ending.  I’m sure I’ve got a load of drivel I need to remove, the stuff I’m writing in I might keep or not.  Earlier pages I might keep -or not.  You might be thinking, so?  Stop writing.  Stop writing until you know the ending – then write.  That seems like such a Doh! moment, doesn’t it?  So, why do I keep on?  I keep on because I believe I have a better chance at a sudden discovery, an epiphany type moment by writing continuously, than not moving the story along at all.

It’s like being in a corn maze, you’ll never get to the end, THE END and get out if you just stand there.


Writing this book has been just like that.  In a maze, you go in knowing where you are, but eventually as you keep on, and you go around corner after corner, left, right, left –  you begin to think you’ll never find your way out.  You end up at one dead end after another.  You backtrack.  You know you’ll eventually get there, and you just have to keep going.  Same thing here.

The way I look at it is, even if I write stuff I’ll eventually remove or maybe put in a different spot, I don’t want to just stop.  I have for a day or two, and of course that’s when I’m wandering around, blank faced, preoccupied, distant, silent – lost.  I’m a lot of fun then. SIGH.  (says my husband)

At this point, one thing I know is,  I don’t want to kill my bad guy.  I like him – in all his badness.  Sure, he’s a killer, he’s a bit strange, but I don’t want to break that connection with him forever.  Meanwhile, my protagonist needs to figure out how to “get him.” She needs to set him up – somehow.  I’ve twisted and turned ideas over and that’s been like looking under rocks for the answer.  All I find is bugs, dirt, and a few slugs.  Nothing surprising, just stuff I want to kick out of the way.  What I want, and what I need is a giant poisonous snake.  Something that screams “Shit!!!  Drop the rock, drop the rock!!!”  Maybe I’m  over-thinking all of it. Maybe I don’t have to re-invent the wheel.  Maybe as long as the writing is solid, it could be as simple as turning a corner and suddenly, there’s the end, and I can see my way out –  then the snake strikes!

See how that all worked out?  I know I need a poisonous snake under a rock at the end of my corn maze!  Wow.  ***Perfect!

How long has it taken you to find your way out of your story?


***tomorrow I will have decided it needs to be a goat.

Getting Past The Clutter

The average human has approximately 30,000 thoughts a day.  A lot of clutter.  Like food processing, where produce is assorted on a mass conveyor belt, the good pieces are kept, while the damaged, useless, or non-standard pieces get shoved off into a disposal bin.  Similarly, our brains constantly collect and discard thoughts and images. Out there, on that gray matter horizon, invaders to disciplined thought are constantly hovering and pushing their way through, seemingly bent on interrupting.

I came up with a random list of stuff that floated through my head just this morning while I was trying to write that had nothing to do with writing.  I only came up with 12, not 30,000, so you can thank me for that:

  1. Leather couches need dusting, how strange.
  2. Even showing her a picture didn’t help with this haircut
  3. I should empty the water out of the humidifier
  4. Is he hungry?
  5. I’m hungry
  6. Where’s my pen?
  7. There’s the mailman
  8. My back hurts
  9. That was a pretty good show last night
  10. Did I start that load of laundry?
  11. What should I fix for dinner?
  12. Oh my gosh, my blog is due – now!

And on and on…and on.

How in the world do we ever get any thing done what with all that brain noise?  I’ve read articles where writers say they need complete silence in order to work, but there’s no way to ever get that, not really – unless one is dead.  It  is possible to tune a lot of it out, and afford yourself a better opportunity at controlling your distractions.  If we shut down outside factors that tend to break concentration, that can really help.

For me, I keep the TV turned off.  I also turn the volume of the phone down so I can just barely hear it.  I have a bottle of water close by so I don’t have to get up.  I log off of all other apps, email, internet, wifi, so it’s just me, the laptop and my WIP.   What I have discovered is this; the longer I concentrate on the WIP, the deeper I get into the manuscript, the  more involved and engaged on the words in front of me.  In this area (the zone?) it’s possible to ignore those pesky intruders that have nothing to do with my current focused activity – i.e. getting the daily word count in.

When I finally take a break, it’s like walking out of a dark movie theater, where you’ve sat mesmerized and entertained for a couple of hours, and into the bright, hot sun.  Sometimes I’m totally surprised that I’ve surpassed my word count for the day.  If I don’t purposefully set myself up to focus,there is no getting past the clutter.   The actual steps, although minimalistic work for me.  No TV.  No phone.  No internet.  Applied attention to WIP.

It’s as simple as that for me.

What works for you?





Perfectionism And Puzzle Pieces

The goal is closer.   I am over 71,000 words with the latest work in progress.  The book needs to come in around 90,000, give or take a couple thousand words.  This is generally speaking.  We know there are rule breakers out there, but like this latest article in Writer’s Digest discusses, the rule of thumb for literary/commercial fiction is between 80,000 – 89,999, and even 90,000 – 99,999 is okay.  As an unpub’ed writer, rule breaking is off limits.

I still have a lot of stuff yet to happen, and that’s good.  No, that’s great actually.  Because if the book comes in at 110,000 or 120,000, that gives me plenty of leeway to edit/revise, i.e., kill all those little darlings.  It’s always hard to predict what the word count will be anyway.  When it gets to this point, it can get a little overwhelming.  All the messes I left dangling mid-air while I continued to shove and push my protagonist into her own little corner of hell on earth, need resolution.  She must get herself out of all her predicaments, realize why she ended up there to begin with, and realize whodunit.  Blech.

Here is where having perfectionist qualities are not good – especially during first drafts.  I have fought (and lost) the battle to stop editing and revising as I go along.  I’ve already killed so many darlings it’s possible there’s another fully completed novel in all of the stuff I’ve taken out.  I’m also spending a lot of time second-guessing where I’m headed, questioning the things I have planned to finish the book.  I’ve changed stuff up.  I’ve moved it around.  I’ve shoved other things to the back.  There was one part I wrote where something was taken and then discovered it had been taken all before page 65 – and then I wrote about it again – like I’d never mentioned it – on page 210.

You would think the positive review I got from my agent back in December would have given me the confidence to finish it with a bang.  That’s what I thought too – for about five seconds.  Then I just got anxious.  Anxious about keeping the next two hundred and fifty or so pages up to par with the first one hundred.   Anxious the plot was hokey.  Anxious he only liked what I had because he had no idea where I was headed with it.

I told someone the other day, my style of writing is like dumping a puzzle out on the floor.  (One of those monstrous ones that has about a thousand pieces.)  Some are face up, while the others are face down.  As we all know, finishing it means you must be able to see every aspect of the picture.  Yet, sometimes even after turning over all the pieces, it’s not uncommon to struggle to put it all together.  I want the ending to sizzle.  I don’t want to disappoint.  Mainly, I want it to be as perfect as it can be – at least in my mind.  I need to quit changing stuff until it’s done, so I’m not re-writing other parts to fix that.  If I could only stop tweaking the darn thing and just finish it.  Maybe this will work…  note to self, stop getting in the way! 

Are you guilty of this too?

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