Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Back from the Dead

Song Playing: Holding On by VNV Nation

Hello! I am still alive! Class was intense but rewarding. I have returned, armed with enough CEU credits to choke a horse.

Hello newcomers! I hope you enjoy the madness here. I try to post helpful stuff about writing, but that doesn’t always work out. I have a feeling that today isn’t that day, considering my brain is still fuzzy from 32 hours worth of training in four days.

I went to a Qi Gong training seminar and it was exciting, exhausting, even life changing. Qi Gong is an exercise that focuses on controlling your breathing, and using slow movements to increase energy and flexibility. I feel awesome, but exhausted. So if the post doesn’t make any sense whatsoever today, I blame exhaustion.

Would you believe I went four entire days without even looking at the Internet? FOUR entire days, and I lived!

(I am aware that is actually a hamster. Thank you for your concern.)

I got home every night in time to eat something and crawl into bed, and then it was up at 6:30 the next morning. 6:30 in the morning. Let me explain something to you.

I am not a morning person.

This is a gross understatement. I do not regain the ability to talk until I am awake for at least an hour or so, longer if I had to get up early. So if you expect to communicate with me right after I wake up, be ready to translate grunts. Some of you might be complaining/rolling your eyes, thinking you have to get up earlier every morning, so what’s the big deal? I must be a huge whiner. My best friend Melissa is a nurse, and she had to get up at 5:30 every morning to be at work at 7. My fiancĂ©e has to get up at 5 in the morning. I know the world does in fact start before 8 in the morning. When I worked at a gas station, occasionally I pulled the opening shift, and we opened at 5 in the morning. Which meant I had be awake before 5 in the morning, when normally I worked the 4 to midnight shift. Lucky for me, I lived two minutes away, so I rolled out of bed, got dressed, and drove to the store all in about ten minutes.

BUUUT you forget I work the night shift (or afternoon, depending on your POV), and have for years and years. I don’t get off of work until 8 or 9 o’clock most nights, when most people are winding down for bed. I try to be in bed by 10:30 so I can get up at a decent hour (8 in the morning is a decent hour. 6:30 in the morning is an indecent hour). So I am not used to getting up that early, on top of not being a morning person anyway. I need time to wake up.

We commuted to the Atlanta World Congress Center where our training was held with three other therapists, one of them my sister in law, and another was a coworker/friend (she’s the same one who came over for Saint Paddy’s Day, for those of you who saw that post. If you haven’t, I suggest you check it out. It involves squirrel whispering.) The other therapist was a friend of my sister in law’s, but this was the first time I met her.

She was so amused at how different of a person I am in the morning versus during the day, after I wake up. In the car ride there, I stared out the window looking squinty eyed, and mumbling. Then the morning’s training would commerce, and by lunch time, I would be awake and bubbly It almost became a joke, and when I confused myself with directions (The Atlanta World Congress Center is a BIG place), they’d laugh it off and say, “It’s okay, it’s not 10:30 in the morning yet.” By the time we were ready to go home, I was bouncy from not socializing for hours.

This experience made me think about how other people view your habits. To me, it’s perfectly normal lie awake in bed for ten minutes or so before I get up for the day. I use the bathroom, get some iced tea (but not breakfast. I can’t eat as soon as I wake up), and check my email. It’s around this time I start waking up. Some people are wide awake the minute they open their eyes (my sister in law is a morning person. So are my dad and my little brother. Morning people don’t annoy me like they do some people. I like that they talk enough for the both of us. They just shouldn’t expect me to carry my end of the conversation.). Morning people are strange and should be studied by science.

I know this not getting up early thing will change when I have kids, but in the immortal words of Aragorn, that is not this day (by the way, MS Word recognizes “Aragorn” as a real word. How cool is that?).

There, everything you never wanted to know about some of my daily habits.

I have the day off today, in a serendipitous event where the training ended yesterday, and I usually have today off anyway, so I didn’t have to take extra time off of work. I am not really sure what I am going to do. I am beta reading a novel that I am excited about, so I imagine it will involve lots of loafing around and reading. I feel like I need to recharge my battery.

I am having some issues getting all my tax stuff taken care of, and that’s making me anxious since I only have two more weeks to get my taxes done, but hopefully I will get the rest of the information I need today. *crosses fingers*

What about you guys? Any morning people out there? Or do you know where I am coming from when I say I am nonverbal when I wake up?

(Once again, thanks goes to I can haz cheeseburger for the pictures)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Characters Who Need to Be Shot

Song Playing: Anthem by Kamelot

Happy Friday!

A quick note before I forget, I will not be blogging on Monday, Tuesday, and possibly even Wednesday next week. Instead, I will be at class for my massage therapist Continuing Education Units (CEUs). In order to keep my license I have to attend a certain number of accredited hours, and since I would like to keep my income, off I go. Normally this requires tons of money and taking time off to attend a weekend class here, and seminar there, but I lucked out and found a program that lasts four days and gives me more hours than I actually need. So from early tomorrow until Tuesday I will be attending this class, bootcamp style.

All that to say, I don’t know when I will be home and it will probably be only long enough to eat and then crash into bed.

So no blog posts. I know, you’re all going to be besides yourselves with grief. Feel free to caper about in the comments section while I am gone.

Also, there’s a squirrel outside the size of a terrier. Yes, Mom’s still feeing the squirrels. Since I live a few houses down from my parents, I assume this is one of the ambassador squirrels. Nutter Butter is what Mom is calling him after I told her about all of your comments about the squirrel whispering, and Michael Emeritz’s comment about Ambassador Nutter Butter in particular.

Today I have characters on the brain. Between revision and my WIP, I have been working with my characters a good deal, and I noticed I tend to have a diverse lot. Some authors seem to prefer to only write about terse men who smoke and drink too much, others prefer spunky heroines who mess up as much as they help the conflict, and still others prefer the tough, combat boot wearing female who doesn’t take lip from anyone.

A brief digression on those types of tough heroines: they get on my ever-loving last nerve. I am not saying they can’t be done well. I really enjoy that sort of heroine on TV or in books when she’s portrayed well, but I noticed a trend towards this type of female, and I always get the urge to smack her in the face more times that not. It’s like the author says, “Well, this is her flaw. She’s tough, masculine, and doesn’t like to wear pink. She’s one of the guys.” And said author goes on to write about the trouble the character gets into.

All of this is fine. That’s not the obnoxious part.

The obnoxious part is when said mouthy heroine acts out of character, or has no consequences to her character flaw. When she runs into the Big Bad Guy she doesn’t mouth off to him, even though every situation up to now points to she speaks first and thinks about it later, thereby breaking her character. But the author knows if she mouths off to Big Bad Guy, he would just shoot her in the head. End of story. So the author has her break character, and bite her lip. “I wanted to give him a piece of my mind, but I knew he would shoot me where I stand if I did.” The author also substitutes her mouthing off to the bad guy by having her glare at him too. All of this to cover up the fact that she just breaches character. I am not saying that your mouthy characters should be suicidal, but don’t show them mouthing off to everyone without forethought up to now, and then suddenly they have found restraint.

OR she does mouth off to Big Bad Guy and one of two things happens.
a) Big Bad Guy respects her spunk, and pats her on the head. No one seems to care.
b) She mouths off to him, she and her comrades get tossed into the dungeon where they make a daring escape, and it’s back to business as usual. None of her comrades seem to care she can’t keep her mouth shut when it would be suicide not to, and no one even gets ANGRY with her. They just saunter off and congratulate themselves for a job well done.


If I hung out with someone who constantly got me into trouble because they couldn’t keep their mouth shut because “I don’t let anyone boss me around” I would drop them in a New York Minute (which is quicker than a regular minute).

Again, I am not saying there’s anything wrong with a tough heroine. I have several. I am not saying there’s anything wrong with having them act according to character, and mouth off to people they shouldn’t, if that’s the sort of person you’ve shown them to be.

I am complaining about character traits that magically go away or are inconvenient to the plot. And I see it most often with the tough heroine. People want her to be cool, but they don’t think about the real life consequences that sort of person would incur.

Okay, I am done ranting…for now.

I noticed in my own work that my characters run the gamut between out spoken and quiet, gutsy or mousey, cowardly or brave. It’s not intentional, I don’t say to myself, “Okay, I had an outspoken guy with authority issues last time, now it’s time for a mousey, shy girl who blushes when people look at her.” It just sort of happens. Mostly because I try to make the character directly relevant to the plot, but also because it’s just the character that pops into my head at the time.

I think if you’re only comfortable writing a certain character type, then there’s nothing wrong with that. I would recommend challenging yourself with different types of character once in a while, but that’s your call.

If I had to say, I have a slight preference for females over male, but only because I worry my male characters come across as too feminine and/or unrealistic. But I haven’t had any complaints and some of my best characters are guys, so there’s that. I am also the sort of girl who has more guy friends than girl friends, even though recently the number is balancing itself out, so I think that helps with the guy characters. And I don’t believe that guys can’t write convincing girls or vice versa. Hello, She’s Come Undone is one of the best books I’ve ever read, from the POV of a girl, and written by a guy (Wally Lamb is the author).

One thing I do struggle with is weeding out characters. Every time I start a book I have several characters that try to cram themselves into the work. So they all duke it out thunderdome style, until the winners crawl out and get to be in my book.

It doesn’t make cutting them any easier. I have read advice on combining characters when this happens, and I can manage that sometimes, but most of the time, I can’t. The characters have a specific job or race directly tied to their persona, and combining the two normally means the absolute death of one. This means I have a lot of characters lying around, waiting for their book to be up. I suppose it’s a good problem to have, but frustrating at times.

So what about you guys? How do you feel about tough heroines? Any character pet peeves in books? What about your books, do you have problems with over or under population? Any preferences for character types? Any worries about cross gender characters?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Let’s Play Pretend!

I have idea.

(“Run for the hills!” Her followers cried. “She has an idea!”)


Anyway, I have an idea. I was talking to a friend of mine, Lena (Lena Lothanas on my follower list) about the writing life. She is in the position right now where she is able to make writing her job, but she’s not published.

Now, while I may be envious of her ability to stay home and write all day, she has some unique issues that I do not. For most of us, writing is a hobby. What we do in between work and our other responsibilities is write. Writing is her work, so now she’s left without a true hobby. Now she has to find other ways to amuse herself when she’s not writing.

And you can’t spend all your free time writing. You’d drive yourself mad. We who have day jobs like to think it would be fun to spend every waking moment writing and editing but eventually your brain would tap out, and you’d have to take a breather.

I for one have a list of hobbies I would like to do when the magical day comes when I can quit the day job and work as a writer full time. But I thought about something yesterday, and it still seems like a good idea.

Why not pretend like you are already a full time, best-selling writer? Obviously you won’t be pulling in a paycheck, nor will you be published, but why not treat your writing like it’s your job?

Not that I don’t already do that via setting goals, and working on my books everyday. I am talking about the mindset. Why not also take up those hobbies you plan to do during your writing career, and exercise, and go to conferences, and whatever else you tell yourself you will get to do as a full time writer?

Now, if part of your full time writer plan is to take a trip to the Bahamas, then you might need to save up some dough for that, but most of those events we hold out on could easily be done now. We just don’t do them because we don’t feel like “real” writers.

Like when you tell yourself you’ll buy a nice desk when you get published. Or a new computer. Or whatever. Make plans for those things now, and you will start to feel like a writer. You don’t know how long it will be until you get published so you might as well buckle in and act like a published author now. That way, when you DO get published, it won’t be so shocking or such a change in routine.

Aside from all the free stuff you get as a published author, and the millions of adoring fans and dollars you’ll make. And your name engraved on a National Monument.

It’s just a thought. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lies, All Lies I Tell You!

Song Playing: Why by Collective Soul

Yesterday the lovely Mia gave me the Soulmate award! That means she thinks I get her, which is awesome, because I think she gets me too.

This award was made up by Christi, over at her awesome blog Torch in the Tempest (don’t you just love her blog artwork? I want to know who that character is!). One of the “rules” is to link back to her blog, so here it is:

The next “rule” is to give it to five people who you think “get” you, and make up something about them. Hehe, this is going to be fun:

1. Lena Lothanas at:
Lena Lothanas is a pseudonym for Tamora Pierce, a bestselling author. Lena decided she wanted to give back to the writing community by creating an alter ego of an aspiring writer, and blogging about it, in order to offer writers advice and support. She is currently living the high life on a tropical island somewhere, and donates tons of money to charity.

2. Joseph Selby at:
a.k.a Joseph Reynolds. He is the secret last member of the crew of Serenity, a Firefly class spaceship. He is Malcolm Reynold’s, the ship’s captain, younger brother. While Malcolm is outwardly annoyed by his younger brother, Joseph has saved their bacon more times that Malcolm would like to admit with his quick thinking. Joseph’s stories also keep the crew members from killing each other when they are far out in deep space.
(Joseph: You’re not a Gary Stu if SOMEONE else inserts you into a beloved series ;) )
(If none of you have watched Firefly, go watch it on Hulu right now. Better yet, BUY the entire series. It’s short, because FOX network is a *insert profanity here* and canceled the show)

3. Michael Emeritz at:
Michael Emeritz is a detective during the day, solving film noir-esque crime. He starting writing because his daily work situations seem like they would be better served in a detective novel between smuggling rings, mafia overlords, and getting Mrs. Gruder’s cat out of the tree for the umpteenth time. Normally the fire department handles that sort of thing, but they got sick of it, so Detective Emeritz gallantly stepped up. Detective Emeritz is really an elf from a land called Zinch, and struggles to keep this a secret from his loved ones.

4. Livia Blackburn:
Livia is part of an elite team of scientists who were hand picked to work on Handel’s Project, so named after Handel’s Messiah. Handel’s Project aim is to properly sequence how memories are stored in the brain, so they can reproduce and store these memories elsewhere. This exciting new technology will allow people with cognitive diseases to remember who they are, create a living record of people who are deceased, and help people finally remember where the heck they put their keys.

5. Roxy:
Roxy is really an elf, who married Legolas Greenleaf, famous member of the Fellowship of the Ring. They invite me over occasionally, where I try not to oogle her husband. BUT Legolas has a brother, so there’s hope for me yet. They decided to come to (or up, depending on how much of the Silmarillion you’ve read) Earth after that whole one ring thing happened, because the memories where too painful. Some evil overlords just spoil it for everyone.

Okay guys, there you have it. Remember, the truth will set you free.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Interviews and Breakthroughs

Quote: “I try to leave out the parts that people skip.” Elmore Leonard

Walk on Water by Aerosmith

Hello all! How’s it going?

Fill in appropriate response:

*---Great! Good to hear!

*---Awww, sorry to hear that. I hope everything works out.

(I find it a little eerie that my responses are appropriate for most of what you would respond to “How’s it going?”, if generic. Makes you wonder if people are actually listening to you when you talk, or basing their comments on your facial expressions.)

I have been very productive this morning, despite the weird dreams the night before (you know the one, where you confront your former boss and it devolves into a screaming match, shortly followed by the recurring dream that I am awake and getting dressed when I am still asleep).

After reading over an email by Joseph Selby (who has an awesome livejournal you should totally bookmark and/or follow here: ) and sitting down with my rough outline for my rough draft I determined roughly that:

a) The antagonist is totally not who I thought she was. Like, I had the wrong person, not just she secretly loves to knit.

b) The protagonist is totally not who I thought she was. Still the same person, but better developed now.

c) I will never write another book without planning out more ahead of time.

Caveat: I should never say never (crap, I just said never again), because the universe will hear me saying “never” and immediately place a situation in the works that will cause me to write a book with LESS planning than I did on my current rough draft, Masquerade. Case in point, my zombie book has NO preplanning, I just sat down to jot some ideas down, and only thirty pages later did I stall out because I didn’t know what was going to happen next.

So I amend my statement to: I will not be lazy and skip the preplanning stage that I have proven to myself over and over to be so helpful to my writing process just because I want to get on with writing the book NOW. Instead, I will plan out what I feel is important, and treat each book as it’s own entity. I read someone quote someone else on some blog on the Internet (that narrows it down, I know) that there really is no writing formula, because no matter how comfortable you are with a certain routine, you never write a book the EXACT same way again. You might always use character sheets, but you might not fill them out the same way.

I wrote the book I am revising, Masquerade (working title), right after another book a year ago, and both of them have major plot issues. This is because much of the book was written by the seat of my pants. Not that there is anything wrong with this method, but you tend to have more work waiting for you on the other end. I was not expecting this sort of work, because I thought I did enough developing and planning beforehand. Clearly, I was mistaken.

However, I am not delusional enough to think that just because I plan books out much more nowadays, I will always avoid problems like these. Stuff comes up you never planned for during the process of writing the book. One of the most awesome aspects of writing: your book is a living, organic creation of yours, that continues to evolve and change.

(that bunny is unraveling my plot as we speak)

So my current attack plan is to look at my book like a skeleton. I have some great scenes, and awesome characters, and the plot arc is in decent shape (I think), but I definitely need to do some revision. I will continue to develop the character, question the plot, the events, and re-dream the dream as James N. Frey says. We’ll think of the rough draft in another way: a test run.

While I am revising, I will also continue to work on my WIP, a book I have tentatively titled “How to Breath Underwater”. This way I have something creative to work on, and the thought of all that revision doesn’t crush me under it’s bulk with despair (because I thought I was done! Done I tell you, done! But I’m not. I can see a huge difference between the main characters in the partial book zombie book I wrote a month ago and the main characters in “Masquerade”).

But enough about me, how are you? Fess up, does anyone write by the seat of their pants? How do you do it? How do you revise later? How do you mine your rough draft for what’s crap and what’s gold?

Also, I am I trying to get some job interviews together for our edification. Yay edification! I am interviewing the people around me about their job so I can then post them here. That way, we have a spring board for professions so your secondary characters will seem more lifelike. It’s not enough information for a main character’s job, but it’s a start. I am harassing most of my co-workers at the spa, so expect a hair stylist interview, an esthetician (they do facials and waxing) and of course, a massage therapist. If any of you would like to participate in this job interview bonanza, please email me, and I will send you the questions. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a glamorous job. You’d be surprised what seems boring and mundane to you is interesting to someone else. And you never know what sort of job you might want your characters to have. At the very least, your main character’s parents could have a “normal” job, causing your character to gripe about it. So fess up people! What’s it like having the job you have?

And yes, I count “student” and “stay at home mom/dad” as a job.

Another set of interviews I am working on are writer interviews. I have another set of questions for writers, both published and unpublished. I like reading about other writers, their process and journey, their outlook on life, and so on, and I am sure you do to. So email me if you would like for me to interview you about writing. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been published or just starting writing yesterday. Everyone has a story to tell, so let us know yours.

I plan to post both sets of interviews on my blog, and I off course will let everyone know who it is I interviewed, and I will link to your blog or livejournal if you have one. Participants also get a free cyber cookie, baked fresh by yours truly, and my undying love and affection. Because everyone wants to be loved, right? And everyone loves cookies.

My email address is: writer (dot) elizabethpoole (at) gmail (dot) com. Go ahead and put what set of interviews, Job or Writer, you want to do in the subject. Yes, you can do both.

I have a truckload of writing ahead of me, plus the day job, so that’s all for now. But tell me, what is the worst writing problem you’ve encountered? Writer’s block? Did you have to tank an entire novel after careful revision and start from scratch? Share your war stories!

Mia gave me an award! So I will be lying about people tomorrow! Can’t wait to see what I make up!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Listening to My Broccoli

Quote: “Listen to your broccoli, and your broccoli will tell you how to eat it.”
~Mel Brooks

Song: “Poison My Eyes” by Anthrax

Progress report day! But no progress to report!

Except that the house is really, really clean. Downstairs and upstairs vacuumed, bathroom (ick) cleaned, I can actually see the top of my desk, and I organized all my shiny new writing books. The only room my cleaning frenzy hasn’t reached is the bedroom, but it’s messy days are numbered.

As far as editing goes, I haven’t touched my book in a week. What I have done is think about my book, turning solutions and thoughts over in my head, but mostly just tried to be still and listen to the whispering of my characters. Or as Anne Lamott quotes it in her wonderful book, “Bird by Bird”, “listen to your broccoli. When you don’t know what to do, when you don’t know whether your character would do this or that, you get quiet and try to hear that still small voice inside. It will tell you what to do.”

So that’s what I have been listening for. And slowly, timidly, the voice of my character is starting to talk to me. I don’t have the whole thing yet, but that’s okay. I can be patient.

In the meantime, I finished reading “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott, the book I just quoted. Now, I’ve seen this book mentioned by other writers before as essential to writers everywhere, but I never felt much urge to read it. Books on the craft of writing usually appeal to me far more than books about the writing life. But I was in Books a Million, waiting for my sis in law to get off of work (she’s a massage therapist as well, and we work at the same spa. There’s a Books a Million a few stores down from the spa we work at (I know, trouble brewing for my paycheck). We work nearly the same schedule, so we commute because she and my twin are currently sharing the same vehicle after his monster of a Buick went to the great scrap yard in the sky) and I was perusing through their language arts section when I saw “Bird by Bird”. Out of curiosity, I picked it up, flipped through it, and opened to the table of contents. I saw the chapter titled “Broccoli” and flipped to that, wondering what the heck a chapter named “Broccoli” was about. The beginning is almost verbatim of what I quoted. I had a moment of recognition and clarity. You know those moments, when you pick up a book either fiction or non-fiction, when you think “Ah ha! This is exactly what I haven been looking for!”

Moments like those are why I love writing. I want to someday give people that same moment. Anyway, I bought the book, and read it in two days. I would have had it finished in a day, but that whole day job thing got in the way of my reading time. I hate it when that happens, don’t you?

Lamott also has a great chapter on publication, and how it’s not the golden calf everyone believes it to be. She talks about how we should be writing for the sake of writing, for the sheer joy of the act, and if publication happens along the way, great. But we were all writing before we realized how books gets published anyway.

It might be just me, but I don’t remember being so caught up in the publishing race when I was in high school and happily churning out first drafts crappier than you could imagine. No seriously, they were terrible. I had my moments where I didn’t beat the reader over the head with the clue bat, or “wallow in my imagery” as my creative writing teacher called it (I didn’t like her very much, and NOT just because she didn’t like my writing, it was her teaching style. She wrote these supposedly thoughtful essays about how she felt when she saw her baby on the sonogram for the first time, the rest of the class was writing stuff about their first softball game, or dance practice, and my best friend and I were writing short stories and novels about fantasy, and made up worlds, and the Mafia coming to get you. We felt very much out of place) but for the most part I made all the first draft mistakes almost as if I was checking them off a list of what NOT do to:

*Passive voice? Riddled with it. Check.

*Showing versus telling? Mostly telling. Check.

*Description filled with words I had to use the thesaurus to find? Check.

*Adverbs? Every other word. Check.

Yet somehow, when I read back over my old work, I can see the diamonds in the rough. The characters need work, but they are alive. I made a lot of mistakes, but I grasped a lot of things intuitively just because I read so much.

My point is, I wanted to be published, but that seems like a far off goal, like getting married someday and having some rugrats. Ten years later, I find myself worrying about publication more and more, especially over the last year, when I’ve really buckled down and tried to learn as much about publication and writing as possible. With so much information out there, it’s no wonder that new writers drive themselves nuts with thoughts and dreams of publication.

I think we should all take a collective step back, and breathe deeply. Yes, most of us want to be published. And yes, we should be knowledgeable about the process, but what about appreciating the writing for it’s own sake? It’s own joy? What about focusing on the book, the love of the craft, and let the publishing world take care of itself.

This is the only road to publication for me. If I focus on my books and the craft, if I nurture them and myself, I believe that eventually my book will speak for itself. It may not be a year from now, it might not even be ten. But I am not writing just to be published anyway, so to say I am wasting my time between now and publication time would be a lie. I am not wasting my time. I am creating worlds, breathing life into people. Bringing joy to the few people that read my work. That has merit all on it’s own.

Try this:

Try to remember the first time you felt wonder and amazement at what you could do with words. That you could tell a story. Maybe it was after reading a great book, and you asked Mom where books came from (forget babies, where do books come from?), and she told you other people made them up and wrote them down, so you went to your room and wrote a story about a man named Fred. Or a cat that could fly, or whatever you wrote about.

Or maybe the desire to write came later in life, after something profound happened to you and you wrote it all down to capture the moment, or let it go, and you read over what you had written, and like Frankenstein’s monster, you realized the words had a life all on their own.

Write down that moment, what you remember about it, what you were wearing, what the weather was like, what the room smelled like, if you were using crayons, or pencils, or a laptop. This moment along with other, are your source of confidence as a writer, this is your passion.

You could print this memory out and tape it to the world, or bury it in the deepest box, but whether you feel disheartened, or tired, or crazy, or frustration with all the rejection, go back to this memory and feel that simple joy again. Because that’s why you’re writing. Not because you want to be published, publishing is just a means to an end. Publication can make you enough money to support your writing (but most likely it won’t) or it can give you validation that you write well (although it’s not going to make your insecurities go away. If anything, it will amplify them, because now there will be thousands of complete strangers opining about your labor of love) or it can bring your novel to new readers and touch their hearts like a book has already touched your own (I think this is the best reason for publishing).

You aren’t writing for publication. It’s just part of the writing process. You didn’t go to grade school so you could go to high school. You went to school at all so you could get a job, so you could make money and live (and buy more books).

What about you guys? What keeps you going when you’re frustrated? What helps you stay focused?

Why are you bothering? Why are you bothering with writing at all? Certainly not to get rich, people who write to get rich won’t last long. People who just want to dabble don’t last long either. There must be some reason, some driving passion that keeps pushing you onward. What is it?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Photo Journey

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So instead of telling you how my Saint Paddy’s Day went with my family, I thought I would instead tell the story through the pictures I took instead. I was pretty annoying with snapping the camera constantly (I thought of myself as a journalist, everyone else thought of me as a nuisance) so it’s a pretty accurate representation of the night’s events.

It will almost be like you guys were there! Feel free to photoshop yourself in, like one of my aunts did when she couldn’t come to the family reunion (I am not kidding, she literally photoshoped herself into the family photo).

Without further ado, we enter the abode of my parent’s house on Saint Patrick’s Day…

Mom and Dad posed nicely for me as soon as I walked in the door. They thought it was cute I was using the camera they gave me for Christmas. They will soon tire of my antics, but not yet. Not yet.

Mom hard at work, cooking the potatoes.

Dad "helping" Mom check the potatoes. We take our potatoes very seriously.

My sister in law, my twin brother's wife, also slaving away in the kitchen.

The soda bread! One of those loaves are MINE!

The corned beef! Yummy!

My twin brother. I call him Llama-face because one time over a really hot summer he put his forehead on my foot, and it was all gross and sweaty. I said, “Ewwwwww, llama-face.” We had just watched the Emperor’s New Groove, and thought it was hysterical. So it stuck. I never call him by his real name anymore. I call our little brother “baby” llama for obvious reasons.

My sister in law, outside on the deck, taking a break from the hot kitchen. They still think my picture taking antics are cute. I think I was over for a grand total of a half hour at this point.

My mom is a squirrel whisperer. Every time she goes out on the deck, she feeds the squirrels (also known as lawn rats in our family) peanuts. The squirrels are now well trained to come looking every time they hear movement on the deck. Here comes one now. Mom calls her Moochie.

Moochie peeks her head out from under the grill, wondering why I haven't scattered peanuts for her yet. I was not aware that every time you go out on the deck, you scatter peanuts for the squirrels. Dad refuses to, but that doesn't mean they don't pester him when he's out on the deck.

She also did not want her picture taken…she’s probably thinking something like, “Stupid human, I have you trained! Where the *beep* are my peanuts!? Mommy needs her fix.”

Or something like that.

The peanuts.

Moochie wouldn’t hold still for the camera, so I asked Mom to come out and work her magic with the squirrel. She’s making chirping noises. No, I am not making this up. I have documented photo proof. I might win the Pulitzer prize for my intrepid journalism.

The squirrel whisperer hard at work.


I was this close to the squirrel!

Mom is even closer! Dad keeps saying he isn’t taking anyone to the ER for a rabies shot, so we’d better not get bit!

I try for a different tactic. I opened the door to the deck (the kitchen connects to the deck) and scatter some peanuts, and sat in a chair to wait. They’ll come. Oh, they’ll come.

The hunt. If you look in the top left corner, you will see a bit of squirrel.

Closer…and Moochie has brought reinforcements.

Moochie descends upon the elusive peanut, like a hawk on a mouse.

Moochie wants to come inside! Dad doesn’t want her to! Still talking about rabies and chasing a squirrel around the house!

Mom and I after we’re done playing with the squirrels.

Soda bread Mom made…and forgot to add the soda, so now the birds have some food as well. Mom didn’t want to me take a picture for evidence, but the truth must come out. I have journalistic morals, after all.

I decide I haven’t bothered Llama-face enough, so I head downstairs where he and my sister in law are relaxing. My little brother is asleep at this point, because he works the night shift, and lives two hours away, so he’s catching some Zzzzs. There is my Llama is now, drawing.

Llama and my sis in law, rocking out to watching a video game review video by a guy called Yahtzee. He’s funny.

It is at this point that my family realizes that I mean business by following everyone around with a camera, so in a sudden but inevitable betrayal, my sis in law steals my camera while I was watching Llama-face play video games. I think he just killed Hercules (he’s playing God of War three) which is why I look so delighted.

Llama and I take a picture together, but he is tickling me.

“Am not!”
“Are too!”

He still wants to tickle me, but his wife commanded him not to. Hehe.

We decide it’s high time to snitch some food.

The baby llama decides to graces us with his presence, impeccable timing as well. His girlfriend is still asleep at this point, though I am not sure how with the ruckus we’re making.

Baby llama and I. He’s a camera ham, so expect to see him in almost every picture now. He’s trying to pinch me, but the pincher becomes the pinchee.

Baby llama is behind them, trying to give them bunny ears.

Baby llama insists I try this new drink. It’s disgusting. I am sad to report the face I am making is natural. I didn’t know Dad was gleefully snapping pictures.

Still disgusting. I can’t get the taste out of my mouth.

My sis in law giving me bunny ears in my hour of weakness. Yes, we’re all adults and very mature.

We decide it’s time to get into the green mint chocolate chip ice cream. Yum

We scream for ice cream!

My siblings.

The four of us. Notice how we're all wearing large, GREEN shirts. My sis in law is hunching down because she's taller than all of us, and I made a crack about it right before Dad took the picture.

Baby llama's girlfriend is awake! I don’t know how she looks so refreshed after just waking up. I always look like death warmed over, but there you have it. She made a green cake, and everyone’s teeth were looking funny all day because of it. But my goodness, was it tasty.

Time for some Dennis Leary stand up comedy. We are rewatching “No Cure for Cancer”.

Mom and Dad crap out and go to bed, and Robin, one of my co-workers arrive. We return to the kitchen, eat some more cake and ice cream, and hang out.

Baby llama’s girlfriend smears his face with icing. It’s a victory for us all.

Baby llama seeks retaliation, but his threats are empty.

Llama makes “llama paws” for me.

And to cap the night off, Llama does the dishes. Fun was had by all.

This concludes my thrilling documentary on one family’s Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. It was through great hardship and risk to myself that I took these photos, following my family around like the paparazzi, but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make for you, my readers.

It has also become obvious that I will no longer be able to hide how strange my family is, still we now have photo evidence. Forthwith, I will attribute my creativity to my interesting up bringing.

I hope you guys enjoyed this because it took FOREVER to upload these pictures. Until next time, this is Elizabeth Poole, signing out.

So, if you were to capture a family gathering with photos and narrate it, how do you think it would be seen? Would people see how weird your family is? Would it be like an episode of “Leave it to Beaver”? Or more like “Married, With Children”?