Saturday, February 27, 2010

Radiate Me

Spring is just around the corner, I can feel it. Although, I'm guessing we have a few more snowstorms, ice, down-to-freezing weather to get through before any of that sweet Chinook comes sauntering in. I was born in the spring, and so have always felt akin to the flowers poking through the hard, frozen shavings of clay. There's something in us that must, despite. Just to feel the sun, that beautiful platinum orb, radiating over our skin.

It's been too long.

I still have that cold, and a bit of laryngitis, which isn't that great as a friend asked me to go audition for Theater in the Park today. I'd love to be in Jesus Christ Superstar—we'll see what happens. I hope I break a leg or knock someone dead, or something like that. Theater is so violent.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Beautiful Ferona

I was wondering lately if The Muse—that beautiful magical woman who fills our heads with flowey stuff—is really just pent up sexual tension? It comes, it goes. It's fantastic, it's heartbreaking.

Or maybe—maybe, she's a lost gypsy walking door to door, and once in a while one of us answers, pen in hand.

Maybe she's the sun coming out through the clouds, reaching in through our eyelids into the synaptic pulses of desire.
Maybe she's the planets, circling in furious patterns; almost crashing, almost melding. Sparkling, distant phantom ideals.

I call mine Ferona, and feed her chocolate.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cough

Ewwwww, I'm sick. I hate being sick. Just your average cold, but still . . . I hate it. Yesterday, upon feeling it coming on, I took a few too many chewable vitamin Cs, and my stomach hurt like heck last night. Apparently, you can take too many of those things. Wish I'd known.

But anyway, I'm still up early and ready to write. I hope everyone has a good writing day, with tons of blessings thrown in. Let the sun shine!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Make 'Em Cry

Again, while doing rewrites, I've been struck by all the revelations coming my way. The most important being the following: I didn't reach deep enough the first time. I'd written on a surface level, setting scenes, relaying information that I thought had meaning, but it just hadn't sunk in past that outer layer. I know this, because last week when I was writing the new chapters, there were several stop and cry moments for something my character was going through. It wasn't about information or careful stringing of words anymore, it was deep.

So, I started to think about how as writers we really need to remember to give everything we have to our work. We need to figure out what our characters are most afraid to risk in their life, and then create that risk. We also need to remember that our characters have bodies—bodies which react in certain ways to every event they face. This tip came to me from a friend, and it has been quite effective in relating real feelings: if you can make a reader know that said character was so scared that her stomach felt like it was filled with acid, or her hands felt like they were turning into ice because the blood had drained from her body in fear, then you have most likely drawn the reader in past the surface level.

Don't be afraid to make your characters suffer. They're begging you for it. And, of course, don't be afraid to create situations that will make them crazy happy. You're audience is begging for that as well. Without these extremes, your fiction will lay stagnant forever. People will make assumptions—they will create their own ideas of how far your character thinks, feels, etc. Never leave room for assumptions. This ain't a Picasso painting, this is fiction.

Make 'em cry. Because if you can do that, you have reached every level—every facet possible in your character's psyche. Make 'em cry. You should, because they're you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Music, life, words and chocolate

I've been busy working on my WIP this week, which is a good thing, but I always feel so bad when I neglect writing a blog, or reading someone else's blog. Can't help the whole guilt thing, I'm a mom.

There's been a lot of revelations revisiting my first book. Having written half of the second, and part of the third, I can tell you the characters are becoming so much more real to me. I understand them completely now; their desires, their quirks. I feel blessed, and stressed but most of all, excited! This rocks! I never want to do things the easy way—ever. The deeper, more difficult road please, so I can learn and grow.

In the background plays Ventura Highway, by America. His words spur my words, his thoughts my thoughts. Then I move to Joni Mitchell and let her play with my brain.

I'm taking a little break today to clean and make cookies, my real-life addiction. Chocolate, chocolate, gooey chocolate.




Monday, February 15, 2010

Vehicle




Well, by now everyone knows how much I love old cars, especially anything from the 1970's. There's just something cool about that long front-end that has me in love. There's a lot of character in those old muscle cars, and I would do just about anything to get myself a ride in one. Okay, not anything. I have a little dignity left inside that I've been saving for important stuff. Never know when you're gonna need that last bit.

But, I started thinking how it is I could love these old cars with their obtuse shapes, and yet every time I look in the mirror I hate what's looking back at me. My face is too long, nose too big, etc, etc. But I'm just a vehicle, just like any of these cars I love. My soul is right behind the wheel of an unusually shaped, sometimes beautiful, sometimes not-so-beautiful human. I'm tall, have long hair, funky, probably too skinny—though it never feels that way. Why shouldn't I allow myself to love this vehicle, just like I do all those cars?

I need to learn to love what I have. The world is full of perfect faces and body shapes, but I'm different and dammit, it's time to embrace it. The world would be totally boring if we all looked like the same, like a pile of Toyotas driving around in circles (no brakes).

Well, it ain't easy. I'm still learning how to operate this thing. In the meantime, let's all just have fun crashing into each other and filing claims.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Reflection

While doing research for my second book, I called and asked my mom what it was like to live in the 1950's. She said it was a happy time, people were kind to each other, money had started to flow again after the ration days of WWII. She mentioned that everyone went out and bought a new car and TV set, repeating again that it was the prefect time to be alive. I commented how it wasn't exactly a perfect time—segregation was still around. She replied, "Yes, but we were working on that."

After our talk, I looked up some old magazine ads—which I spoke of in the last blog. What I enjoy most about these things are that they're like little time-capsules: our wants, dislikes, greed, and variety of greed. A simple ad about hotdogs can be about something else completely, just by how someone is holding the product and where and what clothes they're wearing. We're always looking in a mirror, but it's very distorted. We become what we see, and then the mirror changes, causing us to evolve over and over. The reflection is never a defined portrait, it's more like a prediction. If not for advertising, what would we be? We're so damn impressionable.

But, in all simplicity, I just love the humor. Here are some that I thought were fun and or shocking to read:

Mom used to make us gargle with this stuff and it made my breath worse. Yuck!

Those teeth are going to fall out anyway, kid.

Um, was this ever okay? Not cool.

Slobber.


Double slobber. I want this stereo system so baaaad!!!!




This is my favorite kind of ad. A regular woman like myself trying to lose weight . . . by eating.


http://pzrservices.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451ccbc69e2010536d2c1a9970b-pi



And there you have it, a small collection of ads showing how primal and insecure we are. It was cool, wasn't it? They're showing up now, but Google is weird, so here's a link to old magazines for your own viewing pleasure.


http://books.google.com/books?id=R1cEAAAAMBAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s#all_issues_anchor


Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's Your Lucky Smoke-Filled Blog Day

I love to read through old magazines, probably because I always wanted to time travel, and finding real artifacts of people's daily life helps me in that quest. I can tell you one thing: people liked to drink hard liquor. Every other page is a whiskey ad! Coming up second are cigarettes, with Lucky Strike or Tarleton appearing every other page. "I'd rather fight than switch!" shouts the advert, showing a man with black greased eye and cigarette dangling between sly grinning lips.

I think we an all agree that drinking and smoking aren't the best choices for good health, but I wonder how far society has been dragged away from its natural tendencies. Aren't we supposed to have a couple of vices to keep life going smooth? The fact is, people are still smoking and drinking, but now we try to act as if there aren't liquor stores every five feet and cigarette butts in our gutters. It's still happening, but we no longer embrace it—we shun it and those who do it, like a bad disease.

I think the real drug back then was milk. Powdered milk, condensed milk, fresh out of the udder milk . . . put it on your waffles, your jello, your green bean-maple flavored casserole??? It was everywhere. And did you know, ladies at home, that if you write a twenty-five word essay on why you love Carnation so much, you just might win a trip to Paris? That's right. All you need to do is send in your winning entry with twenty labels. Don't delay, send it in today!

Carnation is the best for my family because . . .
it's the sweetest, creamiest, dairy
use it for coffee, waffles and treats,
you'll never, ever be sorry!

I so could have won that trip to Paris, darn it!

My favorite ads are the cars. Oh slobber. American cars ruled back in the day! I would do just about anything for a ride in an old Camaro or Charger. And Pontiacs were so huge, it makes me get all happy inside. Old gas-guzzling hunks of steel make me fill with glee. Seriously, right now my stomach is all twisty-turny thinking about riding in one of those monsters. I need help.

Before I leave, I just want to say that you too can drink the same vitamin-filled juice the astronauts enjoy. Soooo, go tell your parents to buy you some zesty Tang. It will Energize, and Vitalize your day! Get Tanged!


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Believe

I was just listening to an old interview with John Lennon, and was struck by how ahead of the times he was. He talked of spirituality and positive thinking, voicing a dislike for the way people put down all the hard work of the sixties—even going on to mock them in a pathetic voice, "It didn't work! Nobody listened to us and now we're just going to give up and get high!" He was really looking ahead to the eighties: how we were going to change many of the social ills and break down the walls of Communism and Racism, and he didn't have time to listen to the naysayers.

Of course, he was robbed of that chance. I think people took his death in two ways, much as they did back when Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered. Some of the population saw it as a strike from unseen forces: that the days of the poet were over, time to go back to work and stop dreaming, or in some cases, time to strike back. Another sect of people saw it as a time to celebrate what can never be taken away, because Spirit is everlasting. They were glad to have a small part of this person's vision, and went on to develop it with everything they attempted in life. I can feel that Spirit through so many people, through works of art, through a smile, through music and literature. I can see it in children and in all works of nature. It was here before these wonderful people came to earth, and it will be here after all of us are gone.

One of the most important lessons I have learned is that the worst cultivators of Spirit are negativity and fear. When you think of something bad you literally send a message out to the universe to make it happen. When you send out feelings of fear, you attract the things you are afraid of. Of course, it's only natural to have fears, but you have to override them with positive thought. Positive thought cleans up that which plans to destroy you.

Have you noticed that negative people never really seem to be happy? They spend their whole lives expecting bad things to happen, and when good things come, analyze it to no end in the belief that nothing good is ever really good. There's gotta be a catch, they say. When you train your mind to understand that good things don't just come, that they're always around, then you will know happiness. Car broken down? No money? Hair falling out? Bad romance? TV only showing Fox network? Look for what is good and let it erase all the bad.

Picture a man standing in the middle of chaos. The rest of the world is running, crying, but he is smiling. Not because of the chaos or the pain, he's smiling because he knows joy. It's inside him, it's inside all of us, it's eternal and it's real.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Gentle Man

Someone told me a while back that it's naive to think any man can be a gentleman, to which I stood and stared in wide-eyed disbelief. It was news to me! Perhaps I've read too many romance novels, but I actually hold onto the belief that there are still some men out there who are good at heart and not always after a roll in the hay-hay-hay-ooh-baby.

Men used to do nice things for us, but then we told them to stop. What in the hell were we thinking?????!!!!!! Why was it such a bad thing to let men show affection and care in those sweet and simple ways? Did it really objectify us? I mean, we also burned the bra in revolt, but it came back in a few years due to gravitational necessity. Oh I see . . . we don't NEED men. That's right. The fact is, they were doing all those nice things just to get sex anyway. I get it now.

But . . . there has to be a few men out there who want to be kind, who like to protect us because they love us, not because of any end result. Perhaps this is why we fantasize about sparkly vampires and gorgeous fairy dudes. In the realm of make-believe, it's okay to allow protective behavior because it takes nothing away from our day-to-day stance in the war between sexes. I know my male MC is an old-fashioned gentleman from the 1950's. Every once in a while you see a spark of dirty white boy in there, but his main concern is taking care of Emma. Sigh. It's harmless fun for the reader.

Poor men, they started off with a leaf when they should have been given Eve's Diary. It would have made things so much easier. They would have discovered how sometimes we want, and sometimes we need, and sometimes we want to need. Okay, maybe that wouldn't make things any easier. But he would know how very much we love him.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Beta to the Max

It was probably about 1983 when Mom came home with a great bargain: a brand new Betamax video player! The sweet deal came complete with free membership to Popingo's Video Shop, fifty discounted rentals and a complimentary bag of microwave popcorn. The only problem? Apparently Betas were being phased out for VCRs, and all the videos on the shelf were made to play in that type of machine exclusively. Bummer.

Every weekend Mom sent us through the store with a mission of finding tapes. We'd look high, we'd look low, we'd lift boxes to see if anything was hidden behind. Our feet made a noticeable path to the rental counter--it was like a game. "Do you have this in Beta?" "Nope." "Do you have this in Beta?" "Nope." "Do you have this in Beta?" Pause. Clerk looks on old MS-DOS computer. "Nope."

That's when we learned the art of enjoying secondhand film. Why see the hit movies when you can watch a strangely written gem with unknown stars?

I have to give the old machine some credit, it never broke down. The VCR we bought a few years later died in no time, and it was the Beta that kept kicking along. I programmed the flashing digital clock and entered local stations into its faceplate. It was a great machine after all. Mom found some recordable tapes and we used them over and over, taping shows and movies off the TV. They're like time capsules now, showing commercials with screaming car salesmen in tacky suits. "So come on down to the water tower and get your Chevy Cavalier for only $50 down and $50 dollars a month! Tell 'em Larry sent you!"

Next on the list was a color TV. And then after that, a real microwave to cook our old unused package of popcorn in! Party at my house: 1986. Be there. And . . . bring some Beta tapes if you have any.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Game of Life

I want to speak about Christopher Reeve again, as I've thought a lot about his life and the parallels of his injury to the role he played. He scoffed the idea that he was a real-life Superman, but we would all agree he truly was, in every way a person could be. Of course, every advance he made was earned with immense pain and minute to minute struggle, so to him it wasn't a great, magical thing. It was work. It's all how you look at it: most of us saw the overall result--the end result, but he experienced it as it unfolded.

In life, we often get caught up in what might be rewarded in the long run, forgetting it's what we do now that creates the end result. We're reaching with outstretched hands, skipping over the path. I think of someone playing Monopoly without stopping at any spaces. That person reaches the end faster, but without having played the game, they arrive empty. It is the little things we do every day that makes us winners.

When Christopher Reeve was told his head had been separated from his body--held on only by the muscles of his neck, and that he would have to go through countless surgeries, pain, all that with no promise of ever having movement below the neck again--he looked up at his wife and said, "I guess we should just let me go." And she said to him, "But you're still you. And I love you." Those words changed his life, and brought on a new one.

Every time you feel like quitting anything in your life, or life itself, remember that no matter how difficult things are, you're still you, and somebody loves you. Don't give up. Then take each moment for what it is, knowing it will lead to success.

Life is like a game board. You're riding high, rolling the dice. You own all the squares, have a pile of money, and you know, you just know you're going to win. Then someone hands you a card that says, bankrupt, start at go. It's what you do then that defines who you are. Live like you're always at go.

My shameless 'I Love Kurt Vile' post, and my favorites for 2018

I love, love love Kurt Vile. He's a great songwriter, but perhaps what made me love him first was he looked like the lovechild of Janis ...