The <a href="http://www.bol.ucla.edu/~johnmm/sexualphysics/procreation.htm" target="blank">#1 reason</a>, consumption of 78 trillion weetbix, is a compelling argument not to try this at home. But no man would get past #10 anyway.
I just want my readers to know the lengths I go to to ensure scientific accuracy while writing about Bigfoot and space aliens.
Confirmed that Yule is on track for Thanksgiving release, just in time for people to settle in with a humorous read for the holiday weekend. I mean, once you're stuffed full of turkey, laying around with a book is about all anybody can do anyway. Or is that just me?
Back to work for me now. I've made excellent headway all week, including a 10 page day.
My husband has been listening to 7 Habits of Highly Effective People on audiobook and raving about it. He liked it so much he bought the e-book and I started paging through it to see why this book was so different. To be honest, I don't hang out in the self help section in libraries or bookstores because so much of it is downright insulting, and little seems to be helpful. Case in point: Dr. Laura's book, in which she belittles her audience in the very TITLE. I object to that sort of thing on principle.
So I did not have high expectations of Covey's book, and I was struck immediately by why it was different. "The map is not the territory", I read out loud to my husband. "That's the basic premise of general semantics. My God, he's taken general semantics and made it accessible!"
My husband had never heard of g.s., nor Hayakawa's Language in Thought and Action. So I explained it from another angle. "Psychology studies have shown that children can adjust to any horrible, abusive, dysfunctional situation, as long as they know what reality is. The real problems happen when reality is denied. For example, I say I love you, but I hit you. I hit you, so you feel bad. But you shouldn't feel bad, because I say love you. Since you feel bad, there must be something wrong with you. It's switching the labels, naming abuse love, and the child is unable to separate the label from the action and can't find the reality of love or why he feels bad."
It's a basic beginning point; if you don't know what reality is, how can you solve any problem, cope with any situation? If you don't know how to separate the label from the reality of the thing itself, how can you defend yourself against lies or propaganda? How can you ever know the truth about anything? General semantics shows that the map is not the territory. It's a symbol, a representation of the territory, not the actual place itself, and it may or may not be accurate.
I'm not going to try to explain all of g.s. in one blog, but I saw immediately why this book has had such impact on my husband and others who have read it. In addition to separating labels from the reality they represent, the book also focuses on issues of character. It's not about scheduling your time better, it's about being a better person. It is very, very cool to see a book like this.
I have known for years that who I am as a person can't be separated from who I am as a writer. The writing comes out of me, my deepest beliefs, what I really think and feel. This is not to be confused with characters who insist on saying and doing things I would never say and do, something I think all writers experience. But for instance I write about trust in relationships, because deep down I believe that without trust, there can be no love. Likewise respect. I also write about love, because I believe it is the deepest need a human being has. I might do this in zany ways, but really when it comes down to it I'm writing about the things I believe to be true and important.
We live the things we believe to be true and important, in all aspects of our lives. As professionals, as parents, spouses, friends, employees or employers. Who we are inside shows up in our actions. The more our insides match our outsides, the more we're happy, fulfilled, sucessful people, living authentic lives. And we do this a lot better if we know what our real beliefs are and what actions are really in line with them. Which is where a book like Stephen Covey's can be of real use and benefit.
The blog has been so serious lately. Nobody would ever guess I'm writing about Bigfoot right now. Speaking of which, there have been Bigfoot sightings right here in Port Townsend (which I would not dream of suggesting have anything to do with the hundreds of pounds of marijuana confiscated recently).
Pregnancy is a fairly hilarious state. Forget all that crap about saintly mothers and saintly fathers who place them on pedestals (which hopefully have all the special sizes of pillows a pregnant woman needs for comfort). This is where biology proves that the author of the universe has a wicked sense of humor.
I sat at my desk a few days ago, struggling to write about my heroine. And all I could think about was that I hadn't cleaned the bathrooms.
Cleaning the bathrooms is not high on my list of priorities. Adding to my page count is high on my list of priorities. And yet, in the grip of a biological imperative, I gave up my block of writing time to scrub both of them, including floors and mirrors, knowing as I was doing it just how insane it was but helpless to stop.
"Where is my wife?" my husband wanted to know. "You know, the one who thinks wearing socks is a good way to clean the floor?"
Hey, don't knock my method. It's a hardwood floor, socks do pick up the dirt, and you have to wash the socks anyway after you've worn them, so why not kill two birds with one stone?
"She'll be back sometime around late June," I informed him.
Then I proceeded to cook, two days in a row. "Don't get used to this. Enjoy it while it lasts."
"I didn't say a word." He ate silently for a minute. "Did you realize you cooked enough for an army?"
He can mock, but before long we'll all be back to eating Mama Rosa's frozen pizzas and he'll long for the days when biology drove me to waste my valuable time boiling real potatoes before whipping them with milk and butter. And the bathrooms will look like somebody lives here, instead of like a hotel.
Yes, news of the impending arrival of the new Teglia triggered our Mood Swing Day previously mentioned. My husband thought I should take a pregnancy test a month ago. I thought he was clearly insane and anybody could see the reasonable explanation was endometriosis. Until I started cleaning and cooking.
What does this mean for my writing career? Well, the bathrooms will be cleaner and my diet will be improved for a while, and due to the timing I'm no longer planning to attend this year's RWA national convention in Reno. But other than that, not much.
Here's where you can truly see the difference between a writer and somebody who wants to write a book some day. Ray Bradbury said that if you stop writing for a day, the accumulated poisons make you sick. Robert Heinlein called daily writing a spiritual enema. I say that a writer is a person who can no more quit writing than breathing. How long can you hold your breath?
I was astounded by people who thought the last time I was pregnant that I'd have to put writing on hold until Alex started school. I tried to find a way to explain that I was likely to become an ax murderer if I put it on hold that long. OK, maybe not an ax murderer. I can't stand the sight of blood.
But writing is truly not something you can put off or give up, not if you need it for your soul's survival. And I'd say that's the acid writer test. If you can quit, if it's optional for you, then you aren't one, not really. Not down in the basement of your soul where your secret self lies like an iceberg.
This is not the same as writer's block, it should be noted. A writer with writer's block is as sick as a cancer patient in the terminal stages of the disease and needs treatment just as desperately. A non-writer who is not writing feels just fine.
So, biology is having its little joke on me, and that's okay. I can take a joke. But I'm still writing and am nearly to the point with my current book where it is rock solid. Once I have fifty pages down, I have a story. An idea that isn't working will fall apart before the fifty page marker. Not only do I have the beginning now, I have the end. Which means finishing this novel is just a matter of the time it takes to connect the two.
Am I not thrilled that we're going to have the second child we always wanted? Oh, yes. But it will be weeks before I can feel movement, months before I can hold him or her, and I know from experience that pregnancy really does mess with your head and the best thing I can do for mine is to keep writing. It's the best thing I can do for my husband and daughter, too. I am a better person, a better mom, a better wife, if I've done my pages for the day. If I don't write I'm impossible to live with. Not writing AND pregnant? That's even scarier than having a floor clean enough to eat off.
Made nice progress yesterday, and woke up this morning with my head full of scenes. That's always a nice indicator that the story is taking on form and substance. Haven't found quite the right music yet, but I keep listening to random things that catch my interest. The version of Alice Cooper's Feed My Frankenstein with Rob Zombie is pretty nice, although not quite it. Things are rolling along, though, and will reach a natural pace soon. Beginnings are always slow and it picks up speed as it goes. Things eventually reach a point where it starts to avalanche and comes crashing down to the end. The beginning is more like <a href="http://www.pantheon.org/articles/s/sisyphus.html" target="blank">Sisyphus</a> pushing that damn rock up the hill.
I revisited Seven Steps on the Writer's Path to read about embracing incompetence this morning. Embracing incompetence means acknowledging that I will make mistakes and doing it anyway. Do it anyway resonated so deeply with me that I vowed to make that my catch-phrase.
Feeling tired, stupid, incompetent? Does every sentence seem like incomprehensible gibberish? Is every paragraph like pulling teeth? Do it anyway.
I needed a catch phrase because I've been here before, and even though I felt like I was writing complete garbage, I was in fact producing good work. I just couldn't tell at the time.
That's the time to do it anyway and to remember that there might only be one rule of writing: write first, judge later. You cannot judge something until it's done. How can you? You have no idea what it's going to be.
I am also taking a page from Genesis and declaring all the work of my creation good. God did not make the earth and the second-guess his ideas. "Oh, wait, maybe it should be the seventh planet from the sun, and what's with all this water? What a mistake!" Whether you take Genesis figuratively or literally (or not at all), it sets a good example for the creative process. Do the work and declare it good. Because it probably is and when you have enough perspective, you'll be able to see that. In the meantime, saying "it's good" keeps you from endlessly revising the first chapter (or worse, the first page) and moving forward on the story instead.
I think most of my slow progress of late is natural distraction over a major life change and the tiredness that goes along with it. I plan to combat that by instituting daily naps or rest time for the time being, and focusing on doing it anyway. Maybe I won't have any 17 page days in the near future, but I can write one page, or two, or five.
This may be the best Kung Fu movie I've ever seen. Really. Although I watched the Chinese version with subtitles and not the American version. It's not serious martial arts, like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It's more in the spirit of The Drunken Master. But it was beautiful in its hilarity and exaggeration and it showed the power of tai chi, which is generally overlooked as a fighting style.
Loved it. Cheesy, campy, extreme, ridiculous, sublime. Stupendous.
Aside from movie watching, we hiked Fort Worden today. Fort Worden alone is reason enough to live in Port Townsend. You have to love a park that has concrete slabs covered with poetry in the middle of the woods. We watched the Straits of Juan de Fuca, very calm water today, and looked at the autumn leaves and generally reveled in the day.
And now I am at my desk, head stuffed full of new sights and sounds and impressions.
Finally rented Shrek 2. It actually had our toddler riveted, and we loved the music, the jokes, and of course the happy ending. The movie parody moments were great, especially the "From Here to Eternity" beach kiss scene. Being movie geeks, we pretty much named them all. Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots was purrrfection. Sure, I'm the last person on the planet to see the movie, but I can still rave about it.
All right, I have to say it. The whip-cracking dominance dude on the fairy godmother's coach!! Whoa! I think he deserves an honorable mention.
Yesterday was a really interesting day. I'll blog about it later, after I've had time to digest it all, but it was one of those high drama Mother of All Mood Swing days. And today as I sit down to write, business as usual, I'm reminded of one of the reasons I'm so grateful to be a writer.
The writing is always there. The story is always there, a safe place to go to no matter what is happening in life. When good things happen, writing is there for you. When terrible things happen, writing is there. Ups or downs, writing is the great balancer. You can retreat to the page and find the calm center and that calm carries you through.
Good things can throw life out of balance just as much as bad things, which seems odd, but there you have it. Any change can produce stress and take adjusting to, and there's always that domino effect where one change triggers a chain of other changes.
Life is change, and that being the case it's really nice to have writing to sit in and look out at the changes and embrace them. A place to process what this change means. And of course, all life is just more food for the muse so the writing welcomes change and helps me welcome it, too.
And this completes today's deep thought. Now back to my totally not deep and not serious story.
Back to writing new pages and having more fun than is probably legal. When all else fails, Feed your Frankenstein. Well, it works for me, anyway. Not only does Alice Cooper go right to the basement brain where Things Lurk, it also gets my funny bone vibrating. I mean, you can't even read the song title without wanting to chortle. Or I can't, anyway.
Did some hilarious research yesterday, kicked story stuff around with my husband who aided and abetted me instead of suggesting I lie down for a while, and really, that's why I love him. He never looks back at me and says, "You're going to write WHAT?!" Instead, he laughs and eggs me on.