WRITE TO THE DEATH

The other day while admiring the symmetry in my blog view statistics – and believe it or not, the balance thrills my mildly OCD self more than the values – I shared aloud that my numbers went from 11, to 27, to 38, back to 27, then back to 11!

“11?!” My 11 year-old son barked. “Mom, 11 sucks!”  I replied that our lives got busy rolling through my list of excuses.  “Mom, you had a fun blog and you had fun with it! But, a fun blog stopped is a FLOP!” After marveling at the thrill of his wordplay, I shook my head at the truths that poured from his mouth.

Balanced!

He was right, I won’t settle for being a FLOP! I missed my nightly creative angst with producing 365 words – usually hitting closer to 700-900 words then trimming the unnecessary words to size.  (Mark the day, I admitted that every other word from my fingers is unnecessary!)

I fell out of habit and after missing one, missing the next one became exponentially easier. But lo and behold, the next morning in my emails, the LA Times reported that, of course, there’s an app for that! “Write or Die – Putting the ‘Prod’ in Productivity!”

My hope was that this app comes with a neck shock collar that plugs into your USB port and senses when your keyboard movement stops to zap you back on track! Truthfully it’s not quite that hardcore – unless you want it to be.  It emits a peaceful “Please start writing again” or you can set it on Kamikaze setting where it’ll start erasing words if you delay for too long.

While positive reinforcement also exists, the app creator realized that it was the threat of the negative reinforcement from teachers that forced him/her to hit due dates. Well guess what, it works!  A British writer, Helen Oyeyemi, just on the press junket for her recent novel “Mr. Fox” praises the app saying, “Sometimes fear is the only motivator!”

At $9.99, the app may be more expensive than most, but it’s cheaper than a creative writing class!  I’m still on the fence with buying the app, but it did get me to write!

My latest app obsession!

COME IN, I’LL THROW SOMETHING TOGETHER

When you’re working on an idea that you’re not ready to share with everyone, does it put up walls preventing other creativity?  Maybe that’s just me.  So sorry I’ve been absent and thank you for still being here!  To make it up to you, I made you a cake!

I’ve been praying for a potluck to bake this for, but promptly forgot to when I received an invite!  Fortunately, someone else shared my wavelength and brought this yummy cake! It’s super appropriate this week paired with loads of laundry and wall-to-wall paperwork from two school desks covering my floor.  This dessert is called DUMP CAKE!  I’ll give you the easy steps while explaining what makes it the best!

BUY: Yellow or White cake mix, 2 cans of fruit (or mix in frozen/fresh) and 1 1/2 sticks of butter – you heard me…

I first heard about Dump Cake from a friend that I’d lost touch with 16 years ago!  Every time I saw her style car, I longed for her personalized penguin plates. Facebook successfully reunited us and while we occupy opposite ends of the country, we can still share recipes!

Mmm, love the red! Tonight, the role of peaches will be played by crushed pineapple. Mix them together in the baking dish.

The first recipe she shared with me was healthy veggie soup over a cup of pasta for lunch! This would go really well with Dump Cake because it is far from healthy.

Sprinkle whole bag of cake on top of your fruit mixture. Use a fork to smooth – if you are OCD like me.

I first tasted this cake from a new friend found this Spring!  What made this year’s baseball and softball season’s awesome were the amount that my kids’ ability and love for the game flourished and the amazing families!

For fun, Lauren dumped chocolate chips on her side and I dumped pecans and some cinnamon on mine.

This crew was so much fun we had several get-togethers!  The most recent found us at the beach complete with an epic water balloon fight – remember, the coaches taught these kids to throw hard and accurately!

Take stick and a half of butter and cut into thinner pats and distribute evenly on top of cake powdered mix.

When researching Dump Cake recipes, I chuckled and thought “Well, if that don’t take the rag off the bush!” it’s The Pioneer Woman’s recipe!

Cook for 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees. See the cherries and pineapple under the cake layer? My new friend’s had peaches!

I love this woman!  She traded in corporate success for cowboys!  I’m so excited to finally try one of her recipes.

Remove from the oven when the top is light brown and crispy. The left side is browner on mine because of the nuts.

When I’m wandering and find common threads along the way, it’s heartwarming on so many levels. The synergy of celebrating the old and new, baking a recipe from a creative cowgirl – with  my daughter – lassoed it all up with a pretty little bow!

We chose Vanilla ice cream over home made whipped cream. The fruit wasn’t overly sweet – perfect for hot summer nights!

Greatest gift ever!  Enjoy!

Lauren: Loved 1st bite, Carson: Eh, it’s ok! I liked it, but it’s rich!  Overall A+ factoring in the simplicity! My kids: Please leave us alone, it’s movie night!

I’VE FALLEN AND I CAN’T GET (CAUGHT) UP!

April proved to be an amazing month for parenting, but not-so-amazing for blogging.  In my kids’ already compacted schedule, we added a Scout promotion, a scholastic reading contest, several musical recitals and amazing ball games to name a few.  The month yielded many highlights and challenges but as I entered May – with its exponentially increasing quantity of tasks as the end of school barrels towards us – I found that I’d fallen behind.  I’m trying to figure out the best way to right this write and need your blogger advice!

Please share your thoughts! How would you resolve this?

DOUBLE TIME
I’m determined to fulfill this year’s word count with at least 133,225 words.  If quantity matters most, I can double up on a few weekends to get caught up this month.  With each post taking up to 2 hours from brain spark to publish, most weeknights would not accommodate more than one amazing adventure – not a quality one anyway. My ultimate goal is to write posts people want to read.

BACK TO SQUARE ONE
I could restart the counter.  If I’ve teased this as “365 days of 365 words,” then any break would disconnect the chain obligating me to start over, would it not?  Do I need to rip off my 365 days blogging badges until I’ve passed a certain number of days that will allow me to “re-earn them?” I’m not married to the idea of voiding the 44,000+ words that I’ve crafted thus far.  Plus, that just feels a little harsh.

EXCUSED TARDY
Do I get excused if I have a note explaining that I did the best I could but that when making the choice between family and blogging – I chose family?!  I wouldn’t feel right with an excuse because a) I made a commitment to the blogosphere and I am a woman of my word and b) I don’t let my kids get away with excuses, rather I try to set the example of adjusting to the flow of life – sometimes we wander along, sometimes we must run to get it all done – and rest afterwards.

I value your opinions, fellow wanderers. Please tell me if you’ve ever fallen behind on a regular blog and how you resolved this?

IF YOU COULD COMMISSION ANY LIVING WRITER TO WRITE A BOOK…

I’ve been asked where I get ideas for my daily blog. My better posts come from wandering after a train of thought intersecting my day. Some days I rely on prompts.

Keep conversations going and creative juices flowing!

Today a question leaped off the page at me continuing the train of thought for where ideas come from. I immediately had an answer that sparked music and daydreams woven with memories.

Stephen King! In school I obsessively read his books to drown out droning textbooks. His books strayed far from my day-to-day experience and blew the walls off of my imagination leaving me to wander through dark, scary gardens, creepy neighbors’ homes, even the degenerating mind of a rabid dog. I’d never read a book so frightening that I couldn’t finish until The Shining. I was its prisoner. While it panicked me, it hurt more to stop reading it!

I admit that I am not caught up on his works because in the role of fearless head of my family, I can’t be cowering in the corners under covers. Instead, I bought his book On Writing so I could sit a while longer with Mr. King’s genius. I’ve got a few books on writing but his was the first book from an author whose characters I was on first-name basis with. I loved following his train of thought and the realistic perspective he shared.

I would commission him to help me rewrite my horror film screenplay, “Mother’s Day.” I’d been curious about moms like Wanda Holloway who hired a hit man to kill the mother of her daughter’s cheerleading rival hoping the distress would cause the rival to drop from competition. I asked, “How far a mother’s love goes to ensure the success of her child?” Even more, “what if” the opposition came from within their family? I killed off the necessary players but wanted to spend more time with the psychology of the sub-plots.

Sadly, I checked his website, he doesn’t collaborate or even read and comment on manuscripts due to fear (Stephen King afraid?!) of plagiarism lawsuits. So with his books for inspiration and for pacing the story, I’ll give it another go on my own knowing Stephen has my back.

Photo borrowed from http://www.stephenking.com (C) Stephen King

“I get my ideas from everywhere. But what all of my ideas boil down to is seeing maybe one thing, but in a lot of cases it’s seeing two things and having them come together in some new and interesting way, and then adding the question ‘What if?’ ‘What if’ is always the key question.” –Stephen King

FAT FINGER PHILOSOPHY

While enjoying my three fancy-free days vacation from work, I loved wandering around finding messages presented throughout the day. Ironically, a large lesson presented itself because my fat fingers on my phone pushed – not the wrong thing – a different thing than I’d planned. Turns out, it was the perspective shift I needed!

During this break, I found myself a little stuck creatively.  I know part of it was facing down my taxes. I planned many overdue visits with friends and family and cuddled sweet babies! I volunteered for both of my kids’ classes, plus got to see my son’s academic tournament.  I was elated and grateful for the opportunities to do what I’d rather be doing, but at the same time frustrated that I can’t do this all the time. I need to stop flip-flopping, especially with allowing creative time.

I now view my creative bursts as treats. Sometimes I relish them, excited that only I get to savor them. Others I realize are bits I’d wished someone shared with me, so I do.  I’m embracing the knowledge that I’m wired for creativity, less cut-throat, but my creative muscles still can’t always withstand diversity in the terrain I wander through.  Part of building up endurance will be repetition through this blog. Part is setting boundaries, which I’m working on.

This morning surfing Facebook, I enjoyed the inspirational shared messages.  I much prefer warm cuddly awakenings to horrific headlines.  One caught my eye “12 Stressful Things to Stop Tolerating!” from Marc and Angel Hack Life.  I love their posts and welcomed their advice.  The post lists things to toss with a hearty “Hell Yeah!” but I was skeptical of my morning strength before coffee.  Also, some things aren’t that easy to extricate.

Without realizing it, my fat finger chose “30 Challenges for 30 Days of Growth” – My other blogging goal.  This switched my perspective to work on one’s own strength first to make it easier to steer around obstacles.  Also I don’t have to face everything prepared to fight to the death (except when it comes to taxes), sometimes the smaller actions are just as significant and easy as letting your fingers do the walking!

Big fingers, small links

WHO IS THE FIRST PERSON YOU CHECK IN WITH EVERY DAY?

I’m behind. For 2 weeks I’ve written posts after they’re due. Technically, I have not missed a day; but will catch up with one day and two posts. Nightly I’ve surfed for inspiration or handled family stuff only to be too exhausted when ideas sparked. Last night I went to bed resigned to wake up and write about the first thing to come to mind. It would be unfiltered and hopefully be something worth discussing. Then, it hit me…

Book after book, Julia Cameron gets me!

Before this blog, I did Morning Pages. In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron, heralds the practice of simply writing 3 pages, first thing in the morning, on whatever floats through your mind.

Wake up your creative self. It’s backwards from meditation I’ve tried in that rather than emptying your mind to remain centered, you follow anything wandering by. Isn’t the blog free-flowing? In editing and trying to make a “blogworthy” point, creative flow gets funneled and detoured. Pages open the dam so ideas flood through the gaps in one’s week! The book is only the introduction to living with your creative self.

Check in with the person who matters the most – You! The first thing I do in the morning is roll into my kids’ room relaying our daily plans by adapting that annoying chorus from Rebecca Black’s “Friday”. As the family leader, I need to check in with myself first. Pages allow me to purge my mind onto paper so I focus on what needs to be done that day without losing ideas.

Rewards off the beaten path After surviving crazy last week, that rolled right into this one, followed by another non-stop weekend, I couldn’t see past our plans. When I rerouted while searching for my Artist’s Way books, I found my long-lost Writer’s Idea Book! It wasn’t really lost, more buried in my bookshelf! Evenings trolling for blog topics will no longer be such a futile search!

What a treasure to find when I didn't have my blinders on!

In one brief morning, Morning Pages brought me out of the brambles and back to the path. I’m relieved by the realization that I can’t ignore that part of me. I can’t blog and do Pages but commit to starting my day with morning bullet points!

I’M FACING DOWN THE OPPOSITE OF CREATIVE WRITING!

WHAT IS THE OPPOSITE OF CREATIVE WRITING?

After staring at my keyboard for hours last night reading headlines, a few blogs, and playing too many phone games to mentally let go of my week, I went to bed.  BLOCKED BIG TIME! Somehow, while sleeping, I sorted my issues and found a resolution.

Wow, as soon as I posted this entry my friend posted this perfect quote. Thanks Louis!

DIVIDE AND CONQUER! We’re in the middle of a week we hope to get through without forgetting anything. This week offers highlights for my children as they’re testing for senior blue belts and my son bridges from Cub to Boy Scouts. We all feel proud for their accomplishments and I already promised their favorite sushi restaurant and stay-at-home movie night on Friday with puppy-love therapy from one of their favorite furry cousins (my sister’s Lab) to celebrate.

SERIOUS SPARRING?!

DOING WHAT I HAVE TO DO, BEFORE DOING WHAT I WANT TO DO! This mantra is truly a house law for us.  For me it involves battling the opposite of creative writing – TAXES!  I love visiting my math brain and finishing my taxes with an online program.  I severely dislike the program inconsistencies!  Many areas ask for data copied from box 8 on your form to box 8 onscreen. Suddenly, blasted word problems appear at the end, based on forms prepared by someone else’s CPA!  Now, this last form keeps me from filing, besides my stubbornness to not pay someone to help with this area because I’ve finished 95% myself.

WAITING IS THE HARDEST PART!  I’m about to enter another transition with work and the last few weeks of temp assignments are about juggling. Do I need to look for work or don’t I? Not knowing if my assignment will extend or end, I’m taking the necessary steps to avoid gaps in employment.

RESOLUTION: QUANTITY NOT QUALITY! Is this why creative sorts feel like we’re living in the looking glass because our mantras counter those we’ve learned? Poet William Stafford challenges that Writer’s Block doesn’t exist – if your standards are low enough.  Rather than focus on my brilliant yoga follow-up to yesterday’s piece (which hadn’t yet reached the levels of brilliance) I focus instead on hitting 365 words.

ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL! Thanks for wandering with me while I worked through this.

While we may be going in circles, we're having fun now!

I’M STUCK ON GETTING UNSTUCK DAILY

Waking up Friday, the first thought sneering and challenging me counted “10 hours til Friday night!”  Still high off the me-time from last week I counted on the zen to return once the 5 o’clock hour hit.  Only one job, a short commute, and Tae Kwon Do class to carpool first.

Then, I got a sunshiney email saying that another really creative and fun blog that celebrates 365 day projects and getting UNSTUCK featured MY BLOG today! Check it out!

So excited I didn't need coffee this morning!

It put a spring in my step and a smile on my face! Validation flowed through my veins. I became community property, shared with another blogger’s audience!

Then, ironically, I got stuck!  Now, expectation looked over my shoulder watching what I typed.  My daughter moved my shoulder to tally today’s total views. My son hugged my shoulders asking about today’s topic. Now, he literally sleeps right behind my shoulder on the fold-out couch meaning I’m not alone with my thoughts.  I do love that they’re interested in my passion, and I hope they learn the pleasure of expressing themselves through creative mediums.

The saying goes “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Today’s attention took this project from a personal challenge to the general public. Yet thoughts of the obvious perks from turning my treasured pastime into my life’s work turn fuzzy when considering business plans, budgets, and SWOT analysis reports.

Running low on time, I went to the room where I get my best thinking done and a book offered advice “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…” A bookmark still saved the spot where I meant to continue reading back in 1998.

Anyone else find it ironic that this advice is found in a self-help book?

The chapter teaches that instead of forcing ourselves out of a bad or challenging mood after heavy self-analysis and exploration (who me?!) that if we understand and even celebrate bad moods as much as we celebrate great ones, we’ll see that this, too – even writer’s block – shall pass! I love this nightly opening of the dam and letting words flow onto the page.

Smooth sailing from here on out!

So, thank you Noah and thank you readers, whether you’re floating through for your first or fifty-fifth time, I’m glad you’re wandering with me!

 

Aside

MUSIC SOOTHES THE SAVAGE BEAST

I’m an all or nothing gal. I used to think it was a Gemini thing, then an oldest child thing, an Asian thing, supermom thing, now I know it’s a stubborn thing that needs to be obliterated – all or nothing! I feel the compulsion to cram as much as possible into the day.

When it's too slow, I swear time moves backwards.

My single-mom exercise plan, training for marathons, crammed in as many miles in one day as my sister did in a week. Training with philanthropic teams meant I socialized, gave back and trained at once – sucker for synergy every time! After training for a half-ironman triathlon, I haven’t resumed training regularly again simply because I know I should, would love to, or go mental without it. I prefer jobs where I’m grand central station in a busy work environment to slow, quiet days. Fueled by Stellarbucks, I run as hard as I can til all that’s left to give is nothing. My rationale rationalizes that I’m cramming two parents into one so if I’m taking time away from family, then whatever I’m doing better be big or it wasn’t worth it.

Of course, this mentality commandeered my blogging too. It wasn’t enough to write 365 words a day, I started a blogging periodical collection, spent free time ignoring my book club, instead reading other blogs learning more complicated tricks to drive traffic to my blog, as well as juicy tips of the trade. Tonight I focused on one simple tip to assist me with writing – MUSIC!

Some musicians are more distracting than others...

My system to write at night, about a situation I wandered through that day, got somewhat sluggish. The spigot I tapped to let the creative juices flow got dammed by all the workday newness to absorb. For a while I would surf the social media and pinning boards searching for inspiration, but truly avoiding the fact that I still needed a topic. Tonight, I’m up against my midnight deadline yet again, but listening to music reminded me of how moved I am by it which yielded 3-4 nuggets to polish when significant. It got me to slow down enough to relive memories, listen to lyrics, and not do anything besides sway and occasionally snap my fingers.

CODE BLUE: EMERGENCY BLOGGING RESUSCITATION NEEDED!

WARNING:  Excessive whining causes narrowing of the mind, restricted creativity flow, cloudy vision and thickened skull. Tonight, after working a great first day at my new job, I left feeling confident in my position floating on top of the learning curve.  I couldn’t wait to get home for a great family evening.

When I picked up the kids up, dizziness came on immediately as I fought to keep up with their protests. Starting with ditching Tae Kwon Do, they whined that my late arrival would cost them 150 pushups.  I finally said “Tell Master to make me do them!”  Anything would be less painful than the bickering!

Aaah, makes my head spin!

I empathized understanding that my daughter’s mood reflected her involuntarily quitting her security blankets cold turkey (we’re still looking) and that to my pre-tween son, losing 15 minutes of precious sleep made him a troll.  They continued in rare form through dinner and two stores as we searched for graph paper.  In the parking lot after the 2nd store I shared my plan to suggest to his teachers to include graph paper the next time they assign overnight homework requiring it.  When my son shared that he might have been able to pick up a piece in class, my blood pressure skyrocketed.

Did I forget to mention...

When everyone calmed down enough to fall into a sleep coma, my desire to blog flatlined.  Resuscitating it required drastic measures. Fortunately I pulled out the tool able to shock my system and get my writing flowing again – word generator prompt app!  These spit out random words that, together, sound like something Magic 8 ball toys said.

Perhaps it’s cheating, but I passed on a few combinations until I got one that instantly sent sparks pulsing into my veins.  My words were “Premed Chest.”  Two ideas crashed forth into my head, competing for top billing:  Premed students pushing on dummy chests for CPR, and Dr. Feelgood, the college Premed student with a great chest!  Since I’ve almost hit 365 words, I’ll save that post for later.

Dr. Feelgood I presume?

Although I didn’t write about “Premed Chest” yet, the random word generator did treat my writer’s block!  I won’t be so skeptical next time I need to recharge my writing!

YOU should start a blog too…

WordPress.com

%d bloggers like this: